Southern Cape Community FM is a Section 21 company which was issued a permanent broadcasting license in 2007. It operates as Eden Fm™, a Community Radio Station broadcasting in the Southern Cape and Klein Karoo Region of the Western Cape Province of South Africa.
During the past few months the station has been plagued by allegations of financial mismanagement and possible contraventions of ICASA regulations which first surfaced when an article appeared in the Mossel Bay Advertiser dated 2 March 2012.
In the article two allegations were made following a formal complaint lodged with ICASA. These were put to the station manager, Morné Pietersen, during a lengthy interview on Thursday 26 April.
The first allegation is that by establishing a private company, Eden Broadcasting (Pty) Ltd, and entering into an agreement with said company to take control of its financial affairs, EdenFM™ had contravened both ICASA’s Regulations and Standard Terms and Conditions for Class Licences as well as the station’s own Articles of Association.
In response to this Mr Pietersen pointed out that during the 2010/2011 financial year the Section 21 Company had become financially distressed. According to the Companies Act 71 of 2008, section 128 (1)(b) provision is made whereby the Board may, in such circumstances, implement a rescue plan.
According to Pietersen the establishment and subsequent agreement with Eden Broadcasting (Pty) Ltd was a well-meaning attempt to implement such a plan and was authorised by the Board in 2011. However, this decision is the basis upon which the second allegation was made.
It is alleged that the AGM was unconstitutional as the chairman, Pastor Leon Prinsloo, had been voted off the board at the previous AGM held in 2010, no proper AGM had been held in 2011, the decision to increase the number of Board members from eight to eleven was invalid and that the Board had acted illegally by approving the establishment of and agreement with Eden Broadcasting (Pty) Ltd.
This prompted the financial director, Mr Avril Ahrends, to resign from the Board and lay a complaint with ICASA.
Mr Pietersen yesterday made a number of suggestions to ICASA whereby this situation could be remedied and their decision will be communicated to the media once a response has been received.
According to Pietersen the station’s finances have improved substantially during the first quarter of 2012. With proper credit control virtually all outstanding accounts, some dating back to 2009, have been collected. In February the station concluded numerous airtime contracts including one with the Government Communications and Information Systems (GCIS) to broadcast the Budget Speech and the State of the Nation address. Amounts owing now exceed the station’s entire debt load.
According to their agreement, salaries and commissions would be paid by Eden Broadcasting (Pty) Ltd and excess funds transferred to EdenFM™. Despite the negative publicity, sufficient income has been generated in the first quarter of 2012 to cover all expenses including full payment to SENTECH. Monthly royalty payments to SAMRO are also up to date.
In conclusion Pietersen expressed his confidence that oustanding grievances would be resolved at the next AGM and affirmed his commitment to the radio station. Pietersen also made the following points:
- The rediscover EdenFM™ Campaign is bearing fruit,
- Content is being improved staff morale is high.
- An RDS system has been installed which means listeners driving through EdenFM™ country need not adjust their radios to the different frequencies as the system does this automatically.
- Sign posts will be erected at all entry points welcoming visitors to Eden country and clearly displaying the frequency applicable to the area.
- The station is audio streaming via the internet to the entire world and mobile streaming is also being installed.
- Discussions are under way to outsource the management of the web site as well as the station’s online presence across the social media platforms.
- Market research has shown that 52% of new listeners will not turn away from their new ‘voice of choice’.
- Advertising packages are being developed where the core value services will be bundled with numerous free services in order to make advertising with the station cost effective and measurable.
- The station is broadcasting in English, Afrikaans and isiXhosa with content to inform and entertain all sectors of the Eden community.
- More outside broadcasts similar to the one at the ABSA KKNK are planned.
A press release will be published shortly officially launching the Rediscover EdenFM™ Campaign.
All enquiries may be directed to the Station Manager:
Telephone: + 27 (0) 44 874 5085
Fax: + 27 (0) 44 874 5085