HARARE – Zimbabwe Newspapers (1980) Ltd has been granted a television broadcasting licence by the Broadcasting Authority of Zimbabwe, making the media firm the first and only fully integrated media house in Zimbabwe with a footprint in publishing and digital, radio broadcasting, printing and packaging and now television broadcasting.
The content distribution licence comes at a time when the Zimpapers Group had already set up Zimpapers Television Network (ZTN) as a production house. Headed by veteran journalist Nomsa Nkala, ZTN is already making a name for itself on the market where it has been producing documentaries and corporate videos for corporates and organisations.
The Content Distribution Services Licence will not only give Zimpapers Group a unique opportunity to offer high quality television programming but a wider reach for its story-telling prowess, opening up more portals for content-creation and distribution.
Zimpapers Group Chief Executive Pikirayi Deketeke said the awarding of the license; which will see the Group tapping into the growing viewers market; fulfills Zimpapers' long held dream to be a fully fledged media house and brings to culmination nearly a decade of investments beyond the traditional print business.
The Group’s bouquet will target over 3 million households offering various content products at a low cost.
Deketeke chronicled the diversification journey undertaken by the business; saying after over a century of sustained growth, it became clear in 2011 that Zimpapers needed to seriously broaden its media footprint beyond print to include the new growth areas of digital media and broadcasting. Even though Zimpapers was and still is the dominant media player, there was a real threat that the business could decline if it remained solely tethered on print publications.
Reading habits were changing and newspapers sales were taking a knock across the board. With increased access to smart gadgets and the Internet many of the readers were turning to other platforms to access news.
"As a fast thinking business, we carried out surveys. We looked around at what regional competitors and global players in the same business were doing. Kenya, South Africa, the United Kingdom, the United States and Australia were some of the markets we looked at," he said.
"It became obvious that media was no longer just about newspapers and print products even though they remain important. We realized that digital was becoming big. We also realized that broadcasting was also a profitable avenue for distribution of our content. We then thought long and hard about how we could tap into that. After all, as Zimpapers, our competitive edge has always been content creation. We operate as a content factory that creates content and disseminates it across various platforms.
"Broadcasting, therefore, became something we got interested in with our plan being to start with radio first and then television. Our plan was to ensure that as Zimpapers we were covered across the whole spectrum- text, voice and video."
The group then crafted a five-year strategic plan at the end of 2011, which has become the road map for its various investments.
That is how Star FM; the group's first broadcast project was born in 2012.
"We decided to start with a national radio station before going into a metro station, Diamond FM. In line with the five year plan we met our targeted timeframe to have Diamond FM operating by the end of 2015," said Deketeke.
"Our interest in radio continued to grow such that when Kingstons Limited came to us knocking with its two radio licences for Harare and Kariba we obliged by entering into a management contract to run Capitalk FM and Nyaminyami FM, two radio projects that are experiencing phenomenal growth both in terms of audiences and business potential."
Today, Zimpapers has a Radio Broadcasting Division led by veteran broadcaster Comfort Mbofana, which takes care of the radio interests. It also has a Digital and Publishing Division led by General Manager Marks Shayamano that runs all its newspapers and digital platforms. A third arm is the Commercial Printing Division led by Njabulo Nkomo, with its flagship being ISO certified printer, Natprint.
"Our eyes, however, remained fixed on the big prize, television. Three years ago Zimpapers Television Network project began to take shape. We appointed former Sunday Mail Deputy Editor Nomsa Nkala to lead a team of content producers and technical experts, who began creating content, waiting for the opportunity to lodge our bid with the Broadcasting Authority of Zimbabwe," he said.
"A lot of work has gone into content creation such that we promise our viewers and advertisers a new experience in television viewing."
Nkala described the latest development as ‘a new era in the history of Zimbabwe’s media, something the industry in its totality has been looking forward to. It is clear from world trends that the domain in journalism has shifted from solely print to multi-media platforms and this is what we are embracing as Zimpapers.”