THE Broadcasting Authority of Zimbabwe (BAZ) has invited applications for new commercial radio stations in some 25 areas as the government moves to further open up the country’s airwaves.
“This re-invitation is due to poor response following the initial call for fourteen areas, which closed in February of 2012, and failure by most applicants to meet the qualification criteria,” said BAZ chief executive officer Obert Muganyura.
“The Broadcasting Authority will be issuing a guideline on the qualification criteria in order to assist the applicants in meeting the qualification requirements as provided in terms of the Broadcasting Services Act.”
The licence applications fees range from US$300 to US$10,000.
The development comes after deputy information minister Supa Mandiwanzira told parliament that the government planned to further liberalise a sector long dominated by the state-run Zimbabwe Broadcasting Corporation (ZBC).
“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,” Mandiwanzira told legislators.
“In addition the Ministry is also consulting with a view to license community radio stations in the not too distant future. So 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.”
Mandiwanzira was one of the beneficiaries of the partial opening-up of the sector in 2011 as part of reforms pushed under the coalition government.
A company linked to the deputy minister, AB Communications was granted a licence to run one of two national commercial radios while the other was given to the Zimpapers group.
The process was criticised by the MDC parties which claimed the licences had been granted to companies sympathetic to President Robert Mugabe and his Zanu PF party.