South African broadcasters and SABC have requested the regulator conducts a regulatory impact assessment before issuing new terrestrial television licenses in the advent of digital migration.

The free to air broadcaster has also asked the Independent Communications Authority of South Africa (Icasa) to limit the number of channels the Napster-owned M-Net will be allowed to operate, according to Business Day.

It said that the M-Net channel comprised content from its sister broadcaster, the pay-TV platform DStv, which hampered diversity and original content.

SABC and also asked if new broadcasting licenses could only be issued after 2015, when analogue television transmissions were switched off.

Icasa is holding a public hearing into digital television draft regulations this week. During the hearing on Monday (12 March), Philly Moilwa, general manager for policy and general affairs at the nation’s public broadcast corporation, said SABC is not against new players but requested that this only happened after a market and regulatory impact assessment to ascertain the need.

He asked Icasa to ensure it “protects the integrity and viability of the public broadcaster in the migration” to a digital platform.

Bronwyn Keene-Young, chief operating officer,, added that existing free to air players must be able to maximise the advantages of digital video broadcasting via the DVB-T2 standard adopted by South Africa in November 2010.

“Market research is required before any new entrants can be licensed. It would be wasteful to allocate capacity when there is no basis for understanding whether the market can even support new players,” she is quoted as saying in Business Day.

South Africa’s Minister of Communications Dina Pule recently said that digital television transmission is now expected to be launched in the country in the last quarter of 2012, or at the latest by the end of the 2012-13 financial year.

Source: Rebecca Hawkes ©RapidTVNews