The Independent Communications Authority of SA (ICASA) are cracking the whip and coming down hard on RadioX, a radio station operating without a license.
According to ICASA spokesperson a radio station, “cannot operate without a license” as it is up to the Regulator to decide on the best applicant for each region. RadioX is in defiance of this stipulation stating that the “airwaves belong to the people”.
The ICASA spokesperson added that they needed to ensure that applicants abide by the rules of a community radio, namely that amongst other stipulations it is non-profit. The underground radio station has retorted that ICASA’s regulations are unfair as they do not allow someone like himself to operate a station.
In an interview with Mr. Spencer, the founder of RadioX stated that his reason for not going the legal route is that he does not feel ICASA would grant him a license.
“Firstly, I am nobody in the business world. My opinion does not count unless I have a large bank account. For this reason my requests, petitions, and license applications to ICASA will not be heard, or properly considered. I speak not only for myself, but for others who have tried to apply for licenses. Secondly, there is no license available for the station I wish to run. Why is this? Nobody should "own" the airwaves,” said the man behind RadioX.
Furthermore, it seems that the only viable license is a community radio station license. According to RadioX founder these licenses are expensive as the stations are forced to pay steep license fees and are usually forced to rent Sentech transmitters as a condition of their agreement.
The full interview can be found at the following address:
RadioX founder added: “The only way to make ICASA consider better provisions for LPFM (low power FM), is to break current laws, as LPFM legislation is not being given any attention, and they are unresponsive to requests at present.”
ICASA closed down RadioX on Saturday and confiscated all the equipment in the studio. The Regulator will also be opening up a criminal case against the illegal station and should Radio X continue to contravene the law they will be subject to a R1 million penalty per day.
Since RadioX is currently privately funded out of the pocket of the man behind the venture, a R1 million a day penalty will most probably put an end to this pirate radio station.
But it looks like RadioX will not disappear meekly: “Our only goal is to allow LPFM stations like ourselves to be able to operate with a license that does not cost the Earth. Until that day arrives, we will continue to defy current laws until they are changed, and encourage others to do so too,” stated the founder.
You can find the RadioX website at: http://www.geocities.com/zaradiox/