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Zimbabwe State-Controlled Publisher Proposes to Move Into Broadcasting


Zimbabwe Human Rights NGO Forum Executive Director Abel Chikomo said it would be a travesty if Zimpapers were granted licenses to broadcast given the monopoly enjoyed by the Zimbabwe Broadcasting Corporation

Media holding company Zimbabwe Newspapers, parent company of the state-controlled Herald and other publications, aims to launch radio and television operations, Zimpapers Chairman Paul Chimedza told a strategic planning workshop on the weekend.

Sources attending the workshop in Nyanga on Sunday said Chimedza told the meeting that Zimpapers should be a full media house with print and electronic offerings.

Information Ministry Permanent Secretary George Charamba endorsed the proposal but it has stirred controversy given the existing state monopoly in broadcasting. The Zimbabwe Broadcasting Corp. is the only entity licensed to broadcast on the national territory.

Zimbabwean journalists took to social networking sites on Tuesday to discuss the merits and demerits of the state awarding Zimpapers a licence to broadcast. There were mixed reactions with state media journalists applauding the move saying it would create jobs while most independent reporters and editors were against the idea.

"I thought ZBC (the state-controlled Zimbabwe Broadcasting Corporation) and Zimpapers were more or less one and the same ... So what new can we expect from the Zimpapers TV/radio that we cannot get through the current ZBC?"{ one journalist asked.

Another one wrote: "This is good news indeed. As long as they also licence independent players.The more the merrier."

Quipped a third online participant: "At least there is an acknowledgement by all sides of the box that ZBC alone is inadequate."

Nhanhla Ngwenya, director of the Zimbabwean branch of the Media Institute of Southern Africa, said independent operators should also get broadcast licenses if the government gives them to Zimpapers.

Zimbabwe Human Rights NGO Forum Executive Director Abel Chikomo said it would be a travesty if Zimpapers were granted licenses to broadcast, given that the Zimbabwe Broadcasting Corp. is also state-controlled.

Many consider ZBC to be a mouthpiece for the long-ruling ZANU-PF party of President Robert Mugabe, even with the establishment in early 2009 of a government of national unity under the 2008 Global Political Agreement for power sharing.

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