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Government voice is set to go global

The Star

LOUISE FLANAGAN

[email protected]

TRAVELLING abroad? You’ll soon be able to tune in to the voice of the South African government wherever you are.

The government is going ahead with plans for a state-owned and controlled internet radio station which will be available around the world, and is looking for radio experts to set it up and run it – on government instruction.

The station is a Department of International Relations and Co-operation (Dirco) project.

“The established internet radio station will be fully owned and controlled by Dirco. Dirco will be responsible for providing programming and editorial guidelines,” said the tender, which closed last week.

Effectively, this makes it government propaganda. The Star asked the department to explain the need for this.

“The station will be of a talk-show nature and will rely mainly, but not exclusively, on government-generated content. The station will also solicit various perspectives from independent foreign policy role-players, including analysts, for its programming,” said department spokesman Nelson Kgwete.

“Editorially, the station will provide a platform from which the South African government can communicate its foreign policy priorities and programme, including achievements and challenges, to a wide international audience. South Africa is an influential player in the African continent as well as across the emerging world.

“The formation of the station is in line with South Africa’s responsibilities and ambitions in the foreign policy front.”

Kgwete said the government already uses available radio platforms to communicate.

“We are merely creating a platform that will be available to us around the clock and involve all our missions across the world. The government is often accused of not communicating enough – this platform will bridge that gap,” he said.

The intention is to have a continuously broadcasting station and provide radio skills to Dirco staff.

Whoever runs the station will “be required to work with Dirco’s public diplomacy branch in the development, production and streaming of the radio programming”, said the bid document.

Broadcasts will be in English, and the target audience is just about anyone.

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