Nyemudzai Kakore, Harare Bureau
GOVERNMENT is committed to freeing the airwaves and break the Zimbabwe Broadcasting Corporation monopoly, which will result in more content creation, Acting Information, Media and Broadcasting Services Minister Simon Khaya Moyo has said.
Speaking during the celebrations to mark World Press Freedom Day at Harare Polytechnic College yesterday, Minister Khaya Moyo said the media environment had changed for the better in line with the political environment obtaining in the country.
He said a free press was a strong pillar for democracy.
“Press Freedom in Zimbabwe is guaranteed by the 2013 Constitution, something that was a thorny issue prior to that date when the supreme law of the land then was silent on the subject.
“However, new developments taking place in the country such as the television migration project necessitate that we look at the whole gamut of our media laws to ensure that they accommodate these new developments,” he said.
“Media pluralism exists in the country and is more visible in the print sector. It remains a talking point around the broadcasting sector where concerns have been raised about liberalising our airwaves and breaking the ZBC monopoly which it currently enjoys. As you may be aware, the ZBC monopoly has already been broken on the radio side. We still have to tackle the television side. Indeed commercial radio stations have come on board and as our economy improves, we are likely to see a lot more commercial radio stations.
Minister Khaya Moyo’s sentiments come after the Broadcasting Authority of Zimbabwe (BAZ) granted Econet the licence on webcasting as well as video on demand license.
“Take note that Econet media has been awarded a Broadcasting Services Licence by the Broadcasting Authority of Zimbabwe in terms of Section 10 of the Broadcasting Services Act (Chapter 12:06),” said Econet in a statement yesterday.
Minister Khaya Moyo said the media legislative reform agenda, which is work in progress, will create an environment that offers greater opportunities for the growth of the media industry.
He said as the economy improves, there will be more commercial radio stations coming on air. “With the coming of more television channels, there is a whole industry of local content creation beckoning to be exploited and legislation covering this evolving terrain must be crafted,” he said.
“The disbursement by Government of $6 million towards the digitalisation project two weeks ago is going to give impetus to programmes such as local content creation, building new transmitter sites and installation of both radio and television transmitters.
“The absence of community radio stations continue to attract animated discourse with a strong suspicion that Government is deliberately dragging its feet on liberalising this area. Let me assure you that Government supports the establishment of community radios as a communication platform that enhances the public’s access to information, especially in the rural areas where information access is limited,” he said.