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Kwese TV, Zimbabwe and the mirage of digitalisation

 

The latter however later lost its content rights for the Zimbabwe territory and migrated elsewhere.

This left Muzavazi without a partner.

His company’s attempt to launch BOStv was slapped down by BAZ, which said it was contrary to the terms of his licence.

In 2014, hoping to curry favour and have the terms of his licence altered, he invoked the magic word “ZimAsset”, saying he had confidence BAZ would authorise BOStv “in line with the social and economic interests of Zimbabwe and our government’s economic blueprint, ZimAsset”.

It didn’t work.

In the end, it appears, there were two desperate entities; Kwese had the content but no licence, while Dr Dish had the licence but no content partner.

It was soon announced that a deal had been struck between the two.

This, obviously, would have raised eyebrows at BAZ and inside Government.

This week, BAZ announced that Dr Dish’s licence had, in fact, been cancelled back when it failed to launch services under MyTV.

Dr Dish, on its part, insists that its licence, which it says was valid for 10 years, was never cancelled. 

“We notified our regulator that we were partnering with Kwese, and gave them the full details of the channels we were going to bring to the nation, together with a whole host of other technical information,” Muzavazi said this week.

Media and entertainment is big business in Africa.

Naspers, owners of DStv, makes annual revenue of over $3 billion from its TV business.

The government, and its associates such as those at Africom, obviously know this.

They will work hard to keep the competition away, even when they themselves have no idea how to exploit the space.

There is a lot of evidence to show that the government only wants broadcasting for political control, but has no idea how to exploit it commercially and create real jobs.

The digitisation programme has remained an illusion, the subject of hollow speeches to content creators at endless seminars.

The government claims digitization will create 12 new TV stations, six of which will go to ZBC, which is already failing to run just one station.

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ZBC does not have enough content to fill its 24 hours, according to CEO Patrick Mavhura recently.

This is because it has no money to pay producers for their content.

At times, ZBC actually expects to be paid for content, as it did when the local PSL tried to sell rights to the local premiership.

The PSL sold them to SuperSport instead.

Even government’s own producers are struggling for an outlet.

Zimpapers TV Network, which has piled up many hours of content waiting for a licence, has recently had to sell material to a Zambian TV station, Fresh TV.

Many other Zimbabwean creatives have had to find outlets for their content elsewhere, especially on DStv’s Zambezi TV.

If was the government sincere about promoting local content, they would allow broadcasters to compete, and compel them to buy some of their content from the many talented Zimbabwean creatives that right now have no local outlet for their craft.

Instead, it’s an indictment on the government that central bank now complains that over $200 million left the country in the last half of 2016 to pay for DStv.

It is an industry that could create jobs; real jobs, not the ones made for political promises.

Such as those by Information and Broadcasting Minister Chris Mushohwe, who recently claimed digitisation would create four million jobs and rake in $1.5 billion per year.

For perspective; four million jobs would mean a third of the economy working in TV and film, and a four million workforce would also be twice the size of that of Hollywood, a $600-billion industry.

As for Mushohwe’s $1.5 billion a year earnings, it is plausible that a third of the national budget would come from entertainment.

But not knowing anything about an industry has never stopped the government from wanting to control it.

It is enough for them just to know there is money in TV, and that nobody else should make it. It is case of “if I can’t have it, nobody else should.”

Broadcasting is a business that the government will always fight to control, even though it doesn’t know what to do with it, except to keep it to itself.

Above everything, the government does not want independent voices on air.

Political control, without economic benefit for all, has always been its hallmark.- The Source

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