THE Parliamentary Portfolio Committee on Media, Information and Broadcasting Services has called for an immediate ban on importation of non-digitally compliant television sets, saying the gadgets were likely to cause the country to miss its June 2015 digitalisation deadline.
In a report tabled in Parliament last Thursday, committee chairperson Umzingwane MP William Dewa (Zanu PF) said there was still a lot of work to be done in order to meet the deadline, adding the $173 million needed for digitalisation should be released urgently.
“The importation of non-digitally compliant television sets is derailing the government efforts and adds costs to consumers who will need to either throw out the analogue system or buy set-top boxes,” read the report.
“Government must ban the importation of television sets that are not digitally compliant and the subsidised value of the set-top boxes should be factored in the cost of licences.”
The committee said the digitalisation programme had the capacity to self-finance through a digital dividend which would raise $200 million against the total costs of digitalisation of $173 million.
Parliamentarians noted that so far only 10 sites had been digitalised against a target of 38 sites countrywide.
The committee also said there was need to revamp the film industry to capitalise on the envisaged increased number of television players.
“Awareness campaigns must be intensified as a strategy to inform and educate the public on digitalisation programmes and effects. In anticipation of new players in the television sector due to the digitalisation programme, there is need to revamp and capacitate the film industry to be able to meet the local content requirements as stipulated by the law. Government must put in place a favourable tax regime to facilitate the digitalisation programme.”
The committee said re-alignment of media laws with the new Constitution was imperative as failure to do so could result in citizens being arrested on provisions that were inconsistent with the new Constitution, as well as media stakeholders engaging in costly litigation.