Broadcasting Services Act
Fact Sheet Three:
Licensing of mass media services
Generally, all functional governments the world over control electromagnetic transmission of
audio, data and video signals, within the available frequency spectrum.
This is so because of the limited frequency spectrum, which has to be regulated in the
interests, both of national security and efficient usage. In Zimbabwe, this is provided for in the
Constitution (see Section 20 (2) (b) (iv)).
As a result, section 7 of the BSA makes it illegal for anyone to operate a broadcast media
service or signal carrier service without a licence. Licensing allows for the creation of the
necessary regulatory framework used to determine the efficient use of electromagnetic
spectrum, and to control the number and identity of persons permitted to broadcast.
Thus, licensing should only be directed at “regulating the technical administration, operation
and general efficiency” of broadcasting services and not as a form of political (or other)
control. Zimbabwe’s licensing regime as will be illustrated is not for technical administration
and ensuring efficiency, but designed to maintain the monopoly of the government on the
According to section 7(2) of the BSA, there are 10 kinds categories of licences that the BAZ
can issue to individuals wishing to enter the sector, namely:

Subscription narrow casting
Open narrow casting
Data casting;
(8) Broadcasting
rail casting

While it is true that in most countries everyone needs a licence to operate any of these
broadcasting services (except maybe for webcasting), the oddity of the Zimbabwean
legislation lies in the terms and conditions that are imposed on prospective licensees. It is
argued that these terms and conditions are not only onerous, but seem to be deliberately
crafted to deny individuals their fundamental right to freedom of expression via the media by
discouraging entry into the sector.
Terms and conditions of licences:
Section 11 sets the general terms and conditions for all prospective license holders in the
broadcast media in Zimbabwe. According to section 10(1), only after the BAZ has published a
notice (in the Gazette and in one national newspaper) inviting applications for licences to
provide broadcasting services can prospective broadcasters start applying. Not before that.


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