By Kenneth Matimaire
Mutare, March 01, 2016 – ZIMBABWEANS will no longer afford to view television programmes for free after the completion of the digitalisation roll out process as authorities have devised a pay per view mechanism, TransMedia chief executive officer, Florence Sigudu Matambo said.
Matambo said local viewers are expected to fork out between $45 to $75 dollars per annum to watch local television programmes.
She said the development comes after the government has devised a mechanism called Subscribers Management System (SMS) and Conditional Access System (CAS), under its digitalisation exercise, which bar unsubscribed viewers from receiving signals.
“Once you are receiving signals, we want you to pay. And you will receive a signal at home using your Set Top Box on condition that you have paid. If you have not paid, you cannot receive the signal,” she said.
TransMedia will be in charge of the Head–end which receives transmission from all television producers before sending them as a single signal to compatible television sets or Set Top Boxes widely known as decoders.
However, Matambo said specific Set Top Boxes; compatible with the signals will be rolled out by authorised dealers at a subsidised price of $25.
“You cannot use any other decoder other than the one that speaks to this system. The one that will be distributed to viewers through this project, so you cannot go onto the open market and buy any Set Top Box that you want,” she said.
Technically, this means cash strapped Zimbabweans who have failed to buy viewer’s licences to watch programmes on the country’s sole broadcaster, ZBC, will not afford to do the same during the new digitalisation exercise.
Viewers who spoke to RadioVOP expressed dismay over the latest development as a breach of right to access the media.
“This is wrong, the constitution said every citizen has a right to access to media and now they are putting conditions towards that right,” charged Ronald Mawoyo.
Another viewer Ernest Mureza said it defied logic for government to coerce people to subscribe to an ailing television station.
“They should come clean on their intentions, if they want to fundraise from heavily-taxed Zimbabweans in order to resuscitate an ailing broadcaster, whose coffers have been depleted by greedy executives, let it be known.
“Personally, I don’t think I will lose anything if they switch me off,” said Mureza.
The sentiments were widely shared by a cross-section of viewers who spoke to RadioVOP.
Moreover, various content producers also expressed their reluctance to send their content to ZBC citing their outstanding payments dating back to five years ago.