Zimbabwe: Broadcasting Media

Updated February 2002

As of 1997, there were 16 Television Broadcast Stations, 2 Radio Broadcast Stations, one short wave, and 6 Internet service providers in Zimbabwe (CIA 2001). Today, the Zimbabwe Broadcasting Corporation (ZBC), the national radio and television broadcaster, has four radio channels, Radio One, Two, Three and Four, and broadcasts on two television channels for about 105 hours per week predominantly but not exclusively in English. TV One covers just over half of the population. TV Two broadcasts to viewers in and around Harare (Zimbabwe Broadcasting Corporation Undated).

In April 2000, the Broadcast Services Act was promulgated by the President to end officially the monopoly of the government-operated ZBC and launch the liberalization of the broadcast spectrum. The Broadcast Services Act was passed by parliament on a fast-track schedule to authorise, as requested by the High Court, the launching of private media.

It, however, imposed severe restrictions on new broadcasters at both national and at community level, leaving broad discretion to the state to decide who may operate a private broadcasting channel. The Act placed effective control of news broadcasters in the hands of the Minister of Information. In addition the Act imposed an arbitrary 75% local content threshold and restricted foreign investment in the media (World Press Freedom Committee 2001, Weza 2001).

The government continued to endorse a broadcasting monopoly even after the Act was passed (Weza Undated). In fact, in October 2000, a Presidential Decree introduced the Presidential Powers Temporary Measures. In November 2000, the President announced the setting up of a broadcasting regulatory authority, the Broadcasting Authority of Zimbabwe (BAZ), members of which would be appointed directly by the Information Minister.

In December 2001 ZANU PF planned to establish a new government-owned media group composed of eight newspaper titles circulating in all provinces, a 24-hour radio station and a TV channel, New Ziana - Zimbabwe Inter-Africa News Agency. ZIANA was established in 1981 as the main distributor of foreign news, such as Reuters, the Associated Press Service and Agence France Presse (Financial Gazette 1999). In addition, plans to bring the Zimbabwe Broadcasting Corporation (ZBC) to satellite television services through the satellite platform Multi-choice Africa were also considered in December 2001 (Business Day 2001).

References

BUSINESS DAY 2001, "Mugabe paves his way to win election: President plans to ban independent monitors and expand state media", 8 November.

CIA 2001, "World Fact-book: Zimbabwe Profile".

FINANCIAL GAZETTE 1999, "Economic reforms leave ZIANA in the cold", 8 April.

WEZA, S 2001, "Zimbabwean media in crisis: Issues and challenges," IN Communications Law in Transition Newsletter, 2(3), 18 February.

WEZA, S UNDATED, Special report: The Broadcasting Services Act and independent producers, Media Monitoring Project Zimbabwe.

WORLD PRESS FREEDOM COMMITTEE 2001, Report on World Press Freedom Committee's Press Freedom Mission to Zimbabwe.

ZIMBABWE BROADCASTING CORPORATION UNDATED, "Background", [www] http://www.zbc.co.zw/about.htm [opens new window] (page off-line 30 Oct 2007).