In a press release, BAZ said it would conduct the first public inquiry into the application submitted by Hotmedia (Pvt) Ltd trading as Kiss FM, at the Harare International Conference Centre at 0900 hrs on 18 October.
The public inquiry follows BAZ’s call on 26 May 2011 for applications for free to air national commercial radio broadcasting services of which only two licenses valid for 10 years will be issued.
It was not immediately stated as to when the other public inquiries for the other applicants would be conducted with BAZ saying that it had received several applications for the licenses in question.
A national free to air national commercial licence refers to a profit making broadcasting entity that transmits an un-encoded signal throughout Zimbabwe. The application fees for the potential broadcasters are US$9 500 and include an initial fee of US$2 500 and a fee of US$7 500 for the public enquiry.
On being granted a licence, prospective broadcasters will be expected to pay a licence fee of US$15 000 plus per annum. The licence fees include frequency fees of US $30 per month, a 0.5% contribution of the audited annual gross turnover to the broadcasting fund and 1% annual turnover for the license period.
The BAZ statement follows concerns by the local chapter of the Media Institute of Southern Africa (MISA) that delays to conduct public hearings confirmed its fears that opening of the airwaves in the country was still a nightmare.
“We are beginning to see a confirmation of our fears that the process will be so prolonged that we do not possibly see the opening up of the airwaves before the end of this year,” noted MISA in a statement. “f they are calling for public hearing for station by station and day by day and if we want to assume that all the 14 applicants are going to be called for the hearings then we can imagine how long the process is going to take. We would have thought that they were going to short list people they wanted to have a hearing on and have a clearly defined schedule of when they will end process and when they will consider submissions from the public hearings and the time they will issue out licences.”
“What we witnessed last week was a small advert hidden on page 4 of the Herald buried somewhere in the paper, announcing that they are beginning public hearings with one radio station on the 18th of October and we do not know when other public hearings will be conducted. If they are going to do this one by one I do not see the inclusive government sticking to its deadline of opening up the airwaves by November in accordance to the election roadmap”, said MISA Zimbabwe Chapter national Director Nhlanhla Ngwenya to Radio VOP.
Media Monitoring Project of Zimbabwe and other non-governmental organisations have been questioning the legality of BAZ which continue to operate without being re-constituted as stipulated by the GPA. BAZ is headed by Tafataona Mahoso who is regarded as the media hangmen who in the past closed down newspapers in Zimbabwe using the repressive Access to Information and Protection of Privacy Act (AIPPA).