mce_keep=”true”The London-based company hosted a launch event of its service and the first channel on its platform, MSNBC Africa, in Johannesburg this week.
align=leftSekgoela Joel Sekgoela, Icasa spokesperson, said the authority had “mechanisms in place to deal with such circumstances.
align=left”Simply put, if they continue to offer the service (Icasa) has a variety of options including sealing of their equipment and submitting of an application for a court interdict to stop such illegal activity,” Sekgoela said.
align=leftGreat Media’s chief technical officer, Malcolm Ramsay, however, believes their activities are lawful.
align=left”We are just imparting information.
align=left”They can’t stop the signals… They cannot seize our equipment. Are they going to invade France (where the satellite uplink site is)?” Ramsay said.
align=justifySekgoela said the Electronic Communications Act (ECA) prohibited the provision of an electronic communication and broadcasting service without a licence.
align=justify”In other words, any entity that intends to provide a broadcasting service intended for receipt within the borders of South Africa requires a licence issued by Icasa.
align=justify”Any attempt to provide such a service (in the absence of a licence) constitutes a criminal offence.”
align=justifySekgoela compared it to someone “shooting into your yard from outside (the yard)”. “It would still be a crime.”
align=justifyRamsay claimed he had informed the authority in 2003 and ’04 of his intention to broadcast a free-to-air service during public hearings, and that an Icasa councillor had wished him luck with his venture.
align=justifySekgoela said Great Media had not engaged with the regulator and did not have a licence nor permission to provide its service.
align=justifyWhen asked what Great Media would have to do in order to comply with legislation, Sekgoela said a framework for licensing free-to-air subscription services was not yet in place.
align=justify”The Authority has already licensed subscription broadcasting services. It further intends to undertake an enquiry into the feasibility of licensing free-to-air services, including satellite services, and depending on the findings it may invite interested persons to apply for such licences.”
align=justifyHe said the regulator planned to develop this framework during the financial year 2009-’10.
align=justifySekgoela said the absence of such a framework, does not make broadcasting without a licence lawful.