BAZ defers issuing of radio licences

BAZ had flighted applications for 14 commercial radio licences to operate from the country’s major urban centres in November last year, but is yet to approve a single one. It is considering further extending the deadline for applicants. Initially, the deadline was January 31 but it was moved to February 29 and they are yet to set another date. 

BAZ announced it would allocate a single frequency in 14 urban centres –– Harare, Bulawayo, Mutare, Gweru, Masvingo, Chinhoyi, Bindura, Gwanda, Marondera, Lupane, Plumtree, Kariba, Victoria Falls and Beitbridge.

The commercial radio licences were in addition to the two national commercial broadcasting licences that were awarded to AB Communications headed by broadcaster Supa Mandiwanzira (pictured) and Talk Radio run by the state-owned Zimpapers.

The Zimbabwe Broadcasting Corporation, widely accused of operating as a Zanu PF propaganda mouthpiece, has monopolised the airwaves since Independence in 1980.

According to sources, BAZ’s legal committee met last week and recommended postponement of issuing licences, saying there have only been a few applications.BAZ officials revealed they had only received applications for licences in Harare, Bulawayo and Lupane. There was low interest in most areas because of little advertising revenue investors expect.

However, some of the applicants believe the postponement was meant to ensure that Zimpapers’ Talk Radio and Mandiwanzira’s ZiFM consolidate their operations in Bulawayo and Harare without competition, while giving people with links to Zanu PF time to apply for licences in certain targeted areas.

BAZ chairman Tafataona Mahoso referred questions to chief executive officer Obert Muganyura who could not be reached for comment.

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