In the first public hearing by the Broadcasting Authority of Zimbabwe to vet applicants for the two commercial radio licenses the regulator has promised to issue, representatives of shortlisted applicant Kiss FM said Tuesday that it will initially rely on the state-controlled Zimbabwe Broadcasting Corporation for its news coverage.
In her presentation to the Broadcasting Authority, Kiss FM board member Musi Khumalo said the station will focus mainly on music and entertainment, targeting young people, and will initially rely on the Zimbabwe Broadcasting Corporation for news.
But some people in attendance questioned why Kiss FM would get news from ZBC which has often been accused of a bias in favor of the long-ruling ZANU-PF party of President Robert Mugabe and against the Movement for Democratic Change.
But Khumalo responded saying Kiss FM editors and managers will have the right to select what to broadcast from ZBC, and that they will use news from the state broadcaster only while they putting together their own news operation.
Kiss FM Chairman Douglas Munatsi told the regulator that his company has secured US$5 million financing and will be able to go on air five months after being licensed.
He said the station will have studios in Harare and Bulawayo, working with state signals company Transmedia to ensure its broadcasts can be heard nationwide.
A second applicant, state-controlled print media group Zimbabwe Newspapers, will come before the broadcast regulator. AB Communications and Voice of the People, which now broadcasts from Madagascar courtesy of Netherlands Radio, will appear next week.
The BAZ promised in May to issue two commercial radio licenses. Four companies were shortlisted out of the 14 which filed applications by a June deadline.
The Media Institute of Southern Africa said it welcomed the hearings by the broadcast regulator but said they were insufficiently publicized to bring out the public.
Misa-Zimbabwe Director Nhlanhla Ngwenya told VOA reporter Jonga Kandemiiri that his group was also concerned that the broadcasting authority was not able to function independently, casting doubt on the transparency of the licensing process.
Political analyst Pedzisai Ruhanya said he expected Kiss FM and Zimpapers would get licenses because of their links to the government and state broadcasting.
In another public meeting on Tuesday, a hearing in Mutare, Manicaland province, on the Electoral Amendment Act now in Parliament, ZANU-PF activists disrupted proceedings as they did on Monday in Marondera, Mashonaland East province. But this time they locked in lawmakers running the meeting so that the hearing could not be abandoned, as VOA Studio 7 correspondent Loirdham Moyo reported.