Increased focus required on capacitating community media in compliance and governance
The Media Development and Diversity Agency (MDDA) notes with deep concern the decision by the Council of the Independent Communications Authority of South Africa (ICASA) to uphold the recommendation of the Complaints and Compliance Committee (CCC), to revoke the community broadcasting service licence of Karabo FM, a community broadcaster based in Sasolburg, Free State, with immediate effect.
Karabo FM failed to comply with two directives of the CCC, following a public hearing held on 21 September 2018.
The MDDA fully acknowledges the importance of compliance and good governance by community broadcasters and of the challenges facing ICASA as a regulatory body in this regard. The MDDA further notes that the ripple effects of shutting down a community radio station pose a significant challenge to ensuring access to information for all, in particular for those historically disadvantaged groups not traditionally served by mainstream media. As the country prepares itself to move into another election period, the role of the media, particularly community media, becomes ever more critical in order to ensure an engaged and informed citizenry.
While the MDDA urges community media to place increased focus on compliance and governance, the Agency also reaffirms its responsibility to ensuring that further resources are dedicated to governance and compliance training in order to assist community radio adhere to their licensing conditions.
“Community media is a critical driver of media pluralism and freedom of expression, elevating voices from marginalised communities, raising awareness around grassroots issues, and increasing access by communities to information in the language of their choice,” says Zukiswa Potye, MDDA Acting Chief Executive Officer. “As these community media projects are often located in provinces with limited economic activities, high unemployment and social inequalities, sustainability of projects is challenging, making it important for the MDDA, working with other sector stakeholders, to take a developmental approach to supporting the sector. Increasing our focus on capacitating the sector in governance and compliance, in addition to other key skills such as financial management and marketing, is critical to our support of the sector going forward.”
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