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Zimbabwe Community Broadcaster Takes Regulator to Court Over License

Community Radio Harare says the Broadcasting Authority of Zimbabwe has not issued calls for license applications since 2004, barring independent broadcasters and leaving state-controlled ZBH with a monopoly

Community Radio Harare has asked Zimbabwe's High Court to order the Broadcasting Authority of Zimbabwe to issue it a license to operate a radio station, in response to the authority’s denial of a license on grounds there was no call for applications.

The group of journalists behind Corah said they submitted a license application late last year but were notified in January it was turned down. The authority cited Section 10 of the Broadcasting Services Act in arguing that the application from Corah was invalid because the authority had not issued an official call for license applications.

But the group says the authority has issued no calls for applications since 2004, which in effect has has barred independent broadcasters from launching stations and left the state controlled Zimbabwe Broadcasting Corporation with a monopoly.

Community Radio Harare Program Manager Stewart Musiwa said the authority has an obligation to call for applications on a regular basis. Corah's management is calling for the court to quickly order the authority to grant the requested license.

Media advocates say the authority’s failure to call for applications is illegal. The Media Institute of Southern Africa has joined in the Harare High Court legal battle.

MISA-Zimbabwe Legal Officer Jacqueline Chikakano said independent media advocates are lobbying for the authority to at least begin calling for license applications as a step to liberalization of the sector. She told reporter Tatenda Gumbo that media diversity lacks in Zimbabwe and community radio would give Zimbabweans an independent voice.