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No issuance of new broadcasting licences - George Charamba
The Independent (Zimbabwe)
November 11, 2010
no intention of issuing broadcasting licences to private players
in the near future as required by the Global
Political Agreement (GPA) until it has developed the capacity
to monitor and regulate the activities of the new players.
in the Ministry of Media, Information and Publicity, George Charamba,
revealed this when he appeared before the Media, Information and
Communication Technology parliamentary portfolio committee yesterday.
Charamba, who also doubles up as President Robert Mugabe's
spokesperson, said: "The current levels of investment in broadcasting
infrastructure in the country create no room for new entries as
espoused by the GPA. One can make as much noise but until and unless
there is the technical wherewithal then we are building pie in the
However, this contradicts what his boss, Media minister
Webster Shamu said last month when he publicly declared that the
Broadcasting Authority of Zimbabwe (BAZ) should urgently expedite
the issuance of licences to private broadcasters and create a platform
for community radio stations to go on air.
"Universal access to broadcasting services
has remained on the government's wish list for the past two
decades, but regrettably little progress has been made in that direction,"
Shamu said at a BAZ strategic planning workshop.
According to the GPA signed in September 2008, the three ruling
parties had agreed that government should ensure the immediate processing
of all applications for re-registration and registration in terms
of both the Broadcasting
Services Act as well as the Access
to Information and Protection of Privacy Act. It called on Zimbabweans
to make applications for broadcasting licences.
Charamba said issuance of new licences would be
done only after considering community broadcasting stations.
"Liberation of the airwaves should take into consideration
the interests of commercial and community broadcasting," Charamba
said. "In liberalising airwaves, policing functions should
be put in place first also before issuing any licences. This should
be done so that the state can control intrusion by unlicensed players."
admitted that a number of legislatives changes were needed regarding
the national broadcasters policy on airing political advertisements.
However, he said they would rather have the status quo remain. "Our
laws still need to be developed in regard to political advertising.
Presently the law only regulates advertising in the election period
and this is a well-defined period that is from the declaration of
the election date to the polling day. The regulation is done by
Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC). The law is unclear of what
ZBC should do outside elections and the ministry's position
is clear we let sleeping dogs lie," Charamba said.
The committee was told that ZBC two weeks ago signed
a re-brokered Iranian deal to fund the broadcaster's digitalisation
programme after the first was cancelled when ZBC defaulted on payments.
Iran had extended a loan jointly to Arda and ZBC
for their recapitalisation projects. However, the deteriorating
economic conditions then forced the state to default on the loan.
The Iranian deal was set to improve the quality
of broadcasting services as the country moves towards another round
of elections next year.
Iranian deal gives us the opportunity to develop broadcasting services.
The loan also removes the burden on the fiscus to fund the programme.
In the new deal, ZBC will refurbish its studios at Pockets Hill,
Montrose, Radio Zimbabwe and Gweru in addition to outside broadcasting
equipment especially when we are going towards elections. That whole
programme will make sure the country gets ready for the digital
changeover set for 2013," Charamba said.
Meanwhile, the police on Monday visited the Zimbabwe Independent
offices and interviewed the editor, Constantine Chimakure, over
a story published by the newspaper in August that quoted extensively
a letter written by Commissioner-General Augustine Chihuri to co-Home
Affairs ministers Theresa Makone and Kembo Mohadi opposing government's
planned electoral reforms.
Detective Inspector Henry Dowa told Chimakure that
the police wanted to know who had given the Independent the letter
and that they wanted to interview the author of the article, former
news editor Farai Mutsaka.
media reports, no summons were served on Chimakure and Mutsaka to
appear in court.
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