05 / 1993
HISTORICAL DEVELOPMENT: Before Namibia obtained its independence from South Africa in 1990, the South West African Broadcasting Corporation (SWABC)was essentially set up as part of the South African Broadcasting Corporation. There were 8 language services with no overlap between them, with the goals of promoting policies of separatist broadcasting undermining a sense of unitedness. Transmitters were located in strategic locations so as to block any external signals, ensuring maximum control of the flow of information into Namibia. Infrastructure was set up to service primarily the urban environment and white farmland. No broadcasters outside of the SWABC were permitted.
CURRENT LEGAL SITUATION: Namibia has made a commitment to the principal of an open press since independence. The public broadcaster, the Namibian Broadcasting Corporation (NBC), has special protective status under government legislation. It is a state corporation with its own board. There is a Bill in front of the Namibian Parliament to set up the Namibian Communications Commission. The Bill also deals with the licensing of private broadcasters. Under this Bill, some priority in license allocation will be given to broadcasters with high local content and community involvement. They may be charged lower license fees.
BROADCASTERS CURRENTLY IN EXISTENCE: NBC:Programming of the NBC changed following Namibian independence, but the structure of the corporation remained the same. In 1992, the NBC commissioned a study by the British based Thomson Foundation to investigate potential changes, internally (staff, programming, etc.)and structurally. In November 1992, a 3-5 year plan was proposed to alter the location of transmitters and regional stations.
COMMERCIAL:As of yet, there are no commercial radio stations in Namibia. However, it is worth noting the M-NET, a South African owned commercial television conglomerate entered Namibia in 1992. There is potential for foreign and local commercial radio broadcasters to follow suit.
COMMUNITY:There is only one known community radio initiative in existence: the KATUTURA COMMUNITY RADIO PROJECT (KCR). 5 community organizations are involved directly in the project. UNESCO has offered start-up costs for the station.
OTHER EXPERIENCES OF COMMUNITY/PARTICIPATORY BROADCASTING:The VOICE OF SWAPO was the resistance station in exile of the South West African People’s Organization during the struggle for independence.
See AMARC document, REPORT ON PARTICIPATORY RADIO IN SOUTHERN AFRICA, FEB.-MAY 1992 for further information.
AMARC=ASSOCIATION MONDIALE DES RADIODIFFUSEURS COMMUNAUTAIRES, AMARC, 1992 (Canada)