Secondly, the uncertainty of renewal means that strategic planning for programmes is always
short term, making it difficult to generate much popularity among audiences and goodwill from
advertisers and other clients. The risks simply outweigh the benefits.
Thirdly, it means that since broadcasting is a capital intensive venture, potential investors
have to borrow finance from banks and other lending institutions, but with the current risks
associated with the venture, a few financial institutions will be likely to lend out their monies to
prospective broadcasters. The end result of all these impractical terms and conditions is to
maintain the state-owned Zimbabwe Broadcasting Holdings (ZBH) monopoly on the airwaves
by proxy, which is a clear case of contempt of the Supreme Court on the part of the
The mirage liberalisation created by this Act is abnormal considering that the world over,
governments take cognisance of the fact that broadcasting is a long-term business venture,
thus allow for longer license periods. In South Africa, for example, community broadcasting
licences are valid for four years, while television and radio broadcasting licences are valid for
eight and six years, respectively (refer to section 54 of the Independent Broadcasting
Authority (IBA) Act of South Africa).
Signal carrier licences:
To compound the Zimbabwean situation, no holder of a broadcasting licence (other than
Transmedia, wholly owned by the state ) is allowed to hold a signal carrier license. This
means that both commercial and community broadcasters’ activities will be limited to only
producing programmes (or buying pre-produced programmes) and then sending these
programmes to either Transmedia for transmission or to the new signal carrier licensee to be
introduced at the mercy of the Minister of Information. The splitting of broadcasting between
producers of programmes and signal carriers unnecessarily interferes with the right to
freedom of expression. In addition, it creates a very risky investment environment.
Further, signal carriers are not obliged to flight programmes submitted to them by
broadcasters. It is therefore possible for a signal carrier to interfere with the nature and
content of broadcasts.
In practice, all broadcasters will be obliged to enter into lease agreements with Transmedia
seeing that the government will not be issuing any private signal carrier licences any time
soon. This will constitute an immeasurably costly exercise for all broadcasters, particularly
community broadcasters. This situation compares unfavourably with the South African
example where all licensed broadcasters are also free to apply for a signal carrier licence.
Finally, the BSA states that only one signal carrier licence – again valid for only two years –
will be issued nationally. It is impractical to expect that the prospective holder of such a
licence will have purchased very expensive signal carrying equipment worth billions of dollars,
only to be told after two years that their licence has been revoked or will not be renewed
because the Minister of Information said so.
In South Africa, a common signal carrier licence is valid for 15 years and a signal carrier
licence given to a commercial broadcaster is valid for eight years (see section 38 of the South
African IBA Act). Zimbabwe’s licence tenure periods stifle growth of a viable and plural
electronic mass media service industry. It is also arguable that the licence periods are
designed to maintain the broadcasting monopoly currently enjoyed by the government in the
sector, and are therefore designed to discourage entry.


Transmedia was born out of the split of the Zimbabwe Broadcasting Corporation (ZBC) under the
ZVC Commercialisation Act of 2001. While Transmedia carries out signal work, Zimbabwe
Broadcasting Holdings born out of this law is the state broadcaster.


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