Six independent television channels will soon get licences as part of the movement by the Second Republic led by President Mnangagwa to open up airwaves and implement media reforms, Senators heard yesterday.
There are 15 applications for the six licences on offer in the first phase and these are now being considered by the Broadcasting Authority of Zimbabwe.
Information, Publicity and Broadcasting Services Minister Monica Mutsvangwa said licensing of the six independent television channels was part of Government’s desire to provide diverse broadcasting content as provided for in the Constitution where the right to access information is entrenched.
Minister Mutsvangwa said this in the Senate during a Question and Answer session.
Midlands Senator, Mr Morgan Komichi (MDC-T), had asked why was Government taking long to have alternative broadcasting stations other than the Zimbabwe Broadcasting Corporation, in fulfilment of the reforms that Zimbabweans had been asking for.
Said Minister Mutsvangwa: “The Second Republic prioritises reforms and with Zimbabwe boasting high literacy rate, citizens deserve diverse content, be it sport, culture, educational issues.
“That is what my ministry is spearheading since the inception of the Second Republic, as part of the reforms.
“The Broadcasting Authority of Zimbabwe is now fully constituted and started by identifying the number and type of frequencies available. We have 12 licences up for grabs, but at the moment, we will be licensing six players. Applications have since been received and are now being considered.”
Minister Mutsvangwa said beyond commercial television licences, they will also be licensing community radio stations.
“All that is being done in fulfilment of the Constitution, the right to information,” she said.
“Had it not been for Covid-19 related challenges, I would be telling you by when we will have completed the process. We have 15 applications for commercial television.”
In the same spirit of reforms and openness, Government has since repealed the Access to Information and Protection of Privacy Act (AIPPA) and replaced it with three separate legal instruments as part of media reforms.
Early this month, President Mnangagwa signed into law the Freedom of Information Act after it sailed through Parliament.
The new Act, a giant step forward in the reform agenda, brings Zimbabwe’s information-related laws into conformity with the Declaration of Rights in the Constitution.
The law went through a long examination and multi-party amendment process by Parliament, and especially through the relevant portfolio committee, which is chaired by Binga North MP, Mr Prince Sibanda, an opposition MP.
After its passage early this month, Minister Mutsvangwa said the development marked a notable milestone in Government’s media legislative reform programme.
Since assuming office in August 2018, President Mnangagwa has prioritised the creation of a conducive national media environment through the repeal of AIPPA and the amendment of the Broadcasting Services Act.