HomeLocalGranting of publishing licences ‘major step’

Granting of publishing licences ‘major step’

THE granting of licences to five publishers this week could change the media landscape in Zimbabwe for the benefit of consumers and journalists, media organisations and employers have said.

On Wednesday the Zimbabwe Media Commission announced that it had granted licences to all the applicants, which included Alpha Media Holdings, publishers of the Zimbabwe Independent, the Standard and now NewsDay; Modus Publications, publishers of the Financial Gazette and the forthcoming Daily Gazette; and Associated Newspapers of Zimbabwe Group, publishers of the Daily News and Daily News on Sunday.
Licences were also granted for the publication of The Mail by Fruitlink and the transformation of the Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions’ Worker from a monthly to a weekly publication.
Spokesman for Zimbabwe Journalists for Human Rights Dumisani Muleya said the move to license the newspapers was a progressive development.
“The licensing of newspapers is a major step in enhancing the broad democratic reform agenda,” he said. “It will change the media landscape and broaden the democratic space in the country. The move will also enhance the growth of the media industry and create jobs for journalists while at the same time increasing competition in the market,” Muleya said.
“Hopefully the growth of the media sector and competition will help to create better working conditions and salaries for journalists.”
Muleya said media proprietors should pursue “enlightened self-interest” which takes into account their business objective and the “welfare of journalists”.
He said authorities must go further to issue television and radio licences to new operators, adding that the media reform campaign should be intensified to ensure removal of “repressive laws and end media tyranny”.
Dumisani Sibanda, Zimbabwe Union of Journalists president, said employers who do not pay their workers would suffer in a competitive environment.
“It’s embarrassing that some journalists are being paid like domestic workers,” he said. “We hope that these new papers would shake up employers. With competition coming, we as a union believe that salaries will rise.”
Zimbabweans urgently need alternative voices if they are to make informed choices at the polls, Senior Associate Editor at Alpha Media Holdings and chair of the Zimbabwe National Editors Forum, Iden Wetherell, said. “They have been denied that right by the state’s occupation of media space. The advent of new publications will spur competition in the media market. Readers will quickly decide what
titles they trust and whether the price is right.
“Meanwhile, we need a professional public media that encourages a diversity of views, not one that abuses its position to act as an election agent for a
defeated party.”
The publishers said they were excited about the new development. Alpha Media Holdings CEO Raphael Khumalo said they expected NewsDay to be on the streets soon.
“We are ready and we are going to be the first on the streets,” said Khumalo. — Staff Writer.

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