Deputy information minister Kindness Paradza said that the government has licensed new television broadcasters and those not happy with ZBC could always switch channels.
Paradza was responding to Harare East MP, Tendai Biti (CCC), who had said ZBC was failing to comply with the Constitutional obligation for impartiality and diversity of views in its news coverage.
But Paradza argued that the government has liberalised the airwaves by licensing two television channels, 3KV and ZTN Prime, as well as Tanzanian satellite broadcasting company Azam TV. Said Paradza:
We have given licences to six competitors and two of those privately owned national, commercial television stations are on air.
We have 3KTV, ZTN News which is on air and we also have another from East Africa which is already on the market here. That is why we have these media reforms and they are working.
On top of the six national commercial radios and television stations, we also have given out licences to 14 community radio stations, and 7 campus radio stations and these community radio stations are language based.
3KV is owned by Jester Media Services Group while ZTN Prime is owned by Zimbabwe Newspapers and both channels are only available to DStv subscribers.
Azam TV is similar to DStv in the sense that both are subscription television companies owned by foreigners which demand payments in foreign currency.
Challenged by Norton MP Temba Mliswa (Independent) on the absence of balance in news coverage, Paradza said:
The good thing is that we now have a variety of outlets. If you are not happy with ZBC there is 3KTV, ZTN and there are online publications that is print media, and there is electronic media.
Hon. Mliswa, you want different views on ZBC, it is not only on ZBC, even in newspapers.
No one is denied access to ZBC, as a journalist myself it is about the quality of the news, it is what we are calling newsworthy or not newsworthy that is the bottom line.
So, if you are shouting and so forth, it is not news and you will not see yourself on television.