Bongani Ndlovu, Showbiz Correspondent
ZIMPAPERS Television Network (ZTN) is one of the six television stations that were awarded national commercial free to air television licences by the Broadcasting Authority of Zimbabwe (BAZ) yesterday.

Other stations that were given the green light to operate are Rusununguko Media (Pvt) Ltd trading as NRTV, Jester Media trading as 3K TV, Acacia Media Group trading as Kumba TV, Fairtalk Communications trading as Ke Yona TV and Channel Dzimbahwe trading as Channel D.

The six, according to BAZ will have 18 months to roll out operations.

“The Broadcasting Authority of Zimbabwe wishes to advise the public that the process of licensing new television services has been completed,” said BAZ board chairman Mr Charles Sibanda.

“The authority processed the applications in terms of the requirements of the Broadcasting Services Act [Chapter 12:06} including conducting public inquiries to determine applicant’s suitability to be issued with broadcasting services licences.”

“The new licensees shall have 18 months to rollout their plans and go on air, in line with section 11 (7) of the Broadcasting Services Act [Chapter 12:6].

“In the event of failure to broadcast, the licence or licences will be availed to other aspirants through a similar process.”

The move is in fulfilment of the 2013 Constitution and it also gives credence to the country’s push for media reforms.

Zimpapers group chief executive, Mr Pikirayi Deketeke said the group is excited following BAZ’s decision to award ZTN a free-to-air broadcasting licence.

“We’re both humbled and enthused by the Authority’s recognition of the value that ZTN has added to Zimbabwe’s media landscape and the broader knowledge and information industry. It is testament to our capacity to deliver a world class broadcasting service commensurate with the company’s existing investments in production infrastructure, skills and content production.

“Since July 2018, ZTN has been market-testing its product, broadcasting on multiple digital media platforms. Its content mix, comprising entertainment, sport, news and current affairs, has expanded the pool of information on Zimbabwe and provided diversity,” Mr Deketeke said in a statement.

He added: “As stated in our licensing bid presentation in October 2020, the majority shareholder in Zimpapers are the people of Zimbabwe through the Zimbabwe Mass Media Trust. As such, it is incumbent upon Zimpapers to ensure it leads the development of the country’s media landscape.

“Globally, the evolution of media hinges on convergence of multiple content platforms — print, radio, digital media platforms and television. The focus is on content and technology as audience preferences and tastes continue to change. Therefore, the Zimbabwean story is only effectively told in text, voice, video and graphics.”

Mr Deketeke said the awarding of the licence further boosts Zimpapers’ to tell the Zimbabwean story fully.

“The awarding of the licence boosts our ability to tell that story fully — a story that we have been telling predominantly through newspapers and radio.”

The licensing will also see the group creating more jobs.

“We already employ more than 1 000 Zimbabweans, most of them young graduates and expansion into television will see us employ many more and also benefit independent content-creators downstream,” Mr Deketeke said.

He further assured TV viewers of quality programming and thanked those who have already been watching the channel online for their support.

“The Zimpapers Group is also grateful to viewers of ZTN whose goodwill and positive feedback cannot be understated. Audiences are central to any media business, and many have already begun the journey with ZTN.

“We’ll continue to deliver quality content, guided by the National Interest and Public Benefit.”
Fairtalk Communications which runs Skyz Metro FM and Breeze FM radio stations landed the license for their Ke Yona Television channel and the project team leader, Dr Qhubani Moyo said they were also excited with the development.

“We’ll make sure that we’ll deliver on the content that’s required, given that one of our directors, Cont Mhlanga is a legend in production. We are aware that his historical experience will be of serious use in terms of nurturing production that will resonate with communities,” Dr Moyo said.

He said they are looking at going on air within 12 months, if all goes well.

Dr Moyo said the station will be based in Bulawayo and will provide a platform for a lot of untapped talent.

“We are happy that this national television station will be based in Bulawayo. Therefore, it’ll be able to provide a space for the city’s talent to showcase at a national scale. We’re aware that there has been a lot of latent talent that hasn’t been tapped,” he said.

During the public hearings, there were 14 other applicants who pitched their proposals for the television channel license. The eight who did not make the cut are AB Communications, Black Berry Zimbabwe, Conduit Investments, Heart and Soul, Just In TV Media, Meditation Investment and Media Net Productions. — Follow on Twitter @bonganinkunzi