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AME cash injection into Eastern Cape operations

JSE-listed African Media Entertainment (AME), owners of Algoa FM - the Eastern Cape's only independent commercial regional station - is devoting some R360 000 to the development of broadcast infrastructure in preparation for the re-launch of the BRFM radio service in East London.

AME group chief operating officer, Stan Katz, has announced the appointment of four new board members to the Umoya Communications board (Algoa FM) to strengthen the group's operations in the Eastern Cape and the rest of the country.

The appointments include Kevin Reed as new deputy-managing director of Algoa FM in Port Elizabeth; and Bev Sexton as sales manager, Eastern and Western Cape, at United Stations.

The pair will join Mr Katz and Carl de Klerk as the new board members of Umoya Communications.

Speaking about the group's additional capital expenditure in the group's Eastern Cape operations, Katz said that the bulk of the funds - some R360 000 - would be devoted entirely to the development of broadcast infrastructure in preparation for the re-launch of the BRFM radio service in East London

Katz said BRFM, the Algoa FM transmitter split service from East London, would be re-launched in August.

The temporary closure two years ago of the popular BRFM sparked a major outcry among certain important sectors of the East London community, would be back on air on Monday, August 4, 2003.

According to Katz, broadcast studio construction and tooling work had already begun both in Port Elizabeth and East London. This would be followed by the recruitment of additional personnel.

Said Katz: "These developments are a clear indication of our full commitment to growth and development in the Eastern Cape. Growth is, indeed, already taking place in this region spurred by major projects such as the Coega and East London IDZ projects. There is a real promise of a bright future ahead.

"Big business is also making an impact, with companies such as Daimler Chrysler SA in East London involved in major export projects for world markets. We want to be part of the action and contribute to these exciting developments, and so it is very important to us that we become part of this community and grow with it," added Katz.

Expressing a special passion for particularly East London, Mr Katz said that AME's future plans were to bid strongly for a full commercial radio licence for the Buffalo City once ICASA has approved issue of such a licence.

"East London is one of the most important cities in the Eastern Cape and it is certainly in our interest that we become major role players in its future development," said M Katz

Recalling the reasons for closing BRFM, Katz said that the transmitter split was not making any money. It is not easy to run a commercial radio station with only four hours a day available for broadcast," said Katz.

However, with an obvious demand for a commercial radio station service now having been firmly established in the region, Mr Katz said AME would have BRFM back on air in early August 2003 despite strong expectations of continued financial losses, at least during the first six months of the restored service.

"We have approved capital expenditure of R360 000 to set up a well-equipped broadcast studio in Port Elizabeth and East London for the re-launch of BRFM.

"The station will be back on air at the beginning of August with a much improved programming," he said.

Katz said BRFM would initially broadcast for three hours instead of the maximum four, and based on anticipated improvement in its financial performance in the year ahead, the service could eventually be restored to the full four hours a day.

He conceded that the group expected BRFM to run at a loss for at least the first six months from August.

"Nevertheless," he said: "we have no doubt BRFM will receive tremendous support in East London, though, and are certain that the transmitter split service will become increasingly viable," he said.

"Our hope for East London is to have to a full radio broadcast licence in that region, and once ICASA has given clarification on the issue, we will bid strongly for the licence," declared Mr Katz.

Editorial contact

Sicelo Fayo
The Green Room Design Company
084 712 3836

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