A UK-BASED TV station broadcasting on the internet and accessible in Zimbabwe on free-to-air satellite decoders said Thursday it had cancelled programming indefinitely after a police raid on its Harare offices a day earlier.
AfroTV or ATV, which is owned by AfroMedia, had established an office in Belgravia used mainly by freelance journalists who gathered news and sent the video clips to Manchester, England, where the broadcasts are believe to be made from.
Police arrested several people working at the offices and seized broadcast equipment including cameras and “thousands of satellite decoders”, according to the official Herald newspaper.
In the UK, ATV issued a statement on Thursday stating: “Yesterday, the company that supplies us with news from Zimbabwe was raided. As a result, we are temporarily having to repeat some older content until the situation is resolved.”
It went on to invite its listeners to practice citizen journalism and send in “news stories from the villages, towns and cities across Southern Africa”.
On its Facebook page, ATV says its mission is “to develop, package and distribute information that enables citizens to empower themselves” and by doing so “contribute towards openness, democracy, and the development of African voices.”
ATV established a YouTube channel where it posts news clips on May 29 this year. On its Facebook page, it gives instructions on how to access its channel on the Wiztech decoders used by millions of Zimbabweans.
It was not immediately clear what charges police would bring against the TV, although the Zimbabwe Revenue Authority is thought to be investigating the illegal importation of some of the equipment and the decoders which came from China.
The Post and Telecommunication Regulatory Authority of Zimbabwe will investigate if any illegal broadcasts have actually been made from Zimbabwe – although this is unlikely, according to journalists working for the TV.
ATV’s Zimbabwean editor has been named as veteran journalist Sifelani Tsiko. One of its owners is believed to be Crispen Sachikonye, a Manchester-based Zimbabwean businessman who says on his website that he is a trustee of the Miss Zimbabwe Trust and is working with the office of Deputy Prime Minister Arthur Mutambara to “re-brand Zimbabwe”. New Zimbabwe.com