Zimbabwe: TV Capacity to Increase - Mandiwanzira

Regulation & Policy

Government is mobilising resources to enable Transmedia Corporation to spearhead migration to digital broadcasting ahead of the International Telecommunications Union 2015 deadline for the switch, which will see Zimbabwe capacitated to have at least 80 television channels. Modalities for licensing more broadcasters by next year, in a sector long monopolised by the Zimbabwe Broadcasting Corporation, are being worked out.

After the migration to digital, national broadcaster ZBC will have a multiplex frequency, the country will have an ultra high frequency (UHF) platform with four multiplexes, each of which will have capacity to carry about 20 channels.

That means in all, the UHF platform will be able to beam 80 channels.

ZBC will get a 20-channel multiplex, and Government will decide who holds the other ones.

Zimpapers (1980) Ltd has already been awarded a broadcasting licence and is likely to benefit from digitalisation.

Addressing journalists in Chinhoyi on Thursday, Information, Media and Broadcasting Services Deputy Minister Supa Mandiwanzira said Transmedia was establishing the digital network.

"As a ministry, we are in the process of ensuring that we raise sufficient resources to give to Transmedia which is building a network of digital transmitters so that we are ready for 2015," he said.

"As a result of the migration, one frequency will translate into 20 new TV channels. We have four frequencies, which means we can have up to 80 TV channels."

Deputy Minister Mandiwanzira said there was no doubt Zimbabwe would have more television stations next year, with the licensing of other players by the Broadcasting Authority of Zimbabwe underway.

"The Broadcasting Authority is right now working on the framework on how do we licence, do we licence per channel or per multiplex as ZBC will be licenced per multiplex," he said.

He said those interested in establishing television channels should prepare adequately to apply for a license.

Zimpapers chief operations officer Mr Pikirayi Deketeke welcomed the digitalisation drive, saying the publishing and broadcasting group was already finalising establishment of its TV station.

"This is really good news for us," he said. "We expect more channels to be created and this is healthy for the media industry in terms of competition. Viewers will have more channels to sample as there will be more players in the sector."

There are fears that Zimbabwe could fail to meet the ITU deadline to migrate to digital broadcasting platforms from the analogue system, which uses a narrow VHF spectrum with low coverage capacity.

Transmedia needs about US$30 million to migrate from analogue to digital, and is working to increase the reach of radio and television across the country where many remote areas have no transmission, leaving them open to international broadcasters, including pirate stations that beam hate messages into Zimbabwe.

Source: The Herald, 17 MAY 2014