Address by the Deputy Minister of Communications, Ms Stella Ndabeni-Abrahams, on the occasion of the Government Communication & Information System Budget Vote 9 in Parliament, Cape Town
Moving South Africa forward through a reliable community media
15 July 2014
Chairperson and Members of the Portfolio Committee on Communications
Minister of Communications
Chairpersons, Board Members and CEOs of State Owned Entities
Senior Government Officials
Captains of industry
Members of the media
Ladies and gentlemen
Molweni, Dumelang, Avuxeni, Thobela, Ndi Madekwana, Lochani, Good Evening!
Brutally beaten, handcuffed and tied to the back of the police van, he was dragged for about 500m and later found dead in a police cell. The Mozambican taxi driver, Mido Macia's incident was exposed by ordinary community members of Daveyton who used their cellphones to capture the video that is evidence of the whole brutal act. As a result of this vigilance through citizen journalism we recently saw nine police officers being dismissed and charged. As we tell the good stories that we have we also encourage you South Africans to "also tell us the stories that are difficult, painful and troublesome" as DP Ramaphosa said. This will help our country move forward.
Ladies and gentlemen
From pigeons to twitter, telegraph to e-mail, communication has come a long way. It is almost implausible to imagine a world without social media, instant messaging and live chatting. Today’s news break on facebook; accidents are reported on twitter and citizens assist authorities to capture criminals. This is the evolution of communication.
Looking back, celebrating 20 Years of Freedom
Join me as I tell this good story!
In 1994 we saw the first community broadcast which was Bush Radio. Today there are more than 150 Radio Stations, five Community television stations and a number of Small Commercial Media newspapers and magazines published in indigenous languages, owned by various media owners and communities. From Musina to Stellenbosch there are over 8.6 million community radio listeners. Community television has grown in numbers and viewership. The support, both financial and non-financial, these stations receive from government is unparalleled in the world. These stations have not only added to media diversity in the Republic; they have further provided communities with a platform to hear themselves and listen to their own stories. The stations have actually become the heartbeat of the communities. Almost every District Municipality has Community and Small Commercial Media in the form of community radio newspapers and/or magazines.
Following the establishment of MDDA and through its advocacy and lobbying, we have seen a number of changes which have led to the sector's growth and development of a diverse media. These changes include, amongst others, an enabling regulatory environment created by ICASA; reduction of tariffs for community broadcasting signal distribution by SENTECH; and discounts provided by printers for community and small commercial newspapers and magazines. Iyabukeka lonto.
When we see all these developments, we cannot hide our excitement. We nod with our heads and say, “indeed there is a great story to tell because 2014 is better than 1994! Bakithi Kuyajabulisa lokho!
The reality of the matter is that there is still a lot of work to be done with regards to content as we still find radio stations that only play music and not giving attention to other aspects such as news, education and information dissemination which is what community media was created for. As the father of our liberation Tata Nelson Mandela taught us, the ANC is the repository of the aspirations of the overwhelming majority of our people and we must lead and learn from them. It is this principle that we live by to engage our communities through various platforms such as Izimbizo, radio and TV talk shows, government publications, social network live chats. Rhi khou kandela phanda! (We are going ahead).
As the President Jacob Zuma led administration we cannot be joyful that despite its consistent audience growth in the last five years, community broadcasting (both radio and TV) accounts for only 2% of the total advertising expenditure. Neither can we be content that 20 years into democracy, black participation in the South African print media industry stands at 14% and gender representation is still low. We are still experiencing challenges when it comes to the sustainability of Community and Small Commercial Media. There is a need to ensure that the advertising cake is shared by all and distributed in a manner that supports media diversity.
This is an issue that the Department of Communications will address with all relevant stakeholders. In addition, the print media partner’s contributions have decreased in the recent years (now only R4 million). This has resulted in a revised strategy regarding the support for print media projects with the focus now on consolidating and strengthening current beneficiaries than funding new projects. A swi tsakisi!
All these issues require our urgent attention because they are at the core of building this country. As the new Ministry of Communications, we therefore undertake to tackle them with great zeal and vigour as part of consolidating the democratic transformation of our country. Dit is belangrik!
On the print media side, which is still dominated by the “big four”, we have within government, Vuk’uzenzele, Public Sector Manager, GovComms and MyDistrictToday produced by GCIS, as well as a broad range of publications by national, provincial and local departments and entities. We are also seeing the emergence of a number of independent newspapers and magazines throughout the country.
Through the Broad Based Black Economic Empowerment Act we will enforce greater transformation in this industry, throughout the entire value chain, that is, publishing, printing, distribution, advertising and ABC certification. This is an area which we will work earnestly with, amongst others, the newly formed Department of SMMEs. We will pursue our objectives in line with the goals of the National Development Plan and this administration’s commitment to radical socio-economic transformation and placing the economy in the hands of millions of our people who were previously excluded from participation. We know from our history that the media sector was characterised by economic exclusion and the suppression of content reflecting the experiences and struggles of the majority of South Africans.
Honourable Members, in the past financial year, MDDA:
- Supported 29 Community Media Projects to the tune of R22.5million,
- Supported nine Small Commercial Print Media projects to the tune of R5.7 million,
- Trained 516 community and small commercial media practitioners in various skills,
- Launched research into the transformation of print media, and
- Supported the 65 community radio syndicated broadcast of the Nelson Mandela state funeral.
Looking ahead – Moving South Africa forward through a vibrant and diverse media landscape
The National Development Plan articulates that by 2030, South Africa’s rural communities should have greater opportunities to participate fully in the economic, social and political life of the country. Furthermore, it stipulates that South Africa needs to build a more equitable society where opportunity is not defined by race, gender, class or religion.
In this respect, people’s capabilities should be built through, amongst others, enabling access to employment and transforming ownership patterns of the economy.The role of community media thereby becomes critical in taking forward this transformation agenda. Not only is its role in communication, but also in job creation and skills development.
In this financial year, we will further engage with the relevant stakeholders to launch sport programming on community radio stations. Furthermore, the department will work together with relevant stakeholders to review the existing media accountability mechanisms; balance the individual's rights to dignity and freedom of expression and freedom of the media; and review the privacy laws as well as those dealing with defamation. We will further forge partnerships with other stakeholders such as traditional leaders and the religious sectors to devise strategies on their role in furthering government’s communication interventions.
Lastly, in the upcoming financial year, MDDA will:
- Support 21 Community Media Projects to the tune of R23 million,
- Support nine Small Commercial Print Media projects to the tune of R6. Million, and
- Train 456 community and small commercial media practitioners in various skills.
I would like to assure this House that the Department of Communications will continue to support and increase the work of the MDDA though the transition period. On this note ladies and gentlemen, we express our sincere condolences to the family of Frans Mehlape, an impressive journalist at Alex FM and whose skills were nurtured through community media. He passed away this past Sunday.
Allow me to acknowledge the sterling work executed by the MDDA Board; as well as the committed employees under the leadership of Mr Lumko Mtimde. I wish the Board members and the new CEO all the best in steering this ship forward.
I further express our heartfelt gratitude to the funding partners of the MDDA who committed to support Government in the implementation of the objectives of the MDDA Act.
Fellow South Africans,
As we continue to tell the good stories that we have built in the past twenty years, we invite you to utilise the platforms we have created to tell us your stories As Deputy President Ramaphosa says, “Tell them robustly and accurately, without fear or favour. Tell them movingly.”