From Abel Zhakata in Mutare—
THE on-going digitalisation of broadcasting services will create more than 50,000 jobs downstream as local producers grind to make content to fill the increased broadcast hours brought about by the migration from analogue television, a Cabinet minister has said. Addressing participants at a consultative meeting with independent film producers in Mutare yesterday, the Minister of Information, Media and Broadcasting Services, Christopher Mushohwe, said the digitalisation revolution had created employment opportunities for local artistes.
He said the countrywide consultative meetings were meant to inform producers of the amount of work they needed to do in order to meet the increased content requirement that must be filled by local material.
“The digitalisation revolution underway has triggered these meetings with all stakeholders in the creative industries and this is arising from the realisation that there’s a real risk of embarrassment and even failure on the part of the sector to deliver sufficient content to fill the overwhelming programming hours that become available following the transition from analogue to digital television,” he said.
“We’re struggling at the moment to fill the broadcast hours available to the one television channel we’ve with local content. What more when the public broadcaster has six channels to contend with and even worse an additional six channels for commercial broadcasters?”
Mushohwe said the ministry had purchased equipment for content production which included state-of-the-art high definition cameras and editing equipment to kick-start the production of broadcast material.
He said digitalisation was a game-changer whose positive impact would create jobs across numerous sectors of the economy.
“We’re alive to the fact that we’ve creative skills in this country which beckon to be harnessed and channelled in the right direction. My message to you, your sector and to the nation at large is to look at the possibilities for employment creation and industry growth arising from the broadcast hours that need to be filled. These broadcast hours translate into jobs. That’s the positive way of looking at our situation right now. No one single producer can do it, not even two or three content producers can do it. This involves many people working day and night to produce the relevant content.
“This is a sector with the potential to grow into a multi-billion dollar industry and just as it has done in other countries it can also happen here.”
The permanent secretary in the ministry George Charamba urged artistes in the province to come together and form an association that would enable them to access the newly acquired digital broadcast equipment in a professional fashion.
“There’s no option here. You’ve to come up with an association so that you organise yourselves and use this equipment. We need accountability in the way this equipment is being used and that’s only possible if you do it as a group,” he said.
Charamba explained to the participants the benefits the country would derive from digital migration.
Apart from availing a modern television delivery platform with service capacity to license new television players, he said digitalisation would provide high quality television services and improved reception among other benefits like variety of choice, interactive services, business opportunities and employment creation.
The meeting was also attended by the Deputy Minister of Information, Media and Broadcasting Services Cde Thokozile Mathuthu.