HARARE – In what was seen as an unusually frank admission by the Zimbabwe Broadcasting Corporation (ZBC) that its programme offering is poor, and that this is driving viewers and listeners away, the State broadcaster carried critical voices on its content on its main television news bulletin on Tuesday evening.
The flighted viewer and listenership feedback followed a workshop that the cash-strapped corporation hosted in Harare, where its content and programming came under the spotlight from key partners and other stakeholders, as the ZBC prepares for the pending digitalisation era that could usher in more competition.
The broadcaster’s television viewers in Masvingo bemoaned its poor quality content and urged it to consider acquiring programmes that were in line with current trends.
“You must change your programming and start screening more sport and entertainment,” said one viewer.
“What bothers me most is that ZBC TV repeats lots of programmes and I wonder why they can’t emulate other international stations like SABC,” another viewer said.
Viewers in Bulawayo also panned its poor programming, saying that was the reason why people in western Zimbabwe were forced to shun ZBC TV.
Similarly, viewers in Manicaland said they no longer watched ZBC TV due to its poor programming that had been compounded by the poor television reception in many parts of the province.
Independent producer and broadcaster, Thandazani Zimbwa was quoted by the ZBC encouraging the broadcaster to flight content that viewers wanted to watch on television.
“Once a programme is relevant to the Zimbabwean context, it will attract viewership. Look at the Nigerian situation, they do not produce quality but they have the biggest viewership in their country and across the continent,” Zimbwa said.
Arts guru Cont Mhlanga was quoted saying although ZBC had the ideas, further training of its staff was needed “to execute the brilliant ideas”.
“ZBC needs to move with the times, train its producers, and send them across the world so that they acquire knowledge on new trends.
“Viewers want a fresh twist to programmes, they are not predictable beings,” Mhlanga said.
Lately, the broadcaster — which is unashamedly pro-Zanu PF even as it is funded by all taxpayers — has carried live divisive rallies by President Robert Mugabe’s controversial wife Grace.