Broadcasting of BBC in Zimbabwe stopped

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MISA researcher, Zoe Titus

«The BBC bulletin was the only independent news source in Zimbabwe»

MISA Researcher 
Zoe Titus

afrol News, 10 May - The Zimbabwe government is reported to have instructed Joy Television to stop broadcasting BBC news on its programmes. Joy TV has since complied with the instruction and the BBC news programme is no longer being broadcast. BBC news on Joy TV was the only broadcasted source of news not controlled by the government in Zimbabwe. 

Joy TV is a private television station that is leasing a channel from the state run Zimbabwe Broadcasting Corporation. As its only news programme, it broadcasted the BBC's 30-minute news bulletin, which was shown everyday at 21h00. 

An official at Joy TV who talked to the Zimbabwean chapter of the Media Institute (MISA-Zimbabwe) on condition of anonymity said that the television station was instructed to censor the BBC news bulletins. However, the BBC policy says that their news bulletins must be shown as they are, and failure of which the news must not be shown at all. The official told MISA-Zimbabwe that the management chose to do way with the news rather than risk having the station's lease agreement cancelled.

- The ban of the BBC news means that the only source of alternative news in Zimbabwe is the independent newspapers, reports researcher Zoe Titus from MISA. "The station (Joy TV) is not allowed to gather and disseminate local news either," she adds.

The government has also indicated that it is cancelling the lease agreement awarding Joy TV the channel because the agreement is in contravention of the Broadcasting Services Act. The cancellation will result in the government-controlled ZBC being the sole broadcaster in Zimbabwe as no other station has been licensed to date.

MISA reported on 30 April that Joy TV would go off air after 31 May when, according to the acting chief-executive-officer of the ZBC, the lease of its second channel to Joy TV will be cancelled. According to the ZBC, it is in a predicament as Section 18 of Zimbabwe's Broadcasting Services Act prohibits the corporation from leasing out the second channel.

The Act reads: Transfer of licenses prohibited "No licensee shall assign, cede, pledge, transfer or sell his license to any other person or surrender his programming duties to another entity outside his establishment. Any such assignment, cession pledge transfers sale or surrender shall be void."

Joy TV has since indicated its desire to obtain a licence to continue broadcasting in Zimbabwe. However, since the promulgation of the Broadcasting Services Act by the government in April 2001 no licenses have been issued to broadcasters.

Sources: Based on MISA and afrol archives

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