Pamela Shumba, Senior Reporter
GOVERNMENT has reaffirmed its support to content producers in the country as it moves a gear up in the process of migrating from analogue to digital television and radio broadcasting.
Information, Media and Broadcasting Services Minister Dr Chris Mushohwe told content producers at Chinotimba Hall in Victoria Falls yesterday that Government was prepared to assist every Zimbabwean who wishes to participate in the digitalisation project.
Minister Mushohwe is on a nationwide tour to mobilise content producers for the digitalisation programme.
He is accompanied by his deputy Cde Sithokozile Mathuthu, Permanent Secretary Mr George Charamba, officials from the ministry, the Broadcasting Authority of Zimbabwe (BAZ), Trans Media and the Zimbabwe Broadcasting Corporation.
“Government, through my ministry is committed to assist every Zimbabwean who wishes to participate in this global crusade. We have made available funds and resources to make sure that this project is a success. When the project begins we’ll have 12 channels that will be running for 24 hours. This means we’ll need a lot of producers, script writers, technical directors, editors, sound designers, costume designers, production designers and actors. Some will benefit directly while others will benefit indirectly,” said Dr Mushohwe.
He said the digitalisation project was a major Zim-Asset project that required full participation from all Zimbabweans who have talent.
“We want 75 percent of our content to be local and for us to be able to fill the 12 it requires maximum participation from everyone. If you have talent, that’s content. Young men and women should take advantage of this project because it will create the two million jobs that we’ve been talking about.
“We don’t want to wait for some white men to come back and provide jobs for us. Let’s prove to the world that we can succeed without assistance from white people,” said Dr Mushohwe.
He added that it was a disgrace that people in Binga and other parts of the country were not able to access local radio and television programmes for the past 37 years, adding that it will soon be a thing of the past.
The Minister urged the people of Victoria Falls to support one another in coming up with content and advised them to produce the content in their local languages.
“No language is better or superior to the other. The constitution recognises 16 Zimbabwean languages and these must all be respected. I therefore encourage our content producers in Victoria Falls to produce content in their local languages.
“Government is ready to assist. No producer will spend money to produce their content. Government will provide the funds and the resources and the producers will be paid when their products are filmed on television,” said Dr Mushohwe.
Mr Charamba said the digitalisation project, which will create thousands of jobs, will see the construction of three major state-of-the-art content centres in Victoria Falls, Bulawayo and Harare.
“These content centres will be of international standards and they will cater for our communities and address the requirements of Africa. We’ll also have smaller content centres in the country’s provincial capitals.
“In terms of progress Matabeleland North province is leading the digitalisation project. When you compare the province with others, it’s miles ahead. I therefore expect maximum production from this province. The province must maintain that lead,” said Mr Charamba.
He assured the content producers that the ministry had made sure that the project has legal grounding to protect their productions free of charge.
The digitalisation programme is in line with international trends and the requirement for countries to migrate to digital television broadcasting in order to avoid interference situations between countries.
It entails the replacement of all existing analogue equipment with new digital equipment for the country’s television studios and television transmission equipment.
This will see Zimbabweans benefiting from a modern television delivery platform with service capacity to license new television players in Zimbabwe as well as improved reception of television services.
The process will also provide a business opportunity for independent producers to supply content to broadcasters.