ZBC’s 6 channels & the 8 things about digital migration that you need to know

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What do we need to know about Digital Migration, really? Well, quite a bit actually. OK, so the whole exercise that was brought upon us by ITU has ZBC written all over it, but it will affect the whole country, including the multitudes that turned their back on local TV.

So for those who are too busy or that disengaged from Dead-BC to care, here are just 8 facts about this project worth remembering.

1.The Government is broke, so who picked up the bill?

The last time we checked, this project required $173 million. The figure has changed mysteriously over the past couple of years and has now ballooned from an initial 8 figure total to the current number.

The money was sourced through an auction for LTE spectrum. NetOne was the only applicant and it received a datacasting licence for this. The cost was $200 million which NetOne acquired through a loan facility from China. This is the same loan dedicated to NetOne’s network expansion, which is largely focused on LTE. 


2. Huawei is running point on this

Huawei-media-qOn the 25th of February 2015, the Broadcasting Authority of Zimbabwe signed on Huawei as the technical lead partner for the project. This was attributed to the feasibility study findings presented by the Chinese firm plus its strong case as an experienced contractor that can help Zimbabwe meet the 17 June 2015 ITU Deadline. It’s worth noting however that the money for this project has come from the Chinese government, which insists on Chinese companies executing projects it pays for.

3. The ITU deadline still stands; we need to be ready by 17 June 2015

image credit: Risk.net

image credit: Risk.net

The ITU, the global body that started all of this, has given every nation until the 17th of June 2015 to be through with this project. According to authorities on this matter the extension granted earlier on to 30 African countries was not for provisional migration activities. These include securing signal from transmitters at border points around the country.

4. Winter is coming, but Zimbabwe is ready

One important aspect delivered by Digital Migration Project lead Gelfand Kausiyo at the Digital Future Conference was how Zimbabwe will meet the provisional requirements for securing the digital signal at all transmitters located at national border points. This will be done by 17 June. After this period, the work will be focused on internal transmission signal migration from analogue to digital. Analogue transmission won’t be turned off immediately, it will run along the new digital signal for a while.

After this period, the work will be focused on internal transmission signal migration from analogue to digital. Analogue transmission won’t be turned off immediately, it will run along the new digital signal for a while.

5. Six channels are on the way


image credit: YouTube

The move to digital means that there is capacity to broadcast a lot more content in significantly better formats. ZBC will have 6 channels that are going to be broadcast nationally. It won’t be a Joy TV arrangement. Some outlying parts of Zimbabwe will actually receive local broadcast for the first time thanks to digital broadcast.

Even if you are on DStv you will still need to pay your TV licence for these channels.

6. Web TV is also on the way

ZBC-YouTubeIn addition to the 6 channels, ZBC is going to launch its own Web TV service. this is essentially an online streaming and VOD service which actually becomes another channel in its own right.

7. A lot of channels need a lot of content

Image credit: Battle of the Chefs

Image credit: Battle of the Chefs

There are going to be six new ZBC TV channels that are mandated to broadcast at least 75% of local content. This means that content producers have to come in and fill this huge space. We will need a lot of content which also has to be of a high standard.There has been a call for independent producers to submit their pitches and work. If you are interested you can check here for the requirements ZBC has for having your work taken up by the broadcaster.

8. Everyone will need a set-top box or a TV set that is ready for the new format

DStv Decoder

It’s no longer just DStv that’s digital, look out for ZBC decoders

Now that everyone’s signal is going to be transmitted, everyone needs to be able to receive the digital signal. This can be done through a set-top box (or a decoder as they are more widely known) or through a later version TV set that can support the digital signal.

This is one sticky point about digital migration because a mass distribution of those decoders isn’t an easy task. Getting people to buy them will be a bit of a challenge unless the State massively subsidises them.

It’s likely going to be an open market distribution system, so the enterprising ones among us should consider looking at where these boxes can be bought at a discount. It’s something that a lot of people will need, so there is a huge need that is being created there.

You can listen to the presentation made by Gelfand Kausiyo, the project lead for ZBC’s Digital Migration here.


  1. theposterwithnoname says:

    Knowing how Zim things work its probable that some top dog has secured the rights to distribute these decoders. Pity. They are gonna charge exorbitant prices. No thanks I will stick to my high speed internet and Laptop for my entertainment needs

    1. Chris says:

      You’ll get charged double the license fee in fines if you don’t buy that decoder… Remember vehicle plates

      1. anonyhuku says:

        WHO & HOW is anybody going to ‘force’ who-ever to buy a dedbc decoder?

  2. Dee says:

    6 channels and 75% local content! How are independent local producers going to fill in all that void, in terms of talented cast and professional digital equipment? We are tired of shody half baked local Tv producers, poor acting and lame scripts. So if i get a set top box, does that mean i will aslo need to mount a satellite dish to receive the signal??

    1. nyasha says:

      You will not need a satellite dish, you will instead get a digital (DTT) antenna which receives the signal and sends it to your set-top-box to be decoded, so that you can view the programs on your standard TV.

      1. Anonymous says:

        like that funny service that later refunded us our cash?

    2. AGE McSoul says:

      they are a lot of good producers in Zim who are playing on YouTube u even laugh at some skits or have fun watching the incredible music videos produced but with one station it was more centralised with those one people one station. With 6 channels even if its under ZBC i think they will be better because they will be competing with each other like the way we love SABC i liked 1 and my sister liked SABC3 so i think it will open a chance for the independent guys out there a chance to showcase their talent.

  3. Khulekani Nyoni says:

    maybe we might view ztv, coz we are fed up of programs without program line up. at least put a 24hr sports channel & 24hr news channel

  4. Luvay says:

    Its September we still waiting, the reason I googled it, and the search led me here, ZBC should start by airing foreign shows and then little by little local content(not entirely local, jus saying) to up views. They have to offer me a job as a presenter there __ 🙂

  5. Josiah mdavose says:

    Still waiting it should be open to everyone nathi eremote areas

  6. Zet Bee Sea says:

    Its 2016, problem with Zimbabwe is people who EAT (divert) certain funds for their own selfish minds. 75% local content is total nonsense, people didn’t watch on one station, what makes you think they will run for 75% on 6 channels? Whilst channel 1 airs TIRIPARWENDO, channel 2 be offering MURIMI WANHASI, channel 3 MELTING POT, 4. CHIMURENGA FILES 5. MAKOROKOZA the 6 all the good stuff… WE WANT WIDE OPTIONS PLEASE IF THIS IS ANYTHING TO GO BY… Tell them there at zbc, they should rebrand and change logos. (Zbctv logo which covered half of the screen)

  7. godwindube says:


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