The public broadcaster model and the Zimbabwe Broadcasting Corporation (ZBC) : an analytical study

Masuku, John (2011-03)

Thesis (MPhil)--University of Stellenbosch, 2011.

Thesis

ENGLISH ABSTRACT: The aim of this analytical study was to establish whether the Zimbabwe Broadcasting Corporation (ZBC) operates as a true public broadcaster or as a state-controlled broadcaster. The performance of the ZBC was analysed through its main 8.00 pm television news bulletins broadcast during the period between the signing of the Global Political Agreement (GPA) by the Zimbabwe African National Union Patriotic Front, ZANU (PF) and the two Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) political parties in September 2008 and the establishment of the inclusive Government of National Unity (GNU) in February 2009. The study was undertaken from within the paradigms of the Social Responsibility Theory as this was deemed the most applicable in terms of the research subject. Both qualitative and quantitative research methods were applied as part of a process of triangulation. The qualitative research method, as the main methodological approach, was applied to solicit views and opinions of participants by use of questionnaires designed to interview specific interviewees, namely the ZBC journalists and spokespersons for the various political parties now in the GNU. The journalists explained how they gathered and packaged news bulletins having to endure some government interference on a regular basis. The MDCs' spokespersons outlined how the ZBC denied them broadcast time for their rallies, press statements and participation in live debates. ZANU (PF) was of the view that the MDC parties only wanted to blame the previous ZANU (PF) government through “unsubstantiated” remarks about bias and the breakdown of the rule of law and absence of democracy and freedom of expression in the country. This, according to ZANU (PF), they did in order to please their alleged Western financiers like Britain and the United States who imposed targeted sanctions on the country. Through the analysis of political parties' accessibility to the main television news bulletins, the research confirmed the assumption that the ZBC is still biased in favour of the former sole ruling ZANU (PF) party which is also in charge of the information ministry in the GNU. The study concluded that since the ZBC, as a public-funded institution, was clearly not accessible to different political parties and civic society groups in order for them to participate in a crucial nation-building process, it failed to fulfil its expected mandate as a public broadcaster. By also negating a social responsibility role that calls for high professional conduct, fairness and objectivity expected of public broadcasters, this study showed that the ZBC was still a state-controlled broadcaster that needs to be reformed.

AFRIKAANSE OPSOMMING: Die doel van hierdie analitiese studie was om vas te stel of die Zimbabwe Broadcasting Corporation (ZBC) as 'n ware openbare uitsaaier of as 'n staatsbeheerde uitsaaier funksioneer. Die werkverrigting van die ZBC is geanaliseer deur die 8 nm-TV-bulletin gedurende die periode tussen die ondertekening van die Global Political Agreement (GPA), deur die Zimbabwe African National Union-Patriotic Front, ZANU (PF) en die twee Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) politieke partye in September 2008 en die totstandkoming van die inklusiewe Government of National Unity (GNU) in Februarie 2009 te bestudeer. Beide kwalitatiewe en kwantitatiewe navorsingsmetodes is toegepas deur dit met die proses van triangulering te kombineer. Die kwalitatiewe navorsingsmetode, wat die hoof-metodologiese benadering is, is aangewend om perspektiewe en opinies van deelnemers te verkry, deur gebruik te maak van vraelyste wat ontwerp is vir spesifieke deelnemers, naamlik die ZBC joernaliste en woordvoerders van die verskillende politieke partye, tans in die GNU. Die joernaliste verduidelik hoe hulle met die inwin van nuus en samestelling van nuusbulletins inmenging van die staat op 'n gereelde basis moes verduur. Woordvoerders van die MDC het in breë trekke uiteengesit hoe die ZBC hul uitsaaityd geweier het vir hul byeenkomste, persverklarings en deelname aan regstreekse debatte. Die ZANU (PF)-deelnemers is van mening dat die MDC- partye net die vorige regering wou blameer deur "ongesubstansieerde‟ opmerkings te maak oor vooroordeel en die ontbinding van die oppergesag van die gereg, die afwesigheid van demokrasie en vryheid van spraak in die land. Dit sou hulle doen om hul beweerde Westerse finansiers, soos Brittanje en die Verenigde State, wat geteikende sanksies op die partyleierskap opgelê het, insluitende president Robert Mugabe, tevrede te stel. 'n Analise van die politieke partye se toegang tot die hooftelevisie-nuusbulletins bevestig die hipotese dat die ZBC steeds die vorige enkel regerende ZANU (PF)-party wat in beheer van die inligtingsministerie in die GNU is, bevoordeel. Die slotsom is dat, aangesien die ZBC, 'n openbaar-gefinansierde instansie, ontoeganklik vir verskillende politieke partye en burgerlike gemeenskapsgroepe is, hulle van deelname aan 'n belangrike nasiebouproses uitgesluit is. Daarmee faal die ZBC in sy veronderstelde mandaat van 'n ware openbare uitsaaier, asook sy sosiale verantwoordelikheidsrol, wat hoë professionele gedrag, regverdigheid en objektiwiteit van openbare uitsaaiers vereis. Die studie bewys die ZBC is steeds 'n staatsbeheerde uitsaaier wat hervorm moet word.

Please refer to this item in SUNScholar by using the following persistent URL: http://hdl.handle.net/10019.1/6527
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