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Zimbabwe's Radio VOP Sues Broadcasting Authority Over License Denial

  • Tatenda Gumbo

VOP attorneys argue the broadcasting board committed a gross irregularity by failing to give substantive reasons for its refusal to grant the it a free to air national commercial radio license.

A second aspiring Zimbabwean broadcaster denied a commercial radio license last year has taken its fight to the courts, challenging the broadcasting authority's decision.

The suit by Radio Voice of the People, operated by VOX Media comes on the heels of another legal action by KISS FM against the Broadcasting Authority of Zimbabwe or BAZ.

The two were unsuccessful in their bids for licenses after the broadcasting authority invited applications for two commercial permits. Both say the process was flawed and want the courts to set aside the issued licenses and start afresh.

VOP attorneys argue the broadcasting board breached laid rules by not disclosing its scoring and evaluation process for prospective broadcasters.

Appeal papers charge that "the respondent committed committed a gross irregularity by failing to give substantive reasons for its refusal to grant the application (VOX Media) a free to air national commercial radio license."

Many others have criticized the license awards to Zimpapers, publishers of state-controlled newspapers and AB Communications, both with close links to President Robert Mugabe’s ZANU-PF party.

The Movement for Democratic Change formation of Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai has also tabled a motion in parliament to have the two permits rescinded and the broadcasting board reconstituted.

Unlike the other applicants, Radio VOP already broadcasts to Zimbabwe from a Madagascar transmission station under Radio Netherlands sponsorship, a fact many critics say hindered its chances.

Director Irene Petras of the Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights, which is representing Radio VOP, told VOA the station has every legal mandate to bring this case to court against the broadcasting authority.

Chairman Njabulo Ncube of the Media Institue of Southern Africa Zimbabwe Chapter commented that media advocates feel their cause justified as more disgruntled applicants come forward to challenge the broadcasting authority's decision.

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