Community media is giving commercial media a run for its money. That is according to Media Development and Diversity Agency (MDDA) chief executive officer Lumko Mtimde. TheMediaOnline spoke to him about the local media awards next year.
The MDDA and Sanlam have announced they plan to invest more into the local media awards next year by introducing new categories for the competition.
“We believe that these awards add value to our strive to diversify the media landscape,” Mtimde told TheMediaOnline.
“We have seen excellence that has not been recognised and we have been able to showcase that. The community media are part of the bigger picture of the media industry and they can compete with the mainstream media on any day.”
Mtimde said the growth of community media had been phenomenal over the past two decades. “The local media awards position their media better. They have already given the mainstream media a run for its money.”
Both community print and community radio have grown, with the latter boasting a 25 percent chunk of total listenership, much higher than in the rest of the world, according to Mtimde.
“Community radio has about 8.6 million of the total radio listenership [including commercial radio] in the country. Local is better, because local news provides relevance.”
The same applies to community television, which is also showing growth and has started exploring digital platforms.
He said he believed that community media was the medium of communication for the future.
The MDDA and Sanlam have jointly invested about R1 million on the local media awards, expected to be presented around May next year. Entries for the competition will open in November.
Mtimde said the partners were in the process of meeting with community broadcasting and print associations to discuss what new categories could be added to the awards for next year.
The event, which was started by Sanlam more than 20 years ago, attracted around 600 entries in 2012. It has been hosted jointly with the MDDA for the past four years.
Prizes range from money to access to training.
There are over 200 community newspapers, about 130 community radio stations and seven licensed community television stations who are all eligible to enter the awards.
Sanlam group head of communications, Ainsley Moos, said the awards played an important role in promoting excellence among community journalists.
“Despite the current challenging media environment, we believe community media is a critical source of information and news for communities that would otherwise have very limited access to media and information,” said Moos.
The awards are also run in partnership with the Print and Digital Media
South Africa, the Association of Independent Publishers, the Forum of
Community Journalists, the National Community Radio Forum, the National Association of Broadcasters, the Association of Christian Media and the Independent Forum of Religious Broadcasters.
IMAGE: Winners of the 2012 MDDA awards