Government continues to accelerate efforts in community media sector

By NtuNews Reporter

Media statement

10 November 2020

Government continues to accelerate efforts to strengthen sustainability in the community media sector. The Media Development and Diversity Agency (MDDA) supported by GCIS in the Eastern Cape conducted a provincial funding outreach programme in East London, aimed at educating and informing potential and existing MDDA funding applicants about the agency’s new funding processes introduced last year, as well as compliance requirements in order to qualify for MDDA funding.

This outreach programme runs parallel with the call for grant funding applications, which officially opened on 15th October for a six-week period ending on 30 November 2020. Prospective applicants had an opportunity to engage with organisations such as ICASA, SENTECH and SARS, who play an integral role in the sustainability of community media projects.

Community media are crucial to ensuring media pluralism and freedom of expression and are an indicator of a healthy democratic society. As an alternative medium for the public to access much needed information, community media provides more opportunities for government to leverage in her quest to be accountable and participatory to communities. They have a greater focus on local issues of concern and facilitate public platforms for dialogue, debate and discussion.

Despite the great strides by MDDA in supporting community media, the sustainability of community print media remains a serious concern and a threat to media pluralism. The print media sector remains largely untransformed with undue concentration of media ownership in the hands of a few industry players, having a significant impact on media and transformation.

Transformation however needs to be tackled from various fronts. Whilst policy planned at addressing transformation is a good start, it is not enough. How transformation is financed should also be a priority of the Government to ensure that transformation becomes a sustainable programme. MDDA is tasked with the support of community print and small commercial print projects, but financial constraints compromise the sustainability of community print projects and transformation. All these challenges pose a threat to ensuring that community print media remains sustainable and growing to the highest level.

It is important that there is commitment to support community print media to ensure that community media journalists strive for quality journalism.

The MDDA is a statutory development agency, deriving its mandate, from Section 16 and 32 of the Constitution Act No. 108 of 1996, thereby providing for freedom of expression and access to information. As a partnership between the South African Government and major print and broadcasting companies, it promotes and assists in the development of community media and small commercial media in South Africa and the transformation of the media, by providing support (financial, capacity building, etc.) in terms of the MDDA Act No 14 of 2002. It also aims to raise public awareness with regard to media development and diversity issues, and to encourage media literacy and a culture of reading.

Link to audio clip available↓

https://soundcloud.app.goo.gl/6taE

For further information: www.mdda.org.za

Issued by:

Ndlelantle Pinyana: GCIS Provincial Manager: Eastern Cape

For more information contact

Tabita Ngqunge – 072 3447 712

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