GOVERNMENT has ordered the broadcasting industry to set minimum standards for local artistes to improve the quality of their productions. Information, Media and Broadcasting Services Minister Professor Jonathan Moyo said failure by the sector to come up with the minimum standards would force Government to intervene and ensure compliance with the 75 percent local content policy.
He made the remarks on Monday when he toured AB Communications, the company that owns ZiFM Stereo and Mighty Movies.
He was reacting to claims by ZiFM Stereo station manager, Mrs Peggy Banda Mvududu that their radio station could not comply with the 75 percent local content requirement because some of the local productions were sub-standard.
She said some of the prime programmes on the station played about 50 percent local content adding that they received a backlash from listeners every time they played sub-standard local content.
Prof Moyo said during their tours to other radio stations, Star FM and ZBC, the broadcasters also complained about the quality of some of the local content.
“We are making the observation to challenge the major broadcasters. Zimpapers, which has Star FM is a very, very serious organisation in our country. One of the best organisations in our country. ZBC is a serious organisation in our country. As we have confirmed this afternoon, ZiFM Stereo is a serious organisation.
“These serious people should also be serious, get together and say these are the minimum standards we would want to see in the production of quality music and make things happen.
“We will not accept them complaining in order to justify not meeting the 75 percent. If they don’t do anything we will legislate to punish them. We are not going to punish our musicians for this. But we will definitely punish the organisations that have the privilege to broadcast but want to use excuses that there is no quality so we are not playing. No, no, no,” said Prof Moyo.
He said Government would ensure that the Broadcasting Authority of Zimbabwe entered into specific commitments with all broadcasters for compliance.
Minister Moyo said compliance with the 75 percent regulation would be one of the conditions for broadcasters to have their licences renewed.
He said the reasons behind promoting 75 percent local content was to drive and create a thriving arts industry.
“But we would make ourselves a laughing stock if we say commercial radio stations like ZiFM, Power FM and Star FM should play anything just because it has been produced by Zimbabweans. That’s not the law. That’s not the spirit of the law.
“It’s much more serious than that. To say, now that we have these commercial radio stations, we would like our artistes to produce material that is of a commercial standard. Once that material is there and the stations are not meeting the 75 percent, we will crack the whip. But we will be shooting ourselves in the foot if we just crack the whip forcing our commercial stations to play sub-standard stuff. We have confidence that our artistes can produce quality,” said Prof Moyo.
He implored broadcasters to pay royalties to local artistes whenever they are due.
Mrs Mvududu said ZiFM Stereo spent about 1,5 percent of the gross revenue on royalties.
Turning to problems at ZBC, Prof Moyo said the 14 days requested by the national broadcaster lapsed yesterday adding that they expected response from the management immediately.
“We are not yet done with ZBC. When we visited them two weeks ago, they committed themselves to do more work which required more time about two weeks or so. As either fate or coincidence would have it, the two weeks they said they needed expires exactly today. In fact just now.
“So I am hoping that when we go back to our offices, we will find either that they have submitted the next phase of the issues we need to deal with. If they have not done that, we hope they will do so tomorrow.
“If they don’t do that tomorrow they will see us visiting them uninvited because there are some urgent unfinished business of concern to workers, the management, the board, ourselves and generally the country. We all need to put our heads together and try and solve those issues sooner rather than later,” he said.