The registration of mass media services is provided for in sections 65, 66 and 67 of Access to Information and Protection of Privacy Act (AIPPA). The manner and form in which applications are to be lodged by an applicant to the Commission are as prescribed by Statutory Instrument 169C of 2002. Statutory Instrument 169C lists the information to be supplied by the applicant through the prescribed forms. An application for registration of a newspaper or magazine publisher or a production house is done through completion of Form AP1 while that of a news agency is done through completion of Form AP2. Renewal of registration for both mass media services and news agencies is through completion of Form AP5. Application forms can be obtained from Commission offices or can be downloaded from the Commission’s website www.mediacommission.co.zw
A mass media service provider’s registration certificate is valid for five years. A license holder who fails to renew his or her operating certificate by the expiry date is levied a penalty fee as through regulations from time to time.
Restriction on Ownership of a mass Media Service (Section 65)
Section 65 provides for persons or bodies that cannot own mass media services in Zimbabwe. These include:
Those who qualify to own mass media services in Zimbabwe include:
Minister’s Discretion: The Minister has the discretion to exempt the above provisions on ownership of a mass media service whose controlling interests are not held by Zimbabweans.
Registration of Mass Media Services (Section 66)
A mass media owner is allowed to operate only after registering and receiving a certificate of registration. An application for registration as a mass service provider should be submitted by the owner to the Commission in the manner and form as prescribed in the Statutory Instrument 169C of 2002 as read with Statutory Instrument 10 of 2004.
When the Commission receives an application, a notification of receipt is sent to the owner indicating the date the application was received. According to SI 169C, the Commission should process the application within 30 days from receipt of the application and either grant or refuse to grant registration. The Commission has to process and finalize an application within 30 days of its receipt. If the Commission refuses to grant registration, it has to give written reasons why permission was not granted.
The Requirements for the registration of a mass media service provider and those for a news agency are materially the same. An application shall be accompanied by a business plan and an application fee of US$500.00. Once approved, the applicant pays a registration fee of US2000.00 in respect of a media house and US1500.00 in respect of a news agency. The business plan must include the following projections:
Media house fees
Application fee – $500.00
Registration fee – $2000.00
Renewal fee – $1500.00
News Agency Fees
Application fee – $300.00
Registration fee – $1000.00
Renewal fee – $500.00
A mass media service is considered registered only when it is issued with a certificate. This certificate is valid for a period of five years. A certificate of registration of a news agency is three years.
The Commission can withdraw the operating certificate if the owner fails to publish or circulate his/her products within 24 months.
When the certificate of registration expires, the owner can apply for renewal of the certificate only if the terms and conditions that applied when the initial registration was done did not change. If there are any changes; a new application should be submitted. Renewal of application fee for a media house is US$1500.00 and US$1000.00 for news agency. A penalty fee of US$200.00 is levied for late renewal of a registration certificate.
The Commission may not refuse an application for renewal unless the applicant has done the following:
Notification of changes (Section 67)
A mass media owner is obliged to notify the Commission of the following changes:
Exemption from Registration (Section 68)
The following mass media services are exempt from registration:
The Commission may require such mass media services to register if the publication is sold in public places to members of the public and not exclusively distributed to its members or when the number of copies produced significantly exceeds the number of the intended beneficiaries.
Refusal of Registration of Mass Media Service (Section 69)
The Commission can refuse to register an applicant for the following reasons only:
Obligation of Mass Media Houses
Media houses are expected to comply with their registration requirements as provided for by the Act. The requirements include the following:
(a) Notification of changes: a mass media service or media house is required to inform the Commission of any changes in ownership, name, language form and frequency of their publications, area of circulation, change of editorial policy and location of offices.
(b) Publisher’s imprint: every issue of the publication or electronic programme must carry the publisher’s imprint as at the date of the granting of the operating licence.
(c) Deposit of copies: The publisher or the media house is required to deposit copy of every issue of their publications with the Commission and the National Archives.
(d) Obligatory reports: Every mass media service is required to publish, free of charge, a decision of the court or of the Commission pertaining to it.
(e) Statutory Levy: Every media house is required to pay 0.5% statutory levy of their annual turnover within the first three months of the year.
(f) Accredited Journalists: No media house is allowed, under Section 78(4) to employ an unaccredited journalist on a full time basis.
Annual Operating Permits for Foreign Mass Media Services (Section 90)
A representative office of a foreign news agency or foreign publisher can operate a local office only with the permission of the Commission. An application to operate in Zimbabwe by a foreign media service is done through Form AP4. The application, like that of local mass media services, must be determined within 30 days. A permit to operate a local office of a foreign mass media service is valid for 12 months.
A foreign mass media service may renew its permit upon expiry of its certificate. If there are any material changes to conditions which existed during the initial permit, the mass media service has to submit a new application.
Appeals against Registration Refusal
Section 90(A) provides for an opportunity for an applicant to appeal to the Administrative Court against the Commission’s refusal to register. If the Administrative Court upholds an appeal against a refusal by the Commission to register a mass media service, a news agency or a representative office of a foreign mass media service, the Commission is compelled to register or permit such media services.
Powers of the Commission (Registration and Accreditation)
The Commission is empowered to prescribe over matters that are required or permitted by Act that in the opinion of the Commission are necessary or convenient to be prescribed for carrying out or giving effect to the Principal Act. Such matters include:
Correction of Untruthful Information
Every person has a right, at no cost, to demand from any publication a retraction of untruthful information about him by that publication. The publication or media house is obliged to publish the correction in the next issue after receiving a written demand for the correction. If the publication or media house refuses to publish the correction, an appeal can be lodged with the Commission.
A media house can only refuse to publish a demand for a correction if the demand contradicts a court decision, is anonymous or is received after the expiry of one year since the day of publication.
Right of reply
An aggrieved person or organization shall have a right of reply in the same publication, at no cost, in respect of published information which is untruthful or impinges on his rights or interests. The reply shall be given the same prominence as the offending story.