- In a bid to free its airwaves, autocratic Swaziland has approved four radio stations licenses, which are to be issued within a month.
According to a statement issued by Media Institute of Southern African (MISA) Windhoek, on Monday, approved are three community and one commercial radio licences, following an invitation for applications issued more than a year ago.
Winners of licences are yet to be announced.
Statement shows outgoing minister for information and public service, Sgayoyo Magongo, and technical committee, which government has tasked to process licence applications, on Monday met about 20 applicants who have filed applications for radio licences.
It says meeting was to give feedback on processing of applications and to fast-track process to ensure that licences are issued within 30-day deadline.
Among issues discussed in meeting, according to MISA, were fees to be paid by applicants and radius to be covered by each station granted licence.
"Licences will cost approximately US$350 across board while spectrum charge will be about US$70 for each community radio station. Commercial radio stations will have to pay approximately US$1,500, spectrum fee for first year and three percent of net operating income for subsequent years," regional media watchdog said.
It added that each community radio station would initially be granted 20 watts, which will cover approximately a 20km radius.
However, minister reportedly announced that issuing of four licences would take a piloted approach, initially for a 12-month period within which a study would be carried out to assess viability of these radio stations and other factors.
Statement further showed that while most applicants appreciated positive development from government, they expressed concerns about allocated watts, saying they would allow for very limited coverage.
MISA Swaziland chapter is said to be assisting a number of community radio applicants to file their applications.
"Chapter will continue to influence process to finally have Swazi airwaves freed," statement concluded.
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