TELEVISION FOR TANZANIA?

“Mainland Tanzania is one of the few parts of Africa that has not installed television despite the fact that Zanzibar TV was one of the first to bring this service to its people” reported New Africa in its October 1986 edition. “Originally mainland Tanzania turned down the idea for ideological reasons. – a radio service would cost far less and reach more people in the remoter rural areas – but now it is the sheer cost of the exercise that is the problem.” “But the wind of change that has been shaking some of the more hard and fast tenets of Tanzanian socialism in the wake of Nyerere’e departure from office has contributed to a renewed interest in the medium.

The establishment of a TV service in the 1980’s is immensely costly, particularly in a country as large and as thinly inhabited as Tanzania which, it is estimated, would require at least 20 transmitters to blanket the mainland with broadcasts…… The arguments for and against a Tanzanian TV station have been aired regularly in the newspapers. One conclusion is that Tanzania should aim to develop a village based ‘Peasant TV’. A look at Zanzibar’s TV service shows how hazardous such a venture could be for the mainland. Zanzibar TV (ZTV) was founded by President Karume in 1974 at a cost of TShs 25 million…… The Government’s target was to establish a popular service that would not only entertain but would also contribute to national development efforts. Those consumers ZTV sought most to serve were the ones living in the rural areas where there is no electricity. The Government overcame the problem by installing a receiver, running off a car battery, in every branch of the ruling CCM party. Access to the service was free to all villagers and still is, though most of the television sets no longer work.

We had a good take off in the beginning said a ZTV spokesperson, but we haven’t made much headway. The worsening financial situation has seriously affected the quality of programming. Contracts with news agencies have had to be shelved …… Mainland Tanzanians should take a look across the Zanzibar channel before embarking on the tough road to setting up their own television system.”

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