Govt to support community radio stations
Solwezi, January 20, 2014, ZANIS –Government has assured community radio stations of its continued support that will include regular grants starting from next year.
Deputy Minister of information and Broadcasting services Poniso Njeulu said government wants to partner with community radio stations in informing the people so that they can participate in its national programmes.
Mr Njeulu said in Solwezi that government appreciates the commendable work community radio stations contribute to creating an informed society and employment for school leavers.
However, he said currently the law does not allow community radio stations to carry paid for adverts which has affected their funding.
The minister said it was for this reason that beginning next year government will be allocating grants to community radio stations for their operational costs.
“Government will start assisting community radio stations with grants just as it is doing with public media like Times of Zambia, Daily Mail and ZNBC,” he said.
He also said that immediately government starts implementing the 2014 budget, a number of courses targeted at community radio stations will be organised at Zambia Mass Communication Institute (ZAMCOM).
Mr Njeulu said government wants to raise standards of journalism among community radio stations’ volunteers so that they can become professional in executing their work.
The deputy minister said government is also committed to promoting self regulation of the media and it will listen to suggestions from stakeholders how best such would be approached.
He was responding to Solwezi radio executive director Elisha Kyanamina has asked government to introduce a course for radio technicians in its tertiary institutions to benefit community radio stations.
Mr Kyanamina raised concern that allowing Ministry of Information and Broadcasting Services permanent secretary to be chairman of the Independent Broadcasting Authority (IBA) would compromise the independence of the authority.
“Allowing the permanent secretary to chair the board would make the decisions of the IBA seem to tilt towards government. That is our feeling as stakeholders,” he said.
Earlier, Mr Kyanamina told Mr Njeulu that community radio stations are risking their radio transmission equipment by engaging people who are not fully conversant in handling the equipment.
He said there is need to introduce a course with a specific approach to radio broadcasting personalities and technicians because the equipment is highly technical but is currently handled by people who are not very conversant.
And he also appealed to government to introduce a revolving fund for community radio stations.
He said the radio station hosts 25 pastors from across different denominations to promote christian values and has also prioritised issues of health, food security and the environment in its broadcast.
He disclosed that Solwezi Radio has also distributed 4,000 pre-tuned solar powered transistor radios to listeners within its transmission radius of 10 kilometres who cannot afford to buy radios, and 1,000 of the same radio sets are yet to be distributed.
He said the goal of Solwezi Radio is to promote Christian living and getting people to support government by participating in its various programmes.