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Movie-fever grips Zimbabwe

MEDIOCRE programming and the glaring absence of variety on Zimbabwe television (ZTV) have prompted an audience exodus to the cinemas where the masses have found solace, Independent Xtra has established.

=”Verdana, Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif”>The exodus has among other factors been compounded by soaring digital satellite television subscriptions which are beyond the reach of many, while mushrooming digital versatile disc (DVD) burning shops and video clubs have played a contributing part.

ZTV recently brewed a shocker television and radio licence fee which skyrocketed from $12 000 to $600 000, a 4 900% increase but the embattled station is yet to justify its exorbitant charges as most products in its new programming remain largely unchanged.

A ZTV employee who spoke to Independent Xtra on condition of anonymity said it wasn’t surprising to note that the station’s traditional audiences were dwindling in favour of the movie houses: “That to me comes as no surprise,” she said. “People are fed up with outdated programmes which are recycled from the archives.”

Contacted for comment, one of the country’s biggest cinema companies, Rainbow managing director, Jimmy Pereira, attributed the unprecedented movie turn out to stress, among a host of factors.

“All over the world,” he said, “in times of stress people look for entertainment, it’s like medicine to them.” He added that Zimbabwe is amongst the top countries with the highest occupancy rate in the world. Occupancy rate refers to the total percentage of seats occupied by individuals in a cinema at any given time. He said the trend of rising movie goers is uniform at cinemas in Bulawayo, and Mutare.

Ster Kinekor managing director, Patson Mago, said the new development can be attributed to the fact that cinemas offer the cheapest entertainment thereby allowing a cross section of people to converge at the movie houses.

However, movie critic, Joel White, begged to differ, maintaining that the advent of the movie fever is not caused by poor television programming nor diminishing use of newspapers, but is rather a result of “teenagers principle of milling around”.

“They don’t visit movies because they’ve an interest in the film. They sit there the entire day playing with their cellular phones and talking just to kill time.” – Staff Writer.

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