FIELD BLOG SUBSCRIBE TO RSS
Zimbabwe Licenses Four More Publications; Media Groups Urge Broadcast OpeningPosted by: admin on Fri, 2010-07-30 10:23
(Harare, Zimbabwe)—The licensing this week of two news agencies, a monthly celebrity magazine and a weekly sports magazine by the Zimbabwe Media Commission (ZMC) is another step toward greater media diversity in Zimbabwe. Journalists and media freedom advocates welcomed the development but added that the process remains piecemeal, and they pointed to persistent legal obstacles to fully free expression.
AudienceScapes reported in May that Zimbabwe’s media landscape might be poised for a renaissance; it now appears that the ZMC board is living up to its mission, despite ongoing scepticism about the government’s level of commitment to a freer media sector. The ZMC this week licensed Cable News Agency and another agency which will be run by the African Open Media Initiative (AOMI). ZMC Board Chairman Godfrey Majonga also confirmed licenses have been granted to the Zimceleb monthly magazine as well as the weekly Sport/24 magazine.
Kumbirai Mafunda, a veteran journalist and chairman of the Media Institute of Southern Africa (MISA) Harare Advocacy program, welcomed the licensing of new private print media players. “This was long overdue and this is an exciting moment for Zimbabwean journalists," he said.
However, Mafunda expressed ongoing worries about legislative obstacles to a free media environment. “We remain concerned with the existence of repressive legislations such as AIPPA [Access to Information and Protection of Privacy Act] and the Criminal Law and Codification [Reform] Act; this coalition government should immediately repeal such legislation to complement the licensing of new media players,” he said.
Follows Newspaper Licenses
The latest granting of licenses to four private media players follows the licensing of four newspapers just over two months ago-though only one, NewsDay, has begun publishing. Officials from another, The Daily News, have said that print copies it will hit the streets in August 2010 (its online edition, www.dailynews.co.zw, is up and running).
ZMC chief Majonga, confirming the new round of licenses, said that all of the media outlets would be based in Harare with the exception of Cable News Agency in Gweru. He was hopeful that all four of the licensed print media players would be in newsstands soon.
Njabulo Ncube, assistant editor of The Financial Gazette, a political and business weekly, said the ZMC's decisions signified a “positive development for the [media] industry as well as for the furtherance of democracy in the country” as it will “provide the platform for diverse views for the population, which MISA-Zimbabwe have been clamouring for."
More Jobs for Journalists
Ncube added that new publications also will provide employment for the many journalists who lost their jobs in the past few years during the government's media clampdown. At the same time, he urged the government to go beyond piecemeal liberalization and called on the authorities to "move with speed now to open the airwaves and allow the proliferation of community radio and television stations." He added, "Radio...is the most powerful media" in Zimbabwe.
Michael Nyirenda, the chairman of Zimceleb told AudienceScapes, "We are happy to finally have our license. As you know we have been publishing online for the past couple of years, so this is a major step for us. He noted that, while Zimceleb focuses on celebrities, it will also use such stories to “speak to the citizenry about the dangers of HIV and AIDS as well as other development issues.” Nyirenda noted that such messages delivered with the participation of celebrities can have a major impact on people's attitudes and practices.
Tawanda Karombo is a freelance journalist living in Zimbabwe. He has had experience with Financial, Business and Communication Reporting. He has previously written for The Financial Gazette (Business and Financial Weekly in Zimbabwe), MoneyWeb (South African Investment and Financial web publication) and The Zimbabwe Gazette (Online news publication about Zimbabwe) among others.
Recent Blogs by Tawanda
SIM Card Registration Continues Apace in Africa
Zimbabwe: Audio News Service Bridges the Information Gap
Zimbabwe: Government to Sell Telecoms Company NetOne
Zimbabwe: New Dailies Launch, Usher in New Era for Print Media
Zimbabwe ICT Bill Raises Hopes, Despite Governmental Risks
Is Zimbabwe's Media Sector Poised for a Renaissance? We'll Know In July