IN a Statutory Instrument 27 of 2020- the Minister of Information, Publicity and Broadcasting Services has, in terms of section 46 of the Broadcasting Services Act [Chapter 12:06], approved regulations relating to Licensing and Content.
The minister approved the regulations made by the Broadcasting Authority of Zimbabwe-BAZ- Board.
According to a statement issued by the Media Institute of Southern Africa-Misa- in reaction to the announcement, “SI 27/2020 introduces high licensing fees for radio, television and webcasting services.
An application fee of ZWL$42,500.00 is levied on national television services, national radio services, local commercial radio services, satellite broadcasting services, Video on Demand services and webcasting services.”
The statement also noted that, “The current license fee structure maintains the webcasting licensing category which is so broadly defined in the Broadcasting Services Act to include content creators who distribute their content over social media platforms such as Facebook, YouTube and Instagram. The application fee for a webcasting service is ZWL$42,500.00 with an annual fee of ZWL$102,000.00 for content providers.”
The new fees are denominated in both ZW$ and in US$ which is a further addition to the monetary policy inconsistencies ravaging the country where the law requires use of the local currency but the tax authorities and now the Zimbabwe Broadcasting Authority require some licensing fees to be paid in foreign currency, Misa argued.
“It is unlikely that local broadcasting and media start-ups will be able to afford these excessive licensing fees. More so, when one considers that BAZ and government intend to limit foreign ownership and investments in local broadcasting enterprises to no more than 20%.”
This means-Misa noted- local investors will have to locally source the funds to establish and run broadcasting entities and the current licensing regime will act as a barrier to local commercial and private players.