Zimbabwe: Baz grants license to community TV stations

The Broadcasting Authority of Zimbabwe (BAZ) is set to begin licensing community television stations following the successful licensing of community radio stations which has helped improve universal access to information in all the countries.

This came out yesterday during a mandatory BAZ board meeting with the Minister of Information, Publicity and Broadcasting Services, Monica Mutsvangwa, in Harare.

The meeting aimed to discuss term progress issues, performance and challenges to ensure that BAZ operates in line with government policy.

The Chairman of BAZ, Mr. Charles Manzi Sibanda, said that the project of licensing community television stations is part of the Authority’s strategic plan which was developed in line with the Ministry’s strategy.

He said that of the 14 licensed community radio stations across the country, only four had started broadcasting.

“As your board, we continue to build capacity by training licensed community radio stations to enable them to broadcast and become sustainable in the future. In the near future, the Authority anticipates that Chimanimani’s community radio station, Ndau Community Radio Station, Chipinge, would also be officially opened,” Mr Sibanda said.

“Thereafter, the focus would be on assisting Twasumpuka Community Radio covering Binga and surrounding areas to ensure they were also broadcast.”

“The next important aspect would be to find ways to accommodate the community television on which we will submit an article, after finding ways to allow them.

Mr Sibanda said the BAZ continued to play a monitoring role to ensure that those who received licenses complied with the terms of their licenses.

He expressed concern that some entities that had obtained a license had not yet started broadcasting.

“We take note that most of the six entities authorized to provide television services have not yet started broadcasting. We advise that their 18-month period will end in August and December 2022 respectively. We hope that everything will be on the air at that time and will do whatever is necessary to remind them of the requirements of the law,” Mr Sibanda added.

“The Authority also ensures that all licensees and stakeholders are engaged and consulted. This enables them to provide feedback as well as advise the regulator on challenges faced in their operations and provide their input on new regulations introduced by the Authority “This ensures that the Authority is on board with everyone and evolves with the needs and expectations of the industry.”

One of the key elements of effective regulation of the broadcasting industry, Mr. Sibanda said, was that the BAZ has sufficient resources to carry out its mandate.

But Mr Sibanda said the state entities, ZBC and Transmedia Corporation, were struggling to pay license fees to BAZ.

“This led to the intervention of the Permanent Secretary in February this year which led to certain payments being made to the Authority by the two entities.

“Licensing fees from previous years remain unpaid and we expect to be settled by the end of May 2022 as they promised the Permanent Secretary. The Authority will ensure that the collection of fees outstanding license fees that may be due be carried out to ensure compliance with the law by licensees and also ensure the sustainability of the Authority’s operations,” he said.

In her address, Minister Mutsvangwa said there was a need to ensure that everything is done for the benefit of all.

“If we consult all the time, we avoid misunderstandings and ensure compliance with your strategy and what needs to be done at BAZ.

“The ministry is here to facilitate and provide policy guidance. I sincerely hope that you are executing your strategy in line with NDS1 and Vision 2030 and are constantly receiving guidance from the ministry,” she said.

Minister Mutsvangwa urged all parastatals and agencies under her ministry to adopt a consultative approach to ensure they meet their mandates and achieve their objectives.

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