The Government is revisiting the rollout of the national digital transmission network to ensure that citizens have access to timeous and appropriate information as part of efforts to stave off hostile foreign propaganda.
Last year in April, the country switched over from the analogue signal to digital terrestrial television (DTT) under the US$125 million Zimbabwe Digital Broadcasting Migration project.
DTT is a technology in which land-based stations broadcast television content by radio waves to TV sets in homes in a digital format.
It is a major technological advance over analogue television, and has largely replaced analogue which had been in common use since the middle of the 20th century.
The migration project to switch over from analogue to digital commenced in 2015 and the nation failed to meet its deadline owing to several setbacks that included poor funding.
Addressing independent content producers during a meeting at the Zimbabwe Broadcasting Corporation (ZBC) Montrose Studios in Bulawayo yesterday, Information, Publicity and Broadcasting Services Minister, Monica Mutsvangwa, urged players in the film industry to use their creative productions to change adverse perceptions and project a positive national image, which promotes the country’s rich cultural heritage.
“Government is revisiting our rollout of the national digital transmission network to ensure that there are no blind and deaf transmission areas in our country. This is to ensure that all our citizens access timeous and appropriate information, while we stave off inimical and outrightly hostile foreign propaganda,” she said.
Minister Mutsvangwa implored content producers to join hands with her ministry to tell the story of the country’s collective vision.
“As leaders and communities, we are agreed that we want to harness and mobilise all our people to channel our effort towards a prosperous and empowered upper middle-income society by 2030,” she said.
The Minister said Government is working towards ensuring that players in the film industry are fairly remunerated for their efforts as she challenged them to produce content that is reflective of the country’s cultural diversity.
“The purpose of my visit here in Bulawayo is to ensure that this creative energy is harnessed by removing the hurdles that have over the years inhibited the development of a fully-fledged creative arts industry in this part of the country. I want to see you producing content that is reflective of the cultural diversity of our country, while also ensuring that you are fairly remunerated for your efforts,” she said.
Minister Mutsvangwa said Government is also scouting for, and assessing funding partnerships for leading edge studio equipment.
“On our part as Government, we are doing our very best as the Second Republic under the astute leadership of President Mnangagwa. As the economic fortunes recover and improve, we will continue to plough more resources into the broadcasting sector as we invest in needed technological tools and means,” she said.
Minister Mutsvangwa said the Second Republic has been unrelenting in ensuring that no one and no place is left behind in terms of development.
She said her meeting with content producers in Bulawayo sought to address the numerous challenges that have resulted in under-representation of the Matabeleland region in national content creation.
“The Second Republic has been unrelenting in advancing in practical, tangible ways the principle that no one and no place should be left behind. Content creators in Bulawayo are no exception to this rule and thus we will not leave you behind,” said Minister Mutsvangwa.
“You are indeed part and parcel of our development agenda as we, through National Development Strategy 1 and 2, build our country brick by brick, stone upon stone.”
Minister Mutsvangwa said when Government pushed for the liberalisation of the airwaves, there was an understanding that demand for content could not be enhanced when the number of outlets was limited to only one channel run by the national broadcaster.
“I am pleased that we have since done away with that limitation, through licensing six commercial broadcasting stations, thus opening up numerous avenues through which you can profitably market your work. I am certain that this will unleash your creative potential as demand for content is sure to rise in the wake of these positive developments,” she said.
Last month, Minister Mutsvangwa presided over the launch of two new TV stations, AZAM TV and 3kTV.
“In that sense, February has been an epoch-making month for the media industry, as it marks a turn in real terms, towards a truly liberal media landscape.
“We have begun to reap the fruits of the media landscape reform agenda, which is part of the greater reform trajectory taken by the Second Republic since assuming office,” said Minister Mutsvangwa.
She said going forward, the Government expects to see more stations going on air and providing a diversity of opinion and enriching national discourse.
“I am saying this to give you the assurance that when we move as a ministry, our objective is to secure tangible and positive results, not platitudes. As many of you know, I am also very passionate about women empowerment,” said Minister Mutsvangwa.
She urged female content creators to stand toe to toe with their male counterparts in the film making industry.
“I want to see content that reflects a Bulawayo as defined by women, a Bulawayo as viewed through the lenses of your individual and collective experiences as women. In doing so, you would have succeeded in bringing to the fore hidden, but precious voices that have been suppressed for far too long. You have my full and undivided support,” said Minister Mutsvangwa.
She implored content producers to use their talent and craft to simplify Government messaging generated by technical people for the benefit of citizens through easy to digest content.
“I am also inviting you to partner my ministry to mobilise the critical mass of our population to aid the drive towards the realisation of Vision 2030 and the short to medium term targets set in NDS1. To build our economy we need a meaningful call to action,” said Minister Mutsvangwa.
“I know that through the magic of comedy and skits, and well-structured content tailored to specific audiences, you can persuade people who disagree with you or even hate you, to smile and listen.
In this digital age people can have the chance to share your content via WhatsApp, Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, Tik Tok and this makes your products not only memorable, but reach wider audiences.”