GCIS Video Unit
The Government Communication and Information System Video Unit at work.

For any democratic government the value of successful communication is evident when considering that it needs to reach
out to its citizens in order to fulfil its obligations. South Africa is no exception to this rudimentary rule - its government cannot function properly without a legitimate and credible government communication system.

In 1998, the South African Cabinet dissolved the former South African Communication Service and established the Government Communication and Information System (GCIS).

This was done largely on the basis of recommendations contained
in the report of the Task Group on Government Communications, Comtask, which was set up to investigate how government communications should be structured in line with the constitutional principles of freedom of expression, transparency and access to government information.

The chief responsibility of the GCIS is to ensure the democratic strength, success and security of the country through rapid, responsive and continuous communication of government’s achievements and challenges in meeting its mandate.

The primary role of the GCIS is to provide strategic leadership in government communication and coordinate a government communication system that ensures that the public is informed about government’s policies, plans and programmes.

Its core vision is to achieve government communication that empowers and encourages all South Africans to participate in their democracy and, in so doing, improve their lives. Two public entities fall under the control of the GCIS, namely the International Marketing Council (IMC) and the Media Development and Diversity Agency (MDDA). Through the IMC GCIS ensures that the country is effectively marketed to the international community, while it employs the MDDA to promote diversity in the South African media.

The overall objective of the MDDA is to ensure that all citizens can access information in a language of their choice and to transform media access, ownership and control patterns in South Africa.

The GCIS has a Video Unit which is part of its Product Development Directorate, and is mainly responsible for documenting the Presidency’s public programme.

Cindy Ludick, Video Unit Manager, explains. “In order to achieve the documentation the crew is required to travel with both the President and the Deputy President, locally and abroad. Apart from rendering an AV service to the Presidency, the Unit also renders an AV service to the rest of government.

“In doing so, they produce a variety of audio-visual products, from news clocks, television advertisements to promotional DVDs. Most of what the unit covers gets published on the Presidency’s YouTube channel, as well as the government website. The unit is currently in the process of looking at the establishment of a dedicated government television channel in the near future.”

Following a recent tender the unit purchased a camera package from Panasonic which included four high-definition cameras and associated equipment. “Panasonic equipment will be compatible with broadcasters both locally and internationally,” says Ludick. “The equipment is very portable and the fact that the cameras record to cards and not tape will greatly reduce turnaround times. The P2 format has gained worldwide acceptance and Panasonic equipment has a reputation for reliability and ruggedness of construction.

“The GCIS Video Unit is currently based in downtown Pretoria, but in July 2012 we will be moving to new offices being built in Hatfield, which will have a dedicated TV studio for the use of government.”