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Future Bleak for Zimbabwe Commercial Radio Stations

The future looks bleak for some provincial commercial radio stations likely to be awarded licenses soon as print media entities struggle to sustain operations due to the current harsh economic situation in Zimbabwe.

Some applicants, including Alpha Media Holdings that runs several newspapers and is currently struggling to pay workers, say they will face the challenges head-on to sustain their operations once granted local commercial stations.

The applicants say it costs more than $300,000 to set up a radio studio and thousands of dollars in other operational costs.

So far, these firms have already paid an application fee of $2,500 and $7,500 dollars for being shortlisted for a public hearing.

They will fork out an additional $50,000 if granted a radio license. Skeptics say some licensed radio stations are likely to collapse soon after being set up due to operational problems caused by a depressed economy.

John Masuku of the Voice of the People Radio Station said though it is a noble idea to have a large number of commercial radio stations, it still remains to be seen whether they are sustainable in Zimbabwe, a country with a low advertising base.

Two national commercial stations – Star FM and Zi-FM, granted licenses by the Broadcasting Authority of Zimbabwe (BAZ) two years ago, are struggling to sustain their operations at a time when they are compelled by BAZ regulations to set up 24 transmitters before the end of November this year. Their licenses will be revoked if these requirements are not met.