2 July 2004
The Media Development and Diversity Agency (MDDA) has approved more funding for community and small commercial media projects as part of its drive to promote development and plurality of voices in South Africa’s media.
The MDDA, a partnership between the government and major media operators, disburses grants to community, small commercial and media research projects in four cycles each year. Its first round of grants was approved in January.
This time round, the MDDA’s board of directors approved funding for 10 media projects, five community radios, three community print and two small commercial print projects.
Some of the latest beneficiaries include the Moletjie Community Radio near Polokwane, that received funds to help build a studio on land donated by a local chief. This was a Moletjie FM’s second grant; the MDDA approved a small grant in January for a technical study on difficulties it faced in terms of its coverage.
One of South Africa’s oldest community radio stations, Moutse FM, has also been awarded a grant for mentoring and organisational development. Moutse FM broadcasts to Moutse village in Limpopo, but also reaches nearby areas like Dennilton, Marble Hall and Grobbelaarsdal in Mpumalanga.
Worker’s World Radio Production, a non-profit radio production agency owned by trade union federations that produces programmes on labour issues for about 40 community radio stations around South Africa, was also allocated funding. Worker’s World would use the grant to train community radio producers.
The National Community Radio Forum also received a grant to conduct studies into signal distribution, the establishment of joint services for community radio stations, and convergence or connectivity. The MDDA said it believed these studies would help the community radio sector to overcome some of the problems affecting its sustainability.
Barberton Community Radio in Mpumalanga also received a grant, for mentoring and organisational development.
In the print media sector, Amazwi Magazine, a non-profit print media initiative in the Hluhlwe and Mkhuze areas in KwaZulu-Natal, received funds to cover start-up and concept development costs. The project aims to offer writing and production training to people from the community, while producing a magazine focusing on cultural and tourism issues.
Nkomazi Voice, a non-profit newspaper distributed in the Nkomazi area of Mpumalanga, also received funding.
Agenda, a feminist media project based in Durban, KwaZulu-Natal, also received a grant to support their website training of women writers and to cover the production costs of one magazine per year over the next three years.
Genuine, a family magazine in KwaZulu-Natal, received a grant for capacity building to develop a sustainable business plan.
Leseding News, a small commercial newspaper based in Rustenburg in North West province, received financial support for research, training and equipment.
Libby Lloyd of the MDDA said the board had also earmarked funding for two other rural community radio stations, once it had received a clear breakdown of their needs.
Ten applications, mostly from new unlicensed community radio initiatives, were turned down.
The MDDA had decided not to provide support for unlicensed community radio initiatives until it became clear when the Independent Communications Authority of South Africa (Icasa) would begin further licensing of such projects, Lloyd said.
In terms of broadcasting legislation, Icasa has to conduct a review of community radio policies before reopening applications for licences.
For more information, visit the MDDA website. The MDDA can also be visited at its offices on the 2nd floor of The Mills, 66 Carr Street, Newtown, Johannesburg.