by WELLINGTON TONI
HARARE, (ItNews Zimbabwe) – BROADCASTING Authority of Zimbabwe (BAZ) says the low cost of licence fees for Community Radio Stations is designed to ensure all 10 slots are taken up by various organisations to open up media space.
BAZ has invited applications for community radio stations, campus stations and commercial television broadcasting services as promised by the Minister of Information, Publicity and Broadcasting Services Monica Mutsvanga at the World Radio Day celebrations last week.
A community radio station licence costs ZWL$17 000 per annum and is valid for 10 years with the application fee pegged at $8500.
BAZ chief executive officer Obert Muganyura said they had taken into account that most applications for community radio licences are expected to be start-ups.
“It’s a deliberate Government plan to ensure an all-inclusive national dialogue on issues affecting various communities and the fees that have been set are not prohibitive. Most of these people interested in registering are new in the industry and the costs are manageable. We therefore encourage all interested parties to lodge their applications by March 20 after collecting the forms from us.
“Further, the allocated 10 areas for community radio stations cover previously marginalized areas in terms of coverage those that have not been able to access services that are currently available especially border towns that would have had to rely on foreign stations,” he said.
While Skyz Metro FM boss Qhubani Moyo welcomed the opening of the media space, journalist Stanley Karombo saw gloom and doom.
“The current operating environment is not good for any radio or tv station and most of the companies will go down in under a year,” Karombo said.
Zimbabwe Union of Journalists (ZUJ) secretary general Foster Dongozi said: “We welcome this as a very positive development and a reflection of the ‘open for business’ mantra that the Government is always talking about. It’s a development that is going to result in the investment and growth of the media industry. It is also going to create job opportunities for journalism graduates who cannot be absorbed by the existing media institutions at the moment.”
BAZ divided allocations to 10 areas starting with Rukotso and Susamoya while category two covers the border town of Plumtree (gateway to neighbouring Botswana) and its environs Empandeni and Ndolwane and Maphisa in the Kezi area, all in Matabeleland South.
There is also Victoria Falls and Hwange in Matabeleland North while Beitbridge and Shashi areas are also in the list.
Binga, Kamativi, Kariba, Mapengula and Siabuwa have also been targeted alongside Mbembesi, Shamva, Manama, Legion and Alaska. Chipinge, Chimanimani, Gwendingwe, Rusitu and Chibuwe.
The new stations will cover a radius of 5km. Interested parties have up to March 20, 2020 to submit their applications.
Campus radio stations have been allocated 19 slots and include all universities in the country and the Harare Institute of Technology, Harare Polytechnic and the Christian College of Southern Africa (CCOSA) while Bulawayo Polytechnic has been left out.
These are required to fork out ZWL$21 500 in application fees and $42 500 annually in licence fees.
Six commercial television broadcasting services licences are up for offer with an application fee of ZWL$42 500 while the annual fee has been pegged at a whooping ZWL$306 000.
Currently, the Zimbabwe Broadcasting Corporation (ZBC) has the monopoly in television with one station and more than four radio stations while Zimpapers is in the process of launching the Zimbabwe Television Network (ZTN).
Zimpapers also have Star FM among other provincial stations.
There is ZiFM owned by former Government minister and journalist Supa Mandiwanzira in Harare and Skyz Metro FM owned by Moyo, a Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC) commissioner in Bulawayo-both private entities.