PRETORIA– South African Communications Minister Nomvula Mokonyane is expected to meet Friday with representatives of signals distributor Sentech, the National Community Radio Forum (NCRF) and the Media Development and Diversity Agency (MDDA) in an attempt to resolve the current impasse over debts owed by some broadcasters to Sentech.
Currently, community radio stations owe Sentech a total of 33 million Rand (about 2.76 million US dollars) for signal distribution services provided by Sentech to the broadcasters. This debt can potentially have a negative effect on Sentech’s continued functioning.
“The meeting we have scheduled must assist us in finding short-term solutions to prevent any disruptions in transmissions and enable us to develop a long-term and sustainable fiscal framework for community media that will promote the growth of the sector and enhance its ability to raise revenue and improve governance in the sector,” Mokonyane said Thursday.
Sentech has over the last week threatened to cut signal distribution services to 17 community radio stations which have failed to pay their signal distribution fees.
“The community media sector is a critical sector in the promotion of access to information, especially for rural and peri-urban communities. As the government, it is our intention to prevent any further cuts in transmission by Sentech whilst ensuring that we immediately find a lasting solution to the debt-burden of community broadcasters,” she said.
The government is committed to ensuring that the community media sector is provided the needed support to ensure its effectiveness in providing information to the most vulnerable and sometimes isolated communities.
This commitment will extend to making the necessary interventions to strengthen governance and management at the Media Development and Diversity Agency, whose mandate is to develop the community media sector in South Africa.
Source: NAM NEWS NETWORK