Making money from content, Bougainville style


At a time when some of the world’s biggest media houses are struggling to find ways of monetising media content by trying out various pay-to-use models on the internet, mobile phones and tablets, a community radio station in Buka, Bougainville, has already set up a sound model.<!--more-->

Papua New Guinea’s autonomous territory that has suffered civil strife over many years does not have the sort of economy that could support a media outlet with advertising. Neither does the national administration in Port Moresby dole out grants to help keep radio stations on air.

But Buka’s New Dawn FM has found a way around the problem. Set up in 2008, it is the only FM community radio station serving a population of about 200,000 on the remote island. The station has a paid staff of 12 including writers, reporters and technicians.

New Dawn FM earns its revenue by charging a fee to the government and politicians for beaming their content to the not-quite-insignificant population of the autonomous region. “We have different rates for different lengths of broadcasts,” Aloysius Laukai, the station’s manager told Pacific Periscope.

With no other recourse to reaching the people of the island, the station is the only way the government, political parties and individual politicians can broadcast their messages. And the station has leveraged this situation to its benefit. This helps pay for technical upkeep, staff wages and helps subsidise other content that it creates or acquires for public broadcast.

The radio station also distributes CDs of its programming periodically, like an audio magazine on CDs, to people on the island who are unable to receive live broadcasts. “Communities then listen to them during their village meetings and send us feedback, which we then broadcast,” Mr Laukai said.

Community radio stations and academics are studying New Dawn’s successful methods to see if they can be replicated in similar developing country environments in other parts of the world. The station won an award from the University of Queensland for its innovation in 2009, just a year after it began operations.