The Broadcasting Authority of Zimbabwe (BAZ) has published an invitation for those interested in being licensed for what they called ‘classes that do not require allocation or use of frequencies.’ They went on to define these classes as:
- Video on Demand Services (VOD)
- Webcasting services
- Content Distribution Services
In fact, here’s the advert quoted below as it appeared in the newspaper:
BROADCASTING AUTHORITY OF ZIMBABWE
NOTICE TO THE PUBLIC
The Broadcasting Authority of Zimbabwe wishes to advise interested persons who intend to provide classes of broadcasting services that do not require allocation or use of frequencies, such as those listed below, to submit their applications at any time for consideration by the Authority:
1. Video On Demand Service
11. Web casting Service
111. Content Distribution Service
Applicants are advised to acquaint themselves with the qualification criteria stipulated in the Broadcasting Services Act [Chapter 12:06]. The application forms can be collected from the Broadcasting Authority of Zimbabwe at 27 Boscobel West Drive, Highlands, Harare or can be downloaded from the Authority’s website at www.baz.co.zw
For more information contact us on: (04) 443 465-67.
“Celebration and expression of our cultural identity through Broadcasting”
Questions for BAZ
These classes are too generic to be meaningful. What do they mean license for a VOD service? Is Netflix breaking the law just by being available in Zimbabwe or did they license Netflix? How about YouTube? Did they license Google to make YouTube available in Zimbabwe? Does that mean you and I need to be licensed by BAZ to have YouTube channels?
Webcasting services is no better or even worse. We looked for a definition of that service from their website and of course we didn’t find nothing. No definition for webcasting services, for video on demand services and non for content distribution services. If webcasting means what it usually means then it means you need the blessing of BAZ to take out your phone and livestream on Facebook or YouTube or whatever.
Could it be more ambiguous? Yes, it could. The invitation from BAZ also mentions content distribution services. Now, everyone on WhatsApp may need a license of their own especially those that forward a lot. Unless content distribution does not mean content distribution.
These questions are important for all of us so we know if we are on the right side of the law or we need to form a queue at BAZ to get licensed. We are reaching out to BAZ to get definitions of these terms that they just placed in a newspaper.
When Laws Get Overtaken By Technology
Technology is disrupting everything including the legal frameworks that existed and were relevant only a few years ago. The internet has just broken down silos and walls built around industries and it is difficult for governments to regulate business and other areas. Not that governments won’t try…
How does BAZ plan on regulating the services they listed above and make sure everyone is licensed? Will individuals go to BAZ seeking such licensing knowing fully well that BAZ may turn them down or take their time or license them with some ridiculous restrictions? By that time it will be too late to go back because such an individual would have placed themselves under the radar of BAZ.
Can BAZ Legally Place The Ad They Placed?
BAZ does not yet have a board therefore it is not clear by whose authority the invitation for license applications was issued. As it is, they have their hands full with the whole Kwese/Dr Dish saga. As the professor would say, handei tione….