A NUMBER of community television stations around South Africa are set to lose their frequency and may have to close, writes Nikita Sylveser in the Cape Argus.

CTV, Cape Town's only community television channel, received a letter from the Independent Communications Authority of South Africa (Icasa) last week, stating that various community television stations had been issued temporary licences, due to the lack of available frequencies. CTV, it said, was currently using a frequency allocated for mobile TV.

"During the rollout of mobile television (viewing from cellphones), your service will have to be switched off," the letter informed the station.

An Icasa spokesman told the Cape Argus last night that community television was working on a temporary basis, and would have to give way to mobile TV once it was rolled out.

"We are trying to get other means to cater for them (community TV stations)," he said.

There are several community TV stations around the country.

CTV station manager Karen Thorne said all of these would be affected, including Richards Bay TV in KwaZulu-Natal and Tshwane TV in Pretoria.

She said Richards Bay TV had been constantly under threat of being shut down and Thswane TV had not been allocated a frequency by Icasa for 10 months.

Thorne questioned why licences had been issued in the first place if frequencies had not been set aside for community television.

In the case of CTV, she said, nearly a million viewers were affected.

Tomorrow, CTV staff will march to Parliament in order to hand over a memorandum to officials there detailing their concerns around Icasa's announcement.

Among CTV's demands contained in the memorandum is that they not be switched off next year when Icasa licenses a new cellphone TV operator, but instead that a frequency be allocated to carry the channel.

CTV only recently received its official viewership ratings, which showed that more than 900 000 people watched the station in the past month.

"This clearly shows the community's support," Thorne said.

Click here to read the full report, posted on iol.co.za.