The Independent Communications Authority of South Africa (ICASA) has received a Court Order to close down Magareng FM, a community radio station in the Northern Cape for broadcasting without a valid service and frequency spectrum licences, thereby contravening the Electronic Communications Act.
Magareng FM applied to the Authority for a Community Sound Broadcasting Service licence in October 2008 to provide a broadcasting service within the Magareng Municipality in the Northern Cape. Magareng FM’s application was considered and processed by the Authority and was subsequently granted a Five Year Community Sound Broadcasting licence. The licence was therefore not issued due to the fact the Magareng FM had to comply with pre-licencing terms and conditions, one of which was the registration certificate as a non-profit entity. The station was informed about the Authority’s decision on 25 March 2009.
Magareng FM supplied the Authority with a certificate of registration as a non-profit organization and a copy of their constitution. In considering Magareng FM’s constitution for compliance with the pre-licencing terms and conditions, the following were noted:
- that the constitution does not address the quorum for the Annual General Meeting as stated in the Authority’s letter dated 25 March 2009;
- that the constitution does not address appeal process as stated in the Authority’s letter dated 25 March 2009; and
- that the constitution which was lodged with the Department of Social Development is not the same as the one that was considered by the Authority when the registration for a class community sound broadcasting service was approved.
Based on the above concerns, the Authority’s Licensing Unit was of the view that Magareng FM has not complied with its pre-licensing conditions as outlined in the Authority’s letter dated 25 March 2009, and as a result cannot recommend that Magareng Community Radio be issued with a Class Community Sound Broadcasting Service licence, until such conditions are fulfilled.
In the interest of wanting to assist the station to comply with the conditions and commence with the broadcasting service, the Authority paid the station a visit and it was discovered that Magareng FM is providing an illegal broadcasting services on 90.7 MHz to the community in Warrenton without broadcasting service and frequency spectrum licences as required by the Electronic Communications Act.
The Authority decided to send a letter to the station on 30th October 2012 requesting them to desist from an illegal broadcast and informing them to stop broadcasting within fourteen (14) days of the date of the letter. Following receipt of the letter, the station’s management requested a meeting with the Authority to find a solution to the matter. The Authority agreed to have the meeting but Magareng FM’s management failed to attend the meeting they requested.
All the attempts to assist the station to comply and to find a solution to the matter have been exhausted by the Authority and Magareng FM is still broadcasting without a community sound broadcasting service licence and a spectrum licence, despite the instruction to desist from the action and is therefore in contravention of the ECA and ICASA Act.
The Authority has therefore confiscated the broadcasting equipment used by the station to provide an illegal broadcasting service.