NEF fuels Power FM; bets for transformation

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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  • Your conclusion to this story is quite insightful. This is an empty promise. We have seen what happened to a number of new memdia players who came to the market promising alternative content. They all end up pandering to the lowest common denominator because of market pressures.

  • Just as I was saying the latter, Andile Mxgitama posted some interesting comment on Facebook and i quote: “Given Mkhari’s PowerFM goes on air this morning. Congrats! I must still wonder if he has the “balls” for “independence” given that government provided 80% of the funding. Can they give me money to start my “Black Power” news paper? :-)”

  • Yeh! Its just rhetoric.

  • All these media people sing nice slogans which do not find space in their content.

  • i hope the NEF has a seat on the board to ensure that its money does not go to waste and it is able to hold Power fm accountable on its promise.

  • Infact even ICASA should ensure that it reminds these broadcasters of the promise they make when they apply for the licenses.

  • But then we are fooling ourselves. If you consider the fact that the talent pool of Power FM is drawn from the establishment, there is no hope whatsoever that it will serve an alternative agenda. for that to happen you almost need a new set of people and values. The lineup as it stands will ensure continuity of old and bad habits.

  • What makes you two think you are spedcial and the media must serve what you want. The media follows the market. There would be no Daily Sun if there was no market for it. be reminded that the Daily Sun, no matter what your elitist taste make of it, commands the largest readership in the country.

  • Statement by the ANC
    The African National Congress congratulates Power FM on its launch today, 18th June 2013. Indeed the ANC welcomes the multiplicity and diversity of views within the media environment and we wish the new station all the best in their quest to educate, enlighten and entertain audiences in line with their stated objective to be the most credible and trusted commercial radio station in South Africa. We are particularly pleased that the station is proudly black owned in line with our country’s commitment to tangible transformation of the media, particularly at an ownership level.
    It is on this basis of ensuring the emergence of new voices within South African media that the African National Congress further welcomes the approval of the purchase of Independent News and Media SA (INMSA) by the Sekunjalo Consortium. We trust that the unprecedented attack we had seen on the consortium, by particularly SANEF, was not in any way an attempt to protect an old order or to entrench old views in our developing nation and that the media community will also welcome and embrace this significant milestone in our collective quest to transform and extend the media landscape. We trust too that in the future many more of our South African stories will be told from a progressive South African viewpoint that first and foremost seeks to build a common nationhood, united in diversity.

  • […] PwC’s call flies against observations that South Africa’s radio market is getting overcrowded and closer to maturity. This is after South Africa welcomes a significant number of new radio broadcasters in the post 1994 era. The latest round of new additions saw the entry of Power FM in the Gauteng market which is one of t… […]

  • […] ticket amidst rising despondency towards earlier transformation promises. Certainly the launch of Power 98.7 last year was surrounded by renewed transformation promises. But then, creating a commercial media product with a transformation agenda is one thing. […]

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