Film makers urge govt to professionalise ZBC

HARARE - The Zimbabwe Film Industry Development Platform (ZFIDP), founded three years ago by a number of stakeholders in the local film industry, has urged the government to urgently appoint a new professional board and management at the Zimbabwe Broadcasting Corporation (ZBC).

In a letter to Media, Information and Broadcasting Services permanent secretary, George Charamba, ZFIDP emphasised the importance of ZBC in the revival of the local film industry.

“Important positions (at ZBC) which need to be filled by competent and experienced individuals include: chief executive officer, chief financial officer and the head of programming.

“The net for these positions should be cast far and wide, so that the very best talent can be found. Board Members should be experienced professionals representing various sectors of the industry: advertising agencies, film production, finance, journalism, culture and arts, etc.,” read part of the comprehensive letter signed by ZFIDP chairperson Anthony Mutambira.

The film makers also urged the government to enable the national broadcaster to meet international standards.

“In addition it is advisable that international consultants are engaged to assist the broadcaster to quickly develop and maintain global standards.

“Finally, new management should nurture a more co-operative and collaborative relationship between ZBC and outside production companies, so that there is an open and transparent flow of information and together we work towards achieving common goals,” said ZFIDP.

ZFIDP also believes that the local film industry will develop at a faster race once private broadcasters are licensed.

“Local television is key for the development of a film and media industry, since it provides the first market for content on various different quality levels and will be the starting point for the majority of young filmmakers in all skill areas.

“This process should begin immediately. Dismantling the monopoly currently held by ZBC will also force it to be competitive, which is in everyone’s long term interests. IT should be noted that TV advertising also represents a sizable commercial industry in the production of content, and this is also depressed as a result of low viewer numbers for current local television options,” said the film makers.

ZFIDP also wants the government to enforce use of local productions by Zimbabwean television stations.

“(Government must) insist broadcasters meet the required percentage of local content as defined in the broadcast act. This will stimulate production. In addition, minority language programming should also be produced and made available,” reads part of the long letter.

Another matter that ZFIDP wants addressed as a matter of urgency is centralisation of police clearances for filming in public and the issuance of permits.

“(Government must) ensure permits are easy to obtain and in general encourage a positive government policy towards filmmakers…Reorganise police clearances for filming in public so that they are handled by one central office and ensure fees are not extortionate.  This service would in time be handled by a Film Commission.”