Bongani Ndlovu Showbiz Correspondent
INFORMATION, Media and Broadcasting Services minister Professor Jonathan Moyo has urged independent producers to take advantage of the migration from analogue to digital terrestrial television broadcasting by coming up with high quality programmes which can be consumed by both local and foreign audiences.
Speaking at the Bulawayo Press Club last week Friday, Professor Moyo, said the migration to digital television was an opportunity for independent content producers as more TV stations would be opened, meaning broadcasters would need more content.
“This year, we’ll as a result of the digital television broadcasting migration, witness the birth of big, big, big never before seen opportunities for independent content producers.
“There’s no broadcaster who’ll be able to fulfill or meet the content that’s required. So, those of you who are independent producers and who’ve had a hard time, either being mistreated by the public broadcaster, or being unhappy that there’re no alternatives to the public broadcaster, this is your year,” Prof Moyo said.
The International Telecommunications Union (ITU) deadline for Digital Terrestrial Television migration is June 17 this year with the exception of some developing countries for which the transition period will end on June 17, 2020. Because Zimbabwe has been using analogue, it has had one channel on one frequency but when it migrates to digital, it will be able to have up to 20 channels on that same frequency.
But the Professor said he was worried that there were not enough skilled producers in Zimbabwe to meet the content requirements when the country goes digital.
According to him, most people who call themselves producers in Zimbabwe, are actually not.
“I’m not confident, in fact I’m very very worried; most people who call themselves producer broadcasters aren’t that. There’s a need to revisit the skills and do an audit because it’s a very serious issue,” he said.
Professor Moyo said the few who had proved that they were good producers had no competition as other experienced producers had since left the country in search of greener pastures.
“The stuff that you (Tapfuma Machakaire – former ZBCtv employee) produce has no competition. The few of those who can compete with your stuff have left the country.
“We can’t say there’re people here that are doing very compelling cutting edge type of things either from a technological point of view or a story telling point of view,” he said.
Professor Moyo said independent producers should be business minded when creating content for consumption by the public.
“I think the spotlight is going to be on you (producers) and all the claims you’ve been making about yourselves over the years that you can do this and that. Now it’ll be exposed because it’s going to be about content.
“You should start producing content now and it should be a business, about making money. It should be about packaging content for the consumption of our people and other audiences outside our country,” he said.
Professor Moyo said as a ministry, they were making efforts to scrap television licence fees and would find mechanisms for alternative ways to collect money.
“We’re looking forward to the possibility of eliminating the current licence for television so that there should be no licence inspectors knocking on your door. You don’t have to buy vicious dogs to deal with ZBC licence inspectors because they won’t come to your house.
“But we’ll have to find a technological equivalent that properly satisfies the original, very sound policy objectives of that.”
The minister said there would be an Information Communication Technological (ICT) solution to ensure that no one watches television without paying.
“We’re going to revamp that (licence fee collection) and you’ll see an ICT-driven solution which will ensure that no one watches TV without paying. So it’s coming, the details will also be coming very soon,” he said.