Community station Cape Town TV to be launched


Cape Town is to have its own television station, which will start broadcasting in August this year. Called Cape Town TV (or CTV), the new channel has just been awarded a community television broadcasting licence by the Independent Broadcasting Authority of South Africa (ICASA). This means that the station must be a non-profit operation and must be “owned and controlled” by the community of Cape Town, which is defined as all those who can view the channel on their television sets.

Cape Town TV has been working towards this point for the past three years. This process has entailed mobilizing the people of Cape Town through developing a membership base of organisations that represent their interests.

Says Cape Town TV chairman Martin Jansen, “This is a breakthrough for Capetonians in terms of freedom of expression and enabling them to reflect on their lives and organize around issues that concern them like housing, electricity, education and employment.”

Founded by over 200 non-profit organisations in 2006, CTV is committed to providing community access to the powerful medium of television as a tool to promote community cultural development, human rights and social justice. The aim of this community TV channel is to give civil society a presence in television. This means that NGOs, community organisations, institutions and government will all become content providers and will form the economic underpinning of the enterprise.

The channel will generate revenues through donations, membership fees, advertising and sponsorship. Comments Jansen, “Television can be a lucrative medium and its community orientation could be threatened by commercialisation, so the community must ensure that community TV remains in its hands now and into the future.”

Membership of Cape Town TV is open to any organisation with a developmental orientation in the sectors of arts and culture, education, sport, labour and non-profit organisations. The annual membership fee is R1000 (US$130.67), but poorer organisations can request a reduction or exemption from the board. The fee structure enables democratic ownership and funding, rather than the channel having to rely on commercial revenue alone.

Cape Town TV will reach a large viewership in the Cape Town metropolitan area by transmitting from Sentech’s site on Tygerberg mountain, which means that all Capetonians in line-of-sight of this transmitter will be able to receive the signal on channel 38. Because of the city’s mountainous topography there are five transmitter sites required to reach the whole of Cape Town and so the channel will hire additional transmitters as it develops.

Says Jansen, “This new channel couldn’t have come at a better time as we face crises in various aspects of our lives such as rising food prices, rampant crime and environmental degradation. The only people who can deal with these issues effectively are those in the community itself. But to do that Capetonians must get organized and community TV is one means to support the community in addressing issues that affect it through information, education and entertainment.”

Cape Town TV will also contribute to the development of the video industry by providing opportunities for independent production houses, emerging film makers and video students to produce content. While programming will focus mainly on Cape Town, international programmes will also present a window to the world that is different from mainstream television. For more information, see the Cape Town TV website at