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MISA-Zimbabwe statement on Zimpapers Talk Radio's Star FM
June 27, 2012
welcomes the end of ZBC's broadcasting monopoly as the newly
licensed Zimpapers' Talk Radio's Star FM went on air
on June 25 2012. This represents a landmark development in the country's
broadcasting sector, which has been shackled by tight political
controls since the establishment of broadcasting services under
the colonial regime.
Before the launch
of Star FM, Zimbabwe held the record for being one of the first
countries in sub-Saharan Africa to have radio broadcasting services,
but intriguingly one of the last to democratise and develop the
sector by licensing privately owned stations.
While such an
historic development should elicit jubilation from information starved
marginalised communities in Zimbabwe, citizens can only cautiously
welcome this new entrant into the airwaves. This skepticism arises
from the perceived favoritism in its licensing by the Broadcasting
Authority of Zimbabwe (BAZ), whose legality remains unresolved.
The issue of
its intrinsic umbilical ties to its proprietor given Zimpapers documented
partisanship also engenders doubts on its independence. While it
is too early to pass judgment, the ball is now in Star FM's
court to confound its skeptics by eschewing the partisan slant of
its owner, Zimpapers.
In saying this
MISA-Zimbabwe is mindful of remarks by Media, Information and Publicity
Permanent Secretary George Charamba urging the station to be guided
by issues of 'national interest' and the liberation
struggle in its operations. His remarks seem to have dented expectations
that the station would provide information alternative to ZBC's
content and nourish the information needs of those who solely rely
on radio for news/information.
This is particularly
the case because issues of national interest and sovereignty have
in the past been narrowly defined through ZANU PF's political
lens by the media the party controls. An evaluation and monitoring
of news content produced by ZBC and newspapers under the Zimpapers
stable is testament to this fact.
therefore reiterates its calls for comprehensive media reforms that
would facilitate the repeal of the country's broadcasting
laws to facilitate the establishment of a representative independent
broadcasting regulatory board that promotes the licensing of all
aspiring private and independent broadcasters.
Only then can
Zimbabwe assume pride of place among progressive nations that have
genuinely liberalised broadcasting space.
the MISA-Zimbabwe fact
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