The media of Zimbabwe is now once again diverse, having come under tight restriction between 2002 and 2008 by the government during the growing economic and political crisis in the country. The Zimbabwean constitution promises freedom of the media and expression. Since the appointment of a new media and information minister in 2013 the media is currently facing less political interference and the supreme-court has ruled some sections of the strict media laws as unconstitutional. In July 2009 the BBC and CNN were able to resume operations and report legally and openly from Zimbabwe. CNN welcomed the move. The Zimbabwe Ministry of Media, Information and Publicity stated that, “the Zimbabwe government never banned the BBC from carrying out lawful activities inside Zimbabwe”. The BBC also welcomed the move saying, “We are pleased at being able to operate openly in Zimbabwe once again”.
In 2010 the Zimbabwe Media Commission was established by the inclusive, power-sharing government. In May 2010 the Commission licensed three new privately owned newspapers, including the previously banned Daily News, for publication. Reporters Without Borders described the decisions as a “major advance”. In June 2010 NewsDay became the first independent daily newspaper to be published in Zimbabwe in seven years.
ZBC’s monopoly in the broadcasting sector was ended with the licensing of two private radio stations in 2012.
Since the 2002 Access to Information and Protection of Privacy Act (AIPPA) was passed, a number of privately owned news outlets were shut down by the government, including Daily News whose managing director Wilf Mbanga went on to form the influential The Zimbabwean. As a result, many press organisations have been set up in both neighbouring and Western countries by exiled Zimbabweans. Because the internet is currently unrestricted, many Zimbabweans are allowed to access online news sites set up by exiled journalists. Reporters without Borders claims the media environment in Zimbabwe involves “surveillance, threats, imprisonment, censorship, blackmail, abuse of power and denial of justice are all brought to bear to keep firm control over the news.” The main published newspapers are The Herald and The Chronicle which are printed in Harare and Bulawayo respectively. The heavy-handedness on the media has progressively relaxed since 2009.
In its 2008 report, Reporters without Borders ranked the Zimbabwean media as 151st out of 173. The government also bans many foreign broadcasting stations from Zimbabwe, including the CBC, Sky News, Channel 4, American Broadcasting Company, Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC), and Fox News. News agencies and newspapers from other Western countries and South Africa have also been banned from the country.