11 May 2012

Zimbabwe: Radio Stations Only for Urbanites

Photo: Bulawayo24News
Media, Information and Publicity Minister Webster Shamu

MOST Zimbabweans will have to contend with ZBC radio news programmes in the run-up to the next elections as the two new broadcasting entrants will limit their coverage to urban centres, particularly Harare and Bulawayo.

This emerged when representatives of Zimpapers Talk Radio and AB Communications' ZiFM Stereo appeared before the parliamentary portfolio committee on Media, Information and Technology to outline their rollout plans.

The stations won the two national free-to-air broadcasting licences last year when the government started the process of liberalising the airwaves as part of the GPA.

The pair goes on air in 60 to 90 days.

Zimpapers chief executive officer Justin Mutasa said his station's broadcasts would initially be received in Harare and Bulawayo before coverage is extended to the Midlands, the Eastern Highlands as well as the country's growth points.

Mutasa categorically told the committee that Zimpapers' print editorial policies would be used at the new broadcasting station and anyone who had other ideas should open their own radio stations.

"As to Zimpapers' bias in the programmes, people are free to open and compete with us. Let us compete on the market," said Mutasa.

ZiFM Stereo chief Supa Mandiwanzira revealed that his station would cover Harare, Bulawayo, Gweru, Masvingo, Mutorashanga, Kadoma, Mutare and Nyanga "and then we would be expanding as our new equipment is installed at other sites".

However, losing bidders Kiss FM and Voice of the People (VoP) were not convinced by the adjudication process and petitioned the courts. Parliament also tried in vain to have the licences withdrawn.

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