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Lack of forex stalls broadcasting digital migration

by Staff reporter
03 Sep 2021 at 18:55hrs | Views
ZIMBABWE'S Digital Migration Project (ZDMP) completion, from analogue to digital, has been stalled due to lack of injection of financial resources by the government, it has emerged.

The project was supposed to have been completed by 2017 but is 43% complete four years later.

Giving oral evidence before the Information, Media and Broadcasting Services Parliamentary Portfolio Committee Thursday, Broadcasting Authority of Zimbabwe (BAZ), Transmedia, and the Zimbabwe Broadcasting Corporation (ZBC) senior officials revealed the ZDMP which took off in 2015 was facing financial challenges that threatened its completion.

BAZ acting chief executive Methias Chakanyuka told the committee lack of foreign currency to acquire equipment was one of the main challenges the project faced.

"The project has faced several challenges, hence its 43% completion status since 2015. It was expected to be completed in 2017, albeit meeting several deliverables which include unsatisfied budget requests due to competing needs at fiscus, shortage of foreign currency among other impediments have bedevilled the project," said Chakanyuka.

He added the state entities responsible for the project also lack skilled personnel to carry out the project.

"Due to the unbudgeted lengthy duration of the project, new challenges have emerged along the way. Recently, the need to provide set-top boxes to provide the immediate benefit of the project to members of the public," added Chakanyuka.

Transmedia acting CEO Rufaro Zaranyika said out of 48 sites targeted for radio and TV reception,  only 18 had been installed with the requisite equipment.

"18 out of the 48 transmission sites are digital-ready. Two live uplink terminals which relay the digital signals to the satellite have been installed, the main one in Harare and the backup in Bulawayo," said Zaranyika on the progress made so far.

ZBC CEO, Adelaide Chikunguru said the state broadcaster was failing to secure funds to pay content producers.

She said ZBC's main broadcasting centre, Pockets Hill, was also seriously crippled in its operation with only one camera for the main studio which needs five while its commercial unit had only one but needed four, sports had one instead of four while the news studio had one instead of four.

According to BAZ: "Treasury allocated ZDMP $685.7 million for 2021 financial year and an additional $213 million following a plea by the Information, Media and Broadcasting Services Parliamentary Committee.

"From this budget allocation, $300 778 000 has been disbursed to the project with the  balance of $596 904 000 still expected to be disbursed before the end of 2021."

Source - newzimbabwe
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