Hard decisions needed for ZBC

When one looks at the history of television in Southern Africa, there is one fact that will disturb and confuse everyone. Zimbabwe was one of the first countries to introduce television in the region and why broadcasting in the country has regressed to the levels it is today boggles the mind.

The tremendous benefits that television has brought to societies have been lost in the Zimbabwean broadcasting arena. The quality of broadcasting in the country with a people so inventive has done nothing but insult people’s intelligence.

Perhaps the question to be asked is what is the real problem, particularly with the state broadcaster, Zimbabwe Broadcasting Corporation, which has enjoyed monopoly of the airwaves for a long time?

Save for the well-known fact that ZBC has tragically chosen to be a mouthpiece for a political party, a fact that has hugely compromised the quality of its content, there are many other factors that have contributed to the state it is in today.

A media analyst, who has worked for ZBC in the past and prefers to be referred to as Simbarashe, says that the major problem is the absence of an operational business model that governs its operations.

“ZBC operates on an ambiguous model that I prefer to refer to as the appeasement model where they provide coverage to anything and everything that is Zanu (PF) aligned at the expense of making a profit. As such, ZBC can cover the annual Zanu (PF) conference for free and yet request ridiculous sums of money from other political parties for a similar event.”

Perhaps one of the most undoing factors of ZBC is the quality of its senior management. “The recruitment criteria for senior personnel is equally contentious as there is no clear cut policy. Qualifications do not seem to be related to whether a person gets a top job at the station in most cases,” said my analyst.

The direct result of this is extremely dampened staff morale, with most employees coming to work unmotivated. An unmotivated staff is the least enthusiastic bunch particularly when they go months on end with no salaries. The effects of are such a combination are dire, with the ultimate one being loss of audiences and consequently revenue.

What is the way forward for ZBC, to reclaim its rightful place in Southern Africa broadcasting as well as be the channel of choice for our citizens? One of the solutions that clearly emerges is the need for a distinctly defined Results Based Management framework, where managers are called to account for deliverables.

However, that first step is only possible if the broadcaster moves away from being an appendage of a political party and becomes an organisation that balances national interests with audience research, market trends and revenue sources.

But someone has to take a stance and make some hard and possibly unpopular decisions to turn its fortunes around. We are yet to see such a man or woman.

Post published in: News

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *