Johannesburg - Former Reserve Bank governor Tito Mboweni, soccer legend Lucas Radebe, veteran broadcasters Ernest Pillay and Thomas Kwenaite, and Supersport anchor Carol Tshabalala are among the prominent South Africans who have failed to land lucrative radio licences.
The Independent Communications Authority of SA (Icasa) refused to grant a licence to Durban-based Capital Radio 604, of which Mboweni Brothers Investment Holdings (MBIH) would have owned 40 percent. Mboweni, an ANC national executive committee member, runs MBIH with his brother, Alto.
The investment firm of another soccer legend and businessman, Jomo Sono, is a 20 percent shareholder in Gauteng’s newest radio station, talkSPORT.
A disappointed Mboweni described Icasa’s decision as an “LBW” (leg before wicket).
The authority’s decision was due to Capital Radio’s failure to provide proof of access to funding, which would be provided by MBIH.
To start up a radio station in KwaZulu-Natal, Icasa demanded proof of access to R46 million.
Former Bafana Bafana and Leeds United captain Radebe’s management company, Kwenaite’s TK Vision, StarSat (formerly TopTV) boss Eddie Mbalo, Pillay and Tshabalala are shareholders in SLAM Gauteng, which also failed to impress Icasa.
SLAM Gauteng would have been a sports-driven, lifestyle radio station. Icasa was not satisfied that the radio station’s proposed National Empowerment Fund financial support was approved.
Film producer David Selvan’s K2012010707, which applied for the same licence as Capital Radio in KwaZulu-Natal, was also unsuccessful. The company, whose radio station was to be called SLAM KZN, includes former Coca-Cola SA director and Kaya FM founding managing director Pat Dambe.
Selvan and Dambe are also part of SLAM Gauteng and SLAM Western Cape, whose application was also unsuccessful.
Icasa granted Main Street 1035, talkSPORT’s owners, permission to go on air with its proposed broadcasting service, including sports debates, live match commentary, sports journalism, breaking news and insight on various sporting codes.
In addition to local sports, talkSPORT, which has the SA Football Association’s support, will also provide live commentary of English Premiership and European competitions.
Another talkSPORT shareholder, Direng Investment Holdings, which owns North West FM, recently sold part of its stake in Mpumalanga’s M-Power FM to the Times Media Group. M-Power FM is now known as Vuma FM.
Also venturing into radio is Dr Iqbal Survé’s Sekunjalo Investments, which is part of the Western Cape Black Media Consortium. The consortium also owns half of the Cape Town radio station, Magic 828, which was granted a licence.
Last year the Sekunjalo Independent Media (SIM) consortium bought Independent Newspapers, including IOL, The Sunday Independent, Cape Argus and The Star.
Kaqala Media, which trades as Cape Media Corporation and publishers Achiever, Leadership and Mining Prospectus magazines, among others, owns the other half of Magic 828.
The Western Cape Black Media Consortium counts among its shareholders Cape Town businesswoman Yvonne Lungcuzo; organisers of the annual Cape Town International Jazz Festival, espAfrika; and one of Sekunjalo’s associate companies, Modjadji African Empowerment Consortium.
The Western Cape Black Business Chamber and the province’s Umkhonto we Sizwe Military Veterans League (MKMVA) also have stakes in Magic 828.
Icasa rejected accusations that by granting Magic 828’s application, it was indirectly giving a radio station to the ANC.
The authority was satisfied that while the “MKMVA could be said to be of a party-political nature, its indirect ownership of Magic 828 would not allow it to exert significant control” over the station’s affairs. In its applications, Magic 828 said it required R13m for its initial operations and shareholders would contribute half the required funding.
Also making a comeback is Lifetime Music Radio, known as LM Radio, which will broadcast in Gauteng. LM Radio staff include former SABC1 general manager Eric Nhlapo; Chris Turner, the station’s manager in Mozambique, where it has been based; and former Jacaranda FM music and programme director Peter de Nobrega.
Icasa spokesman Paseka Maleka said the new radio stations had six months to start operating from the granting of the licence.
Should they be unable to start broadcasting, they can inform the authority and ask for an extension, according to Maleka.
Meanwhile, President Jacob Zuma has signed into law the Icasa Amendment Act, which empowers the authority to make regulations promoting broad-based black economic empowerment.
The act also increases fines for Icasa councillors guilty of conflict of interest from R250 000 to R1m, while anyone who breaches confidentiality and claims association with Icasa, without permission, can be fined between R500 000 and R5m.