Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Botswana gains three national commercial radio stations

The National Broadcasting Board (NBB) of Botswana has granted offers to three bidders for national commercial radio stations. If the three bidders, Yarona FM, Gabz FM and new entity Duma FM agree to undisclosed conditions of the offers, they could be licenced by next month. NBB Chairman Dr Masego Mpotokwane confirmed that the Board had given draft licence conditions to the three companies and that everything would be finalised at a meeting next month.
Mpotokwane said there were six citizen-owned companies bidding for the licences, and emphasised that the licences were strictly reserved for local companies. He added that even majority shareholders in the companies are citizens.
Station Manager for Yarona FM Dumi Lopang on Friday expressed cheers at the news, saying that they would be able to compete with government-owned commercial channel RB2. Lopang said that they were ready to go nationwide and that they would soon introduce changes to their programming to increase Setswana content, talk content and news content from urban and peri-urban centres around the country. He said they planned to have more features from across the country and that youth would have more access to information through the station: “We want to ensure that people around the country contribute and participate in our broadcasting. We want to make an impact.”
Lopang revealed that the Botswana Telecommunications Corporation (BTC) had offered to lease its masts to them. A condition of their licence is for them to cover 90 percent of the country in 15 years. Lopang said he was confident that they would reach the target within the set time and that they intended to broadcast in urban and peri-urban areas before the end of the year.
National Director of the Botswana chapter of the Media Institute of Southern Africa (MISA Botswana) Modise Maphanyane said that the new licences were a welcome development that MISA had eagerly awaited. He said that there would be a diversity of views throughout Botswana unlike the present situation in which people in rural areas had no option but to consume only government views that Radio Botswana offered.
(Source: Mmegi/The Reporter/R Netherlands Media Network Weblog)