Parliament ignored what’s really wrong with media – MISA

By a Correspondent
HARARE - Despite its criticisms, the parliamentary committee which reported on the state-run media failed to address the key issues of turning the state broadcaster into an independent public broadcaster, or the myriad of laws suppressing freedom of expression, MISA-Zimbabwe s

In a detailed critique, the local chapter of the Media Institute of Southern Africa said the recommendation by the Parliament Portfolio Committee – see second extract on this page – that Zimbabwe Broadcasting Holdings be restructured into the former ZBC would not guarantee the emergence of a public broadcaster.
Rather than structural changes, new laws are needed to establish an “independent public broadcaster, which carries the voices of all sectors in society regardless of economic, political, language or racial differences,” said MISA-Zimbabwe.
Similarly, in its examination of the state-run newspapers, led by The Herald and The Chronicle, the committee made no mention of notorious anti-press laws such as the Access to Information and Protection of Privacy Act. The Mass Media Trust board, supposed to act as buffer against state interference when the government bought the newspapers after 1980 independence has failed to work. The committee focused instead on issues such as journalists’ pay.
“Zimpapers has remained, as it was when Cecil John Rhodes formed The Herald, newspapers that serve the ruling elite at the expense of the rest of society,” said MISA-Zimbabwe. It then added a recommendation that the Mugabe regime is certain to ignore: that the authorities divest their shareholding in Zimpapers.
In a contradictory stance, too, sections of the state-run media testified to the committee that foreign publications should be banned, while trying, for example, to sell The Chronicle in Botswana.
“MISA-Zimbabwe sees no positive gain of restricting and prescribing what citizens of Zimbabwe can read or not read, see or not see, listen to or not listen to. In any case, in this day and age, such foreign publications can be accessed through the Internet including foreign television and radio,” said the critique, submitted to Parliament. “What, in fact, Hon Members should encourage is an increase of diverse media products, opening up of banned Zimbabwean newspapers, and the decision on what and which newspaper to read has to be made by the respective reader.”
Well, that would be the day in Mugabe’s Zimbabwe.
In similar no-chance recommendation, MISA-Zimbabwe urged that the second TV channel, National Television Station, should once more be leased to private broadcasters. It noted that the former ZBC had been successfully leasing this channel to independent TV stations, including LDM, MABC and Joy TV.
“As noted by the committee, the ZBH has no competition hence the lethargic approach to business,” MISA-Zimbabwe added.

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