17 September 2014
The Media Development and Diversity Agency (MDDA) today briefed the parliamentary committee on their aggregated quarter report for 2013/2014 financial year covering the period of 1 April to 31 December 2013.
During the reporting period the MDDA achieved its 11th year of unqualified and clean audit reports. From October to December 2013 the MDDA supported 570 media projects with grants worth R275m; while they facilitated the training of 2021 individuals and awarded more than 247 bursaries in Media Studies.
According to the report more than 12% of government advertising expenditure of more than R60m has been spent on community and small commercial media from April 2011 to March 2013. This was achieved through the partnership with GCIS Media Buying, Milele Group and other partners.
The MDDA also guaranteed that more community and small commercial newspaper and magazines are produced in indigenous languages in the District Municipalities across the country. It further created the correct environment to allow for diverse and innovative content, languages and cultures so that they enjoy airtime in the three-tier broadcasting system. Since the advent of democracy community radio has grown and now commands more than 25% of total radio listenership. More businesses are benefiting from access to government advertising. Through MDDA and its partnership with Sentech signal distribution costs for community broadcasters have been reduced.
Minister of Communications Ms Faith Muthambi expressed concern that even though community radio commands a quarter of total listenership, according to a report by Pricewaterhouse Coopers it only received 20% of the country’s adspend of R35bn.
“Briefly, the entity has 3 revenue streams: government (through the GCIS), print media and Broadcasting entities licensed in terms of section 89 of the Electronic Communications Act (no.36 of 2005). 1.8m was received in transfers. The entity exhibited R13m under-spending in all the programme areas due to the late approvals. For an entity with such a relative small budget this is major concern,” said Minister Muthambi.
She identified the problem as being two-fold:
Legislatively the approval of funding of the projects is the exclusive domain of the Board as prescribed by the MDDA Act (of 2002). Therefore, there are no delegations to the Executive management. Given the limited meetings allocated for the Board, it takes longer for the projects to be approved and contracted.
The nature of tranche disbursement system is also another problem. This makes the project funding cycle (approval or release of first tranche and closure or final tranche) longer.
In order to deal with the challenges the Minister will conduct a due diligence on both the MDDA Act and regulations to identify areas for revision to address this problem, particularly in terms of delegations to the Executive management. The commitment made previously by the GCIS to amend these two instruments may have to be effected to expedite the approval process while repositioning the entity to new challenges.
With regard to the tranche disbursement system, this is a critical tool to minimize risks inevitable to funding community media projects. Therefore, we will work with the entity to strengthen monitoring and support, while not lessening compliance.
Said Muthambi, “The entity has achieved its targets relating to its mandate. However areas of improvement are required in Monitoring and Evaluation and research so that the impact of the support can be continuously measured. For this entity to be an authoritative voice in media development and diversity, more capacity should be built in research capacity.”
The MDDA report also revealed CEO, COO position, Company Secretary, Project Director, Contracts and Legal vacancies. Minister Muthambi undertook to request the Board to expedite the appointment of key positions in the next 3 months.
“Overall, the MDDA continues to perform. No major interventions are required. However, the repositioning of the entity through legislative revision is critical to improve the entity’s performance,” she said.
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Issued by Government Communication and Information System (GCIS)