ZBC defends Parly ‘censorship’

Source: ZBC defends Parly ‘censorship’ – DailyNews Live

Tendai Kamhungira      6 May 2017

HARARE – State-controlled Zimbabwe Broadcasting Holdings (ZBH) – managers
of ZTV – has defended its censorship of live parliamentary debates,
arguing it was their editorial policy, targeted at making the channel
family friendly.

This comes after opposition political parties yesterday slammed the
national broadcaster for censoring Parliament debates whenever MPs
question matters that portray Zanu PF and the government in bad light.

It has almost become a trend that the broadcaster abruptly crosses over to
commentators who will be on stand-by or flight advertisements during live
broadcasts of the parliamentary debates, with the latest being Wednesday’s
which touched on the emotive Gukurahundi issue.

During the debate, MDC vice president Thokozani Khupe asked what
government was doing to ensure that children born during the Gukurahundi
era get birth certificates, before it was taken off air.

ZBH News and Current Affairs acting head Tazzen Mandizvidza told the Daily
News that the practice was standard procedure.

Further defending the position, he said the national broadcaster exercises
editorial control over all its productions.

“We do not flight proceedings in Parliament whenever debate in the house
degenerates into chaos, name-calling, use of `bad or foul’ language,
shouting of obscenities and threats,” he said.

“This is against our editorial policy, which prohibits the national
broadcaster from showing and promoting violence in all its forms as well
as the use of such foul language,” Mandizvidza said.

He said their operations are governed by the broadcaster’s Standard
Operating Procedures (SOPs) that they follow during live and pre-recorded

“We wish to make it clear to you that the national broadcaster does not
censor debate in Parliament `whenever a question which puts Zanu PF and
government in bad light’ is asked,” Mandizvidza said, adding that whenever
foul language is used, their SOPs stipulate that they should avoid putting
such things on air.

He further said the live programmes are also viewed by children, who must
not be exposed to foul language or “unbecoming behaviour”.

“We therefore want to make it clear that this has nothing to do with
political parties, or the government in power, but an elaborate exercise
of our live broadcast SOPs and editorial policy which are meant to protect
the viewers, especially the children.”

Mandizvidza said the commentary that happens during live programmes is
part of their template or programme format.

“That is our format in live programmes coverage – be it sports, official
opening of Parliament, burial of a hero or any other.

“If you look closely you will realise that commentary is a normal format
for covering live events. It is done to allow for contextualisation,
explanation of what will be taking place and so forth.

“The live parliamentary coverage is no exception. It is up to the producer
of the live production to choose when to bring in commentary and usually
we take advantage of moments when there is a lax in activities.

“So the presenters and analysts are not there for any form of censorship,
but to put the coverage into context,” he said.