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to amend Broadcasting Act
October 16, 2007
has conceded on the need to amend the Broadcasting
Services Act (BSA) to allow the entry of new players into the
broadcasting sector saying it will be in a position to invite for
requisite applications from prospective broadcasters by the end
of this year.
Appearing before the
Parliamentary Portfolio Committee on Transport and Communications
on 15 October 2007, Minister of Information ad Publicity Dr Sikhanyiso
Ndlovu said the ministry was already consulting with all relevant
stakeholders including the Attorney-General's Office on amending
BSA. He said the Broadcasting Authority of Zimbabwe (BAZ) had not
been able to issue new licenses because of the stringent and restrictive
requirements under the existing law which bans foreign funding and
partnerships in the broadcasting sector.
"We are committed
to allow other players. We welcome media pluralism because this
benefits consumers, we have no intention of doing otherwise,"
said Ndlovu. "According to the BA (Broadcasting Authority
of Zimbabwe), the main reason why applicants fail is the requirement
for them to declare their source of funds in view of the fact that
the majority of shareholders should be Zimbabweans and this is also
in line with the Indeginisation and Empowerment Bill."
Under the BSA shareholding
is limited to not more than 10 percent for an individual interested
in establishing a radio or television station - a restriction
which forces a potential investor in the sector to invite 10 other
partners to constitute the 100 percent shareholding.
The chairperson of the
Committee Leo Mugabe who is also the Member of the House of Assembly
for Makonde, expressed concern over Transmedia and Zimbabwe Broadcasting
Holdings' (ZBH) failure to engage technical partners in view
of their perennial problem of under-funding which resulted in certain
parts of the country failing to receive radio and television signals.
In addition, the Committee
criticised the discrepancies in the new ZBC license fee structures
which charge separate fees for a household television set and a
company owned television for the same service.
that the consultations referred to should be conducted openly and
transparently and hopes that the minister will stick to his word
and ensure that all relevant stakeholders input into the process.
The independence of the
regulatory authority is also central to the opening of the sector
to private players. The regulatory authority should be independent
as opposed to the current situation where members of the BAZ are
appointed by the Minister. Members of the regulatory body should
be selected in a democratic and transparent manner involving civil
society, the public at large and should be answerable to Parliament
in compliance with international and regional conventions and charters
such as the African Charter on Broadcasting.
the MISA-Zimbabwe fact
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