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should be given to community radios
July 08, 2011
There is great
anticipation that the Zimbabwe Broadcasting Corporation-s
decades old monopoly of the airwaves could come to an end following
the submission of 15 applications for licenses by prospective private
commercial radio stations.
of the Broadcasting Authority of Zimbabwe (BAZ) will thus be severely
tested this time around given that no licenses have ever been issued
for private television and radio stations since the enactment of
Services Act (BSA) in 2001.
This development has heightened demands for BAZ to equally call
for applications for community radio station licenses in compliance
with the African Charter on Broadcasting-s three-tier broadcasting
system and as provided for under the BSA. There are several Community
Radio Initiatives that are ready to broadcast once they are granted
such licenses notably Radio
Dialogue in Bulawayo and Community
While all the
three tiers of broadcasting namely, commercial, community and public
broadcasting are desirable, equal priority should be given for community
radios especially in Zimbabwe to enable communities to access and
share information on issues affecting their respective communities.
radio stations, which are profit-driven and market-segmented in
terms of their programming, community broadcasting is broadcasting
by the community for the community. The ownership and management
of a community radio station is representative of the community,
which determines and sets its own programming based on its socio-economic
needs and is not profit driven.
While this does
not necessarily mean community radios operate at a loss, the point
to note is that they are not established for the purpose of making
profit. This means that their programming is not saturated by adverts,
state propaganda or elitist ideas. Community radios are designed
to promote values of the community, pursuing the social, economic
and political agendas of the community, which may be defined geographically
or by common interests.
community radios can empower marginalised communities to define
and manage their own development. They are particularly vital in
promoting minority languages and cultures, which have been ignored
by the mainstream media for a long time. It is high time communities
were given their own voice by establishing their own community radios.
While the sole
state controlled broadcaster claims to be promoting minority languages
through its National FM station, it is important to note that it
does not reach the intended audiences. Areas such as Binga, Hwange,
Kariba, Chimanimani and Dete where such languages as Nambiya, Tonga,
Nyanja, Ndau and Venda are spoken do not receive ZBC signals. In
essence the same audiences that receive programmes in Shona, English
and isiNdebele are the same people who are receiving the signals
meant for the marginalised ethnic groups.
regardless of whether they are urban or rurally based address their
intended audiences not simply as citizens or consumers of information,
but as participants in the shared interests of the respective communities.
They have the ability to work towards social inclusion, and this
is one of the most strong arguments in favour of the establishment
of community radio stations.
be drawn from neighbouring states such as South Africa and Mozambique.
In South Africa they have more than 100 community radio stations,
which have helped to promote the native languages of ethnic minorities.
Erive Community Radio, in Maganja Da Costa District has been used
to disseminate information on health, education HIV and AIDS throughout
the district resulting in gradual change in people-s behaviour.
Notable changes include an increase in school enrolment and a decline
in disease outbreaks HIV and AIDS infections.
The same results can also be realised in Zimbabwe if community radios
As the nation
waits for the outcome of BAZ-s call for commercial radios
licenses, it goes without saying that the establishment of community
radio stations in Zimbabwe is long overdue.
is a third-year National University of Science and Technology journalism
and media studies student on attachment with MISA-Zimbabwe
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