The Botswana Communications Regulatory Authority (BOCRA) has read with dismay the article entitled “BOCRA’s double standards” published in The Patriot on Sunday of 14 February 2016.
The article purports to make reference to a study conducted by the Botswana Institute of Policy Analysis (BIDPA). It alleges that the study has raised alarm against BOCRA for ignoring the most influential radio media – state radio stations – in regulating local electronic media. The article further alleges that BOCRA is due to implement stringent regulations in April 2016.
BOCRA wishes to note and register its concern that the article contains inaccuracies that are misleading to the readers.
BOCRA as a parastatal derives its mandate from the Communications Regulatory Authority Act, 2012 (CRA Act). Section 31(2) exempts a state broadcaster from licensing requirements. It states thus “Notwithstanding subsection (1), a state broadcaster shall not require a licence to operate. The exemption is therefore a matter of law and should treated as such.
The allegation that BOCRA is about to introduce stringent regulations in April are devoid of truth. One of BOCRA’s values is transparency. In line with this value BOCRA has circulated for stakeholder input, draft Enforcement Guidelines. The draft guidelines are an instrument intended to provide clarity and consistency in instances where BOCRA may have to take action against non-compliance to either legislation administered by the Authority or licences issued thereunder. Consultation on the same is still on-going. Suffice to say these are guidelines and not regulations.
The article further raises a concern relating to Regulation 29 of the Draft Regulations issued under the Communications Regulatory Authority Act (Draft Regulations) on partnership with foreign governments. Rightly put, the same provision in question existed in the then Broadcasting Regulations issued under the Broadcasting Act of 1999. Therefore, to imply that the Regulation has something to do with 2014 political developments is false.
As a regulator, BOCRA is required by law to be impartial in its regulatory decision. Therefore, to suggest that in carrying out its regulatory mandate BOCRA applies double standards is unfair and injurious to its name.
BOCRA Deputy Director – Corporate Communications & Relations