Dear community radio comrades and friends,
The establishment and legalization of community radio in South Africa is a part of our national heritage that all freedom loving South Africans can be proud of. In commemorating Heritage Day the Right2Know Campaign salutes the thousands of South Africans who fought to free the airwaves and those who today continue to strive to ensure that the information needs of all – in particular those excluded and marginalized in our society – are met.
We note that as you gather at the Community Radio Governance Conference in Limpopo the challenges facing our community radios are profound. In order to fulfill the mandate of being the ‘voice of the voiceless’ we must work together to ensure community radio is rooted in the communities you serve and that you are free from the undue influence of government and the private sector.
This poses two challenges: How do we ensure democratic governance and popular participation in the various aspects of our stations while also ensuring we have access to the necessary resources to run effectively and produce quality programming for our people?
Delegates to the Community Radio Governance Conference hold a diverse range of experiences regarding democratic governance and community participation at station level. We trust that delegates will assess these experiences and draw out best practice models to address the current challenges.
Regarding financial sustainability, the current over-dependence on discretionary advertising and funding from government and the private sector means many stations lack the necessary financial resources and de facto independence to serve communities.
The Right2Know Campaign believes that community media is a public good and should be publicly funded. Stations must ask ‘how much would it cost to run an effective station per year in various contexts?’. Our answer should lead us to a set of demands for meaningful public funding that can focus our engagement with the upcoming Broadcasting Policy Review and ensure an enabling environment that allows stations to spearhead the campaign for the free flow of information in our communities.
We thank you for the ongoing support to the Right2Know Campaign and hope that we can deepen our collaboration to take forward the struggle for media freedom and diversity. Please find attached the Right2Know Campaign policy statement on Media Freedom, Diversity, & the Right to Communicate for your information and support.
With warm regards
Right2Know National Coordinator
24 September 2012