Mabvuku-Tafara National Assembly member Mr James Maridadi has warned Government against awarding community radio station licences under the current economic environment, saying this would lead to a “high mortality rate” of the stations.
In an interview on the sidelines of a panel discussion organised by the Zimbabwe Media Commission to commemorate World Press Freedom Day in Harare on Friday, Mr Maridadi said advertisers wield too much power under the present situation and may end up dictating content.
The MDC-T legislator, who sits on the Parliamentary Portfolio Committee on Information, Media and Broadcasting Services, urged Government to “fix” the operating environment first.
“A radio station is a function of business and survival of that enterprise is a function of advertising. If there is no advertising, we will witness high mortality of the licensed stations.
“Because there is no sustained revenue flow in the advertising business, the community radio stations will inevitably collapse. In Zimbabwe, we have between five and six advertisers of note and we fear that if we are to have more radio stations than we already have the advertisers will end up dictating content. I am saying we can license as many radio stations as we want, but they will not be able to operate. Look at the community newspapers we have across the country. They are all struggling because of this phenomenon.
“Even in the area of content; our national radio stations are already struggling with content. Let us fix the operating environment first. I don’t know how, but the economy could be the right first port of call.”
Last week, the Broadcasting Authority of Zimbabwe (Baz) revealed that it has short listed 18 applicants for local commercial broadcasting services from the 21 who submitted applications for local commercial radio licences.
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