‘Media sector must be on equal footing’
Rumbidzayi Zinyuke-Senior Reporter
THE media sector needs to be on an equal footing and be able to tell a credible and positive Zimbabwean story, Information, Publicity and Broadcasting Services Minister Dr Jenfan Muswere said during a tour of NRTV studios in Harare yesterday.
The tour is part of his familiarisation visits to all media houses across the country to get an appreciation of their operations. Dr Muswere said there were plans to ensure that all media houses had access to the same content.
“We will create these avenues so that Government is in a position to give content to all radio and television stations as well as print media so that you are all on equal footing.
“But at the same time, I want to guarantee access to information and also the independence and impartiality of the media industry in line with the Constitution and ensuring that all the freedoms and rights related to information and broadcasting are further consolidated.
“We have to understand the role of the media, be it private or public, in terms of nation building and macro-economic growth,” he said.
The primary focus was to ensure that the Ministerial Advisory Committee which involved all media houses was established to allow deliberations on how best to grow the media space.
The Minister also said the committee would be instrumental in the depolarisation of the media industry while also coming up with ways of using the media to identify and report on the positive developments the country has achieved.
Over the past five years, Government has managed to open up the airwaves to allow new players into the broadcasting space.
This has seen six private TV stations being awarded free-to-air licences by the Broadcasting Authority of Zimbabwe.
Dr Muswere said while there was scope to further open up the airwaves to allow more players on board, it was important to ensure that those who already had licences were performing optimally.
“The licencing framework is there to ensure that we have more voices in a position to broadcast the good story about Zimbabwe. What we need to emphasise is that the country must always come first so the different radio and television stations will give Zimbabwe as a country an opportunity to have different positive opinions and direction in terms of how we project our country.
“There is a lot that can be done to further bring on board more players. If there is a need for us to readjust and allow more players, we will do that. We don’t thrive on bureaucracy, but we adjust to the needs and expectations of the people of Zimbabwe. However, we now have other content creators.”
“Broadband and the different ICT gadgets have allowed every citizen to be able to broadcast, so we now need credible voices in the media and broadcasting space. Perhaps we need to have a fusion of the old broadcasting strategies plus the new digital systems,” he said.
The Ministry would engage all the licensed radio and television players to assess the progress they had achieved so far while also addressing the challenges of those that had not started broadcasting yet. The growth of the media industry would also lie on its ability to tell a positive story that will promote economic growth.
“For the media industry to be robust and grow, there is a need for it to play its positive role to allow the economy to grow and to be able to unite the people of Zimbabwe. The focus primarily is to ensure that we have a knowledgeable society which is key as we journey towards 2030,” Dr Muswere said.
An informed nation was crucial in terms of empowerment hence there was a need for the Government and media to pull in one direction towards building the nation.
“We have already agreed with the media houses that we want a two-way communication system to be able to know where there are deficiencies for the Government to be able to then correct them. This will enhance the role of the media in terms of national building and informing the executive about the challenges that the people of Zimbabwe are facing,” said Dr Muswere.