The government has covered work costing over US$40 million in the digitalisation process and now requires an additional US$18 million to purchase 400 000 set top boxes.
This was revealed by the Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Information, Media and Broadcasting Services Mr George Charamba during a tour of the Hwange, Binga and Kamativi transmission sites.
The set top boxes allow for conditional access, and convert the services coming in digital form to make them accessible on the standard television in the households.
A deposit of US$1.8 million will be needed to kick start the manufacturing process of the set top boxes.
They will be distributed at subsidised prices and the public will be required to pay between US$3 and US$5 to access the broadcasting services.
Those wishing to access more services available on the bouquet will be required to pay more.
“We have geared ZBC for content production and I am so happy that ZBC has created content teams which are out in the field but what is more there has also been an instruction to all our bureaus that if they have been canning news for 5 minutes per day it means there is another 55 minutes of mere idleness so why not convert those other 55 minutes to shooting more content which can create documentaries for us around history, culture, politics, tourism, archaeology. You know the material history of people, you know there is a whole world of content, it’s a just a matter of giving a clear direction to those bureau chiefs,” said Mr Charamba.
ZBC acting chief executive officer Mr Patrick Mavhura says the digitalisation process requires the national broadcaster to up its game in terms of content production so that it can feed the six channels adequately in the multi-channel environment.
“We have created crews that are in the field as we speak busy gathering content and canning content for this multi-channel environment. So what this means for ZBC is that definitely we are heading for very exciting times where we are going to be giving Zimbabweans different specialised services in terms of genres,” Mr Mavhura said.
Broadcasting Authority of Zimbabwe chief executive officer Mr Obert Muganyura says they have completed the installation of two high definition digital studios at Pockets Hill, including a master control room, satellite uplink terminal and five digital transmitters among other things.
“We are now moving to the seven transmitter sites starting off with Harare. These are sites that require strengthening of the towers due to deterioration of the tower structures. In order to make sure that the towers are structurally fit to hold the new digital equipment that is to be installed, we have to do some strengthening or repair work. Work has been started at Pockets Hill,” said Mr Muganyura.
The Ministry of Information, Media and Broadcasting Services will begin educational and awareness campaigns in all districts as early as January to ensure the general public has an appreciation of the new development and the changes it will create in their communities.