Award winning Good News Community Radio (GNCR) in KwaZulu-Natal has been ordered by ICASA (the Independent Communications Authority of South Africa) to switch off and close down.
Good News Community Radio, which is based at Shortlands near Verulam on the North coast of KZN has been broadcasting since September 1995. It recently won a national award for their “Exam Buzz”education programmes.
The station teamed up with matric educators to provide free tuition for matriculants, especially those in rural areas. Learners were able to phone in and interact with educators during the programmes, receiving clarity on any exam related issue. The station held daily competitions for students and its free on-air tuition programmes became highly popular amongst learners and educators as almost every subject in the curriculum was catered for.
Yet, now, this award winning Community Radio Station is only staying on air by extraordinary action and expensive legal appeals in court.
The presenter of the GNCR Youth Programme asked: “Why take a perfectly functioning and viable radio station off air? It has never been an instrument of harm to anyone. Our programmes focus on education, drug and alcohol abuse, child and women abuse, life skills, morals and values.”
Good News has faithfully served over 100,000 listeners for over 10 years. There were programmes for all ethnic and religious groups and their 24 hour-a-day radio programme broadcast in 5 languages.
GNCR producer, technician and presenter, Steven Mabugana, explained: “We were amongst the first to apply in this area, in 1995. We were successful and were issued with a one year temporary license. This had to be renewed every year. But in 2002, we were shocked when we applied for the four year license and were turned down. The reasons given to us were that our station did not broadcast in the language of the largest population in our coverage area – Zulu - and that our board management did not reflect these demographics.”The station has since appealed the ICASA ruling and a negative High Court ruling.
“Our Community Radio Station falls in the community of interest category and not the geographical category. This means that the court ruled on things that are not actually applicable to us, our relevant community has nothing to do with race – it is about a group of people with a similar interest – Christianity…we are serving a huge Christian community with a combination of Indian, Zulu and English listeners,” explained Mr. Mabugana.
Mr. Nair of GNCR stated: “ICASA is actually using tax payers money to deprive about 100,000 listeners of the right to listen. There will be a void, spiritually.” He explained that the dedicated staff of GNCR are from the community and work on a voluntary basis. No one at GNCR receives any remuneration.
Yet, despite over 96,000 residents in the community signing petitions in support of GNCR, ICASA still seems determined to close down this vibrant Christian Community Radio Station.
Mrs. Sandy Sukdev of Verulam said: “GNCR means everything to me. I have been listening to it for over 10 years now and have gotten to know a lot about the Lord through this station. The pastors messages and the songs are all very inspirational and always make me feel so much better whenever I am down. It will be a sad loss if it closes and I cannot imagine my life without GNCR.”
Mrs. Jane Gobadan of Redcliffe said: “I start my day with GNCR, so life without it will be incomplete. It respects everyone’s needs irrespective of what race, religion and beliefs. The Word of God is being spread throughout. This station has touched and changed many lives. We trust the Lord will be our Saviour and Winner.”
Please do mobilise your congregation and prayer fellowship to intercede for this dynamic Christian community radio station. To learn more about their ministry visit www.jivannadi.co.za and to communicate your support for them write to: firstname.lastname@example.org or GNCR, P.O. Box 33, Canelands, 4344, KwaZulu-Natal (tel: (032) 533-3003, fax: (032) 533-3802).
If you are in the Durban area, you can tune in to GNCR on 98fm (and if you want to support Good News Community Radio with their legal battle to stay on the air, their bank account details are: Standard Bank, Durban North cheque account: 251208796 branch 042826)