Radio VOP Challenges BAZ Over Licence Denial

The Tafataona Mahoso chaired BAZ board in November awarded licences to two commercial radio stations, Talk Radio owned by the state-run Zimpapers and AB Communications run by Supa Mandiwanzira.
The BAZ board ruled that VOX Media, the proprietors of Radio VOP and other applicants such as Oliver Mtukudzi’s Kiss FM had failed to impress them during public hearings held to consider licensing them.
But VOX Media on Tuesday petitioned the Administrative Court seeking an order to set aside the BAZ board’s order and for the broadcasting authority to re-determine the media house’s application for a
commercial radio licence.
In a notice of appeal filed at the Administrative Court, VOX Media’s lawyers, Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights (ZLHR) charged that the BAZ board breached the rules of natural justice by not disclosing the type of scoring process and related criterion employed in evaluating the prospective broadcaster.
“The respondent (BAZ) committed a gross irregularity by failing to give substantive reasons for its refusal to grant the applicant (VOX Media) a free to air national commercial radio licence. The respondent committed a very grave error by attaching undue relevance to the fact that there is difference in the names of the current trustees and those on the trust deed, as this is governed by the deed of trust itself” reads part of VOX Media’s notice of appeal.
VOX Media also charged that the BAZ acted irrationally by awarding a national commercial radio licence to Zimpapers talk radio in which the government “has a controlling stake thus entrenching state monopoly in
mass media.”
VOX Media is the second aspiring broadcaster to haul the BAZ to court after Kiss FM, which was also denied a broadcasting licence, appealed to the Administrative Court to nullify the decision of the broadcasting authority.
Already, the influential Media Institute of Southern Africa Zimbabwe Chapter has appealed to Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai and President Robert Mugabe to re-constitute the partisan BAZ board.