HOW TO OBTAIN A COMMUNITY RADIO LICENCE
One of the questions that comes up often is how community radio stations can apply for a SAMRO licence and what it means to have such a licence.
We recently sat with Ralph Giraudeaux from SAMRO’s licensing department who shared in-depth information on how one can go about applying for a community radio licence.
Q: Tell us a bit of background on community radio licence.
A: The community radio licence was an offshoot from the normal radio licence. The reason for this was that, the normal radio licence did not adequately cater for the challenges faced by the community radio stations.
Q: Why is it important for community radios to acquire a licence?
A: SAMRO strives to ensure that all licensees are compliant with the law. In other words, if you use music that is within SAMRO’s repertoire, you need to pay for the use of that music by taking a licence.
Q: What is the process that one needs to follow should they wish to apply for the licence?
A: Well, first and foremost, the community broadcaster needs to be registered with the government body, Independent Communications Authority of South Africa (ICASA). Once a licence has been obtained through ICASA, the community broadcaster can approach SAMRO for a music user licence.
An application form needs to be completed (with supporting company registration documents) and once this application form has been vetted by SAMRO, a licence will be granted.
Q: What documentation do community radios need to have in place beforehand?
A: They will need an ICASA licence in place and need to be able to produce that licence to SAMRO. They will also need all the registration documentation proving that the community broadcaster has registered with the Companies and Intellectual Property Commission (CIPC).
Finally, if the person handling the application is not a designated signatory of the community broadcaster, they will need a letter signed by the designated signatory stating that this person can sign on behalf of the community broadcaster.
Q: How long does it take for the licence to be processed and issued?
A: If all the documentation is in order, the process should take no longer than 5 working days.
Q: Once the licence is issued, how often are the community radios expected to submit their music playlists and how does this process happen?
A: The community broadcasters ideally need to submit their playlists on a monthly basis. This allows our Usage and Documentation team to process the music playlists in time for our distributions. These playlists can be submitted online to email@example.com
Q: How often are community radios required to pay for the usage of music?
A: We look at the advertising revenue earned by the community broadcasters over a financial year. Based on these numbers we calculate an annual fee to be paid by the community broadcaster.
Q: Is there an exception for community broadcasters that might not be able to afford the licence?
A: Unfortunately, all users of music must pay for their use of music. The current prices have been adjusted and take into account the financial challenges that most community broadcaster experience. SAMRO has made it financially possible for community broadcasters to afford this licence.
Q: Lastly, where can one go to get more information on community radio licensing?
A: The community broadcaster can go to SAMRO's website for more information (www.samro.org.za) or they can phone SAMRO directly on 011 712 8000 and be put through to the relevant department handling community broadcasters.