The Minister of of Media, Information and Broadcasting Services, Jonathan Moyo, said today that the government needs US $173 million to complete the broadcasting digitisation migration. The $173 million, said the minister, will go to migrating existing transmitters, buying new digital transmitters, migrating the studios at Zimbabwe Broadcasting Corporation (ZBC), migrating monitoring equipment for the regulator and putting in place new regulations for the licensing of the new digital broadcasting.
Moyo was giving oral evidence today to a Media, Information and Broadcasting Services parliamentary portfolio committee. The minister said the migration has already started, with 10 transmission sites now migrated to digital broadcasting. Zimbabwe currently has 24 transmission sites. An additional 24 digital transmission sites are however required and Moyo said the total cost of the transmitters yet to be digitised and the new ones to be acquired, will cost an estimated $30 million. Television transmitters in Zimbabwe are owned and managed by Transmedia Corporation.
On the ZBC side, digitising the studios will cost $70 million. Moyo also said once digitised, ZBC will need to kickstart the digital content production and this process will needs $5 million.
As for the Broadcasting Authority of Zimbabwe (BAZ), which regulates the sector, Moyo said it will need to migrate the regulation of television broadcasting and this will take up $5 million. They will also need to buy monitoring equipment which will cost $1.5 million.
A huge chunk of the $173 will however goto servicing debts by the ZBC, which currently owes a total $51 million. ZBC, Moyo said to the committee, will also need $10 million to skill it’s employees for digital television. A retrenchment exercise will also be carried out at ZBC to, according to Moyo, “retrench digitally unskilled, or un-skillable personnel”.
As for where this money will come from, Moyo said they are able to get it right away if they auction LTE spectrum to mobile operators for broadcasting. More on that in a different article, in the meantime, here’s an audio recording of part of Moyo’s presentation.
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Zimbabwe, along with other countries globally, is supposed to migrate its TV broadcasting from the current analogue technology to the digital technology by 17 June 2015, a deadline set by the International Telecommunications Union.