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Minister's 5G push alienates landowners

Communications and Digital Technologies Minister Stella Ndabeni-Abrahams’ plans to give telecommunications companies the right to build on private land – without even having to pay in some cases – have raised the hackles of property owners around the country.

Mobile giants warned of prosecution over data prices

Mobile operators have been behaving uncompetitively by charging too much for Internet connectivity and could face prosecution if they do not drop prices withing two months, the Competition Commission said yesterday.

Court shuts down 'Super Snooper' law

Investigative journalism centre amaBhungane has successfully demolished sections of SA’s ‘Super Snooper’ law – the Regulation of Interception of Communications and Provision of Communication-Related Information Act (Rica), notes Daily News.

Icasa issues data roll-over order

In a victory for consumers, telecommunications regulator Icasa says service providers MTN‚ Vodacom and Cell C must provide an option to roll over unused data‚ finally ending the frustration of customers losing unused data after 30 days. A TimesLIVE report says Icasa made the announcement when releasing its review of the 2016 End User and Subscriber Charter Regulations.

Groups call for rejection of Infinity licence

Lobby groups have called on Icasa to reject an application by the Gupta-backed Infinity Media for an individual, commercial free-to-air television broadcasting service licence. A Business Day report notes in February, Icasa issued a new invitation for Infinity Media to apply after the regulator had rejected a previous application from the company and others in 2014.

MultiChoice poised to axe Gupta TV

The Gupta-founded news channel ANN7 will no longer be broadcast on DStv when its contract expires in June next year, according to City Press, quoting an unnamed ‘impeccably placed source’ in the news broadcast industry. Another source reportedly confirmed various meetings at which pay TV market leader MultiChoice and various advisers decided that they would not be renewing the contract of ANN7 when it expires in June next year.

Spooks launch case against Jacques Pauw

The State Security Agency, having failed to halt distribution of Jacques Pauw’s book, The President’s Keepers, via ‘cease-and-desist’ threats, has opted to pursue the criminal route against the author, notes Daily News. It has opened a criminal case against Pauw and a former member of the agency, believed to be Paul Engelke, named as a source in the book. The Directorate for Priority Crime Investigation had received the docket, Hawks spokesperson Brigadier Hangwani Mulaudzi confirmed, according to Business Day.

MTN official allegedly sold info to ex-Gupta employee

MTN has disciplined an employee who sold the cellphone records of journalists and politicians to an ex-Gupta employee, says a Sunday Times report. The cellphone giant has also opened a criminal case against the employee, who was paid R3 750 to hand over cellphone records of former Finance Minister Trevor Manuel, Tiso Blackstar Group editor-at-large Peter Bruce and Financial Mail editor Rob Rose – all critics of the Guptas.

Grape juice passed as alcohol-free wine, ASA finds

A company marketing and selling 'alcohol-free' wine has been found to be selling grape juice and not wine, according to TimesLIVE. The Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) has ordered Alcohol Free Wine (Pty) Ltd to remove any advertising that suggested that it sold wine as its products did not undergo the processes required for it to be labelled as wine.

Court curtails Minister's power to interfere

The Gauteng High Court (Pretoria) in a landmark judgment delivered yesterday – the same day as President Jacob Zuma eventually appointed a new board of directors at the SABC – limited the powers of the Communications Minister in appointing and firing members of the board. According to a Pretoria News report, Judge Elias Matojane declared several clauses of the amended memorandum of incorporation (MoI) and the SABC charter in respect to the appointment, discipline and suspension of the three executive directors – the group chief executive officer, chief operations officer and chief financial officer – inconsistent with the Broadcasting Act and thus invalid.

Commission to probe data packages

The Competition Commission has launched a market inquiry into data services, a move that could result in a big shake-up in the way mobile operators charge for and structure their data plans, says a TechCentral report. The inquiry comes as pressure mounts on operators over high out-of-bundle data charges and aggressive expiry of data bundles.

Blue Label and Net1 tie up Cell C deal

Blue Label and Net1 have completed the R7.5bn acquisition of a 60% shareholding in Cell C, paving the way for the turnaround of the struggling entity. A Business Day report says Blue Label – which distributes cell phone airtime vouchers and SIM-card starter packs – owns 45% of Cell C, while electronic payment provider Net1 holds 15%.

Telkom wins landmark infrastructure dispute

The Western Cape High Court has ruled in favour of Telkom in a case relating to the unlawful accessing of its infrastructure. An ITWeb report says Telkom brought an urgent application before the court following ‘Vodacom's unlawful use of its infrastructure in the Dennegeur residential estate’.

STBs policy not an exercise of public power

The policy decision made by Communications Minister Faith Muthambi in 2015 on the encryption capability of government-supplied set top boxes (STBs) for digital migration is not reviewable by a court. This, notes a TimesLIVE report, is the gist of the submission made by Muthambi’s counsel Wim Trengove SC before the Constitutional Court yesterday.

Court mulls SABC bid to appeal Motsoeneng ruling

The SABC argued yesterday that Hlaudi Motsoeneng’s appointment was an internal arrangement and did not constitute an exercise of public power, and thus a court could not review it. A News24 report notes that the public broadcaster was applying to the Western Cape High Court for leave to appeal its earlier ruling on Motsoeneng’s appointment as group executive of corporate affairs.

Municipality sues over R92m CCTV camera system

The Nelson Mandela Bay Municipality is suing a security firm and seven of the city’s current and former senior staff in the hope of recouping R92.4m spent on CCTV cameras for the beleaguered bus system in Port Elizabeth. According to a TimesLIVE report, the municipality believes the payments – ultimately approved by suspended corporate services boss Mod Ndoyana between November 2013 and September 2014 – were irregular and unlawful as there was no legal contract in place.

Icasa 'censorship' of DA advert condemned by

The Gauteng High Court (Johannesburg) has painted a picture of a biased Independent Communications Authority of SA (Icasa), which acted against Constitutional Court guidelines when its Complaints and Compliance Committee ruled in an ‘irrational and unreasonable’ manner against a DA election advertisement scheduled to be aired on the SABC during the 2014 elections campaign.

Encryption dispute stalls set-top box manufacture

Parliament has heard that the manufacture and procurement of set-top boxes – which will be required when digital migration occurs – has been halted pending the conclusion of the legal battle over the non-encryption of the converters. A Business Day report says the Universal Services and Access Agency of SA (Usaasa) – which is implementing the digital migration process – addressed a joint meeting of Parliament's Communications Committee.

Supreme Court of Appeal asked to rule against Parliament's censors

Media groups and NGOs took the issues of parliamentary signal-jamming and censoring of live broadcasts to the SCA yesterday, notes Daily News. Primedia‚ the SA National Editors Forum‚ the Right2Know Campaign and the Open Democracy Advice Centre approached the court to ensure live broadcasts from Parliament were not censored and that signal jamming devices were not used to block journalists using mobile phones, as had been the case during EFF disruptions of President Jacob Zuma’s State of Nation Address in February 2015.

Internet 'censorship' Bill under scrutiny

The controversial Films and Publications Amendment Bill, which seeks to regulate the digital distribution of films and games and has been widely criticised as being unconstitutional, is the focus of attention in Parliament"s Communications Committee, which is holding public hearings on the Bill this week. Critics argue the Bill is an attempt to censor the Internet in SA and have labelled it "Africa"s worst new Internet censorship law", notes a BDlive report.

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