Star FM piles pressure on BAZ

A Bulawayo community radio initiative, Star FM, has petitioned the Parliamentary Portfolio Committee on Media, Information and Publicity to intervene and facilitate the reconstitution of the Broadcasting Authority of Zimbabwe (BAZ) board to enable new broadcasters to be licensed.

The petition dated March 5 was signed by 211 youths drawn from the city.

Star FM director Philani Ncube said the petition was prompted by lack of clarity on the licensing of community radios.

“The committee is reluctant to intervene on the issue of licensing of new players in the broadcasting industry and to have the current broadcasting authority of Zimbabwe dissolved,” Ncube said.

“We challenge the committee to intervene and facilitate the appointment of a new BAZ committee to enable freeing of air waves for all prospective radio stations.

“The Global Political Agreement talks of the need for media reforms, but nothing of substance has been done since the formation of the inclusive government. The committee must do something soon.”

Although committee chairperson Settlement Chikwinya (MDC-T) yesterday said he had not received the petition, he told NewsDay the matter was now being handled by the coalition government’s principals.

“Principals have met twice this year and agreed to effect media reforms and the BAZ issue was one of them,” he said.

President Robert Mugabe, Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai and his deputy Arthur Mutambara last month gave Media, Information and Publicity minister Webster Shamu a three-week ultimatum to reconstitute the BAZ board.

There was a public outcry recently after BAZ licensed two Zanu PF-aligned national radio stations — Zimpapers’ Talk Radio and AB Communications ahead of other private players.

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