South Africa’s community television sector launch association

Regulation & Policy

South Africa’s community television sector has made a huge stride forward with the launch of an association to advance the interests of the sector.

Known as the Association of Community Television South Africa (ACTSA), it will perform various roles for the sector. These include advocacy and lobbying, programme syndication, content exchange, maximising commercial opportunities, training and capacity building.

“ACTSA will make an important contribution to building media diversity and development in South Africa. Now we as the community television sector have a body that provides support and guidance for community TV stations and we are able to address our issues with one voice representing all the stakeholders in the sector,” says Motse Mfuleni from Bay TV, who was elected chairman.

The formation consists of all the existing community television licensees in South Africa, these being Soweto TV, Cape Town TV (CTV), Bay TV, One KZN, Tshwane TV, North West TV and Bara TV.

The stations signed a Memorandum of Understanding which commits them to a process of formalising and registering ACTSA as a legal entity. An interim steering committee was elected, consisting of Mfuleni (Bay TV) as chairperson, Karen Thorne (CTV) as deputy chairperson and Colin MacKenzie (Tshwane TV) as general secretary.

One of the first tasks ACTSA has set itself is to formulate a charter to guide the activities of the sector. The charter will cover areas such as the mandate of community TV, licensing categories and framework, governance, ownership and control, programming, revenue streams and distribution platforms.

The member stations committed themselves to a range of common values, including a people-centred rather than profit-driven approach to broadcasting, editorial and fiduciary independence, freedom of speech and community participation. ACTSA has adopted the tagline, “Action Stations” to reflect its active stance towards community development and communication.

An organisation of this nature has been under discussion among the channels since 2011, but it has now been formed in response to the common challenges faced by community TV stations. One of these is recent policy recommendations by the Department of Communications, which has proposed regionalising community television to broadcast at provincial level. The DoC has also pushed for the boards of community television stations to be appointed by government, a move to which ACTSA is opposed.

The member stations committed themselves to a range of common values, including a people-centred rather than profit-driven approach to broadcasting, editorial and fiduciary independence, freedom of speech and community participation. ACTSA has adopted the tagline, ‘Action Stations’ to reflect its active stance towards community development and communication.

The formation of ACTSA will enable the community TV sector to collectively engage with other bodies as a sector rather than individual stations.

For more information contact ACTSA spokesperson Colin MacKenzie