TV licence fees to be scrapped

Mr Charamba

Mr Charamba

Lloyd Gumbo Senior Reporter
Television viewers will pay between $3 and $5 access fee per month to watch programmes broadcast on channels that will be on the digital platform once digital migration is completed.

This subscription will only enable them to watch programmes on one full spectrum programme channel.

However, subscription fees for specific bouquets are yet to be set.

If implemented, this will end Zimbabwe Broadcasting Corporation’s right to licence fees since all the access fees would be paid through Transmedia.

This came up during the launch of the content production phase of the Zimbabwe digitisation programme in Harare on Tuesday.

Information, Media and Broadcasting Services permanent secretary Mr George Charamba said this was expected to build the broadcasting industry as television channels would access money from subscriptions from the Transmedia.

“Technically, it will no longer be possible for any broadcaster to pay as and when they want,” said Mr Charamba.

“How is that possible? The system we are introducing in this country is called Conditional Access System. Think of your DStv, your MultiChoice. If you don’t pay, you don’t view.

“But it also means all the broadcasters are being channelled through what is called the head-end to get all the money that is coming from subscribers.”

Mr Charamba said in the event that there was a deadlock on payments between a broadcaster and content producers, the Broadcasting Authority of Zimbabwe was expected to immediately deliberate on the matter and come up with a resolution within three days.

He said BAZ would be entitled to instruct Transmedia to pay the content producer from the broadcaster’s dues.

Government, he said, would not allow broadcasters to delay paying content producers as that posed a threat to the industry.

In an interview with The Herald after the meeting, BAZ chief executive Mr Obert Muganyura said the access fees would be applicable to all viewers on the digital terrestrial platform.

“What it means is that if you have not paid that access fee, you will not be able to watch anything,” said Mr Muganyura.

“The money will be paid at Transmedia who will then do the remittances to the channels, to the broadcasting fund for content development and to the public broadcaster for their public service obligations.”

Mr Muganyura said access fees will only open access to one full spectrum channel while viewers will have to pay more for other bouquets.

He said while Zimbabwe had a total capacity of 24 channels, the country currently focused on 12 channels which were at an advanced stage of implementation.

Of the 12 channels that are available, the public broadcaster ZBC, will get six channels with other broadcasters getting the remainder.

It is expected that once digital broadcasting is up, ZTV will be withdrawn from DStv so that it can be accessible on digital terrestrial.

The requirement for ZBC to collect licence fees is also expected to be scrapped.

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