CAPE TOWN TV (CTV) has received an assurance from the broadcast regulator, ICASA, that it will remain on air despite the uncertainties around the migration to digital television broadcasting, according to a media release from the station.

The channel’s supporters marched on Parliament last week to demand that the station be kept on air and that government provide financial support for all community broadcasting ventures.

Says CTV Station Director Karen Thorne, “It seems that ICASA has decided against a general switch-off of community television channels and will try to accommodate the sector as the migration to digital television progresses.

“We expect to meet with the regulator soon in order to address our concerns about the apparent threat to switch off CTV when a mobile television broadcaster is licensed, around June next year.”

CTV is broadcasting on a frequency that was earmarked for mobile television broadcasting and the channel is resisting any move that would take it off air to make way for commercial cellphone broadcasters.

Thorne stressed that CTV has reached a point where it has a stable income that can sustain the station’s operations. “We have the support of various funders and we are now expanding our production operations.

“Advertising revenue is increasing because we now have official viewership figures from the South African Advertising Research Foundation (SAARF), which show that CTV is reaching an audience of about 1.4 million people in Cape Town. This is a sizable audience and the fact that we have attained this in just over one year on air is a significant achievement.”

CTV’s increased revenues will enable the station to produce more of its own programmes next year, which will boost its quota of local content. These productions will be geared to increase the amount of Afrikaans and Xhosa language programmes on the channel.

Notes CTV Programme Manager Shelley Barry, “CTV has managed a high quota of local content through local acquisitions and some in-house production. But acquisitions of Afrikaans and Xhosa programming have been restricted because most completed programming in this country belongs to the SABC, eTV or M-Net.

“CTV’s in-house production is reliant on funding and in our first year of broadcast this was limited. Despite this, we have broadcast several productions made especially for CTV by local producers as well as two seasons of in-house programming.”

CTV is a community television station that began broadcasting to the Cape Town metropolitan region in September 2006. It is a non-profit organisation with a membership base of 58 NGOs, institutions and labour unions from Cape Town.

This free-to-air, analogue channel can be found between SABC3 and eTV on the UHF band. Viewers must have line-of-sight of Tygerberg mountain, where the channel’s sole transmitter is located, and their TV aerials must be pointed towards Tygerberg in order to pick up the signal.

For further information, contact Station Director Karen Thorne on 021 448 0448 or Board Chairperson Martin Jansen on 021 447 2727.