Zimbabwe’s first licensed commercial radio station went live this Monday and in doing so, ended a 32-year monopoly by the state, allowing for greater demand to free up the nation’s airwaves amidst the prospect of potential elections. While elections would unequivocally be met with controversy, one cannot help but see the opportunity that an open medium market can bring.
SADC nations and indeed major medium players take heed – prospects for integration via the establishment of competition may be riper than one thinks.
To clarify the protocol of Star FM’s day to day going forward, we turn to former state broadcaster Admire Taderera who is now head of the station. Admire has stated that Star FM will use traditional news sources including The Herald and other media organizations. “We are not a state broadcaster and we don’t envisage being one,” said Admire. “We make our own money from advertising and we are not state-funded”.
Should this truly be the case, the airwaves and more specifically this station can open the doors for major corporate player (already in country) advertising without the hindrance of partisanship.
Now we all understand the potential negatives behind this newfound push to free the airwaves if in fact there is bias underlying each news blast. And we will know shortly whether this occurs – Star FM will have the world listening and will need to prove from the offset that their mission is ‘fair and balanced’.
However, in a time of political progression and constitution reform, a symbolic act such as freer media can only be seen as a positive, albeit relatively controlled within a budding but currently limited political infrastructure.