Power FM, the new Gauteng radio station scheduled to go on air this week, was funded by the National Empowerment Fund (NEF) to the tune of R36.2m, the NEF revealed at the weekend.
This participation by the NEF, whatever its proportion to the project’s total initial capital is, does up expectations with regards to the orientation of the new radio station. The people behind Power FM, mainly given Mukhari’s MSG Afrika Media, have promised that “the radio space will never be the same again” when they launch.
To a large extent Power FM promise is one feeding the media transformation agenda. The NEF reveals that the transformation angle was the reason it invested in the operation.
NEF’s executive Hlengiwe Makhathini said “Our funding was based on the project meeting the NEF’s mandate by having a black owned, controlled, and managed business. POWERFM is 92% owned by black people, including MSG Afrika Media, Ndalo Media, AIH Media and station management”.
Makhathini said there has not been enough transformation in the commercial radio market. “Typically the few stations that exist for a black audience tend to stereotype the black market to certain types of behavioural assumptions. Power FM’s introduction into the commercial radio market is adding to efforts to transform media, which is in line with the NEF’s mandate, and to celebrate and showcase how much the black market has evolved since South Africa’s emancipation”.
Continued Makhathini “The black middle class today is a group of dynamic individuals with strong buying power; they are procuring various types of goods from property to JSE listed shares, and are very aware of South Africa’s socio economic issues. They have opinions and want to debate about how the country’s status quo affects them”.
She said “If you give this type of market a platform backed by an experienced group such as MSG management you have a strong media space assured of success.”
The NEF was only reinforcing Power FM’s promise. In announcing its line up last week, Power FM said it was coming to “change the radio landscape in South Africa”.
The station manager Ferdinand Mabalane said “Both our on air and off air teams are ready to dish out content services that the Gauteng market has been yearning for. Come 06h00 Tuesday, radio will never be the same”. The line-up shows a mix of award winning veterans and newish blood. It includes names like Lawrence Tlhabane (formerly Dube), Siki Mgabadeli, Eusebius McKaiser, Andrea van Wyk, Chris Vick, Ferial Carelse, Tim Modise, Azania Mosaka, and Thabiso Mosia.
It must be said that the proof of the pudding will be in the eating. Power FM’s mission, at least the promise to be transformative, is not going to be an easy one. It comes face to face with market dynamics, mainly advertising spent, that tends to discipline new players into submitting to established traditions.
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