Home » General » ’Zim to Meet Digitalisation Deadline’

Zimbabwe is set to meet the June 17, 2015 broadcasting digitalisation deadline after Government secured $200 million through the issuance of Datacasting licence to NetOne to fund the migration from analogue system to digital, a Cabinet Minister told the National Assembly yesterday. Information, Media and Broadcasting Services Minister Professor Jonathan Moyo said the new system would revolutionise the broadcasting sector, one of which would entail a new licence system where receivers would be levied between $3 to $5 access fee per month under a pay per view arrangement.

The migration is set to create thousands of jobs in the broadcasting and downstream industries as there will be several broadcasting channels.

Presenting a Ministerial statement in the National Assembly to update the House on the migration project prescribed by the International Telecommunications Union, Professor Moyo said Government found funding through issuance of a Datacasting licence for Digital Dividend.

“The Datacasting Licence was issued to NetOne on 23 December 2014 by the Broadcasting Authority of Zimbabwe at the cost of $200 million after an open, transparent and competitive licensing process in accordance with the Broadcasting Services Act. What this means is that the broadcasting sector has been innovative enough to fund the country’s digital migration. This is commendable given the challenge of competing demands on Treasury,” said Prof Moyo to rousing applause from legislators across the political divide.

Upon securing the $200 million, said Prof Moyo, BAZ engaged a Chinese company, Huawei Technologies, to implement the digital migration on the basis of a feasibility study submitted to Government last year.

Finance and Economic Development Minister Patrick Chinamasa signed a Memorandum of Understanding in Beijing on August 2014 during a historic state visit by President Mugabe where several mega deals were signed.

Prof Moyo said the implementation would be done in two phases, with the first one expected to be completed by June 17 2015 involving digitalisation of 30 transmitter sites.

He said BAZ would ensure that there would be no analogue television transmitter along or near the country’s borders to interfere with neighbours, which was the essence of the ITU deadline.

“In this regard Mr Speaker, Honourable Members should take note that the ITU deadline is a ‘Switch Off’, not a ‘Switch on’ deadline. There is therefore no question that we will somehow fail to switch off those analogue television transmitters along or near our borders. In any event, in a number of cases there will be nothing to switch off because there are no analogue television transmitters along or near our borders,” said Prof Moyo.

BAZ, he said, would build six new transmitters in Binga, Chikombedzi, Chipinge, Hwange, Kotwe and Mapisa, areas that would have such gadgets installed for the first time in their history.

Phase two, he said, would involve, among other several things, digitalised 18 new transmitter sites, six ZBC studios, six content production centres, web television system — all to be completed by December 2015, except revamping 25 radio transmitters to be done by end of January 2016.

Government, he said, would secure and subsidise between 300 000 and one million set top-boxes, that is decoders to convert analogue signal to digital for viewing public.

Public broadcasting will move from television licensing regime to a new ICT application where licence fee will be accessed at a fee which was being proposed at between $3 and $5 per month per television set.

“Everyone who watches television will be required to pay an access fee through subscription. This includes those who subscribe to satellite television content such as DSTV. The manual access television license will be retained for those who will choose not to subscribe to any licensed television content but this licence will be at a very high scale to cover the cost of its manual collection,” he said.

Prof Moyo said some of the aantages of digital migration were that the country would have more television broadcasting channels including a public broadcasting channel to be dedicated to the National Assembly covering sittings and that for portfolio committees on a continuous basis.

There would be another frequency available for licensing to at least six private commercial television broadcasters while the fourth would be reserved for future use to be decided by future generations, he said.

Source : The Herald