Radio stations must be free from government influence: Zacras

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BY KUDAKWASHE TAGWIREYI

THE Zimbabwe Association for Community Radio Stations (ZACRAS) has called for radio stations to be free from government influence, which it says will ensure their editorial independence.

“Community radio stations are important in communicating COVID-19-related information and information on elections. This year’s theme is timely as it coincides with the upcoming by-elections where community radio stations will play a critical role in ensuring that community leaders and citizens create an environment that is conducive to productive debates,” Zacras programmes officer Mlondolozi Ndlovu said in a statement to commemorate World Community Radio Day yesterday.

This year’s international theme is Radio and Trust, while the local theme is Connecting Communities through Radio.

Ndlovu urged government to repeal sections of the Broadcasting Services Act to allow community radio stations to accept advertisement fees as a way of ensuring that they were economically self-sustaining.

“We acknowledge efforts by the government of Zimbabwe in licensing 14 community radio stations during the licensing process in 2020 and 2021. Zacras has developed a solid capacity-building plan that will ensure that its licensed members are able to go on air before the lapse of the 18 months mandated period that was set by the Broadcasting Authority of Zimbabwe,” Ndlovu said.

“We urge the government to allow for editorial independence of community radio stations. Communities are also urged to be proactive and support their stations to protect the independence of these platforms.”

Meanwhile, Information, Publicity and Broadcast Services minister Monica Mutsvangwa yesterday officially opened Auxeni FM community radio station in Chiredzi.

It is the first community radio station to go on air.

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