During the recently concluded online forum on #CommunityBroadcastingAfrica, Nkopane Maphiri, the Chief Executive Officer of Torque Media, moderated the ‘How Community Broadcasters Can Utilise Acquired Resources Effectively’ session. The session was aimed at evaluating existing frameworks that could promote increased economic activity to sustain revenue.
In the course of the conversation with the panellists, Nkopane noted one of the significant obstacles impacting the community broadcasting sector. According to Maphiri, across the continent, community broadcasting has been set up with no book to guide the community broadcasters on how the industry operates. Additionally, community broadcasters are left to compete with well experienced commercial and public broadcasters for a piece of the advertising pie.
Furthermore, governments and regulators fail to acknowledge that most community radio stations are set up in poverty-stricken areas. As a result, these stations are unable to self-sustain due to the geographical location and the state of resources in the areas they operate in. The consequence of this is that advertisers are not able to invest in a community that carries zero prospect of Return On Investment (ROI) due to a lack of buying power.
South Africa has, however, recognised this gap, said Maphiri. To bridge the imbalance of power, South Africa established the Media Development and Diversity Agency (MDDA), a funding institution, with the objective to support community broadcasters. This monetary support from the government is raised through taxes gained from commercial broadcasters, giving community broadcasters leverage to access resources and compete fairly with commercial broadcasters for advertising space. However, the downside with the said model is that it has created a dependency on the fund rather than sustainability.