According to results of the Zimbabwe All Media and Products Survey (ZAMPS) released this week viewership of ZBC’s most watched peak hour programme, News Hour, led the decline with a 26 percent drop from the previous quarter. Only 24 percent of the Zimbabwean population now watches ZBCTV 1 at any given time down from a high of 38 percent in 2008.
“Peak membership times for all channels remained between 6:30 pm and 9 pm with the highest number of viewers being recorded between 8pm and 8:30 pm,” read the findings in part. “However audience at this peak for ZBC TVI dropped by almost 50 percent against (results of) the previous quarter.”
About 59 percent of the sampled urban population said they did not think ZBC TV had any programmes to offer.
Listeners of ZBC radio stations also continued to decline in the last quarter of 2010 while satelite television viewership remained constant at 46 percent although free to air subscription dropped by a percentage point from 82 percent.
Despite this survey the state-owned broadcaster has launched a blitz against Harare motorists. The station has dispatched its inspectors, sometimes accompanied by the Zimbabwe Republic Police officers, to pounce on motorists at traffic lights, shopping centres and parking lots in Harare and demand spot fines. The inspectors have also been leaving intimidatory notices on the windscreen of motorists, asking them to pay for their licences or risk arrest.
“You are required to pay your licence at the stated date, failure of which will result in your arrest,” read one notice left on the windscreen of one car at Avondale Shopping Centre in Harare.
One motorist who spoke to Radio VOP said he will never pay the fees even if it means getting arrested.
“Why should I pay for something that I don’t need? I don’t listen to ZBC neither do I watch ZBC TV. If they were asking me to pay for Studio 7, I would have done so,” said Tapiwa Marwadze a youthful motorist while throwing away the notice for him to pay up his licence left for him on his car’s windscreen.
ZAMPS is a survey commissioned by the Zimbabwe Advertising Research Foundation to provide information on media and consumption. The latest study was carried between October and December last year.
The inclusive government has failed to liberalise the airwaves despite evidence that Zimbabweans are not happy with ZBC’s output, which remains heavily biased towards Zanu (PF).