CHOICE-starved Zimbabwe television viewers are queuing up to sign up for DStv after their pirated "free-to-air" channels were blocked.
Zimbabwe only has one television station, which is owned by the state. Its single channel beams censored programmes everyday. It also devotes more time on paying homage to President Robert Mugabe and other liberation heroes.
Predictably, those who could not afford DStv ended up using pirate broadcasting receivers. This system, known as WizTech, enabled them to watch nearly all DStv programmes for free.
The equipment, comprising a satellite dish and a decoder, was brought in from Botswana by cross-border traders.
The WizTech also enables users to watch some European channels such as France 24 for free.
However, in the last few weeks, television broadcasters, including e.tv, have managed to block the free-to-air pirate decoders.
SABC is expected to do the same soon.
As expected, Zimbabwe's state media have been gloating about the end of the free ride.
These days there is no proof anyone still watches Zimbabwe Broadcasting Corporation's (ZBC) stale television.
News of the blocking of free-to-air channels was this week met with glee by the ZBC, which is in dire need of viewers. It took it upon itself to broadcast the blocking of free-to-air television broadcasts.
However, hundreds of pro-choice viewers have turned to DStv rather than endure ZBC's slanted broadcasts.
On Saturday, DStv in Avondale, Harare, had to close its doors after a huge crowd gathered outside. Insiders say between last Friday and yesterday more than 700 people have reactivated their DStv accounts.
Desperate viewers were paying up to R960 for a decoder and about R500 for the service to be activated - even though most of them earn less than R1600 a month.
Zimbabweans have fallen in love with SA soapies including Isidingo and Generations.
DStv officials, who were doing brisk business, said the upsurge in demand was linked to the move to block free-to-air television broadcasts from South Africa.