INFORMATION, Media and Broadcasting Services deputy minister Supa Mandiwanzira has hinted that private television stations could be licensed by January 2015 and applications would be invited by August.
According to the official parliamentary publication Hansard, Mandiwandzira told the National Assembly during oral answers to questions without notice on Wednesday that digitalisation of broadcasting services would be achieved by June 2015 in line with the requirements of the International Telecommunications Union (ITU).
This was in response to a question by Kuwadzana MP Nelson Chamisa who wanted to know when new television players would be licensed.
“Once again, the question was about independent TV stations. So I needed to clarify that we are not going to have independent TV stations.
“We are going to have private television stations. Private television stations are not independent; they are private. The question was when are we going to have them? We anticipate that by January 2015 we will have private players licensed to offer television broadcasting in this country,” Mandiwanzira said.
“Advertising or invitations for applications of these licences are expected to be announced by the Broadcasting Authority of Zimbabwe (BAZ) not later than August, for those that want to apply for television channels,” Mandiwandzira said.
According to Mandiwandzira, digitalisation of broadcast services would be achieved by June 2015 in line with the requirements of the ITU which set that deadline for all member nations to digitalise their broadcasting services and therefore opening up the airwaves.
“It would not be difficult to switch off analogue. We can even do it today, but what is important is that we are able to migrate from analogue to digital with the rest of the world.
“We are committed as the ministry to be able to meet that deadline.
“We are mobilising resources right now to be able to meet the digitalisation of all transmission in the country through transmedia and we hope that by June 2015, we will be able to switch off analogue and switch on digital for our consumers,” he added.
The present analogue system uses only 24 transmitters with some parts of the country failing to get radio and television signals.
Last year in September, the Information, Media and Broadcasting Services ministry said about 40 new commercial television licences would be issued after completion of digitalisation in June 2015, marking the beginning of the end of the State-owned Zimbabwe Broadcasting Corporation monopoly.