SUPERSIZED MEDIA: Independent Group in contravention of telecommunications regulations?

THE Independent Group’s interest in Clear Channel and other affiliates could contravene sections of South Africa’s telecommunication regulations laws. The regulations implemented by the Independent Communications Authority of South Africa (ICASA), the regulator of telecommunications and broadcasting sectors, sets a precedent for the limitation of media ownership and particularly the cross-ownership of media.

Clear Channel is an international radio, television and billboard company and its local affiliate, Clear Channel Independent is 40.3% owned by Independent Media PLC, the holding company of the so-called “Independent Group”. The telecommunications act of 1996 contains some exciting news for would-be media barons. The no-holds barred Regulations in Respect of the Limitation of Ownership and Control of Telecommunication Services in Terms of Section 52, has this to say: “No person who holds an ownership interest or control interest in a licensee in any telecommunications service category in a concentrated market, or an affiliate of such person, shall hold an ownership interest or control interest in another licensee in the same telecommunications service category.”