THE community of Empangeni in KwaZulu-Natal will be the envy of the country today when it launches its own free-to-air television station - Bay Community Television.
A first of its kind in the province and the second in the country after the launch of Soweto TV a few years ago, the station will run 60percent local content, 30percent national and 10percent international.
Station manager Edwin Mncwango said there would be a major focus on issues that directly affect the local community.
"We want people to have reasons to choose this station. We also want locally produced and directed movies, soapies and even music videos to be aired at this station. We don't want to call it a community station just by name. It must prove this by its content," Mncwango said.
Themba Fakazi, chairperson of the Bay Community Television board, said it took five years to prepare and get all the necessary equipment and experienced people to start the station.
He said the station would initially run for 12 months. The board would then reapply to renew their licence. It would broadcast seven days a week, 24 hours a day on Channel 56 on DStv.
"It was a long process. We are excited that we have finally reached this stage," Fakazi said.
He said they would be able to work with Voice of America as well as Al Jazeera because they want to cater for all the needs of their viewers.
Fakazi said the station would create a number of jobs for the local community.
Well-known playwright Mbongeni Ngema, who is a content director, said his company, Committed Artists, would play a major role in the station.
"Ours is to ensure that local artists don't have to go to Gauteng to showcase their talent. They will be seen on this television station.
"KwaZulu-Natal is proving once again to the whole country that this province has what it takes to compete with the best in terms of capability and talent," said Ngema.
Television personality Bongani Zindela and Ukhozi FM DJ Nonhlanhla "Mroza" Buthelezi have been roped in as presenters.