ZIMBABWE’S first licensed commercial radio station has gone live, ending a 32-year monopoly by the state-controlled broadcaster and meeting some demands to free up the nation’s airwaves ahead of proposed elections.
Star FM radio said Monday it will broadcast hourly news bulletins and 50-second headline summaries.
The station is owned by Zimbabwe Newspapers, publishers of newspaper titles loyal to President Robert Mugabe’s Zanu PF party.
The 24-hour station announced a schedule strongly weighted with music programmes. When licensed last year by the Broadcasting Authority appointed by Mugabe, it was billed as Zimbabwe Talk Radio. No reasons were given for the name change.
The authority was criticised for licensing a station closely linked to the main Herald daily newspaper.
A second radio station – ZiFM Stereo – which is fronted by the former ZBC, Al Jazeera and SABC TV news reporter Supa Mandiwanzira is still to announce a launch date.
Mandiwanzira said on Monday: “The launch is imminent. The latest would be August, but I expect us to begin broadcasts in July.”
Mandiwanzira said ZiFM would also stream online – and they were seeking authorisation from the broadcasting authority.
Two short-lived independent stations were shut down in 2000 over allegations they were operating illegally.