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Zimbabwe: Trial Run for Second Government TV Station

As the liberalisation of the airwaves draws closer in Zimbabwe, the state broadcaster has chosen to launch a second TV channel but one which it says will be much more commercial than its parent channel. ZBCTV 2 hit the screens last week for its trial run with a variety of programmes that set out to capture the imagination of Zimbabwean viewers. Some viewers tuned in and got the feel of the new station last Friday and enjoyed watching WWE, a wrestling show.

For a long time, ZBCTV had been struggling to attract viewers who preferred to watch satellite television stations and invested their money in free to air decoders especially the Wiztech type to watch other channels such as Btv, France 24, SABC, etv and several religious stations.

According to Sivukile Simango, the public relations manager for ZBC, ZBCTV 2 is still in its trial run. "We are on air now and we have proved our critics wrong. The station is now in its trial run and we are hoping to go full time once everything has been approved. As we speak we are screening wrestling and viewers have to tune their television sets manually to access the station," he said.

Asked how the new station will differ from ZBCTV, Simango said ZBCTV 2 would be a commercial station. "Unlike ZBCTV which focuses mainly on news, informatives and entertainment, ZBCTV will be a 100 percent commercial television station," he said.

But what guarantee does ZBCTV 2 promise in view of that fact its predecessor failed to lure viewers, who had no option but turn to free-to-air channels. "Our aim is to make it (ZBCTV 2) an entertainment channel with a whole array of latest movies.It will also screen sports although it will take the responsibility to educate and inform here and there," he said. The station's launch was initially set for January this year but, however, it was delayed to allow for approval from the authorities. Technically it's done, studios are finished and we have digitalised," he said.

Patrick Nyamhunga is going to be the manager of the new station. Nyamhunga once worked for Radio One now Spot FM in the early 80s.

Media, Information and Publicity Deputy Minister Jameson Timbe recently said Zimbabwe had the capacity to licence seven more television stations under the available broadcasting space. In terms of the current frequency allocation plan, Zimbabwe has the capacity to host three new television stations on the Ultra High Frequency (UHF) band and one television station on Very High Frequency (VHF) band.

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