THE Broadcasting Authority of Zimbabwe (BAZ) has no mandate to issue licences for training purposes. This followed applications to operate community radio
stations by three media training institutions, the Harare Polytechnic, Midlands State University and the National University of Science and Technology.
The institutions, which train both print and electronic journalists, want to operate radio stations at their campuses for academic purposes but BAZ said the Broadcasting Services Act did not give it power to issue licences for training purposes.
The Harare Polytechnic made its application to BAZ on July 20 last year.
The institutions wanted to set up transmitters at their campuses to broadcast to students and their environs. The BAZ, a statutory body tasked with licensing broadcasters, this week attacked the three institutions for failing to acquaint themselves with the law.
BAZ board member Pikirayi Deketeke said the Broadcasting Services Act did not have provisions to issue licences for training purposes.
“It’s actually surprising that people who are training journalists have absolutely no clue on the laws or what they are teaching,” Deketeke, who is also editor of The Herald, said in an interview.
“How can BAZ create something that is not there? The fact that the Act is silent does not mean that any mad man from the streets can operate a radio station on the basis that it is nowhere written that a mad man cannot operate a radio station.”
Deketeke said BAZ licences operate on categories that are stipulated in the Act and if an application did not fall in any of the available categories then it did not qualify.
In its application, the Harare Polytechnic said it trained radio journalists for the local and international markets. It said it had at its disposal “a radio studio which enables the trainee journalists to practise what they are taught”.
He advised the institutions to apply for diffusion licences.
Unlike community radio broadcasting where one is allocated a signal and frequency range that can transmit from a certain point, diffusion involves broadcasting without a signal.
Diffusion uses internally-connected speakers from a broadcasting point to other points as an intercom, similar to what is done in banks and hospitals.