REGULATORY

ICASA To Reopen Licence Applications For Community Sound Broadcasting Services In 2021

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By Celestine Okorie, Correspondent South Africa

The Independent Communications Authority of South Africa ( ICASA) will reopen applications, later in the year, for Class Community Sound Broadcasting Services and related Radio Frequency Spectrum Licences for purposes of providing community sound broadcasting services.

This follows the failure to qualify of over a hundred applications that did not comply with one or more of the preliminary pre-registration requirements in respect of the Invitation To Pre-Register (ITP-R), issued on November 12, 2019, which closed on June 30, 2020.

According to the regulator, out of a hundred and forty-two (142) applications received, only two (2) applicants made it to the second phase of this licensing process. This is despite a series of public workshops conducted by the Authority in order to support applicants and ensure that there was a general understanding of the regulatory environment in the community broadcasting sector. These workshops sought to educate communities about the requirements of the Community Broadcasting Services Regulations, 2019 for existing community broadcasting service licensees. Further, they were aimed at educating prospective applicants about the new framework for the licensing of community broadcasting services, in preparation for the imminent issuing of the ITP-R. However, many of the applicants still failed to meet the prescribed compliance requirements in this regard.

The Authority has provided reasons for disqualification and/or rejection, as required by the Electronic Communications Act, to all applicants.

Some of the reasons for disqualification include, but are not limited to, the following:

1. Non-submission of tax clearance certificates;

2. Failure to submit signal distribution agreements and/or valid copies of Class Electronic Communications Network Services (Class-ECNS) licences in the case of self-provisioning;

3. Non-Profit Organisations (NPOs) not registered, and/or not in existence for two (2) years at the time of application; and

4. General lack of submission of information such as the Curricula Vitae (CVs) of board members and management personnel, as required.

ICASA said it was clear from the outset that it reserved its right not to consider any application that did not meet the requirements as set out in the ITP-R, the applicable legislation and/or the regulations.

“This is a stringent process that requires a detailed analysis of documents where compliance is at the fore; and we are in no position to circumvent the law in that regard. It is, therefore unfortunate that almost all applicants did not make it to the second phase of the licensing process due to non-compliance,” noted ICASA Councillor, Adv. Luthando Mkumatela.

Following the completion of the licensing of two successful applicants, the Authority will issue another ITP-R in order to provide yet another opportunity for communities to participate as well as undertaken to conduct additional workshops across the country to fully unpack the requirements of the ITP-R, and to ensure full understanding of the requirements thereof.

Adv. Mkumatela urged communities who wish to participate in the upcoming process to join the workshops when the announcement is made. “In preparation for the upcoming licensing process, applicants must read the Community Broadcasting Services Regulations1. The ITP-R will also be simplified and contain all the basic requirements for all the phases of the licensing process.,” said Adv. Mkumatela.

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