Zimbabwe’s first independent television station — 1st TV — will begin broadcasting at 6pm tomorrow to provide a much-needed fillip for millions of owners of free-to-air satellite decoders such as Wiztech.
Owners of free-to-air decoders were left stranded last month after Sentech encrypted the South African Broadcasting Corporation (SABC) signals in compliance with a High Court order.
The 1st TV signal can be accessed via the free-to-air satellite platform which most citizens turned to after ZBC escalated its
propaganda against President Robert Mugabe’s opponents following the advent of the MDC in 2000.
According to information supplied to Southern Eye yesterday by its sponsors, 1st TV will provide impartial and factual news as well as broadcasting popular films, soap operas and comedies.
The 1st TV team comprises respected former ZBC producer-presenter Temba Hove, Short Wave Radio Africa’s hard-hitting interviewer Violet Gonda and executive producer Andrew Chadwick.
The promoters of the television station noted that over the past seven years, hundreds of thousands of Zimbabwean households disgruntled with Zanu PF propaganda installed free-to-air decoders, indicating a desire for quality, independent information and entertainment not available on the State broadcaster.
They added that with the recent removal of SABC from the free-to-air satellite platform, Zimbabweans had once again been at the mercy of biased reporting in the State media.
“Thirty-three years after independence, it is high time that the people get what they demand and deserve with respect to their right to information and that is the role that 1st TV will play,” Hove said.
“This exciting project means that Zimbabweans will now have a station that not only broadcasts to them, but also will serve as a platform for all people to express their views and to share information about what is happening in their areas and in their lives. We know that the people want a service that is professional, that reports without fear or favour and is responsive to their needs, and that is 1st TV,” added Chadwick who has worked for Sky News and as communications director in the Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai’s office until 2011.
In addition to being available via satellite, 1st TV will also have a strong presence on social media, which will allow Zimbabweans to influence and guide the growth and direction of the channel in terms of both news and entertainment.