New regulation to boost creativity in Southern African and Indian Ocean regions

Regulation & Policy
Zimbabwe: Range of State Radio Broadcasts Increase Concern has been expressed over the increasing range of the state broadcaster after new transmitters were installed last week, bringing radio broadcasts to communities who usually don't have access. The TransMedia Corporation, a branch of the state-run Zimbabwe Broadcasting Holdings, installed transmitters last week in an effort to increase the broadcast range to communities such as Beitbridge, Plumtree, Mudzi and St Albert in Mt Darwin. Since independence these areas have not had access to ZBC radio broadcasts, a situation that the Finance Ministry asked TransMedia to rectify, and gave them US$800,000 for the task. The placement of new transmitters is now being heralded as a welcome change to Zimbabwe's media space, with communities receiving ZBC radio broadcasts via FM for the first time in 30 years. However, many observers have expressed concern. They've argued that the transmitters will only be extending the influence of the state broadcaster and give more strength to ZANU PF's voice of propaganda. Loughty Dube, the chairman of the Zimbabwe branch of the Media Institute of Southern Africa (MISA), told SW Radio Africa on Thursday that it was a welcome development for Zimbabwe, but he questioned whether access to ZBC broadcasts would have much impact. Dube said that listeners will likely still prefer broadcasts they can pick up from neighbouring countries, over those supplied by ZBC. "I think, 11 months down the line, we need to see what residents in these areas really think," Dube explained. "Will they still be excited? Or will they still choose to listen to other broadcasts?" Dube also questioned whether the transmitters are a form of real change, arguing that "giving people more of the same is not change at all, it's just increasing what they don't want." "What people want is diversity, choice and access to quality, diverse content. So extending ZBC broadcasts is not the change to the media space that people were hoping for," Dube said.