BY HARRIET CHIKANDIWA
The Broadcasting Authority of Zimbabwe (BAZ) yesterday awarded the first three licences to community radio stations.
In a statement, BAZ board chairman Charles Manzi Sibanda confirmed that licences had been awarded to the Mbembesi Development Trust, Ntepe-Manama Community Radio Trust and Nyangani Community Radio Trust.
“The Broadcasting Authority of Zimbabwe wishes to advise members of the public that the authority has completed the processing of applicants for the provision of community radio broadcasting services in areas that were not being competed for,” Sibanda said.
“The authority has completed the processing of the application for those areas with no competition namely Manama, Mbembesi and Nyanga and wishes to advise that the following three applicants have been awarded community radio services licenses.”
Some applicants were yet to submit information required for the authority to make informed determination on their applications, he said.
“In addition, the authority advises members of the public that Midlands State University and the University of Zimbabwe have also been awarded with campus radio broadcasting services licences,”
Sibanda said the new licenses shall have 18 months to roll out their plans and go on air, in line with section 11(7) of the Broadcasting Services Act.
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Meanwhile, the Zimbabwe Association of Community Radio Stations (ZACRAS) said it welcomed the step taken by the BAZ to license the first three community radio stations.
ZACRAS chairperson Perlagia Kapuya said the success of these newly-licensed community radio stations and campus radio stations will only be possible if they are allowed to independently function. Communities should be given the full rights to own and run their stations without interference.
“This latest development also comes against the background of the licensing of the first campus radio, the Great Zimbabwe Campus Radio,”Kapuya said.
“While we remain alive to the fact that the three community radio stations are the first of the 10 community radios that are set to be licensed, we continue to entreat the government of Zimbabwe, through BAZ, to ensure that the broadcasting space is diversified in its entirety through the licensing of people centred and community rooted community radios.”
Kapuya urged the government to ensure that the new licensees get all the technical and start-up support to get the stations off the ground.
Media Institute for Southern Authority (Misa) Zimbabwe urged the newly licensed community radio stations to jealously guard and protect their editorial independence.
“Their editorial policies should be defined and underpinned in pursuit of an inclusive social development agenda,” Misa Zimbabwe said in a statement.
“Their programming should thus be for-by-and about the community as envisaged in terms of the African Charter on Broadcasting.”