Patrick Chitumba Midlands Bureau Chief
COMPANIES vying for commercial radio licences in the country will get them before the end of the year, a government official said.
Director of International Communication Services in the Ministry of Information, Media and Broadcasting Services, Dr Ivanhoe Gurira, on Friday said the government was looking forward to giving licences to prospective radio stations before year-end.
He was speaking during the country’s celebration of the 4th edition of the United Nations World Radio Day in Gweru.
“Government is through the Broadcasting Authority of Zimbabwe (BAZ) currently in the process of considering applications for commercial radio licences. We look forward to the completion of the licensing process by the end of the current year (2015),” said Dr Gurira.
The country has six radio stations namely, Power FM, National FM, Radio Zimbabwe, Spot FM, StarFM and ZiFM.
BAZ last year conducted public hearings for companies vying for commercial radio licences in Bulawayo, Harare and Victoria Falls.
In Bulawayo, FairTalk Communications (Pvt) Ltd trading as SKYZ Metro FM, Skies Radio (Pvt) Ltd, trading as Skies FM and Carryslot (Pvt) Ltd trading as Skyz FM presented their proposals to the public.
Skies FM is being bankrolled by Transport minister Obert Mpofu, Skyz Metro is fronted by Qhubani Moyo and Cont Mhlanga and Skyz FM is owned by Alpha Media Holdings, publishers of Southern Eye, NewsDay, The Standard and Zimbabwe Independent.
Hearings were also conducted in Victoria Falls where one firm, FairTalk Communications trading as Breeze FM was shortlisted.
Dr Gurira said, “Furthermore, as soon as the national transmission grid has been adequately upgraded and digitalised, the government will commence the licensing of community radio stations country-wide.”
He said the accomplishment of the foregoing processes would in essence open up Zimbabwe’s airwaves.
Dr Gurira said in the process, opening the airwaves would present immense opportunities for enhanced youth participation in radio broadcasting by way of new employment and investment opportunities.
He added that creative youths would launch themselves into various radio broadcasting careers on both technical and soft sides.
“More enterprising youths and youth organisations could apply for licences to operate radio stations,” said Dr Gurira.
He said it was the government’s sincere hope that the country’s broadcasting sector flourishes following the digitalisation and implementation of reforms envisaged by the constitution.
The commemorations ran under the theme, “Youth and Radio.”
Dr Gurira said it was the government’s aim to promote greater participation of youth in radio as listeners, producers and broadcasters.
He said radio continues to be the most accessible means of mass communication reaching out to the most remote areas of any country.
“It also continues to be the cheapest and simplest medium of communicating development to rural populations,” said Dr Gurira.
He said radio had remained the most popular way of exchanging information, providing entertainment, education and mobilising people for development all over the world.
“It serves as a critical communication platform for saving lives during natural or human-made disasters and provides platform for journalists to report facts and keep communities and various publics informed of developments in their environs, countries and indeed our modern day global village,” said Dr Gurira.
United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (Unesco) director- general, Irina Bokova said radio provides the means for change.
“Radio also helps to create a sense of community through the dissemination of information. It supports communities in breaking out of their isolation in situations of armed conflict, political tension and humanitarian hardship,” she said.
Unesco, Bokova said, was using the radio to broadcast health emergency messages in response to the Ebola crisis.