New radio stations are hopefully set to open up in Zimbabwe’s smaller town after the Broadcasting Authority of Zimbabwe (BAZ) has received 21 applications for commercial licenses from 8 towns, according to a report in the Herald today.
Although Harare and Bulawayo had 5 applications each, there were 11 other applications from Vic Falls (2), Gweru (2), with Masvingo, Lupane, Bindura and Zvishavane having one applicant each.
In the report, the BAZ CE Mr Obert Muganyura is quoted saying that each area would receive one new license but there was no guarantee that sole applicants in towns like Masvingo will be automatically be granted the license.
However, there is a certainty vibe that we will definitely be seeing more “official” radio stations coming up in the near future. This would be consistent with the new government’s strategy to counter pirate radio stations by opening up the air waves.
Government is now of the view that the majority of people who listen to pirate radio stations only do so due to lack of access and lack of choice amongst the official stations.
“In the majority of cases the Zimbabweans who listen to these pirate radio stations do so out of desperation because they are unable to get a signal of the Zimbabwe Broadcasting Corporation in the area they stay,” said Deputy Minister of Information and Publicity Supa Mandiwanzira last year.
“The Ministry has started the process of opening up the broadcasting industry to other players. Very shortly the Broadcasting Authority of Zimbabwe will be calling for application to license other radio stations,” he said.
“We believe as a Ministry that once we address the issue of transmission, once we address the issue of choice, where you have multiple choice we will render the pirate radio stations irrelevant.”
This will definitely raise questions on the caliber of radio stations that will be awarded licenses this time around. Its easy to speculate that stations that toe the government line have a higher chance of being licensed but those with content similar to “pirate” radio stations will be declined.
In May 2012, BAZ CE Mr. Obert Muganyura said no national radio licenses will be issued because the licenses issued to Zimpapers’ Talk Radio and AB Communication hand taken up had all national radio services on the Frequency Modulation broadcasting band. He said this whilst addressing the Parliamentary Portfolio Committee on Media, Information and Communication Technology.
He however said there was still room for more localised radio stations in urban centers.