Notes for Dr ZL Mkhize, Premier of the KwaZulu-Natal Province at the launch of Bay community television station channel 56, Protea Hotel, Empangeni
15 Oct 2009
Master of ceremonies
Honourable Mayor of Umhlathuze, Councillor Z Mnqayi
Chairperson of Bay community television, TF Fakazi
Board members present
Station Manager, TE Mncwango
Representatives from the Media Diversity and Development Agency
Representatives from Independent Communications Authority (ICASA) and Sentech
President of the KwaZulu-Natal Music House
Management and presenters of Bay Television
Members of the community
As I stand here this morning listening to speakers giving messages of support, I am realising that this country is not running short of ideas. The democracy we are enjoying today at one stage was an idea which brought many of our brothers and sisters together. They came together to fight for the realisation of an ideal country where there is peace, tolerance and equal opportunities for all South Africans.
Now that we have achieved this, we need to ask ourselves; have we invested sufficiently to safeguard these gains? And most of all, what are we doing to strengthen peace? What binds people together is dialogue and conversation but are we doing enough to encourage an ongoing dialogue amongst ourselves? Can we safely say our communities are well informed about opportunities that have been brought about by democracy?
The danger is that people who are not informed about opportunities that are out there for the taking can easily become disillusioned. If they are not encouraged to dream, many of our people are at risk of becoming cynical about their prospects in life. Master of ceremonies, we are gathered here to celebrate the realisation of an idea which was conceived few years ago by members of the community.
Former and present board members of Bay Television (TV) had an idea of a fully fledged community television station. Their idea of this television station ignited them to be on the frontlines of producing a potential instrument which will fuel new realities. Undoubtedly, the launch of this station is yet another significant step towards the realisation of a “knowledge base society.” These are people who create and exchange information for socio-economic development.
In the last 15 years of our democracy, the state media has been displaced by the new media where there is a diversity of ownership. It should be pointed out that, before the new dispensation, community media was virtually unknown in South Africa. By the end of 1999 there were already 65 community radio stations broadcasting to communities in rural, semi-urban and urban areas across the country. The essence of this is that as we create more access to opportunities, many of our people will depend less on government and more on institutions of civil society which is a good thing for our democracy.
Programme director, I am referring to institutions of society that put more emphasis on education, health, social and economic development, culture and religion. The good thing about such institutions is that they can thrive even when government falter. The community media is one of these institutions. As a fundamental principle, community media should be promoted by all stakeholders as the national asset. This should be reflected in the support given by big companies through their social investment initiatives and by government through the creation of an enabling environment for community radio and television stations to thrive.
Before South Africa’s transition to democracy in 1994, the apartheid government won global notoriety for controlling the airwaves and harassing anyone who sought to provide a different view using the state-owned broadcaster. With the current government, through Independent Communications Authority of South Africa (ICASA), we’ve ensured that there is a diversity of views in the media by granting broadcasting licenses to independent commercial radio stations as well as public and community radio and television stations.
Community stations are recognised as one of the best ways to reach marginalised communities because they bridge the information gap between the literate and the illiterate. By nature, community stations put decision making in the hands of the local community. This translocation of power enables communities to express their own ideas and opinions. Individual community members are able to define developmental goals and collaborate to attain them.
There are approximately more than 122 community radio stations in the country, with KwaZulu-Natal boasting more than 15. The launch of Bay TV today is yet another important development in the history of the community media in this province. Section one of ICASA Act defines a “community broadcasting services” as broadcasting service which:
* is fully controlled by a non-profit entity and for non-profitable purpose
* service a particular community
* encourages members of the community served by it to participate in the selection and provision of programmes to be broadcast in the course of such broadcasting service.
In February this year, with the support of the provincial government, the community of Zululand celebrated the launch of the Zululand community radio station. Government invested more than R500 000 in this radio station and the digital community hub located in the station. The station and the hub have enabled the community to make use of new digital technologies to improve radio programming and gathering of news. The internet is used for research and computers are used for digital production and for programme distribution.
As the provincial government we are of the view that access to telecommunication and broadcasting services is not only for personal development but it is a tool for socio-economic development. No doubt, communities of Uthungulu and other districts in the northern parts of this province have been empowered with a tool that they can use to shape their destiny. Issues that should be given priority in these stations include:
* encouraging a healthy society
* promoting, protecting and restoring our culture and heritage
* fighting social ills such as teenage pregnancy, HIV and AIDS and crime
* encouraging dialogue and healthy debate
* encouraging education and entrepreneurship.
Rapid spread of information through information communication technology (ICT)
Ladies and gentlemen, the rapid spread of information and communications technologies is changing the way economic and social development occurs in most countries and we don’t want KwaZulu-Natal to be left behind. The globalisation of information communication technology (ICT) is freeing millions of bright minds to work together in ways never before possible. Through the provision of technology the new brightest ideas are not only available to the affluent communities in the big cities but to every South African even in remote areas.
New communication tools enhance skills and learning, and make it easier for the citizens to access services. Citizens can learn how to open a company online, instead of waiting in long lines, saving time and money for everyone involved.
More importantly, health workers can coordinate to halt the spread of diseases and bring munch needed quality healthcare to patients and the community through the latest technology.
It should not come as a surprise when I tell you that the launch of Bay TV means that you now have a tool which will enable you to fully participate in shaping the future of your district. In fact, as you become self empowered, you will have the opportunity to utilise this communication tool to empower those around you.
Presenters are agents of change
I am sure many of you have noticed that the world is changing very fast. New economic and social imperatives are bringing nations and regions closer together. On the other hand, education is recognised as having a central role in the promotion of economic competitiveness and social progress. Education is critical in supporting community development, addressing inter-generation poverty and it plays a significant role in ensuring the development of individuals.
The knowledge generated by education has the capacity to transform the fortunes of a country, taking it from endemic poverty to remarkable success. The launch of Bay TV provides an opportunity to create a knowledge base society capable of transforming the fortunes of the country. I see the core objective of Bay TV as that of equipping the community with the knowledge and skills but this will only be possible through the provision of quality programmes by committed and dedicated presenters.
By virtue of working for a community station, the presenters should be the agents of change. They should envision the future and see it with clarity because they have, at the press of a button, access to the marginalised and the underdeveloped members of our society.
Human resource development for the community media
Master of ceremonies, ever since the process of issuing licenses for community radio and TV stations in the country started, presenters who are volunteers have always been an essential component of this broadcasting sector. However, volunteerism is generally misunderstood among community stations and this has led to underdevelopment and lack of sustainability of this sector.
The difficulty that many community stations face is compounded by the absence of human resource and skills development policies. Many quality presenters lack growth opportunities inside their own stations and therefore leave in order to advance their careers. Many short-term training efforts, including technical workshops, fail categorically to build the capacity of individual stations and the sector as a whole.
I believe that the immediate task for the Board of Directors and the management of Bay TV is to put in place specific guidelines and systems to ensure that there is a clear understanding of the role of each and every staff member in the station. These guidelines should include:
* defining volunteerism, including why people volunteer and what the benefits are to the station
* describing how volunteerism fits with community media structures and profiling volunteer roles within Bay TV
* developing systems for volunteer recruitment and training
* outlining effective support systems and financial incentives for volunteers
Developing the potential of volunteers for a community television station requires research that draws in appropriate experience from various government departments such as health, education, economic development, finance and rural development. This should also include other stakeholders such as colleges, institutes of high technologies and universities. Collectively, these stakeholders should also elaborate a long-term vision for Bay TV. In particular how to build local capacities to ensure a dynamic and sustainable community TV station that makes appropriate contributions to local and national development.
In conclusion, ladies and gentlemen, I want to say to the people of KwaZulu-Natal, they must take pride in their community media but I am fully aware that this is dependent on their participation in the affairs of their stations.
Although many community stations do act in the community’s interest and do provide educational programmes and other services, most do not have structures that are truly democratic, participatory or representative.
While there is some truth to the claim that stations are responsible by the necessity of being part of and in constant dialogue with the local community, this is not the same thing as accountability, nor it is a legitimate means of community ownership, nor does it guarantee community groups’ participation in policy and decision-making.
Decision making in most community stations ends with individuals who were at the forefront of the process of applying for a license. They invariably becoming accountable to themselves and this remains a significant disconnect between the station and the community it serves. This issue, I believe poses a danger to the success of community radio and TV stations in the country and must be addressed.
It is important that ICASA as a broadcasting industry regulator and the Media Development Agency of South Africa continue to raise awareness about community media mandates and services.
The two organisations, as representative bodies of the broadcasting media should take the lead in advocating for a strong set of binding principles that provide guidelines to the community on how to ensure their ongoing participation in the affairs of the stations. The success of Bay TV is dependent on partnership and collaboration among different groups which are present here. I wish you all the best in the future.
Issued by: KwaZulu-Natal Provincial Government
15 October 2009
Source: KwaZulu-Natal Provincial Government (http://www.kwazulunatal.gov.za/)
Issued by: KwaZulu-Natal Provincial Government
15 Oct 2009
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