Paidamoyo Muzulu writing for the Newsday said Zimbabwe was in need of another ZBC or ZBC has to do better and reform and start pushing for content interesting to viewers. Muzulu made the following argument as to why Zimbabwe is in need of another broadcaster:
The six new television stations Fair Talk Communications, Jester Media, Acacia Media, Channel Dzimbahwe, Rusununguko and Zimpapers Television Network are entering a saturated television market. We have so many established private players in the sector MultiChoice’s DStv and Open View Decoder.
Econet’s KweseTV came and fumbled before it exited the market within a short space of one year. In simple terms, the new licence holders have not to be only innovative in their programming, but also have deep pockets to survive the television broadcasting jungle.
The Zimbabwean audience would be the biggest losers as the private players go head-to-head in search of commercial interest, not public interest. This is the moment that ZBC has to reinvent itself and become a real public broadcaster.
The closest we have of a national public broadcaster is the BBC. This is a tall order for ZBC to implement that model after 40 years of behaving like an appendage of Zanu PF or government. It is a State broadcaster and should just do that.
Public broadcasting model is anchored on showing the plurality in the State, deal with divergent issues in an impartial way and pursue issues that are of public not commercial interest.
In other words, news bulletins should be impartial, talk shows should reflect the diversity in the country, all national events including sporting events should be aired on national TV at no cost to the public. The ruling party and opposition parties should have equitable access to and coverage from the national broadcaster.
The public broadcasting model is hinged on financing from listeners’ licence fees and government grants from the taxpayer funds.
It should not be worried about having sponsored programmes for its sustainability and more importantly, the ruling party and government officials should stop abusing the national broadcaster as their lapdog or praise singers.
If ZBC does not change course, it would be a great disservice to the people of Zimbabwe and abuse of public resources. New management and staff who understand and appreciate public broadcasting model should join the national broadcaster. All Zanu PF imbedded journalists at the State broadcaster can join any of the newly licensed party associated broadcasters and push their commercial interests.
It is important therefore that we have a new ZBC. We need a new deal. ZBC has to reform and restructure and change its ways since its formation of being a mouthpiece of ruling parties and assume a national outlook.
Citizens should demand more and hold to account the national broadcaster, the extended honeymoon should be over.
ZBC has for time immemorial been accused of biased news coverage and sidelining other political parties except for the ruling party.
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