24 March 2012

Zimbabwe: VOP FM Seeks to Bar Talk Radio, AB Communications Launch

Photo: Bulawayo24News
Media, Information and Publicity Minister Webster Shamu

VOX Media Productions, known as VOP FM, has filed an urgent chamber application seeking to bar Zimpapers Talk Radio and AB Communications from launching their radio stations pending determination of its challenge over the manner in which the Broadcasting Authority of Zimbabwe awarded these two licences.

Zimpapers and AB Communications were awarded the free to air national commercial radio licences on November 24 last year after BAZ, an independent body, was satisfied that the companies met the set conditions.

Early this year, VOP FM appealed to the Administrative Court challenging the BAZ decision.

Pending determination of the main appeal, VOP FM is seeking an interdict barring any launch of operations by the two companies.

Zimpapers legal officer Mrs Daphine Tomana confirmed receiving a copy of the urgent chamber application.

"We have instructed our legal practitioners to file the response on our behalf.

"We believe the matter is not urgent since we were awarded the licence long back on November 24 2011.

"Zimpapers has no control over the operations of the Broadcasting Authority of Zimbabwe. We have no say in the operations of an independent body," said Mrs Tomana.

Without commenting on the merits of the matter, Mrs Tomana said Zimpapers deserved the licence.

"We believe we had every right to get the licence because we met the criteria," she said.

VOP contends that it would suffer irreparable harm if the two companies were allowed to operate while the main challenge was pending.

"The applicant contends that it is in the interests of justice that the second and third respondents be barred from operationalising or launching their operations up and until this court makes a determination in (case number) BA2/2012," VOP argues.

VOP also seeks an order compelling BAZ to transmit the record of proceedings used in the selection process to the Administrative Court in line with the law.

Failure by BAZ to transmit the record to court, according to VOP FM, was delaying the appeal hearing and it had also caused Administrative Court officials to treat the main case as a lapsed challenge matter.

The urgent chamber application was filed after Zimpapers said it was about to launch its radio station in April.

Zimpapers has done auditions for broadcasters and VOP feels everything should be stopped.

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