Two years ago, South Sudan voted to become the world’s newest independent country. Since then, the South Sudanese have been hard at work creating the physical building blocks of a nation — roads, local governments, economic systems, schools, and more — as well as to create a national culture that unifies all 60+ indigenous ethnic groups after a half-century of civil war.
Radio and Television South Sudan will be the first indigenous, national FM radio and television network in South Sudan. The FM radio network began broadcasting on February 22, 2014 over a low-power FM signal on frequency 88.4.
There has never been a unified network of radio or television stations in South Sudan. Much like the overall task of building a nation, Radio and Television South Sudan will need to build the technical infrastructure needed to broadcast, as well as build the production facilities required to create locally relevant content.
These stations will make it possible to broadcast a unified message to every South Sudanese citizen. The programming for both the radio and television will feature conversations about conflict resolution, mediation, forgiveness, and reconciliation, as well as general information related to health services and the new programs of the local governments. By building a system for South Sudanese media, we are helping to build a unified South Sudan.
This very serious need was apparent when the most recent conflict started on December15, 2013. Local officials and leaders needed a way to broadcast a unified message of peace to every South Sudanese citizen to avoid the escalation of violence, fueled by rumors and misinformation. We can only dream of how different the conflict could have been if we had been able to send out accurate information about available shelters, aid, and possibly lead to a quick resolution.
What We Do
Radio South Sudan serves the people of South through Radio. We partner with Churches to bring radio sites to help spread the gospel from local churches and pastors, conversations about conflict resolution, mediation, forgiveness, and reconciliation, as well as general information related to health services and the new programs of the local governments.
The Role of Media
After a half-century of civil war and only two years of independence, the majority of people in South Sudan have no access to national communications and little connection to a national culture. There has never been infrastructure to distribute print or electronic information and illiteracy rates are extremely high. To further complicate these problems, former opposition groups within South Sudan are now faced with the prospect of internal reconciliation in order to move forward as a unified population and culture. Faced with these difficulties, the people of South Sudan are working hard to unite around the principles of independence, religious tolerance, and democracy.
Radio and Television South Sudan will act as a conduit of this reconciliation effort by connecting people from across the country to a single, local source of programming and information. Through conversations centered on peace, we will help to create a new national identity, resolve conflict, and educate the next generation on the necessity of continued religious freedom and tolerance.
We will build Radio and Television South Sudan with the capacity to reach all 10.3 million citizens within the next three years.
The FM radio network was launched on February 22, 2014 with a low power FM signal. This first radio station, with a frequency of 88.4, broadcasts to the city of Yei, a major economic center. We have the funds for a second “full-power” station and the government of Lainya County has set aside the land needed for a new broadcast tower. We will also expand this radio station by installing receivers and transmitters on cell phone towers outside of Yei in order to reach the surrounding rural areas.
We already have approval to use MTN’s tower south of Yei to reach a group who does not have any access to radio. The national government of South Sudan has previously committed to securing the licenses for the other nine stations after the successful implementation of the Lainya County station.
The TV station will be built on the same property as the Lainya County radio station, and the two will share a broadcast tower. We will only need this one tower for all four of the television channels, as the digital technology allows us to broadcast four separate channels over the same broadcast signal.
Channel One will program General Entertainment, News, Ministry, Music, Health, Education, and Medical programming — including local community information, public health reports, emergency broadcasting services, and language training.
Channels Two, Three and Four will be leased to other organizations. The revenue from these leases will pay for the operation, personnel, and maintenance of the entire station as well as for the operation of Channel One. Advertising will be used on each channel to generate added revenue, and the profits will go to support the other nation-building projects of our partners, including EPC and Water is Basic.
Both the television and FM radio network will have indigenous programming created by the indigenous community. In time, the networks will become a central means of national communication that foster local citizenship and national unity. We hope to have both the television network and all ten regional radio stations operating by the end of 2016.
There are over 60 indigenous ethnic groups within South Sudan, each with their own native language, unique culture, and history of conflict with other groups. The most prominent ethnic group in South Sudan is Dinka, but the Dinka language is very diverse and native speakers of other Dinka dialects do not necessarily understand each other.
In order to guarantee the availability of electricity, generators will be needed to supply electricity to the broadcast towers and studios.
The roads in South Sudan are very poor and do not permit travel between Juba and Yei on a daily basis. We will have small production facilities for recording, editing and producing programs located in both cities.
National elections are scheduled for the summer of 2015. We will establish reporters and programs that will assist in the dissemination of information during the election season, but there will be some national uncertainty during this time.