New radio stations join airwaves battle
Competition within the country’s broadcasting sector is set to increase, following the licensing of three new commercial radio stations by the Communications Regulatory Authority of Namibia (Cran).
The three new players are Touch FM, owned by the Namibian Broadcasting Corporation (nbc), Shipi FM, owned by Shipanga Holdings, and a Trustco Holdings owned station, Mix FM.
The proliferation of radio stations in Namibia has sparked concerns within the sector, with detractors questioning the significance of the new stations, given the current saturation, with the likes of Fresh FM and Radio Energy already among the commercial entities battling it out for market share.
Shipanga Holdings Public Relations Officer, Uejaa Kazondunge, said that Shipi FM has already started operating.
She said that the Ondangwa based station, which started broadcasting in June, has a staff compliment of 10.
The radio station is mainly targeting businesses at the town, focusing on empowerment.
There has been speculation that Shipi was strategically placed in Ondangwa, to compete with Omulunga Radio.
Touch FM Manager, Ricardo Goagoseb, said that they will officially start operating next month. He said Touch will be an entertainment radio station, which will target mainly the youth.
Goagoseb said the decision to start the station, was after they realised that the public broadcaster is not living up to its mandate of catering for every age group.
“We realised that even though we had a section for the youth, most of the time their programmes would be cut for emergency programmes, such as breaking news and parliament,” he said.
It was alleged last year that the station had made use of broadcasting frequencies without approval from CRAN, resulting in it being put off air, after less than four days of broadcasting.
Touch FM will bring to 11 the number of radio stations operated by the public broadcaster, in a market dominated by privately owned stations.
Trustco is also scheduled to start its new radio station called Mix FM, at a date still to be announced.
This comes as the Roman Catholic Church has also announced plans to restart the country’s only Catholic station, Radio Ecclesia.
Radio Ecclesia Namibia was granted a community radio broadcasting licence in 1999, but unfortunately it found itself located in an area where it faced enormous challenges, with regard to coverage for its intended listeners.
The station closed down in 2001 allegedly in reaction to growing pressure, as people had labeled it as a new version of VORGAN, the UNITA radio station.
Media Institute for Southern Africa (MISA) Namibia Director, Natasha Tibinyane, said that diversity in the media sector is encouraged; because citizens would then have more options in choosing platforms they can access information.
She said that the more competition the better, and that the best and strongest will remain, while the weaker players will fall away.
“But in the end, the citizen will benefit from a media sector that caters to their need to be educated, informed and entertained.
“As MISA we promote a diverse and plural media sector that has the freedom and independence to best cater to the public’s interest. It is important for the public to hold the media accountable, if we behave in an unprofessional and unethical manner.
“It is further important for media houses to uphold high journalistic standards. But we should not limit anyone from initiating new media platforms; let’s rather provide support to ensure that they add value to society. Namibia is globally celebrated and admired for our diverse and free media environment; let’s keep it that way,” she added.