In an interview on Monday with ZiFM Stereo, George Charamba confirmed that the government will soon invite applications to bid for 12 new TV licenses. He said the government will start to accept applications soon after it secures the supply of decoders they need for digital migration. And a tender will soon be floated for these decoders.
Zimbabwe has been on a long chase since 2015 to migrate from the obsolete analog to digital broadcasting but poor planning and lack of funding is stalling the transition that is denoted by missing many deadlines.
Timeline of Digital Migration
- 2015: Announcement of Digital migration and 3 phases for monitoring progress
- July 2015: The First deadline missed
- Jan 26 2017: 25% completion
- April 2018: Not yet completed
The Permanent Secretary went on to say that they have changed their stance with regard to the broadcasting resolution as the digital migration will now see them broadcasting in HD (High Definition) rather than the initially proposed SD (Standard Definition).
Broadcasting in SD would have instantaneously introduced 24 TV stations but the choice to do HD limits that to only 12. However, Charamba said that that engineers have discovered an emerging technology that will make it possible to introduce 24 TV stations in HD.
He emphasized that he hopes entrepreneurs will be ready to bid for the licenses because he fears a repeat of the precedence set by newspapers of not operationalizing after being awarded licenses.
His fear could become a reality if they offer the TV licenses now because the current economic climate is not conducive for investments.