Ministers intervene in closure of community radio stations

Sunday, October 27, 2019

Minister in the Presidency Jackson Mthembu and Communications and Digital Technologies Minister Stella Ndabeni-Abrahams will convene an urgent meeting with stakeholders in a bid to keep community radio stations on air.

This follows ongoing reports pertaining to the shutdown of non-compliant community radio stations.

Mthembu and Ndabeni-Abrahams will on 7 November 2019 hold a meeting with stakeholders including the National Community Radio Forum (NCRF), Independent Communications Authority of South Africa (ICASA) and Media Development and Diversity Agency (MDDA).

Given the importance of signal distribution in this discourse, the Ministers have advised the parties to also invite SENTECH to the meeting. SENTECH offers signal distribution services to most of the country’s licensed broadcasters, which include the public broadcaster, commercial and community broadcasters.

Mthembu and Ndabeni-Abrahams have reiterated that the community media sector is an important vehicle that plays a catalytic development role, offering an alternative voice to communities and advancing social cohesion.

“It is therefore important that the sector be provided with all the necessary support to be compliant and sustainable in the changing communications landscape,” the Ministers said in a joint statement.

The Ministers also called on the community media sector to ensure compliance with legislative requirements, as set in the Electronic Communications Act and utilise existing support mechanisms provided by both ICASA and MDDA, including the commitment by government to reach out to communities using these platforms through the Government Communication Information System (GCIS).

The Ministers have further resolved to continue engagements with the respective portfolio entities towards finalising a support strategy, which is imperative in finding a lasting solution for the sustainability of community media. –