COVID-19 relief funding for community media opens for applications

The second phase of the COVID-19 Emergency Relief Funding for all community and small commercial (SCM) media projects is now open for applications.

“This follows the end of the first phase of the fund, which ran in March and April of 2020, with some R10 million being disbursed to 116 community broadcasters and 115 community and SCM publications in R45 000 relief packages, per station/publisher,” Media Development and Diversity Agency (MDDA) said on Monday.

The Emergency Relief Fund was approved by the board of the MDDA in recognition of the critical and essential service played by the community and SCM sector in information, news and content dissemination, particularly during the National Lockdown and coronavirus pandemic.

“The sector is facing severe pressures as a result of the economic impact of the National Lockdown and subsequent loss of advertising, while there is also an urgent need to minimise the safety risks to media projects personnel during this period,” MDDA said.

The second phase of the Emergency Relief Fund is therefore aimed mainly at assisting community media and SCM projects with operational costs, with a lesser portion for acquiring safety and hygiene essentials.

A total of R10 million will be allocated to media projects in relief packages according to need.

“Community and SCM projects are eligible for the second phase of the Emergency Relief Funding, irrespective of whether or not they received funding in the first phase as this was focused on safety essentials,” MDDA said.

There is no set closing date for applications for the second phase. It will close when available funds have been exhausted.

The Board and MDDA Executive will monitor the developments with regards to COVID-19 and make necessary decisions in relation to further support to the sector, should the need arise.

“Community and SCM media have continued, in the face of considerable economic and safety challenges, to play a responsible and highly active role in informing communities around the dangers of COVID-19 and the precautionary measures that urgently need to be taken.  

“We received an overwhelming response to our first call for Emergency Relief Funding and we are grateful to be able to make a contribution to alleviating some of the hardships faced by the sector as a means of thanking them for the vital role they play,” said MDDA CEO Zukiswa Potye.