Community Radio Initiative Goes To Court Over ZBC Monopoly
Harare, – Community Radio Harare (CORAH), a local initiative, has filed an application with the High Court seeking a relief to have its broadcasting licence application considered by the Broadcasting Authority of Zimbabwe (BAZ) as well as an order compelling the regulatory board to call for broadcasting licence applications.\r\n
The application was filed on 4 April, 2011.
The respondents in this matter are BAZ and the Minister of Media, Information and Publicity, Webster Shamu, in his official capacity as the minister responsible for the conduct of BAZ.
In the application, CORAH notes that it wrote to BAZ on September 28 2010, applying for a community radio broadcasting licence as well as notifying the authority of their state of readiness to broadcast once a licence is issued to them. The application was subsequently declined on January 24 2011 on the grounds that there had been no call for licences as provided for under section 10 of the BSA (Broadcasting Services Act), which states that applications can only be received and processed after BAZ has made an invitation for such applications.
CORAH contends that it has not been possible to apply for a licence since BAZ has not called for broadcasting licence applications since 2004 and that the authority’s failure to call and issue licences “…is on its own an illegality and must be justified.”
CORAH further contends that BAZ has a duty to enable eligible applicants to apply for and obtain radio licences and that as an aspiring broadcaster; they have a legitimate expectation to be provided a fair and reasonable opportunity to apply and be granted a licence.
CORAH is also demanding that BAZ be compelled to make a call for licences twice annually.
The application was made by a member of MISA Zimbabwe’s Media Lawyers Network, Wellington Pasipanodya, with the support of the Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights. All the respondents are yet to file their response.