Harare based news provider raided by police

A Harare based group that provides daily news items for an externally based TV station was raided by police on Wednesday, and accused of running an illegal operation.

The raid saw scores of police officers storm the premises of the DDB Hash 3 advertising agency in Belgravia, which was believed to be supplying news content to a television station called A TV. This station, said to be based in the UK, streams its daily content on free-to-air satellite from 6pm Zimbabwe time. This content includes a daily news bulletin, which is also available to view on YouTube every day.

According to the state owned Herald newspaper, officials from the Broadcasting Authority of Zimbabwe (BAZ), the Zimbabwe Revenue Authority and the Post and Telecommunication Regulatory Authority of Zimbabwe had besieged the DDB Hash 3 offices on Wednesday. The company's employees and a number of freelance journalists were also reportedly picked up for questioning.

In an interview, a senior police officer said they were acting on information received about the company's operations.

“We got information that there is a company which might be gathering news and exporting it. In turn the news will flow back into the country. They were doing it through a British broadcaster-A TV. The broadcasting is not done here,” the police officer was quoted as saying.

The DDB Hash 3 advertising agency is owned by the same group behind A TV, the Afro Media group. It is not yet clear if any charges are being brought against the group as technically no law has been broken.

SW Radio Africa’s Harare correspondent Simon Muchemwa explained that the way A TV has been operating means it is not required to have a broadcasting licence, because the daily broadcasts are not transmitted from Zimbabwe. He explained that this most recent clampdown of non-state controlled media is a sign of things to come.

“With elections coming, this clampdown on A TV is a signal to other media that they must follow ZANU PF or risk the consequences,” Muchemwa said. – SW Radio Africa News

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