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MISA says new TV licence holders are linked to Zanu-PF

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  • "The new TV licence holders either already hold print or broadcasting licences or are linked to the government or the governing party" - MISA Zimbabwe.

By Andrew Murenha

THE Media Institute of Southern Africa (MISA) Zimbabwe which advocates for media freedom and plurality says there is nothing to celebrate about the granting of six (6) new free-to-air national commercial television broadcasting service licences because the winners have links to the ruling Zanu-PF party.

The media watchdog bemoaned the lack of diversity by the Broadcasting Authority of Zimbabwe (BAZ) which yesterday announced the six successful applicants out of a total of fourteen applications.

“While the decision to license more television stations is a welcome development, MISA Zimbabwe is worried at the lack of diversity in the granting of the TV licences.

“The new TV licence holders either already hold print or broadcasting licences or are linked to the government or the governing party.

“With this scenario, the country risks having a homogeneity of news and views, an anathema to democracy.

“If Zimbabwe is to have a truly diverse media, there is a need for more players from different backgrounds to be granted licences,” reads a statement issued by the media watchdog.

MISA Zimbabwe noted that the BAZ will soon start the process of licensing community radio stations and is worried that if this trend continues, only players with links to the government will be granted licences yet again.

“MISA Zimbabwe, therefore, calls for the genuine liberalisation of the airwaves, where diversity and pluralism are the guiding principles in the granting of licences.”

Among the six newly licensed TV stations is Fairtalk Communications owned by Dr Qhubani Moyo, a Commissioner with the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC).

Also licensed is Rusununguko Media which is owned by the Ministry of Defence and War Veterans Affairs. ZTN, which is owned by State-controlled Zimpapers Group, also got the licence.

MISA said this was sad considering that an opportunity to bring an end to State-owned broadcaster ZBC’s decades of monopoly had been wasted.

Meanwhile, Zanu-PF legislator Supa Mandiwanzira’s AB Communications was among the applicants that were turned down. Presidential advisor Trevor Ncube’s Heart and Soul TV also failed to land the license. – Zimbabwe Voice

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