HomeLocal NewsMinister urges blackout on pirate radio stations

Minister urges blackout on pirate radio stations

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Media, Information and Broadcasting Services minister Christopher Mushohwe has challenged the Broadcasting Authority of Zimbabwe (BAZ) to draft a new Bill to deal with private radio stations broadcasting from outside the country.

BY XOLISANI NCUBE

Addressing BAZ senior management during a tour of the parastatal, Mushohwe said Zimbabwe’s airwaves should not be invaded by foreign-based radio stations while the country has capacity to “protect” its territory.

“If we don’t have a law governing that aspect, we better have it like yesterday. We have no problem with people setting up their broadcasting stations outside the country, but as long as they want to broadcast in Zimbabwe from their base, they have to follow our domestic laws,” he said.

: Information Minister, Chris Mushowe holding yesterday's Newsday copies while chatting AMH Head of Marketing and communications, Nancy Ziyambi after the tour Pic Shepherd Tozvireva

Mushohwe said local broadcasters were being subjected to unfair competition by foreign-based stations yet they did not pay anything to be licensed.

BAZ chief executive Obert Muganyura said there was need for a wholesale review of the Broadcasting Services Act to enable the authority to regulate such foreign-based radio stations as well as clear “grey areas in line with the technology advancement”.

“We need a clarification of the law on what we call broadcasting services and how we could regulate that. We also need to look at provisions relating to penalties when the law is violated,” Muganyura said.

Turning to digital migration, a project in which Zimbabwe was already lagging behind, BAZ said it was financially crippled to deliver in line with the timelines for the migration of broadcasting services from analogue to digital.

“The biggest challenge to Zimbabwe is the issue of funding the migration process. The process requires the replacement of analogue studio and transmission equipment with the new digital equipment,” Muganyura said.

On completion of the project, government believes at least 12 new television channels would be available, but the State has already taken six of them while private players would fight over the remaining six.

Muganyura said BAZ urgently required $42,4 million to fast-track the digitalisation programme. He said the money would go towards the procurement of set-top boxes, tower replacement and other civil works.

Mushohwe also toured the privately-owned radio station, ZiFM Stereo, State-run news agency New Ziana as well as stationery and bookseller Kingstons. He was accompanied by his deputy Thokozile Mathuthu and senior ministry officials.

The tours, which will next week move to Mutare and Bulawayo, are aimed at enabling the government appreciate challenges facing the media industry.

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