Most local radio stations in Togo are in dire need of reliable funding sources in order to guarantee editorial freedom and non-partisan news coverage. As neutral funding is scarce, they are often subject to influence, which leads to biased news coverage. Citizens are thus not able to form an opinion on certain issues of local concern, as they do not have critical and comprehensive information at hand. This was the starting point for the pilot project ‘Radio at the heart of the community’ – a joint initiative of GIZ and DW Akademie in cooperation with the Togolese press institute ‘Maison de la Presse’. Through trainings on innovative modes of financing, local radio stations were to refurbish their funding policies in order to become more independent in their broadcasts.
Existing approaches to financing and financial management within the participating radio stations were mapped first. Up until then, the radio stations had not undertaken systematic marketing and sales activities. Therefore, the training introduced selected staff of local radio stations to traditional financing concepts such as approaching clients for airtime marketing including media data, price lists and terms and conditions. The training also provided insight into recent trends and more innovative formats of financing (e.g. through merchandising, media partnerships, barter deals).
Based on this knowledge, the participants set up action plans to design new financing concepts and a professional media-kit for marketing purposes. Intensive follow-up sessions at the individual radio stations supplemented the trainings and allowed for a more detailed breakdown of the action plans and an in-depth, tailor-made assistance to their implementation. As a result, the radio stations were able to acquire new clients and raise funds among their listeners’ communities already.
In the aftermath, a training module on innovative radio financing was elaborated and selected staff of the press institute ‘Maison de la Presse’ was qualified to spread the know-how on these funding models to other radio stations. Doing this, they will contribute to increase the independence of Togolese radio programmes.