Paheja Siririka and Aletta Shikololo
Otjiwarongo FM (OtjiFM) is in a backlash with the Communications Regulatory Authority of Namibia (Cran) over the non-approval of a broadcasting licence, which the application dates back to 2014.
The board chairman of OtjiFM, Peete Ujamba, said the station has continuously been refused an analogue licence. “The station has been back and forth with Cran on its engagement to have a frequency but no approval has been granted so far,” lamented Ujamba.
He said the station has all the necessary documents in place and Cran has no reason to refuse the frequency. “Over the years, we have been diplomatic and patient enough to wait for them. Sadly, Cran continues to allow this type of biased system,” mentioned Ujamba.
He said on recommendations from Cran, they resubmitted documents on 3 October 2019, with a fee of N$10 000 as required to be awarded the frequency. “The regulator hasn’t given reasons or reverted on the status of the application apart from the media releases and consumer report they keep on imposing,” said Ujamba.
In a letter written to the ICT minister, seen by Entertainment Now!, the board informed the minister that they were told there is a moratorium on licensing but confusing as it is, Kanaal 7 Radio is making use of the said frequency that is 102.3MHz to their surprise up to date.
With its current online status and gaining momentum, the numbers of the listenership have grown substantially and without the FM terrestrial, the prospective clients cannot transact as they are seeking FM terrestrial. The station has in place all the basic required infrastructure from studio equipment, FM transmitter, and FM antenna ready to be switched on.
Refuting the allegations made by OtjiFM, Cran clarified that the station was awarded a Commercial Broadcasting Service Licence on 10 November 2014, in terms of Section 85 of the Communications Act (No.8 of 2009).
The organisation further elucidated to Entertainment Now! that Otji-Investments CC was further awarded a Spectrum Use Licence for 102.3 MHz on the same day, for the provision of broadcasting within the geographical area of Otjiwarongo.
“ Licensees are obliged to adhere to and comply with all Cran licence conditions and to pay the required service licence and spectrum fees in respect of the licence awarded, failure to results in the automatic lapsing of a licence,” said Jochen Traut, Acting Chief Executive Officer of Cran.
Traut added that in the particular instance, OtjiFM was obliged to commence with the provision of services within six months after the date of issuance of the said licences, and to pay the required service licence fees in respect of the licences awarded.
“OtjiFM failed to comply with the specific licence conditions in respect of the provision of services within six months of the award of the licence and further failed to pay service licence fees in respect of the licence awarded for the period 2015 to 2018. Resulting in the automatic lapsing of OtjiFM’s licences,” Traut said.
According to Traut, Cran duly informed Otji-Investments CC on 24 October 2018 that the Commercial Broadcasting Licence and the Spectrum Use Licence awarded to Otji-Investment cc automatically lapsed on 9 May 2015, due to non-compliance to licence conditions and non-payment of licence fees and therefore Otji-Investment CC no longer hold a licence to provide broadcasting services within the borders of the Republic of Namibia.
Traut states that all licensees are reminded to adhere to and comply with licence conditions and make the required payments to retain their licenses.
Cran categorically denies allegations made by OtjiFM with regards to unfair treatment of stakeholders.
“We pride ourselves in being a transparent and approachable regulator that serves all stakeholder fairly and professionally.”