THE Parliamentary Portfolio committee on Information, Media and Broadcasting Services has bemoaned the paltry $5,5 million allocated to the Information, Media and Broadcasting Services ministry saying the low budget levels would scuttle plans to migrate from analogue to digital platforms by June next year.
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Committee member Mbizo MP Settlement Chikwinya (MDC-T) last week said apart from meeting the needs of digitalisation, Zimbabwe also needed to clean its battered political image, while Makonde MP Kindness Paradza (Zanu PF) said State broadcaster, Zimbabwe Broadcasting Corporation (ZBC) had obsolete equipment which needed to be replaced.
“This money is too little for us to be able to cleanse our image, especially where we are coming from as a nation with regards to the realities of politics,” Chikwinya said.
“It means we are also not prepared to meet the digitalisation programme, of which the consequences are drastic if we fail to meet it to the extent that we are going to lose our sovereignty in as far as the control of airwaves is concerned,” he said.
Committee chairperson William Dhewa (Umzingwane MP, Zanu PF) said the country required $173 million in order to be digitally compliant.
Chikwinya said what was also disturbing was the fact that broadcasting gadgets such as television sets will no longer be compatible with digitalised platforms.
“In 2015 we need to take a stance, especially since our people continue to buy goods from South Africa and we do not want other countries to be dumping outgoing products to Zimbabwe. Our people are going to suffer the consequences if we do not meet the June 2015 deadline of the International Telecommunications Union.”
Paradza said the amount was too little given that there will be need for monitoring of new radio stations.
“They are talking about issuing 25 other licences for radio stations, but they have not done so because there is no funding.
The Zimbabwe Media Council (ZMC) is a statutory body, but for three years now the commissioners have not been doing their work because there is no money allocated to ZMC. If the minister does not have money to develop the Zimbabwe Film School, it should be transferred to State universities so that it is taken care of,” Paradza said.
Mabvuku-Tafara MP James Maridadi (MDC-T) said ZBC also needed $5 million for restructuring and production of quality programmes.