Lovemore Zigara, Midlands Correspondent
GOVERNMENT has availed $2,5 million for the purchase of 100 000 set top boxes as the country gears up for the digitilisation exercise, a senior government official has said.
Set top boxes will enable television sets to receive digital signals when the country migrates from the current analogue to digital transmission.
Information, Media and Broadcasting Services permanent secretary Mr George Charamba said once the set top boxes have been distributed to the public some areas which are digital compliant will start to receive transmission.
“Government has set aside $2,5 million to bring in set top boxes and the first batch of set top boxes will be about 100 000 units. Once we have those in the country and distributed to the viewers then it means we should be able to roll out our digitilisation programme,” he said in an interview in Gweru last week.
“There will not be a set date that we switch on or switch off but what will happen is that we will gradually phase out analogue and gradually bring in digital in respect of those places which are already compliant. As I have already indicated there are a number of places which are already compliant which means you will have those migrating to the digital format. So this will be a phased process.”
Mr Charamba said once the public accesses the set top boxes, the Broadcasting Authority of Zimbabwe will invite applicants for television licences.
“Once that reception is within reach of each and every viewer then it means the next natural thing to do is to invite applicants for television licences and that is done by the Broadcasting Authority of Zimbabwe and not by the ministry,” he explained.
“When that happens it means people will be running for viewership licences. For everyone in the broadcasting industry what it means is that we are introducing another layer of competition to the already congested platform and therefore those with quality programming will survive in the sector.”
The digitilisation exercise will enable the country to migrate from analogue to digital transmission which would enable the country to unlock more frequencies to allow more players in the television sector.