The Zimbabwe Broadcasting Authority (BZA) has been conducting public hearings where 6 applicants came presented their proposals for Zimbabwe’s  free to air TV Licence.

Zimbabwe has had only one TV Station ZTV for a long time. This embarrassing situation was caused by the desire by ZANU PF to control the media.

Free to Air TV Licences are by their nature, tightly controlled by governments and are often allocated to politically connected individuals.

About the Commissioners 

The commissioners did a good job and asked key questions led by Commissioner Sibanda and has a number of qualified media practitioners.

About the 6 Applicants

I managed to watch the presentations by the 6 Applicants, and out of the 6 presentations, only Zimpapers seem ready to launch a TV Station.

The rest of the applicants had some serious challenges that could affect their bids and I will discuss these.

The six applicants that presented to BAZ came mainly from existing media players , namely:

1. Zimpapers (ZTN Prime) – Zimpapers has a polished presentation and were led by their Chairman, Tommy Sithole  and head of television, Noma Nkala, and the team did a good job.

ZTN has the technical and financial capacity to run a TV station and their business model is sound and they invested $19 Million.

2. Financial Gazette (Jester Media) – One major shareholder owns this TV station. Its not clear who the other shareholders are.

3. Newsday (Hearts And Soul TV) – The presentation was not well done and there are funding issues. Trevor Ncube has a dominating presence. HSTV Has budgeted $3 Million for the projects, of which $1 Million from funders.

The rest of the applicants are family businesses or were dominated by individuals, namely:

4. Jit Tv – A Gweru based TV Station, which is owned by the McKenzie family. The Presentation was not well presented and the technical aspects seem to be an issue.

5. Keyona – A Bulawayo based TV station – Cont Mhlanga owns 10%, Qubani Moyo owns 30%, Amakhosi Owns 35 % and the rest is owned by a company whose ownership was not disclosed. They will be operating from Obert Mpofu’s building Pioneer house. The disadvantage they have is lack of funding.

6. Rusununguko /Nkululeko (NRTV) – The presentation fell short and was not well polished. They appeared to be political connected.

7. Continental Television – Presentation not well done

Problem with these proposals

  1. Except for ZTN, all the other applicants do not have content on youtube, Facebook and on their websites!
  2. Most of the applicants lack funds and will struggle to remain viable!

Current Problems with Zimbabwe TV

1. Coverage is limited to Harare and major cities

2. News coverage has been unbalanced and biased.

3. ZBC has failed to create downstream industries such as production houses.

My proposal

1. Give Zimpapers A TV Licence

2. Ask the other 5 Applicants to form a consortium and give them a single Licence.

3. Give another Licence to the National University Of Science and Technology Media Department, this can be shared with the MSU media department.

4. Give another Licence to the University of Zimbabwe Media School which can be shared with Chinhoyi University.

In Conclusion

A free press is the foundation for development. Zimbabwe is moving in the right direction, however, the country needs to do more.

Social media has opened up new avenues for bloggers to get a national audience.

Universities should be the centers for developing the future media industry of Zimbabwe.