Commmunity radios in South Africa

DHAKA, Bangladesh

APC staff writer Frederick Noronha runs in to Willie Currie in Dhaka, Bangladesh and asks: Could you share something with us on the South African community radio policy? It's a fairly useful one, isn't it so? Willie Currie, APC's manager of the Communications and Information Policy Programme answers: Yeah. There are 100 odd community radio stations in South Africa.
APC staff writer Frederick Noronha runs in to Willie Currie in Dhaka, Bangladesh and asks: Could you share something with us on the South African community radio policy? It's a fairly useful one, isn't it so? Willie Currie, APC's manager of the Communications and Information Policy Programme answers:

Yeah. There are 100 odd community radio stations in South Africa. You must have a non-profit entity supported by the community, that can show the community participates in the management and programming, and serves the interest of that community. The community can either be a geographical community or a community of interest.

So for example, in a South African case, there are a number of Christian and Muslim radio stations. And there are community radio stations dedicated to classical music and jazz, stations for old aged pensioners, there are number of women's radio stations.

Frederick Noronha: So, theoretically, couldn't this develop into a nightmare scenario? One which governments in most of the countries of Asia actually fear and dread and use as an excuse for not granding community radio stations licenses?

No. Because community radio is not a threat to stability. It's a space which enables a community to discuss a broad

range of issues that are of concern to it.

And, there are rules, and a code of conduct, with regard to hate speech, for example. Which then regulates any of the

dangers that governments fear with regard to incitement, to violence, encitement of ethnic difference or around religious

intolerance.

In fact, a radio station that allows hate speech is called before an independent complaints board and asked to explain itself, and can be censured. There's a threat of losing its license, and a requirement to retract any hate speech and penalties.

But this is all done within the context of a constitution that promotes freedom of expression. There are checks and balance between freedom of expression and the prohibition of hate speech. This is a much more healtier process from providing communities to have a voice.

Really there's nothing to fear from community radio. It's a positive way in which communities can develop themselves and articulate their interests and their concerns.

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