Peter Matambanadzo Senior Reporter
Zimbabwe will require at least three million Set Top Box (STB) to enable households to be able to watch digitalised content when the country migrates from analogue to digital, the Information and Media Panel of Inquiry (IMPI) heard yesterday.
This emerged at an IMPI media outreach hearing held at Mt Pleasant Hall in Harare when one of the participants submitted that he feared that the country may not meet the 2015 International Telecommunications Union deadline to digitalise.
Journalist Mr Pikirayi Deketeke chaired the hearing. “The issue of digital migration has not been treated the way we expected,” said the participant. “We are 10 months away from the June 17, 2015 deadline. There are three million households who watch television and each household needs to be supplied with one Top Set Box.
The participant said: “Are we honestly saying that we will be able to meet the 17th of June 2015 deadline? Or we are going to have a scenario where on the 18th of June 2015 we are not going to have access to any television?” The participant said Government should emulate countries like Kenya, which put in place policies as far back as 2009 and have already digitalised.
Zimbabwe requires US$173 million to meet the migration ahead of the June 2015 digitalisation deadline.
Other issues raised by the more than 20 participants who attended the meeting included the need for all libraries countrywide to be revived for citizens to easily access information and also for the media to cover children and senior citizen’s issues which are usually neglected.
Government was also urged to impose stiffer penalties on piracy and protect artists, while other participants urged authorities to look into how the funds collected by ZBC and the Zimbabwe Music Rights Association were used.
Another IMPI hearing was scheduled to be held at Stodart Hall in Mbare, but failed to take place after no one turned up.
These were the last meetings IMPI was conducting before embarking on a study tour of Kenya, Tanzania, Zambia and South Africa next week. The panel was expected to wind up its operations on July 31, but the deadline was extended to September 30. IMPI was established by the Information, Media and Broadcasting Services Ministry to assess the state of the media in Zimbabwe and make recommendations.