THE Zimbabwe Broadcasting Holdings (ZBH) has devoted a 30-minute TV programme to attacking researchers who recently released a report on Zimbabwean broadcasting, calling them agents of imperialism, writes a correspondent.

ZBH chief executive officer Happison Muchechetere questioned the role of Misa in organizing the project.

Launched in Harare last week, the report – Public Broadcast Services in Africa Series, On Air -  highlights the problems caused by the state's monopoly on broadcasting.

On Air was written by Dr Sarah Chiumbu, a Zimbabwean who held various media roles in Harare before moving to South Africa where she is now a lecturer at the Wits University.

The report is a result of the research that started in 2008 with the aim of collecting, collating and writing up information about regulation, ownership, access, performance as well as the prospects of public broadcasting reform in Africa.

It has been published by the Open Society Institute (OSI) and the Africa Governance Monitoring and Advocacy Project (AfriMAP), with the facilitation of the Media Institute of Southern Africa (Zimbabwe Chapter).

But war veteran Muchechetere, who refused invitations to participate in discussions that were part of the research process, attacked Misa and insinuated that it did not represent Zimbabwe journalists and their interests.

In a statement, however, Misa Zimbabwe said the attacks but Muchechetere were unwarranted, and said the group was unapologetic about its role in the project. While Muchechetere spoke of ZBH’s unbiased coverage, their news cameras were ironically and conspicuously absent from this event at which the Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai was the guest speaker.

ZBH has been angered by the PMB report which calls for the transformation of state broadcasting into public broadcasting.

It advocates for the transformation into truly independent broadcasters and recommends that public service broadcasters should be accountable to all strata of the people as represented by an independent board.

In addition, it says Public service broadcasters should serve the overall public interest avoiding one-sided reporting and programming in regard to religion, political beliefs, culture, race and gender.
Editorial independence of public service broadcasters should be guaranteed.

The PMB report on Zimbabwe broadcasting terrain is part of a11 country survey on African broadcast media which includes Nigeria, Benin, Cameroon, Kenya, Uganda, Malawi, Mozambique, Namibia, Zambia and South Africa. Zimbabwe is the first of such countries to launch its report.