Four months or so after ZTN and six other TV stations were issued licences by the Broadcasting Authority of Zimbabwe (BAZ), the government is looking to offer more independent stations licences.
This was revealed during Daily News’ 10th-anniversary webinar when Minister for Information Monica Mutsvangwa said that the ZBC has had a hold over the airwaves for decades and the government is looking to “liberalise” the airwaves.
“I want to assure you that the Second Republic is not stopping with the above licences (for ZTN and others), but is working on giving licences to more community radio stations and free-to-air private television stations.
“These are indeed interesting times and the Second Republic is not going back on giving information to people. We know the importance of reaching out to everyone.”Monica Mutsvangwa
As good as this is, all one needs to do is to look at the operators that won the TV licences back in November last year. The majority of stations selected by the Broadcasting Authority of Zimbabwe (as reported by MISA) already held either a print or another broadcasting licence.
Furthermore, a good number of the channels selected have some ties with the government. The concern here is that there isn’t going to be a diversity of content that is aired by these new broadcasters.
The public should be allowed to choose…
We should remember that we pay radio and TV licences not only to prop up the broadcasting authority but to ensure we get a good selection and variety of content.
If there was any sincerity to the selection process, the public would have been consulted as to which channels should be awarded licences. And for those who think this is difficult, it really isn’t.
The digital age has brought about a number of new channels through which people can interact with their local authorities. Social Media for example is a fantastic tool. The government can run something as rudemtary as a poll to see which channels should be considered. And for those outside the reach of the internet, SMSes are still a thing and are pretty useful.