Farirai Machivenyika Senior Reporter
Permanent Secretary for Information, Media and Broadcasting Services Mr Nick Mangwana has acknowledged Government’s efforts to increase the ministry’s budget from the initial cap of $851 million to $1,4 billion, but told a Parliamentary committee yesterday that more was still needed to finalise the digitisation of all television and broadcasting services to reach every home.
Appearing before the Portfolio Committee on Information, Media and Broadcasting Services he said the budget was still below the $3,7 billion the Ministry wanted next year to fulfil its mandate to disseminate information to every corner of the country.
Entities like the Broadcasting Authority of Zimbabwe, Transmedia, ZBC, New Ziana and the Zimbabwe Film and Television School of Southern Africa fall under the Ministry of Information, Media and Broadcasting Services.
Mr Mangwana said BAZ, which is leading the digitisation of television transmission, had been allocated $684 million from a bid of $1,6 billion, which would delay the digitisation of transmission so signals reach every homestead in the country.
The digitisation started in 2015 and BAZ has so far received US$49,2 million out of the initial US$175 budget for the project with only 18 transmitters out of 48 stations needed countrywide being digitised.
The six new televisions recently licensed would only be able to cover 38 percent of the country when they open.
On Transmedia he said the organisation had been allocated $90 million after making a bid of $542, million which would also affect its ability to capacitate the community radio stations that will be licensed soon. The company was not allocated money to construct a new headquarters despite engineers condemning the present building.
Mr Mangwana, however, thanked Government for allocating a grant to ZBC for the first time in 20 years.
“For nearly 20 years ZBC was never funded from the fiscus and for this year they got a grant and support from the fiscus,” he said.
Mr Mangwana told the committee that the public broadcaster has indicated that it would use the money to pay off its creditors that include content producers and statutory bodies like Zimra and NSSA.