Minister of Media Information and Broadcasting Services Professor Jonathan Moyo said the country will meet the International Telecommunications Union (ITU) deadline of June 17, 2015 deadline if the digital dividends are paid up to raise money for the exercise.
He was making presentations at a hearing of the Parliamentary Portfolio committee on Media, Information and Broadcasting Services on Thursday, 03 July 2014. The theme of the hearings related to members of the committee enquiring as to the progress of the realignment of media laws in tandem with the new constitution.
In giving an update of media digitalization, Professor Jonathan Moyo said the country needed a total of US$174 million to complete the of digitalization exercise.
“The country at the moment does not have the required money to finish the already started digitalization process.
“However we expect to have the required money in two months’ time once the three giant mobile operators (Econet, Telecel, Netone) in the country pay up their digital dividends,” said he said.
Moyo said the three mobile companies will have to do civil duty for the people by paying up their dividends which will be in excess of $200 million.
The struggling Zimbabwe Broadcasting Corporation (ZBC), the national broadcaster missed the 2013 Southern Africa Development Committee (SADC) digitalization deadline, with speculation that time is fast running out to meet next year’s deadline which was set by the ITU.
The consequences of missing the ITU June 2015 deadline will result in Zimbabwe being switched off the digital broadcasting airwaves.
Moyo added that the country has 24 transmitting sites which are in need of renovation .
He however added “We need to add more 24 transmitting sites to make them 48 and continue with our renovating the existing ones of which the Ministry of Information has managed to refurbish 10 and this process needs at least $30 Million,” he said.
“Digitalization of the ZBC studio requires $70 million, its content $5 million, new framework for Broadcasting Authority of Zimbabwe(BAZ) $5 million, receivers $1.5 million, restructuring requires $10 million and $51 million to pay up the debt,” added Professor Moyo.
The country has one broadcaster running two channels and if digitalization is achieved, experts believe that not less than 80 televisions channels would be introduced, a development that will improve the country’s media diversity.
Moyo said economic crisis that have hit the country at the moment is the factor pulling the ministry down towards digitization process.
“Funding of the media has been a problem on our digitalization projects which we should have completed sometime ago,” he said.
Responding to a question raised by Kuwadzana Member of Parliament Nelson Chamisa on whether the media after digitalization will move from monologue broadcasting, Professor Jonathan Moyo said it will be impossible to continue broadcasting monologue content due to upgrade of services.