Draft legislation on the establishment of a Media Development and Diversity Agency (MDDA) was approved by Cabinet on Wednesday for submission to Parliament.
It is expected that the Bill will be tabled in the National Assembly by the Minister in the Presidency during December, after being certified by the State Law Adviser. It is anticipated that Parliament will invite the public to comment on the Bill in January, with a view to holding Public Hearings in February or March.
Once legislation is passed by Parliament nominations for the Board will be called for. It is therefore envisaged that the MDDA will be operational towards the end of 2002.
The Bill provides for the establishment of an independent agency that will, through its support, facilitation and research functions, help create an enabling environment for media development and diversity in South Africa. Funding and other support will in particular be directed at community media and, to some extent, small commercial media.
The draft legislation provides for the MDDA to be an independent, statutory body funded jointly by government and the media industry. It will be governed by a nine-person Board appointed through an open process by Parliament and the President. Four seats will be reserved for nominees from GCIS, community media, commercial broadcast media and commercial print media.
The Bill follows the public release of a government draft position paper a year ago, to which the public was invited to make submissions. A wide range of stakeholders submitted extensive comments, and many of these were incorporated into the final position paper and the draft legislation.
Further consultation with the media industry has resulted in a draft Memorandum of Understanding between GCIS and key print and broadcast media houses. The MOU will form the basis of the partnership that has been established between government and the industry. Amongst other things it is based on a commitment by the industry to contribute to the funding of the MDDA.
The Bill will be available on the Government online www.gov.za once tabled in Parliament, and thereafter from the Government Printers and GCIS.
Dr Devan Pillay
Cell: 083 453 5544
Issued by: Government Communications (GCIS)