Public broAdcAsting in AfricA series

Namibia
A survey by the Africa Governance Monitoring and Advocacy Project (AfriMAP) Open Society Initiative for Southern Africa (OSISA) Open Society Media Program (OSMP)

Copyright © 2011, Open Society Initiative for Southern Africa. All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system or transmitted in any form, or by any means, without the prior permission of the publisher. Written by: Sarah Taylor (researcher), Jeanette Minnie (regional editor) and Hendrik Bussiek (editor-in-chief) Published by: Open Society Initiative for Southern Africa ISBN: 978-1-920489-09-0 For more information contact: AfriMAP President Place 1 Hood Ave/148 Jan Smuts Ave Rosebank South Africa P.O. Box 678 Johannesburg South Africa www.afrimap.org www.osisa.org Layout and printing: COMPRESS.dsl, South Africa

Contents
Acronyms Foreword Introduction v vii ix

1

Country Facts
1 2 3 4 5 Government Basic socio-economic data Main challenges The media landscape Brief history of broadcasting

1
1 4 6 8 14

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Media Legislation and Regulation
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 International, continental and regional standards The Constitution of Namibia General media laws and regulations Other laws with an impact on media and freedom of expression Self-regulation of the media Jurisprudence Conclusions and recommendations

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17 23 25 27 32 33 36

3

The Broadcasting Landscape
1 2 3 4 5 The Namibian Broadcasting Corporation Commercial broadcasters Community broadcasters Technical standard and accessibility of services Conclusions and recommendations

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39 40 44 50 53

4

Digitalisation and its Impact
1 2 3 4 5 Preparedness for the switch-over: Government and industry Preparedness for the switch-over: Consumers Convergence Increased competition Conclusions and recommendations

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56 60 62 62 64

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Broadcasting Legislation and Regulation
1 2 3 The Communications Regulatory Authority of Namibia Licensing of broadcasters and enforcement of licence conditions Conclusions and recommendations

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65 68 72

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The Namibian Broadcasting Corporation
1 2 3 4 5 Legislation Profile of the NBC Organisational structures Attitudes towards public broadcasting within the NBC Conclusions and recommendations

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75 79 81 83 85

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Funding of the NBC
1 2 3 Main sources of funding Spending Conclusions and recommendations

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87 89 91

8

Programming

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1 Programme policies and guidelines 93 2 Programme schedules 95 3 News and current affairs 106 4 Feedback and complaints procedures 112 5 Funding of public interest programming of non-state broadcasters 112 6 Attitudes within non-state broadcasters towards public interest broadcasting 113 7 Conclusions and recommendations 115

9

Broadcasting Reform Efforts
1 2 3 Perceptions of the NBC Current reform efforts Conclusions and recommendations

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119 129 130

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Overall Conclusions and Recommendations

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v

Acronyms
ACC ACHPR APP AU BIG CCB CCPR CDMA CRAN CoD DMH DP DSTV DTA GAWA IPPR ISP ITU KCR LAC MAG MISA MTC NADAWO NAMCOL NAMPA NBC NCC NCRN NDMC NEF NID NOLNET NPTH NUDO OAU Anti-Corruption Commission African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights All People’s Party African Union Basic Income Grant Civil Cooperation Bureau Covenant on Civil and Political Rights Code Division Multiple Access Communications Regulatory Authority of Namibia Congress of Democrats Democratic Media Holdings Democratic Party of Namibia Digital Satellite Television Democratic Turnhalle Alliance Green Awareness Africa Institute for Public Policy Research internet service provider International Telecommunications Union Katutura Community Radio Legal Assistance Centre Monitor Action Group Media Institute of Southern Africa Mobile Telecommunications Limited Namibian Association of Differently Abled Women Namibian College of Open Learning Namibian Press Agency Namibian Broadcasting Corporation Namibia Communications Commission Namibian Community Radio Network Namibia Democratic Movement for Change National Editors’ Forum Namibian Institute for Democracy Namibian Open Learning Network Trust Namibia Post and Telecom Holdings National Unity Democratic Organisation Organisation of African Unity

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RDP RISE RPN SABC SADC SCC SOE SWABC SWANU SWAPO TBN UDF UNAM UNESCO UNTAG USF WAD

Rally for Democracy and Progress Rural People’s Institute for Social Empowerment Republican Party of Namibia South African Broadcasting Corporation Southern African Development Community Social Security Commission state-owned enterprise South West African Broadcasting Corporation South West Africa National Union South West Africa People’s Organisation Trinity Broadcasting Network United Democratic Front University of Namibia United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation United Nations Transitional Assistance Group Universal Service Fund Women’s Action for Development

Foreword

The report is the result of research that started in 2008 with the aim of collecting, collating and writing up information about regulation, ownership, access, performance as well as prospects for public broadcasting reform in Africa. The Namibia report is part of an eleven-country survey of African broadcast media. The main reason for conducting the research is to contribute to Africa’s democratic consolidation. Many African countries have made significant gains in building democratic systems of governance that are based on popular control of decision-making and in which citizens are treated as equals. Availability and access to information by a greater number of citizens is a critical part of a functioning democracy and a country’s development. The role of a public broadcaster as a vehicle through which objective information and diverse perspectives are transmitted into the public domain cannot be overstated. A number of countries are currently undertaking public broadcasting reforms that aim to improve service delivery and accountability to citizens. Such reforms draw from evolving African and global standards regarding media and broadcast media in particular. The survey instrument that was developed in consultation with African media experts and others from other parts of the world is largely based on agreements, conventions, charters and declarations regarding media that have been developed at regional and continental levels in Africa. The survey of broadcast media in Africa was initiated by two projects of the Open Society Institute (OSI), the Africa Governance Monitoring and Advocacy Project (AfriMAP) and the Open Society Media Program, working with the African members of the Soros Foundation Network – in southern Africa, the Open Society Initiative for Southern Africa (OSISA). The research was carried out by Sarah Taylor, a researcher based in Namibia for eleven years before re-locating to Johannesburg in mid-2010. The report was co-edited by Jeanette Minnie, an international freedom of expression and media consultant, as regional editor, and the editor-in-chief of the project, Hendrik Bussiek, a media consultant with extensive broadcasting experience in Africa and globally.

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It is our hope that the research will clear up some of the misconceptions about public broadcasters. In its simplest definition a ‘public broadcasting service’ is a broadcaster that serves the public as a whole and is accountable to the public as a whole. Yet in most instances what is referred to as a public broadcaster is in fact a state broadcaster. This research aims to help the process of aiding the transformation of Africa’s public broadcasters into media worthy of the name. Ozias Tungwarara Director, AfriMAP

Introduction

The survey on public broadcasting in Africa starts from the premise that development and democracy cannot thrive without open and free public space where all issues concerning people’s lives can be aired and debated and which gives them room and opportunity to participate in decision-making. Nobel Prize laureate Amartya Sen describes democracy as ‘governance by dialogue’ and broadcasters are ideally placed to facilitate this dialogue by providing the space for it – if their services are accessible, independent, credible and open to the full spectrum of diverse views. Following from this premise, the key objective of the survey is to assess whether and to what extent the various forms of broadcasting on our continent can and do create such a free public space, with special attention given to those services which call themselves ‘public’. A total of eleven country reports look closely at the current status of broadcasting in Benin, Cameroon, Kenya, Mali, Mozambique, Namibia, Nigeria, South Africa, Uganda, Zambia and Zimbabwe. While this survey may be unprecedented in its scope and depth, it does feed into ongoing discussions among broadcasters, civil society and politicians in Africa on the nature and mandate of genuine public broadcasting. Reform efforts are under way in a number of countries. And at least on paper there is already broad consensus on the need to open up the airwaves to commercial and community broadcasters and for state broadcasters to be transformed into truly public broadcasting services. The Declaration of Principles on Freedom of Expression in Africa adopted by the African Union’s Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights in 2002, for example, says ‘a State monopoly over broadcasting is not compatible with the right to freedom of expression’ and demands that ‘state and government controlled broadcasters should be transformed into public service broadcasters accountable to the public’. This document and other regional policy declarations serve as major benchmarks for this survey.

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In particular, these African documents inform the vision and mandate of public broadcasting as understood in this study.1 This vision can be summarised as follows: • to serve the overall public interest and be accountable to all strata of society as represented by an independent board; • to ensure full respect for freedom of expression, promote the free flow of information and ideas, assist people to make informed decisions and facilitate and strengthen democracy. The public broadcasters’ mandate is: • to provide access to a wide range of information and ideas from the various sectors of society; • to report on news and current affairs in a way which is not influenced by political, commercial or other special interests and therefore comprehensive, fair and balanced (editorial independence); • to contribute to economic, social and cultural development in Africa by providing a credible forum for democratic debate on how to meet common challenges; • to hold those in power in every sector of society accountable; • to empower and inspire citizens, especially the poor and marginalised, in their quest to improve the quality of their lives; • to provide credible and varied programming for all interests, those of the general public as well as minority audiences, irrespective of religious beliefs, political persuasion, culture, race and gender; • to reflect, as comprehensively as possible, the range of opinions on matters of public interest and of social, political, philosophical, religious, scientific and artistic trends; • to promote the principles of free speech and expression as well as of free access to communication by enabling all citizens, regardless of their social status, to communicate freely on the airwaves; • to promote and develop local content, for example through adherence to minimum quotas; • to provide universal access to their services, with their signal seeking to reach all corners of the country.
1 Apart from the African Commission’s Declaration of Principles on Freedom of Expression, these are the African Charter on Broadcasting 2001 as well as the 1995 policy document ‘On The Move’ and 2007 draft policy paper ‘Now is the Time’ by the Southern African Broadcasting Association, in which state/public broadcasters in southern Africa commit themselves to the aim of public broadcasting.

INTRODUCTION

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Other broadcasting services can – in one way or the other – also fulfill aspects of this mandate, and the survey, therefore, looks at them as well in order to assess their contribution to the creation of a public space. The facts, figures and informed assessments presented in the survey will, it is hoped, provide a nuanced picture of where broadcasting in Africa at present stands between ‘His Master’s Voice’ of old and the envisaged public broadcasting service of the future. This information should provide a sound basis for advocacy work, both among decision-makers and civil society as a whole. The report starts out with a comprehensive audit of existing media laws and other legislation with an impact on freedom of expression and a critical in-depth assessment of the legal and regulatory framework in which broadcasting presently operates. This is followed by a detailed study of the state broadcaster – its organisation, its finances, its policies, the content it offers. In November 2010 a draft report was publicly presented at a round table meeting in Namibia’s capital Windhoek, attended by participants from public and private broadcasting stations, media associations and other civil society organisations. Participants discussed the findings, corrected assumptions and errors, debated and endorsed conclusions and recommendations and made a number of additions which were incorporated into the final version. Researchers and editors would like to express their gratitude to all those who contributed by sharing their information and insights and providing valuable feedback and constructive criticism. Hendrik Bussiek

1
Country Facts

The Republic of Namibia came into being as a constitutional democracy on 21 March 1990 after more than a century of German, British and South African colonial rule. Article 1 of Chapter 1 of the Constitution of the Republic of Namibia, under the heading ‘Establishment of the Republic of Namibia and Identification of its Territory’, defines the Namibian state as a ‘sovereign, secular, democratic and unitary State founded upon the principles of democracy, the rule of law and justice for all’.

1

Government

The Namibian Constitution follows the principle of separation of powers, with government divided into three branches, namely the legislature (law making), the executive (law implementing) and the judiciary (law interpretation and enforcement). The executive consists of the president and cabinet, while legislative power resides with the parliament of the Republic of Namibia. Namibia’s parliament consists of two houses: the National Assembly (or ‘lower house’) and the National Council (or ‘upper house’). The National Assembly is larger than the National Council and has 72 elected members, in addition to six members appointed by the president on the basis of their expertise but who have no voting rights.2 This ‘lower house’ is designed to represent the people of Namibia directly, while the National Council, with 26 members, represents the country’s 13 regions. The National Council is also called the House of Review, because one of its functions is to review the work of the National Assembly.3 The powers of the judiciary are vested in the courts of Namibia, namely the Supreme Court, the High Court and the lower courts.
2 3 Information provided telephonically by A. Amutenya, information officer at parliament, on 26 June 2009. Namibia Institute for Democracy, ‘Defining Democracy: the Namibian Parliament’. www.democracy.org.na/ advertorials/2004/part_2.pdf.

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Namibia’s Constitution provides for a multi-party political system. Fourteen political parties stood for the National Assembly election in November 2009: the ruling South West Africa People’s Organisation (SWAPO), the Rally for Democracy and Progress (RDP), the Democratic Turnhalle Alliance (DTA), the United Democratic Front (UDF), the All People’s Party (APP), the Republican Party of Namibia (RPN), the Congress of Democrats (CoD), the National Unity Democratic Organisation (NUDO), the South West Africa National Union (SWANU), the Monitor Action Group (MAG), the Democratic Party of Namibia (DP), the Namibia Democratic Movement for Change (NDMC), the National Democratic Party and the Communist Party of Namibia. 4 The election results were as follows: SWAPO won 54 seats (one less than in the previous election of 2004), the RDP eight seats (a new formation, not previously represented in parliament), the DTA two (minus two), NUDO two (minus one), the UDF two (minus one), the APP one (plus one), the RPN one, the CoD one (minus four) and SWANU one seat.5 Possibly as a result of the failure of opposition parties to offer credible alternatives, SWAPO remains the dominant political player in the country and has seen its support rise from 57 per cent in the UN-supervised first free elections in 1990 to 74.3 per cent in 2009. The party is still very much viewed as the victor of the liberation struggle and therefore entitled to govern. However, schisms within SWAPO have become evident over the past decade, most clearly during the run-up to the 2004 presidential elections in the rift between those supporting outgoing President Sam Nujoma’s choice for president (current President Hifikepunye Pohamba, re-elected in 2009 with 75 per cent of the votes) and those supporting cabinet minister Hidipo Hamutenya. In November 2007, Hamutenya formed a new opposition party, the Rally for Democracy and Progress (RDP). Since the party’s formation, SWAPO leaders have consistently attacked the new grouping. Critics, such as political commentator Henning Melber, have pointed out that despite this diversity of organisations, all the parties share very similar ideologies.6 ‘It is a striking phenomenon to see that opposition parties have shown so far few, if any, pro-active and interventionist initiatives.’ Civil society organisations, engaged in the promotion of social justice and human rights, have, he writes, ‘shouldered the main tasks to contribute towards a democratic society, while political parties … were all too often not meeting the expectations’. Gwen Lister, editor of The Namibian newspaper, agrees: ‘Opposition (and/or political pluralism) is essential for a working democracy. However, our political parties
4 5 6 Electoral Commission of Namibia. Ibid. H. Melber, ‘Anything but liberated: Namibia’s (Un)Civil Society’, The Namibian, 25 January 2008.

COUNTRY FACTS

3

are fragmented and often based on personality rather than issues. It is also debatable how much they contribute to our democracy just by their very existence, and scant support for the institutions of civil society.’7 The presidential (national) and regional council elections are conducted on a ‘firstpast–the-post’ system. Elections for the national assembly and local authorities follow the proportional representation, or party list, electoral system.8 In presidential elections, the winning candidate must get more than 50 per cent of the popular vote.9 If no presidential candidate achieves that majority, according to article 28 of the Namibian Constitution fresh elections will be held until a candidate wins over 50 per cent. The new Electoral Amendment Act amended section 88 (which is similar to article 28 of the constitution) of the Electoral Act of 1992 to say that in the case of no presidential candidate winning more than 50 per cent of the votes, a second ballot will be held between the top two candidates. Most of the power of the executive is vested in the office of the presidency. The president is both the head of state and head of government, and is elected by popular vote for a five-year term. He or she presides over cabinet meetings and, among others, has the power, through proclamations, to dissolve the National Assembly and to declare martial law. The president also has the power to initiate bills for consideration by the National Assembly. If a bill is passed by a two-thirds majority in the National Assembly and confirmed by the National Council, the president is compelled to assent to it. While the constitution originally stipulated that the president may hold office for no longer than two consecutive terms of five years each, the National Assembly amended the Constitution in November 1998 ‘so as to provide that the first President of Namibia may hold office for three terms’. This enabled Sam Nujoma, Namibia’s ‘Founding President’, to run for a third term. No other amendments to the Constitution have been made since. The president is not a member of the National Assembly and is only expected to appear before parliament once a year to answer questions from parliamentarians. The president has the power to appoint and dismiss, among others, the prime minister, ministers and deputy ministers and the attorney general. Based on the recommendation of the Judicial Service Commission, the president has the power to appoint judges, the ombudsman and the prosecutor general. Although article 78 of the Constitution states that the courts shall be independent and subject only to the Constitution and the law and that ‘no member of the Cabinet or
7 8 9 G. Lister, editor of The Namibian, emailed response to questions received on 12 November 2008. P. Kaapama, author of the ‘Namibia’ chapter in Outside the Ballot Box: Preconditions for Elections in Southern Africa 2004/5, editor: Jeanette Minnie, Media Institute of Southern Africa (MISA), Windhoek, 2004, p. 101. G. Hopwood, Guide to Namibian Politics, Namibia Institute for Democracy, Windhoek, 2008, p. 17.

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the Legislature or any other person may interfere with Judges or judicial officers in the exercise of their judicial functions …’ it has been noted by scholars10 that because the president has the power to appoint judges, the judiciary is not truly independent. The judiciary is formally accountable to the Judicial Service Commission, which comprises the chief justice, attorney general and two members of the legal profession. The argument can be made that the amount of power constitutionally vested in the president leaves the state vulnerable to an abuse of power by the incumbent. The SWAPO-dominated legislature is widely regarded as a mere rubber stamp for decisions taken by the presidency and cabinet. Therefore, the actual balance of power between the three branches of government is widely considered to be skewed in favour of the executive, and, given the overwhelming dominance of SWAPO in both the executive and legislature, in favour of the ruling party.

2

Basic socio-economic data

Only 0.99 per cent of Namibia’s 824 292 square kilometres is arable land and permanent crops cover only 0.01 per cent of all land.11 Namibia is largely a desert or semi-desert country where rainfall is extremely sparse and erratic. The country is bordered by the Namib desert to the west and the Kalahari desert to the south-east.

2.1 the people
• Population: according to the latest 2001 census 1.83 million,12 2.2 million according to an 2008 estimate.13 Namibia’s population is relatively young, with 39 per cent of all citizens under 15 years of age.14 • Population density: 2.1 people per square kilometre.15 • Population spread: 33 per cent live in urban areas, 67 per cent in rural areas.16 • Ethnic groups: Ovambo (50 per cent), Kavango (9 per cent), Herero (7 per cent), Damara (7 per cent), European (6 per cent), Nama (5 per cent), Caprivian (4 per cent), San/Bushmen (3 per cent), Baster (2 per cent), Tswana (0.5 per cent).17
10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 S. K. Amoo and I. Skeffers, The rule of law in Namibia, p. 22, accessed from www.unam.na/centres/hrdc/1_the_rule_ of_law_in_namibia.pdf . CIA World Fact Book, 2005. Namibia Population and Housing Census 2001 accessed from http://www.npc.gov.na/census/index.htm. Ministry of finance, 2008 estimate. Namibia Population and Housing Census 2001, op.cit. Ibid. Ibid. CIA World Fact Book, 2009.

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• Gender distribution: 51 per cent female; 49 per cent male.18 • Languages: Although the Namibian population is relatively small, there is a surprising variety of languages (about 30) in the country. English is the sole official language even though it is spoken at home by only 1.9 per cent of the population. The other main languages are the OshiWambo group of languages (spoken by 48.5 per cent of the population as a home language); the Khoesaan group, including Damara/Nama and the Bushman/San languages (12.7 per cent); Afrikaans (11.4); the RukaVango group (9.7); the OtjiHerero group (7.9); the SiLozi group (5); German (1.1) and the SeTswana group (0.3).19 • Religion: The majority of the population are Christian: 51 per cent Lutheran, 20 per cent Catholic and five per cent Anglican. At least 10 per cent of the population also practise traditional African religions.20 • Literacy: 81 per cent of the total population aged 15 years and over can read and write.21 • HIV prevalence: 19.9 per cent of people aged 15–49.22 • Life expectancy at birth: Females 50 years in 2001 (1991: 63), males 48 years (1991: 59).23

2.2 the economy
Namibia has a free market economy that is heavily dependent on the export of raw minerals. The country is a primary source for gem-quality diamonds, the fourthlargest exporter of non-fuel minerals in Africa and the fifth largest producer of uranium in the world. The economy is closely linked to that of South Africa and the Namibia Dollar is pegged one-to-one to the South African Rand. There is a heavy presence of South African multinationals in the country and more than 80 per cent of Namibia’s imports come from South Africa.24 Almost half of the population rely on subsistence agriculture for their livelihood. The country is prone to drought which causes regular food shortages and surges in the import of cereals. While Namibia is classified as a middle-income country, in terms of wealth and income distribution it ranks as one of the most unequal societies globally.25 At 0.6,
18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 G. Hopwood, Guide to Namibian Politics, op.cit., p. 3. http://www.biodiversity.org.na/dbase/NamLanguages.php. http://www.alertnet.org/db/cp/namibia.htm. Census, op.cit. G. Hopwood, op.cit., p. 3 Census 2001, op.cit. CIA World Fact Book, 2008. United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), 2007.

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Namibia has one of the highest Gini coefficients in the world.26 Research indicates that ‘10 per cent of the households with the highest income account for nearly half of the total income’.27 • Average annual economic growth rate: four per cent.28 • GDP per capita: US$ 3 572.70.29 This figure hides one of the world’s most unequal income distributions, as the percentage of the population living below the international poverty line of US$ 1.25 a day is 49 per cent.30 • Unemployment rate: 36.7 per cent.31 • Major exports: Diamonds, uranium, copper, lead, zinc, gold, fish, meat. • Labour force: 660 000.32 • Workforce – by occupation: 29.9 per cent agriculture; 14.8 per cent industry.33

3 Main challenges
3.1 hiv and Aids
With about one in five people aged 15–49 being HIV-positive, the epidemic has reached national emergency status. HIV and AIDS have given rise to a growing orphan and vulnerable children problem, with almost 10 per cent of children in the country estimated to be orphans.

3.2 unemployment and poverty
While unemployment is officially estimated to hover at around 36.7 per cent, most observers believe the rate to be much higher. Unemployment contributes to the deepening of all manner of social ills. A contentious topic of discussion during 2008 was a Basic Income Grant (BIG) for all Namibians.34 Says Gwen Lister, editor of The Namibian newspaper: ‘High unemployment remains a pressing problem, which in
26 27 28 29 30 31 32 33 34 The Gini coefficient uses a measurement between 0 and 1 to determine income distribution – the closer to 1, the more unequal a society; the closer to 0, the more equal a society. Namibia Household Income and Expenditure Survey, 2003/2004, conducted by the Central Bureau of Statistics, National Planning Commission, Windhoek. Ministry of finance, 2007. UN, 2007, accessed via the internet on http://data.un.org/CountryProfile.aspx?crName=Namibia. UNICEF, 2005, accessed via the internet on http://www.unicef.org/infobycountry/namibia_statistics.html. Namibia Labour Force Survey, commissioned by the ministry of labour and social welfare in 2004. CIA World Fact Book, 2007 estimate. UN, 2005. H. Melber, ‘Power, Privileges and Poverty: BIG, Moral Economy and Solidarity’, The Namibian, 8 January 2009.

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turn impinges upon Namibia’s democracy. ‘You can’t eat democracy’ is a phrase that often applies, as people are told of all the ‘freedoms’ and ‘rights’ they have, yet many cannot afford to eat’.35

3.3 Alcohol abuse
Government estimates suggest that more than 50 per cent of Namibians are regular users and abusers of alcohol. This is linked to an increasing number of violent crimes.36

3.4 education
Every year sees roughly 60 per cent of Grade 10s and 12s failing and dropping out of the formal education system. Educational standards are a constant source of discussion. The government, as well as civil society, including employers and employers’ federations, regularly complain that secondary and tertiary education graduates are untrainable and unemployable.37

3.5 skills shortages
Skills are in short supply across all economic sectors forcing employers to look abroad for skilled people, causing friction between government and the private sector. Many young and skilled Namibians choose to go in search of greener pastures abroad.38

3.6 corruption
The last five to six years have seen the exposure of several high profile corruption cases, in which a number of prominent business and political figures have been implicated. This includes the loss of N$ 30 million (US$ 4.2 million39) by the Social Security Commission (SCC) through its investment with the politically connected Avid Investment Corporation, which came to light in 2005. This case drew in SWAPO Youth League leader, Paulus Kapia, then also a deputy minister. His involvement in the case cost him both these positions. Commentators suggest that these cases are just

35 36 37 38 39

G. Lister, op.cit. D. Isaacs, ‘Alcohol ‘destroying’ Namibia’, The Namibian, 28 June 2007. C. Maletsky, ‘PSUN slams declining education standards’, The Namibian, 30 January 2008; USAID, ‘Economic Development’: http://www.usaid.gov/na/so1.htm. Staff reporter, ‘Namibia remains short of skills’, The Namibian, 23 December 2008. Exchange rate, 9 September 2010 US$ 1.00 = N$ 7.214.

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the tip of an iceberg and that corruption has seeped through to all levels of society. 40 In February 2006, an Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC) was officially launched. To date, the cases investigated by the ACC have involved mostly ‘small fry’ such as those misusing government property, while the ‘big fish’, including those involved in the above SCC case and senior government officials, seem to be getting away unprosecuted. 41

3.7 health
Although access to health services in Namibia has increased over the past 18 years, health standards have steadily declined since independence and reached crisis proportions in recent years. State healthcare facilities, which cater mostly to the poor, are close to collapse, while private healthcare costs have skyrocketed. 42

3.8 democracy
Says Lister: ‘We have a democracy, but it is not yet written in hearts and minds, and this is clear when you look at the current SWAPO/RDP antagonisms; and because there are economic problems, many try to find scapegoats to blame. Development of a strong civil society will go a long way towards ameliorating the abovementioned.’43 Chairperson of the Namibian Editors’ Forum and editor of the Allgemeine Zeitung, Eberhard Hofmann, adds that the ‘culture of democracy in Namibia is still very fragile. SWAPO, as the former liberation movement, feels irrationally threatened by ‘enemies’ and ‘imperialist forces’ they believe want to disrupt the hard-won freedom and independence of Namibia. This kind of thinking is outdated and retrogressive, not constructive. The Namibian government has subscribed to democracy, but this implies possible change and change of power, leading to a deeply conflicting stance on how the state is to be run.’44

4 The media landscape
For a country with a relatively small population and thus a limited media market, Namibia has a very vibrant and diverse media landscape.
40 41 42 43 44 ‘Namibia gov’t condones graft’, Afrol News, 2 April 2008, accessed from http://www.afrol.com/articles/28468. Afrobarometer, ‘Perceptions of Corruption, 2008’, released 12 March 2009. D. Isaacs, ‘Ground Zero’, The Namibian, 19 July 2007. G. Lister, op.cit. E. Hofmann, chairperson of the Namibian Editors’ Forum, interview conducted in Windhoek on 18 November 2008.

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4.1 Print media
Since the country became independent in 1990 the media landscape has experienced tremendous growth. The print media market especially has seen a mushrooming of new titles. While many publications have found their niche, many more have floundered and disappeared since the heady days of the early 1990s. At present, the print market is served by four daily and seven weekly newspapers. However, these are mostly Windhoek-based and in English. Newspaper circulation per 1 000 inhabitants is estimated to be only 28.45 The print market is dominated by Democratic Media Holdings (DMH), which owns two of the dailies and one weekly newspaper, as well as the most profitable printing press in the country. DMH is 50 per cent owned by South African media company Media24, which is a division of ‘Nasionale Pers’ (National Press, abbreviated to Naspers), the largest media conglomerate on the continent. The remaining 50 per cent of DMH is owned by Democratic Media Trust Investments, the operating company for the Democratic Media Trust, of which the sole trustee is Dirk Mudge. DMTI is also the sole shareholder of Namibia FM 99. DMH’s daily titles are Republikein (Republican), with an average circulation of 20 000 (according to DMH staff) and Allgemeine Zeitung (General News) with 5 000 copies, and its weekly title is the English tabloid, Namibian Sun, with a print run of 16 000. Republikein, founded in 1977, was originally the mouthpiece for the Republican Party (RP), founded in the same year, and the allied Democratic Turnhalle Alliance (DTA). When DMH chairperson, Dirk Mudge withdrew from active politics in the mid-1990s, the newspaper adopted a more independent line. 46 The Republican Party stopped operating as an active party in 1993 and was reactivated in 2003 as the Republican Party of Namibia (RPN). 47 The most influential newspaper in the country is the English daily, The Namibian, which is owned by the Free Press of Namibia Trust. Currently, the editor and founder, Gwen Lister, holds the single share in the trust, although more directors are to be appointed in the near future. 48 The Namibian has an average daily circulation of about 30 000 copies Mondays to Thursdays and 40 000 on Fridays.49 It is considered the most credible voice on politics, economics and social issues, and is not afraid to be critical of the government. The state, through New Era Publications Corporation, owns the daily New Era as well
45 46 47 48 49 UN data, 2008. G. Hopwood, op.cit., p. 100. H. Mudge, Republican Party of Namibia president, interview conducted telephonically on 26 June 2009. G. Lister, op.cit. A. van Zyl, marketing and supplements manager, The Namibian, interview conducted on 27 October 2008.

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as the weekly Southern Times, which is published by NamZim Newspaper (Pty) Ltd, a joint venture between New Era Publications Corporation and Zimbabwe Newspapers (the state-owned newspaper company of Zimbabwe). Southern Times is thus jointly owned by the Namibian and Zimbabwean governments. New Era has a daily average circulation Monday to Thursday of 17 000, increasing to 21 000 on Fridays. While the New Era is state-owned, its coverage is more balanced and less blatantly obsequious to the government than the National Broadcasting Corporation (NBC). The other weekly titles are the Windhoek Observer (7 000), the free tabloid Informanté (70 000), the Namibia Economist (7 000) as well as Namibia Today, which strictly speaking is not a newspaper but the mouthpiece of the ruling SWAPO party. Accurate circulation figures are generally hard to obtain as publishers tend to inflate their figures when asked. The Namibian is the only local publication that is audited by South Africa’s Audit Bureau of Circulation. The respective editors of the Southern Times and Namibia Today would not divulge their newspapers’ circulation figures. Besides newspapers, the print market is also served by a few monthly magazine titles, most notably Insight Namibia, which focuses strongly on politics and economics. The magazine has a monthly print run of 3 000 copies, selling on average 2 500 a month, and is owned by five individuals, three of whom are prominent journalists and media consultants. Sister Namibia, a magazine that focuses on gender issues and is published about five times a year, has been in existence since 1989. It is operated as a trust and run as a not-for-profit organisation, surviving on donor funding, and has an estimated circulation of 8 000. Namibia Sport, a monthly sports magazine, was established in 2002. It is owned by the owner of Solitaire Press, Henry Fernandes, and editor Helge Schutz, and has a print run of 1 800 with an estimated readership of 20 000. GEMS, a monthly magazine with a lifestyle-business focus and a print run of 5 000, was launched in November 2007. While other magazines have launched and folded over the years, new commercial titles continue to emerge, despite the small magazine-purchasing market and advertising pool in Namibia. In September 2008, a new African women’s lifestyle magazine, titled Osho, was launched and aims to sell 5 000 copies a month. All these newspaper and magazine titles are based in the capital Windhoek and are mainly distributed in the major urban areas of the country, making them largely inaccessible to the majority of Namibians, who still reside in the rural areas. The focus of coverage across the board is also very Windhoek-based. Most print publications are in English, further reducing the accessibility of the media to the majority of Namibians. However, The Namibian does publish a small

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number of stories in Oshiwambo and Republikein, although essentially an Afrikaanslanguage newspaper, also contains a few articles in English and Oshiwambo. The government owns and operates a news agency – the Namibian Press Agency (NAMPA) – whose board is appointed solely by the information and communication technology minister. The items distributed by NAMPA are never critical of the government, nor are they investigative, and they tend to avoid controversial topics.50

4.2 broadcasting
According to research figures (dating back to 2003/2004), 29.1 per cent of Namibians surveyed owned a television set, a further 10.3 per cent had access to a television set and 60.6 per cent had no access to television at all. The same survey showed that 71.4 per cent of Namibians owned a radio, an additional 13.2 per cent had access to a radio and 15.4 per cent had no radio access at all.51 More recent household research showed that 61 per cent had a television set in their household.52 As with the print media, the broadcast sector has seen tremendous growth over the last decade. The Namibian Broadcasting Corporation (NBC), which is 100 per cent state-owned, is the biggest player in both the radio and television broadcast sectors and has the widest coverage, with the radio signal reaching 96 per cent and the television signal 66 per cent of the country’s population.53 NBC Radio, mainly through its ten language services (Afrikaans, Damara-Nama, English, German, Lozi, OshiWambo, OtjiHerero, Setswana, RukWangali and San languages) has penetration in the furthest corners of the country. These stations are not transmitted throughout the country, however, but only to certain areas where there is a concentration of a particular ethnic group. The commercial radio sector, which has expanded considerably since independence, is made up of seven stations, all based in Windhoek. As a result, commercial radio coverage is on the whole very Windhoek-centred. Only a few radio stations broadcast to other major urban areas in the country and commercial radio is largely inaccessible to rural audiences. Community radio initiatives have largely failed to take off in Namibia. At present there are only four functioning community radio stations, with one or two others having struggled for a number of years to get off the ground. The reach and accessibility of community radio stations is limited by their licensing mandate.
50 51 52 53 African Media Barometer Namibia, 2009. Namibia Household Income and Expenditure Survey, 2003/2004, op.cit. C. D’Alton, managing director of Vision Africa, selected data from MediaMetrics 2010 provided by him via email on 25 November 2010. B. Murangi, NBC Manager: Satellite Uplink and Downlink, Transmitters (FM and TV) and Electrical/Aircon, telephonic interview conducted on May 29, 2009.

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In the television broadcast sector, besides NBC Television, the market is served by free-to-air independent One Africa TV, which is 51 per cent owned by Namibian shareholders (black economic empowerment companies Aantu Investments and Consulting and Stimulus Investments, as well as One Africa senior management, while Schenzen Communications from China owns 36.75 per cent and Telkom Media 12.25 per cent54). One Africa TV, as a commercial station, relies heavily on advertising revenue for its survival. It currently reaches 90 per cent of urban areas55 by broadcasting to 28 urban centres in the country, including Windhoek, but is inaccessible in rural areas. The other major player in the television sector is MultiChoice Namibia Ltd, with its subscriber-based DSTV offering. This service provides a wide range of international television channels to subscribers by satellite. MultiChoice Namibia is a subsidiary of MultiChoice Africa, which is another company in the Naspers stable. The SWAPO party, through Kalahari Holdings, is the majority shareholder (51 per cent) in MultiChoice Namibia. MultiChoice Namibia reaches just over 30 000 subscribers with its digital satellite television service, carrying mostly international and South African channels. MultiChoice Namibia is also in the process of experimenting with television broadcasting to mobile phones. Another satellite pay-TV station, GTV Namibia, was launched in October 2007 and was privately owned by some Namibian shareholders. This pan-African station was a subsidiary of Gateway Communications whose head office is in the United Kingdom. However, the pan-African station collapsed at the end of January 2009 when its UK-based board of directors agreed to liquidate the company after failing to secure funding to continue operations.56

4.3 internet
The telecommunications sector is dominated by the state through Namibia Post and Telecom Holdings (NPTH). NPTH is wholly state-owned and has a 100 per cent stake in the country’s only fixed line operator, Telecom Namibia Ltd. NPTH also has a majority stake (66 per cent) in the biggest mobile phone service provider, Mobile Telecommunications Limited (MTC). MTC’s remaining 34 per cent shares are owned by Portugal Telecom.
54 55 56 P. Van Schalkwyk, One Africa managing director, and M. Cosburn, One Africa technical director, interview conducted in Windhoek on 3 December 2008. Additional information sourced from J. Grobler, ‘Chinese Acquire Stake in One Africa TV’, The Namibian, 13 May 2009. P. Van Schalkwyk and M. Cosburn, op.cit. N. Shejavali. ‘GTV Television goes belly up’, The Namibian, 2 February 2009.

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Telecom Namibia also owns one of the four major internet service providers (ISPs), Iway, and has been operating its own mobile telephony service, Switch, since November 2006. Switch uses Telecom’s fixed-wireless Code Division Multiple Access (CDMA) platform. In January 2009, Namibian, Finnish and Norwegian shareholders in cell phone company Cell One sold all their shares to Egyptian-based telecoms giant, Orascom Telecom Holdings.57 Cell One is the second mobile phone service provider in Namibia after MTC entered the market in March 2007. A draft Communications Bill states that company ownership in the telecommunications sector should be 51 per cent Namibian. Thus, Cell One would need to extend the majority of its shares to Namibian shareholders if it wants to stay in business once the Communications Act has been passed.58 The three major telecommunications companies – Telecom (through Iway), MTC and MultiChoice Namibia’s MWeb – offer broadband internet connectivity. Twentyfive per cent of MWeb is owned by SWAPO’s Kalahari Holdings, while the remaining shares are held by MWeb Africa. Commercial internet services began operating in Namibia in 199659 and the take-up since then has been very good if the growth of the industry is anything to go by. In 2009 there were nine ISPs in the country – MTC, Iway, MWeb, NamibNet, Oasys, Africa Online, Verizon, ITN, and Schoolnet Namibia. Schoolnet has been providing low-cost, sustainable internet solutions to schools since 2000, although by mid-2009 its status was unclear as the ministry of education had instructed it to stop providing technical service support to government schools. Telecom has a monopoly on telecommunications (including internet) infrastructure or backbone (copper and fibre optic cable) within Namibia. Only ITN and MWeb have their own access to international bandwidth through satellite links (VSAT) and the Namibian Communications Commission has granted these companies VSAT and wireless internet connection (WIMAX) licences. Other ISPs that do not have their own international gateways do not need any kind of licence from the regulator. Different ISPs provide a variety of services – from dial-up and fixed-line internet connections to 3G broadband and WIMAX. Certain ISPs provide internet services for companies or private individuals only, or both. Availability of internet service also depends on geographical location. In central Namibia (Windhoek) or the urbanised areas of the coast the service (be it wireless, 3G, fixed-line or dial-up) is known to be relatively good. In most other parts of the country
57 58 59 N. Shejavali, ‘Cell One sold to Egyptians’, The Namibian, 14 January 2009. T. Schier, ‘Communications Bill to increase competition’, The Namibian, 5 June 2009. N. Gorelick, ‘The Internet Industry in Namibia’, May 1998, paper for a workshop on National Information and Communication Infrastructure (NICI) for Namibia.

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it is generally tough to get good service. The 3G broadband connection, for example, only works where there is cell phone reception, which is largely restricted to cities and towns.60 Research61 published in 2008 shows that 4.87 out of every 100 inhabitants in Namibia use the internet,62 17.4 per cent of households have a working fixed-line telephone, and a significant 38.58 per cent of the population are cell phone subscribers. A total of 49.3 per cent of those surveyed over the age of 16 have a mobile phone or active SIM card. The same research shows that 11.17 per cent of households surveyed have a working computer/laptop at home, while 3.31 per cent have a working internet connection at home. Of those interviewed, 6.7 per cent access the internet using a mobile phone. The research also shows that 21.7 per cent of internet users access the internet at home, 24.3 per cent at an internet café, 15.7 per cent at school and 35.3 per cent at work. To the vast majority of Namibians, however, ICT’s are, due to cost, largely inaccessible and unaffordable. Internet costs in Namibia are currently among the highest in the world, despite some of the slowest speeds, and most services are capped whereby limits are placed on the transfer of a specified amount of data over a period of time.63 This is partly due to economies of scale, i.e. the high cost of telecommunication infrastructure as against the small number of people in Namibia using it. Due to sensitive competition issues, it was not possible to obtain accurate figures from service providers about the numbers of internet and cell phone subscribers. However, documentation, research and interviews suggest that as of 30 September 2008 there were 145 000 fixed line users;64 1.4 million active mobile phone users, including Switch subscribers; an estimated 25 000 3G/broadband/wimax connections; 10 000 dial-up internet subscribers; and 1 000 leased lines for corporate internet access. UN data in 2007 estimated that 4.9/100 people in Namibia were classified as internet users.

5

Brief history of broadcasting

A German protectorate from 1884, South West Africa (as it was formerly known) was governed by South Africa under a UN mandate from 1920 to 1969. Thereafter,
60 61 62 63 64 T. Schoeman and L. Van Graan of the ICT Alliance, interview conducted in Windhoek on 20 November 2008. A. Chabossou, C. Stork, Christoph, M. Stork and P. Zahonogo, Mobile Telephony Access and Usage in Africa, 2008, researchICTafrica.net. Figures provided by the International Telecommunications Union (ITU) show that by June 2009 this had increased to 5.4 per cent. Accessed from Internet World Stats www.internationalworldstats.com/africa.htm. Schoeman and Van Graan, op.cit. T. Klein, Telecom’s general manager: strategy, emailed response to questions received 19 November 2008.

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South Africa occupied it illegally until 1989, when the United Nations Transitional Assistance Group (UNTAG) provided a supervisory presence in the run-up to Namibia’s independence in 1990.65 Radio broadcasting started in 1956 with the establishment of the South West African Broadcasting Corporation (SWABC). With the territory being ruled by South Africa at the time, the SWABC was a subsidiary of the South African Broadcasting Corporation (SABC) and most of the SWABC’s staff was seconded from the SABC. In its early years, the SWABC catered solely to the informational needs of Namibia’s white community and served as a tool to perpetuate South Africa’s apartheid rule in the country. Much of the broadcaster’s programming was aimed at the white farming community. With the intensification of the liberation struggle in the late 1960s, the SWABC in 1969 launched three local language radio services, broadcasting in Oshiwambo, Otjiherero and Damara/Nama. These language services were used by the authorities to articulate and emphasise racial and ethnic differences and to disseminate apartheid propaganda messages.66 Television broadcasting in the country was introduced by the SWABC in 1981 and was also largely used to spread the messages of apartheid. Early television broadcasting consisted of SABC relays and cassettes flown in daily. The initial television signal was limited to the central parts of the country, but eventually expanded to the coastal and northern regions. As the signal spread, the SWABC started generating its own local content for television. At independence it was decided to de-regulate and reshape the broadcasting landscape and the SWABC was transformed into the Namibian Broadcasting Corporation (NBC) with the promulgation of the Namibian Broadcasting Act of 1991. Another important legislative element that contributed to the transformation of broadcasting was the passing in 1992 of the Namibia Communications Commission (NCC) Act, which established the NCC as the broadcasting regulatory authority. The NCC started the process of deregulation of the airwaves and opened the way for new broadcasting service providers. The first commercial radio station, Radio 99, went on air in 1994 and so did the first community radio station, Katutura Community Radio (recently renamed Base FM), which started broadcasting in and around Windhoek’s impoverished black township of Katutura in the same year. The NBC’s monopoly on television in Namibia came to an end in 1993 with the arrival of South African pay-TV satellite broadcaster, M-Net, which eventually became
65 66 J. E. Jessup, An Encyclopaedic Dictionary of Conflict and Conflict Resolution, 1945–1996, Greenwood Press, 1998. K. Kandjii, ‘De-regulation of the Namibian broadcasting industry: challenges and contradictions’, paper presented at the Political Economy of the Media in Southern Africa Research Seminar, Graduate Programme in Cultural and Media Studies, University of Natal, Durban, April 2000.

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MultiChoice Ltd. In 1996, MultiChoice Namibia introduced its comprehensive Digital Satellite Television (DSTV) bouquet offerings, with dozens of international satellite channels.67 The religious Trinity Broadcasting Network is licensed with the NCC as a ‘community television station’, the first of its kind in Namibia. It was launched in 2002 as a not-for-profit company and is owned by the International Trinity Broadcasting network of the United States of America. The term ‘community station’ is obviously a misnomer because the station is not owned by any community in Namibia. One Africa, a private commercial free-to-air television station based in Windhoek, began broadcasting in November 2003 as a successor company to TV Africa Namibia. Since independence, while the private commercial broadcast sector has flourished, the quality of the NBC’s programming, especially on TV, has steadily deteriorated. As was the case with the pre-independence SWABC, the service has largely become a government propaganda tool broadcasting programming of mediocre quality. In 2009, a new Communications Act replaced the NCC with the Communications Regulatory Authority of Namibia (CRAN) as the regulatory authority for television and radio broadcasting as well as postal and telecommunication services in the country.

67

M. Buch Larsen, The Media Environment in Namibia: 199–2007, Windhoek, Namibia, Media Institute of Southern Africa, Windhoek, 2007.

2
Media Legislation and Regulation

1

International, continental and regional standards

The Namibian Constitution, in its article 144, states: Unless otherwise provided by this Constitution or Act of Parliament, the general rules of public international law and international agreements binding upon Namibia under this Constitution shall form part of the law of Namibia. Thus, international treaties, once ratified by parliament, are automatically applicable to the Namibian legal system.

1.1

united nations

Namibia became a member of the United Nations shortly after attaining independence from South Africa in 1990. The following instruments of the UN are relevant to freedom of expression: The United Nations Universal Declaration of Human Rights (adopted in 1948) The Universal Declaration is not a treaty that is ratified by states and thus legally binding. However, scholars now regard it as either having itself become international customary law or as a reflection of such law.68 In either case, the inclusion of freedom of expression in the declaration implies that even states that have ratified none of the relevant treaties are bound to respect freedom of expression as a human right.
68 See, for example, H. Hannum, ‘The Status and Future of the Customary International Law of Human Rights: The Status of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights in National and International Law’, Georgia Journal of International and Comparative Law, p. 287; H. J. Steiner, P. Alston and R. Goodman, International Human Rights in Context: Law, Politics, Morals – Texts and Materials, Oxford: Oxford University Press (third edition), 2007.

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Article 19 of the Declaration deals with the right to freedom of expression:
Everyone has the right to freedom of opinion and expression; this right includes freedom to hold opinions without interference and to seek, receive and impart information and ideas through any media and regardless of frontiers.

International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (enacted by the UN in 1976) The International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (CCPR) is a treaty that elaborates on many of the rights outlined in the Declaration. Namibia formally ratified the CCPR on 28 November 1994. The Covenant’s article 19 declares:
1. Everyone shall have the right to hold opinions without interference; 2. Everyone shall have the right to freedom of expression; this right shall include freedom to seek, receive and impart information and ideas of all kinds, regardless of frontiers, either orally, in writing or in print, in the form of art, or through any other media of his choice.

The Windhoek Declaration on Promoting an Independent and Pluralistic African Press (adopted by the General Assembly of UNESCO in 1991) The UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation’s (UNESCO) Windhoek Declaration, like other non-treaty documents, has moral authority by representing a broad consensus of the international community on the detailed interpretation of the Universal Declaration and other relevant standards as they relate to the press in Africa. The Windhoek Declaration states:
[We] declare that

Consistent with Article 19 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the establishment, maintenance and fostering of an independent, pluralistic and free press is essential to the development and maintenance of democracy in a nation, and for economic development. By an independent press, we mean a press independent from governmental, political or economic control or from control of materials and infrastructure essential for the production and dissemination of newspapers, magazines and periodicals.

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By a pluralistic press, we mean the end of monopolies of any kind and the existence of the greatest possible number of newspapers, magazines and periodicals reflecting the widest possible range of opinion within the community.

1.2 African union
Namibia became a member of the African Union (AU), then called the Organisation of African Unity (OAU), shortly after attaining independence from South Africa in 1990. The most important human rights standard adopted by the AU, or its predecessor, the OAU, is: The African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights (adopted 27 June 1981)69 Namibia acceded to the Charter in 1992 and is thus bound by its provisions, in terms of article 144 of the Namibian constitution. The Charter’s article 9 on freedom of expression states: •

Every individual shall have the right to receive information.
Every individual shall have the right to express and disseminate his opinions within the law.

The African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights (ACHPR) is the body established under the Charter to monitor and promote compliance with its terms. Declaration of Principles on Freedom of Expression in Africa In 2002, the African Commission adopted this Declaration to provide a detailed interpretation for member states of the AU of the rights to freedom of expression outlined in the African Charter, stating in its article I:
Freedom of expression and information, including the right to seek, receive and impart information and ideas, either orally, in writing or in print, in the form of art, or through any other form of communication, including across frontiers, is a fundamental and inalienable human right and an indispensable component of democracy.

69

Organisation of African Unity, The African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights, adopted 27 June 27 1981, Doc. CAB/LEG/67/3 rev. 5, 21 I.L.M. 58 (1982), entered into force 21 October 1986.

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Everyone shall have an equal opportunity to exercise the right to freedom of expression and to access information without discrimination.

It goes on to say in article II:
No one shall be subject to arbitrary interference with his or her freedom of expression; and Any restrictions on freedom of expression shall be provided by law, serve a legitimate interest and be necessary in a democratic society.

The Declaration details how such freedom of expression should be realised. Of particular relevance to this study is the statement regarding public broadcasting (article VI):
State and government controlled broadcasters should be transformed into public service broadcasters, accountable to the public through the legislature rather than the government, in accordance with the following principles:

• • • • •

public broadcasters should be governed by a board which is protected against interference, particularly of a political or economic nature; the editorial independence of public service broadcasters should be guaranteed; public broadcasters should be adequately funded in a manner that protects them from arbitrary interference with their budgets; public broadcasters should strive to ensure that their transmission system covers the whole territory of the country; and the public service ambit of public broadcasters should be clearly defined and include an obligation to ensure that the public receive adequate, politically balanced information, particularly during election periods.

The document also states that freedom of expression ‘places an obligation on the authorities to take positive measures to promote diversity’ (article II), that community and private broadcasting should be encouraged (article V) and that broadcasting and telecommunications regulatory authorities should be independent and ‘adequately protected against interference, particularly of a political or economic nature’ (article VII). The Declaration furthermore provides for freedom of access to information and states that ‘the right to information shall be guaranteed by law’ (article IV).

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African Charter on Democracy, Elections and Governance (2007) This Charter highlights the importance of access to information in a democracy. It states:
[State parties shall] [p]romote the establishment of the necessary conditions to foster citizen participation, transparency, access to information, freedom of the press and accountability in the management of public affairs. (Article 2[10])

State parties shall ... ensure fair and equitable access by contesting parties to state controlled media during elections. (Article 17 [3])70 Namibia (like most countries on the continent) has not yet signed or ratified the Charter. For that reason, it does not have the force of law.

1.3 southern African development community (sAdc)
Namibia is a member of the Southern African Development Community (SADC). The treaty establishing the SADC provides that member states shall operate in accordance with principles that include respect for human rights, democracy, and the rule of law (article 4[c]). In addition, the regional structure has adopted several protocols related to media and/or communications. SADC Protocol on Culture, Information and Sport (adopted in 2000) The Namibian parliament ratified this Protocol in 2002 and has thus formally agreed to its provisions, although it will only become legally binding once it has been ratified by the required nine member states.71 This protocol focuses on harmonising regional policies on culture, information and sport by SADC member states. Article 17 outlines the following key objectives, among others:
• • • Co-operation and collaboration in the promotion, establishment and growth of independent media, as well as free flow of information; Development and promotion of local culture by increasing local content in the media; Taking positive measures to narrow the information gap between the rural and urban areas by increasing the coverage of the mass media;

70 71

Organisation of African Unity, The African Charter on Democracy, Elections and Governance (2007), accessed from http://www.africa-union.org/root/au/Documents/Treaties/text/Charter%20on%20Democracy.pdf. M.B. Larsen, Media Ownership and Legislation in the Republic of Namibia, 1990–2007, Media Institute of Southern Africa, Windhoek, 2007, p. 20.

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• •

Encouragement of the use of indigenous languages in the mass media as vehicles of promoting local, national and regional inter-communication; Ensuring the media are adequately sensitised on gender issues so as to promote gender equality and equity in information dissemination.

Article 18 focuses on information policies, including committing member states to ‘create [a] political and economic environment conducive to the growth of pluralistic media’. Article 20 enjoins member states to take ‘necessary measures to ensure the freedom and independence of the media’, with ‘independence of the media’ being defined as ‘editorial independence, whereby editorial Policy and decisions are made by the media without interference’. SADC Declaration on Information and Communication Technology (2001) This Declaration focuses on telecommunications structures and promotes the creation of a three-tier system in each country with:
Government responsible for a conducive national policy framework, independent regulators responsible for licensing, and a multiplicity of providers in a competitive environment responsible for providing services. (Article 2[a][i])72

Although the Declaration does not have the same legal force as a protocol, all countries that are party to it (including Namibia) have made a commitment in adopting it to abide by its provisions.

1.4 other documents
African Charter on Broadcasting (2001) This charter was adopted by media practitioners and international media and other human rights organisations at a UNESCO conference to celebrate ten years of the Windhoek Declaration. Although it has not been endorsed by any inter-state structures, it represents a consensus of leading African and other international experts on freedom of expression and the media. The Charter specifies, amongst other things, that there should be a three-tier system of broadcasting (public, private and community), demands that ‘[a]ll state and government controlled broadcasters should be transformed into public service
72 SADC Declaration on Information and Communication Technology (2001), accessed from http://www.sadc.int/key_ documents/declarations/ict.php.

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broadcasters’, and states that regulatory frameworks should be based on ‘respect for freedom of expression, diversity and the free flow of information and ideas’.

2

The Constitution of Namibia

At its adoption in 1990, with the establishment of the Republic of Namibia, the Constitution of the Republic of Namibia was hailed as a model legal document, especially with regard to the protection and guarantee of fundamental human rights. The Constitution was one of the first in Africa to recognise freedom of the media as essential to the right of free expression.73 The Constitution, under Fundamental Freedoms in article 21(1)(a), states that ‘all persons shall have the right to freedom of speech and expression, which shall include freedom of the press and other media’. With regard to limitations on this article, article 21(2) states:
The fundamental freedoms referred to in Sub-Article (1) hereof shall be exercised subject to the law of Namibia, in so far as such law imposes reasonable restrictions on the exercise of the rights and freedoms conferred by the said Sub-Article, which are necessary in a democratic society and are required in the interests of the sovereignty and integrity of Namibia, national security, public order, decency or morality, or in relation to contempt of court, defamation or incitement to an offence.

Article 22 of the Constitution states in regard to fundamental rights in general:
Whenever or wherever in terms of this Constitution the limitation of any fundamental rights or freedoms contemplated by this Chapter is authorised, any law providing for such limitation shall: (a) be of general application, shall not negate the essential content thereof, and shall not be aimed at a particular individual; (b) specify the ascertainable extent of such limitation and identify the Article or Articles hereof on which authority to enact such limitation is claimed to rest.

These limitation clauses presuppose that the fundamental rights in general and the right to freedom of speech and expression in particular are not absolute and that any
73 Shirumbu Consulting, ‘Audit of media and communications legislation in Namibia’ (unpublished study), commissioned by the Namibian ministry of information and broadcasting and facilitated by the Friedrich Ebert Stiftung, March 2005, p. 5.

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limitations therefore be constitutional if they are justifiable in a democratic society and do not negate the essential content of the rights. Therefore, the right to freedom of speech and expression is paramount and cannot by ‘whim or whip’ be curtailed, unless it meets the set criteria in the limitations clause.74 Some of the justifications for limitations seem problematic,75 in particular blanket references to undefined terms such as ‘national security’ or ‘public order’. These could be used to stifle individual and media freedom of speech and expression in much the same way as the vague concept of ‘decency or morality’ – largely matters of personal or group choice and subject to interpretation: what is moral and decent or immoral and indecent today may not be considered the same tomorrow as the boni mores (good morals) of society change over time. In terms of press freedom, Namibia has been ranked 23rd in the world, making it the first out of all African countries.76 In 2007 the country was ranked 25th, tied with Mauritius. While freedom of expression is generally respected in Namibia and opportunities for expression exist and are widely used by the public (radio call-in shows, letters and SMS pages in newspapers), it is felt that even those using such avenues practice selfcensorship as many comments are made anonymously or using pseudonyms.77 Many citizens do not feel free to express themselves without fear, particularly in relation to politics. Tradition is also very dominant in rural areas, where favouritism, nepotism and corruption are commonplace, and ‘there is fear of the ruling party [SWAPO] and an underlying fear of the former president [Sam Nujoma]’.78 This fear of expressing oneself freely probably results from the fact that the population of Namibia is small and the ruling party is very dominant in all sectors, including the employment sector. As a result, if someone criticises government or SWAPO there is the very real possibility that government may deny them work, tenders or contracts. The fear to express oneself in rural areas is apparently greater than in urban areas, because of the inequitable distribution of resources in Namibia and the vulnerability of poorer people for whom basic needs, such as food, housing and water, often override more idealistic concerns. ‘It is a fact that if you are a member of a party other than SWAPO, and you criticise government, you will be denied access to services.’79 Not everybody shares this rather dim view. People’s reluctance to use opportunities to express themselves, especially on controversial matters, relates more to complacency,
74 75 76 77 78 79 M. Siambango, lawyer, email interview conducted during August 2008. Ibid. Reporters Without Borders 2008 survey on world press freedom. G. Hopwood, director of the Institute for Public Policy Research (IPPR), email interview conducted on 11 September 2008. African Media Barometer, Media Institute of Southern Africa and Friedrich Ebert Stiftung, Windhoek, 2009. Ibid.

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notes Graham Hopwood, executive director of the Institute for Public Policy Research (IPPR), and ‘perceptions of possible repercussions for job security and opportunities rather than direct threats from authorities’.80 There have been cases, though, where people’s right to freedom of expression was indeed openly violated or questioned, in particular prior to the election in 2009. In March 2009, then acting director-general of the Namibian Broadcasting Corporation (NBC), Andrew Kanime, suspended the morning chat show on the state broadcaster’s English radio service. While the suspension caused a public outcry and was seen by many as an attempt by government to suppress opposition voices and limit freedom of expression, NBC management said it was done because the service was being ‘abused’ and people were being insulted on air. Freedom of speech on the show had been curtailed before: in 2007, callers were ordered not to discuss politics on air prior to the SWAPO Congress.81 In February 2009, members of the SWAPO Elders Council attacked The Namibian newspaper for publishing SMSs and radio stations for broadcasting chat shows that they claimed insulted the party’s leaders and the government. They called on the minister of information and communication technology to prevent the newspaper from publishing readers’ SMSs and to order the radio stations to stop airing phone-in programmes ‘before the situation gets out of control’.82 The Namibian ignored the request, and government did not follow up on the demand. While these violations of the right to freedom of expression may have been subtle, a longstanding government advertising and purchasing ban on The Namibian newspaper is seen as a direct intervention. The measure was instituted by then President Sam Nujoma because of the newspaper’s critical reporting about the government and SWAPO party officials.83 It has been in place since 2001, without any indication of it being rescinded any time soon.

3

General media laws and regulations

3.1 newspaper and imprint registration Act, 1971 (Act 63 of 1971)
This Act provides for the ‘registration of newspapers and imprints; to regulate matters in connection with printed matter; and to provide for matters connected therewith’. It
80 81 82 83 Ibid. So This is Democracy? State of media freedom in Southern Africa 2007, Media Institute of Southern Africa, Windhoek, 2008, p. 64. C. Maletsky, ‘Elders spew fire over SMSes’, The Namibian, 2 February 2009. S. Kangwa-Wilkie, programme specialist for freedom of expression and media law policy at MISA, interview conducted with her in Windhoek on 30 October 2008.

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requires that editors of publications printed and published in Namibia be residents in Namibia. Presently, the information and communication technology ministry oversees the registration process and thus, in effect, decides on what is to be allowed to be published and what is not. The Act states that the minister may refuse to register a publication if its title is similar to the name of an existing one. ‘This is dangerous. Publications should be registered and deregistered as companies as they are businesses at the end of the day,’ says Kaitira Kandjii, the regional director of the Media Institute of Southern Africa (MISA).84 To date, however, the ministry has not refused to register a publication. Section 3 of the 1982 amendment to this Act makes provision for an ‘independent disciplinary authority’ for the press. Section 3 states that this authority should be ‘an independent and voluntary body … striving for the attainment and maintenance of the highest possible standards by persons disseminating news, and which is recognised by the Minister by notice in the Government Gazette’.85

3.2 Publications Act, 1974 (Act 42 of 1974)
This apartheid-era law makes provision for the establishment of a Directorate of Publications whose members would be appointed by the minister of information and communication technology. The Directorate in turn appoints a committee responsible for approving publications. Chapter II, point 8 of this law reads:
(1) No person shall – Produce an undesirable publication or object; or Distribute a publication or object, if that publication or object is in terms of a decision of a committee undesirable and that decision has been made known by notice in the Gazette.

Such a directorate or committee, however, has never been constituted86 and the law has never really been put into practice. Nonetheless it stays on the statute books.

84 85 86

K. Kandjii, director of the MISA, interview conducted in Windhoek on 21 November 2008. Shirumbu Consulting, Audit of media, p. 68. M.B. Larsen, Media Ownership, p. 31-32.

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4 other laws with an impact on media and freedom of expression
4.1 indecent and obscene Photographic Matter Act, 1967 (Act 37 of 1967)
This law, another carry-over from the apartheid-era, applies to society in general, and not only to the media. The Act makes it an offence to possess photographic material considered to be indecent or obscene. The provisions of this law are at variance with basic freedoms guaranteed by the constitution. The Act, while amended in the Indecent and Obscene Photographic Amendment (Act 4 of 1985), still infringes not only on freedom of expression but also on the freedom of possessing any item, including photographic material. By impeding the free flow of content, this law can affect media operations and counteract government’s intention to foster a diverse media landscape.87

4.2 laws relevant to protection of sources
Provisions in a number of laws require an individual, including a media practitioner, to release or facilitate the release of information when called or subpoena-ed to do so: Powers, Privileges and Immunities of Parliament Act, 1996 (Act 17 of 1996) The Act empowers parliament’s committee of privileges to summon ‘any person to attend before it and to give evidence or to produce any document or thing in the possession or custody or under the control of that person’ (section 14[1]). Security Commission Act, 2001 (Act 18 of 2001) Section 5(6) of this Act empowers the Security Commission to conduct an inquiry and direct any person to furnish the Commission with information and documentation. The Act does not protect journalists’ confidential sources of information, as provided for in article XV of the ACHPR Declaration of Principles on Freedom of Expression in Africa.88 Criminal Procedure Act, 1977 (Act 51 of 1977) The 1977 Act compels people to give information and does not protect confidential sources of information.89 In terms of section 205 of the Criminal Procedure Act 1977,
87 88 89 Ibid., p. 30. Shirumbu Consulting, Audit of media, p. 72. N. Tjombe, director of the Legal Assistance Centre, interview conducted in Windhoek on 22 January 2009.

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a magistrate is authorised, at the request of a public prosecutor, to require anyone likely to give material or relevant information concerning an offence to attend before him or her for examination by a prosecutor.90 Refusing to do so would mean contempt of court. In February 1998, the now deceased Hannes Smith, then editor of the Windhoek Observer, was jailed for violating this section by failing to give information about the killers of slain SWAPO activist, Anton Lubowski. Smith was released after three days when it became clear that he did not in fact possess the said information. This is the only case to date in which a Namibian journalist has been sent to jail for not revealing his or her sources. Section 189 empowers a magistrate to enquire into the reason should any person refuse to answer questions put to him/her. If the magistrate finds there is no just cause for such refusal, the person involved can be sentenced to imprisonment.91 Because there is no precedent for the interpretation of ‘just cause’ to justify a refusal by a journalist to disclose confidential information in the public interest, the authorities could use these provisions to force journalists to disclose their sources.92 Magistrates’ Courts Act, 1944 (Act 32 of 1944) The Magistrate’s Court Act, amended by the Magistrates’ Courts Amendment Act, 1977 (Act 9 of 1977) and the Magistrates’ Courts Amendment Act, 1985 (Act 11 of 1985), could also be used to compel journalists to appear in court as witnesses by way of subpoenas. They could then be forced to give information or reveal their sources of information. Refusing to do so would mean contempt of court. Anti-Corruption Act, 2003 (Act 8 of 2003) This Act establishes the Anti-Corruption Commission and, among others, provides for the prevention and punishment of corruption. On the face of it section 51(2) protects witnesses appearing before the AntiCorruption Commission from having to disclose the particulars of informers assisting the Commission in an investigation. If the matter comes to court, however, subsection 51(2) empowers the court to ‘require disclosure of the identity of the informer … concerned’ if it ‘is satisfied … that justice cannot fully be done between parties without disclosing the identity of an informer or a person who assisted the Commission in an investigation into an alleged or suspected offence under this Act or any other law’.

90 91 92

B.D. Balule et al, Undue Restriction: Laws Impacting on media freedom in SADC, MISA, Windhoek, 2004, p. 57. So This is Democracy? State of media freedom in Southern Africa 2007, p. 65. Balule et al., op.cit., p. 57.

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4.3 laws relevant to security and privacy
Electoral Act (Act 24 of 1992) as amended by Act 23 of 1994 and Act 7 of 2003 The Electoral Act, amended by the Electoral Amendment Act, 1994 (Act 23 of 1994) and the Electoral Amendment Act, 2003 (Act 7 of 2003), empowers the Electoral Commission of Namibia (ECN) to accredit journalists and other observers, upon request, to have access to polling stations and the counting process.93 In theory, the ECN could decide not to accredit certain journalists, and thus prevent some from covering elections thoroughly and judging for themselves whether the processes are free and fair. Public Service Act (Act 13 of 1995) Section 25 of this Act defines the misconduct of public servants. Among others they are forbidden from disclosing information gained by or conveyed in the course of their work, without having obtained permission first from the permanent secretary concerned. The provisions of this act apply even after a public servant has retired. By not allowing government employees to express themselves freely and thus exercise one of their fundamental rights, this Act is in opposition to the principles contained in the SADC Protocol and the ACHPR’s Declaration. Under this law, civil servants may also be punished for having revealed information without approval, even if this information is in the public interest, exposing wrongdoing or corruption, for example.94 ‘Under this law, all government information is classified, which is a problem as it is cumbersome and difficult for journalists to get information. Namibia needs an access to information act that will declassify most information: only information that is of a serious nature, related to security or privacy, should be classified,’ notes MISA’s Kandjii.95 Namibia Central Intelligence Service Act, 1997 (Act 10 of 1997) This law regulates the Namibia Central Intelligence Service and defines ‘classified information’ as any information deemed to be sensitive in nature, so that its publication could pose a ‘security risk’ to the state. These concepts and definitions are overly broad and thus open to abuse. Protection of Information Act, 1982 (Act 84 of 1982) This is another apartheid-era law still in force which makes it illegal, according to
93 94 95 T. Mujoro, acting director of Elections, Electoral Commission of Namibia, interview conducted telephonically on 24 June 2009. Shirumbu Consulting, Audit of media, p. 26–27. Interview, op.cit.

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sections 3 and 4, for ‘any’ person, including media practitioners, to be in possession of or to disclose certain information that originates with the state ‘for any purpose prejudicial to the security or interests of the Republic’. Such information includes ‘any secret official code or any document, model, article or information used, kept, made or obtained in any prohibited place’, as well as information related to matters concerning the country’s defence, armaments, security and the prevention or combating of terrorism. Defamation There are no criminal defamation or libel laws, only the common law offence of crimen injuria. However, serious concern is being expressed about the increase of civil defamation cases against the media.96 In what is believed to be the most costly judgement yet against a Namibian newspaper, the coastal Namib Times lost a N$ 130 000 (US$ 16 000) defamation suit in March 2008 relating to an article in which a municipal employee was alleged to have not paid her water and electricity bills.97 In 2008 the state-owned newspaper New Era was ordered to pay damages of N$ 50 000 (US$ 7 000) to deputy minister Pohamba Shifeta for an article which he deemed defamatory. Another judgement ordered the Southern Times, owned jointly by the Namibian and Zimbabwean governments, to pay the Namibian branch of the Universal Church of the Kingdom of God N$ 60 000 (US$ 8 300) in damages also for a defamatory article. The tabloid newspaper Informanté at one stage faced as many as ten defamation suits with claimed damages ranging from N$ 300 000 (US$ 42 000) to N$ 1.1 million (US$ 150 000). A very high profile case involving former President Sam Nujoma suing The Namibian newspaper and journalist Werner Menges for N$ 5 million (US$ 693 000) in libel damages was dropped in June 2008.98 According to the Legal Assistance Centre’s director, Norman Tjombe: ‘The increase in such cases may be because of the rise in Namibia of tabloid media, such as Informanté, with its focus on uncovering scandals. In addition, there seem to be a lot of inexperienced young journalists out there with little knowledge about journalistic ethics and doing proper research, and at the same time the rich and powerful are becoming bolder and more willing to sue.’99 Editor of Informanté, Max Hamata, feels that the tabloid has had a considerable role to play in exposing corruption in Namibia and that the ‘more than ten’ pending defamation lawsuits against the newspaper are an attempt ‘to scare us and stop us
96 97 98 99 S. Kangwa-Wilkie, interview, op.cit. A. Hartman, ‘Namib Times loses N$ 130 000 defamation lawsuit’, The Namibian, 19 March 2008. W. Menges, ‘Nujoma drops Avid case’, The Namibian, 27 June 2008. Interview, op.cit.

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from exposing the corruption’. He concurs that: ‘Not every newspaper has the means behind them to support such litigation, like we do.’100 Says freelance investigative journalist John Grobler: ‘For freelancers, having to bear our own legal costs, the effects are severely chilling. At the moment, I simply cannot afford to do more investigative reporting.’101 There is concern from MISA-Namibia that the increase in defamation cases against journalists and subsequent orders to pay huge penalties will have the effect of ‘cowing the media into submission and self-censorship’.102 Sampa Kangwa-Wilkie of MISA, who operates a regional media defence fund for journalists, agrees: ‘There is a concern, with the increase in defamation cases against the media, that journalists and the smaller media houses will be put out of business, as the legal costs can be prohibitive. There is also the concern that this will make journalists opt only for the safe stories as they won’t want to run the risk of doing investigative reporting. It will probably lead to more censorship. Once Namibia has access to information legislation, things may be different.’103 Communications Act The new Communications Act (Act 8 of 2009104) gives government the power to monitor telephone calls and electronic communication, such as mobile phone text messages and emails. It allows for the establishment by the President of interception centres ‘as are necessary for the combating of crime and national security’ and which will be staffed by the Namibia Central Intelligence Services. There is a fear that this clause may be ‘an attempt by government to clamp down on its critics, including journalists’,105 not least fuelled by the fact that the provisions are similar to those found in Zimbabwe’s Interception of Communications Act, which the Zimbabwe government uses to intimidate journalists and other citizens. The clause also makes it clear that the providers of telecommunications services must assist government, at their own cost, in storing such information and ensuring that it is capable of being intercepted. Norman Tjombe, director of the Legal Assistance Centre, says that such provisions will ‘stifle democracy as people will be afraid to speak up’.106 Tjombe called the interception clause ‘abusive’ and ‘draconian’, adding that ‘such provisions will never survive a constitutional attack’.107
100 101 102 103 104 105 106 107 M. Hamata, editor of Informanté, interview conducted in Windhoek on 23 January 2009. Interview, op.cit. Staff reporter, ‘MISA reminds court of challenges journalists face’, The Namibian, 23 December 2008. Interview, op.cit. Government Gazette, 16 November 2009. C. Maletsky, ‘Govt wants to spy on you’, The Namibian, 21 November 2008. C. Maletsky, ‘Editors reject ‘spy clause’ in Comms Bill’. The Namibian, 27 November 2008. Staff reporter, ‘Spy bill unconstitutional: LAC’, The Namibian, 5 June 2009.

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Access to Information While people can access some public information, like court documents, for example, there is no law forcing the government or companies to divulge information of public interest. Documents that should be public, such as the national budget, are made available only to certain individuals or institutions, while the government’s website, which should be used to keep the public informed, is hopelessly outdated. Government officials often make it difficult for journalists to get information in the public interest.108 The African Media Barometer for 2007 quotes a panelist as saying: ‘In Namibia there is such a culture of secrecy around public information that people have stopped asking. This leaves a lot of space for officials not wanting to be transparent or open.’109 Lobby groups such as the Media Institute of Southern Africa (MISA) Namibian chapter are consistently and continuously campaigning for a Freedom of Information Act, supported by the Office of the Ombudsman and the Anti-Corruption Commission. A Revised Draft Information Policy of 2006, which is supposed to replace an outdated Information Policy 1991, recognises the importance of access to information ‘in consolidating democracy and stimulating development in Namibia’. It even proposes that the country’s constitution be amended to include the right of access to information.110 So far, however, the debate is ongoing without any concrete results.

5

Self-regulation of the media

The media ombudsman is a self-regulatory mechanism for the media established by the National Editors’ Forum (NEF) of Namibia. The NEF appointed human rights lawyer and former magistrate Clement Daniels to the post in August 2009 and adopted a constitution and a code of ethics in November 2009. This self-regulatory complaints mechanism can be used by members of the public who feel aggrieved by something broadcast or published in the media. They can take the matter to the ombudsman, who will inform the parties involved and call them together. If no resolution can be found, the matter will go before the Media Complaints Committee which comprises the ombudsman and two members of a panel established by public invitation. If one of the parties is not happy with the outcome, they can appeal to a Media Appeals Board which is headed by a retired judge.
108 African Media Barometer (AMB) Namibia, 2007. 109 Ibid. 110 D. Lush, ‘Namibia drifts along in wake of media revolution’, The Big Issue Namibia, October 2007.

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There had been several efforts over the years to establish a self-regulatory body for the media. In 2002, for example, MISA-Namibia sought to introduce a code of ethics and a self-regulatory mechanism with a media ombudsman to ensure compliance. The attempt failed because there was insufficient support from the media, highly polarised at the time – with divisions both among private media houses as well as between private and state media. The media are also ‘highly individualistic’, which means that getting the different players to work together was a challenge.111 Another reason for MISA’s failure to bring all players on board was that the organisation had long been regarded as antagonistic to government by the state-owned media.112 The renewed effort which finally led to the establishment of the media ombudsman was spearheaded by the National Editors Forum and the Legal Assistance Centre. The Forum was formed in June 2007 and it has attracted an active membership from the mainstream print and broadcast media, including the state-run NBC TV and New Era, as well as commercial radio stations and privately owned publications, including Republikein, Allgemeine Zeitung and The Namibian. A resolution by the SWAPO Congress in November 2007, calling for government to establish a statutory media council to regulate the activities and operations of the media, may have galvanised the media into action to form such an independent, selfregulatory body.

6 Jurisprudence
A number of cases stand out with regard to how the courts, in an independent Namibia, have dealt with the issues of freedom of expression and access to information. The following is a summary of some landmark findings.

6.1 Kauesa v Minister of Home Affairs and others, 1995 – nr 175 sc
The appellant in this case was a warrant officer in the Namibian Police Force who had appeared in an NBC panel discussion on affirmative action and was subsequently charged with contravening the Police Act 19 of 1990. The Act states that any police officer will be guilty of an offence if they publicly comment unfavourably on the administration of the Namibian police or any other government department.113 The appellant challenged the constitutionality of the Police Act on the basis that
111 112 113 E. Hofmann, chairperson of the Namibian Editors’ Forum, interview conducted in Windhoek on 18 November 2008. AMB Namibia, 2009. Legal Assistance Centre, Key Judgements, accessed from http://www.lac.org.na/cases/keyjudgments.html.

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it was too broad and that it limited his constitutionally guaranteed right to freedom of expression.114 The Supreme Court had to determine whether the limitations on fundamental rights and freedoms of article 21(1)(a) were reasonable and necessary in a democratic society. The court adopted a strict interpretation on the limitation of rights to prevent the unnecessary deprivation of an individual’s rights. It determined that the limitation in this case was not rationally connected with its objective which was obscured by its breadth and could not easily be identified. The Police Act provision was thus unfair and its effect was to punish police officers for having criticised the police force in public, even if the remarks were true.115 The court found that it would have been wrong to deprive the appellant of his right to free speech and held that the right to freedom of speech was an important right that should be purposefully interpreted.

6.2 Smith v Windhoek Observer (Pty) Ltd and another, 1991 – nr 327 hc
This judgment dealt with the publication of defamatory material in the print media and the case established the principle that a newspaper is liable for repeating defamatory statements made by a third party.116 The plaintiff was a deputy commissioner in the Namibian Police who, in an article in the Windhoek Observer, had been accused of being an apartheid-era Civil Cooperation Bureau (CCB) operative. The CCB was a top-secret organisation established in South Africa to eliminate those opposed to the apartheid regime. The officer sued the newspaper for defamation. The High Court of Namibia held that statements made by a third party source in the newspaper to the effect that the plaintiff had been responsible for the murder of a SWAPO activist were damaging to the plaintiff’s character. The court found that the general readership of the newspaper would believe the statements to be true and thus held the newspaper liable for these statements, even though they were those of a third party. The newspaper was found to have published a highly defamatory article. The parties agreed with the finding and the court had to determine appropriate damages. It awarded the plaintiff damages in the amount of N$ 30 000 (US$ 4 200).

114 115 116

SADC Media Law: A Handbook for Media Practitioners, Konrad Adenauer Foundation, Johannesburg, 2003, p. 57. Ibid. Ibid.

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6.3 Muheto and Others v Namibian Broadcasting Corporation, 2000 – nr 178 hc
The plaintiffs applied to the High Court for an interdict to prevent the national broadcaster, the NBC, from airing a programme about them which they claimed was defamatory. In the programme, the applicants were presented as running bogus institutions, aimed at defrauding the public. The NBC said that the claims were true and that the programme should be broadcast in the public interest.117 The court refused to grant the interdict, stating that ‘publication of defamatory material in the public media will be regarded as lawful if … publication is found to be reasonable, i.e. that it involves a matter of public interest, and that the defendant had reasonable ground for believing the words were true and took proper steps to verify the accuracy of the material’.118

6.4 Shifeta v Raja Munamwava and others, 2008 – NR 2106 HC and Universal Church of the Kingdom of God v NamZim Newspapers trading as the southern times, 2008 – nr 1404 hc
These two High Court rulings made in 2008 redefined the evolution of media defamation litigation. In one case, the state-owned newspaper New Era was ordered to pay damages of N$ 50 000 (US$ 6 900) to deputy minister Pohamba Shifeta for an article which he deemed defamatory. The judgment in the second case ordered the Southern Times, owned jointly by the Namibian and Zimbabwean governments, to pay the Namibian branch of the Universal Church of the Kingdom of God N$ 60 000 (US$ 8 300) in damages also for a defamatory article. Despite these damages being awarded, the judges in both cases ruled that the legal principle of strict liability, previously applicable to the media in defamation cases, was outdated at a time when the right to freedom of speech and expression of the media is guaranteed by the constitution.119 These rulings represent the first instances in which a Namibian court declared that strict liability should be discarded in favour of an approach focusing more on the constitutional right to free speech.120 Under common law, the strict liability principle favoured the right to a good name above the right to freedom of speech and expression. With the media being considered strictly liable for the publication of defamatory material, even if there was no intention to defame someone or even when the defamatory statement was believed to be true, it
SADC Media Law, pp. 55–56. M. Hanekom, ‘PG dismisses contempt charge against media’ – Victory or poor consolation?, conference paper, 2003, accessed from academic.sun.ac.za/journalism/news/archive/conference03/papers/hanekom.doc. 119 W. Menges, ‘Church’s court win also a libel law boost for Namibia’, The Namibian, 15 December 2008. 120 ‘MISA-Namibia calls for the media not to be intimidated’ (press release), MISA-Namibia, 27 January 2009. 117 118

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was very difficult for the media to defend themselves, and they either had to ‘shut up or pay up’.121 ‘Now, the media is on a safer path. To prove that we, as journalists, are not liable we just need to establish in court that what we have published was reasonably true and it was published because we thought it was true,’ says national director of MISANamibia, Mathew Haikali.122

7

Conclusions and recommendations

While law reform processes are underway to bring the Namibian legislative environment more in line with the provisions of the AU and SADC protocols and declarations, existing legislation and some proposed (draft) laws still fall short of complying with these regional and continental instruments. The draft Broadcasting Policy of 2008, for example, seems more in tune with the new thinking in these regional accords than the Communications Bill, especially in terms of transforming the state/national broadcaster, the NBC, into an independent, public broadcaster. As yet there is no law or draft law which would explicitly extend and guarantee access to information, as called for by the SADC Protocol and AU declarations. Similarly, no Namibian laws adequately address the issue of protection of confidential sources of information. Legislation passed since independence has enforced a culture of restrictive disclosure of information that contradicts the provisions of the SADC Protocol, the ACHPR Declaration of Principles on Freedom of Expression in Africa, and the SADC Declaration on Information and Communications Technology.

recommendations
• The Namibian Constitution should be amended to guarantee access to information as a fundamental human right. • Apartheid-era laws, as well as other outdated legislation still on the statute books should be repealed or amended to enable the media to operate in a less restrictive environment. These include the Protection of Information Act of 1982, the Indecent and Obscene Photographic Matter Act of 1967, the Newspaper and Imprint Registration Act of 1971 and the Publications Act of 1974.
121 M. Hanekom, op.cit. 122 M. Haikali, director of MISA-Namibia, interview conducted in Windhoek on 24 November 2008.

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• Comprehensive access to information legislation should be drafted and promulgated, in the process repealing or amending outdated legislation, such as the Electoral Act of 1992, the Public Service Act of 1995 and the Protection of Information Act of 1982. All of these contain secrecy clauses which contradict the right to access to information. • Existing legislation (especially the Criminal Procedure Act of 1977 and the Magistrate’s Court Act of 1944) should be amended and new legislation be drafted to incorporate provisions protecting confidential sources of information. • Media lobby groups and civil society should consider making an application to an appropriate court of law for it to pronounce on the constitutionality of the Communications Act 2009 which gives government the power to monitor telephone calls and electronic communication. • The New Era Publication Corporation Act of 1992 and the Namibia Press Agency Act of 1992 should be rescinded and New Era and Nampa should be privatised. • The government should institute a policy to ensure the fair and equitable treatment of all the media, be they public, community or private, particularly in regard to advertising by state bodies and invitations to official government events.

3
The Broadcasting Landscape

1

The Namibian Broadcasting Corporation

The Namibian Broadcasting Corporation (NBC) operates ten radio stations serving different language groups in the country. These are: • • • • • • • • • • NBC National Radio – English service NBC Oshiwambo NBC Afrikaans NBC German NBC Otjiherero NBC Damara/Nama NBC Silozi NBC Tirelo yaSetswana NBC Rukavango NBC !Ha – San community service.

NBC radio services, in total, represent the biggest terrestrial footprint in the country, reaching 96 per cent of the population, according to the national broadcaster itself.123 Not all the NBC radio stations are available throughout the country. Instead they target specific areas where there is a concentration of the respective language group. While NBC’s English radio service is on air for 24 hours a day, the other stations broadcast for 15 hours a day.

123

B. Murangi, NBC manager: satellite uplink and downlink, transmitters (FM and TV) and electrical/aircon, interviewed telephonically on May 29, 2009.

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A MediaMetrics124 audience survey conducted in 2010125 showed that NBC’s radio services are the most popular in the country, led by the Oshiwambo service (31.15 per cent), followed by NBC Damara-Nama (9.99 per cent) and the NBC National (English) Service (9.25 per cent). Fresh FM is the most popular commercial station with 9.21 per cent (up from 5.36 per cent in 2008). NBC’s Rukavango service stands at 7.84 per cent and the Otjiherero service at 7.24 per cent. Commercial radio station Omulunga Radio has an audience share of 6.35 per cent, Energy 100 FM 3.52 per cent and Radio Wave 1.19 per cent. Community stations’ shares are small because of their limited coverage area, for example, Channel has 7 1.49 per cent and Base FM 0.43 per cent. According to MediaMetrics, NBC is by far the most-watched television channel. Of the people surveyed, 47.46 per cent had watched NBC ‘yesterday’, as against 24.41 per cent for One Africa and 6.31 per cent for subscription service DSTV (10.78 per cent said they had watched none).126 For more details on NBC’s radio and TV programmes see chapters 6 and 8.

2

Commercial broadcasters

Article 5(1) of the Declaration of Principles on Freedom of Expression stipulates that: ‘States shall encourage a diverse, independent private broadcasting sector.’ There is no doubt that with nine radio stations the commercial sector is thriving. Private television, however, with only one commercial, Namibian-owned free-to-air operator is still in its infancy.

2.1 radio
Most directors of private radio stations agree that the government of Namibia is indeed encouraging the development of a diverse radio landscape. ‘We were one of the first African countries to open up the broadcasting sector to private stations,’ says Robin Thompson, managing director of Radio Wave.127 The Planet Radio Group established three radio stations over a period of eleven years (Fresh FM, Kudu FM and Omulunga): ‘The state grants broadcasting licences quite easily and we have one of the most democratic

124 http://www.vision-africa.com. 125 C. D’Alton, managing director of Vision Africa, selected data from MediaMetrics 2010 provided by him via email on 25 November 2010. 126 Respondents were allowed to name more than one television station. 127 R. Thompson, managing director of Radio Wave, and J. Loubser, Radio Wave presenter, joint interview conducted in Windhoek on 10 February 2009.

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broadcasting acts in the world,’ according to John-Paul Jones, chief operations officer of the three stations.128 The nine commercial radio stations currently licensed by the Namibian Communications Commission are: Namibia FM 99 Namibia FM 99, formerly called Radio 99, is the country’s oldest commercial radio station, broadcasting in English and Afrikaans to the main urban areas in the country, with a strong focus on the central, northern and coastal regions. The station describes itself as ‘talk radio, with easy listening [music] in the evenings’.129 It is owned by Democratic Media Holdings, which has a 50 per cent shareholding by the South African company Media24. Radio Wave The 24-hour English language station, established in July 1998, targets the ‘fashionconscious, trendy, urban elite’.130 Its format is personality-driven with a strong focus on hit music and entertainment. Its DJs are household names in Namibia and they are particularly outspoken, especially during the popular morning talk show. Radio Wave broadcasts short news bulletins, which are limited to ‘non-political stories as we leave that material to the national broadcaster’.131 Two businessmen own the station. In 2000 Radio Wave was the first station to stream its broadcast live over the internet. Three years later it was the first Namibian radio station to be featured on the subscription service DSTV audio bouquet. It broadcasts to the major urban centres in Namibia. Fresh FM, Omulunga Radio, Kudu FM All three stations operate under the umbrella group, Planet Radio. Each has its own distinct social demographic focus: Fresh FM is the newest station of the trio and began broadcasting in October 2007 as an English youth station with a strong focus on popular music; Omulunga Radio runs on a commercial music format aimed at the Oshiwambo-speaking audience; while Kudu FM targets a white, adult, Englishspeaking audience and plays middle-of-the-road music. These three 24-hour stations are all music- and entertainment-driven, with hourly news bulletins during the day. The stations’ news is sourced from press releases and newspaper articles. Between 06h00 and 22h00, music makes up 90 per cent
128 J-P. Jones, Planet Radio (Kudu FM, Omulunga Radio and Fresh FM) chief operations officer, interview conducted on 10 February 2009. 129 G. Jacobie, general manager of Namibia FM 99, interview conducted via email on 12 March 2009. 130 R. Thompson, op.cit. 131 Ibid.

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of airtime, talk accounts for 7 per cent and advertisements for 3 per cent132. Between 22h00 and 06h00, the ratio is 97 per cent music and 3 per cent advertising. Fresh broadcasts to Windhoek and Oshakati, while Kudu and Omulunga reach most of the major urban centres in Namibia, especially those located centrally, at the coast and in the northern parts of the country. The stations are owned by Namibian business people. Energy 100 FM The largely English-language commercial station (with 5 per cent Oshiwambo programming), broadcasts 24 hours a day and dedicates 70 per cent of airtime to music, including local music. Its target groups are young people, students and the ‘funky, new, cool corporate working class’ in central (Windhoek), northern (Oshakati) and the central coastal regions of Walvis Bay and Swakopmund.133 While the station caters for the younger audience (people aged 16–34 years), the actual market is said to be broader, from 13 to 50 years. Energy 100 FM was, at its inception in 1996, very music-dominated. In the past two years the station has moved to include educational and infotainment content alongside the music. This includes hourly news broadcasts in the morning and afternoon and various chat and in-studio guest shows. The station is owned by Zebra Holdings, a sister company to Kalahari Holdings, which is owned by the ruling SWAPO party. The station’s studio manager, Joseph Ailonga, says that the party does not interfere in the station’s editorial decisionmaking: ‘We have a verbal agreement about this. After all, we are a commercial radio station, not a political party.’134 Kosmos Radio The Afrikaans radio station Kosmos Radio was launched in 2001. Music comprises about 75 per cent of airtime, with information or talk making up the remaining 25 per cent. The music played is broadly middle-of-the-road (‘no boeremoesik’) with some of the latest hits. Every 15 minutes there are headlines of local and international news, while every hour there is a two to three-minute news broadcast. The target audience is adult and Afrikaans-speaking. The station broadcasts predominantly to the central, coastal and northern parts of Namibia.135 The station is owned by Namibian business people.

132 133 134 135

J-P. Jones, op.cit. J. Ailonga, Energy 100 FM studio manager, interview conducted in Windhoek on 19 February 2009. Ibid. K. Van Koller, MD of Kosmos Radio, interview conducted in Windhoek on 13 February 2009.

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West Coast FM The station is the only commercial radio station based in Swakopmund, a coastal town populated predominantly by holidaymakers. The station began broadcasting to the central coastal region in November 2006 in both English and Afrikaans and aimed at an adult contemporary audience. Some 10 per cent of airtime every hour on West Coast FM is dedicated to advertising, talk (including news and studio guests) comprises 30 per cent, while the remaining 60 per cent is devoted to music. News is primarily international and sourced from a news agency in South Africa, while Namibian news is included ‘if something is relevant’, according to marketing manager Rudolph Philander.136 Important local events are also covered, using mobile telephones as the station lacks professional outside broadcast equipment. The station is owned by two Namibian businessmen. Radio France Internationale RFI transmits on FM in Windhoek only and is a relay of the Paris-based station broadcasting in French. There is no reliable figure on how many people speak French in Namibia. RFI has been leasing the NBC’s facilities since 2001 to the tune of about N$ 80 000 (US$ 11 000) a year and the contract was renewed in November 2007 for another five years.137 In return, RFI has donated equipment to the Namibian state broadcaster and there have been exchange programmes for staff between the two stations.

2.2 television
There are two commercial television operators in Namibia: satellite pay-TV station DSTV, based in South Africa and operating as MultiChoice Namibia, and a local free-to-air station, One Africa Television. In 2007, a commercial television licence was granted by the Namibian Communications Commission (NCC) to SWAPO’s investment company Kalahari Holdings. By the time of writing, however, Kalahari Holdings had not established a television station.138 This is despite regulations under the Namibian Communications Commission Act 1992, which require that a licence holder ‘shall commence with the transmission of programmes within a period of six months after a broadcasting licence has been issued’.139 However, the Act goes on to say, under 5(2), that: ‘The Commission may grant an extension to the above-mentioned period if special circumstances exist and upon submission of reasons by the licence
136 137 138 139 R. Philander, West Coast FM marketing manager, interview conducted in Windhoek on 23 April 2009. http://blogs.rnw.nl/medianetwork/namibian-broadcasting-corporation-renews-contract-with-rfi. B. /Hara-#Gaeb, engineering technician of the Namibian Communications Commission, interview conducted in Windhoek on 10 September 2009 (note: the / and # in his name denote clicks in the Namibian Damara language). Government Gazette of the Republic of Namibia, 25 February 1994, No. 802: Regulations under the Namibian Communications Commission Act, 1992 (Act 4 of 1992).

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holder.’ Barthos /Hara-#Gaeb, the engineering technician of the NCC, confirms that Kalahari Holdings did request the NCC’s indulgence in this regard.140 Television licences are renewable every eight years. A further diversification of commercial television in Namibia is hampered by the fact that the NBC monopolises the transmission networks. It owns much of the statefinanced tower infrastructure in most of the prime high sites across the country. The private television company, One Africa Television, has not been allowed to lease space on these towers and had to erect its own expensive transmission towers or lease space from telecommunication service providers.141 The Communications Act provides for the sharing of infrastructure among telecommunications service providers, but not among broadcasters. One Africa Television, based in Windhoek, began broadcasting in November 2003. Its programming consists mainly of popular entertainment, news and sports acquired from around the world, including rebroadcasts of BBC World News. The station launched its own news broadcast on weekdays at 19h00 in June 2007, giving viewers an alternative to the NBC’s mostly government-centred news. This prompted the NBC to bring its 20h00 main news bulletin forward to 19h00 to ‘scoop’ its competition. One Africa also broadcasts regular Namibian sports shows and one or two small locally produced weekly programmes, including wildlife documentaries. During 2009 the station featured the country’s first reality television show, Just Fabulous NonSurgical Makeover Show. One Africa is 51 per cent owned by Namibian shareholders (black economic empowerment companies Aantu Investments and Consulting and Stimulus Investments, as well as One Africa senior management) while Schenzen Communications from China owns 36.75 per cent and Telkom Media 12.25 per cent.142

3 community broadcasting
By August 2009, the Namibian Communications Commission (NCC) had licensed eight community radio stations and granted two community television licences. Another community radio station based in Swakopmund, Ocean Wave, does not yet have its own frequency and broadcasts half an hour a day on the commercial station, West Coast FM.
140 B. /Hara-#Gaeb, op.cit. 141 P. Van Schalkwyk, One Africa MD, and M. Cosburn, One Africa Technical Director, interview conducted in Windhoek on 3 December 2008. 142 P. Van Schalkwyk and M. Cosburn with additional information sourced from J. Grobler, ‘Chinese Acquire Stake in One Africa TV’, The Namibian, 13 May 2009.

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Community radio station licences cost N$ 1 800 (US$ 250) annually for a rurally based station and N$ 3 600 (US$ 500) for an urban-based station. The annual fee for a commercial radio station, in comparison, is N$ 27 500 (US$ 3 800). Community television stations have to pay N$ 8 400 (US$ 1 200), while a commercial TV station licence costs N$ 80 000 (US$ 11 000).143 Licences for radio stations are renewable every five years. Broadcasters also need to pay transmitter fees to the NCC, depending on the power/range of their transmitters. A VHF (FM) radio transmitter station with a range of 0–100 Watts will cost N$ 600 (US$ 83) per annum, for 101–999 Watts it is N$ 200 (US$ 166), and above 1 000 Watts N$ 1 800 (US$ 250). VHF/UHF television transmitter station licences cost N$ 6 540 (US$ 900) for a 0–100 Watt transmitter, N$8 040 (US$ 1 100) for a 101–1 000 Watt transmitter and N$ 10 020 (US$ 1 390) for a transmitter of more than 1 000 Watts.144 Apart from cheaper licence fees there is no special assistance for community stations from the state as is the case in other countries. One of the reasons could be that government does not see community broadcasting as a priority and takes the view that the NBC’s different language radio services, targeting specific ethnic groups in pockets around the country, are effectively operating as ‘community radio stations’, with much of the information on air coming from the communities themselves.145 Most community stations battle to secure funding from sponsors, while some attempt to sell more advertising. With the current global economic crisis, funding from outside Namibia is increasingly difficult to procure. In 2003, the Namibia chapter of the Media Institute of Southern Africa (MISA) spearheaded the launch of an umbrella organisation for the sector called the Namibian Community Radio Network (NCRN) with the intention of encouraging the development of community broadcasting in Namibia. The network became defunct after a few years, however, as community radio stations themselves were not driving the process.146 MISA-Namibia is currently trying to revive the NCRN so that it can be autonomous and self-reliant.

3.1 community radio stations
Base FM Namibia’s first community radio station, Katutura Community Radio (KCR), based in Windhoek’s township, Katutura was launched in 1994. In 2000 it ceased operating
143 J. Schutte, senior control officer at the NCC; telephonic interview conducted on May 26, 2009. 144 Government Gazette of the Republic of Namibia, 30 November 2007, No. 3942: Amendment to Regulations Promulgated under the Namibian Communications Commission Act, 1992. 145 R. Tyson, media studies lecturer at the University of Namibia, interview conducted on 31 October 2008. 146 N. Karuaihe-Upi, broadcasting and ICT research officer at MISA-Namibia, interview conducted telephonically on 31 August 2009.

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‘due to poor management’.147 The station reopened in 2003, run as a not-for-profit trust by a group of non-governmental organisations on behalf of the community. It now reaches most of urban Windhoek and also Okahandja. The station was renamed Base FM in October 2008 to reflect its broader coverage area. Base FM broadcasts 24 hours a day, mostly in English, although callers are also free to speak other languages, as long as the presenters can understand them. In the ‘active listener’ period from 07h00–19h00, the station focuses largely on talk shows and discussion programmes. Talk content during this time is about 50 per cent, with the rest being ‘infotainment’ and magazine-type shows interspersed with music. After 19h00, the focus is more on music. About 50 per cent of Base FM’s listeners are estimated to be 16 to 25 years old, with the remainder aged 25 to 40. Apart from the station manager and the finance officer, all other staff at Base FM are volunteers and receive stipends for transport and basic accommodation only. The station receives donor support while additional income comes from advertisements and non-governmental organisations paying for airtime. The station says that the 2007 MediaMetrics media research project ranked Base FM (then KCR) as eighth in popularity out of all radio stations in Namibia. Channel 7 Channel 7 is a Christian community radio station that has been on air since 1993. It is owned by Media for Christ, a Section 21 (not-for-profit) company. The name was chosen because of the significance to Christians of the number seven, ‘which denotes completeness and perfection’.148 The target audience is mostly Afrikaans-speaking and over the age of 30 and ‘not all our listeners are Christian’. The station broadcasts mostly in Afrikaans. Between 06h00 and 22h00 in the evening on five of the station’s 26 transmitters an Oshiwambo language service is broadcast on the same channel. In addition, between 05h30 and 06h00 a German service is broadcast virtually throughout the country on all transmitters. According to the station’s managing director Neal van den Bergh, music accounts for 60 per cent of the airtime and talk for 40 per cent: ‘We love to talk but are trying to cut the talk down and play more music, except for the time that we broadcast sermons and testimonies on Sundays.’ About half of the music played on the 24-hour station is religious, the other half secular. Programming includes news on the hour between 06h00 and 21h00 and sports flashes.

147 S. Williams, Base FM station manager, interview conducted in Windhoek on 17 February 2009. 148 N. Van den Bergh, op.cit.

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Karas FM Karas FM was launched in May 2008. The station, based at Keetmanshoop in southern Namibia, broadcasts in a 50 km radius of the town in the four most widely spoken languages in the region: 40 per cent of airtime talk is in Nama, and 20 per cent each in Oshiwambo, English and Afrikaans. Karas FM is supported by the Namibian Institute for Democracy (NID) and receives funding from the United States Agency for International Development (USAID). The station is aimed at a broad range of community members in the area, from youth to working adults, housewives and the unemployed, churches and businesses. There are four news bulletins throughout the day, each in all four languages, focusing mainly on local news.149 The licence for the station is held by the charitable Southern Sun Media Trust, which runs the station on behalf of the community. The station’s management and volunteers do not receive salaries but are paid stipends when funds are available. Currently the station does not receive outside financial support and funds it operations completely through revenue generated by advertising. Ohangwena Community Radio Ohangwena Community Radio was launched in Eenhana, near the Angolan border in northern Namibia, in 1997 as a UNESCO project, through the ministry of information at the time. It was handed over to the Ohangwena Regional Council, ostensibly to be run as part of a poverty reduction programme. It stopped operating in 2005 but was re-launched in December 2008, with support from the Namibian Institute for Democracy (NID) and funding from USAID. The station’s licence has been paid for by the ministry of information and communication technology. The station currently broadcasts from 06h00–21h00 daily, with 79 per cent of its airtime devoted to talk (educational, environmental and health programmes) and 21 per cent to local and international music. It is mostly an Oshiwambo-language station, with the odd programme being broadcast in English. There are two news bulletins per day – one in the morning and one in the afternoon. The news is sourced from the internet, Namibian newspapers and the community. The station is set up as a non-profit company and run by volunteers.

149 A. Thomas, Karas FM station manager, information sourced via email received on 11 May 2009.

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E FM Christian community station E FM, formerly Radio Ecclesia, was originally owned by the Catholic Church in Windhoek. In 2005, the church put out a tender for subletting the frequency. The tender was won by Carol-Ann Van der Walt, who is solely controlling the station at the moment, although she is talking about forming a closed corporation in future.150 The manager insists that her station has ‘no direct link to the Catholic Church and we try to keep our programming neutral, in terms of different churches. We are a Christian station and all our music is Christian’. The target group of E FM is Windhoek citizens aged from 18 to 35. The station broadcasts in English 24 hours a day, seven days a week and is run by eight staff members, mostly volunteers. It runs 14 six-minute news bulletins every weekday using information sourced from local newspapers and the internet. Sixty to 70 per cent of the station’s airtime during the week is devoted to music, with music only being played over weekends. E FM has just one advertising customer (the mobile service provider MTC). The station also receives funding from three American pastors, whose sermons are broadcast three times a day during the week for a total of one-and-a-quarter hours. UNAM Radio University of Namibia (UNAM) Radio was launched in 2001, with the assistance of UNESCO, to serve as a training ground for students in radio production.151 UNESCO contributed to the station’s initial funding and bought the transmitter. The community radio station is owned and fully funded by the university and run by students in the department of information and communication Studies supervised by Robin Tyson, a media studies lecturer. The station’s board of governors is made up of lecturers from this department. The station broadcasts within Windhoek 24 hours a day, mostly music (between 60 and 100 per cent) with an emphasis on local productions, to a target audience of university students. Between 06h00 and midnight, the station has presenters. After midnight, the computer takes over. The station does not have local news broadcasts, but plans to start a campus news bulletin. Half an hour of news from Voice of America is broadcast once a day, relayed from the internet.

150 151

C-A. van der Walt, manager of E FM, information about this station gleaned from two interviews conducted on 4 and 24 March 2009. R. Tyson, op.cit.

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The station has virtually no advertisements. Whatever money does come in from the occasional advertiser contributes towards paying fees to presenters and buying new equipment. The presenters are volunteers who are paid a small amount of money by the university to cover transport costs. Because the station is a training ground for would-be radio presenters, many of them move on to commercial radio stations after six months of training. Live FM Live FM is a community radio station based in Rehoboth, 85 km south of the capital Windhoek. It was launched in 2002 with no donor funding and is run as a notfor-profit, Section 21 company by an advisory board comprising eight community members, two from each ‘block’ in the town.152 The station broadcasts daily from 05h00–21h00 and sometimes up to 23h00. Broadcasts are primarily in Afrikaans (60 per cent), the predominant language of the area, English (35 per cent) and Damara-Nama (5 per cent). Across all programmes, the station strives for a ratio of 60 per cent talk, 35 per cent music – with at least half being Namibian music – and 5 per cent advertising. Live FM is funded solely by advertising and sponsorships for shows from the local business community. The station also conducts outside broadcasts to raise funds, even though this entails moving all the equipment from the studio, as well as the transmitter, to the site. The station has five full-time staff, including the station manager, and 13 volunteers, who are involved mostly in presenting but also in technical aspects of running the station. The station has a strong focus on current affairs and community issues, with phone-in shows featuring studio guests talking on topics ranging from health and human rights to labour and gender issues. Live FM also features community announcements throughout the day. In mid-2009, the station began compiling five daily news broadcasts, comprising local, Namibian and international news sourced from the community, Namibian and South African newspapers, as well as from the internet and news agencies such as Reuters. The news broadcasts are a minimum of three and a maximum of five minutes long and aired between 06h00–17h00.

152

P. Oliver, Live FM station manager, interviews conducted via email in Feburary 2009 as well as telephonically on 17 September 2009.

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3.2 community television broadcasting stations
The NCC has licensed two community television broadcasting stations: Trinity Broadcasting Network (TBN) Namibia TBN Namibia is licensed as a community television station. It is registered as a Section 21, not-for-profit company and has seven directors on its board, five of whom are Namibian, one South African (who is also on the board of TBN South Africa) and one from the United States (who is also on the TBN USA board).153 TBN Namibia has been broadcasting 24 hours a day, seven days a week since 2002. Much of the TBN Namibia content is a rebroadcast of the American-based faith channel TBN International. Only 15 of the station’s 160 broadcast hours a week are dedicated to local, religious programming while a further 45 hours come from TBN Africa. It is thus questionable whether the station does indeed qualify as a ‘community’ broadcaster in Namibia. Tsumeb Municipality The municipality of Tsumeb has a community television licence to rebroadcast the German television station Deutsche Welle. Through a company in Windhoek (Deukom), subscribers to this German channel can purchase decoders to receive the Deutsche Welle transmission via satellite. As with the free-to-air satellite decoders (available from WizTech in Windhoek), which provide Namibian viewers with free access to the South African channels SABC 1, 2 and 3, France 24 and the British Sky News as well as numerous religious channels, ‘this is a grey area’, according to the NCC’s engineering technician: ‘companies selling such equipment should apply to the NCC for the rights to rebroadcast such feed’.154 In both cases, this has not been done.

4 Technical standard and accessibility of services
Radio broadcasting is very important in Namibia, where 80 per cent of the population indicated in the 2001 Population and Housing Census that they have access to radio (no mention is made of the respective figures for television), while only 32 per cent have electricity for lighting.155 More recent data from the Namibia Household Income
153 154 155 C. Botha, director of TBN Namibia, interview conducted telephonically on 15 September 2009. B. /Hara-#Gaeb, op.cit. 2001 Population and Housing Census, National Report: Basic Analysis with Highlights, Central Bureau of Statistics, National Planning Commission, Windhoek, July 2003.

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and Expenditure Survey 2003/2004, released in 2007, indicate that 71.4 per cent of Namibians own a radio, while 13.1 per cent have access to a radio owned by someone else. The same survey shows that 29.1 per cent own a television, while 10.3 per cent have access to one.156 MediaMetrics research157 showed that 61.19 per cent of Namibians surveyed in 2008 had a television set in their household.

4.1 the nbc
The NBC television and radio signals are all transmitted from the Windhoek-based satellite broadcast centre to Intelsat from where they are downlinked to transmitter sites around the country and broadcast terrestrially. In total, the NBC has 56 transmitter sites around the country, with a transmitter for TV on each site and up to five transmitters for NBC radio stations.158 NBC FM radio stations (with only the National English Service broadcasting in stereo) reach an estimated 96 per cent of the Namibian population, while NBC TV can reach an estimated viewership of 66 per cent of the population through normal analogue aerials.159 In June 2008, N$ 15 million (US$ 2.1 million) was earmarked by government to expand the transmitter network and improve current coverage, with the ultimate aim being to extend transmission to the entire country. The NBC is also available through a local DSTV satellite subscription service. The NBC, with its one television channel and ten radio stations, has a range of equipment, some dating back to its inception in 1990, when the country became independent from South Africa. During 2008, the NBC began a big project to upgrade and expand its radio and television equipment.160 N$ 27 million (US$ 3.8 million) was allocated by government to upgrade the studios. At the moment, some radio services are equipped with some digital sound recorders while others are totally analogue, and staff battle with outdated equipment. The National English Radio Service is the first NBC service to have gone completely digital. By February 2009, NBC television had 12 working cameras, countrywide, out of the ideal number of 25, but was in the process of buying 30 new state-of-the art cameras. The NBC by early 2009 had seven regional offices (with three more planned) which send material to the Windhoek broadcasting centre for use in radio and TV
Namibia Household Income and Expenditure Survey 2003/2004, Main Report, Central Bureau of Statistics, National Planning Commission, Windhoek, 2006. 157 C. D’Alton, email communication, op.cit. 158 B. Murangi, NBC manager: satellite uplink and downlink, transmitters (FM and TV) and electrical/aircon, interviewed telephonically on 29 May 2009. 159 Ibid. 160 C. Smith, NBC manager: Facilities and Resources Utilisation, interview conducted in Windhoek on 19 February 2009. 156

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programmes, often via courier. This can lead to delays in the material being broadcast of at least 24 hours.

4.2 one Africa television
One Africa TV has 28 transmitters around the country, and the station continues to expand this network as finances permit. The transmitters are owned and maintained by One Africa, but for financial and environmental reasons tower space is leased from other telecommunication service providers. Because many of the towers used are not intended for TV transmitters, but rather for short distance communications, such as cellular phones, their low height means they can only provide for signal propagation of 30 to 40 km as opposed to 80 km, for example. One Africa TV management estimates that, based on available census statistics and the station’s current footprint, it provides access to more than 90 per cent of television viewers in Namibia, mostly in urban and peri-urban areas. The station is also available on satellite covering the entire country. The production and studio equipment is current technology (standard definition PAL) but One Africa staff note that production capacity is sometimes hampered by the lack of equipment.161

4.3 commercial radio stations
Most of the commercial radio stations in Namibia have digital studios (excluding mixers) and recording equipment, using computers to assist with scheduling, playing music, production of advertisements and even instant invoicing following the broadcast of ads. Most radio stations own their own transmitters and rent tower space from the NBC and telecommunication service providers. Most radio stations such as Radio Wave, Omulunga and Kudu FM broadcast to the major urban centres in Namibia or, like Kosmos Radio, are planning to do so. Fresh FM broadcasts to Windhoek and Oshakati (in the northern region) only, but plans to expand its broadcasts to the coast. Energy 100 FM broadcasts to Windhoek, the northern regions, the coast and the Kavango region from Rundu and is also available on the DSTV audio bouquet, while West Coast FM concentrates on the central Atlantic coastal area.

161

P. Van Schalkwyk and M. Cosburn, op.cit.

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4.4 community radio stations
Community-based radio stations, such as Base FM, Ohangwena Community Radio or UNAM Radio are battling with outdated technology and insufficient mostly analogue equipment (if they have recording facilities at all), basic microphones, insufficient sound-proofing and often lack of air-conditioning. The result is a ‘sound quality not well rounded off or crystal clear, and we come across sounding very amateurish’, according to Base FM’s station manager Sandra Williams. This state of affairs makes it hard for community radio stations to compete with commercial or NBC stations, especially in the capital. Community radio stations usually have one transmitter covering areas within a radius of between 100 and 250 km. Faith-based radio stations such as Channel 7 and E FM are better off. Their production equipment is completely digital, except for the mixing desks. Channel 7 broadcasts through 26 transmitters, with four more being planned, around the country – more than any other private radio broadcaster in Namibia and second in number only to the NBC radio services. Thus, it has the widest footprint of any private radio station in Namibia, reaching not only listeners in the larger urban areas, but in rural, farming areas as well. The station’s manager emphasises that the entire funding for the transmitters (that is, equipment and rental of space) is raised by the communities themselves.162 E FM broadcasts from one transmitter located at its studio in Windhoek, reaching most of the capital.163

5

Conclusions and recommendations

In terms of reach and linguistic diversity for both radio and television, NBC is the dominant broadcaster in Namibia. It has the benefit of being the most established service, receives considerable financial support from the state via taxpayers’ contributions and has an impressive network of transmitters across the country. The state-run broadcaster operates radio stations in ten different languages and thus caters for a range of ethnic groups in Namibia. The existing nine commercial radio stations mostly follow the same pattern of prioritising popular music above news and talk/discussion, and thus do not have much to offer in terms of broadcasting diversity. Most of them broadcast in English, with some Afrikaans, Oshiwambo and French.
162 N. Van den Bergh, op.cit. 163 C-A. Van der Walt, op.cit.

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There are also eight community radio stations, which broadcast to rural and/or urban areas. Most of these stations, however, broadcast in English, with portions of Oshiwambo, Nama and Afrikaans. With only one commercial, privately owned television station and one religious, community television station in Namibia, independent television in Namibia remains in its infancy.

recommendations
• Opportunities should be explored for the establishment of radio stations whose objectives are oriented towards more diverse broadcasting and programmes in languages other than English. • Community radios in particular should be encouraged to broadcast more public service content and to use the languages spoken in their communities.

4
Digitalisation and its Impact

The International Telecommunications Union (ITU), a United Nations agency tasked with coordinating global telecommunications and services, has set a deadline of 17 June 2015 for broadcasters in Europe, Africa, the Middle East and the Islamic Republic of Iran to migrate to digital television broadcasting technology, on both the transmission and the reception side. The ITU deadline refers only to the digitalisation of television broadcasting. Deadlines for the digitalisation of radio have not yet been determined. The ITU sees the digitalisation of broadcasting as a means of establishing a more equitable, just and people-centred information society, leapfrogging ‘existing technologies to connect the unconnected in underserved and remote communities and close the digital divide’.164 The switch-over from analogue to digital broadcasting will expand the potential for a greater convergence of services, with digital terrestrial broadcasting supporting mobile reception of video, internet and multimedia data. Digitalisation of television is seen as a means of enhancing the viewer’s experience by enabling better quality viewing through wide-screen, high definition pictures and surround sound, as well as interactive services. It also allows for innovations such as handheld TV broadcasting devices (Digital Video Broadcasting–Handheld, or DVB-H), and will mean greater bandwidth for telecommunication services.165 Importantly, it will also allow for the creation of many more television and radio channels through greater spectrum efficiency.

164 ‘Digital broadcasting set to transform the communication landscape by 2015’, June 2006, http://www.itu.int/ newsroom/press_releases/2006/11.html. 165 Ibid.

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1

Preparedness for switch-over: Government and industry

In Namibia, the regulatory authority, the Communications Regulatory Authority of Namibia (CRAN), is tasked with spearheading the digitalisation process. A draft broadcasting policy states under point 9.3: ‘The Regulatory Authority, in consultation with broadcasters and other interested parties, will develop and implement an analogue/digital switchover plan … to ensure Namibians will continue to enjoy access to broadcast television services after the end of protection for analogue transmissions in 2015.’ Through the SADC Declaration on Information and Communications Technology (ICT), Namibia, among other signatories, has agreed to enhance ICTs in the country. The preamble to this declaration recognises that ‘the Southern African Development Community needs a coherent regional policy and strategy on Information and Communications Technology … that promotes sustainable economic development, technology and bridges the digital divide within the region and the rest of the world’. Because Namibia has agreed to enhance ICTs, ‘there is no way it can remain analogue’, says NCC engineering technician Barthos /Hara-#Gaeb.166 ‘There are a lot of technological revolutions taking place, globally, and Africa has been left behind. We have to switch to digital – first television, and later radio.’ On 19 July 2010 the minister of information and communication technology Joël Kaapanda announced that Namibia had committed itself to an earlier deadline – December 2013 – for the transition from analogue to digital broadcasting, in line with a decision made by the Southern African Development Community (SADC) in early 2010. The minister said in a statement to a stakeholders workshop that ‘Namibia has already made minimal progress towards the transition to digital broadcasting’, citing efforts by pay television stations and the NBC. Among the outstanding issues he listed ‘a transition timeframe and a firm programme for analogue switch-off’:
Other issues that will require urgent consideration are the establishment of a legislative, policy and licensing framework, competition issues, consumer awareness, technical standards, set-top boxes, frequency planning and cross border coordination.167

166 /Hara-#Gaeb, op.cit. 167 J. Kaapanda, minister of information and communication technology, statement at the National Consultative Stakeholders Workshop on Digital Broadcasting Migration, 19 July 2010.

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In other words: three-and-a-half years before the self-imposed deadline for the switchover of December 2013 Namibia is still in the initial planning stages. At the end of 2008, the Media Institute of Southern Africa (MISA) had expressed its concern that the regulatory body was dragging its feet in preparing for the migration. Gladys Ramadi, MISA programme specialist: broadcasting and ICTs, felt that much more should have been done, given the implications that the new technology will have for consumers and service providers. ‘While digitalisation will free up the spectrum and enable more channels and more choice for consumers, the issue of access is also critical: will decoders be affordable to the majority of Namibians? In addition, will having more channels drown out smaller broadcasters?’168 During 2010, a National Digitalisation Forum was established ‘under the auspices of the Namibian Communications Commission (NCC) with the main purpose of national coordination of the migration from analogue to digital television broadcasting activities in line with the Roadmap for Digital Broadcasting in SADC’.169 The NBC is chairing the forum. At present anyone can apply to CRAN for a digital broadcast licence. It is incumbent upon the applicant to ensure that the service is digitalised by the switchover deadline.170 By September 2009, most television and radio broadcasters used a mixture of digital and analogue systems in terms of production equipment and studio facilities. Commercial broadcasters lead the sector and are almost fully digitised, with media owners at start-up having invested mostly in digital production equipment and facilities.171 One Africa Television’s recording and editing equipment is hybrid – a mixture of digital and analogue. While much of the recording and editing is done digitally, the systems need to accommodate analogue feeds that come in, such as analogue signals for rebroadcasts or advertisements on analogue tape.172 While One Africa broadcasts via analogue currently, using 28 of its own transmitters across the country, the private television station is also already broadcasting digitally via satellite, with Namibian viewers in outlying areas beyond the reach of the transmitter signal using modified decoders to receive the signal.173 According to Robin Tyson, media studies lecturer at the University of Namibia
168 G. Ramadi, MISA programme specialist: broadcasting and ICTs, and N. Karuaihe-Upi, broadcasting and ICT research officer at MISA-Namibia, joint interview conducted in Windhoek on 25 November 2008. 169 Information sourced from http://www.nbc.com.na/digital.php. 170 /Hara-#Gaeb, 3 December 2008. 171 M. Haikali, director of MISA-Namibia, and N. Karuaihe-Upi, broadcasting and ICT research officer at MISANamibia, joint interview conducted in Windhoek on 24 November 2008. 172 M. Cosburn, One Africa’s technical director, telephonic interview conducted on 3 February 2009. 173 P. Van Schalkwyk, managing director of One Africa Television, and M. Cosburn, One Africa’s technical director, joint interview conducted in Windhoek on 3 December 2008.

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(UNAM), the national broadcaster, which used to be at the forefront of broadcasting technology in Namibia, is now going backwards. ‘It is stuck in the stone age, using tape machines and CD players. The NBC hasn’t even thought about digitalisation. They are just not prepared.’174 Clive Smith of the NBC does not deny this, although he explains that the national broadcaster is in the process of upgrading and computerising its radio services. At the moment some make use of a hybrid (analogue and digital) system, while others are totally analogue and staff are battling with outdated equipment such as tapes, CDs and mini-discs. The national English radio channel was the first NBC service to go ‘completely digital’ in 2007. Smith says telephony (on-air calls) is routed through a ‘hybrid’ to the mixer where it is digitised. ‘This enables the presenter to delay and screen calls first before going live on air.’175 The digitalisation of NBC TV news is being done in phases, with the current studio using a mixture of analogue and digital equipment. The news and programme production studios are in the process of being upgraded and the control centre for television is to be refitted from scratch. All three will be completely digital upon completion.176 Apart from acquiring the new equipment, the broadcaster will also need to provide the requisite training for its staff. Most radio presenters currently work with a technical assistant who plays in music and ads, for example. Once the studios are fully digital, all presenters, many of whom are computer illiterate, must be able to do these additional tasks themselves.177 There are plans to digitise the NBC’s video library, and this could benefit the radio division as well. The NBC’s new digital radio software, Dalet Plus, can ‘talk’ to the current Avid iNEWS TV software, meaning that sound clips could be called up from the visual library for use on radio.178 The NBCs problems with regard to digitalisation are compounded by the delay it has been experiencing in getting funding approved by government. Funding requested in 2008 by Smith’s department came six months late, thus delaying plans to go digital earlier. Because the money was disbursed late and due also to the fluctuation of the exchange rate, the originally requested N$ 24 million (US$ 3.3 million) to upgrade production equipment in the news and magazine studio as well as the final control centre, fell far short of what was required and the cost of the whole exercise had meanwhile risen to N$ 36 million (US$ 4.9 million). Once completed, the magazine and news studios and the final control centre will
174 R. Tyson, interview, op.cit. 175 C. Smith, NBC manager: facilities and resources utilisation, interview conducted in Windhoek on 19 February 2009. 176 C. Smith, NBC senior manager: project planning (new position), telephonic interview conducted on 9 September 2009. 177 C. Smith, interview, op.cit. 178 Ibid.

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be high definition-ready, enabling the NBC to receive HD signals, which can be turned into analogue. The 30 new cameras the NBC is buying for the news and production studios will be HD-switchable, meaning that they can switch between standard and high definition. Much of the national broadcaster’s transmitter network dates back to 1982, when it was established by the South West African Broadcasting Corporation (SWABC). From 2002, in preparation for digitalisation by 2015, the NBC began buying transmitters that are capable of both analogue and digital television transmission. These transmitters are used with the NBC’s existing antenna system. About three years ago the NBC began a substantial transmitter network upgrading project.179 Currently both One Africa and the NBC, as well as most commercial and some community radio stations, uplink their broadcast signal digitally to satellite, from where it is downlinked to a number of earth stations dotted around the country. From the earth station, the digital signal is decoded into analogue and transmitted terrestrially via transmitters.180 Neither One Africa nor the NBC have taken steps towards digital transmission of their signal. One Africa’s Technical director Madryn Cosburn feels that radio and television broadcasters are holding back because of the costs involved, as well as the current lack of a government policy or official proposal about the migration.181 Currently there is no Universal Service Fund for broadcasting, which could be one way to mitigate the substantial costs migration will cause both for the broadcasting industry, especially in terms of transmission, and for consumers, in terms of reception devices. While the Communications Act (chapter 5, part 4, point 56) outlines how a Universal Service Fund will operate for the telecommunications industry, there is no mention of broadcasting in this regard. The draft broadcasting policy, however, under point 10.1 does include this policy statement:
The Government will establish a Universal Service Fund (USF) to, inter alia, assist with content production by local broadcasters in Namibia. The Regulatory Authority is mandated to manage the USF. All Namibian-licensed broadcasters are obliged to contribute to the USF. In turn, all local broadcasters may apply for financial support from the USF for local content production support grants.

179 B. Murangi, NBC manager: satellite uplink and downlink, transmitters (FM and TV) and electrical/aircon, interview conducted in Windhoek on 17 December 2008. 180 M. Cosburn and B. Murangi, interviews, op.cit. 181 P. Van Schalkwyk and M. Cosburn, interview, op.cit.

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‘Universal service’ is defined as a ‘service available, as far as possible, to all the people without discrimination on any basis with adequate facilities at reasonable cost’.182 Such vehicles are usually funded through levies paid by licensees. No mention is made in the draft policy of the USF being used to support infrastructural developments, including the broadcasting migration from analogue to digital transmission. Although no date has been set yet for the digitalisation of radio in Namibia, some commercial radio stations are already looking at this option. Radio Wave’s existing infrastructure, apart from the current lack of a digital mixing desk, is adequate for the switch-over. Managing director Robin Thompson is concerned, however, about the high cost of putting in place a new digital transmitter network and the fact that receivers are currently very expensive. An important attraction of going digital for radio stations is that they will be able to have just one frequency for the entire country.183 With the onset of digitalisation, Kosmos Radio is looking forward to extending into new markets, such as South Africa.184 Media for Christ, the parent company of Channel 7, has already applied to the regulator requesting a digital broadcasting licence as soon as it is available to launch a new youth station.185 Most other commercial and community radio stations are not making digitalisation a priority now as ‘it’s too far ahead’186 and ‘the technology is too expensive for the stations and the majority of listeners to afford’.187

2

Preparedness for switch-over: Consumers

The SADC Declaration on Information and Communications Technology (point 2[c]) states the following priority:
We undertake to ensure that information and communication technology does not increase existing disparities between men and women, the rich and poor, rural and urban populations: to enable them to participate in the global information society as equal partners thus contributing to its diversity and making it more reflective of the peoples of the world.

With regard to broadcasting and the digital migration process this means that the
182 Draft Broadcasting Policy (September 2008 version), point 15, Glossary. 183 R. Thompson, managing director of Radio Wave, and J. Loubser, Radio Wave presenter, joint interview conducted in Windhoek on 10 February 2009. 184 K. Van Koller, managing director of Kosmos Radio, interview conducted in Windhoek on 13 February 2009. 185 N. Van den Bergh, managing director of Channel 7, interview conducted in Windhoek on 12 February 2009. 186 J-P. Jones, Planet Radio (Kudu FM, Omulunga Radio and Fresh FM) chief operations officer, interview conducted on 10 February 2009. 187 S. Williams, Base FM station manager, interview conducted in Windhoek on 17 February 2009.

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Namibian government has the responsibility to ensure that the costs of ‘going digital’ are not prohibitive to the poor. Considering that 34.9 per cent of the population are living below US$ 1 a day (UN, 2005), this will be quite an undertaking. The cost of set-top box receivers required by viewers to receive digital television broadcasts on analogue television sets, according to Botswana-based ICT Consultants, could be between N$ 800 and N$ 1 300 (US$ 110 and 180).188 The NCC’s /Hara-#Gaeb says that if the public has to use set-top boxes, an incentive is needed. ‘If there is no incentive from government, people will be reluctant to switch and there will be an outcry.’189 One way for government to make digital broadcasts affordable and accessible is to subsidise the poor in some way. ‘The issue of the subsidisation of set-top boxes has to be a government/ministry of information and communication technology decision,’ clarifies /Hara-#Gaeb.190 In his address at the stakeholders workshop in July 2010 the mnister of information and communication technology, Joël Kaapanda, said that ‘consideration should be given to subsidising the cost of converter or set-top boxes’:
However, the use of these boxes should only be seen as a stop-gap measure. The public information campaign on the migration should, amongst others, educate people to buy digital compliant equipment, rather than the outdated analogue equipment.

The minister therefore argued for
the enactment and enforcing of laws banning the importation of analogue television sets into African countries. This will protect consumers who do not have the resources to replace analogue sets with digital ones when the migration to digital broadcasting has taken place. 191

It is not quite clear how such an approach will indeed ‘protect consumers’, in particular those unable to afford expensive new digital television sets. Generally the lack of relevant data related to the numbers of television sets and viewers is hampering the planning process, /Hara-#Gaeb explains: ‘We need to know exactly how many working televisions there are in Namibia to plan properly, but people don’t want to register their televisions and pay licence fees.’
188 T. Motsoela and B. Molatlhegi, ‘The Development of the National Frequency Master Plan’, a presentation given to Namibian broadcasting stakeholders in 2008. 189 B. /Hara-#Gaeb, 3 December 2008. 190 B. /Hara-#Gaeb, 10 September 2008. 191 J. Kaapanda, op.cit.

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3

Convergence

Namibians have already had the opportunity to start experiencing the convergence between local telecommunications, ICTs and broadcasting. In March 2008, MultiChoice Namibia and Mobile Telecommunications (Pty) Ltd, Namibia’s first and largest cellular service provider, launched a handset television service using a Digital Video Broadcasting–Handheld (DVB-H) device that is 3G compatible. A special DSTV bouquet of ten to eleven channels was developed for the service, which ran for free for three months initially but is meant to be a subscription service. NBC TV can also be received as part of this bouquet. The service will be launched once cheaper DVB-H devices are available. Currently these devices can cost between N$ 2 500 and N$ 3 000 (US$ 350 and 415) each. All radio stations, including community radio station BASE FM, the NBC and commercial stations, are available via mobile phones that are capable of FM reception. Radio Wave can also be received via Spodtronic radio on mobile phones that are capable of broadband/3G. At least eight Namibian radio stations are currently available live online. These are commercial stations Radio Wave, Energy 100 FM, Kudu FM, Radio Omulunga, Fresh FM, Kosmos Radio, Namibia FM 99 and community stations UNAM Radio and Channel 7. These stations mostly stream over the internet on 64kb. E FM192 and Base FM193 are still planning on streaming their broadcast online. NBC radio stations are currently not available live on the internet, but this development is in the pipeline.194 The NBC has begun to use the SMS scrolling feature on television and listeners can also send SMSs to most radio stations for the presenters to read out. Neither of the two local television stations, NBC and One Africa, are currently broadcast live online. However, NBC podcasts are on the cards.195

4 Increased competition
In the absence of any sort of research around the issue of digitalisation and its impact on the broadcast landscape, it is difficult to assess the future competitiveness of the broadcasting sector. However, increased liberalisation in the areas of telecommunications, ICTs and broadcasting will likely signal increased competition.
192 193 194 195 C-A. Van der Walt, manager of E FM, interviews conducted in Windhoek on 4 and 24 March 2009. S. Williams, Base FM station manager, interview conducted in Windhoek on 17 February 2009. C. Smith, interview, op.cit. Ibid.

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Currently, the NBC continues to receive protection from the government, as the national broadcaster is not regulated by the communications regulator and is thus not operating under the same conditions as other broadcasters. It receives a large portion of its funding from the state and reports directly to the minister of information and communication technology. There are currently no government provisions to protect community or smaller commercial broadcasters from competition following the migration to digital broadcasting. In fact one of the objectives of a Namibian Communications Act (see chapter 5) is to encourage the commercial development of broadcasting and to promote competition within this sector. Section 2(h) states that an objective of the act is ‘to stimulate the commercial development and use of the radio frequency spectrum in the best interests of Namibia’. Section 33(1) reads: ‘Any practice or activity that has the object or effect of preventing, restricting or distorting competition in a market for the supply of telecommunications or broadcasting services or any product or service used in connection with these services is prohibited.’ Under the new Communications Act the new regulatory authority, CRAN, is directed to develop a broadcasting code, outlining duties with which the licensees have to comply. Under section 89(3)(c), the Act states that once this code is prescribed, CRAN must ‘ensure that community broadcasting is promoted’. It does not, however, indicate how this should be done, for example in terms of competition issues. ‘My personal view is that we either have liberalisation or we have protection. You cannot have both. The industry has been encouraging us to liberalise. Thus, since that is the route we are taking, government policy will not be to protect as well,’ says the NCC’s /Hara-#Gaeb. ‘Namibia has a free economic system. Government is establishing the Competition Commission to regulate competition. It’s the survival of the fittest. Already, Namibia has more commercial, private radio stations than any other southern African country. I fully support competition and an increasing number of players entering the market. At the end of the day, it is the consumer who benefits.’ Most broadcasters do not appear to feel threatened by the increase in competition that digitalisation will bring. Cosburn of One Africa feels that the impact of increased competition will be positive, ‘as long as everyone is treated with the same set of standards, the NBC included. The reality is that competition is good for development. It will lead to more innovative, customer-orientated broadcasters. Digital broadcasting won’t change anything, unless we don’t have viewers [because they are unable to afford the new technology].’ Clive Smith of the NBC says that the national broadcaster is preparing for

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competition that will come with digitalisation. ‘Competition is good as it keeps you on your toes. At some point, we will be able to confidently handle competition. People may see digitalisation and the opening up of the spectrum as an opportunity to come into the market, but at the same time, the advertising cake is only so big and it is not growing.’

5

Conclusions and recommendations

The digitalisation of broadcast services in Namibia, as far as the necessary policy decisions and strategic planning of government and the regulator are concerned, is still in its infancy. It is doubtful whether the self-imposed deadline of December 2013 for the switch-over from analogue to digital – one-and-a-half years before the official deadline – can be met. Given the high levels of poverty and unemployment in the country, affordability of devices and appliances could become a serious limiting factor in access to broadcast services in the future. As far as the industry is concerned, broadcasters are working towards being compliant well before the 2015 deadline. However, this process is happening in a regulatory and planning vacuum.

recommendations
• An appropriate policy framework must be developed by government and all stakeholders as a matter of urgency to guide the digitalisation of television broadcasting. • This policy should take into account that large sectors of the population cannot afford either set-top boxes or new digital TV receivers. Therefore it is essential that government develop and implement a policy of subsidising set-top boxes as long as such support is needed. • The communications regulator in cooperation with broadcasters should launch a sustained publicity campaign to make members of the public aware of the migration and how this will affect them. • The Universal Service Fund introduced by the Communications Act and thus the digital dividend should not only benefit the telecommunications industry but also the broadcasting sector, for example community radio stations.

5
Broadcasting Legislation and Regulation

1

The Communications Regulatory Authority of Namibia

The Communications Regulatory Authority of Namibia (CRAN) is the regulatory authority for television and radio broadcasting as well as postal and telecommunication services in the country. CRAN was established by the Communications Act 2009 and replaces the Namibian Communications Commission (NCC) which had been in operation since 1992. According to section 136(1) the Act ‘comes into operation on a date determined by the Minister [of communications and information technology] by notice in the Gazette’. By November 2010 it was still not in force and the Namibian Communications Commission Act had not yet been repealed. Thus CRAN’s predecessor, the NCC, continued to regulate broadcasting and telecommunications in Namibia, while the already appointed CRAN board was developing new regulations. The Communications Act focuses largely on regulating the telecommunications sector (sections 37 to 81) while broadcasting seems to have been added on as an afterthought (sections 82 to 93). The act primarily emphasises the ‘opening of the telecommunication sector in Namibia to competition’ and mentions ‘radio frequencies’ only twice in the list of twelve objectives outlined in section 2. According to subsections (h) and (l) respectively the objectives of the act with regard to radio frequencies are to ‘stimulate the commercial development and use of the radio frequency spectrum in the best interests of Namibia’ and ‘to advance and protect the interests of the public in the providing of communications services and the allocation of radio frequencies to the public’. The new Act implies that in future the NBC may also be regulated by CRAN. Section 93 states that ‘until a date determined by the Minister … this chapter [on broadcasting services] does not apply to the Namibian Broadcasting Corporation’ and that, before the NBC is placed under CRAN’s authority, ‘the broadcasting code must

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be amended in consultation with the Minister after having followed a rule-making procedure in order to prescribe appropriate obligations with which a public broadcaster must comply’. Under section 84 the Act tasks CRAN to establish categories or classes of broadcasting licences following ‘distinguishing characteristics of the services’:
(a) the method used to distribute the services concerned; (b) whether scarce resources such as portions of the radio spectrum are used by the service; (c) the extent to which the licensee has editorial control over the contents of channels or programs forming part of the services concerned and whether the provider concerned is a provider contemplated in section 83(2) [i.e. a service transmitted from outside Namibia if such broadcast is intended to be received only by persons who subscribe to the service]; (d) whether the services concerned are community, commercial or public broadcasting services.

Definitions of ‘community, commercial or public broadcasting services’ are not provided for in the Act but left to regulations to be developed by CRAN. Section 134(2) of the Communications Act declares CRAN to be one of the stateowned enterprises regulated by the State-owned Enterprises (SOE) Governance Act of 2006. In accordance with this Act board members of all state-owned enterprises – and thus of CRAN – are to be appointed by government, more specifically the State-owned Enterprises Governance Council. The council consists of the prime minister, who is the chairperson, the member of the cabinet responsible for finance, the member of the cabinet responsible for trade and industry, the attorney-general and the director-general of planning (section 3[1]). Whenever this council considers a matter relevant to a specific portfolio, the minister in charge (in this case the minister of communications) must be invited to that meeting and is ‘deemed to be a member’ of the council (section 3[2]). The board consists of five members and the council determines – according to section 14(1) – ‘the requisite qualifications, experience or skills of persons to be eligible for appointment as members of the board’. It then ‘advises’ the minister ‘on the persons to be considered by the portfolio Minister for appointment as members of the board of the state-owned enterprise, including the persons to be appointed as executive members, if any’ and ‘on the appointment of the chairperson and vice-chairperson of the board’. It also ‘advises’ the minister ‘on the removal of any member of a board from

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office’. The reasons for such removal are outlined in section 12 of the Communications Act. Among others a board member is to be removed ‘if such member is guilty of conduct prejudicial to the objectives of the Authority’ – a clause which is open to interpretation. The SOE Governance Act in its section 17 further states that the minister must ‘enter into a written governance agreement with the board of a state-owned enterprise’ which contains, among others, ‘the state’s expectations in respect of the stateowned enterprise’s scope of business’ and provisions in relation to ‘efficiency and performance, and achievement of objectives’. Making a communications regulator subject to legislation that governs state enterprises is regarded as highly problematic by experts such as Dr Christoph Stork, a senior researcher at the Edge Institute based at Witwatersrand University, Johannesburg, South Africa:
The regulator is first of all not a state-owned enterprise nor is its supervision restricted to state-owned enterprises, but covers the private sector. Secondly, parliament would be a more neutral [body], not just to approve, but also appoint the board for the regulator to safeguard its impartiality ... The role of the minister is to provide policy guidance and not intervene in the regulatory process.196

According to section 22 of the Communications Act, the regulator will be funded by ‘an initial amount appropriated by parliament for the benefit of the Authority’ and then through licence fees, revenue from other services, fines and donations, among other sources. In addition, the authority may ‘impose a regulatory levy upon providers of communications services in order to defray its expenses’ (section 23). This levy could be raised as a percentage of the income or profit of the provider concerned or as a fixed amount raised from providers. It could be argued that putting a certain amount of commercial pressure on the regulator instead of providing it with a regular state subsidy, even though it is performing a public service, could result in CRAN being tempted or even forced to increase licence fees to survive. This would place smaller broadcasters in particular at a disadvantage and contravene provisions of the Declaration of Principles on Freedom of Expression, which prioritises equity and diversity with regards to ownership of, and access to, broadcasting and telecommunications services.197
196 C. Stork, S. Esselaar, ‘Draft Telecommunications Bill 2008: lessons from South Africa’, Prime Focus, December 2008/January 2009 edition. 197 Shirumbu Consulting, Audit of media and communications legislation in Namibia, an unpublished study commissioned by the Namibian ministry of information and broadcasting and facilitated by the Friedrich Ebert Stiftung, March 2005, p. 37.

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Henri Kassen, director: communication in the ministry of information and communication technology, emphasises that ‘CRAN will be independent in terms of finances and institutional arrangements. The Minister is just responsible for appointing the board and after that CRAN will operate within the policy framework and in the interests of the industry.’198 According to section 19 of the SOE Governance Act, however, ‘[e]very state-owned enterprise must annually … submit a business and financial plan to the portfolio minister’. This plan must contain ‘the state-owned enterprise’s objectives for the next five years and for each year in that period and the strategy the state-owned enterprise intends to employ to achieve them’ as well as ‘the operating budget and the capital budget of the state-owned enterprise for the next financial year, with a description of the nature and scope of the activities to be undertaken’. Furthermore, the minister ‘must provide a copy of an annual business and financial plan received … to the [State-owned Enterprises Governance] Council for the Council’s information and comment, if any’. Section 20 says that the council may ‘furnish’ ‘comments’ to the minister in relation to the proposed budget and that the minister ‘may provide’ the enterprise also ‘with any comments’. In such a case, the board has to ‘consider’ these comments, ‘consult’ with the minister ‘on such of the comments as the board does not agree with, with a view to reaching agreement’ and make appropriate changes which have to be submitted to the minister and the council. Section 29 of the SOE Governance Act empowers the Council to ‘direct that a special investigation be conducted in relation to any matter concerning the business, trade, dealings, affairs, assets or liabilities of a state-owned enterprise’. Section 30 says that ‘the Council may appoint one or more persons as special investigators’.

2

Licensing of broadcasters and enforcement of licence conditions

Section 85 of the Communications Act prescribes that broadcasting licences may only be issued by CRAN to Namibian citizens or ‘a juristic person of which at least 51 per cent of the share holding is beneficially owned by Namibian citizens and which is not controlled directly or indirectly by persons who are not Namibian citizens and which has its principal place of business or registered office in Namibia’. Subsection (3) of the same section, however, says that ‘[t]he Minister may beforehand authorise the issue of a broadcasting licence to a juristic person other than a juristic person referred to in subsection (2)(b)’. In other words, the minister at his or her discretion may determine
198 H. Kassen, director: communication in the ministry of information and communication technology, interview conducted in Windhoek on 20 November 2008.

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that a company with more than 49 per cent foreign ownership is to be issued with a licence. Subsection 8 attempts to control cross-media ownership by enjoining the authority to consider
the desirability or otherwise of allowing any person or association of persons, to have control of or a substantial interest in – (i) more than one broadcasting service; (ii) more than one radio station and one television station and one registered newspaper with a common coverage and distribution area or significantly overlapping coverage and distribution areas.

Section (85)(4) sets out the licensing procedure. Among other things applicants have to submit ‘a statement of account setting out the financial resources available to the applicant to conduct a broadcasting service’. This pre-condition might make it difficult for smaller operators such as community radios to apply for a frequency because they may find themselves caught in a vicious circle: community radios are usually dependent on (at least) start-up funding from charities, and these donors generally want to see a licence before they commit themselves to support. The Act further provides that the Authority has to check ‘the character of the applicant or, if the applicant is a body corporate, the character of its directors’ – without in any way defining ‘character’. In addition the authority has to examine ‘the adequacy of the expertise, experience and financial resources available to the applicant’ – again, a hurdle which might be especially difficult for community radios to clear. According to subsection (6) CRAN has to publish every application in the Government Gazette and ‘any person may within fourteen days of publication … lodge with the Authority written representations opposing the issue of a broadcasting licence, and such representations must be taken into account when the Authority considers the application’. Subsection (8) states that the Authority ‘must have regard to … the allocation of spectrum resources in such a manner as to ensure the widest possible diversity of programming and the optimal utilisation of such resources’ as well as ‘the desirability of giving priority to community based broadcasts [sic]’. Section 86 lists conditions on broadcasting licensees, mainly technical requirements such as the frequencies that may be used or power limitations on transmitters. Currently further diversification of commercial television in Namibia is being hampered by the fact that the NBC has a monopoly on transmission networks and owns much of the state-financed tower infrastructure in most of the prime high sites

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across the country (see chapter 3). Given this background it is important to note that the authority may impose
the duty to make spare capacity on transmitters, masts and towers available to other licensees, the conditions under which such duty exists, the extent of the duty, the payment for the use of such capacity, the rights of the person who provides such capacity and any other matter relating thereto.

In the case of the NBC, of course, this provision will only apply once the national broadcaster, like other broadcasters, is placed under the authority of the regulator. Another licensing condition ‘may’ be a requirement to broadcast public interest programming, i.e. ‘the broadcasting of reports, announcements, news or other information which is required to be broadcast in the public interest’. It is not clear from the wording of the Act what kind of ‘reports’ or ‘information’ the lawmakers had in mind. Section 89 opens the way for a degree of self-regulation of broadcasting media. It says under subsection (4):
If the Authority is of the opinion that a licensee belongs to an organisation that enforces the compliance of its members with broadcasting standards that comply with the requirements of this section [on a broadcasting code], it may with the concurrence of the Minister make a determination that the licensee concerned does not require regulation by a broadcasting code.

The broadcasting code referred to here is spelt out in some detail in subsection (2). It may:
(a) prescribe duties relating to the coverage of news and current affairs in order to ensure that the news coverage by broadcasters is fair, objective and impartial; (b) prescribe such duties as may be required to comply with generally accepted journalistic ethics; (c) regulate the broadcasts of any matter having the purpose of promoting the interests of any political party (whether it is in the form of a paid advertisement or otherwise); (d) prescribe special duties for broadcasters while campaigns are being conducted for elections or referendums as will promote democracy and the fair conducting of such elections or referendums; (e) regulate the broadcasting of matters of a sexual or violent nature, containing

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(f) (g)

(h) (i) (j)

offensive or strong language or that which is offensive or degrading to any portion of the Namibian public or prohibit such broadcasts under prescribed circumstances or during prescribed times or prescribe other conditions relating to such broadcasts or subject to the Namibian Constitution prohibit the broadcast of a prescribed class of such matter under the prescribed circumstances; prescribe the duty to broadcast a prescribed class of public announcements free of charge; prescribe the circumstances under which corrections or counter-versions must be broadcast when factually incorrect or defamatory or injurious matter or matter whose broadcast is prohibited by the code, has been broadcast; require the broadcast of prescribed types of content produced in Namibia; prescribe the amount and nature of advertisements that may be broadcast and prohibit the broadcast of advertisements that are degrading or offensive; prescribe any duty that will improve the quality of the service provided by broadcasters.

The implication of these provisions is that the Authority – together with the minister – has the right to check whether all the above conditions are met in any broadcasting code developed by a self-regulatory body. If the Authority is not satisfied that this is the case it is entitled to apply its own code. In doing so, according to subsection (3), the Authority must ‘ensure that the duties imposed on a specific category of broadcasting service are appropriate’; ‘that duties are not imposed that will make some class of service uneconomical or impractical’, and ‘that community broadcasting is promoted’. It is also enjoined to ‘impose duties that will as far as practical promote Namibian Creativity’. Section 90 gives the Authority the power to supervise ‘compliance with the conditions imposed on broadcasting licences and the broadcasting code’. It is not clear whether this empowers CRAN to enforce compliance not just with its own code but also that developed by a self-regulatory body. CRAN is to deal with complaints ‘by any person’ and if it arrives at the ‘opinion’ that a broadcaster has ‘breached a condition or provision of the broadcasting code’, it may impose ‘an order’:
(a) warning the broadcasting licensee; (b) directing the licensee to effect a programme change within a period not longer than thirty days from the date of receipt of the direction; (c) directing the licensee to disclose, free of charge and in such manner as the Authority may direct, the finding of the Authority;

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(d) directing the licensee to broadcast a counter-version in accordance with the provisions of the broadcasting code; (e) suspending the broadcasting licence for a period determined by the Authority; or (f) withdrawing the broadcasting licence.

Under the previous regulator, the Namibian Communications Commission, very few complaints were lodged with the commission. The acting deputy director of the NCC can recall only two to three complaints in the past ten years that were made by members of the public relating to broadcast content, such as bad language. ‘No penalties have been issued. We simply spoke to the broadcasters and they rectified the problem. There is considerable self-regulation within the broadcasting sector and, in general, broadcasters do not need to be policed.’199 Generally, commercial and community radio stations appear to be erring on the side of caution, and avoid ‘hot topics’ which could be cause for complaints. Radio Wave’s Robin Thompson says: ‘There are not many complaints about broadcasters in Namibia. If there are, they often come directly to us. In our ten years of existence we have had only one listener complaint about one of our presenters’ use of derogatory language. In Namibia, private broadcasters appear to perform self-censorship. We, for example, have an unwritten policy not to get involved in politics or religion.’ John-Paul Jones of Omulunga Radio, Kudu FM and Fresh FM feels that the broadcasting media has done a good job of regulating itself so far.200 ‘I can count on one hand the number of complaints raised with the NCC since radio was privatised in Namibia. There have been no big scandals. If there are problems between broadcasters, such as frequency overlaps, the NCC sorts it out without any problem. Technically, they are very efficient.’

3

Conclusion and recommendations

Article 7 of the 2002 African Commission’s Declaration of Principles on Freedom of Expression in Africa states:
(1) Any public authority that exercises powers in the areas of broadcast or telecommunications regulation should be independent and adequately
199 B. #Hara-Gaeb, acting deputy director and engineering technician at the Namibian Communications Commission, interview conducted telephonically on 7 November 2008. 200 J-P. Jones, Planet Radio (Kudu FM, Omulunga Radio and Fresh FM) chief operations officer, interview conducted in Windhoek on 10 February 2009.

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protected against interference, particularly of a political or economic nature. (2) The appointments process for members of a regulatory body should be open and transparent, involve the participation of civil society, and shall not be controlled by any particular political party.

CRAN is a state-owned enterprise and as such it falls under the provisions of the State-owned Enterprise Governance Act, which means full government control. The appointment process for members of the board is neither open and transparent, nor does it involve civil society. The African Commission’s Declaration further states in article 5(2) that ‘an independent regulatory body shall be responsible for issuing broadcasting licences and for ensuring observance of licence conditions’. Given the provisions of the Communications Act, there is no such independence in Namibia. With regard to dealing with complaints from the public, article 9 of the Declaration states:
(1) A public complaints system for print or broadcasting should be available in accordance with the following principles: • complaints shall be determined in accordance with established rules and codes of conduct agreed between all stakeholders; and • the complaints system shall be widely accessible. (2) Any regulatory body established to hear complaints about media content, including media councils, shall be protected against political, economic or any other undue interference. Its powers shall be administrative in nature and it shall not seek to usurp the role of the courts. (3) Effective self-regulation is the best system for promoting high standards in the media.

If CRAN is not satisfied with a code of broadcasting developed by a self-regulatory body it is entitled to adopt a code of its own unilaterally without the involvement of stakeholders. Given the fact that CRAN is wholly government-controlled, the complaints system is thus not protected against political interference. In most material respects, therefore, broadcasting legislation in Namibia does not comply with the Declaration of Principles on Freedom of Expression in Africa. The question also needs to be asked whether the effective control of the entire broadcasting system by government is not in breach of article 21(1)(a) of the constitution which guarantees ‘freedom of the press and other media’.

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recommendations
• The Communications Regulatory Authority of Namibia (CRAN) should not be a state-owned enterprise. It should be constituted as an independent statutory institution under the control of an independent board nominated by the public and appointed by parliament. In this respect a new law should align communications regulation in Namibia with the Declaration of Principles on Freedom of Expression in Africa. • Media lobby groups and civil society should consider making an application to an appropriate court of law for it to pronounce on the constitutionality of a government-controlled state enterprise regulating communications, broadcasting in particular. • The Communications Act should clearly define all types of broadcasting: commercial, community and public. • The CRAN board should be urged to develop necessary regulations in a public consultation process. • The media ombudsman, in cooperation with the broadcasting industry, should develop a broadcasting code, taking into account, as far as this is justifiable, the provisions of the code as contained in the Communications Act. • The broadcasting industry should form an association to deal with the above issues. • The NBC should be regulated like any other broadcaster by CRAN. • The Communications Act states that the broadcasting code must be amended to prescribe appropriate obligations with which a public broadcaster has to comply before the NBC is placed under CRAN’s authority. Civil society lobby groups should insist that such obligations can only be fulfilled by an independent public broadcaster. Therefore a new NBC Act must be developed which transforms the state broadcaster into a public broadcaster in line with the Declaration of Principles on Freedom of Expression in Africa.

6
The Namibian Broadcasting Corporation

1

Legislation

The Namibian Broadcasting Corporation (NBC) was established by the Namibian Broadcasting Act, Act 9 of 1991. Section 3 of the Act defines the objectives of the NBC as being to:
(a) inform and entertain the public of Namibia; (b) contribute to the education and unity of the nation, and to peace in Namibia; (c) provide and disseminate information relevant to the socio-economic development of Namibia; (d) promote the use and understanding of the English language.

No mention is made in the Act of the need to promote local languages as stated in articles 11 and 12 of the SADC Protocol on Culture, Information and Sport and article 3 of the Declaration of Principles on Freedom of Expression in Africa adopted by the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights.201 According to the Act (section 6[1]), the minister responsible for broadcasting services, currently the minister of information and communication technology, has the sole right to appoint the board of the NBC. This consists of ‘not more than eleven and not less than six members’. A General Law Amendments Act 2000 (Act 18 of 2000) later reduced these numbers to a minimum of three and a maximum of five.

201 Shirumbu Consulting, Audit of media and communications legislation in Namibia, an unpublished study commissioned by the Namibian ministry of information and broadcasting and facilitated by the Friedrich Ebert Stiftung, March 2005, p. 32.

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Section 6(2) of the NBC Act states that board members must have ‘knowledge of, or experience in the administration or management of public affairs and the political, socio-economic and communication field’. They must be Namibian citizens and cannot be members of the National Assembly. Office bearers with the state or political parties, however, are eligible to sit on the board. The minister ‘shall designate one of the members … as chairperson of the board and the members shall elect from amongst themselves the vice-chairperson of the board’ (section 6[3]). A member who has a financial interest in other broadcastings services or in broadcast technology must declare this interest in writing to the minister (section 10). The Act is silent on the consequences, if any, of such a declaration. In cases where contracts are to be decided by the board and a member has an interest in one of the bidders, he/she must recuse him/herself (section 11). Among the responsibilities of the board outlined in section 13(1) is the duty to ‘appoint a director-general as chief executive officer of the Corporation who shall … be a member of the board and be entitled to participate in the deliberations of the board, but shall not be entitled to exercise any vote at any meeting of the board’. The other duties of the board include appointing officers and employees to the NBC and determining their duties, remuneration and conditions of employment. The minister, however, ‘may … declare … any office or post … to be an office or post which no person shall be appointed or promoted to except upon the recommendation of the Public Service Commission’ (section 13 [2]) – thus creating the possibility of overriding the powers of the board when it comes to staff appointments and promotions.202 Under sections 25, 26 and 27 of the Act, the NBC is financially accountable to the minister, who reports to parliament on behalf of the NBC.203 With all board members being political appointees and ‘as the Act does not provide the national broadcaster with editorial independence, it makes the corporation vulnerable to manipulation and abuse by the government for political reasons’.204 Bob Kandetu, director-general of the NBC from May 2006 to February 2009, says that in practice the involvement of the minister in charge of broadcasting in the NBC ‘ebbs and flows, but generally he is quite involved’.205 In what was widely seen as a political move, the NBC board dismissed Kandetu in February 2009, ostensibly for reasons of incompetence and mismanagement.206
202 Ibid., pp. 46 and 47. 203 Ibid., p. 54. 204 M.B. Larsen, Media Ownership and Legislation in the Republic of Namibia, 1990–2007, Windhoek, Namibia, 2007, p. 37. 205 B. Kandetu, former director-general of the NBC, interview conducted in Windhoek on 17 December 2008 while he was still director-general. 206 C. Maletsky, ‘Political axe falls on Bob’, The Namibian, 3 February 2009.

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Kandetu was accused from within SWAPO of being a supporter of the SWAPO breakaway party, the RDP, although he denied this. Kandetu’s successor as acting director-general, Matthew Gowaseb, who was in charge of the broadcaster from May 2009 to January 2010, has been described as very well-connected within the ruling party and playing an active role in the SWAPO party think-tank. His appointment appeared to be related to political jostling ahead of the November 2009 parliamentary and presidential elections. Gowaseb, however, became the third acting director-general to vacate his position within the space of 12 months when he resigned from the NBC, allegedly as a result of ‘political interference’ and ‘personality clashes’.207 Board member Yvonne Boois then assumed the position of acting director-general. In July 2010, the NBC board finally appointed a director-general in the person of Albertus Aochamub, the former head of corporate affairs at Mobile Telecommunications Limited (MTC). He is the ninth director-general since 1991. Senior staff at the NBC, who asked not to be identified for fear of reprisals, said that staff at the national broadcaster are left feeling very uncertain and insecure given the frequent changes made in the leadership. ‘This can throw you back years as there is no continuity. A new director-general or acting director-general steps in with no experience in broadcasting or the NBC. The relationship and all the trust that went along with it disappears and with the new person there is always mistrust in the beginning.’ A senior source at the NBC, who refused to be identified for fear of repercussions, says that the NBC board ‘is appointed by the shareholder and is responsible for looking after the interests of the company from a strategic point of view’. The shareholder referred to is the Namibian government.208 This source explains that the board consists of various committees (audit committee, remuneration committee, for example), which are responsible for putting in ‘checks and balances’ and imposing corporate governance on the broadcaster, ‘like any board of directors of any company’. Regarding political interference in the NBC, the source notes that this derives from the way in which the NBC board is appointed and structured at the discretion of the minister. ‘Up to now the board of the NBC has always been politically appointed, rather than based on broadcasting expertise.’ The source adds that although the board is meant to be only concerned with the strategic direction of the NBC, it has increasingly become involved in the day-to-day running of the broadcaster. ‘This is because certain systems are not yet in place at the national broadcaster, the controls are not very rigid and management is not sufficiently well functioning or staffed by people with the requisite skills.’
207 T. Mongudhi, ‘//Gowaseb out of NBC’, The Namibian, 13 January 2010. 208 Interview with anonymous source conducted in March 2009.

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Government justifies its powers over the NBC with the fact that at least 70 per cent of the broadcaster’s revenue comes from the ministry of information and communication technology. Therefore, ‘the government feels it has leverage and the right to control the broadcaster’.209 Comments media expert David Lush:
[G]overnment maintains that it won’t pay for what it can’t control … This argument overlooks the fact that government is entrusted with public money and, therefore, it is the public that ultimately should control the institutions this money is spent on … [T]he rights to free expression and access to information are universal rights, which means they apply to everyone. To ensure that every citizen enjoys their universal rights … the media, as well as other mass communication channels, need to be placed beyond the direct control of government. Nonetheless, the state still has a duty to fund institutions that oversee and affect the free flow of information, albeit in a way that does not compromise the independence of these bodies.210

Says Menesia Muinjo, who at the time of the interview was general manager: news and current affairs (TV and radio) and subsequently appointed to head the new division of commercial services: ‘The way the NBC is set up requires that government must give direction through the board to ensure that the NBC fulfils its mandate. However, in terms of editorial content, and especially news, the direction comes from the news management, and the editors and I are respected as professionals to make decisions. There have been, however, isolated incidents of the government getting involved in newsroom matters through the ministry of information and communication technology to put a sensitive Open File [current affairs programme on NBC TV] story on hold, for example.’211 Section 93 of the Communications Act 2009 implies that in future the NBC may be licensed and thus regulated by the Communications Regulatory Authority of Namibia (CRAN). It says that ‘until a date determined by the minister … this chapter [on Broadcasting Services] does not apply to the Namibian Broadcasting Corporation’, and points out that before the NBC is placed under CRAN’s authority, new regulations governing the ‘public broadcaster’ will need to be drawn up. The previous Namibian Communications Commission Act 1992 expressly stated that it does not apply to the NBC.

209 Senior official at NBC who does not want to be named. 210 D. Lush, ‘Namibia drifts along in wake of media revolution’, The Big Issue Namibia, October 2007. 211 M. Muinjo, general manager: news and current affairs (TV and radio) at the time of the interview and now head of Commercial Services, interview conducted in Windhoek on 12 December 2008.

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2

Profile of the NBC

The Namibian Broadcasting Corporation (NBC) comprises one primarily English language, free-to-air television station (NBC TV) and ten radio stations serving various languages. The NBC is preparing to introduce a second television channel, NBC2, which will have more of a commercial and entertainment focus than the current NBC TV, in future to be known as NBC1. NBC1 will be the public service arm of the NBC with an emphasis on news and information, according to Clive Smith, NBC’s senior manager: project planning: ‘The money for this has been allocated from the capital project/development budget from the National Planning Commission and not from the NBC’s normal budget.’212 Former acting director-general of the NBC Matthew Gowaseb explains that while the second channel will still be governed by the Namibian Broadcasting Act, ‘it will enjoy some degree of relief from the pressure of the very basics of the mandate of the NBC … The new scenario will allow the second channel to pursue commercial goals while still generally guided by the Act.’213 NBC’s television service reaches 66 per cent of the population through normal analogue aerials.214 It is also available to Namibian subscribers on the DSTV bouquet offered by MultiChoice Namibia. The ten NBC radio services altogether reach a reported 96 per cent of the population through normal analogue aerials.215 Since August 2009 the NBC English service is also available to subscribers across the continent on the DSTV audio bouquet.216 Not all radio stations are equally accessible throughout the country, but rather target a concentration of language groups within different areas. The target audiences for the NBC are the general public in Namibia, with a specific focus on different language groups, especially for NBC radio stations. While one of the NBC’s objectives as stated in section 3 of the Namibian Broadcasting Act is ‘to promote the use and understanding of the English language’, the language spectrum of NBC radio broadcasts is much more inclusive in practice.

2.1 nbc television
The sole NBC television channel broadcasts 24 hours a day. Late-night content (from 01h00 to 06h00) is a rebroadcast of Al Jazeera News.
212 C. Smith, NBC senior manager: project planning (new position), telephonic interview conducted on 9 September 2009. 213 Ibid. 214 B. Murangi, NBC manager: satellite uplink and downlink, transmitters (FM and TV) and electrical/aircon, interviewed telephonically on May 29, 2009. 215 Ibid. 216 A. Sennitt, ‘Namibia’s NBC English radio service joins MultiChoice’, New Era, 12 August 2009.

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NBC TV offers a mixture of local and foreign programming. Throughout the week there are locally produced actuality/current affairs programmes, panel discussions, talk shows (Good Morning Namibia, The Week that Was, Parliamentary Report and Talk of the Nation) as well as news bulletins – in English for the main evening bulletin, with Afrikaans, Damara/Nama, German, Oshiwambo, Otjiherero, Rukavango, Setswana and Silozi bulletins broadcast for half an hour each on specific days of the week from 14h00. The German and Afrikaans television news bulletins were introduced in June 2009.217 NBC television also broadcasts locally produced educational programmes (focusing predominantly on mathematics), documentaries, a cooking show (Okapana), sports programmes, health programmes and a youth programme (Whatagwan). During 2009, the national broadcaster also aired one of the country’s few locally made animation productions for children, Omuninyan. The foreign programming on NBC television includes news rebroadcasts (Al Jazeera from Qatar in the Middle East, Deutsche Welle from Germany, CCTV International from China, CNN Global Update from the United States of America), children’s programmes during weekday mornings, soap operas from Latin America (Lorenzo’s Wife) and South Africa (Generations), as well as films, comedy and talk shows, mostly from the United States (e.g. The Oprah Winfrey Show).

2.2 nbc radio
The NBC has ten radio channels, each directed at a specific language group, including the national English radio service. The other services are in Afrikaans, !Ha (broadcasting to the San community in north-eastern Namibia), Damara/Nama, German, Lozi, Oshiwambo, Otjiherero, Rukavango and Tirelo ya Setswana. While the national English service is on air for 24 hours a day, the other language services broadcast for 15 hours a day, from 06h00 to 21h00. All language radio services other than the national English channel are very specific to their respective target audience and function more as ‘community radio stations’. Throughout the day they broadcast requests, notices (of events, funerals, etc.) and other community announcements. Their offerings focus on educational and developmental issues, with agricultural and gardening programmes, as well as programmes focusing on health, drug abuse and young people featuring prominently. There are also programmes on history and heritage (!Ha and Oshiwambo), women’s issues and empowerment (!Ha, Otjiherero and Rukavango), disability and the elderly
217 ‘Afrikaans and German news bulletins on NBC TV’, 15 August 2009, NBC website, accessed from http://www. namibi.com/NBC/nbcnewsbig.php?newsid=46%27.

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(Oshiwambo), road safety (Lozi), SMEs (Lozi and Otjiherero), legal issues (Lozi and Otjiherero), politics (Rukavango and Otjiherero), sport updates (Afrikaans, German and Rukavango), economics (Afrikaans, German, Oshiwambo and Rukavango), science and technology (German), as well as classical music and opera (German). Most stations also feature religious programmes in the form of Sunday church services and morning and evening devotions. Much of the music on the language services is of a traditional Namibian nature, specific to the linguistic community. In addition there is African music from outside Namibia, and most channels have a slot for gospel. All radio stations have hourly news broadcasts throughout the day. This news is centrally generated with a focus on national and international issues, and is translated into the different languages used on the various services. 218

3

Organisational structures

As of November 2009 the NBC had 402 staff members across the country, with as many as 201 vacant posts.219 The director-general’s office has a staff of three (and eight vacancies); the News and Current Affairs division currently employs 54 staff (with 25 vacancies); Television Services has 36 staff (22 vacancies); Radio Services has 128 staff (31 vacancies); Engineering and IT has 33 staff (20 vacancies); Technical Operations has 49 staff (22 vacancies); Human Capital and Organisational Development has five staff (seven vacancies); Finance and Administration has 64 staff (37 vacancies); marketing and Corporate Communications has seven staff (four vacancies); and Commercial Services has 23 staff (25 vacancies). The top post at the NBC is that of director-general. The director-general coordinates the overall work of the NBC with a focus on management, administration, finances and policies.220 Changes to the staff structure at the NBC were made in late 2009. While there were previously six divisions under the director-general, each headed by a general manager (human resources and administration; finance and marketing; news and current affairs; television services; radio services; and technical services) new departments and divisions have since been designated as follows: news and current affairs; television services; radio services; engineering and IT; technical operations; human capital and
218 Information for this section supplied by F. Haifeni et al. and sourced from the NBC website, http://www.namibia. com/NBC/afrikaansservice.php. 219 Information supplied by M. Stephanus, NBC human resources officer, with the approval of the acting head of human capital and organisational development division, V. Kauraisa, and acting director-general, M. Gowaseb, 7 November 2009. 220 B. Kandetu, interview, op.cit.

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organisational development; finance and administration; marketing and corporate communications; and commercial services. All these general managers report directly to the director-general. Staff within these divisions report directly to their managers. There are six regional offices around the country which contribute news content to head office. These offices are in Keetmanshoop in the south, Otjiwarongo, north of Windhoek, Katima Mulilo in the north-eastern region of Caprivi, Rundu in the Kavango north-central region, Oshakati in the north and Walvis Bay on the central Atlantic coast, while stories from the Khomas region are covered by the Windhoek head office. All in all the NBC has seven news teams in Namibia’s 13 regions, ideally with two camera people and two reporters each, although in some regions, such as Karas, there is only one camera person and one reporter. Former director-general Kandetu feels that the overall structure of the NBC does promote editorial independence, with the director-general having final editorial control. ‘There are only some instances of potentially controversial coverage where the director-general is consulted as it can be difficult for the manager to decide.’ NBC management will not allow the salaries of staff to be released publicly, saying that the information is confidential. However, according to anonymous sources in the commercial broadcasting industry the national broadcaster has been able to poach staff from commercial broadcasters in 2009 and 2010, apparently due to more lucrative pay packages than can be offered by private players in the industry. This is a relatively recent adjustment: during 2007 and 2008 salaries for NBC journalists and reporters were not as high as those paid in the private sector. Senior officials at the NBC are provided with a car scheme and a cell-phone allowance (the latter also granted to staff on standby), as well as the other benefits for all staff which include housing allowance/subsidy, retirement fund, group life scheme, medical aid, social security, spouse insurance and vehicle-maintenance allowance. NBC staff comprise those who have learnt their skills on the job and those who have received training and formal qualifications from professional institutions. Concerted efforts are now being made to enhance the capacities of unqualified journalists. In mid-2008, an in-house training unit was established for radio and television journalists, as well as for those in management positions. Muinjo notes that ‘previously, staff learnt on the job’, but that in recent years the NBC ‘has been trying to increase the entry level of journalists. They should have at least a degree, preferably a Masters, or a diploma in media studies.’ She notes that these stricter entry requirements, applied since 2002, followed the introduction of new media-related courses by the University of Namibia (Unam) and the Polytechnic of Namibia which resulted in a larger pool of qualified graduates.

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4 Attitudes towards public broadcasting within the NBC
The former director-general Bob Kandetu notes that the NBC is playing the role of a public broadcaster, even though only to a limited extent:
At the NBC we have three mandates: to inform, educate and entertain. The first two are definitely in line with public broadcasting. The problem is that this model is still defined by the state: the minister is responsible for appointing the board and the chairperson. A true public broadcaster should have its origin in the national legislature. Parliament should coordinate and supervise the public broadcaster. A public broadcaster should represent the people.

Civil society organisations, he says, should be represented on the board, which should be independently and transparently appointed from among the public at large, and not tailored around the ruling party, as is currently the case. Parliament should be the conduit for resources from the state (public funding in the form of taxpayers’ contributions) to the public broadcaster, because it performs its functions in the national interest. Nevertheless, he adds that the national broadcaster must not be found wanting in terms of reporting on the development efforts of the government. Muinjo221 similarly feels that with a public broadcaster, ‘there should be no government involvement in terms of appointing the board. It should be more independent from government, from a political point of view … civil society should also be represented on the board to reflect the full spectrum of interests in Namibia.’ She adds that the term ‘public’ in public broadcaster refers to the general population, the viewers and the listeners ‘who should also be able to give their input’. Programme organiser for the NBC National (English) Radio Service, Corry Tjaveondja, defines public broadcasting as ‘broadcasting that caters for the community out there’.222 His colleague Florence Haifeni from the Damara-Nama service feels that public broadcasting should serve the citizens of the country at all levels, and should be owned by the public. Programme organiser of the NBC Radio Afrikaans service, Gert Rossouw, feels that a public broadcaster should be editorially independent, with a board comprising people
221 M. Muinjo, general manager: news and current affairs (TV and radio) at the time of the interview and now head of commercial services, interview conducted in Windhoek on 12 December 2008. 222 Interviews with F. Haifene, programme organiser: NBC Damara/Nama radio service, M. Jaeger, programme organiser: NBC German radio service, G. Rossouw, programme organiser: NBC Afrikaans radio service, and C. Tjaveondja, programme organiser: NBC National (English) radio service, conducted in Windhoek on 7 May 2009.

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from all levels of society, rather than just political appointees. The board should include representatives from non-governmental organisations and people with different views. He also feels that the public broadcaster should be funded by government through taxpayers’ contributions, and suggests that an independent broadcasting and media commission should monitor the public broadcaster to see if it is operating according to its legal and organisational mandate. Funds for the broadcaster should be channelled through such an independent body, thus altering the perception of where the money comes from: that it is not government’s money per se, but that of citizens: ‘In Namibia, if government funds were reduced for the public broadcaster, it would reduce the public service aspect and the broadcaster would become commercial. A public service broadcaster needs to serve the public: to inform and educate them in a balanced way and to give them a voice. In terms of what a public broadcaster needs to do, it cannot afford to become commercial.’ NBC staff generally felt that sponsorship and advertising were important to a public broadcaster as they provided an additional stream of revenue, but that such income should not make up the bulk of funding for the broadcaster (and thus make it a commercial entity) as this would compromise the broadcaster’s ability to provide a public service. Currently, on most of the NBC’s radio services about six minutes per hour are devoted to advertising, and Haifeni feels that ratio is just about right for a true public broadcaster. Rossouw, on the other hand, points out that if the advertising load increased, the various channels might be able to provide a better service as they would be better resourced. To ensure that the interests of advertisers do not influence editorial decisions, Haifeni suggests that public service broadcasters should have strict guidelines regarding advertisers’ roles: ‘Programming is the main focus of radio and having such guidelines would prevent advertisers from leading or controlling programming intended to be in the public, and not commercial, interest.’ German service programme organiser Michaela Jaeger says that if the NBC was to become a public service broadcaster, rather than a national broadcaster as is currently the case, there should be a clear definition of public service broadcasting, so that programming can be adapted to better reach the audience: ‘It would help if we had an act that said we were a public service broadcaster, and guided us on how we are meant to operate.’ NBC staff interviewed generally felt that a public broadcaster should reflect the full spectrum of public opinions and concerns in a non-judgemental manner. Rossouw points out that a public service broadcaster must still put government’s point of view across, even if it is controlled by an independent body: ‘We cannot escape the fact that a lot of news and information comes from government, which was put in power by the people, and this must be reported on, along with news from all political

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parties and alternative voices.’ Haifeni concurs: ‘It is the duty of a public service broadcaster to tell the nation about the developments taking place in the country. But it is also important for this broadcaster to be able to critique that development and to hold the government accountable.’ She also sounds a note of caution as regards the choice of content deemed to be in the national interest:
There are certain issues that you cannot comfortably address to certain communities without offending the majority. This includes homosexuality, which you could address, for example, on the NBC Afrikaans and Damara-Nama radio service, but not on the Oshiwambo service as it is a taboo subject in Owambo culture. If the topic is in the public interest, it should be reflected on air, but this should not be stretched too far. Nation building, the promotion of peace and democracy, and reconciliation are enshrined in the Constitution. These should not be jeopardised in the name of public interest. Public broadcasters should be able to cover topics such as corruption, however, whether it is in the government’s interest or not. The public broadcaster should always be aware of what is in the people’s interest.

5

Conclusions and recommendations

The NBC fulfils some of the functions of a public broadcaster but the fact that it is still an arm of the state, controlled by government (and the ruling party) through the appointment of the board, and directly answerable to a government ministry means that it is not a truly independent public broadcaster. Instead, the NBC operates as a state broadcaster and legislation is not in line with the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights 2002 Declaration of Principles on Freedom of Expression in Africa (article VI): State and government controlled broadcasters should be transformed into public service broadcasters, accountable to the public through the legislature rather than the government, in accordance with the following principles: • Public broadcasters should be governed by a board which is protected against interference, particularly of a political or economic nature; • The editorial independence of public service broadcasters should be guaranteed; • Public broadcasters should be adequately funded in a manner that protects

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them from arbitrary interference with their budgets; • Public broadcasters should strive to ensure that their transmission system covers the whole territory of the country; and • The public service ambit of public broadcasters should be clearly defined and include an obligation to ensure that the public receive adequate, politically balanced information, particularly during election periods.

recommendations
• The Namibian Broadcasting Act of 1991 must be replaced by a National Broadcasting Corporation Act that transforms the present state broadcaster into a public broadcaster serving the public interest. The Act must outline clear governing structures which shield the broadcaster from political interference and interference from other powerful forces in society that seek to influence it unduly. • Media lobby groups should use the avenue offered by the Communications Act 2009 which requires that the broadcasting code be amended to conform to public broadcasting obligations. It must be pointing out that such obligations can only be fulfilled by a truly public broadcaster within the framework of a new NBC Act that is in compliance with the Declaration of Principles on Freedom of Expression in Africa. • The NBC should be governed by a board established and acting according to the following principles: – Appointment procedures should be open, transparent and free from political interference. – The board should represent a broad cross-section of the Namibian population. – Persons who are office bearers with the state or political parties or have business interests in the media industry should not be eligible for board membership. – The board’s role should be clearly set out in law and its main responsibility should be to ensure that the public broadcaster is protected against undue political or commercial influences and fulfils its mandate in the public interest. – The board should not interfere in the day-to-day decisionmaking of the broadcaster especially in relation to broadcast content, and respect the principle of editorial independence. • The new NBC Act should guarantee editorial independence for the NBC.

7
Funding of the NBC

1

Main sources of funding

The NBC is funded from a mix of government subsidies, advertising revenue, television licence fees, fees from hiring out tower space to other broadcasters or communication service providers for transmitters, as well as sponsorships. For the 2008/2009 financial year the NBC recorded an income of N$ 141 million (US$ 19.5 million), expected to rise to N$ 182 million (US$ 25 million) for 2009/2010. These amounts were broken down as follows: Table 1: NBC budgets 2008/2009 and 2009/2010223
2008/2009 (n$ in thousands) Percentage 2009/2010 (n$ in thousands) Percentage government subsidy tv licence fees Advertising sponsorships rental income interest others total N$ 88 178 (US$ 12.2 million) N$ 13 600 (US$ 1.9 million) N$ 28 913 (US$ 4.0 million) N$ 79 (US$ 11 000) N$ 7 805 (US$ 1.1 million) N$ 2 159 (US$ 300 000) N$ 148 (US$ 20 000) N$ 140 882 (US$ 19.5 million) 62.5 9.7 20.5 0.05 5.5 1.5 0.1 N$ 100 842* (US$ 14 million) N$ 25 000 (US$ 3.5 million) N$ 36 141 (US$ 5 million) N$ 1 592 (US$ 220 000) N$ 5 658 (US$ 784 000) N$ 2 042 (US$ 283000) N$ 10 341 (US$1.4 million) N$ 181 616 (US$ 25.2 million) 55.4 13.7 19.9 0.9 3.1 1.1 5.7

* By October 2009, this amount had been approved by the ministry of finance and some N$ 75 million (US$ 10.4 million) had already been received.

223 Financial information for this table sourced from the office of NBC director-general Bob Kandetu in January 2009.

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Table 2: Development of percentages of main income sources224
Year* Govt Ads Fees 2003 80 13 5 2004 78 13 7 2005 76 17 6 2006 60 27 10 2007 56 18 23 2008 55 25 14.5 2009 63 n/a n/a 2010 56 n/a n/a

* Financial year ending on 31 March of that year NOTES: Financial figures for 2009 and 2010 for advertising and licence-fee income had not been made publicly available at the time of writing (March 2010) as they had not yet been audited and approved by Cabinet. Difference to 100 % is made up by income from sponsorships, rental income and other sources

As can be seen from this table the ratio of government subsidies has been decreasing steadily from a peak of 80 per cent in 2003 to 55 per cent in 2010. Accordingly income from advertisements rose from 13 to 27 in 2006 (after government had cut its subsidies substantially from 76 to 60 per cent) and then decreased to 25 per cent in the 2008 budget year. Fees collected from television viewers amounted to 14 per cent of the budget by 2008. The government’s subsidy for the broadcaster is based on annual submissions by the NBC management to the ministry of finance, with the ministry deciding how much money the broadcaster is actually to receive. Sources inside the NBC say that the corporation is not close to selling all its available airtime. This is evident, for example, on NBC National Radio, where a considerable amount of ‘empty’ time is spent playing no-name, ‘smooth jazz’ to fill slots scheduled for advertisements. There is also a noticeable lack of commercials on NBC television. The NBC estimates that if it was able to sell all its available airtime to advertisers on its ten radio stations as well as on television, it would quadruple its income from presently N$ 36 141 000 (US$ 5 million) to N$ 157 809 600 (US$ 22 million). The collection of licence fees is based on the Namibian Broadcasting Act 1991, which entitles the NBC to collect such fees from the public and from television retail dealers. The NBC board determines the actual amount to be levied, and this is reflected in amendments made to the NBC Regulations. The annual licence fee currently stands at N$ 204 (US$ 28). As of December 2008, about 130 000 people were registered as television licence holders, a figure that does not reflect the actual number of television sets in use in the country, which the NBC estimates to be about 400 000. In 2004, the Corporation outsourced the collection of fees to a separate company, Penduka Africa, but reverted to direct responsibility for licence-fee collection two years later.225 The NBC is currently
224 Information for this table sourced from the office of director-general Bob Kandetu and national budgets of Namibia. 225 Sureihe Gaomas, ‘NBC resumes collecting licence fees’, New Era, 6 September 2006.

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trying to update its systems. Members of the public can pay their annual television licences at the NBC head office in Windhoek as well as at branches of the Namibia post office throughout the country. If the NBC was able collect television licence fees from at least three quarters of all owners of television sets, an estimated 300 000 people, this would mean an income of N$ 61 200 000 (US$ 8.5 million). Kennedy Onesmus, the manager of TV licences (TVL), could not provide an exact figure for the number of people currently registered for TV licences in Namibia: ‘The NBC inherited from Penduka an old Innkeeper system, which was originally intended for the use in hospitality establishments and thus unsuitable for the recording of TV licence information. We still need to update the old data and incorporate it into our new Oracle database system, and then include the new information that we receive from television set dealers and NamPost.’226

2

Spending

Operational budget expenditure can be broken down as follows for the financial year 2008/09: Table 3: NBC budget expenditure 2008/2009
department Director general office News and current affairs Television programmes Radio services Engineering and IT Human resources Finance and administration Commercial services Finance costs total deficit expenditure (n$ in thousands) 4 702 (US$ 650 000) 15 587 (US$ 2.2 million) 14 224 (US$ 2 million) 27 866 (US$ 3.9 million) 34 277 (US$ 4.8 million) 7 699 (US$) 1.1 million) 27 197 (US$ 3.8 million) 11 084 (US$ 1.5 million) 1 734 (US$ 240 000) 144 373 (US$ 20 million) 3 491 (US$ 480 000) Percentage 3.3 10.8 9.9 19.3 23.7 5.3 18.8 7.7 1.2

226 Kennedy Onesmus, manager of television licences at the NBC, interview conducted telephonically on 6 October 2009.

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Total expenses for programming (news and current affairs, television programmes and radio services) thus make up 40 per cent of overall expenditure in 2008/2009. It is difficult to compare fluctuations in allocations to the respective budget lines over the years because annual reports are hard to come by, financial reports since 2008 have yet to be approved by cabinet and the system of documenting expenditure changed in 2009. An audit report tabled in March 2010 by the auditor-general for the financial year ending March 2008 highlighted a number of concerns in the financial management of the corporation. The report shows that the NBC accumulated losses of N$ 170.6 million (US$ 23.6 million) and showed a deficit of N$ 38 million (US$ 5.3 million) for this period.227 In addition the broadcaster owes the Receiver of Revenue N$ 102 675 185 (US$ 14.2 million) plus penalties of N$ 57 057 966 (US$ 7.9 million) and interest of N$ 36 028 605 (US$ 5 million) for not paying income tax deducted from NBC employees since 2005. The report also notes that the state broadcasters is being sued for N$ 100.4 million (US$14 million) in various court cases but has not made provision for that amount. The auditor-general Junias Kandjeke states that: ‘The continued losses and unabated deterioration in liquidity and solvency ratio indicate that the Corporation has a liquidity crisis and is commercially insolvent.’ He adds that he is ‘unable to express an opinion on the financial statements of the Corporation’, due to various discrepancies in the financial reporting and balances of bank accounts held by the NBC. According to the report certain documents requested for the audit were still outstanding, indicating a negative attitude towards the audit by staff. Other indications cited in the report of the financial woes at the national broadcaster were that the NBC was insuring some assets, such as buildings, below their carrying values and that the Corporation had failed to pay insurance premiums for the transmitter stations, as well as ‘plant and machinery’, valued at a total of N$ 206 374 285 million (US$ 29 million). The auditors were also provided with an incomplete register of the NBC’s assets, thus hindering the ‘performance of complete audit tests on fixed assets’ and indicating that management does not have full control over assets. The Corporation is apparently in the process of instituting a fixed asset register. Overall the auditor-general finds that the ‘Corporation’s ability to continue as a going concern depends largely on the continued support of the government and the resumption of profitable operations.’

227 Report of the auditor-general on the accounts of the NBC for the financial year ended 31 March 2008, provided through the Table Office, parliament.

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3

Conclusions and recommendations

It is clear that because the NBC receives a large proportion of its funding from the state, the government and the governing/ruling SWAPO party feel that the broadcaster should be at their beck and call – erroneously assuming that this money belongs to government, rather than the people of Namibia. This is also the reason why the financial books of the NBC are treated as something of a ‘state secret’. The NBC has plans for a second television channel, NBC2, which is supposed to be commercially oriented with a strong focus on entertainment programming. The channel is expected to help fund NBC1, the broadcaster’s public service arm, making it more financially sustainable and independent from government.228

recommendations
• The basic precondition for any successful reform of funding is the passing and implementation of a new NBC Act and the transformation of the state broadcaster into a credible public broadcaster. • NBC funds are public funds which must be accounted for to the public; therefore all financial reports over the last decade must be published for public scrutiny. The numerous concerns and discrepancies highlighted by the 2008 audit report need to be addressed as a matter of urgency. • Sustainable and reliable funding mechanisms for the NBC must be considered and put in place. • Licence fees levied on television sets should be replaced by broadcasting fees per household and business. • As the public broadcasters will continue to be dependent on state subsidies, at least in part, effective mechanisms must be developed to ensure that these subsidies are provided in a reliable and independent manner. • To determine the amounts of the television fee and the state subsidy, the setting up of an independent panel of experts should be considered. This panel will set and from time to time adjust the requisite amounts and recommend these for adoption by the legislature. The broadcaster will list its perceived needs to the panel, the experts will make their own assessment and then come up with their recommendations.

228 C. Smith, NBC senior manager: project planning (new position), telephonic interview conducted on 9 September 2009.

8
Programming

1
1.1

Programme policies and guidelines
the nbc

The NBC does not have specific editorial or programme policies229 except for a style guide used by editors and journalists specifically for news and current affairs programmes. The current guide, dating back to November 2001, reads: ‘we should at all times ensure that our stories are accurate, balanced and devoid of comment, conjecture and falsification by distortion, selection or misrepresentation’. The guide’s chapter 9 deals with ‘Political Reporting and Elections’:
In its political and electoral coverage, the NBC is obliged to recognise and conform to the legal framework within which it exists. Therefore NBC News and Current Affairs will afford reasonable opportunity for the discussion of opposing views … It will also effect fair and equitable treatment of all political parties although greater attention will be given to the major ones and their views.

An analysis of the content of the NBC’s news and current affairs, as is shown later in this chapter, indicates that views in opposition to the government’s programme or the SWAPO party are rarely, if ever, expressed on the NBC.

229 F. Haifene et al., interview, op.cit.

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The style guide’s code of ethics (chapter 17) says: ‘news will be selected on the criteria of significance, community and regional relevance; appropriate human interest; and service to defined audiences’. Currently, news and current affairs programmes on the NBC do not cover the broad range of interests of Namibian people, as will be described below. An election policy and guidelines document (dated January 1998), which provided political parties with free airtime, was summarily withdrawn in November 2009, less than a month before the parliamentary and presidential elections. This decision, taken by NBC top management, was a reaction to a High Court lawsuit brought by the opposition parties Congress of Democrats (CoD) and Rally for Democracy and Progress (RDP) that sought to have airtime allocations distributed equally among all political parties.230 The NBC’s free airtime policy was based on regulations under the Namibian Communications Commission Act,231 which stipulated that 40 per cent of the time made available to political parties for campaigning messages was to be divided equally among all parties contesting the elections. The remaining 60 per cent was to be divided proportionally among the political parties that had contested the previous elections, with the respective amounts allocated according to the share of votes received. The CoD and the RDP felt that this policy was unfair and favoured the ruling SWAPO at the expense of new parties. After the NBC had withdrawn the free airtime policy, political parties had to pay to have their campaign messages carried by the national broadcaster.

1.2 commercial broadcasters
The country’s only commercial television station, One Africa, has no written editorial guidelines but its director says: ‘We are very serious about impartiality. The only time we will take political sides is when the Constitution is threatened.’232 Commercial radio stations also have no formal editorial policies. Their guidelines, if any, are mostly very broad (‘no politics, no religion’) and usually informal or verbal. Radio Wave limits its news bulletins to non-political stories ‘as we leave that to the national broadcaster’.233 Talk time on the radio is also strictly ‘no politics, no religion’. Kudu FM, Omulunga Radio and Fresh FM are run along similar lines: ‘Our presenters are professional and steer away from politics, sex and religion on air.’234 The stance of
230 ‘NBC withdraw political parties’ free airtime’, Namibia Alert, Media Institute of Southern Africa, 4 November 2009. 231 Regulations under the Namibian Communications Commission Act, 1992 (Act 4 of 1992), Government Notice No. 25, Government Gazette, Windhoek, 25 February 1994. 232 P. Van Schalkwyk and M. Cosburn, interview, op.cit. 233 R. Thompson, op.cit. 234 J-P. Jones, op.cit.

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Energy 100 FM is summed up thus:
Our editorial guidelines are mostly verbal. Basically, whatever topics presenters raise, they must have researched thoroughly. We do have a written staff policy that says presenters must not air their own views and we do not allow comments which are sexist, racist or tribalist. The station is not political, we set aside that topic, as well as religion, and rather focus on social issues. We don’t want to be political, and commercial broadcasters should not be.235

1.3 community broadcasters
Base FM does not have official editorial guidelines in regard to its public interest programming, but station manager Sandra Williams notes that they are compiling an editorial and on-air policy. ‘This will contain guidelines on how to handle sensitive issues and libellous statements,’ she explains.236 Channel 7 has a simple editorial policy that does not allow dirty language or overtly sexual talk or music: ‘We regulate ourselves. We don’t need real policies. Biblical principles are our guidelines.’ 237 E FM has ‘pretty general’ editorial guidelines: ‘We don’t address politics, but this is generally because we don’t have enough time and we would need very knowledgeable presenters.’238

2

Programme schedules

2.1 namibian broadcasting corporation
The NBC has one television station and ten radio stations broadcasting in different languages: the English National Radio as well as services in Afrikaans, Damara/ Nama, German, Oshiwambo, Otjiherero, Rukavango, Silozi, Tireo yaSetswana and the !Ha San community radio station.239

235 236 237 238 239

J. Ailonga, op.cit. S. Williams, op.cit. N. Van den Bergh, op.cit. C. van der Walt, op.cit. Note: the broadcast formats and subsequent analyses for all stations relate to schedules dating 5–11 October 2009.

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NBC TV NBC Television broadcasts for 24 hours a day, with 95 per cent of all programming in English. Of the total weekly airtime, news broadcasts comprise more than one third, or 36 per cent (3 609 minutes). This includes 9 per cent (or 925 minutes) dedicated to local news. The bulk of the foreign feed, a rebroadcast of the English-language Arabic news channel Al Jazeera News, is aired from midnight to 06h00 each day, and on weekdays the NBC also rebroadcasts an hour of CNN Global Update from the United States. From Mondays to Saturdays there are three local news services: two half-hour bulletins from 14h00 to 15h00 in local languages and a one hour-long English bulletin at 20h00. There is also a brief headline bulletin at 22h00. On Sundays there are five local news bulletins: four in local languages and the main 20h00 English bulletin. NBC clearly attempts to be more inclusive by broadcasting local news in nine Namibian languages, in addition to the main bulletin in English. This is highly commendable, especially considering that the Namibian Broadcasting Act, 1991, section 3, defines the objectives of the NBC as being to, among others, ‘promote the use and understanding of the English language’ and does not make any mention of languages spoken locally or of sign language, which is used to complement the NBC’s English news bulletin. Over a week, NBC TV carries two news bulletins each for the eight different language groups. However, these services are a condensed and translated version of the English bulletin of the previous evening and thus cover old ‘news’: ‘The average person would rather watch the English bulletin as this is at least current.’240 The NBC experienced the pressure of competition with the arrival of commercial station One Africa, especially when the private channel began broadcasting its own news bulletins at 19h30. NBC news had always been scheduled for 20h00. Not long after One Africa had introduced its local news bulletins in May 2007,241 the NBC brought its evening news forward to 19h00, in an obvious attempt to scoop One Africa. Towards the end of 2009, however, and with the arrival of new acting director-general Matthew //Gowaseb, who has since resigned, NBC TV’s main English news bulletin returned to the 20h00 slot and was extended from half-an-hour to one hour. The local language broadcasts remain half-an-hour long and are thus condensed versions/ summaries of the previous night’s English broadcast. The broadcaster still airs a considerable amount of foreign programming, at 62 per cent of airtime per week. The remaining 38 per cent is Namibian programming such as news, talk and current affairs shows, youth and educational programmes, music and sport.
240 R. Tyson, media studies lecturer at the University of Namibia, interview conducted on 31 October 2008. 241 Staff Reporter, ‘One Africa launches news bulletins’, The Namibian, 2 May 2007.

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In February 2009 the NBC launched a locally produced 13-part family drama that it had commissioned and it was generally well-received by viewers. Since this series came to an end, no more similar local productions have been undertaken. Then acting director-general Matthew //Gowaseb notes:
Commissioning is a very expensive business. Considering very scarce financial resources we have, we are very cautious. We have introduced a 70/30 concept principle where NBC will engage in outside productions by providing equipment, while the particular production company will provide content such as directing, scripting and editing. We are looking at short films because the market is still developing and there is no use to come up with major productions now.242

An arguably excessive amount of airtime – 20 per cent – is spent broadcasting repeats of both local and foreign programmes. Viewers get the impression that the station is not in a position to afford to buy or produce new programming, become bored and tend to switch off or over to the competition. Drama/comedy serials, including repeats, comprise 14 per cent (1 376 minutes) of airtime and they are all foreign, sourced from South Africa (Generations), Latin America (the ‘telenovela’ Lorenzo’s Wife) and the United States (Everybody Hates Chris and The Bernie Mac Show). Local and foreign current affairs shows, covering mainly political, social and other topical issues in the form of talk shows and panel discussions, comprise 9 per cent (960 minutes) of all NBC’s television airtime, including repeats. The local talk shows include Good Morning Namibia, The Week That Was and Talk of the Nation, while Open File is a locally produced current affairs programme. Some 8 per cent (821 minutes) of programming every week is devoted to sports, made up of a combination of local and foreign material. Local and foreign chat shows, focusing mainly on human interest topics, such as local artists and organisations, the celebration of international days and cultural events, take up 6 per cent of airtime (584 minutes). These include Tutaleni and Tupopyeni, locally produced shows which are on air for 120 minutes every week (with repeats), while a further 464 minutes are given over to the American chat show, The Oprah Winfrey Show, and its repeats. NBC TV devotes 6 per cent (600 minutes) of its airtime per week to locally produced youth and music programmes (and their repeats) such as Whatagwan and Beats Per Minute.
242 M. Nunuhe, ‘//Gowaseb on the NBC and the way forward’, The Namibian, 13 November 2009.

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Five per cent (510 minutes) of airtime is dedicated to documentaries and their repeats, some foreign and others locally produced. Children’s programmes take up 3.6 per cent of airtime (360 minutes), but none are locally made. Each week, NBC TV broadcasts five one-hour-long Parliamentary Report programmes (3 per cent of airtime or 300 minutes), which are locally produced. Two per cent of airtime (240 minutes) is spent broadcasting locally produced Christian faith programmes and their repeats, while just 1.8 per cent (180 minutes, including repeats) per week is devoted to local and foreign educational programmes, including a show sourced from the Namibian College of Open Learning (NAMCOL). NAMCOL is a parastatal that provides secondary and professional education learning opportunities for adults and out-of-school youths. The broadcaster airs two 90-minute movies a week (1.8 per cent in total), both of which are foreign made and tend to be older than ten years. They are shown on Saturday and Sunday evenings. NBC Radio National Radio (the English service) broadcasts for 24 hours a day (10 080 minutes per week), while the nine vernacular services are on air for an average of 18 hours a day, from 05h30. At midnight, the language services switch over either to the National Radio’s Zero Hour Zone automated music programme or to that of the Afrikaans service. All NBC radio stations offer mainly music, with songs in their respective languages featuring prominently. The Afrikaans service, for example, aims to broadcast 40 per cent Afrikaans music. All NBC radio services have regular news and weather broadcasts, magazine shows (with a high proportion – generally more than 50 per cent – of music), current affairs, actuality and talk shows on various topics, as well as programmes for specific interest groups, such as farmers, entrepreneurs, youth and children. Public service announcements and death/funeral notices also receive priority on the local language services. All services have religious programmes (exclusively Christian) throughout the week, with the majority broadcast on Sundays. Evening shows tend to be 80 to 90 per cent music, or more.243 All NBC radio services have chat shows for listeners to call in – for example, the German service has an open phone-in show of one hour a week, the Afrikaans service
243 F. Haifene, programme organiser: NBC Damara/Nama radio service; M. Jaeger, programme organiser: NBC German radio service; G. Rossouw, programme organiser: NBC Afrikaans radio service; and C. Tjaveondja, programme organiser: NBC National (English) radio service, interview conducted in Windhoek on 7 May 2009.

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has a similarly open half-hour a day Mondays to Thursdays, while the Damara-Nama station has an open line and feedback for half-an-hour a day, three days a week. The Oshiwambo service had a morning call-in programme, but when the National Radio chat show was suspended (see chapter 6), the Oshiwambo programme (Ewi Lya Manguluka) was moved to the evening slot, from 20h00, Mondays to Thursdays. However, by November 2010, this show no longer existed. All channels also have a fax service for listeners to send in messages, while some, such as the Afrikaans service, have an SMS facility as well, as a result of the initiative taken by that particular programme organiser who personally bought a SIM card. The national service does not have an SMS line. SMS feedback to commercial radio stations is very popular, as it is cheaper than a phone call or a fax. Regarding the so-called language services of NBC radio – all those broadcasting in languages other than English – media academic Robin Tyson says:
They serve the needs of the community: they include funeral announcements, and a lot of chat and discussion that is not one-way, but includes plenty of input from listeners. For people living in rural areas, where there are no telephones, and no postal or newspaper deliveries, and also where many people are illiterate, these radio stations serve a vital need, providing important information to communities especially in outlying areas and keep (local) languages alive.244

Other observers such as Ngamane Karuaihe-Upi, broadcasting and ICT research officer at MISA-Namibia, are more critical:
The Herero radio service, for example, is very much focused on the rural community and generally there is talk about farming and cattle. The scope should be broadened to enlighten the listeners about other subjects, such as politics and international issues.245

NBC National Radio Most of the programming on National Radio is locally produced and in English. NBC National Radio also broadcasts some foreign programming, such as BBC Sport, for example. Over the week there are 19 local and/or international news and weather bulletins or announcements of the main headlines, totalling just over three hours in all (or 1.8
244 R. Tyson, interview, op.cit. 245 N. Karuaihe-Upi, broadcasting and ICT research officer at MISA-Namibia, interview conducted telephonically on 31 August 2009.

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per cent of weekly airtime). Although the schedule may stipulate, for example, ten minutes for a news bulletin, as much as five minutes of that time may be taken up by ‘muzak’ – no-name, smooth jazz, often the same track repeated ad nauseam. This is probably as a result of a lack of advertisements, as the only advertisements heard on this station during the content analysis period appeared to be those for other NBC National Radio programmes. The same kind of filler is used throughout the day, between programmes. The station has a number of current affairs programmes during weekdays, including Current Affairs (Mondays and Fridays), Parliamentary Report (Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays), Update Namibia and Straight Talk, a show which tackles specific topics each weekday, covering socio-economic issues, politics, economics and sports. These shows are scheduled to be broadcast for 100 minutes in total each weekday, but are often a lot shorter, with muzak used as a filler. Talk shows broadcast during weekdays are the topic-specific Ninth Hour (a daily morning call-in show with a studio guest, which replaced the suspended popular morning Chat Show: see chapter 6 for details) and Open Line (an evening phone-in discussion programme). These shows, including an abbreviated evening repeat of the Ninth Hour, make up about two-and-a-half hours of scheduled airtime each weekday. Actual programmes, again, often do not last that long and tend to be filled out with muzak. The bulk of content broadcast by NBC National Radio is scheduled music (not muzak!) in the form of a number of slots or shows, between five minutes and six hours long, spread throughout the week, and averaging almost nine-and-a-half hours per day during the week and up to 14.5 hours at the weekend (this comes to about 4 510 minutes a week in total or 45 per cent of airtime). The type of music played ranges from popular and gospel to specific genres such as Namibian, African, World, reggae and classical music. The studio is put on ‘auto-pilot’, broadcasting mostly music, from midnight until 06h00. Every weekday morning during the Morning Cup of Java show, there is a five-minute interview slot focusing on a specific topic, such as the environment, innovation (new approaches to tackling issues), local authorities, places of interest, books and the like, and the show may also have studio guests. In the evening, there is a half-hour chat show called Wonderful World, which focuses on human interest and lifestyle topics. Each weekday there is a different daily topic for Wonderful World, such as teaching children with special needs, traditional medicines, law, the environment and sports. A magazine show, The Mirror, with a mix of information, talk and music, runs every weekday morning between 10h00 and 12h00, covering horoscopes, relationships, gender issues, world religions, recipes, development, police, health and psychology

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topics, small/medium enterprises, farming information, consumer issues, artists, events and entertainment, and including the human interest slots Medically Speaking, Face-to-Face and The Quest for True Leadership. The station broadcasts educational programmes for 15 minutes each weekday afternoon, sourced from the Namibian Open Learning Network Trust (NOLNET). Apart from a half-hour quiz show called Hit the Jackpot, the greater part of weekday afternoons, from 14h00 to 17h00, is taken up by a youth programme called Young and Cool. This comprises slots related to school events, money matters, career guidance, call-in segments, Namibian music and local artists, and short social awareness plays about youth and health, for example. During the week there are two sports update shows of five minutes each. On Saturdays, the channel offers six news and weather bulletins, including a news summary, totalling about an hour of scheduled time. Popular music shows make up about nine-and-a-half hours of scheduled airtime. In addition, there are special interest music shows (reggae, country, Namibian choir and traditional, and African music) totalling three-and-a-half hours. Saturday morning has two slots – just under one hour-and-a-half in all – for public service announcements, lifts and swops (exchanges). There are a number of repeats of weekday shows and a one-hour children’s programme, called Uitani Childline, as well as two sports programmes, totalling almost two-and-a-half hours. A five-minute evening devotion just before midnight ends the formal programming before the Zero Hour Zone auto-pilot takes over. On Sundays NBC National Radio offers five news bulletins, totalling a scheduled 50 minutes and including an African highlights bulletin. Documentaries, one hour in all, include Places of Interest and Namibia Our Pride (repeat). Six religious programmes are broadcast throughout the day, accounting for just over four hours of airtime. The Sunday schedule also includes a considerable number of repeats of programmes broadcast over the week. Five special interest music shows, including gospel, classical, jazz and country, are broadcast for a total of just more than six hours every Sunday. The remainder of the programme line-up consists of a chat show/human interest programme, Talk to Me (55 minutes), during which listeners’ communications to the station are read out, a onehour sports broadcast, a half-hour drama show in the evenings, half-an-hour of road safety tips and a five-minute poetry show.

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2.2 one Africa television
The country’s only free-to-air commercial TV station, One Africa Television, is on air for 24 hours a day. In the week under review it prioritised mostly foreign news (57 per cent of weekly airtime or 95 hours) sourced from the BBC, with local news accounting for just 2.6 per cent. Fifteen per cent of airtime or 26 hours, including repeats, were taken up by foreign drama/comedy series and soaps (South African and Latin American), 12 per cent (20.5 hours) including repeats by sport (of which just 0.3 per cent was local) and 7.7 per cent by music programmes (13 hours in all, of which just 1.7 per cent was local). Educational programmes, made locally and sourced from the Namibian College of Open Learning (NAMCOL), comprised 3.6 per cent of airtime (six hours, including 120 minutes of repeats), while foreign children’s programmes comprised 2 per cent or four hours of airtime. Apart from the 420 minutes per week (4 per cent of overall programming, half of it repeats) devoted to the South African-made Afrikaans soap, 7de Laan, One Africa broadcasts in English. The only youth programmes, apart from the NAMCOL educational slots, were the Yo Music Countdown (local) and a foreign music feed from Channel O. On 1 November 2009, One Africa signed a deal with e.tv Africa to rebroadcast content from the South African-based free-to-air commercial television station.246 While the locally produced News on One remains, all the other local music, sports and educational programmes have been cut. Thus, the previous percentage of 10 per cent local content (including repeats) has now dropped to 2.6 per cent – representing the five local news broadcasts throughout the week. The station now features one movie a night, rather than once a week, and also offers foreign sport, children’s, reality and lifestyle programmes. The South African soap, 7de Laan, and the Latin American soap, Storm over Paradise, have been maintained. There are no local news bulletins on weekends.247 Explains One Africa Technical Director Madryn Cosburn:
We as commercial broadcasters only earn our income from advertisers. If we don’t show the content the viewers want, then we don’t have the viewers and the advertisers don’t support us. We provide content that the viewer wants to see.248

246 F. Sankwasa, ‘One Africa rebrands to One Africa Entertainment’, Informanté, 29 October 2009. 247 J. Ekongo, ‘One Africa partners with ETV’, Hello Namibia! website, accessed from http://www.hellonam.com/filmentertainment/62051-one-africa-partners-etv.html. 248 M. Cosburn, technical director of One Africa Television, during the AfriMAP round table in November 2010.

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2.3 commercial radio
All commercial radio stations in Namibia offer mostly music and entertainment content, with regular news slots, and broadcast for 24 hours a day. Radio Wave is largely personality-driven with a strong focus on music (almost 100 per cent of the music it broadcasts is foreign) and entertainment. The station’s DJs or ‘jocks’ have become household names in Namibia and they are quite outspoken, especially during the morning talk show with Jared Loubser. Apart from the morning show, where talk dominates with a ratio of 70 per cent, music makes up about 90 per cent of airtime, according to managing director Robin Thompson.249 The focus is on easy-going entertainment, with a considerable amount of light-hearted banter by the DJs and little depth in any discussion they may have. There are no serious current affairs shows and hardly any studio guests. The station offers a brief news bulletin on the hour every hour during the day, and sports highlights on the half hour. In all there are about 28 brief news, sports news and financial news slots over the week, ranging from five to 15 minutes, including advertisements. The news bulletins include financial reports and are produced by the station’s in-house news department. Since 2008, Radio Wave has been running a regular feature on problems facing the planet with regard to global warming, under the Green Awareness Africa (GAWA) banner. GAWA is an initiative of Interact advertising agency and Radio Wave.250 Weekend shows are even more music-oriented, with foreign chart shows and other syndicated entertainment taking up a considerable amount of airtime: Brit 40 and On Air with Ryan Seacrest account for a total of 390 minutes on Saturdays and the World Chart Show and Rick Dees and the Weekly Top 40 for 360 minutes on Sundays. While Fresh FM, Omulunga Radio and Kudu FM have different target audiences (see chapter 3), all these Planet Radio stations place a strong emphasis on music and entertainment. Between 06h00 and 22h00 music takes up 90 per cent of airtime, talk accounts for 7 per cent and advertisements for 3 per cent. Between 22h00 and 06h00, the ratio is 97 per cent music and 3 per cent advertising.251 The stations broadcast brief (three-minute) news bulletins, largely from foreign sources, such as the BBC, and weather forecasts on the hour during the week. John-Paul Jones, the group’s chief operations officer, explains that Omulunga Radio has a number of public service segments, including sports, and community messages, such as funeral
249 R. Thompson, managing director of Radio Wave and J. Loubser, Radio Wave presenter, joint interview conducted in Windhoek on 10 February 2009. 250 Ibid. 251 J-P. Jones, Planet Radio (Kudu FM, Omulunga Radio and Fresh FM) chief operations officer, interview conducted in Windhoek on 10 February 2009.

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announcements and birthday wishes.252 Energy 100 FM is largely a music station, with a strong focus on local music. About 95 per cent of its programming is in English, but it also has an Oshiwambo programme where guests can speak in this language. The station devotes on average 70 per cent of its airtime to music, with the remainder comprising educational and infotainment content, news and advertising.253 The station has some current affairs and talk offerings, including hourly news bulletins during the day, local gossip shows, in-studio guests, and call-in shows with a dedicated SMS line. The news broadcasts are generally brief, at two minutes maximum, while talk segments in general are limited to three minutes.254 Says Energy 100 FM studio manager Joseph Ailonga:
We try to include relevant topics affecting Namibians, like the country’s development or the credit crunch, into our morning shows and during the call-in/SMS shows. The programmes that allow audience interaction are themed, so it is not just an openline show. The non-governmental organisation, NawaLife, also has a weekly show on our station focusing on relationships, and including topics such as HIV/AIDS.

Kosmos Radio operates on a simple information and music-driven format, with music taking up 75 per cent of its airtime and information, including news or talk, the remaining 25 per cent.255 There are local and international news headlines every 15 minutes and two- to three-minute news slots every hour, consisting of about four stories and including sound clips. The station does not shy away from hard politics and during weekday mornings it broadcasts ‘three-question’ interviews with newsmakers on politics, economics, community and local interest issues. In terms of talk, the station has a set limit of no more than 90 seconds at a time ‘to avoid the audience switching off’.256 Kosmos Radio also makes use of its listeners to act as reporters and ‘bring in another perspective’ by phoning in or sending SMSs to the studio. West Coast FM broadcasts about 10 per cent advertising, 30 per cent talk and 60 per cent music.257 All in all, the impression is that commercial radio stations are ‘playing it safe’ when it comes to content, sticking closely to the music/entertainment format so as not to ‘rock the boat’. In this way, they are virtually guaranteed not to upset the powers that be (i.e. the government, which could shut them down), and can continue earning healthy profits from advertising revenue.
252 253 254 255 256 257 Ibid. J. Ailonga, Energy 100 FM studio manager, interview conducted in Windhoek on 19 February 2009. Ibid. K. Van Koller, managing director of Kosmos Radio, interview conducted in Windhoek on 13 February 2009. Ibid. R. Philander, West Coast FM marketing manager, interview conducted in Windhoek on 23 April 2009.

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2.4 community radio
Base FM broadcasts for 24 hours a day, mostly in English. Between 07h00 and 19h00 it devotes some 50 per cent of airtime to ‘talk’. This includes segments with studio guests as well as presenters talking about various issues, with the remainder being infotainment and magazine-type shows interspersed with music. After 19h00, the focus shifts towards music.258 There are regular programmes dealing with human rights, small/medium enterprise development and HIV/AIDS, as well as a weekly discussion and phone-in show produced by the women’s organisation, Sister Namibia, called Women’s Voices. The station broadcasts news four times a day, and there are plans to make this an on-the-hour, every-hour service in the near future. By April 2010, the station had five five-minute news bulletins from 07h00 to 19h00 on weekdays and news flashes on the hour in between. There are no news bulletins on weekends. Base FM also has discussion/chat shows during which members of the community can phone in.259 Karas FM is a multi-language station with 40 per cent of airtime talk in Nama and 20 per cent each in Oshiwambo, English and Afrikaans. The station has four news bulletins a day, each one in all four languages, with a strong focus on local news.260 Ohangwena Community Radio is mostly an Oshiwambo-language station, with the odd programme being broadcast in English.261 About 80 per cent of its airtime is devoted to talk (educational, environmental and health programmes, as well as community announcements) and 20 per cent is local and international music. The station currently broadcasts news twice a day, in the morning and afternoon. A volunteer at the station, Klaudia Nangombe, explains that they invite officers from different government departments to come on air and provide the community with information. ‘Traditional authority members from the community also come on air to educate people about culture. And we have a dedicated SMS line for listeners to use to participate in our shows.’262 Christian community radio station Channel 7 broadcasts mostly in Afrikaans, with some Oshiwambo and German programming. Christian and secular music make up between 60 and 80 per cent of its content, with the balance being talk, including sermons and testimonies on Sundays, news on the hour between 06h00 and 21h00, sports flashes as well as advertising.263 The station’s managing director, Neal van den Bergh, says the news bulletins are created by the station’s own news team, with
258 259 260 261 S. Williams, Base FM station manager, interview conducted in Windhoek on 17 February 2009. Ibid. A. Thomas, Karas FM station manager, information received via e-mail on 11 May 2009. K. Nangombe, volunteer, and L. Ngashikua, former volunteer, on Ohangwena Community Radio, interviews conducted via fax on 27 February 2009, 2 March 2009 and 16 March 2009, and telephonically on 5 March 2009. 262 Ibid. 263 N. Van den Bergh, managing dirrector of Channel 7, interview conducted in Windhoek on 12 February 2009.

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additional news from agencies such as the Namibian Press Agency (Nampa), South African Press Agency (Sapa) and Reuters. The station has at least two studio guests every weekday. Through a dedicated SMS number, as well as fax and telephone, the station receives ‘streams of responses to competitions, especially from the rural, farming community’, and messages (lost and found, funerals, accidents, etc.) which are read out throughout the day. E FM (formerly Radio Ecclesia) devotes some 60 to 70 per cent of its airtime to music during the week, while on weekends the figure is 100 per cent. The station broadcasts the preaching of American pastors three times a day on weekdays for oneand-a-quarter hours in total, as well as talk shows and informal talk. ‘I encourage our presenters to get their point across quickly and not to talk too much. We discuss all kinds of topics, and not only those that are Christian-related, such as issues of integrity. We do focus very strongly on abstinence, especially when we talk about HIV.’264 The station also runs 14 six-minute local and international news bulletins on weekdays. Advertising makes up a miniscule part of the total airtime as the station has only one advertiser.265 UNAM (University of Namibia) Radio broadcasts around the clock, with the emphasis on music (between 60 and 100 per cent), local music in particular. The service is aimed at students and covers student-related issues – the activities of the Students Representative Council (SRC), relationships, sex, alcohol, accommodation on campus and finances, for example.266 Station coordinator Dan Kamati says that between 15h00 and 18h00 on weekdays the station regularly has studio guests talking about issues relevant to students. After 09h00 on weekday mornings, the station sometimes has ‘more distinguished’ guests. In terms of politics, Kamati says: ‘UNAM students are very passive about politics, so it is not really a topic that comes up.’ It is worth noting that the chancellor of the university is former Namibian president and current head of SWAPO, Sam Nujoma. The fact that UNAM Radio avoids political issues may thus also reflect a level of self-censorship. The station does not offer any local news but broadcasts half-an-hour of news from Voice of America once a day.

3

News and current affairs

The following analysis is based on the main news bulletins of NBC TV (20h00 edition), NBC National Radio (19h00 edition), One Africa TV (19h30 bulletin) and Radio Wave
264 C-A. Van der Walt, manager of Radio Ecclesia, interviews conducted in Windhoek on 4 and 24 March 2009. 265 Ibid. 266 D. Kamati, UNAM Radio station coordinator, interview conducted with him on 6 March 2009.

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(20h00 bulletin) as well as the current affairs programmes on the two NBC stations during the week 12–18 October 2009, six weeks before the general elections.

3.1 nbc tv
News The first stories in a NBC TV news bulletin usually relate to the country’s president or to the ruling party, even if the items are not really ‘newsworthy’. After that, there will be a development-related story, i.e. some government activity in this regard. For example, on 12 October 2009, the order of news stories was as follows: President Pohamba inaugurating a rice project; President Pohamba addressing two chiefs and a SWAPO rally; UNAM Foundation receives donation for disadvantaged students; African drug law enforcement meeting in Windhoek; former Namibian president Sam Nujoma visits a Vocational Training Centre; farm occupiers’ case postponed; SWAPO rally in Swakopmund; Congress of Democrats rally fails to take place; Congolese first lady on state visit to Namibia; waste problems in an informal settlement; liberation struggle veteran and government advisor turns 90. Thus, in the first eleven local news stories, government and SWAPO featured six times. The following day, the first three news stories related to SWAPO, the sixth involved Namibia’s first lady, and the seventh and eighth were both about President Pohamba. On 18 October 2009, the first three stories related to SWAPO rallies, while the fourth was about a Democratic Turnhalle Alliance (DTA) rally. Thus, four-and-a-half minutes of sound bites were devoted to the president, while the DTA’s McHenry Venani received 22 seconds’ worth. This appears to be a common trend. As part of its Election Watch project, the Institute for Public Policy Research (IPPR) monitored the coverage of the impending election in October and November 2009 on NBC and One Africa Television news bulletins.267 During the week of 13–19 November, the IPPR found that SWAPO dominated NBC TV news, with 70 per cent of all coverage devoted to political parties. The Rally for Democracy and Progress (RDP) was the second-most featured party with 12 per cent of party coverage. Between 30 October and 19 November 2009, the IPPR recorded the main newsmakers in election news reports on NBC TV. They found that out of a total of 46, 27 were SWAPO politicians (and they received the most sound bites), while only 16 came from opposition parties, two were electoral officials and one was a political commentator.
267 ‘TV broadcasting coverage of the 2009 elections: Week 3, November 24 2009’, Institute for Public Policy Research (IPPR), accessed from the IPPR website at http://www.ippr.org.na/.

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The IPPR also noted that ‘some items on the NBC were classified as both government and SWAPO events as speakers launching government projects wore SWAPO colours’. President Pohamba is quoted in the IPPR research as having no problem with this, saying ‘there is no law in this country preventing government officials from addressing or attending public meetings whilst they are wearing their political outfits’, and adding that those who do so are simply demonstrating how much they ‘appreciate the achievements made by the party’. Most of the news on NBC TV is event-driven, i.e. press conferences, workshops and official occasions with high-profile speakers, and many main news bulletins lead with official, lengthy and often boring government speeches. ‘The NBC news bulletins are invariably led by government stories. Basically, they are government newsletters. In terms of actual news, it is a joke! As a result there is considerable marginalisation of news from ordinary people, and especially from rural areas,’ says media academic Robin Tyson.268 After nine to 16 local items, NBC TV news generally airs between two to five international stories (sourced from Channel France International), then has a business/economics news slot looking largely at one or two local business stories, a local and international sports slot and finally a weather update to complete its hourlong broadcast. Current affairs Invited studio guests usually share similar viewpoints and there are hardly any conflicting opinions, making the programmes boring for viewers. Callers who indicate alternative perspectives are quickly cut off by the facilitator/presenter. For example, a Talk of the Nation episode focusing on drugs in Namibia looked only at the position of government (anti-drug) and did not allow for any guests or callers with a different or pro-drugs take (say for medicinal purposes, such as marijuana to relieve pain in multiple sclerosis patients, or for religious purposes, such as Rastafarians) to have their views considered. As a result, there is no real debate and shows generally steer away from controversial issues. Only officials, experts, civil society group representatives and professionals tend to be named on NBC TV current affairs programmes (Talk of the Nation and Open File) and clearly identified via the sound-over and/or on-screen text. Ordinary people whose opinions are also aired are not identified. This conveys the sense that they are not as important as government officials or professionals.

268 R. Tyson, interview, op.cit.

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3.2 nbc national radio
News Generally, the main NBC National Radio news bulletins are about ten minutes long, however others are much shorter. They tend to be summaries, usually without sound bites, of the 20h00 television news bulletins and include both the main local news – generally about three or four items – as well as one or two international stories. Radio news tend to revolve around events, particularly those presided over by dignitaries, as well as press conferences and workshops. Sport and economic stories hardly feature in radio news and there is a definite lack of human interest stories. The top one or two stories on National Radio’s news bulletins tend to be about the government (mostly what the President or a senior minister has recently said or done) or the ruling SWAPO party. Being much shorter than NBC TV news, though, the radio bulletins usually comprise about four items, half of which often relate to other (non-government) topics. As with its television counterpart, NBC National Radio does not broadcast stories critical of the government and the ruling party, and is thus biased towards government. Current affairs The radio current affairs programmes (the mid-day Current Affairs and the evening Straight Talk) in the week under review came in a variety of formats: Straight Talk, for example, on one evening aired a drama pre-produced by the ministry of gender and child welfare on the topic of human trafficking, followed by a discussion with two presenters and a university expert. Another programme focused on the Namibian Financial Services Charter, but instead of involving studio guests and animated discussion, comprised almost 20 minutes of recorded speeches at an official gathering, with no input from the presenter and no questions asked. The next evening, the slot was used to broadcast 45 minutes of an international sports programme, Fast Track. Current Affairs usually features one or two brief interviews with ‘experts’ and a few public service announcements. The programmes are presented according to a written script or are pre-recorded, rather than giving space to serious, critical discussion. Those analysed for this research involved studio guests dealing with specific issues (i.e. two representatives from the Namibian Federation of the Visually Impaired talking about White Cane Day; a preproduced documentary about the Millennium Challenge Account, a development fund administered by the US government; a representative from the Electoral Commission of Namibia outlining the basics of voting; an explanation of the government’s Build Together Programme). Generally there was no input or challenging questioning from

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the presenter and no analysis. Some of the shows included ‘vox pops’, but invariably opinions presented were in support of government. At least half the sources (and the accompanying sound bites) featuring in these programmes are from government – ministries, state departments, parastatals, etc. Representatives from civil society organisations, academic institutions and private companies are given a platform as well, but generally views that might be deemed in opposition to government are not reflected, as the programming tends to support government’s developmental agenda.

3.3 one Africa television
News One Africa’s half-hour news bulletins are broadcast Mondays to Fridays only. They contain between three and five local news stories, one or two local economics stories, one local sports story, a list of economic indicators, three to five brief international stories, five brief international economics stories, an international sports story, and a weather report. The international content is all sourced from BBC World. The local content covers a variety of topics from politics and development to civil society and human interest news. Generally, however, the focus is predominantly on press conferences, workshops and events with high-profile speakers, with little effort seemingly made to go beyond organised ‘events’. During the week under review, the station’s news bulletins from Monday to Friday led with these items: Monday – the opening of an international drug conference in Windhoek (followed by the Motor Vehicle Accident Fund’s annual wheelchair fun ride); Tuesday – the death of former deputy prime minister Hendrik Witbooi (followed by a UN seminar on the constructive use of natural resources); Wednesday – the Catholic Hospital demanding an apology from a local daily newspaper (followed by a story on the Council of Churches being concerned about pre-poll polarisation); Thursday – a court case involving 15 HIV-positive women who were sterilised without their consent (followed by the opposition parties stating their objections to the tender to print the ballot papers); and Friday – the arrest of a suspected car thief (followed by a meeting of school principals to evaluate the state of education in the country). One Africa attempts to seek alternative sources for its news stories. For example, after Witbooi’s death on 13 October 2009, the station featured comment from a relative rather than a government representative, which is the usual NBC approach. This is not to say that ruling party officials are not granted sound bites on One Africa. However, the mix is much more evenly distributed. In one of the bulletins under review (12 October 2009), for example, out of a total of 257 seconds of sound bites, government

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officials accounted for 9.3 per cent (24 seconds); representatives of international organisations for 13.6 per cent (35 seconds); ruling party officials for 25.2 per cent (65 seconds); representatives of the corporate world for 12.5 per cent (32 seconds); representatives of civil society organisations for 24.5 per cent (63 seconds); and private individuals/celebrities for 14.8 per cent (38 seconds). One Africa seems to be taking an independent approach to what constitutes news and is not necessarily swayed by the government and/or ruling party’s stance on issues. For example, in the week under review, one of the international items featured was a march by tens of thousands of gay and lesbian activists in the United States, demanding greater civil rights protection. It is unlikely that the NBC would ever run such a story, as presenting gays and lesbians in a positive light is anathema to the ruling party’s ideology. Senior SWAPO officials have frequently condemned same-sex relationships as unnatural and unAfrican. Current affairs At the time of this analysis, One Africa Television did not broadcast any current affairs programming.

3.4 radio Wave
Radio Wave’s brief news bulletins (mostly less than three minutes) consist of about three or four items, each at least 30 seconds long. These usually include at least two Namibian stories (with a focus on politics, development, crime, economics and human interest), and two international stories, one of them often originating in South Africa. The bulletins do not have sound bites. The commercial radio station appears to make an attempt to provide alternative views to those offered by the national broadcaster by also reporting on stories which do not necessarily put the government or ruling party in a good light. One 20h00 bulletin in the period under review, for example, led with an item on the opposition party, the DTA, condemning a report on crime statistics released by the National Planning Commission, adding that crime in Namibia would not decrease as long as senior politicians continued to incite Namibians to murder foreigners. This was a reference to founding father and former Namibian president Sam Nujoma inciting Namibians to attack British people. He was speaking in Oshiwambo at a SWAPO rally in September 2009 when he said: ‘Let us beat them, not with knobkieries, but with hammers in their heads, if they touch one of our SADC countries.’269
269 T. Mongudhi, ‘Nujoma hate speech complaint withdrawn’, The Namibian, 2 October 2009.

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The bulletins do not go into any detail and because the station does not have any current affairs or serious talk programmes there is no space for in-depth reporting or more alternative viewpoints to be aired. This gives one the sense that Radio Wave, like other commercial radio stations which have similar approaches to news, is simply ‘playing it safe’.

4 Feedback and complaints procedures
The NBC does not have a formal procedure for dealing with complaints or suggestions from the public. Complaints tend to be dealt with in an ad hoc and informal manner.270 Says Michaela Jaeger, programme organiser: NBC German radio service:
This is very ad hoc for radio. Each service gets its own feedback from listeners who regularly call or send emails or faxes, and we deal with them in this way. Some listeners even call the producers directly. Our complaints are normally very stationspecific, as each station has its own identity.

The situation is similar at most private broadcasters. The media ombudsman also deals with complaints from the public in regard to broadcasting (see chapter 2).

5

Funding of public interest programming of non-state broadcasters

One Africa’s news broadcasts are funded by advertisers. Their technical director, Madryn Cosburn, says that, as a result, ‘there will always be some impact as advertisers can exert pressure and you need to be sensitive to this, although we won’t let our editorial decisions be controlled by advertisers’. The station’s managing director, Paul van Schalkwyk, admits that he would think twice about broadcasting a news item that was negative towards an advertiser:
He who pays the piper, calls the tune. We will never accept dictates from commercial interests, but they do impose a form of self-censorship … When you begin a venture such as a television station, you are vulnerable. But as our income base broadens, we will be able to be less sensitive and able to resist some of the blows.271
270 F. Haifene et al., interview, op.cit. 271 Interview, op.cit.

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The Radio Wave public interest offerings (global warming features, news) are paid for by the station itself, which is funded through advertising.272 Commercial stations Kudu FM, Omulunga Radio and Fresh FM charge nongovernmental organisations (NGOs) for airtime if they want to publicise their activities on their programmes. ‘If they buy an hour, they will get 12 minutes for talk, as our stations are predominantly music stations.’273 Energy 100 FM’s public interest programming is funded indirectly by advertising as part of the station’s overall funding. It also sources sponsorship. The NawaLife programme, for example, is funded by the NGO NawaLife, which pays for a counsellor to present the show as well as for the airtime.274 Kosmos Radio’s public interest programming such as the news bulletins are all paid for by sponsorships/advertising. All news services have an anchor sponsor and a related advertisement in the middle of the bulletin. The station has 21 30-second advertisements every hour. Managing director Kolie Van Koller claims advertisers do not have an influence on the editorial content of the station. ‘Advertisers respect us. We are very lucky to have sponsors waiting in the wings.’275 Ohangwena Community Radio is currently awaiting donor funding, while it does receive some income from advertisements.276 Community station E FM receives funding for all its programming from one advertiser (mobile-phone service provider MTC) and three American-based pastors, whose sermons are broadcast on weekdays. Philippi Trust Namibia does not pay the station for the weekly counselling show that it hosts.277 UNAM Radio’s operations are funded exclusively by the university at the moment.

6 Attitudes within non-state broadcasters towards public interest programming
One Africa Television technical director Madryn Cosburn notes that although the commercial television station does broadcast ‘a certain amount of public service programming, we cannot afford to subsidise the broadcasting of programmes. For us, broadcasting is about what we can afford to broadcast, through the support from advertising. We’re a business run purely on business principles.’278 Managing director
272 273 274 275 276 277 278 R. Thompson, interview, op.cit. J-P. Jones, interview, op.cit. J. Ailonga, interview, op.cit. K. Van Koller, interview, op.cit. K. Nangombe and L. Ngahikua, interview, op.cit. C-A. Van der Walt, interview, op.cit. P. Van Schalkwyk and M. Cosburn, interview, op.cit.

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Paul van Schalkwyk points out that the station does have ‘some public broadcasting objectives’, though. Its mission statement reads: ‘One Africa Television will improve the quality of Namibian television viewers’ lives by providing world-class television entertainment, accurate and factual news and information and relevant education.’ ‘As such, One Africa to a large extent is a reflection of the community we serve. We have to satisfy their demands to get the greatest number of viewers,’ says Van Schalkwyk. Most of the commercial radio operators say they believe public interest programming is important and that their stations are dedicated to broadcasting such content. What they actually put on air, however, is largely music and entertainment-related, with only a hint of programming that could be described as serving the public interest – i.e. brief news broadcasts or the occasional slot dedicated to topics such as HIV/AIDS or global warming. Community stations appear to do more in this regard, broadcasting a number of topical current affairs and discussion programmes. Base FM’s station manager Sandra Williams feels strongly that public interest programming such as that offered by her station helps people participate in democracy.
Public interest programming gives full meaning to the term ‘community radio’, by letting issues affecting people be spoken about on air in an uncensored manner. Before we can influence policy, we need to influence minds. At Base FM, which has a large youth following, we feel it is important to help raise critical minds in Namibia.279

Klaudia Nangombe of Ohangwena Community Radio explains that the station has a large proportion of public interest programming because this is its mandate, according to its constitution: ‘We broadcast public interest programmes so that the people in our community can access information and have the chance to participate in issues that are important to them.’280 E FM’s station manager Carol-Ann Van der Walt feels that the discussion programmes the station offers are important because ‘they help to educate people … There is such a lack of education in Namibia, largely because of colonialism and apartheid, which have robbed people of opportunities to grow and mature.’

279 S. Williams, interview, op.cit. 280 K. Nangombe, interview, op.cit.

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7

Conclusions and recommendations

The NBC broadcasts more ‘public interest’ type programming than any other television or radio broadcaster in Namibia. This includes regular television and radio news bulletins, comprising a high proportion of local stories, as well as a variety of topical issue programmes, such as talk shows and phone-in slots. However, the quality of the content of such programming is questionable as it is orientated towards perpetuating the status quo, i.e. keeping SWAPO in power. Phone-in programmes, for example, have become limited to certain topics, thus not allowing citizens to communicate freely on the airwaves. In addition, callers known to be in opposition to the government are not allowed on air in the first place or are summarily cut off. While the NBC does offer a variety of public interest-type content, this does not encompass a wide enough range of information from all sectors of society, especially minorities such as the Ovahimba and San (Bushmen) and opposition political parties. News and current affairs programmes are clearly influenced by political interests and have a definite bias towards the ruling party. They are therefore neither comprehensive, fair nor balanced. Because the NBC does not provide a credible forum for democratic debate, the national broadcaster is not contributing to economic, social and cultural development in Namibia in the way a truly public broadcaster should. Neither does the NBC hold those who are in power in every sector of Namibian society accountable. In addition, the NBC does not reflect the range of opinions among citizens on matters of public interest and of social, political, philosophical, religious, scientific and artistic trends. The NBC is, however, developing local content, and although the quality might not always be of a very high standard and the quantity is not necessarily sufficient at just over one-third of all airtime on television, for example, the broadcaster’s efforts in this regard are a good start. Much of the foreign content is foreign news feed broadcast between midnight and 06h00, and a considerable amount of daytime and evening content is local. NBC radio stations, although they play a considerable amount of imported music, do also air a substantial amount of local material. By having ten radio stations in a variety of languages, the NBC is also making an attempt to reach a variety of cultural groups in the country. Commercial broadcasters do not offer much in the way of public interest programming. In their view this is the duty of the national broadcaster. Commercial broadcasters, they say, rely on advertising revenue to survive and advertisers want to see high numbers of viewers or listeners, who are not necessarily attracted by public interest programming. Making one’s own programming is also seen to be prohibitively expensive, especially for private television broadcasters. Thus, commercial broadcasters

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tend to opt for easily saleable options, focusing on music and entertainment rather than talk and current affairs programmes which have the potential to become controversial. They are very careful to avoid any controversy or ‘rocking the boat’, thus maintaining the status quo and, in turn, being allowed to continue operating and making money. There is a definite fear in Namibia that if you are too critical, government will try to find a way to clamp down on you. This is especially true of broadcasting services, given the fact that government, through the regulatory authority, controls who is allowed on the airwaves. While the news broadcasts of some of the commercial radio and television stations do appear to be more inclusive of a more varied range of interests and opinions, do not toe the ruling party line like the national broadcaster and are less influenced by political forces, their bulletins are too short to allow for any depth, sufficient coverage of an issue or a wide variety of issues. Commercial broadcasters are also potentially more prone to the influence of commercial interests, which they depend on for their survival. Apart from brief news bulletins, commercial broadcasters have very little public interest programming – or none at all. The absence of current affairs, phone-in and topical discussion programmes further reduces the chance for viewers and listeners to access alternative viewpoints on issues and participate in and profit from the free flow of information.

recommendations
• On the basis of new legislation for the NBC, which will turn it into a genuine and independent public broadcaster, the Corporation should: – in a process of public consultation, develop editorial and programme guidelines that adhere to public broadcasting principles and promote public interest programming; – develop a code of conduct for all its programming to ensure that principles of professional journalism such as accuracy, fairness, balance and inclusiveness are adhered to, and that freedom of expression and the free flow of information and ideas are fully respected; – establish an effective internal complaints mechanism through which citizens can express their concerns about content that they find not acceptable; – produce television news bulletins in languages other than English which are up-to-date;

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• •

• •

consult widely with stakeholders and the public at large to develop an appropriate local content policy which includes commissioning of programmes to local audio-visual production companies. The fact that commercial radio and TV stations are shying away from broadcasting political or religious issues for fear of endangering their licence underlines the need for broadcasting to be regulated by an independent authority under policies that protect freedom of speech and expression, including political and religious expression. This independent broadcast regulator must develop guidelines for the equitable coverage of all political parties during election periods. The media ombudsman or appropriate civil society groups should consider establishing a project to monitor the coverage of political parties and other societal groups on NBC as well as commercial radio and TV stations. Commercial and especially community radio stations should broadcast more programmes in indigenous languages. Commercial radio and TV stations are encouraged to introduce more call-in or chat shows to promote democratic debate.

9
Broadcasting Reform Efforts

1
1.1

Perceptions of the NBC
civil society

Generally, members of civil society do not hold the NBC in high regard, particularly because of the broadcaster’s political bias. A brief survey of civil society organisations for this research revealed that many people do not watch NBC television or listen to NBC radio at all. Higher income earners tend to access foreign news via the satellite broadcaster, DSTV, while many of those without this elite access prefer to watch One Africa TV for local news. The NBC, it seems, is invaluable for the poor and those living in outlying areas with little access to other media, while those with other alternatives tend to shun the NBC, particularly because they feel it does not report in an objective way but is very pro-government and pro-SWAPO. In the view of National Society for Human Rights executive director Phil ya Nangoloh, the NBC is ‘highly partisan and predominantly biased towards the ruling SWAPO party’.281 This charge, he says, ‘is proved by the fact that the news sections of NBC radio and TV, as well as New Era, are dominated by reports about SWAPO party rallies and other electoral activities. NBC (reports) on facts selectively and quite often they do not meet professional standards of fair and/or accurate reporting.’ NBC TV and radio ‘consistently suppress all positive news about SWAPO critics and exaggerate negative aspects’, and the national broadcaster is highly selective when it comes to news and current affairs reporting. The ‘SWABC was barely modified into the NBC. Only the colour changed, not the practice – as the NBC has continued to be a propaganda broadcaster as under the apartheid regime.’
281 P. Ya Nangoloh, executive director of the National Society for Human Rights (NSHR), media statement received via e-mail entitled ‘Namibian media lacks objectivity: why NBC and New Era are sinful’, 28 October 2008.

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‘Given that the NBC is a publicly funded institution, funded by taxpayers, regardless of their political affiliation, the broadcaster has the primary obligation to treat all political parties fairly and reasonably,’ says Ya Nangoloh, and he adds that ‘media impartiality is part of electoral transparency’: 282
The first ten items on NBC TV news are normally about SWAPO or the government, and you rarely see other parties represented, especially the RDP, the ruling party’s biggest threat. The NBC will cover SWANU events, as this party is definitely not a threat … It is not honest for the NBC to use this money, from taxpayers, and not represent all Namibians.

He notes that this is against the principles of equality and non-discrimination as set out in article 10 of the Namibian Constitution. Ideally, Nangoloh suggests, a law should be passed to ensure that the NBC is constitutionally independent of and not answerable to government, while still receiving a subsidy derived from taxpayers’ money. ‘Until there is a change in the political system, I cannot envisage a change in the NBC as there is simply no political will to do this.’ Norman Tjombe, director of the Legal Assistance Centre (LAC), says he wishes for a public broadcaster that is apolitical and completely independent, including from the state: ‘It should receive a budget from the national government and generate its own income from other sources, without the government dictating what it should broadcast or not, having a say in its programming and appointing its senior staff’.283 The NBC should be governed by a wide range of stakeholders, including government, civil society, academia and the media itself: ‘With a proper governing structure, the NBC would then deliver a good service, without any party-political bias or influence, but guided by the various needs of the country for information, education and entertainment.’ Justine Hunter, director of the Namibian Institute for Democracy (NID), feels that the NBC has a mandate to inform the electorate and to provide non-partisan voter education, for example.284 However, in practice this is not the case. The NID’s request to conduct a voter education programme in 2009 via the NBC’s vernacular radio stations for free was rejected and the non-governmental organisation was told by the national broadcaster that they would have to pay the commercial rate for airtime, which the NID was unable to afford:
282 P. Ya Nangoloh, executive director of the National Society for Human Rights (NSHR), interview conducted in Windhoek on 4 November 2009. 283 N. Tjombe, director of the Legal Assistance Centre, e-mailed response received on 4 November 2009. 284 J. Hunter, director of the Namibian Institute for Democracy, e-mailed response received on 6 November 2009.

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The NBC’s argument is that we also pay for advertisements in the daily newspapers. However, most of these newspapers are commercial and do not receive taxpayers’ money [as does the NBC]. We had a similar experience with the NBC when we attempted to do integrity-related, anti-corruption programmes through their radio channels.

As a result, the NID works almost exclusively with community radio stations when it comes to spreading such messages to Namibians. Veronica de Klerk, executive director of the non-governmental organisation Women’s Action for Development (WAD), has had a more positive experience with the NBC, which she says has been very supportive and cooperative in reporting on WAD’s development programmes on television news and announcing the organisation’s events for free through its various radio services:
Through the positive publicity of work that we do through WAD, our donors are given acknowledgement, which further enhances future grants and sponsorships. Government must be aware of this and the role that NGOs have to play in helping to alleviate poverty and unemployment.285

De Klerk, herself a former SWABC radio and television newsreader during the 1980s, says she feels that the standard of NBC television news has become more professional recently, although improvements can still be made on the technical side: We must assist the NBC with constructive comments and not just abandon it. I get many ideas for our work at WAD from watching the NBC and seeing how we can help to improve Namibia. I love this country and want to know what is wrong so we can fix it. All our staff watch the NBC and I am proud of that. A civil society organisation representative, who asked not to be identified for fear of antagonising the NBC and thus losing the benefits of free coverage, points out that the national broadcaster will only provide coverage of an event if a ‘noteworthy decision-maker’ or the director of the organisation will be officiating, while requests for coverage from ‘humble, rural people’ fall on deaf ears.286 This source added that the NBC should do more to enhance nation-building, unity and pride by reflecting all cultures. ‘At the moment, merely the black Namibian cultures are acknowledged and broadcast.’
285 V. De Klerk, executive director of Women’s Action for Development, interview conducted on 4 November 2009. 286 Unnamed civil society organisation source interviewed in Windhoek during November 2009.

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Director of the Rural People’s Institute for Social Empowerment in Namibia (RISE Namibia), Pintile Davids, also finds it very frustrating that the NBC won’t cover the Institute’s events unless they have invited a minister to officiate. This, he thinks, is an indication of the NBC’s disregard for ordinary people:
The majority of Namibians feel why should they pay their TV licences, as they are already helping to bail out the NBC through their tax contributions but they are not a priority in terms of coverage. In terms of poor service quality, the NBC has also been robbing the nation for years. The NBC needs to be more people-friendly and reach out to communities around the country. While there is a movement towards more locally produced material on the NBC, all the movies, for example, are foreign. The news is also very event- and personality-driven, and does not focus on real issues affecting the people. Most of the focus is also on Windhoek.287

The NBC vernacular radio programmes, he says, offer a better service than television when it comes to the immediacy of news and information, as the local language television bulletins are delayed by one day and because there are not enough slots for a daily bulletin in each of the Namibian languages. The NBC should separate itself from the ruling party and become a truly independent broadcaster that can communicate to the people what is really happening on the ground, Davids suggests, adding that, as the NBC is so closely linked to the government at the moment, highlighting problems in the country would just make the government look bad. ‘The NBC should also start to recognise and highlight the role of civil society organisations in Namibia, seeing them as partners rather than as threats to government. Problems in the country should be taken up as a national concern,’ says Davids, noting that many of the communities RISE Namibia works with, such as the San, Ovahimba and the Nama, feel very neglected by government as a whole. ‘Namibians do not necessarily know or value each other but the NBC could assist with this by acting as a more unifying force within the country.’

1.2 government and other political forces
Shortly before the interviews for this study were conducted, and less than a month before the presidential and parliamentary elections scheduled for 27 and 28 November

287 P. Davids, director of the Rural People’s Initiative for Social Empowerment in Namibia (RISE Namibia), interview conducted on 4 November 2009.

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2009, the NBC cancelled free election broadcasts for political parties.288 This was a reaction to two opposition parties, the Congress of Democrats (CoD) and the newly formed Rally for Democracy and Progress (RDP), attempting to get the High Court to order the NBC to provide equal free airtime to political parties’ campaign messages. After the NBC’s decision the court case fell away. The free airtime policy originally stipulated that 40 per cent of the time made available to parties for campaign broadcasts would be divided equally among the contesting political parties: 14 in all for the 2009 poll. The remaining 60 per cent was to be divided proportionally among the nine parties that had contested the 2004 elections, depending on the share of the vote they received previously. The CoD and the RDP claimed this policy was unfair and gave SWAPO an extreme advantage, while new parties formed since 2004 would suffer from a lack of exposure. All political parties must now pay the NBC to broadcast their campaign messages at normal advertising rates, which only the ruling party, SWAPO, is realistically in a position to afford. New parties, without parliamentary representation, do not receive funds from parliament. The NBC vowed to continue to cover the election campaign as news, with then acting director-general Matthew //Gowaseb noting that coverage would be given to all meetings addressed by President Hifikepunye Pohamba, SWAPO’s candidate in the presidential election. Not surprisingly, then, when asked their opinion of the NBC and what they would expect from the service, representatives of opposition parties painted a picture of a highly biased and partisan national broadcaster, with a particular angle on the upcoming elections. Explains Tsudao Gurirab, secretary-general of the CoD and member of parliament: ‘We challenged the NBC’s policy on the basis of principles, as the CoD would have received the second largest proportion of airtime anyway. We feel that parties’ performance in previous elections is irrelevant in upcoming elections.’289 Gurirab states that the NBC does not come close to meeting internationally accepted criteria for a public broadcaster:
The senior management positions at the NBC are all filled by known SWAPO party activists. This is the kind of national broadcaster we are dealing with, and as such, the NBC goes out of its way to cover all SWAPO events around the country, while meetings of opposition parties, such as the CoD, are mostly ignored, even when they are held in Windhoek. We almost have to beg and bribe the NBC to cover our events.
288 W. Menges, ‘NBC axes free election airtime’, The Namibian, 2 November 2009. 289 T. Gurirab, secretary-general of the Congress of Democrats (CoD), interview conducted in Windhoek on 4 November 2009.

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The ten NBC vernacular radio stations, however, do perform the role of community radio stations in many ways, says the CoD official: ‘NBC radio has a great reach and carries a great deal of credibility, especially among the rural population, and as a result it provides a very important service within Namibia.’ Gurirab would like to see a public broadcaster that provides an independent and professional service to all:
Editors should decide what is news, not State House or a party office. Currently, the NBC has no editorial integrity. The NBC board should be selected and appointed in a public and transparent manner based on merit, irrespective on which side of the political divide they stand. Ultimately what we want is an excellent institution that works for Namibia, serving its people and not a specific political party.

President of the opposition party, the Rally for Democracy and Progress (formed in November 2007), and former SWAPO stalwart, Hidipo Hamutenya, was the first minister of information in an independent Namibia and thus responsible for transforming the old SWABC into the NBC:
I brought in people onto the NBC board and within management with professionalism and journalistic understanding, who had great latitude to do their work without pressure from me, the minister. But it soon became clear that there were too many people within government who wanted to see the NBC used as a propaganda tool. Within a few years, these elements began to pressure the board and management to do their bidding. The board was constantly shuffled and there was no stability. An increasing number of pro-[Sam] Nujoma sycophants were brought in. 290

In 1993, Hamutenya was moved to the ministry of trade and industry. He comments that he has since witnessed a deterioration in the quality of programmes on NBC TV, while the depth of knowledge of NBC staff ‘quickly dissipated’. ‘The level to which the NBC has fallen is sad. From the board of directors down, it has become a laughing stock,’ says Hamutenya. While RDP rallies are sometimes covered by the NBC, he says that the recorded material is usually censored ‘by SWAPO bosses’ and whatever is uncomplimentary to the ruling party is edited out. ‘The NBC is just an instrument to sing the songs of SWAPO,’ he says, adding that the previously provided ‘free airtime’ for political party campaign messages was ‘nonsense’ as it kept the incumbent in an advantageous position, with no regard for
290 H. Hamutenya, president of the Rally for Democracy and Progress (RDP), interview conducted in Windhoek on 5 November 2009.

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new parties, such as the RDP. ‘According to the SADC Principles Governing Democratic Elections, all political parties should be accorded equal opportunity to access the state media [point 2.1.5]. The Namibian government and the NBC have refused to accept this.’ NBC TV tends to be more one-sided than NBC radio, says Hamutenya, although radio still fails to give wide enough coverage or a balanced picture:
The way the NBC is now will continue to ossify the process of social and political understanding of issues by the general public. The NBC is not contributing to the growth of intelligent thinking and I think this is intentional, to keep the masses unaware.

Hamutenya says he would like to see a truly independent national broadcaster that ‘really informs and educates the nation’, but he admits that he has a ‘limited expectation’ of any real change within the NBC ‘as there is no political will within government to change’:
We all lived under apartheid, and the idea of our leaders to dominate and control seems to be instinctive now. Those close to the powers that be seem preoccupied with protecting their privileges and access to power, and not much more. They certainly do not have the interests of the nation at heart.

Adam Isaak, secretary-general of the Democratic Party of Namibia formed in May 2008, agrees with Hamutenya’s sentiments, saying that he feels the content offered by the NBC is uninformative, ‘highly politicised and manipulative to keep the masses unenlightened and controlled’.291 Isaak admits preferring to listen to other radio stations or watching the news on One Africa TV as the coverage is ‘more balanced’. He says he would like to see changes at the NBC, beginning with the board of directors, whose composition ‘should not be political as it is now’. Appointments to the board and senior management positions should be transparent and people should be appointed on merit. ‘Namibian taxpayers, civil society organisations and political parties should all have a say in how the NBC is managed.’ Isaak feels that the staff complement of the broadcaster is highly ethnicised, ‘with one dominant ethnic group, Owambo, taking all the senior management positions’. As a result, he says, the content of the NBC is also very biased and ‘certain sections of the political population are not covered’. News in southern Namibia is largely
291 A. Isaak, secretary-general of the Democratic Party of Namibia (DPN), interview conducted in Windhoek on 2 November 2009.

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ignored, while the NBC quickly responds to news in the northern parts of the country, where the majority of the population lives, and in Windhoek: ‘The NBC does not represent all Namibian interests. The south tends to be ignored by the government in general, while the NBC excludes minority groups.’ When it comes to fairness and objectivity, secretary-general of the Monitor Action Group (MAG) and MP, Jurie Viljoen, says that the NBC is a ‘disgrace’:
It is like the rest of Africa where the ruling party sees national broadcasting facilities as part of the assets of the party itself. I am convinced that the NBC and its board are puppets of the SWAPO party … The ruling party abuses the NBC for its own hidden agenda.292

Henk Mudge, member of parliament and president of the Republican Party, says that because the NBC is currently a state organ, not a ruling party organ, and because every taxpayer in Namibia contributes towards its survival, ‘obviously we should expect to have coverage in the media that is representative of all interest in the country, political and otherwise’:
The NBC gives preferential treatment to the ruling party and this is against the Namibian Constitution, which says under article 18 that ‘administrative bodies’, a definition which arguably could include the NBC, should act fairly and reasonably, and provides for freedom of the media and of expression under article 21 ... Watching NBC news, you would be forgiven for believing there was only one political party in Namibia.293

Through the NBC, ‘SWAPO continues to control the minds of the masses so that they cannot think’, says Mudge, who feels that his party is generally ignored by the state media, while the private media often tackles personalities rather than issues. Mudge is convinced that the NBC will never cover any stories critical of the government:
If I address a meeting about the lack of development or employment creation in Namibia, there is no way that NBC radio or TV will broadcast this … generally the reporting on the NBC is very selective and gives the impression that all is well in the country, even though lots of people are not satisfied. Generally, opposition voices from the public are not allowed on the Chat Show, for example.
292 J. Viljoen, secretary-general of the Monitor Action Group (MAG), e-mailed response received on 3 November 2009. 293 H. Mudge, president of the Republican Party (RP), interview conducted in Windhoek on 2 November 2009.

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What is happening at the NBC, he says, is a microcosm of what is happening in the country overall. He is not hopeful that there will be any meaningful change at the NBC in future, in terms of it being transformed into a public broadcaster, as there is no political will. ‘The NBC will not change unless the people of Namibia take them to court and force them.’ Ignatius Shixwameni, president of the All People’s Party (APP) formed in 2007 as a breakaway from the Congress of Democrats (CoD), says that while the NBC should be ‘a very important institution to disseminate objective information to Namibians’, this is not the reality:
It is very saddening but the NBC is run very much like the old SWABC, broadcasting propaganda on behalf of the government and, in this case, SWAPO. The programming is manipulated to satisfy the powers that be and does not truly reflect the multiple voices in the country. One would think that SWAPO would have learnt not to copy what the old regime did.294

Shixwameni notes that the Oshiwambo radio service of the NBC is the most propagandistic of all the NBC radio stations and the one ‘especially abused by SWAPO politicians’. He does not believe that the limitation of the language radio services, none of which are broadcast throughout the country, is cost-related:
It is a much more political decision. Apart from the English national service, the Oshiwambo [dominant language group in Namibia] radio service has the widest reach in the country, giving the ruling party an additional edge in terms of spreading propaganda. For example, when the Rosh Pinah community approached the NBC about transmitting the Rukavango radio service there, saying they will erect the transmitter tower themselves, the NBC refused.

Echoing other critics, the APP president notes that NBC television news and current affairs offerings are even worse than those on radio, in terms of biased and subjective reporting:
In one talk show, like Talk of the Nation, you may have three studio guests, all of whom will have the same opinions and be ideologically and politically cut from the same tree! There is no diversity on such panels and no real debate. As such,
294 I. Shixwameni, president of the All People’s Party (APP), interview conducted in Windhoek on 3 November 2009.

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the NBC does not encourage the free flow of ideas. The news is even worse and is basically all SWAPO news. News about other political parties hardly ever makes it onto a bulletin and if they do, the insert will be delayed by a week or manipulated negatively in some way. Currently, NBC journalists practise self-censorship to please their bosses rather than ensuring that what goes out is objective and informative. NBC journalists need to be given more autonomy, so they can exercise their profession. They work like automatons. In general, there is a lot of fear in Namibia which prevents people from criticising leaders and even former leaders.

Shixwameni agrees that the NBC board should be completely neutral, while its members must be equipped with technical know-how to direct the broadcaster appropriately and ‘to give it its due independence’. He adds that the NBC should be able to air a diversity of opinions without fear or favour and to cater for all Namibians, irrespective of their ideological preference. The SWAPO member of parliament interviewed for this research was largely positive about the role of the NBC in Namibian society. Alexia Ncube, who is also the chairperson of the Namibian Association of Differently Abled Women (NADAWO), says: The NBC is not discriminatory at all. I feel that it represents all people equally and fairly. If it doesn’t, it may just be an omission of human error. It’s also just a question sometimes of a lack of resources. The NBC is a very small organisation and our country is so huge, so the NBC cannot be everywhere to cover all events. SWAPO does get more airtime, related to the magnitude of the party. It is a bigger political party and therefore it should get more coverage than other parties. SWAPO is the majority.295 Ncube feels that NBC radio fulfils a very important role in Namibian communities, but that more could be done specifically to de-stigmatise disability issues:
On the Otjiherero service, for example, there is a programme on disability issues, but issues are repeated and it is not a very creative programme. More could be done to teach the nation about disability issues and sensitise them to this. A lot of people still think of disability as a welfare case.

295 A. Ncube, SWAPO member of parliament and chairperson of the Namibian Association of Differently Abled Women (NADAWO), interview conducted in Windhoek on 4 November 2009.

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2

Current reform efforts

There is a draft Broadcasting Policy which has never been made official and which seems to have been conceptualised more as a guiding document than a legally binding instrument. Its latest (September 2008) version states in point 6.2.6 that ‘Government aims to reposition the National Broadcaster as a Public Broadcaster, which will be mandated to a public service vocation. The Public Broadcaster will be independently governed’. Under ‘Public broadcasting’ in point 12.1 the document says:
The Namibian Broadcasting Corporation (NBC) will enhance its capacity to be a public service broadcaster, charged with editorial independence and with providing Namibians with a diverse range of high quality programmes with a suitable proportion of local content. As a public service broadcaster, the NBC will have its own mandate and will be governed through its own Board, appointed through a transparent process.

The Communications Act 2009 in its section 93 says: ‘Until a date determined by the Minister by notice in the Gazette, this chapter [on broadcasting services] does not apply to the Namibian Broadcasting Corporation’. While the intention to transform the NBC into a public broadcaster at some point is stated in draft policies and in the law, there is no definite time frame within which this is supposed to happen. There is also little effort from the public at large or civil society organisations to demand that such a reform takes place. Interviews conducted with staff members of the NBC (see chapter 8) indicate that some of them believe the national broadcaster is already fulfilling the role of a public broadcaster, without a genuine understanding of what public broadcasting is all about: that it should serve the overall public interest and be accountable to all strata of society as represented by an independent board, and that it should ensure full respect for freedom of expression, promote the free flow of information and ideas, assist people to make informed decisions and facilitate and strengthen democracy. While the Namibian chapter of the Media Institute of Southern Africa (MISA) states on its website296 that it is running a campaign to call for ‘a three-tier system of broadcasting (public, community and private) and … to advocate for the transformation of state broadcasters into genuine public service broadcasters’, this is not a priority at present, according to Ngamane Karuaihe-Upi, broadcasting and ICT research officer at MISA-Namibia:
296 Broadcasting Diversity and ICTs, accessed from http://www.misanamibia.org.na/index.php?id=528.

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The NBC becoming a truly public broadcaster is not an agenda item right now. Government has pronounced itself, through the Communications Bill [which is now an act], that this will only happen when the minister (government) decides ... The public is not tuned in to the essence of NBC becoming a public broadcaster but there is currently no public debate on this subject as someone has yet to initiate such debate.297

He says that MISA-Namibia is ‘contemplating embarking on a campaign to raise awareness in the near future on this topic, coupled with a campaign for an Access to Information Act’. This will include workshops and debating platforms on the topic.

3

Conclusions and recommendations

Namibian society is noticeably polarised along political lines. People are grouped according to whether they are pro-SWAPO/pro-government or if their allegiance lies with the opposition. Representatives of civil society organisations tend to be more independently minded and critical of those in power. This includes criticism of the national broadcaster, the NBC, which, in their opinion, has a predominant bias towards the ruling party and does not represent all Namibians and their viewpoints equally or fairly. There is a sense among such groups that the NBC is being used by the government as a propaganda tool to keep SWAPO in power by presenting only a positive view of the government/ruling party and what it is doing for the country. This was particularly evident in the run-up to the national elections. While civil society organisations are critical of the national broadcaster, they are not actively campaigning for the NBC to be transformed into a truly public broadcaster. Instead there is a sense of apathy in this regard. Opposition political parties, too, are not focusing on the issue of transformation, although they may criticise the NBC for being run by SWAPO party stalwarts at both board and management level. As a result, government is not being put under societal or political pressure to comply with any international and regional treaties, declarations and protocols which it has acceded to and which enjoin it to transform the NBC into a public broadcaster, governed by an independent board and free of editorial interference, especially on a political level. Media and human rights experts interviewed did not foresee any positive developments around this issue in the near future. Some feel that until there is dramatic political change in the country, there will be no change at the NBC either
297 N. Karuaihe-Upi, broadcasting and ICT research officer at MISA-Namibia, emailed responses to questions received on 14 December 2009.

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because it is not in the government’s interest to make the NBC an independent public broadcaster. Given that the Communications Act does not provide any time frame for such a transformation to be effected, there is also no legal pressure on government to make this change.

recommendations
For any change to take place at the NBC: • Media lobby and interested civil society groups must stage a campaign to make the public aware that the NBC is a public asset meant to serve the public and be controlled by the public, not by government. • As a first step these groups should organise appropriate workshops in order to promote a better understanding of the principles of public broadcasting, both within their own ranks as well as in broader society. • As a second step a broad coalition should be formed that would drive the process towards transforming the NBC into a public broadcaster. • This coalition should develop model policies for a new NBC including ownership, governance and funding which should be discussed in a broad public consultation process. • The coalition should then stage a campaign to replace the current Namibian Broadcasting Act with new legislation which would establish an independent public broadcaster with an independent board representative of Namibian society.

10
Overall Conclusions and Recommendations

The media in Namibia operate in a restrictive legal environment, given the existence of a number of outdated laws, including secrecy legislation, such as the Protection of Information Act of 1982. The Constitution does guarantee freedom of speech and expression but places considerable limitations on these fundamental freedoms in the name of blanket concepts such as ‘national security’ and ‘public order’. Currently, there is no guarantee of access to information as a fundamental human right in the Constitution and no access to information legislation. Existing legislation also does not protect confidential sources of information. During 2009, new media legislation came into being in the form of the Communications Act (Act No. 8 of 2009). This legislation replaced the Namibian Communications Commission Act of 1992, which had established the Namibian Communications Commission (NCC). The board of the NCC was appointed by the Minister of Information and Communication Technology – thus neither in a transparent nor independent manner. With the Communications Act, the government had the opportunity to create an independent regulatory body. However, the board of the new Communications Regulatory Authority of Namibia (CRAN) is also not independently appointed, i.e. through a parliamentary process with public involvement, but in accordance with the regulations of the State-owned Enterprises Governance Act, 2006 (Act No. 2 of 2006). Sections 14 and 15 of this Act stipulate that such appointments are made following recommendations by the head of the State-owned Enterprise Governance Council’s secretariat, after consultations with the portfolio minister – in this case the minister of information and communication technology. Contrary to the African Commission’s

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Declaration of Principles on Freedom of Expression, there is no public involvement in the appointment of the CRAN board. The new Act states that the national broadcaster, the Namibian Broadcasting Corporation (NBC), will only fall under CRAN once a date has been determined by the minister of information and communication technology. The Communications Act also includes a clause relating to the interception of electronic communications, which poses a threat to basic freedoms and democratic principles. Progress was made in the area of media self-regulation, following threats by government and the SWAPO party to establish a statutory media council. During 2009, the Namibian Editors’ Forum and the Legal Assistance Centre established a self-regulatory complaints mechanism for the media. Members of the public who feel aggrieved by something published/broadcast in the media can now take their complaint to the newly created media ombudsman. This is also an attempt to reduce the growing number of civil defamation cases against the media. The Namibian radio broadcasting landscape is well developed, especially at a commercial level. Nine private commercial operators appear to be doing very well financially but are largely focused on urban instead of rural areas. There are also eight community radio stations, although they continue to struggle financially and mostly have a very limited reach. For a small country like Namibia these figures are quite impressive, given that the airwaves were only opened up to commercial and community broadcasters when the state monopoly ended in 1993. Currently, there is no truly public broadcaster in the country. The national broadcaster in the form of the state-controlled and largely state-funded NBC operates one television station and ten radio services in various locally spoken languages. While there may be a considerable number of radio stations and a diversity of ownership, there is little diversity among these broadcasters when it comes to content. Most commercial radio stations offer predominantly music, especially foreign pop music, and there is very little substance. Apart from brief news broadcasts throughout the day there is little other content that could be described as ‘public service’ oriented. Commercial broadcasters are of the opinion that such public service broadcasting content is the ambit of the NBC, as it receives state funding. The television broadcasting environment is less developed and instead dominated by two main players: the national broadcaster, the NBC, and the independent, free-toair, commercially driven One Africa Television. There is also a community television station, Trinity Broadcasting Network (TBN) Namibia, which broadcasts mostly content from the American-based TBN International faith channel, and the South African-based subscription service DSTV/Multichoice, which has no local content at all and is accessed largely by people in the higher income bracket.

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The NBC (radio and television) has the widest reach of any broadcaster in the country, with radio being the most dominant medium (reaching an estimated 96 per cent of the population, compared to 66 per cent for television). There are areas in rural Namibia where an NBC radio service is the only form of media accessible to citizens. Since about 12 per cent of the population is illiterate in English, especially in rural areas, the NBC radio services geared towards the main language groups provide listeners with access to news, entertainment and current affairs programmes otherwise offered only by the largely English-language print media. The NBC – radio and television – also have the largest number of public service-type programmes, compared to commercial or community broadcasters. Thus, the NBC plays a most significant and influential role in the media landscape. Research indicates that a very large number of Namibians own a radio. Mobile telephones are also widely owned across income groups in the country. Internet penetration, on the other hand, is still very low, with just over 5 per cent of the population using the medium, largely due to it being unaffordable to most people. While it is commendable that the NBC is so widely accessible, the dominant role that the government, through the ministry of information and communication, and thus the ruling SWAPO party play in the affairs of the broadcaster is of concern. This applies particularly with regard to the appointment of the board and senior management, but also to their interference in NBC programming. In terms of content, there is considerable bias towards those in power. News and current affairs programmes are never critical of the government and the ruling party, while there is a generally negative slant to the coverage of opposition parties. The NBC clearly lacks editorial independence. Regarding the issue of digitalisation, Namibia has been slow to develop a policy framework to guide the process. The official line is, though, that the country is not just scheduled to meet the due date for the switch-over but has set itself the ambitious aim of completing the process by December 2013, two years ahead of the ITU deadline for television broadcasters to be compliant. As research into the practicalities is still being conducted by government, it is not yet clear whether Namibians will be able to afford the new digital technologies, given the high rates of unemployment and poverty in the country.

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Recommendations
Media legislation and regulation
• The Namibian Constitution should be amended to guarantee access to information as a fundamental human right. • Apartheid-era laws, as well as other outdated legislation still on the statute books should be repealed or amended to enable the media to operate in a less restrictive environment. These include the Protection of Information Act of 1982, the Indecent and Obscene Photographic Matter Act of 1967, the Newspaper and Imprint Registration Act of 1971 and the Publications Act of 1974. • Comprehensive access to information legislation should be drafted and promulgated, in the process repealing or amending outdated legislation, such as the Electoral Act of 1992, the Public Service Act of 1995 and the Protection of Information Act of 1982. All of these contain secrecy clauses which contradict the right to access to information. • Existing legislation (especially the Criminal Procedure Act of 1977 and the Magistrate’s Court Act of 1944) should be amended and new legislation be drafted to incorporate provisions protecting confidential sources of information. • Media lobby groups and civil society should consider making an application to an appropriate court of law for it to pronounce on the constitutionality of the Communications Act 2009 which gives government the power to monitor telephone calls and electronic communication. • The New Era Publication Corporation Act of 1992 and the Namibia Press Agency Act of 1992 should be rescinded and New Era and Nampa should be privatised. • The government should institute a policy to ensure the fair and equitable treatment of all the media, be they public, community or private, particularly in regard to advertising by state bodies and invitations to official government events.

broadcasting landscape
• Opportunities should be explored for the establishment of radio stations whose objectives are oriented towards more diverse broadcasting and programmes in languages other than English.

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• Community radios in particular should be encouraged to broadcast more public service content and to use the languages spoken in their communities.

digitalisation
• An appropriate policy framework must be developed by government and all stakeholders as a matter of urgency to guide the digitalisation of television broadcasting. • This policy should take into account that large sectors of the population cannot afford either set-top boxes or new digital TV receivers. Therefore it is essential that government develop and implement a policy of subsidising set-top boxes as long as such support is needed. • The communications regulator in cooperation with broadcasters should launch a sustained publicity campaign to make members of the public aware of the migration and how this will affect them. • The Universal Service Fund introduced by the Communications Act and thus the digital dividend should not only benefit the telecommunications industry but also the broadcasting sector, for example community radio stations.

broadcasting legislation
• The Communications Regulatory Authority of Namibia (CRAN) should not a state-owned enterprise. It should be constituted as an independent statutory institution under the control of an independent board nominated by the public and appointed by parliament. In this respect a new law should align communications regulation in Namibia with the Declaration of Principles on Freedom of Expression in Africa. • Media lobby groups and civil society should consider making an application to an appropriate court of law for it to pronounce on the constitutionality of a government-controlled state enterprise regulating communications, broadcasting in particular. • The Communications Act should clearly define all types of broadcasting: commercial, community and public. • The CRAN board should be urged to develop necessary regulations in a public consultation process. • The media ombudsman, in cooperation with the broadcasting industry, should develop a broadcasting code, taking into account, as far as this is justifiable, the provisions of the code as contained in the Communications Act.

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• The broadcasting industry should form an association to deal with the above issues. • The NBC should be regulated like any other broadcaster by CRAN. • The Communications Act states that the broadcasting code must be amended to prescribe appropriate obligations with which a public broadcaster has to comply before the NBC is placed under CRAN’s authority. Civil society lobby groups should insist that such obligations can only be fulfilled by an independent public broadcaster. Therefore a new NBC Act must be developed which transforms the state broadcaster into a public broadcaster in line with the Declaration of Principles on Freedom of Expression in Africa.

the namibia broadcasting corporation (nbc) – legislation and organisation
• The Namibian Broadcasting Act of 1991 must be replaced by a National Broadcasting Corporation Act that transforms the present state broadcaster into a public broadcaster serving the public interest. The Act must outline clear governing structures which shield the broadcaster from political interference and interference from other powerful forces in society that seek to influence it unduly. • Media lobby groups should use the avenue offered by the Communications Act 2009 which requires that the broadcasting code be amended to conform to public broadcasting obligations. It must be pointing out that such obligations can only be fulfilled by a truly public broadcaster within the framework of a new NBC Act that is in compliance with the Declaration of Principles on Freedom of Expression in Africa. • The NBC should be governed by a board established and acting according to the following principles: – Appointment procedures should be open, transparent and free from political interference. – The board should represent a broad cross-section of the Namibian population. – Persons who are office bearers with the state or political parties or have business interests in the media industry should not be eligible for board membership. – The board’s role should be clearly set out in law and its main responsibility should be to ensure that the public broadcaster is protected against undue political or commercial influences and fulfils its mandate in the public interest.

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The board should not interfere in the day-to-day decision making of the broadcaster especially in relation to broadcast content, and respect the principle of editorial independence. • The new NBC Act should guarantee editorial independence for the NBC.

the nbc – funding
• The basic precondition for any successful reform of funding is the passing and implementation of a new NBC Act and the transformation of the state broadcaster into a credible public broadcaster. • NBC funds are public funds which must be accounted for to the public; therefore all financial reports over the last decade must be published for public scrutiny. The numerous concerns and discrepancies highlighted by the 2008 audit report need to be addressed as a matter of urgency. • Sustainable and reliable funding mechanisms for the NBC must be considered and put in place. • Licence fees levied on television sets should be replaced by broadcasting fees per household and business. • As the public broadcasters will continue to be dependent on state subsidies, at least in part, effective mechanisms must be developed to ensure that these subsidies are provided in a reliable and independent manner. • To determine the amounts of the television fee and the state subsidy, the setting up of an independent panel of experts should be considered. This panel will set and from time to time adjust the requisite amounts and recommend these for adoption by the legislature. The broadcaster will list its perceived needs to the panel, the experts will make their own assessment and then come up with their recommendations.

Programming
• On the basis of new legislation for the NBC, which will turn it into a genuine and independent public broadcaster, the corporation should: – in a process of public consultation, develop editorial and programme guidelines that adhere to public broadcasting principles and promote public interest programming; – develop a code of conduct for all its programming to ensure that principles of professional journalism such as accuracy, fairness, balance and inclusiveness are adhered to, and that

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• •

• •

freedom of expression and the free flow of information and ideas are fully respected; – establish an effective internal complaints mechanism through which citizens can express their concerns about content that they find not acceptable; – produce television news bulletins in languages other than English which are up-to-date; – consult widely with stakeholders and the public at large to develop an appropriate local content policy which includes commissioning of programmes from local audio-visual production companies. The fact that commercial radio and TV stations are shying away from broadcasting political or religious issues for fear of endangering their licence underlines the need for broadcasting to be regulated by an independent authority under policies that protect freedom of speech and expression, including political and religious expression. This independent broadcast regulator must develop guidelines for the equitable coverage of all political parties during election periods. The media ombudsman or appropriate civil society groups should consider establishing a project to monitor the coverage of political parties and other societal groups on the NBC as well as commercial radio and TV stations. Commercial and especially community radio stations should broadcast more programmes in indigenous languages. Commercial radio and TV stations are encouraged to introduce more call-in or chat shows to promote democratic debate.

broadcasting reform
For any change to take place at the NBC: • Media lobby and interested civil society groups must stage a campaign to make the public aware that the NBC is a public asset meant to serve the public and be controlled by the public, not by government. • As a first step these groups should organise appropriate workshops in order to promote a better understanding of the principles of public broadcasting, both within their own ranks as well as in broader society. • As a second step a broad coalition should be formed that would drive the process towards transforming the NBC into a public broadcaster. • This coalition should develop model policies for a new NBC including

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ownership, governance and funding which should be discussed in a broad public consultation process. • The coalition should then stage a campaign to replace the current Namibian Broadcasting Act with new legislation which would establish an independent public broadcaster with an independent board representative of Namibian society.

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