Wednesday, 07 August 2019

Pretoria: The Media Development and Diversity Agency (MDDA) is implementing a new project funding application process to streamline the agency’s application process, enhance efficiencies, and enable it to effectively deliver on its mandate.

The agency made the announcement on Tuesday as its funding cycle for 2019/20 opened for applications. The closing date for funding applications is 4 October 2019.

“With some 15 years of the MDDA funding projects, we have reached the stage where we urgently need to review and reassess the process of and criteria against which we fund projects as the environment in which we are now operating is very different to that of the early years of the Agency,” MDDA Acting CEO Zukiswa Potye said in a statement.

The major change in the new project funding application process compared to the previous system is the introduction of a call for funding applications, with an application submission deadline (cut-off date).

All applications submitted by the cut-off date will be considered, with those applications that are successful and those not successful being informed timeously.

“This means that as opposed to the previous application process, which used the principle of first come, first serve when selecting projects for funding, resulting in an enormous backlog, the agency will not retain projects on a waiting list.

“Projects are welcome to reapply in the next cycle of board funding approvals if they feel they have addressed the reasons given for rejection by the MDDA,” the agency said.

Potye said the challenges that demand a new approach include the enormous backlog of projects accumulated with no prospect of being able to clear, given the agency’s limited funds.

“Such a backlog and the principle of first come, first serve has meant that in some cases we are required to select projects for approval that applied in 2012, which may no longer be compliant or have relevance in the current landscape.”

Projects considering applying for MDDA funding have been requested to consult the MDDA website (www.mdda.org.za) for details of the application process.

Set up by an Act of Parliament in 2002 (MDDA Act No 14 of 2002), the agency funded its first project in 2004 and has to date supported more than 250 media projects, covering both community radio, print and small commercial print.

“While this has meant that it has contributed significantly to the transformation of the media landscape in South Africa, there are still communities, including special interest groups, such as the youth and those people with disability that are underserviced by the media.

“In addition, greater emphasis needs to be placed on correcting gender imbalances as well as equipping the sector for the Fourth Industrial Revolution.  This has highlighted the urgent need for a more targeted approach by the MDDA to requesting project funding applications,” the agency said.

The MDDA is a statutory development agency deriving its mandate from Section 16 and 32 of the Constitution Act No. 108 of 1996, thereby providing for freedom of expression and access to information.

As a partnership between the South African government and major print and broadcasting companies, it promotes and assists in the development of community media and small commercial media in South Africa and the transformation of the media by providing support (financial and capacity building, etc.)

The agency also aims to raise public awareness with regard to media development and diversity issues, and to encourage media literacy and a culture of reading.