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Government should ensure affordable internet access to promote economic growth: OUTA

Neelam Rahim | neelam@radioislam.co.za

3-minute read
14 September 2023 | 14:07 CAT

Image: Google

The Organisation Undoing Tax Abuse has comprehensively submitted the Draft White Paper on Audio and Audio-visual Content Services Policy to the Department of Communications and Digital Technologies. OUTA says the proposed policy could increase internet and on-demand content service charges, which a country with a 33% unemployment rate can ill afford. OUTA believes finding a different funding model for the SABC would be better.

Draft White Paper on Audio and Audio-visual Content Services Policy (AAVCS) aims to align South Africa with international trends in which streaming services provide content for viewers.

Rachel Fischer, OUTA’s Parliamentary Engagement and Research Manager, said, “the policy not only seeks to modernize how content services are made available, how it’s managed and the how the revenue works but also to look at other ways in which the SABC as a National broadcaster more viable and to ensure that quality information reaches the public.”

However, OUTA wants to ensure that citizens are informed about proposed changes in media policy that could affect them.

“We believe in the importance of transparency in policies and their potential effects on citizens’ daily lives,” says OUTA.

OUTA said while the government considers significant media and content service policy changes. These changes could influence citizens’ access to content, taxation, and the state of media services in the country.

“These proposed changes have the potential to affect citizens’ finances, access to information, and the quality of media services they receive. It’s essential for citizens to understand the potential implications.”

“There is a need for a public broadcaster and some of its funding needs to come from levies or general tax allocations, however, the question is how much and why and where does oversight of this lie. The best practice would be that SABC becomes financially viable as a broadcaster of choice and not a necessity. The notion of switching the failed TV licence revenue mechanism to other commercial broadcasters or live streaming entities or adding a tax to the sale of electronic devices is also not a solution in our view, as it has other unintended consequences and these items are already taxed through business taxes, VAT and import duties. OUTA argues that the SABC needs to find a new funding model,” says OUTA’s submission.

Fischer emphasizes that “OUTA is not opposed to the white paper and supports the SABC keeping up with global trends and modernizing its processes, but we have concerns about the transition, tax implications, and SABC’s ability to function as a state-owned entity.”

Listen to the full interview on Your World Today with Moulana Junaid Kharsany.

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