A discussion document issued on Friday by the Independent
Communications Authority of SA (Icasa) could result in new regulations
aimed at protecting independent producers who have cried foul about
unfair treatment by broadcasters, writes Thabiso Mochiko in Business Report.

The producers, led by the Independent Producers Organisation, have been calling on Icasa to level the playing field.

Broadcasters, especially the SABC, and producers have been at loggerheads over who owns the property rights to productions.

The public broadcaster’s argument has been that whoever puts up the money owns the rights. This has made it impossible for producers to resell programmes to other broadcasters and platforms, such as the internet and cellphones, for additional income.

According to Icasa, negotiations around the commissioning of programmes remain largely skewed towards the broadcasters, who dominate contractual negotiations and thus undermine the bargaining power of the independent producers.

The SABC has not fully exploited its rights, by failing to selling some of its TV programmes to other broadcasters, because of language barriers.

According to Icasa, however, some broadcasters believe local TV programmes are not marketable internationally or that they look cheaper on the international market than their cost. As a result, they do not put much effort into selling programmes.

Icasa said this was exacerbated by the fact that some of the production companies were small and lacked the skills to market their products, so they relied on broadcasters to help them with run their businesses. Although Icasa acknowledged that the industry was plagued by challenges, it did not believe it was necessary to overregulate the sector.

Click here to read the full report, posted on Business Report's website.