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Yearbook Jan 2019

14 yearbook 2019 RADIO SA Glitter and gold: Dynamics of the dial At Radio Days Africa 2017, Chris Wright (head of BBC Radio 1 – music) said we were entering the “golden era” of radio. As we reflect on the dynamics of the dial for 2018, TIM ZUNCKEL cautions that while there was an element of truth in Wright’s statement, all that glitters is not gold! C reativity, astute practitioners and Tim Zunckel, independent radio station agility have created a platform for success, across commercial and community radio, which will continue to thrive in 2019. There is no doubt that 2018 was tough on the industry. The signal shutdown by Sentech of several community stations due to nonpayment, the continuing structural challenges at the Media Development and Diversity Agency (a vital support mechanism of the community sector), the regular turn of government’s ministerial wheel at the department of communication, shrinking commercial budgets, and the ongoing debacle at the SABC, were all contributing factors to a challenging year. The status of comunity radio The ICASA moratorium on issuing new community licences remained in place during the year and this seems set to continue this year. The National Community Radio Forum estimates there are 270 licenced and 180 operational community stations in South Africa. If you spend any amount of time with people in this sector, they will share the burdens of operating a successful radio station with you. Could it be that ICASA has actually made the right judgement call? Is the sector simply overwhelmed with stations that don’t have the resources, financial commitment and staff to successfully run these essential platforms? This has been a watershed year for a number of community stations that have redefined success in the sector to include financial independence. Is this a problem? No. Should it be encouraged? Yes. Financially solid stations rely less on political money, and therefore have the opportunity to create true community content that serves the needs of the audience, which is the essence of community broadcasting. The more this financial hybrid can be applied to community consultant radio, the better. Hopefully this year will see more community stations grow financially, strengthening audience numbers and stimulating community participation. For stations in non-affluent areas there is a real threat of being shut down, the latest casualty being Karabo FM in the Free State. Poor governance, issues at managerial and board level, as well as the financial and resource problems highlighted above, can easily spiral into a station that has its licence revoked. Audience numbers are a factor in the success of a station, but effective management is far more important in keeping the red light on. It has been said that when the SABC sneezes, the industry catches a cold. Last year the National Community Radio Forum made a strong argument for job creation, saying that if 10% of the proposed


Yearbook Jan 2019
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