As we prepare for the Online Forum on Understanding Effective Regulatory Framework for Community Radio Broadcasting on the 29th of April 2021, Broadcast Media Africa (BMA) had a chat with one of the panellists, Ms Leah Maina of the Independent Communications Authority of South Africa (ICASA).
Maina shared guidance for new entrants into the community radio space to conduct research and consult the Regulator before entering the market to acquire a clear understanding of the requirements both at the point of application and the ongoing compliance requirements that will be required for the duration of the licence.
Below is the excerpt of BMA’s conversation between Leah Maina:
BMA: What influenced your decision in agreeing to take part in the Online Forum on Understanding Effective Regulatory Framework for Community Radio Broadcasting?
Leah Maina: The virtual forum provides a valuable platform for the Regulator to engage and share ideas with industry professionals to understand better the challenges faced in the Community Radio Broadcasting sector and hopefully identify synergies that can be exploited in the future to further develop the South African community media Sector.
BMA: In your opinion, how do we advance the field of Community Radio Broadcasting?
Leah Maina: As the Regulator, the field of community radio broadcasting can be advanced by developing and implementing a regulatory framework that walks the tight rope between being accessible enough to encourage participation and new entrants into the sector, but also robust enough to ensure that the needs and interests of the community to be served are not violated.
BMA: Do you have any advice for individuals and organisations new in the broadcasting and media space, especially those who would like to enter the community broadcasting arena?
Leah Maina: Reach out to the Regulator before entering the market and get a clear understanding of the requirements both at the point of application and the ongoing compliance requirements that will be required for the duration of the licence. I would also advise that stakeholders reach out to other key players in the sector and the various industry bodies to understand the value chain of community media, the challenges that have been experienced by those who entered the sector before and to draw lessons on what pitfalls to avoid going forward.
BMA: Could you please tell us what you hope fellow participants will take away from this industry event?
Leah Maina: I hope that fellow participants will come away from the event with an increased appreciation for the need for industry and public sector players to work together to make the community broadcasting sector more sustainable. The community sector is an essential link between the community and various government departments/initiatives and can improve the livelihoods of the communities that they serve. More importantly, I hope that the participants will also appreciate the role that regulation must play to ensure that community media advances the constitutional and public policy objectives of pluralism and diversity of views and increasing ownership and control of media by a diverse range of communities.
About Leah Maina:
Leah Maina is a regulatory expert with over ten years of experience in the Information and Communications Technology (ICT) sector. Leah has been involved in regulation in the ICT sector since 2008 when she joined Pygma Consulting – a South African consulting firm with a focus on ICT regulatory compliance and policy development across the African continent. In that capacity, she was involved in identifying and cultivating strategic working relationships with key private and public sector players in the telecommunications industry, including both established and start-up mobile and broadband operators in the rest of Africa.
In 2015, she joined the Independent Communications Authority of South Africa (“ICASA”) and worked her way up to her current position as the Executive: Licensing and Compliance. During her time at ICASA, Leah has been involved in various regulatory projects, including leading the Licensing process to licence the third Free to Air Commercial Broadcasting Service Licensee in South Africa and the ongoing licensing of Community Sound and Television broadcasting services. Her roles have included strategy, operations, and policy and regulatory advice.
Leah holds an MA in Law, Crime and Society from the University of Manchester and an LLB (Hons) degree from the University of Kent at Canterbury.”
Leah will be joining the conversation on Regulatory Obligations, Licencing Conditions And Challenges For Setting Up Community Radio Services in Africa under her capacity as Executive Licensing at Independent Communications Authority of South Africa.