By Leopold Munhende
GOVERNMENT will begin broadcasting on the long-awaited digital television platform despite having installed just 18 out of an intended 48 transmitters since the process was launched four years ago.
Speaking during Friday’s induction for newly appointed members of the Broadcasting Authority of Zimbabwe (BAZ) board, BAZ CEO, Obert Muganyura said despite government failure to complete the entire process, they will be going live mainly in Bulawayo and Harare.
“Currently, we have only managed 18 which will be the ones in operation when we finally go live in a few weeks’ time.
“Because of population size, you will realise that the 18 are mainly in Harare and Bulawayo, meaning the two cities will be the first before we further expand and complete the whole process.”
Information Minister Monica Mutsvangwa, who presided over the event, said government had made a decision to outsource digital receivers that are compatible with the new system after realising that it could not single-handedly fund the whole process.
“This international obligation was expected to have been completed in 2016 but has however been slowed down significantly by funding and foreign currency challenges.
“A decision has since been taken by my ministry to outsource the supply of Set Top Boxes to those who may have free funds to enable us to make use of the completed transmission facilities so that the public benefits from the investment made.”
Only state broadcaster, ZBC TV will be on the platform when it is finally activated with hopes of adding five more stations to fill up six channel slots up for grabs.
Already the national broadcaster has a second channel broadcasting on its Android Application, ZBC TV App.
She added; “As it stands, only the television service provided by the public broadcaster, ZBC would be on the digital platform.
“I therefore challenge both the ZBC and the BAZ boards to take the necessary steps to ensure that more television channels are made available on the country’s digital television platform expeditiously.
“ZBC has a reservation of six channels on this platform and must move to justify this reservation.”
The whole process was started in 2015 at the instigation of the International Telecommunications Union (ITU) which proposed a shift from analogue broadcasting to digital across the world by 2016.
Zimbabwe, a signatory to ITU, has dismally failed and continues to play catch-up with the rest of the world due to poor financing by government and total lack of investment in the sector.