ZBC Is Still A Huge Deal Outside Of Urban Centres
During my recent trip to Jerera, I got to notice a trend about the consumption of entertainment content and the difference between urban and rural communities in Zimbabwe. Whilst we usually shun all things ZTV is related to, it seems the rural communities have embraced the Zimbabwe Broadcasting Commission and their offerings. Yes, some may say it is simply because of a lack of choice but at the end of the day they are being entertained and ZTV is increasing its base of viewers and listeners in these communities.
In Harare, the general consensus is that ZBC has poor content and quality. But this very same broadcaster has so much clout in the rural areas it’s actually remarkable. In Jerera, most if not all the residents know radio and TV personalities almost religiously. Some of the people would ask if so-and-so was at the event and I would not be in a position to answer because I did not know who they were actually asking about. Even when they discovered that some of their icons from the ZBC where not at the event you could see their disappointment.
Electricity in Jerera is scarce, thus radio is the most popular entertainment platform. The most popular presenters were the guys from Radio Zimbabwe and PowerFM and it was particularly these guys who had celebrity status in the area. Let me draw a clearer picture of how popular these guys are. When the ZBC van arrived in the morning and the Potraz guys were setting up their banners the crowds were gathering and in the crowds, people were impersonating their favourite TV and radio personalities and you could really see the passion they had.
Obviously, it comes down to exposure and the fact that national broadcasters are the only viable option for most people in remote areas. Another thing that dawned on me is the fact that we are spoiled for choice up here in urban areas. Most people only watch ZBC for news updates but usually they consume the rest of entertainment content on platforms such as Dstv, Kwese, OVHD and streaming services such as Netflix and Amazon Prime just to name a few. Even those who don’t necessarily use the above services probably use a DVD player and access series, movies and music in more timelier fashion than in remote areas.
For ZBC this could be a stepping stone as they head for digitalization…
ZBC has been promising that they will be going digital for a while now, and I think their bid to digitalize will be helped by the fact they already have a large user base in the rural areas. This also means that their battle to keep with the times will be fought in the more urban areas and if they do revise their offerings and begin showing content of better quality, then ‘Dead-B-C’(as some refer to it) may rise from the ashes once again.