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UNIVERSITY OF MALAWI

CHANCELLOR COLLEGE

WHOSE RADIO? THE QUESTION OF OWNERSHIP AT NENO COMMUNITY

RADIO STATION

WHYGHTONE MOVESI KAPASULE

BA/COM/ME/87/19

A Dissertation submitted to the Language and Communication Skills Department in

partial fulfillment of the requirement of Bachelor of Arts Communication and Cultural

Studies Degree.

June, 2019

Supervisor: Dr. S. Kankuzi


DECLARATION

I declare that the work being submitted herein is original, written by myself and it has never been

produced by myself or anyone else before for the award of any academic certificate. I also

declare that I have acknowledged all sources of information contained herein, such that the work

is not plagiarized at any level of understanding and definition of plagiarism. I also declare that

integrity was observed at any stage of coming up with this work, including data collection and

presentation.

Signed ………………………………………………

WHYGHTONE MOVESI KAPASULE

Date ………………………………………………..

CERTIFICATE OF APPROVAL

I certify that this dissertation has been submitted to the University of Malawi with my approval,

in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the award of degree of Bachelor of Arts in

Communication and Cultural Studies.

Supervisor……………………………………………………

DR. SYDNEY F. KANKUZI

Date …………………………………………………………..

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DEDICATION

This research is dedicated to my wife Elizabeth, my son Okumi, who so in deep perseverance

gave time for me to pursue this life worthy venture. You sacrificed a lot. Thank you! And my

mum and my heroines Enelesi Kapasule, who single handedly, raised such a hard working son.

This graduation attests to the noble duty you did mum. May God continue blessing you

abundantly!

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ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS

Above all things, I wish to thank the Almighty God for making it possible for me to carry out

this research project and the entire programme of study successfully. It‟s a dream come true!

I am greatly indebted to my research supervisor, Dr. Sydney Kankuzi for his ideas, constructive

criticisms and words of advice from the beginning to the end of the research work. A heartfelt

appreciation to all my classmates, the Bachelor of Arts in Communication and Cultural Studies

mature class of 2019.

I am also thankful to the my roommate, Stanley Chalakwa for the moral support I had and the

heated debates we had on issues throughout the time we shared the Chikanda room. They shaped

our academic journey.

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ABSTRACT

Malawi just like the other developing countries is embracing community broadcasting media to

serve as tools for sustainable development. There are two philosophies of community radio

broadcasting establishment: one which is fully owned and run by members of the community -

and the other which is a donor station funded by a body outside the community which sets the

aims and purposes of the station. These different ownership styles agues Mhagama (2015: 04),

accord people opportunities to participate in different ways which can affect the way

participation contributes to development. It is against this background that this study sought to

examine the extent of communities‟ participation at Neno Community Radio which was set up

by an individual, Dr. Benson Tembo.

In order to achieve the objectives, the study employed the Participatory Development

Communication Paradigm which postulates that without people‟s participation, no project can be

successful and last long enough to support social change. The method that the study used is the

mixed approach which involved both qualitative and quantitative approach.

The study has found out that Neno Community Radio is being run as a family business and that

communities were not consulted in the initial stage and there is no a community management

committee. This leaves the Neno Communities as distant observers in the running of the

community radio station – in complete disillusionment. The lack of collaborative partnership

with the communities, absence of community executive committee, and perceived

personalization of the station by the Dr. Benson Tembo family is likely to hinder the station from

leveraging on the seemingly available benefits if management continues to disregard the

effectiveness of the participatory development communication paradigm in the management of

Neno Community Radio Station.

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TABLE OF CONTENTS

DECLARATION .......................................................................................................................................... ii

CERTIFICATE OF APPROVAL ................................................................................................................. ii

DEDICATION ............................................................................................................................................. iii

ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS ......................................................................................................................... iv

ABSTRACT.................................................................................................................................................. v

TABLE OF CONTENTS ............................................................................................................................. vi

LIST OF FIGURES ..................................................................................................................................... ix

CHAPTER ONE: INTRODUCTION ........................................................................................................... 1

1.1 Background to the Study ..................................................................................................................... 1

1.2 Problem Statement .............................................................................................................................. 2

1.3 Research Aim, Objectives and Questions ........................................................................................... 3

1.3.1 Research Aim ............................................................................................................................... 3

1.3.2 Research Objectives ..................................................................................................................... 3

1.3.3 Research Questions ...................................................................................................................... 3

1.4 Theoretical Framework ....................................................................................................................... 3

1.5 Methodology ....................................................................................................................................... 5

1.5.1 Research Approach ...................................................................................................................... 5

1.5.2 Sample and Sampling Techniques ............................................................................................... 7

1.5.3 Data Collection Methods and Tools............................................................................................. 8

1.4.4 Methods of Data Analysis and Interpretation .............................................................................. 9

1.5. Rationale ............................................................................................................................................ 9

CHAPTER TWO: LITERATURE REVIEW ............................................................................................. 10

2.0 Introduction ....................................................................................................................................... 10

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2.1 Ownership Issues .............................................................................................................................. 10

2.1.1. Community Owned Radio ........................................................................................................ 10

2.1.2 Individual/ NGO Owned Community Radio ............................................................................. 11

2.1.3 Community Radio as Non-profit Entity ..................................................................................... 13

2.2. Community Participation in Community Radio .............................................................................. 15

2.2.1. Content-Related Participation ................................................................................................... 15

2.2.2. Structural Participation ............................................................................................................. 17

CHAPTER 3: FINDINGS........................................................................................................................... 20

3.0 Introduction ................................................................................................................................. 20

3.1 Ownership of Neno FM ................................................................................................................ 20

3.2 Community Participation .............................................................................................................. 23

3.3 Community Support through Sponsorship .................................................................................... 26

3.4. Community‟s Expectations of Neno FM ..................................................................................... 29

3.5 Conclusion ........................................................................................................................................ 31

CHAPTER 4: DISCUSSION OF FINDINGS ............................................................................................ 32

4.0 Introduction ....................................................................................................................................... 32

4.1 Ownership of Neno FM ................................................................................................................ 32

4.2 Community Participation .............................................................................................................. 34

4.3 Sponsorship and Adverts as Radio Support .................................................................................. 36

4.4 Breeding of Community Disillusionment ..................................................................................... 38

4.4 Conclusion ........................................................................................................................................ 39

CHAPTER 5: CONCLUSION.................................................................................................................... 40

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REFERENCES ........................................................................................................................................... 44

APPENDICES ............................................................................................................................................ 47

Questionnaire for Neno FM Station Manager......................................................................................... 47

Establishment ...................................................................................................................................... 47

Administrative Structure ..................................................................................................................... 48

Programming /Community Participation ............................................................................................ 48

Focus Group Discussion Interview Guide .............................................................................................. 49

Questionnaire for Neno District Commissioner/ Representative ............................................................ 49

Questionnaire for NGOs Working in Neno District ............................................................................... 50

Questionnaire for Producers/ Presenters at Neno FM ............................................................................. 50

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LIST OF FIGURES

Figure 1: Neno FM building in Neno District............................................................................................. 21

Figure 2: One of the Announcers on the air at Neno FM............................................................................ 23

Figure 3: Advertising Rates at Neno FM .................................................................................................... 27

Figure 4: Client Paying for Advert Slots at the Acting Station Manager's Office ...................................... 28

Figure 5: Percentage of FGD participants Gone on Air at Neno FM ......................................................... 35

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CHAPTER ONE: INTRODUCTION

1.1 Background to the Study

There are numerous definitions that scholars have coined to describe community radio but the

one that captures the elements that this research undertook to explore is Tabing‟s (2002: 09)

which defines community radio as “one that is operated in the community, for the community,

about the community and by the community. Within the confines of this definition, Mhagama

(2015: 02) outlines key characteristics of community radio that distinguish it from commercial

and public radio and these are community ownership, participation by treating communities as

participants and operating as a non-profit entity. The underlying notion is that Community

broadcasting gives opportunities to local community members to become producers, not merely

receivers, of information and opinion and are able to articulate for themselves their social vision

and demands in order to bring about the development they so desire (Bresnaham, 2007: 212-

213). And Mhagama (2015: 02) further argues that this development can be achieved through

both people‟s direct involvement in community radio station activities and through participation

in practices and events organized by the station such as Radio Listening Clubs.

The birth of community radios is traced from Latin America between 1947 and 1949 and a close

retrospection of the trends then raises important issues regarding ownership of community radio

stations and how they can encourage participation. For instance, Radio Sutatenza was established

by a Catholic priest in 1947 meaning that its ownership was private (Gumucio-Dagron, 2001: 46-

47) but the community participated in development projects that the founder priest initiated such

as adult literacy campaigns.

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In contrast, Fraser and Estrada (2001) argue that the Miners’ Radios of Bolivia was established

by the miners themselves through their civil society groups such that it was independent, self-

sustained, self-managed and faithfully served the interests of their communities. Two

philosophies of community radio broadcasting emerge here: one which is fully owned and run by

members of the community - and the other which is a “donor” station funded by a body outside

the community which sets the aims and purposes of the station. These different ownership styles

agues Mhagama (2015: 04), accord people opportunities to participate in different ways which

can affect the way participation contributes to development hence the need to investigate the

extent of communities participation at Neno Community Radio which was set up by an

individual just like Radio Sutatenza in Latin America.

1.2 Problem Statement

Just like the Latin America‟s phenomenon, there is a dual aspect in the birth of community radio

broadcasting in Malawi according to Mhagama (2015: 117). The first aspect is that influential

people in the community initiate the idea and the second aspect is that since the members of the

community cannot afford the cost of the equipment needed for broadcasting, they turn to NGOs

for assistance in that regard. The later was the case with Neno Community Radio where veteran

broadcaster, Dr. Benson Tembo initiated the establishment of the station. However, Mhagama

(2015: 115) argues that the involvement of these influential people and NGOs affects the way

members of the community participate through their interference by these agents in the

management of the station and the production of content. This necessitated the assessment of the

role of ownership in the communities‟ participation in community broadcasting in Malawi using

Neno Community Radio as an example.

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1.3 Research Aim, Objectives and Questions

1.3.1 Research Aim

It is against the above backdrop that the study sought to establish the role the community of

Neno played in determining the ownership of Neno Community Radio.

1.3.2 Research Objectives


In order to achieve this, the study pursued to address the following three objectives:
 To establish the official ownerships structures of Neno Community Radio.

 To compare and contrast the official ownership structures and the existing management

and operations practices of Neno Community radio.

 To establish the extent to which Neno Community Radio can be said to be owned by the

community based on its model.

1.3.3 Research Questions

In order to tackle the topic and achieve the study objectives, the study answered the following

three questions:

 What official ownership structures have been put in place at Neno Community Radio?

 How different are the official ownership structures from the existing management and

operations practices of Neno Community radio?

 To what extent can Neno FM be said to be owned by the community based on its

broadcasting model?

1.4 Theoretical Framework

The Participatory Development Communication Paradigm postulates that without people‟s

participation, no project can be successful and last long enough to support social change

(Gumucio-Dagron, 2008: 70). This emanates from Melkote recommendation (1991: 191) that

“people who are objects of policy need to be involved in the definition, design, and execution of

3
the development process” This is where participatory or „another‟ development theory which

emphasizes grassroots participation in development projects, comes in. The link between

participation and development can be established on the understanding that:

Communication for Development (C4D) rests on the premise that successful sustainable

development calls for the conscious and active participation of the intended beneficiaries

at every stage of the development process; for in the final analysis, development cannot

take place without changes in attitudes and behaviour among all people concerned

(Servaes, 2008: 212).

However, the way the concept of participation is applied by many development communication

projects sometimes contradicts participatory theory on which this study is based. According to

Eversole (2012: 7) the term participation “has proven difficult not only to define but to

practically initiate and sustain”. While Lyndon et al. (2011: 644) see participation as shifting the

power of rural development from the planners top-down view to the rural subjects‟ active role in

all stages of a project‟s life, Vasoo (1991: 2) argues that the implementation of participation is

always faced with a dilemma, that is, “the choice between trading off participatory democracy

against the expertise of technocrats in decision-making, and vice-versa”. However, according to

Craig and Porter (1997: 230) the present reality is that “development agencies are widely

adopting project management techniques that appear on the surface to be „bottom–up‟ and

participatory, but are in fact new forms of top–down direction and control”.

That said, it remain an undisputed fact that communication with intended beneficiaries raises

people‟s awareness to their problems resulting into change of attitude and behavior (Mhagama,

2015: 49). In relation to the media, “community radio highlights people‟s ability to alter and

rearrange existing media structures to better suit their needs” (Howley, 2010: 69). This is made

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possible because community radio allows non-professionals to participate in media production,

management, and planning of the communication systems. Mhagama (2015: 05) argues

communities‟ ownership of radio can involve owning, managing the stations and getting actively

involved in station activities. In line with the proposed study, the theory helped to understand

whether issues of ownership affect the communities‟ involvement in the operations of Neno

Community Radio.

1.5 Methodology

Research methodology may be understood as a science of studying how research is done

scientifically and these include the various steps that are generally adopted by a researcher in

studying his research problem along with the logic behind them (Kothari 2009: 07). Therefore

this section discusses all the methods that the study used and they include forms of data

collection, content analysis and interpretation.

1.5.1 Research Approach

Kothari (2009: 07) postulates that there are two basic approaches to research, quantitative

approach and the qualitative approach and Creswell (2014: 348) posits that there is a mixed

approach which involves open ended, uncountable data and close-ended countable data

respectively. This study employed the qualitative approach as the main approach so that the

quantitative one complemented the other as the two methods deal with different types of content.

The importance of employing both methods is documented by Babbie (2014: 434) argues that

researchers need both qualitative and quantitative analysis for the fullest understanding of social

science data.

1.5.1.1 Qualitative Approach

Babbie (2014: 403) defines qualitative approach as the non-numerical examination and

interpretation of observations, for the purpose of discovering underlying meanings and patterns

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of relationships. In this method, the researcher is concerned with subjective assessment of

attitudes, opinions and behaviour (Kothari 2009: 05). Therefore, questionnaire content analysis,

in-depth interviews with Neno District Council representative and Non-Governmental

organisation working in Neno; and focus group discussion will communities proved ideal for this

study.

1.5.1.1.1 Qualitative Content Analysis

Babbie (2014: 341) defines content analysis as the study of recorded human communications,

such as books, websites, paintings, and laws by answering the classic question of communication

research of who says what, to whom, why, how, and with what effect? This proved relevant to

the study as it helped the researcher to code classified content according to some appropriate

units in order to discover recurring themes in the questionnaire responses, focus group discussion

and the in-depth interviews. The researcher did this while being mindful of these advantages of

coding come up at a cost to reliability and specificity as Babbie postulates (2014: 347) that

content analysis is involving and strenuous task. Due diligence was undertaken to achieve

systematic and reliable results by verifying and crosschecking the responses to see

contradictions.

1.5.1.2 Quantitative Approach

This is the approach that involves the generation of data in quantitative form which can be

subjected to rigorous quantitative analysis in a formal and rigid fashion (Kothari 2009: 05).

Babbie (2014: 437) argues that this involves techniques by which researchers convert data to a

numerical form and subject it to statistical analyses. Therefore, this study used this approach

when it came across figures and plotted pie charts and percentages in order to analyse and project

the differences and similarities in the variables under study. Microsoft packages were considered

6
ideal for all these as the numerical data that this research generated was not complex for this

processing package.

1.5.1.2.1 Quantitative Content Analysis

Babbie (2014: 348) argues that content analysis can be done quantitatively by coding

numerically. Therefore, all counting of the frequency of certain words, phrases, themes and other

content generated by the study was coded numerically to allow for easily plotting of appropriate

graphs and comparison of variables in the interpretation and discussion of findings that follow in

the later chapters of this study.

1.5.2 Sample and Sampling Techniques

Three samples were employed in this study: management and staff at Neno FM, focus group

discussions with Neno District Community Development Committee, and in-depth interviews

with Neno District Commissioner‟s representative; and two non-governmental organisations

working in Neno, Nice Trust and Community Action for Sustainable Development (CASDO).

All these four varied samples demanded different sampling techniques and the most appropriate

were Purposive and Snowball sampling.

1.5.2.1 Purpose / Judgmental Sampling

Babbie (2014: 200) posits that sometimes it‟s appropriate to select a sample on the basis of

knowledge of a population, its elements, and the purpose of the study. This type of sampling is

called purposive or judgmental sampling as it involves purposive or deliberate selection of

particular units of the universe for constituting a sample which represents the universe. However,

Kothari (2009: 15) argues that purpose sampling at times may give very biased results

particularly when the population is not homogeneous. This is the reason the researcher used

judgment for sex, male and female.

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1.5.2.2 Snowball sampling

This is a type of nonprobability sampling in which respondents refer the researcher to other

respondents. Babbie (2014: 201) argues that some consider this to be a form of accidental

sampling and is appropriate when the members of a special population are difficult to locate,

such as homeless individuals, migrant workers, or undocumented immigrants. As the researcher

did not have a list of all NGO working in Neno by name and location in the district, the study

depended on NGOs that are situated at the Boma to refer to other NGOs within Neno. The

researcher first interviewed Community Action for Sustainable Development (CASDO) Director

who later referred to another NGO working in Neno, Nice trust. In pursuit of people to conduct

focus group discussions, the researcher was referred to the Chairperson for the District

Community Development Committee who later mobilized nice participants for the FGD –

perfect utilization of snowball technique.

Aware of the caution that Babbie (2014: 202) gives that this procedure often results in samples

with questionable representativeness, the researcher used it primarily for exploratory purposes to

identify the NGOs working in Neno. But due diligence was given in the choice of credible NGOs

to be interviewed. For instance, the researcher was presented by three choices by the referent to

either go to Action Aid, Save the Children and Nice Trust. For fear of going for samples with

questionable representatives, the researcher opted for Nice Trust, an NGO with reputable track

record.

1.5.3 Data Collection Methods and Tools

There are many ways of collecting research data like observations, personal interview, telephone

interview, mailing questionnaires, and through schedules with respondents (Kothari, 2009: 17).

However, the study used personal interviews with Neno District Commissioner‟s representative,

8
conducted three focus group discussions with District Community Development Committee and

then administered structured questionnaire to Acting Station manager and two producers at Neno

FM.

1.4.4 Methods of Data Analysis and Interpretation

Kothari (2009: 18) argues that the analysis of data requires a number of closely related

operations such as establishment of categories, the application of these categories to raw data

through coding, tabulation and then drawing statistical inferences. This study therefore

condensed the data into a few manageable thematic groups and tables for further analysis. This

resulted into the grouping of the findings into thematic areas according to the emerging issues.

These thematic areas consequently came out to be the central focus of the study they ranged from

administrative issues to organisation structure, community participation and community support

to the community radio station.

1.5. Rationale

Malawi just like the other developing countries is embracing community media to serve as tools

for sustainable developmental. However, Mhagama (2015: 105) argues that the involvement of

agents and agencies in the establishment of community radio stations risks killing community

media in Malawi when there is continuing controller interference by these agents in the

management of the station and the production of content. To the best of the researcher‟s

knowledge, no study has been conducted to establish how ownership affects communities‟

participation in community broadcasting. Hence the findings from this study have provided

knowledge which will assist in filling the gap in the community broadcasting industry.

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CHAPTER TWO: LITERATURE REVIEW

2.0 Introduction

This study reviewed immense literature that range from community radio ownership to

communities‟ participation in the community radio within the dimensions of content-related

participation (production of media output) and structural participation (media organizational

decision-making, all of which were at the core of this study.

2.1 Ownership Issues

Different scholars have categorized ownership of community radio broadcasting into two: those

owned by the community and some by influential people or NGO‟s as exemplified by the birth

of first community radio broadcasting in Latin America between 1947 and 1949. These different

ownership styles accord communities‟ opportunities to participate in different ways in their radio

and the contrasting academic voices as reviewed below throw the discussion in dichotomy.

2.1.1. Community Owned Radio

Tabing (2002:11) argues that community radio can be managed or controlled by one group, by

combined groups, or of people such as women, children, farmers, fisher folk, ethnic groups, or

senior citizens”. This was the philosophy that establishment of Miners Radio of Bolivia in 1949,

the second community radio to be born after Radio Sutatenza (Fraser and Estrada, 2001 cited by

Mhagama, 2015: 04). As the name suggests, the communities of Bolivia themselves established

the community radio station through their civil society groups such that it was independent, self-

sustained, self-managed and faithfully served the interests of their communities.

This model implies that these specific groups of people participated in the daily running, in the

management, programme production and financing of the station. For this reason, Howley (2010:

10
185) argues that community radio is part of participatory communication which entails

community owned and operated media outlets established for the explicit purpose of facilitating

community communication and promoting local development initiatives.

However, the political economy of the media in Malawi plunges community radio stations into

turbulent waters such that it becomes hard for communities to own and operate a community

radio effectively. This is the reason Mhagama (2015: 25) laments that community radio stations

in Malawi are vulnerable because they are small and local. They are run and operated by a team

of non- professional volunteers drawn from the community and who formulate programmes for

the station depending on their knowledge of their community. This is the fate that community

radio broadcasting in Malawi finds itself in. This is happening when the rest of the world accord

a political economy that enables community radios to create programmes that often focus on

local concerns and issues. They also broadcast in the local language using indigenous knowledge

and creative talents to meet the specific informational and cultural needs of the community. This

is why Myers cautions against judging community radio station by their structure as deceptive.

“Be it big or small, what is most challenging for any radio station is what comes next, it‟s

political economy that enables production of good quality content, management of the

station, paying and retaining staff, maintenance of the premises, studio and broadcast

equipment and paying monthly rent and fuel bills”. (Myers, 2008: 22).

2.1.2 Individual/ NGO Owned Community Radio

Mtinde et al., (1998: 15) posits that in some instances, community radio can be owned by non-

governmental organizations working in communities, influential people in the area or the local

government. What this does is that it liberates the ownership of community radio from the

community to organisation and individuals working in the area. This may be described as a top

11
down philosophy of community radio ownership which led to the birth of first community radio

station in Latin America, Radio Sutatenza. It was established by a Catholic priest in 1947

meaning that its ownership was private (Gumucio-Dagron, 2001: 46-47) but the community

participated in development projects that the founder priest initiated such as adult literacy

campaigns through the top down approach.

Despite the facts that this pattern ensures that the community radio has steady flow of resources

for its operations, but da Costa (2012: 145) laments that heavy reliance to NGO‟s or individuals

“leads to the development of a community radio sector whose incentives are distorted and whose

purpose will ultimately move away from the accepted definition and understanding of

„community radio”. This is a radical stand that suggests that community radio stations which are

established with donor funding should not be recognized as community radio or should not be

allowed to operate under the banner of community radio. The fear is that at worst, the emerging

model of community radio stations that routinely fail will continue to be replicated throughout

the continent” (da Costa, 2012: 145).

Mhagama (2015: 24) concurs with da Costa by positing that community radio is meant to

empower marginalized groups of people by enabling them to have control over radio stations,

content and operations. Receiving donations and financial assistance from NGOs, individuals or

government potentially gives power to these outside agencies and reduces the autonomy of the

community. If the situation is not checked, laments Mhagama (ibid), can perpetuate „structural

inequalities and power imbalance‟ in programming, ownership and control of community radio

stations. This is why the manager of the UNESCO/DANIDA Tambuli Project in the Phillipines

and his team agreed that politicians needed to participate not in operating the community radio

station arguing:

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Certain politicians may publicly manifest a desire to keep their hands off the project,

while some may volunteer resources and heavy personal involvement. However, even

among those who ostentatiously adopt a hands-off policy, they could have lackeys in key

positions in the station – perhaps as a generous benefactor, an intellectual, or a

domineering station manager (Fraser and Estrada, 2001: 50).

2.1.3 Community Radio as Non-profit Entity

Ideally, a Community radio is supposed to be serving community interests and not concentrate

on making profits. This is why Fraser and Estrada (2001: 27) argue that by design community

radio is fully controlled by non-profit entity and carried on for non-profitable purposes.

Theoretically, this is done to guarantee the independence of community radio stations and protect

them from undue influence that donors may exert on the stations in the name of sponsoring

programmes. However, in practice most community radio stations have remained poor and those

that are not poor, to a larger extent, certainly in the context of Malawi, depend on sponsored

programmes in their quest for sustainability (Mhagama 2015: 29).

This puts in context Fairbairn (2009: 61) argument that being non-profit does not mean that you

have to be poor, rather it means that while the profit made by commercial media benefits

individuals or investors, the profit made by community media is returned into service provision

or used for the benefit of the community. This is the line of thinking that Fraser and Estrada

(2001: 27) tow by positing that community radio stations need funds for their operations and use

a number of different streams of income: donations, grants, membership fees, sponsorship and

advertising, or any combination of these.

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Faced with the dilemma of choosing between accepting external funding and operating without it

to protect community interests, Myers (2011: 20) posits that community radio stations tend to

choose the former because of the income it generates which is used to run the station. For

instance, he reports that in Nepal there are about 150 community radio stations, and, on average

they cover 60 to 70 percent of their operational costs from sponsored radio programmes. A term

best used to describe this practice is „NGO-ification‟ of community radio (Mhagama, 2015: 33)

„NGO-ification‟ of community radio is a situation in which: radio stations become so

dependent on the sponsorship of programmes by NGOs that their daily schedules contain

almost no talk programmes of their own creation, but are dominated by the „woman‟s

hour‟, „farmer‟s hour‟, „governance hour‟, etc, commissioned by the local and

international NGOs and CSOs on which they depend financially. (Gilberds and Myers,

2012: 81 cited by Mhagama 2015: 33).

Although the extent of dependence on donors varies widely around the world, almost everywhere

the demerits of relying on donor dominance in running community radio are telling and should

worry any well-meaning scholar. According to Myers (2011: 21) such concerns arise out of the

need to protect community radio‟s „community-ness‟ and the avoidance of top-down imposition

of programme content. The major issue identified in the literature as a potential problem arising

from donor funding or control over programme content is that donors influence the agenda of the

radio stations in a way that is incompatible with the aims of the stations.

Mhagama (2015: 33) argues that the reality of needing to be financially secure, either through

local advertising, donations, or donor funding, is in tension with the model of community radio

stations that is run and owned by community members in the community interest. When donors

influence the agenda of a community radio station, the results are telling - the station can

14
potentially lose its independence and community control. Interestingly, William Siemering (cited

in Myers, 2011: 21) dismisses this notion that sponsored programmes can make a community

radio loose its community-ness. He argues that it would take a lot of outside programming for a

station to lose its community-ness.

Nevertheless, none of the literature reviewed provides a cut-off point for a community radio

station to lose its „community-ness‟ due to sponsored programmes and as seen from the above

arguments, the debate about ownership of community radio stations are non-exhaustive, clearly

making it a contentious issue in community radio broadcasting.

2.2. Community Participation in Community Radio

Carpentier (2011: 68) classifies ordinary people‟s involvement in the media into two interrelated

forms, participation in the media and participation through the media. The difference between

the two is that “participation in the media deals with participation in the production of media

output (content-related participation) and in media organizational decision-making (structural

participation)”. However, Mhagama (2015: 29) argues that different forms of participation have

varying implication for development as expounded below.

2.2.1. Content-Related Participation

Berrigan (1979: 26) argues that meaningful community participation in any project should begin

at the beginning, in defining of problems. Taken into community media broadcasting, this notion

entails involving community members early enough in the establishment of a radio station and

deciding what sort of programmes they want to be broadcast on their local station. This is a

maximalist form of participation according to Carpentier (2011: 67-8), the consensus-oriented

models of democracy, and emphasizes the importance of dialogue and deliberation and focus on

15
collective decision-making based on rational arguments. Put it short, this can be an embodiment

of Habermasian‟ concept of the public sphere.

However, people who believe in the minimalist form of participation think consultation is

expensive and seldom practised it in the establishment of most community radios world-wide

which results into the manipulation of ordinary people to think that the station is doing its best in

their interest yet programme framers are unconsciously imposing their own view of things on the

people (Mhagama, 2015: 152). Eversole‟s (2012: 8) argues that the lack of it is equally

expensive because people would still need to be mobilized at a later stage otherwise it will affect

the way they would accept the development initiative.

The situation described above confirms observation that “too often, genuine and balanced

community participation only takes place at the operational stages of programme development”

which may be typical of manipulation and is in sharp contrast with the ethos of participatory

development communication which emphasizes active involvement of rural people in the

identification of their needs, the mobilization of local resources and local level implementation

of plans to satisfy local needs” (Kolawole, 1982: 122).

A typical example of community radio stations that involve the community directly in running

the radio stations is the Mahaweli Community Radio station (MCR) in Sri Lanka (Fisher, 1990:

21). The radio involves ordinary people in the planning, recording, and editing of programmes

by allowing the production team to carry out audience surveys first to study the social structure,

demographics, economic levels and agricultural activities of a particular village and then they

record activities in which everyone participates. The materials recorded include dramas

performed by the villagers, traditional music and interviews with local experts (Mhagama 2015:

16
36). In short, we see MCR as a good example of a successful community radio for development

because of its ability to identify with the listeners, involving them in programme planning, and

production, and encouraging participation in development.

This is relieving as it meets Alnaldo definition (1998 cited by Mhagama 2015: 36) of community

radio as a social process or event in which members of the community associate together to

design programmes and produce and air them, thus taking on the primary role of actors in their

own destiny. Participation is used in an optimistic sense with regard to the empowering role of

community media in giving voice to ordinary people through their participation in media

production and organizational management. When ordinary people participate in programme

production it can be viewed as the most empowering aspect of community radio. Community

radio empowers ordinary people to become active producers, and not merely passive recipients

of information and opinion (Bresnaham, 2007 cited by Mhagama, 2015: 35).

The most pleasing part of this trend is that it turns community radio station into public sphere

hence living the Herbamas theory where local people can represent themselves and channel their

concerns to their leaders directly. As Carpentier (2011: 67) argues, the media sphere serves as a

location where citizens can voice their opinions and experiences and interact with other voices.

This is in line with the decentralization process and resonates with Fraser and Estrada‟s (2001:

19) argument that it is the function of community radio to provide an independent platform for

interactive discussion about matters and decisions of importance to its community.

2.2.2. Structural Participation

The second form of participation in the media is called structural participation which happens in

a top down structure of community radio ownership where NGO‟s or individuals run the day to

17
day operations of the radio and put the communities‟ at the periphery. Gumucio-Dagron (2001:

16) argues that community radio ownership in top down structure is characterized by total

ownership to different degrees of audience involvement in programming and management by the

community it is meant to serve. The most prevailing trend is that the community is not involved

in running the administrative issues of most community radio stations. Fraser and Estrada (2001:

51) backs this school of thought by arguing that everyone cannot be involved all the time, and

therefore a representative body needs to be established, a community media committee to assume

the management role.

This top-down approach to communication is prevalent in the modernization paradigm in which

consultation was thought to be slow, expensive, and ineffective. This is consistent with Balit‟s

(2010a cited by Mhagama, 2015: 28) argument that participatory approaches that promote

dialogue and engagement are often seen as costly, time consuming, and difficult to accommodate

in well-defined plans and log-frames. However, Carpentier (2011cited by Mhagama, 2015: 35)

calls this a minimalist form of participation, in which media professionals retain strong control

over process and outcome, restricting participation to access and interaction, to the degree that

one wonders whether the concept of participation is still appropriate.

In this form, „participation‟ can be lip service, a term aimed to mislead people with the promise

of empowerment while reducing their agency at the same time. This can be equally called a form

of non-participation as people‟s views are sought but they are not involved in making final

decisions. This defeats the citizen power, the highest level of participation whereby members of

the community are treated as equal partners and have full control over decision-making

processes and resources (Mhagama 2015: 29).

18
Power relations within society are what give rise to this situation according to Antonio Gramsci‟s

Hegemony theory. Carpentier and Dahlgren (2011: 8) argue that the power to implement the

decisions agreed in the interface between ordinary people and NGO‟s running the community

radios remains in the hands of the NGO‟s or individual. This situation is what Pateman (1970:

70) describes as partial participation, a process in which two or more parties influence each other

in the making of decisions but the final power to decide rests with one party only. The

implication of this is that it creates an illusion of participation, placation, which can make

ordinary people feel as though they are involved in a democratic process when in reality they are

not. This is why Carpentier, (2011: 44) describes placation as a higher level of tokenism in which

have-nots are entitled to advice, but power holders still have the right to decide.

Although there is evidence of listener involvement in decision-making processes in community

radio stations controlled by NGO‟s and other influential people like politicians, the form of

participation can be described as minimal or partial which has huge bearing on achieving

sustainable community development.

19
CHAPTER 3: FINDINGS

3.0 Introduction

This section presents findings that for clarity sake have been grouped into thematic areas in

accordance with the emerging issues in the study. These are findings on ownership of Neno FM,

administration structures, communities‟ participation in the community radio within the

dimensions of content-related participation (production of media output) and structural

participation (media organizational decision-making), and what the is expected of the radio

station by the community. These thematic areas have been developed in pursuant of the study‟s

objectives to establish the official ownerships structures of Neno Community Radio, to compare

and contrast the official ownership structures and the existing management and operations

practices of Neno Community radio, and to establish the extent to which Neno Community

Radio can be said to be owned by the community based on its model.

3.1 Ownership of Neno FM

Neno FM went on air on 25th December, 2014 and the idea to establish the radio station was

hatched by Kingdom Investment, a family investment of the Tembo family chaired by Dr.

Benson Tembo. The family decided to come up with the radio in the area because Mrs. Gladys

Tembo, wife to Dr. Benson Tembo comes from that community and this is a home investment

whose legal owner is Kingdom Investment (Acting Station Manager, 16th May, 2019).

Funding for the establishment of radio station came from Dr. Benson Tembo‟s family and the

building that currently houses the radio is rented and belongs to Neno Macadamia Small Holder

Co-operative. However, Neno FM building is underway at roofing stage with funds from the

Tembo Family. Through-out the process of establishing the community radio station, the

20
community was not involved and it was Dr. Benson Tembo himself through Kingdom

Investment that obtained the broadcasting license from Malawi Communication Regulatory

Authority. (Acting Station Manager, 16th May, 2019).

The Focus Group discussion that the study conducted with nine members of the District

Community Development Committee comprising of six men and three women revealed that the

community was not consulted in the establishment of the radio station. They said they started

hearing like a rumour that a radio station will be opened in Neno and later on heard that the

station has rented a house at the Boma.

“One day we just woke up to some interlude of music when we tried to turn the

frequency dial. A month later it is when we started hearing voices on the radio. We were

never briefed as to what is to happen in this community,” (Neno District Community

Development Committee, 16 May, 2019).

Figure 1: Neno FM building in Neno District.

21
The radio station covers a radius of 100 kilometres and broadcasts 14 hours a day from 6:00 am

to 20:00 hours and serves the whole district population of 158, 000. However, there is a

possibility that some sections in the District are not covered with the community radio station

due to the topography of the district that is hilly and mountainous.

3.1.1 Administrative Structure

Neno Community radio has a board of directors at the top of the hierarchy of the organisation,

Managing Director, Station Manager, head of programmes and presenters that double as

reporters. Its staff comprises of six presenters/ reporters and these are three males and three

females, and the acting station manager totaling all to seven.

Figure 2 Hierarchies at Neno Community Station

BOARD OF DIRECTORS

MANAGING DIRECTOR

STATION MANAGER

HEAD OF PROGRAMMES

PRESENTERS/ REPORTERS

22
Figure 2: One of the Announcers on the air at Neno FM

3.2 Community Participation

Community participation in the operations of community media falls within two dimensions and

these are content-related participation (production of media output) and structural participation

(media organizational decision-making. The study has found varying degrees of community

participation in the running of Neno Community Radio Station as presented in the following

subsections.

3.2.1. Structural Participation

This type of participation entails the involvement of people in the day to day running and

management of the station. The establishment of Neno Community Radio Station has given the

people enough reasons to listen their own local voices on the air. All nine members of the focus

group discussion acknowledged of listening to the community radio station.

23
“We stopped listening to other radio stations here. Zodiak and MBC Radio 1 were

popular but Neno Community Radio Station speaks to us directly about our issues and we

love it more than any other radio station”. (Neno District Community Development

Committee, 16 May, 2019).

However, they revealed that there is no committee that comprises of members of the community

to act as the station executive committee that overlooks the operations of the radio station.

“The committee could have been formed at the initial stage of establishing the radio but

since we were not consulted, the committee was not formed. The hospital has a

management committee; the police station has a station executive committee. We don‟t

know how the radio was set up without a committee and how does it operate in the

absence of a community management committee”. (Neno District Community

Development Committee, 16 May, 2019).

They further indicated their passion to be involved in the running of the radio station because

that‟s according to them, the only way the radio station can be seen to belong to the community.

This they said will also give them chance to help their radio in a way deemed necessary. That

said, the minimalist involvement of the public in the decision making structure of the radio

station has had no any confrontations between the radio station and members of the community.

This they said it is because they treat it as a business entity whose privacy needs to be respected.

“We normally keep ourselves at a distance even if we notice any problems at the station.

But one citizen nearly sued the station for defamation because they aired a story without

verifying and balancing up with him.” (Neno District Community Development

Committee, 16 May, 2019).

24
3.2.2. Content-Related Participation

Unlike the structural participation, this one sees the community in the creation of programmes

and extends further to other interactive forms of participation without being there in the studios.

The focus group discussion revealed that leaders of the communities like village heads and

chairpersons of village development committees go on the air and make announcements

themselves. Village Head Donda indicated:

“I went on air and made an announcement that we will register all bicycle operators and

issue them with identity cards. This was a way of fighting increased cases of crimes

against passengers and the message was received well” (16 May, 2019).

The Chair person for the village development committee (VDC) also said he took it on the air

calling on people that they should come and clean at Neno District Hospital.

“My message was received well people come in large numbers from near and far. After

we finished the cleaning exercise at the hospital, I also returned on the air to thank them

all for being part of the make hospital clean campaign”. (16 May, 2019).

Village Head Menyani disclosed that the radio is serving people better and has given chance that

they talk to their subjects at once just by going on air.

“There was a day my cellphone caught fire and I took it to the radio where I announced

for free a message warning people that they should handle their cellphones with care. I

felt necessary to warn others because mine caught fire while in my pocket and others can

avoid this trouble with cellphones. (16 May, 2019 FGD).

Community participation at Neno Community radio station also extends to airing women and

youth activities on the air. For instance, women that were part of the focus group discussion

25
indicated that the radio airs Amai Ticheze, a women-fold interactive gathering where they share

tips on issues pertaining to their gender, roles in society and challenges. The women at the FGD

sounded happy that the announcers at the radio follow them to distant places some even outside

the district to record their activities and air them.

In a response to the structured questionnaire, the producers at the station said they also allow the

communities to participate on the air through short messaging facility (mobile SMS) and phone

inn programmes.

However, despite operating in a district with mountainous terrain, Neno Community Radio has

not established listener‟s clubs which makes it even difficult for people to participate freely on

the radio. This was observed by the Nice District Civic Education officer who said participation

in the radio is not even as people in the Southern part of the district remain secluded due to the

mountainous topography at Neno South.

The study has also found out that communities were not also involved in creating programmes at

the initial stage. All programmes were created by management.

“Communities don‟t participate in creation of programmes. It is us producers that do the

production”. (Neno FM producer/ announcer, May 16 2019).

3.3 Community Support through Sponsorship

Neno Community Radio Station does not at the mean time receive any financing support from

the communities save for programme sponsorship and advertisements. At the time of the study

(May 2019) Neno FM was running eight sponsored programmes and the main sponsors are the

NGO‟s working in the district and these are Save the Children, Community Action for

Sustainable Development (CASDO), Action Aid, Nice Trust, Christian Aid; and Government

26
Departments though the district council uses the radio occasionally to woe business owners to

pay revenue. (Acting Station Manager, 16 May, 2019)

The rate of adverts that the station charges are K800.00 for all dry adverts that can be read on air,

and K3, 500.00 to K5, 000.00 for all studio produced adverts. The revenue is expended on office

consumables, bills, rent and staff wages and at the time of the study the Acting Station Manger

indicated that the community radio station makes enough money for its operations.

Figure 3: Advertising Rates at Neno FM

CATEGORY DURATION RATE

Dry adverts 60 seconds K800.00

Studio recorded adverts 60 seconds K3,500.00 – K5,500.00

Sponsored programmes Depends of client preference Negotiable

Nice Trust District Civic Education Officer told the study in a structured interview that their

organisation has a cordial working relationship with the radio station.

“We have memorandum of understanding where the station treats us as loyal customers

and this sees our organisation enjoy fair charges on airtime. They station also gives us

free slots and this arrangement is ongoing.” (Nice District Civic Education Officer, 16

May, 2019).

The programmes that Nice Trust airs on the radio are on democracy, citizen participation, good

governance, transparency and accountability. At the time of the study which was a week before

the 21 May, 2019 Tripartite election, the researcher found on the radio station schedule

programmes that Nice was running on the electoral matters and polling procedures.

27
Figure 4: Client Paying for Advert Slots at the Acting Station Manager's Office

Neno District Council is also another stake holder that uses the community radio to reach out to

people. The District Commissioner‟s representative told the study in a structured interview that

the council uses the radio to implement development projects. He however pointed out that their

relationship is that of a service provider and a client.

“We established a working relationship and pay the radio when we have an important

project to undertake. For instance, we were implementing the Shire River Basin

Management programme whose activities extended to conserving the Wamkulumadzi

River here in Neno that feeds into the Shire River. We used the station in implementing

the project.” (16 May, 2019).

The study also found out that Neno District Hospital also uses the station by sponsoring

programmes when it has important campaigns to implement. The Voluntary Medical Male

28
Circumcision (VMMC) project being a typical example that the hospital uses to woo people to

go for male circumcision.

3.4. Community’s Expectations of Neno FM

The District Community Development Committee which participated in the focus group

discussion that this study conducted indicated that the business model that the radio station

operates on detaches the communities from taking part in the radio station. They would like to be

involved not only in contented-related participation but also in structural participation so that

they can help in one way or the other in bailing out any challenges the community radio station

can face.

“We don‟t feel part of the process. This stops us from giving feedback to the station

because we were not involved at the initial setup of the radio station. We sometimes hold

ourselves back from ‟. (VDC Chair Donda, 16 May, 2019).

Female participants in the FGD also indicated that there so many issues in the community that

they would want be taken on the radio but they are hold back because the community radio

project was not presented to the communities so that they can own it and utilise it to the fullest.

“Until today, some of us thought all messages that are aired on the Neno FM are paid for.

We didn‟t know that it is a community radio. The owners didn‟t want to bring the radio

closer to us. They didn‟t want to be a community radio.”

Much as his organisation is dependent on European Union for its activities in the district and

cannot give any donation to the community radio save for sponsoring programmes, but Neno

District Civic education officer at Nice Trust feels the gap between the station is gaping wide and

this is impeding the growth of the community radio and the development of the district.

29
“Community radio is part of community development. But when what was meant to be a

community entity is held back in the hand of a family business, the results can be

retarded development. All messages in different aspects of life need to be communicated

and reach the targeted beneficiaries and community radio is the means. The radio cannot

continue like this and expect to spur development when it is detached from the

community”.

Community Action for Sustainable Development (CASDO) is another development partner

working in Neno District and has partnership with Neno FM. Its Director told the study that they

use Neno Community Radio station as a tool to reach out to people with messages and their

relationship is a two way - service provided versus client relationship. He also deplored the

structure that the radio took as a private entity as being a barrier to the community-ness of the

station.

“Our organisation does not give any donation to the station because we regard it as a

business entity. There is need for the radio station to fully involve the communities in its

affairs for the community to be part of the station. This will free us so that we help a

community project not a business entity.” (CASDO Director, 16 May, 2019).

After all lamentations from the community about the manner in which Neno FM is being run and

the perceived detachment from the community are heard and done, there are two different

conclusions that respondents to the study indicated. Some think the initiators of the project

designed it that it should be run as business entity and there is no way they can do about it.

Others think it was by sheer oversight and that they can correct the situation and reposition the

community radio for the greater good of the community.

30
3.5 Conclusion

This section presented the findings of the study which indicate that Neno Community Radio

Station operates on private ownership structures that involve communities in minimal

participation by featuring them in programmes and not in creation of programmes (content). The

radio does not also involve the communities in structural participation in the operations of the

community radio station as evidenced by lack of a station management committee which would

ensures communities involvement in the structural operations of the community media. This in

turn makes the radio station be perceived as private and business oriented thereby detaching it

further from the community.

31
CHAPTER 4: DISCUSSION OF FINDINGS

4.0 Introduction

This chapter discusses and interprets the findings of this study that for clarity sake were grouped

in the previous chapter into thematic areas in accordance with the emergent issues. The

discussion centres on ownership of Neno FM, administration structures at the community radio

station, communities‟ participation in the community radio and what the communities expect

from the station.

4.1 Ownership of Neno FM

There are a number of issues that this study has found out pertaining to the ownership of Neno

Community Radio. The first issue is that the idea to establish the radio station was hatched by

Dr. Benson Tembo as part of the Kingdom Investment, his family investment. The second is that

funding for the establishment of the radio station came from Tembo‟s family, and that Dr.

Benson Tembo himself through Kingdom Investment obtained the broadcasting license from

Malawi Communication Regulatory Authority (MACRA). This is not unusual in the community

broadcasting industry. Gumucio-Dagron (2001: 46-47) posits that the idea to establish the first

ever community radio in Latin America, Radio Sutatenza was hatched by a Catholic priest

working in the area in 1947. What this means is that its ownership was private just like Neno

Community Radio Station. The only difference is that the Catholic priest in Latin America

involved the communities in the initial stage of setting up the station, a case which did not

happen at Neno FM.

Nevertheless, this is a top down philosophy of community radio ownership that Mtinde et al.,

(1998: 15) describe that it liberates the ownership of community radio from the community to

organisation and individuals working in the area.

32
However, there is a growing voice amongst scholars that the community needs to be consulted in

the process of setting up the radio station by individuals and a community committee needs to be

set up in the process. This was not done at Neno FM. The community radio station operates

without a community management committee and this places the community as distant observers

of what is happening at the community Radio.

Jallov (2005 cited in Mhagama 2015: 123) argues that the importance of Participatory

Development theory comes into being in making members of the community to feel like they

own the station and are part of it and that it represents their community. This ensures that the

community radio station is “embedded in the everyday lived experience of so-called ordinary

people” (Howley, 2010: 4). The lack of consultation with the community and failure to institute a

community steering committee may have a large bearing on the development agenda of the

district and the running of the community radio station. This is according to Gumucio-Dagron

(2008: 70) who argues that without people‟s participation; no project can be successful and last

long enough to support social change.

That said, the failure to consult the masses on the onset of the community radio project should

not come as surprise. It is a reminiscent of the top-down approach to communication prevalent in

the modernization paradigm in which consultation was thought to be slow, expensive, and

ineffective. This is consistent with Balit‟s (2010a cited in Mhagama 2015: 152) argument that

“participatory approaches that promote dialogue and engagement are often seen as costly, time

consuming and difficult to accommodate in well-defined plans and log frames”. However,

although consultation is thought to be expensive, the Participatory Development Communication

paradigm posits that lack of it is equally expensive because people would still need to be

mobilized at a later stage otherwise it will affect the way they would accept the development

33
initiative. If this theory is anything to go by, one can predict with certainty that Neno FM may

one day pay dearly for this oversight if it continues delineating the masses in its structures.

4.2 Community Participation

According to Berrigan (1979: 18) participation in the media “implies the involvement of the

public in production and in the management of communication systems”. There are many ways

through which this can be achieved. Berrigan (1979: 18) categorizes forms of participation at

three levels: production, decision-making and planning levels. However, Carpentier (2011 cited

in Mhagama 2015: 148) classifies participation in two forms, participation in the media

(structural participation) and participation through the media (content- related participation).

Neno FM fosters the latter while keeping the community away in participating in the structures

of management.

This scenario relates to the function of manipulation on Arnstein‟s (1969 cited in Mhagama

2015: 152) ladder of participation. This is against the ethos of participatory development

communication which emphasizes “active involvement of rural people in the identification of

their needs, the mobilization of local resources and local level implementation of plans to satisfy

local needs” (Kolawole, 1982: 122). Ordinary people in Neno are being manipulated to think that

the station is doing its best in their interest by featuring them in programmes and giving them

access on air yet programme framers are unconsciously imposing their own view of things on the

people and refusing them to be an integral part of the station‟s decision making process.

4.2.1 Open Door Policy at Neno FM

Another core aspect of community radio station is to keep an open door policy where members

of the community can come at any time and make announcements about emergency issues in the

community. On this, the findings paint a rosy picture. Testimonies that three participants in the

34
FGDs presented show that they had taken on air to announce for a community cleaning at the

hospital, the need to handle cellphones with care and the registration of bicycle operators. But an

analysis of this development still paints a lousy picture. Out of the nine participants at the FGD

only three had this privilege which represents about 33.3% of the respondents. The depiction

even gets more gloomy is you consider that all the three that had gone on air are men only with

power and influence in the communities. To break it down, two are village heads and one is a

Village Development chair. They are not ordinary people in the area as their positions might

have predisposed the producers to give them airtime. This is not unusual in any setting where

people of power and influence are given priority and consideration at the expense of ordinary

community members.

Figure 5: Percentage of FGD participants Gone on Air at Neno FM

22%

Villlage Heads
VDC Chair
11%
Ordinary citizens

67%

4.2.2 Community Feedback at Neno FM

Fairchild (2010: 16) argues that community media should strive to facilitate two way

communication within the local community and this involves ordinary people providing

feedback. In terms of giving feedback, the study found out that producers and presenters at Neno

35
FM employ call inn programmes and SMS facilities in order to encourage feedback from

community. This step is in the right direction. When ordinary people are accorded the

opportunity to offer feedback, Berrigan (1979) argues, they “enter into public discourse, thereby

supporting popular participation in decision-making processes and promoting a greater sense of

individual and collective agency in directing the community‟s growth and development”

4.3 Sponsorship and Adverts as Radio Support

Sharma (2011: 7) argues that individual community members and local institutions are the main

sources of support for the daily running of community radio stations. This study has found out

that making financial contributions is a major way through which ordinary people support and

participate in the daily running of Neno Community Radio Station. Financial contribution

extends to advertising as well.

According to Loeser (2011: 2) when advertisers advertise on community radio “they believe it is

an investment in their community, an investment that will improve the quality of life for their

customers and employees, thereby improving the opportunities for business success in the long

term”. Similarly, CASDO, Neno District Council, and Nice, the three development partners

interviewed in this study, expressed the same belief that when they place adverts on the

community radio, they are not only helping boost their presence and influence on the

communities but they are supporting the radio station financially.

This is the argument that Loeser (2011: 2) advances by positing that “advertisers spend money

on community radio to improve the community first, and improve sales second”. No wonder that

the radio is generating enough revenue for all its operations and expenses without a deficit

according to the Acting Station Manager (16 May, 2016). The communities and the

36
development partners in the district are giving the community radio the much needed financial

support.

Furthermore, the sponsorship of radio programmes at the community radio station go beyond

supporting the station. The nature of programmes that CASDO and Nice Trust sponsor on the

radio is inclined towards democratization of the community, accountability, social development

and good governance. Community media sphere serves as a location where citizens can voice

their opinions and experiences and interact with other voices (Carpentier, 2011: 67). This is

imperative as in poor communities according to Fraser and Estrada (2001: 20), “local authorities

and politicians can easily take advantage of citizens, either individually or as a group, in part

because the marginalized and oppressed have no way to complain”.

By airing these sponsored programmes from these non-governmental organisations, Neno

community radio comes in as a community mouthpiece and helps people obtain their just rights

by giving them a platform to air their grievances. As Fraser and Estrada‟s (2001: 19) posit,

“democratic processes must reach into the government and the private institutions operating in

the community, as well as to policy makers and authorities at the local, regional, and even

national level”. When community radio provides a space for ordinary people to confront local

authorities in a face-to-face encounter, it can help to bring their grievances directly to the

attention of government. In this way, Neno community radio can be said to be promoting local

democracy.

This is keeping in line with the decentralization process, and resonates with Fraser and Estrada‟s

(2001: 19) argument that “it is the function of community radio to provide an independent

platform for interactive discussion about matters and decisions of importance to its community”.

37
However, Mhagama (2015: 270) argues that although opportunities like these can accord

marginalized people an opportunity to represent themselves in public life; ordinary people do not

have the power to implement the decisions made as previously. Therefore promoting deliberative

democracy on Neno FM cannot be equated to instant change.

4.4 Breeding of Community Disillusionment

The growing lamentations and perceived detachment of Neno Community Radio Station from

the communities has the potential to breed disillusionment and community dislike of the

community radio station. This can be deduced from the two differing views that the people hold.

While some think the status quo at the community radio was design that they initiators of the

radio wanted to keep it under their armpits, others think it was an oversight that can be remedied

and bring the communities on board for the betterment of the district‟s development and the

future of the community radio station.

The danger with people that hold the former perspective is that they are likely to develop biases

basing on certain behaviors and experiences with the community radio station. This is according

to the Attribution Theory of Perception views the process by which individuals interpret events

around them as being caused by (attributed to) a relatively stable portion of their environment

(Ivancevich, Konopaske and Matteson, 2013: 98 – 99). The resultant effect of this is the

development of negative behaviours of disillusionment against the community radio station and

its staff which can be reinforced according to the Attribution Theory with consistency, the degree

to which a person engages in the same behaviors at different times; and consensus, the degree to

which the whole community engages in the same behavior. This will hinder development

progress in the District the growth of the community radio station.

38
Management of Neno FM needs to mend its way with the community and establish a

collaborative partnership with the communities, set up a community management committee,

and end the perceived personalization of the station to the Tembo family. This will enable the

station to leverage on available opportunities and spur development in the district.

4.4 Conclusion

This chapter has tried to link the findings of this study to the Participatory Communication

Theory and the contrasting viewpoint to it that the Modernisation Theory promotes. In order to

give a comprehensible context to the issues found in this study, an attempt has also been done to

interpret the findings and link to other scholarly work that informs the discourse in community

broadcasting worldwide and the Theory of perception in view of the disillusionment that he

communities have with the operations of the community radio station. After all arguments and

counter-argument are presented, the picture that stands out is that community radio stations

should foster participatory communication in their operations as a way of bringing their activities

and services closer to the communities they serve. They will in turn spur collaboration in the

endeavors and generate long lasting change in the communities.

39
CHAPTER 5: CONCLUSION

Malawi just like the other developing countries is embracing community broadcasting media to

serve as tools for sustainable development. There are two philosophies of community radio

broadcasting establishment: one which is fully owned and run by members of the community -

and the other which is a donor station funded by a body outside the community which sets the

aims and purposes of the station. These different ownership styles agues Mhagama (2015: 04),

accord people opportunities to participate in different ways which can affect the way

participation contributes to development. It is against this background that this study sought to

examine the extent of communities‟ participation at Neno Community Radio which was set up

by an individual, Dr. Benson Tembo.

The study employed the Participatory Development Communication Paradigm which postulates

that without people‟s participation, no project can be successful and last long enough to support

social change (Gumucio-Dagron, 2008: 70). This emanates from Melkote recommendation

(1991: 191) that “people who are objects of policy need to be involved in the definition, design,

and execution of the development process” This is where participatory or „another‟ development

theory which emphasizes grassroots participation in development projects comes in.

The method that the study used is the mixed approach which involves open ended, uncountable

data and close-ended countable data collection. By mixed method the study employed the

qualitative approach as the main approach and the quantitative approach as a complementary.

This was in view of the fact that the two methods deal with different types of content. The

importance of employing both methods is documented by Babbie (2014: 434) argues that

40
researchers need both qualitative and quantitative analysis for the fullest understanding of social

science data.

Four samples were employed in this study: questionnaire interviews with the Acting station

Manager and producers at Neno FM; focus group discussion with the District Community

Development Committee, in-depth interviews with Neno District Commissioner‟s representative;

and two NGO‟s working in Neno, Community Action for Sustainable Development and Nice

Trust.

The study has found out that Neno Community Radio was established by Dr. Benson Tembo‟s

family and that it is being run as a family business. This is not unusual in the community

broadcasting industry. Gumucio-Dagron (2001: 46-47) posits that the idea to establish the first

ever community radio in Latin America, Radio Sutatenza was hatched by a Catholic priest

working in the area in 1947. What this means is that its ownership was private just like Neno

Community Radio station. This is a top down philosophy of community radio ownership that

Mtinde et al., (1998: 15) describe that it liberates the ownership of community radio from the

community to organisation and individuals working in the area. However, this type of ownership

has implications in the way communities participate in the radio station that range from partial

participation and complete detachment from the station‟s operation structures.

The study has found out that communities were not consulted in the initial process of setting up

the community radio station. This is a reminiscent of the top-down approach to communication

prevalent in the modernization paradigm in which consultation was thought to be slow,

expensive, and ineffective. This is consistent with Balit‟s (2010a cited in Mhagama 2015: 152)

argument that “participatory approaches that promote dialogue and engagement are often seen as

41
costly, time consuming and difficult to accommodate in well-defined plans and log frames”.

However, although consultation is thought to be expensive, the Participatory Development

Communication paradigm posits that lack of it is equally expensive because people would still

need to be mobilized at a later stage and set up a community executive committee for Neno

Community Radio Station to break even. This is imperative in the community radio station‟s

quest of serving the people of Neno better as opposed to delineating them in its structures as is

the case now.

Another important finding of the study is the open door policy that the station follows in giving

access to the station communities to make announcement. This is the score aspect of community

radio broadcasting - to keep an open door policy where members of the community can come at

any time and make announcements about emergency issues in the community. The study found

out that community members had taken on air to announce for a community cleaning at the

hospital, the need to handle cellphones with care at the village chief‟s cellphone exploded in the

pocket, and the registration of bicycle operators. This is commendable despite representing just

33% of the FGD participants.

The study has also learnt that the community in the district is supporting the station with adverts

and programme sponsorship, a thing which enables it generate enough revenue for its operations.

The nature of programmes that CASDO and Nice Trust sponsor on the radio is inclined towards

democratization of the community, accountability, social development and good governance.

This is in line with the notion that posits that community media sphere serves as a location where

citizens can voice their opinions and experiences and interact with other voices. It is important in

in poor communities where local authorities and politicians can easily take advantage of citizens,

either individually or as a group, in part because they are marginalized and oppressed.

42
This is keeping in line with the decentralization process, and resonates with Fraser and Estrada‟s

(2001: 19) argument that “it is the function of community radio to provide an independent

platform for interactive discussion about matters and decisions of importance to its community”.

But the lack of collaborative partnership with the communities, absence of community executive

committee, and perceived personalization of the station to the Tembo family is likely to hinder

the station from leveraging on these seemingly available benefits if management continues to

disregard the effectiveness of the participatory development communication paradigm in the

management of Neno Community Radio Station.

43
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46
APPENDICES

Questionnaire for Neno FM Station Manager

I am Whytone Kapasule, a Bachelor of Arts in Communication and Cultural Studies student at


University of Malawi. I‟m doing a study on “ownership of Neno community radio station and
communities’ participation in running the station”. The study is purely for academic purposes
and you can be rest assured that your identity will be treated with confidentiality and anonymity
as academic study ethics require to avoid personalization of the issues studies find out.

M F
AGE SEX POSITION

Establishment

1. When did Neno FM receive a broadcasting license? And when did you first go on air?
2. Who hatched the idea to come up with Neno FM?

3. Why did you come up with the idea to establish the station in this community and not any
other?

4. What is the mission statement of your radio station?

5. Who is the legal owner of this station?


6. Where did funding for establishing this station come from?

7. Where did the building that houses Neno FM came from? Is it rented?
8. What role did the communities in Neno play in establishing the station?

9. How was the Neno FM broadcasting licence obtained from MACRA? Did local
communities do it themselves or were helped by NGO/ individuals in applying for
licence?
10. What are your license conditions?

11. What is your area of coverage?

12. How many hours do you broadcast per day?


13. What is the estimated audience size?

47
Administrative Structure

14. Do you have a Community Media Committee or Community Governing Council at the
station?
15. If yes, what is the structure of your governing body?
16. What is the role of the governing body? ( if it exists)
17. Have you had any confrontation with the chiefs in this area/ local people public regarding
management of the station? Explain
18. Do you have a mechanism in which local communities channel their contributions/
complaints to the station and how do you handle them?
19. Does the station `receive financing from communities?
20. If yes, how often and to what extent?
21. Do outside agencies sponsor any of your programmes? If yes, who are they and to what
extent (how many sponsored programmes and how much revenue?
22. Are you allowed to do any advertising? Explain the charges and how much revenue from
adverts
23. Who are the main sponsors/ donor/ advertisers at Neno FM?
24. How do you spend the income that the station generates?
25. Is the money you make yourself enough for your operations?
26. How does the District Council in Neno use this radio station for development work? On
what conditions? Explain and give examples.
27. How do NGOs in Neno use this radio station for development work? On what
conditions? Explain

Programming /Community Participation

28. Were community members involved in coming up with the programmes at the initial
stage? Explain?
29. If yes, what type of programmes and how to they rate at your station?
30. Do community members participate in production of programmes? Explain how?
31. Does the radio station air programmes whose content is recorded/ produced by local
masses themselves without being aided by your staff? Explain how often

48
32. Does the station have an open policy (where local people can walk into the studios
anytime to make local announcements)? Explain why so?
Or a close policy that stops local people from walking into the studios anytime to make
local announcements)? Explain why so?

Focus Group Discussion Interview Guide

1. Do you listen to your community radio station?


2. Is it meeting its initial purpose? Explain.
3. Were you involved in the establishment of the station? Explain
4. Are you allowed to air your programmes on the radio station?
5. Do you record your own programmes and give to the radio staff to air?
6. Are you allowed to enter the studios and make emergency announcements/ SOS to
people in this area?
7. Is the station responsive to your needs and interests of the community?
8. How do you give feedback to the station? Do they seem to act upon your suggestions?
9. Are you involved in station operation? Why not? Do you know anyone who is?
10. Would you like to be involved in the station? Explain.
11. Were you consulted on the need to establish the radio station? If „Yes‟, at what level?
12. How is the community represented in the radio station?
13. Can you name one person who is a representative of the community in the management
of the radio station?
14. What work do they do in that capacity?

Questionnaire for Neno District Commissioner/ Representative

1. What is your relationship with Neno Community Radio?


2. As government, what kind of assistance do you give to the radio station?
3. Do you use the radio station to reach out to the communities when implementing
Government projects? Explain
4. What programmes do you have on the radio station? On what partnership agreement
5. Are you satisfied with the way Neno FM is being run?
6. What would you like to see the radio station doing?

49
7. How would you like it to be managed?

Questionnaire for NGOs Working in Neno District

1. What is your relationship with Neno Community Radio?


2. As development partners in the district, what kind of assistance do you give to the radio
station?
3. Do you use the radio station to reach out to the communities when implementing
development projects? Explain
4. What programmes do you have on the radio station? On what partnership agreement
5. Are you satisfied with the way Neno FM is being run?
6. What would you like to see the radio station doing?
7. How would you like it being managed?

Questionnaire for Producers/ Presenters at Neno FM

1. What is your relationship between you as members of staff at Neno Community Radio
and the community and chiefs?
2. Have you had any confrontation with locals over this radio station‟s operations?
3. Were community members involved in coming up with the programmes at the initial
stage? Explain?
4. If yes, what type of programmes and how to they rate at your station?
5. Do community members participate in production of programmes? Explain how?
6. Does the radio station air programmes whose content is recorded/ produced by local
masses themselves without being aided by your staff? Explain how often
7. Does the station have an open policy (where local people can walk into the studios
anytime to make local announcements)? Explain why so?
Or a close policy that stops local people from walking into the studios anytime to make
local announcements)? Explain why so?

50