BY HARRIET CHIKANDIWA
THE Media Institute of Southern Africa (Misa) Zimbabwe yesterday said the licensing of eight more community radio stations will enhance access to information and exchange of ideas on issues that affect marginalised communities.
The Broadcasting Authority of Zimbabwe (Baz) recently licensed eight community radio stations at a time when the country is fighting the spread of the deadly COVID-19 pandemic.
In a statement, Misa said it was sad that the awarding of the additional licenses came at a time when those that were awarded the initial licences were still to start broadcasting.
“This comes at a time when the media industry in Zimbabwe is generally facing viability challenges due to dwindling advertising revenue, a situation worsened by the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic,” Misa said.
“With community radio stations restricted from operating for profit, it is imperative for the government to come up with a sustainable policy framework on how these outfits can remain financially viable without compromising their editorial independence, once they start broadcasting.”
“Misa Zimbabwe also urges the government to accelerate the digitisation process which is reportedly being stalled by foreign currency challenges by duly allocating the required funds for completion of the project which is now long overdue.”
Misa called upon the government to accelerate the review of the Broadcasting Services Act (BSA), an archaic law currently governing the broadcasting industry in Zimbabwe.
“The Broadcasting Services Act Amendment Bill seeks to make changes to the existing BSA which regulates broadcasting services in Zimbabwe,” Misa said. On a broader scale, the Bill limits foreign ownership in a local broadcasting service provider to a maximum of 20%.