Are ZBC promises within its capacity?

via Are ZBC promises within its capacity? – DailyNews Live 9 April 2016

HARARE – Zimbabwe’s impending migration from analogue television to digital television broadcast is scheduled to bring about six new Zimbabwe Broadcasting Corporation television channels that will mostly broadcast local content.

The creation of the six new channels, which are part of 12 envisaged television stations that will come about as a result of the looming switch over to digital terrestrial television, obviously means that more high-quality content has to be generated.

With independent producers having already started submitting pitches of new content to ZBC, there are real fears that the national broadcaster has no capacity to efficiently run six more television stations given the fact that they currently owe a lot of money to content providers.

The overriding question therefore is: How will the national broadcaster manage to acquire enough content for six more channels on a sustainable basis when they are struggling to pay for content for its current channel?

Even Media, Information and Broadcasting Services minister Christopher Mushowe recently conceded that the government risks embarrassment if it fails to produce enough content for the proposed six channels. The minister added that he was disappointed by the manner in which ancient foreign content was continually being recycled on ZBC TV.

Three years ago former Zimbabwe Broadcasting Holdings (ZBH) chief executive officer Happison Muchechetere claimed that their operations were seriously hamstrung by the government’s failure to settle $6,2 million dollars owed to the national broadcaster.

Muchechetere said the national broadcaster was not only being forced by government to cover certain events but they were also forking money from their own coffers to fulfil these obligations. All this points to a national broadcaster being abused by the State on top of its being an entity run on an unsustainable basis.

If the impending channels are going to be run in the same manner then we foresee trouble.

For too long, ZBC has behaved as if television viewers owe it. The national broadcaster has endlessly served poor programmes while strangely expecting television viewers to pay licence fees. This clearly unhelpful attitude has seen the national broadcaster’s viewership and listenership decline to alarming levels.

The forthcoming channels must be subordinate to the interests of their viewers and not politicians who are at the moment, negatively influencing both policy and content at the national broadcaster.

There is no way the proposed ZBC channels can lure advertisers if their content is made with the sole aim of pleasing the governing Zanu PF.