The Minister of Media, Information and Publicity Webster Shamu and BAZ Chairperson Dr Tafataona Mahoso appearing before the Parliamentary Portfolio Committee on Media, Information and Communication Technology, said the appointments in question were done in terms of the Broadcasting Services Act.
Minister Shamu said the BAZ board was appointed through a process that roped in the Parliamentary Standing Rules and Orders Committee (SROC) which was accented to by the Speaker of Parliament Lovemore Moyo and Senate President Edna Madzongwe.
These developments come on the backdrop of reports that the appointments made by the Minister in September 2009 were illegal as they were not done in terms of Section 4 of the Broadcasting Services Act and the Global Political Agreement.
On what the ministry had done in terms of opening up the broadcasting sector, the Minister said
developments in that sector were guided by the Broadcasting Priorities Survey carried out by the ministry in 2003.
The survey focused on transmission reception, content appeal and the nature of foreign broadcast services available in the country. He said the report, which was presented to the Committee, indicated that transmission was a challenge, especially around the country’s border towns.
He said the survey had revealed that Zimbabweans prioritised public and private commercial broadcasting services against community radio broadcasting which was ranked fifth in terms of priorities.
He, however, said the Ministry had since advised the BAZ to re-prioritise community radio broadcasting as reflected in the current processes by signal carrier company,Transmedia, to ensure transmission in the border towns of Beitbridge, Plumtree , Victoria Falls, St Albert’s and Mudzi.
He said after that process, the licensing of community radios would then make sense as people would be able to receive broadcasts on Frequency Modulation (FM).
Meanwhile, Dr Mahoso stated that they were waiting for completion of the processes mentioned by the Minister for them to license community broadcasters. He said 56 frequencies were available for community broadcasters and six national broadcasters , four of which are already being utilised by Zimbabwe Broadcasting Holdings.
Minister Shamu raised concern on the development of the community radio movement in the country with the assistance of media civic groups saying this could result in ‘negative localism’. He said the government visualised a national strategy for community radios in Zimbabwe for which any funding for the sector would be channeled through structures set up by BAZ.
The Committee chaired by Honorable Settlement Chikwinya, asked the minister on partisan broadcasting by the state-controlled Zimbabwe Broadcasting Corporation (ZBC) and its ‘rejection by the populace’ as evidenced by the number of satellite dishes and t preference for the payment of higher Digital Satellite Television subscription fees.
The Minister said there was need for better services and programming adding that ZBC has not received funding from government since 2008. He said the increase in the number of satellite televisions is an indication of Zimbabweans becoming ‘more cosmopolitan and global’ and did not necessarily translate to rejection of ZBC.
On ZBC’s biased political reporting as highlighted in reports by the Media Monitoring Project of Zimbabwe’s (MMPZ), Dr Mahoso said they produced their own quarterly report on the status of the broadcasting sector but were not privy to the criteria and mandate of the MMPZ. – MISA-ZIMBABWE CommuniquéPost published in: News