Government to licence more radio stations

Professor Jonathan Moyo

Professor Jonathan Moyo

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Bulawayo Bureau

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Government will soon unveil nine applicants shortlisted to run metro radio stations following submissions by the Broadcasting Authority of Zimbabwe of successful bidders, a Cabinet minister has said.

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Information, Media and Broadcasting Services Minister Professor Jonathan Moyo told the Bulawayo Press Club yesterday: “I’m happy to say that BAZ has concluded that process and forwarded to us the result which we will, at the next available opportunity, be taking or reporting to our principals before we make the outcome public.

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“All things being equal, the outcome of the process will be this month. That will be good because it means that we are likely to have an additional nine entrants to radio broadcasting . . .

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“It now remains to make the outcome of the process public after appropriate notification with the relevant authorities.”

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Prof Moyo said Government had around US$140 million for digitalisation of broadcasting and its regulation.

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“Radio in our country is going to benefit immensely from the digital migration programme which also is going to be a major feature of our broadcasting calendar this year. As you know the digital migration programme is primarily about television broadcasting. On the radio side, we are not going to have digital transmitters but we are going to have digital radio studios and digital devices,” said Prof Moyo.

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This, he said, would ensure national radio coverage.

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Prof Moyo said Zimbabwe had 24 transmission sites and not all radio stations have presence or transmitters in those sites.

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He said Radio Zimbabwe and Power FM had better presence than Spot FM and National FM and Government wanted to facilitate improvement on this state of affairs.

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The minister said private radio stations Star FM and ZiFM lagged in terms of presence and Government might have to act to compel them to establish a national presence.

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He said the State would also add more transmission sites for television to broaden access, adding that Zimbabwe would have up to 84 TV stations after digitalisation.

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Prof Moyo said calls in the last decade for establishment of more radio stations oft-times did not consider that this was a business.

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“One of the rude, sobering lessons we have taken from the print media is that many who would like to run newspapers have discovered that it is not easy to do so. You can only do it if you have a mischievous donor with an agenda and is pouring money and you don’t worry about the cost of newsprint, adverts. You just worry about churning propaganda and you just sit there and ask yourselves when you meet in the diary room, whom should we make dirty today,” said Prof Moyo.

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“That’s a very easy editorial question to answer because you are not worrying about a business model or you have a rich person who also has a political agenda.”

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Prof Moyo said there is much work to do in establishing a professional media with a business model premised on credible and balanced content.

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“And we have learnt something also, that we don’t have to say ‘no we don’t want you to publish’. Just let them publish and you will see what the market will do to them. It will teach them and they will close down or say we are not interested.”

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He said Government was revamping the TV licensing system so that no one would watch television for free.