Y-Star FM petitions Parliament on community radio licences

Y-Star FM, a Bulawayo-based community radio initiative, which was snubbed by the Broadcasting Authority of Zimbabwe (BAZ) in its recent licensing exercise, has petitioned the Parliament of Zimbabwe to debate the licensing of ‘real’ community radio stations.

In making calls for applications in February last year, BAZ said community radios would cover marginalised communities and Matabeleland region would get seven of the 10 stations.

Community radio licences with a bias on language were invited from the following places: Hwange and Victoria Falls; Beitbridge and Shashi; Mbembesi; Manama and Legion; Empandeni, Maphosa, Ndolwane and Plumtree; Binga, Kamativi, Kariba, Mapengolo and Siabuwa; Chikombedzi, Chiredzi, Rutenga, Mahenye and Malipati; Chipinge, Chimanimani, Gwendingwe, Rusitu, Chibuwe; Shamva and Alaska as well as Rukotso and Susamoyo.

Harare and Bulawayo were excluded from the selected geographical areas.

In their petition with over 200 signatures and submitted to Parliament in Harare, Wednesday, Y-Star FM argue that BAZ selectively called for applications for community radio licences while excluding others with potential from the process.

“In doing so it is no longer clear whether those will be real community radios if they get licenced,” reads the petition seen by CITE.

“The second is that when BAZ invited applications, it did not consider special interest groups like women, youths, farmers, etc. These special interest groups make up a community of their own.”

The community radio initiative said the issue has to be relooked by the National Assembly.

“We wish that the Parliamentary Portfolio Committee on Information and Broadcasting Services debates the whole licensing process of community radios so that applications are invited from all over the country and from different special interest groups not from selected few areas as is the case now,” said Y-Star FM in the petition.

“We also pray that they debate and come up with a definition of “community radio. The process of defining the licensing of community radios and defining what community radios are should take place as soon as this petition is received in Parliament. It should not take long since the issue of community radios has been spoken about for some time now. We feel the country should move fast in embracing the three-tier broadcasting system.”

YFM director, Philani Ncube told CITE, Y-Star FM, with a bias on youths, is ready to go on air any time once licenced.

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