ZBH under fire-(08-02-07

HARARE - The state-owned Zimbabwe Broadcasting Holdings (ZBH), is reported to be facing a serious cash flow problem in the face of competition from satellite television, and has hiked its television licence fees to a shocking $150,000 per annum.
The huge hike in licence fees has drawn howls of

protests from viewers who feel the fee is too hefty considering ZBH’s shoddy programming. Besides, this is even way above the average income of a professional at ZBH.
Acting Information minister Paul Mangwana also slammed ZBH’s programming during a workshop attended by journalists in Midlands last week, saying the national broadcaster would lose more viewers if it continued dishing out its half-baked programmes.
Just last month the national broadcaster paid its workers almost six days late amid reports the cash squeeze at the institution was deepening.
According to our sources, ZBH owes the Income Tax Department millions in taxes deducted from its employees but not forwarded to the department. The corporation also owes Old Mutual, an insurance company, in pension contributions.
Both the Department of Taxes and Old Mutual are said to have taken tough measures to recover their money, thereby plunging the corporation into deeper financial crisis. The situation is said to be so bad that ZBH is reportedly mulling selling all its apartments in the capital city Harare, as well as those in Zimbabwe’s second city, Bulawayo, in a desperate attempt to raise money. And last week taps were dry at the national broadcaster’s Pockets Hills Studios amid reports water authority ZINWA had cut off water supplies over late payment.
The national broadcaster is also said to be considering retrenching 300 workers in a restructuring exercise. The exercise, reportedly instigated by the unbundling of ZBH’s strategic business units, has already claimed the scalp of Newsnet co-editor-in-chief Chris Chivinge. The new CEO Henry Muradzikwa’s turnaround efforts are said to be frustrated by Information ministry perm sec George Charamba, who is reportedly refusing to implement his recommendations. Muradzikwa could not be reached for comment.
Meanwhile, a Newsnet TV provincial bureau chief is facing rape charges. Newsnet’s Masvingo bureau chief Nathaniel Mlambo was last week dragged into police custody on rape charges.

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