Sentech Switches Off 15 Community Radio Stations Because of Debt
A report that was published by The City Press shows that the state-owned began its first batch of the switch-offs last week, adding that more community radio stations will be affected off unless they clear the debts they owe.
Hope FM, the first and only gospel radio station in Mpumalanga (in South Africa) disclosed that like them, dozens of other stations had received threatening letters which states that they face a pending “suspension of their services” if they do not pay up on or before the stated deadline.
A representative of Sentech revealed that community TV stations that have debts to clear off would be affected by future switch-offs.
Some of the other community radio stations that have been affected by Sentech’s switch-off are Karabo FM and Forte FM. In a chat with Karabo FM’s Station Manager, Duncan Sinthumule, he said they had requested to make a payment arrangement with the state-owned signal distribution company, but it was discovered that Sentech’s expectations for a payment plan were unrealistic.
Sentech wanted Karabo FM to pay R116,458 immediately, followed by monthly instalment deposits of R52,153 for 18 months until the debt is cleared.
Sinthumule said: “We cannot even afford to pay as much as R15,000 on a monthly basis. So, how will we be able to adhere to their choice of payment plan? He asks.
Community radio stations as not-for-profit entities are expected to source for their funds through sponsorship, fundraising and advertising. The affected Radio stations and other concerned parties have called for a meeting with the Minister of Communications, Nomvula Mokonyane, to resolve the issue.