Zimbabwe frees airwaves

ZBC broadcasting monopoly broken

JOHANNESBURG — In a groundbreaking decision, the Supreme Court of Zimbabwe has ruled that no license is needed to run a broadcasting station in the nation, allowing private radio station Capital Radio to begin operations immediately. Move effectively breaks the state’s monopoly of the airwaves.

“The monopoly is invalid. It should be a free for all,” Chief Justice Anthony Gubbay said.

Capital Radio sued the government after it was denied a license to run a private radio station in Harare, the capital of the southern African country, and its surrounding area.

Until now, only the Zimbabwe Broadcasting Co. (ZBC) had rights to the airwaves in Zimbabwe.

Zimbabwe has no private radio stations, but ZBC leases airwaves to a private television network while TV stations carried by satellite are allowed.

The vast majority of Zimbabweans live in poor rural areas with no access to independent newspapers and satellite television. Ruling, handed down late Friday, paves the way for citizens to receive information without it first passing through a government filter.

ZBC is widely viewed as a mouthpiece for the government of President Robert Mugabe.

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