Communications Minister Nomvula Mokonyane will this week meet with Sentech, the National Community Radio Forum (NCRF) and the Media Development and Diversity Agency (MDDA), as an attempt to resolve the current impasse which relates to monies owed by community broadcasters to Sentech.
Currently, community radio stations owe Sentech an amount of R33 million for signal distribution services provided by Sentech to the broadcasters.
This outstanding signal distribution fees have a potentially negative effect in the legal and administrative functioning of Sentech.
"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," Minister Mokonyane said.
Sentech has over the last week threatened to cut signal to over 17 community radio stations who have failed to pay the signal distribution fees due.
"The community media sector is a critical sector in the promotion of access to information, especially for rural and peri-urban communities. As 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.
Government is committed to ensuring that the community media sector is provided the requisite 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: South African Government News Agency