Zim can licence 7 more TV stations

HARARE - Zimbabwe is under utilising the frequency spectrum under the analogue broadcasting system, a move that has seen the country failing to license new independent TV and radio stations, a local non-governmental organisation has said.

Taurai  Mabhachi Kufa, Media and Technology Trust (MTT) coordinator said the unavailability of a three-tier broadcasting system in Zimbabwe was inimical to the full enjoyment of the right to access of information as enshrined in the Global Political Agreement(GPA) and other regional and international conventions.   

Kufa said the Very High Frequency (VHF) which is being used for both television and sound broadcasting purposes in Zimbabwe can accommodate more operators though it has some inherent bandwidth limitations.

“Let’s take Harare in accordance with our VHF band two spectrum from 88MHz-108MHz, this spectrum only carries six operators whereas in Kenya and South Africa it used to carry more than 10 radio operators under the analogue system,” Kufa said.  

He said in television, authorities were lying that there was purported frequency spectrum saturation yet Zimbabwe can have nine TV channels operating on the VHF band three spectrum which is designated for TV transmission under the analogue system.
 
“Out of the nine channels available nationally, only channel five for TV one and channel eight for ZTV two are occupied, which therefore means that there are seven channels unoccupied in Harare only,” Kufa said.

“In addition to this, we have eight unused channels nationwide since TV two covers Harare and its environs.  

“There is also a possibility of BAZ (Broadcasting authority of Zimbabwe) harnessing private players on the ZTV channel two when it closes transmission to other broadcasters as they used to lease airwaves for channel two during the days of Joy TV and Munhumutapa broadcasting rather than Transmedia wasting power by transmitting test patterns.”  

He said there was another band one (channel three-four) operating from 68MHz-88MHz which used to carry TV one until 1992 when it was surrendered by the ZBC back to Posts and Telecommunications Regulatory Authority of Zimbabwe (POTRAZ) and is currently empty.  

“To this end, POTRAZ must release this VHF band one to other TV operators since the hardware still exists in transmitters,” he said.  

On community radios, he said POTRAZ must expedite the assizing  of transmission  equipment  to pave way for the operation  of community radios.

Zimbabwe has many community radio stations ready to go on air including Bulawayo-bas=ed Radio Dialogue, Community Radio Harare, Masvingo-based Wezhira, Mutare-based Kumakomo, Kwekwe Radio Station and the others.

Zimbabwe says the Broadcasting Authority of Zimbabwe (BAZ) can only be able to provide a three-tier system of broadcasting when the country has digitised by 2015, which is the deadline set by the International Telecommunications Union (ITU) to have all transmission in Sadc countries digitised by then.

But Kufa says this process requires huge capital investments which Zimbabwe does not have at the moment.

“This demand is imperative especially during the election cycle that is the pre-election, during voting and post-election, critical to enable the electorate to make informed electoral choices and discuss post-election transformation processes such as the continued peace preservation necessary for national progress.” Kufa said. - Staff Writer

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