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Zimbabwe's signal carrier, Transmedia, is seeking US$64 million to buy transmission equipment from China, South Africa and Europe for its National Transmission Grand Plan.

The plan is aimed at achieving the 90 percent transmission coverage through establishing stations in remote parts of the country and upgrading existing infrastructure.

People in border areas have been forced to go without radio and television transmission either because of non-performing stations or the absence of transmission centres. This has resulted in people depending on foreign television and radio stations.

Zimbabwe Broadcasting Holdings, the state broadcaster, reaches only 30 percent of the country.

Chief executive of Transmedia Mr Alfred Mandere said they were appealing to stakeholders to help harness the needed foreign currency for the plan.

He said the money would be used to purchase antenna systems and transmission equipment for both radio and television, and for the refurbishment of obsolete machinery.

The grand plan has been on the cards for the past two years.

"The country's radio and television transmitters are antiquated, as most of the equipment dates back to 1974.

"Nearly all our equipment is now beyond its useful lifespan and we are even surprised that broadcasters are still on air because the situation is really bad," he said.

He said failure to repair broken down equipment had resulted in the radius covered by some stations being reduced to as little as 10km, whereas the technology was designed to cover 100 km.

He said the plan included the upgrading of the four radio networks and Zimbabwe Television.

Mr Mandere said two more frequency modulation radio networks would be added to the existing four stations.

He said the plan included the establishment of 59 community radio stations that are expected to be functioning by the end of 2007, provided funds are available.

Transmedia's financial position is worsened by the fact that it is unable to charge ZBH commercial rates for their services.

In order to generate revenue to sustain its operations, Transmedia has resorted to providing services like webcasting to other organisations.

The Herald