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Zimbabwe: Private finance from Chiyangwa Secures La Liga Deal for ZTV

Private finance has rescued the programming plans of Zimbabwean state broadcaster, ZTV with a local businessman putting up the money to secure the rights for Spain’s La Liga and talking of putting money into local commissioning to replace the now-lost rights to packages of Nollywood films.

Zimbabweans are seeing European soccer from Britain and Spain after businessman Phillip Chiyangwa - through his Native Investment Africa - secured a deal to have Spanish La Liga soccer matches broadcast live on ZTV courtesy of his property company, Pinnacle.

The latest deal started on December 23 with the clash of Spain's traditional rivals Barcelona and Real Madrid but the sponsorship of the Spanish La Liga coverage was officially unveiled at Rainbow Towers in Harare last night.

Late last year, Native Investment Africa clinched a deal to bring live English Premiership football on national television using Zeco Holdings.

Although the English Premiership and Spanish La Liga deals only provide for a fraction of the respective leagues' matches, they have restored some confidence in local television viewers.

Apart from bringing live football from the world's two leading leagues, the company is also finalising a package that will result in the airing of the world popular Oprah Winfrey talk show which will inevitably rival the locally produced Mai Chisamba Show.

There are also plans to bankroll local film producers to come up with Zimbabwean programmes to take over from Nigerian movies, which had become popular both on ZTV and at video clubs. Confirming the latest developments this week, Chiyangwa said he decided to give back to the community by making ZTV more attractive.

"Pinnacle Private Limited will be bankrolling live coverage of one La Liga match a week and Zeco Holdings Limited would be sponsoring two English soccer matches a week until God knows when.

"Anytime from now, I will be sponsoring coverage of the Oprah Winfrey show, Doctor Phil talk show as well as some international movies." Meanwhile, Chiyangwa was quick to concede that the La Liga coverage got off to an embarrassing start as the footage was taken from Supersport. Although the Supersport 7 logo was covered by a ZTV logo, the Discovery banner stayed on the top left of the screen for the entire match.

Discovery is a leading health insurance company in South Africa and sponsors Supersport's coverage of the Spanish La Liga matches. Also there was a seemingly deliberate delay in crossing over for the kick-off and start of the second half which would have been aimed at concealing the source of the footage.

(The Herald (Harare), 5 January 2008)

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