Media houses cry foul over high taxes

via Media houses cry foul over high taxes – NewsDay Zimbabwe September 4, 2015

LOCAL media houses yesterday cried foul over the country’s exorbitant taxes, saying they were milking their businesses dry.

by Xolisani Ncube

Speaking at a media workshop in Harare, media houses said despite operating in a harsh economic environment, various State entities punitively taxed them for licences and other services, leaving them with little to sustain the business.

AB Communications chief executive officer Susan Makore and Alpha Media Holdings (AMH) managing director Vincent Kahiya said the country’s taxation system was punitive and prohibitive for the media sector to grow and remain sustainable.

Kahiya said the heavy taxes were choking the print media. He said newspapers were bound to pay a percentage to the Zimbabwe Media Commission.

He revealed that he was recently approached by the Environment Management Agency who also indicated that they wanted to levy the company.

AMH publishes NewsDay, Zimbabwe Independent and The Standard.

Kahiya said for the print media to survive, there was need for “serious investment into the digital space as the newspaper market is slowly being phased out”.

“We need to have journalists who understand the new era driven by the digital platform, a journalist who can take audio and videos . . . shifting from the traditional way of doing things,” he said.

In her presentation, Makore listed a number of taxes that media players were made to pay which she said were so heavy and could result in the collapse of many media institutions.

“If you were to look at us in the broadcasting sector, there is a multiple regulatory framework and this has challenges on its own. We are made to pay licence fees to the Broadcasting Authority of Zimbabwe, we also pay for our spectrum annually, and pay fees to the National Arts Council,” Makore said.

“We also pay a percentage of our gross earnings to the Zimbabwe Media Commission. We pay Zimra (Zimbabwe Revenue Authority) all the taxes required just like other organisations. All these are coming to us at a time when the economy is not performing well.”

The workshop sought to identify challenges bedevilling the media industry in a revolving society where social media has taken over the space and the economy is shrinking.

Makore said they were also obliged to pay a substantial amount to Trans-Media Holdings for operating in their airwaves, and another fee to the Zimbabwe Music Rights Association for playing artistes’ songs.