GOVERNMENT is working on licensing 24 television channels in line with the vision of the new dispensation to increase access to information, Secretary for Information, Publicity and Broadcasting Services Mr Nick Mangwana has said. Speaking at a media stakeholders’ meeting in Harare yesterday, Mr Mangwana said the channels will be open for both public and private players, while the Government was also considering increasing the threshold for foreign ownership from the current 20 percent.
“The Government will diversify ownership. Licences will not be issued on partisan lines, but it will be open for everyone.
“The licences will be issued in a transparent manner, but the Zimbabwe Broadcasting Corporation (ZBC), as a public broadcaster, will have a fair share,” he said.
He said the Government was working on establishing community radio stations countrywide.
“The opening of community radio stations is awaiting the appointment of board members (for the Broadcasting Authority of Zimbabwe), which is currently underway.
“We will be able to issue community radio licences once the board is in place.
“The community radio stations should be community-owned, with a geographical aspect to it. The community should be defined with the radio station,” said Mr Mangwana.
Already, the Government is working on reforming of the Access to Information and Protection of Privacy Act (AIPPA) to ensure access to information for all.
The Government wants the content of AIPPA and its implementation to reflect its title, which is access to information.
Mr Mangwana said the Government will soon gazette the Freedom of Information, Zimbabwe Media Commission, Protection of Information and Broadcasting Services Act Amendment Bills designed to repeal and replace AIPPA to align the laws with the Constitution.
“Some of the draft Bills have already been passed in Cabinet, while some are yet to be finalised.
“We intend to publish the Bills in the Government Gazette soon. Once published in the Gazette, they will be brought before Parliament for debate,” said Mr Mangwana.
Media laws in Zimbabwe, particularly AIPPA and the Broadcasting Services Act, have been deemed repressive by stakeholders in the media and under the Second Republic, President Mnangagwa’s administration is rolling out a massive reform exercise to entrench freedoms and democratic ideals in line with the Constitution and global best practice.