Soldiers of the South African National Defence Force walk past a queue of shoppers outside a supermarket in the Johannesburg CBD on March 31 2020. Picture: AFP/EMMANUEL CROSET
Soldiers of the South African National Defence Force walk past a queue of shoppers outside a supermarket in the Johannesburg CBD on March 31 2020. Picture: AFP/EMMANUEL CROSET

Media Development and Diversity Agency (MDDA) has set aside R60m to enable SA’s community media, including community broadcasting stations, to support the industry during and beyond the 21-day Covid-19 lockdown.

The MDDA is a statutory development agency tasked with promoting and assisting in the development of community media and small commercial media in SA, and the transformation of the media.

Community media is seen as a crucial tool by the government in the dissemination of Covid-19 information, as it battles to contain the rapidly spreading pandemic.  

The MDDA said it had resolved to extend financial support to the community and small commercial-media sector, to cover both  Covid-19 emergency response funding, as well as 32 applications for grant funding.

“In amplifying financial support to the community and small commercial-media sector, the MDDA board has reinforced the message of the government and the agency that no SA lacks the necessary information, both to be active citizens and to protect themselves and their communities,” MDDA CEO Zukiswa Potye said.

“The MDDA is grateful for the vital contribution the community and small commercial media sector make to communities across SA, particularly in worrying times such as these. We also recognise the risks that they are facing in continuing to provide their services to their audiences and readers during the national lockdown.”

The board approved a total of up to R10m in emergency response funding to be dispensed to qualifying applicants by March 31. This funding is designed to help the beneficiaries to acquire safety measures to minimise health risks to staff and to assist with “community specific content”.

Grant funding for 22 community broadcast projects and 10 print media projects was also approved, totalling R49.9m.

Funding is approved for a one-year period and covers a range of items from broadcast equipment and transmission fees (for broadcast projects) to printing costs (for print projects), stipends and content development.

The next call for applications for funding will take place in the second quarter of 2020.

phakathib@businesslive.co.za