Second TV station For Zimbabwe
December 16th, 2009 - 10:33 UTC
by Andy Sennitt.

Zimbabwe will soon see the introduction of a second television station that will broadcast under the state controlled Zimbabwe Broadcasting Corporation’s (ZBC’s) stable, according to its CEO Happison Muchechetere.

This is coming at a time when private media players have been waiting for the newly set up Broadcasting Authority of Zimbabwe (BAZ) to call for radio and television licence applications in line with the Global Political Agreement (GPA) that brought about Zimbabwe’s new unity government. The Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) has also complained against the appointment of Tafataona Mahoso as the BAZ chairperson. Mr Mahoso is the former chairperson of the defunct Media Information Commission (MIC), which was responsible for the shutdown of newspapers in the country, resulting in hundreds of journalists losing their jobs and leaving the country.

It is also coming at a time when Zanu PF is decrying and decampaigning exiled radio stations, that are challenging ZBC’s monopoly.

ZBC, the country’s sole broadcaster, has been accused of being a mouthpiece for President Robert Mugabe’s Zanu PF party. Prime Minister Tsvangirai’s MDC says ZBC TV continues to make broadcasts biased against his party, now in government, in violation of the GPA, which says it must provide balanced and fair coverage to all political parties.

Mr Muchechetere said in a televised interview Tuesday evening that the station will lauch in less than a month’s time. The station, to be known as ZBC TV 2, will begin by making half day broadcasts within a radius of 80 km from the country’s main studios at Pockets Hill, Harare before extending its transmission to the rest of the country in a projected six month period.

Nr Muchechetere said the new TV station will broadcast on a channel that had been used by the now defunct Joy TV which was being run by exiled Zimbabwean businessman James Makamba. According to Mr Muchechetere Joy TV, which provided balanced coverage, was switched off for non payment of transmission charges to ZBC, the owners of the channel.

“It is going to be a commercial station. Programmes that we show there must bring something back to us. They must have a monetary value. The business community must enjoy watching these programmes so that they can in turn advertise through us,” he said. “The programmes that are there are going to please everyone from the toddler, the businessman, the professor and to the farmer.”

Media, Information and Publicity Deputy Minister Jameson Timba says Zimbabwe has the capacity to licence seven more television stations under the available broadcasting space. In terms of the current frequency allocation plan, Zimbabwe has the capacity to host three new television stations on the UHF band and one TV station on Very High Frequency VHF band. If Zimbabwe goes digital through a multiplex, it can have six additional television stations on UHF and one more on VHF and this would be an additional seven stations in the country.