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Civic groups present evidence on broadcasting liberalisation
Public Information Rights forum (PIRF)

April 06, 2004

Civic groups presented evidence on the delay in the entry of new players in the broadcasting sector to the Parliamentary Portfolio Committee on Transport and Communications. The Committee is investigating the delay by BAZ to invite and issue licenses to new players in the commercial and community-broadcasting category. The meeting was held on 5th April 2004 in Harare.

The groups included the Media Monitoring Project Zimbabwe (MMPZ), Media Institute of Southern Africa (MISA)- Zimbabwe Chapter, Radio Dialogue, Global Arts Trust, Voice of the People Trust and the Zimbabwe Association of Community Radio Stations (ZACRAS).

The groups' concerns included the following:

1. The Broadcasting Services Act is the source of frustration for prospective broadcasters, independent producers and the Broadcasting Authority of Zimbabwe itself. It prohibits foreign funding of new broadcasters and imposes harsh restrictions for potential broadcasters.

2. The independence of the BAZ is not guaranteed in law. The law requires the BAZ, the regulatory body, to establish whether there is additional need for broadcasters. It recommends potential licensees to the Minister, who himself has made prejudicial statements against prospective community and commercial radio broadcasters.

3. The subversion of the parliamentary process which has resulted in the legislature passing laws that hindered freedom of expression and information such as the Broadcasting Services Act and the Access to Information and Protection of Privacy Act (AIPPA).

4. There is no clear media policy document to reinforce constitutional provisions on freedom of expression. As a result, authorities have issued statements of policy in reaction to events and issues.

5. There is lack of political commitment in allowing new players independent of Government in the broadcasting sector. Government has not made public results of its investigations into the harassment independent media houses and workers, including the bombing of the offices of the VOP Trust on 29th August 2002.

PIRF is a network of information officers in the Civic Alliance for Social and Economic Progress (CASEP). CASEP is a coalition of membership-based organisations in the labour, education, health and media sector.

Presentations made to the Committee are available on request. Read the presentations from
- Global Arts Trust
- Radio Voice of the People

Visit the MMPZ fact sheet

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