Uproar over scrambling of SABC channels

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HARARE – Zimbabweans on Tuesday bemoaned the scrambling of South African Broadcasting Corporation (SABC) channels on free-to-air decoders, saying it was now time Zimbabwe’s airwaves were opened to private players.

SABC said in a statement they have introduced a new decoder “Vivid” which only South African viewers will use to access SABC channels.

“From Monday July 1, 2013 you will need the new and improved Vivid decoder to receive SABC TV 1, 2, 3 and all SABC Radios (signal),” said the statement.

“From this date onwards, you will not be able to receive SABC services on the current decoders.”

The press release further states that residents would require a smart card/decoder number, South African proof of residence, valid identification (ID or passport) and a valid TV licence to buy the new decoders.

SABC has licensed Sentech, TelJoy and Elsat to sell the new decoders but they do not work outside South Africa even when bought for use in neighbouring countries.

Zimbabweans are struggling to come to terms with this new development.

“It’s tight. Our freedom to access of information has been robbed. The channels were especially helping us students do our research and keep up-to-date with technological developments that are going on around the world. We were also getting a variety of news reports from around the world. The channels also had much better entertainment than offered on ZTV,” said Munyaradzi Rimbi a student.

“This does not work. Some of us who are football fans are going to miss out on a great deal of action. I stayed up late the other day waiting for the Uruguay-Italy match and now I will have to settle for delayed matches on ZTV if at all they get to show these matches. SABC also showed great soapies like Generations and Muvhango, what at ZTV can compare to that? Only repeats of Studio 263? I think government should work out something for private broadcasters to come into play, if they really want to satisfy our interests,” operations manager Marjory Mugoni added.

“It is not us alone who have lost, but advertisers as well. You see, many Zimbabwe would go to South Africa to buy goods they would have seen being advertised on these channels, promotions and sales as well. Since we have relatives in South Africa, we would also get their well-being on SABC news. And also because we are frequent travellers to the country, the channels would give us a preview of the country’s environment,” complained Dhobha Moyowatidhi an entrepreneur.

“What are we going to watch now they have switched them off? Certainly not ZTV! Not everyone can afford to subscribe to DStv every month, its expensive. Our children were learning a lot from the children programmes that were showing on SABC. It’s a shame really, but what can we do?” security administrator Shamiso Makonola said.

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