After years of failing to rake up much revenue for its services, state broadcaster, ZBC has partnered with the Harare City Council (HCC) to collect radio and TV licenses on its behalf. The deal will see the city council getting 10% from the collections and also free advertising on ZBC’s media mediums. The Council’s information and publicity’s report read;
It is resolved that subject to concurrence by the finance and development committee, council grants authority for the City of Harare to collect household and business radio and television licenses on behalf of ZBC, in terms of the memorandum of agreement between council and ZBC.
Why people don’t pay license fees
Before we go into much detail, it’s important to know why many Zimbabweans are averse to paying their radio and TV license fees. To begin with, the pretext that’s used by many Zimbabweans is that because they are not watching ZTV or listening to the radio, there is no reason they have to pay for the licenses. Inversely, if they do watch ZTV or listen to the radio, they say that the poor content they consume from these two mediums doesn’t warrant any payment of a license fee. Thus, some people go as far as to lock their doors or hide their TV’s or radios when ZBC inspectors come knocking on their doors.
Besides these reasons, there is the issue of the price of the license. The licenses cost $30 for radio and $50 for TV licenses, which to most people is pricey.
Is the deal ideal for ZBC?
Yes, it is. People are not really up to paying licenses in Zimbabwe, hence ZBC has to do door-to-door visits to be really effective in collecting license revenues. But the challenge is that ZBC doesn’t have that much manpower to roam the streets of Harare or residential areas knocking on people’s doors to collect license fees. Here is where HCC comes. Every month the HCC moves door-to-door taking ‘meter readings’ (of resident’s water consumption) and deliver bills to every home. And the HCC has enough manpower to do that (which ZBC doesn’t). Accordingly, it makes sense for ZBC to ask the HCC to collect the license fees since naturally that’s their daily job of walking door-to-door and they have the manpower to do it.
Additionally, the HCC knows the ins and outs about where every house is located. So, they can visit virtually every house, something which ZBC could have been failing to do owing to a lack of manpower. In a way, we could say that ZBC is outsourcing the ‘collection of license fees’ duty to HCC.
But with the HCC working towards introducing smart meters (prepaid meters hence HCC workers will no longer walk door-to-do collecting ‘meter readings’ or deliver bills) which will render their walking ‘door-to-door’ practice redundant, I don’t think the partnership will be alive in the unforeseeable future.