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MEDIA analysts have welcomed the short-listing of 18 applications for local commercial broadcasting services but called for a transparent adjudication process.

Broadcasting Authority of Zimbabwe (BAZ) chief executive officer, Obert Maganyura, recently revealed that that they have shortlisted 18 applicants from the 21 who submitted applications for local commercial radio licences.

“Those shortlisted will be subjected to public hearings to determine their suitability to be licensed in terms of provisions of the Broadcasting Services Act,” Maganyura said in a statement.

“Members of the public and short-listed applicants will be aised of the dates, time and venues of the public hearings through written and published notices. The authority intends to complete this licensing process by the end of July 2014.”

Media Institute for Southern Africa – Zimbabwe Chapter (Misa-Zimbabwe) Director Nhlanhla Ngwenya welcomed the development.

“We are calling upon the BAZ to have a transparent public hearing process where prejudices will not take over reasoning and logic, and we call upon those who will conduct public hearings to grant licenses where they are due,” he said.

Other industry observers however expressed reservations drawing on the outrage that followed the licencing of ZiFM owned by Zanu PF legislator and deputy information minister Supa Mandiwanzira and StarFM, run by the government-owned Zimpapers group.

“It all depends on the transparency of the process going forward, particularly on the issue to do with how they came to be vetted, pending public hearings and public knowledge of the final determination procedures.

“This however notwithstanding the overall fact that the Broadcasting Services Act remains patently undemocratic,” said Takura Zhangazha.

National Coordinator for Zimbabwe Association of Community Radio Stations (ZACRAS) Vivian Marara said the shot-listing was a positive development.

“It has been previously reported that once, BAZ completes the licensing of local commercial stations, it will move to community radios,” said Marara.

“However, from previous experience it has been observed that the Authority is slow in its implementation process.

“We therefore call upon BAZ to expedite the licensing of local commercial stations because the process has taken longer than necessary.”

BAZ said it received 21applications out of the twenty-five areas invited for licencing. Harare leads the list with the highest number of applicants.

Source : New Zimbabwe

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