Zimbabwe gets a new television station ahead of elections
The station – 1st TV – is a brainchild of Zimbabwean exiled journalists based in South Africa and the United Kingdom.
It will be based in Johannesburg, South Africa, and will rely on agencies, freelancers and other contributors to supply news.
Zimbabwe currently has two television stations owned by the state broadcaster – Zimbabwe Broadcasting Station (ZBC) – which also runs four radio stations.
Temba Hove, a spokesperson for 1st TV, said they would broadcast “impartial, factual news to the people of Zimbabwe as well as popular soap operas and comedies”.
“Thirty-three years after independence it is high time that the people get what they demand and deserve in respect to their right to information” said Hove.
Little is known about the ownership structure of the channel and its source of funding.
The new television station would be accessed through free to air decoders, which have become popular with Zimbabweans who prefer South African television station to ZBC.
But early this month South Africa’s signal carrier company Sentech encrypted signals of the South African Broadcasting Cooperation (SABC), blocking an estimated three million viewers in Zimbabwe who were watching the channels for free.
Opening up of the airwaves was among the reforms proposed in a power sharing agreement between President Mugabe and Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai signed in 2008.
Although space has opened up for private newspapers since the formation of the unity government, broadcasting is still monopolised by ZBC, which is controlled by Mugabe’s Zanu PF party.
Zimbabwe was among the first African countries to set up a radio station but has been lagging behind in the development of the broadcasting sector because of tight government controls.
The country set up its first television station in the mid-1960s, while South Africa and other neighbouring countries followed in the late 1970s.