JOHANNESBURG — South Africa’s first community TV station, Soweto TV, started live broadcasts July 8 from its base at a school in the sprawling township of nearly a million residents 15 miles southwest of Johannesburg.
Soweto TV is a volunteer community TV initiative but plans to develop into a fully commercial enterprise over the coming year. The aim is to keep it local by providing training for community members who would like to get involved. Regular auditions are held to discover local talent.
The station is positioning itself as interactive and informative “talk radio on television,” where both presenters and producers of all shows engage with Soweto viewers about relevant issues.
It broadcasts live every weekday from 6 p.m. till midnight with repeats packaged the rest of the day. Live sports are skedded on Saturday afternoons while on Sundays the strongly Christian community will be targeted with gospel talk shows.
Soweto was a black-designated residential area under Apartheid, which became well-known as the home of former President Nelson Mandela and Anglican Archbishop Desmond Tutu.
Today it is still predominantly black and a mixture of poorer shanty town areas, low-income housing, the rising black middle class and upscale homes for some of the new black elite who chose to remain in this vibrant community.