Govt bolsters television programmes funding

Takudzwa Chihambakwe
GOVERNMENT has upped television production funding through the ongoing Zimbabwe Digital Broadcasting (ZimDigital) migration project.

For long, local filmmakers have struggled due to lack of funding but that now appears to be a thing of the past.

Since 2016, the ZimDigital programme has positively affected filmmakers with fresh productions being consistently introduced on Zimbabwe Broadcasting Corporation Television (ZTV).

The ongoing migration from analogue to digital television broadcasting will result in the creation of more television channels and consequently boost appetite for content.

Overseer of the ZimDigital programme and Broadcasting Authority of Zimbabwe (BAZ) chief executive officer, Mr Obert Muganyuri said the project is part of Government’s initiatives in supporting content creation.

“The whole project is supervised by the Ministry of Information, Media and Broadcasting Services and has three institutions that work together, namely, BAZ, Transmedia and ZBC. BAZ is the lead institution as the signatory to the contract for the digitalisation project in line with the Broadcasting Services Act and policy guidance from the parent ministry,” explained Mr Muganyuri.

He revealed that plans to acquire more production machinery have already been set afoot.

A total of 327 people were engaged during the first and second phases of content production while a total of 375 people were trained during two phases of training.

“So far we have held twenty-one content sessions across the country, targeting provincial capitals and speech communities. A total of 76 cameras have been acquired together with other equipment such as editing machines and lights. The response by content producers has been overwhelming,” he said.

“We have completed two phases of content production, one in 2016 covering 14 full season productions and the second in 2017 covering 11 full season productions. The third phase is currently on and will be covering 18 full season productions.”

Productions such as “Celeb Café”, “Dreamers”, “Chikwambo”, “Animal Health”, “Seiko”, “Esigabeni”, and “Paivepo”, which have been shown on ZTV, are products of the ZimDigital initiative with budgets ranging from US$10 000 up to US$30 000.

Under the ZimDigital project, everyone in the cast is paid directly from Government funds.

This has eliminated situations in which producers and/or directors were pocketing all proceeds under the guise that they were yet to receive payment from ZBC.

“This method of payment was adopted right from the beginning as we became aware of the challenge of lump sum disbursements to persons in control of productions. Apart from the risk of the cast and crew being short changed by those in control, an even bigger risk is the money being diverted to other uses other than the intended purpose,” said Mr Muganyuri.

“We believe the approach that we have taken safeguards against such risks and also protects those who provide production services.”

But is all the content generated under the ZimDigital programme intended for ZBC?

“The films are not strictly for ZBC although they (ZBC) may just be the current beneficiary in the absence of other television players, particularly on those productions that are perishable or those for which the rights are acquired for a short period of time.

“The rights to the production remain with the producer who is being assisted in the context of the purpose of the broadcasting fund with the idea being that of storing programmes so that they can be made available to any player who would be riding on the digital platform to complement their own production efforts.”

Production funds are available through BAZ’s Broadcasting Fund from Government.

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