The State-owned Zimbabwe Broadcasting Corporation’s ZTV, will for the first time since independence, test real competition in the television sector after the Broadcasting Authority of Zimbabwe licenced six players on Friday.
In a statement announcing the new players in the industry, BAZ board chairman Charles Sibanda, said the new licensees will have 18 months to roll out their plans and go on air.
The authority invited applications for the provision of Free-to-air National Commercial Television Broadcasting Service licences in February this and received 14 applications.
“In the event of failure to broadcast, the licences will be availed to other aspirants through a similar process,” Sibanda said.
Observers were, however, quick to raise eyebrows after two independent aspirations HSTV and AB Communications owned by former journalists Trevor Ncube and Supa Mandiwanzira were not awarded the licences.
While Ncube and Mandiwanzira might be licking their wounds, the story is different for the Daily News-owned Jester Media (PVT) Ltd which was awarded the licence and will trade as 3K TV.
Other recipients include Zimpapers 1980 trading as ZTN, Rusununguko who will operate as NRTV, Acacia Media Group (Kumba TV), Fairtalk Communications who ply as KeYona and Channel D which belongs to Channel Dzimbabwe (PVT) Ltd.
Media commentators also hailed the speed with which BAZ processed the applications but noted with concerns whether the recipients would provide viewers value for money.
Broadcasters including ZBC have struggle to generate content that satisfies the local viewership forcing many Zimbabweans to opt for free-to-air and pre-paid channels especially from South Africa.