Radio>> Censorship • Zimbabwe
After years of state control of the airwaves, the Zimbabweans yearn for alternative voices on radio. But when a new voice went on air in the second week of August, the first sound heard was the Beyoncé dance track, Countdown. ZiFM Stereo is the second station to be licensed since the government invited private players to apply for licences. The first licence went to StarFM, a station owned by Zimpapers, a newspapers’ group allied to the ruling Zanu-PF party.
Media activists have long campaigned for new stations that would air political vloices challenging Zanu-PF. But the new stations have steered clear of politics, choosing the safe territory of neutral foreign news bulletins and entertainment.
“It is deliberate,” Njabulo Ncube, chairperson of the media freedom advocacy group Misa-Zimbabwe Ncube, told South African daily Mail & Guardian. “They were issued with licences just so the government would appear to be reforming the media. The new broadcasters are careful not to step on anyone’s toes.”
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