By Sharon Muguwu
Skyz Metro FM chief executive officer Qhubani Moyo has attributed the Bulawayo-based radio station’s delayed launch to a pullout by funders.
The radio station, which was licensed in March last year along with seven other radio stations, failed to launch operations at the beginning of the year due to funding challenges.
Moyo told the Daily News that they were currently lining up new funders to enable them to go operational before the September 15 deadline.
“When we applied (for the licence) one of the prerequisites was that we have to provide the sources of funding for the projects. That was in 2013. We did provide them and the licence was awarded in March 2015, and we had banks that promised to fund us.
“When the time came for them to provide the funding, they had changed their priorities. That then left us in the cold, looking for other sources of funding, we did manage to get some, but it is still not enough,” said Moyo.
The Skyz Metro FM boss added that the country’s worsening economic situation was complicating matters.
“We are still putting our systems in place and we are also victims of the current economic situation. We have not managed to secure the equipment on time but we are getting there. Our systems are in place and we are training our staff.
“The environment under which we are operating has not been friendly to new players, especially in the media and this is also a reflection of how the economy is affecting various industries. We are trying to ensure that by September 15 — the deadline — we will be on air,” he said.
According to Broadcasting Association of Zimbabwe, regulations, radio stations must launch before the expiry of 18 months.
Of the eight radio stations licensed last year, only YA FM (Zvishavane) and Diamond FM (Mutare) have commenced operations.
Efforts to get a comment from AB Communications — who were granted licences for Gogogoi FM (Masvingo) and FAYA FM (Gweru), were fruitless.
In a previous interview with the Daily News Susan Makore, whose company also runs ZiFM, insisted that they would meet the September 15 deadline.
“I cannot tell you much on our preparations but the official comment is that we will definitely start operations before the 18 months lapse. We have already started to acquire equipment for the Gweru and Masvingo stations,” she said then.
Funding challenges being faced by Skyz Metro FM, based at Amakhosi Arts Centre in Bulawayo, follow a recent admission by Broadcasting Services minister Christopher Mushohwe that they licensed players with no capacity to set up viable radio stations.
“My ministry has been approached by many who were turned down who are saying those you gave licences have not done anything and if you had given us we would have operationalised them by now….we will not allow people to hold on to licences for speculative purposes,” he said while officiating at the launch of Diamond FM in Mutare recently. Daily News