Farirai Machivenyika Senior Reporter
Zimbabwe is in compliance with the International Telecommunications Union switch-off deadline that lapsed yesterday, which compelled member states to ensure that their analogue television broadcast transmitters do not interfere with digital television broadcast transmitters of their neighbours.
This was said by Information, Media and Broadcasting Services Minister, Professor Jonathan Moyo, in a ministerial statement to the National Assembly yesterday.
“I am happy to inform the honourable House that Zimbabwe is compliant with the ITU’s non-interference requirements for continued operation of analogue transmitters to the digital services of neighbouring countries for both the VHF frequency range (174-230 MHz) and the UHF frequency range (470-694MHz). The affected neighbours in this regard are Zambia, Mozambique, South Africa and Botswana,” he said.
Prof Moyo said Zimbabwe had 10 analogue transmitters along its border areas at Beitbridge, Chiredzi, Chimanimani, Kamativi, St Albert’s Mission (Muzarabani), Kariba, Mutare, Nyanga, Plumtree and Victoria Falls that had the potential to interfere with digital services of neighbouring countries.
“However, only three of these transmitters, namely Kamativi, Nyanga and Mutare can actually cause such interference to Zambia (in the case of Kamativi) and Mozambique (from Nyanga and Mutare).
“The rest of the transmitters along our borders are harmless as they are operating on frequencies which are not close enough to interfere with the digital transmitters of any of our neighbouring countries,” he said.
He added that the Broadcasting Authority of Zimbabwe had received confirmation from both Zambia and Mozambique that the two countries were not deploying any time soon digital transmitters in areas where Zimbabwe’s analogue transmitters at Kamativi, Mutare and Nyanga would cause interference with their digital services.
Prof Moyo added that apart from the fact that Zambia and Mozambique were not installing their digital transmitters soon, calculations had also revealed that the three transmitters at Mutare, Nyanga and Kamativi were underpowered and the analogue waves they were generating were unable to interfere with digital services of Zambia and Mozambique.
“In these circumstances, it is thus the official position that there’s no question of Zimbabwe’s continued broadcast on analogue interfering with the digital broadcasts of any of our neighbours. This position will be further confirmed next week on June 26 2015 at a sadc ministerial meeting in Namibia,” Prof Moyo said.
Government, he said, would proceed with its programme to roll out the new digital transmission network although the earlier deadline to complete the process by January 2016 had been shifted to February of the same year due to a three-month delay.
He said this was due to delays in signing the contract with the contractor and the initial payment after the money was withheld in Europe due to the West’s illegal sanctions regime, among other reasons.
“In view of these delays, there has been a revision in the project deliverables such that digitisation of the existing 24 transmitter sites which had been earmarked for completion by June 2015 under phase one of the project will be completed as follows; five transmitters by mid-August, 10 transmitters by the end of October and nine transmitters by the end of December,” Prof Moyo said.
He added that phase two would see the installation of 24 new transmitters by the end of February, 2016.
Prof Moyo said completion of the roll-out project would ensure that every part of the country received radio and television signals.
He promised to periodically update the nation on the progress made in the roll-out programme.