Thursday, April 17, 2008

Fund set up for community radio stations in Zambia

Zambia’s community radio stations have been identified as an important source of information for rural communities across the vast country, APA learnt on Tuesday. To enhance their operations, therefore, the country’s ministry of information and broadcasting has announced that it will soon set up a fund to assist more local communities establish the radio stations in their areas, said the Permanent Secretary in the ministry, Emmanuel Nyirenda.
He added that the government had been prompted to make the move because it had seen the operational problems most of the radio stations faced during their operations.
This government announcement is a major shift from the previous tight control and stringent requirements the government had insisted on before allowing a community radio station to begin operating. Several of the community radio stations have had their licences revoked for airing news or programmes critical of government.
In the absence of a regulator for radio and television stations, licences have to be obtained from government who also have the power to dictate the contents of programmes. Nyirenda, however, said the government was now committed to seeing as many community stations set up, and to help them overcome financial hurdles it would make available funds to help with training and other requirements.
It is not clear whether the funds would be grants or loans, or what conditions would be attached before the funds can be accessed by the stations.
(Source: APA/R Netherlands Media Network Weblog)