The 1990s saw the phenomenal growth of the mobile sector in Africa turning millions of people into the proud owners of a phone. This growth was made possible by opening Africa's telecoms market to new investment and competition, lowering prices and increasing choice. Broadcasting is about to go through the same cycle only twenty years later, writes Russell Southwood, and Africa's broadcast industry may see the same kind of growth.
IP-TV has crept up slowly on Africa. The pioneers have introduced it without much fanfare. It is an activity that exemplifies the word convergence and is probably one against which the reality of this idea will be judged on the continent. Currently, IP-TV is being offered in a small number of African countries: Algeria, Benin, Egypt, Cape Verde, Mauritius, Morocco and Senegal. Others like South Africa are planning to enter the market. The question is: will the pioneers of IP-TV get the arrows and the settlers (who come along later) get the land?
A meeting of the South African Parliament's Communications Portfolio Committee offered the first glimpse of an independent television production sector struggling to assert itself against the old monopoly ways. With the exception of Nigeria, where they nearly always do things differently, Africa's independent television producers have almost no space in which to earn a living. Russell Southwood seeks to explain why this matter for the development of broadcasting on the continent.
The Nation (Nairobi) reported on February 3rd that NTV Uganda has been switched off air for the second time in a week. The shutdown came at 9.10am on February 2nd, barely two days after its signal was reinstated by the Uganda Broadcasting Corporation.
Outside of Sub-Saharan Africa’s larger country markets, Africa’s cinemas are few in number relative to population sizes and nearly always in poor shape. A recent transition to digital cinema in South Africa shows that Africa can lead with technical innovations. But the impact of digital cinema may also have a role to play in reviving the sagging fortunes of Africa’s cinemas elsewhere. Russell Southwood looks at what might become possible.
The radio sector in Africa is flourishing in those places where liberalisation has allowed anyone to launch a radio station. Radio is almost certainly Africa’s most distributed broadcast medium. So how does intense competition work in a very small market? Russell Southwood spoke to the founder of Gambia’s Unique FM about surviving in a small market, innovating to keep listener loyalty and living the dream.
Kenya’s Kiss media group started in radio and established a leading position for itself before branching out into newspapers with the Nairobi Star. No sooner was it challenging on that front than it announced that it was going to launch a Kiss TV channel. Russell Southwood caught up with one of the two Managing Directors of the company, Patrick Quarcoo in Nairobi.
Q: How come a Ghanaian like you finds himself running a media company in Kenya?
So much attention has been focused on the Pay TV battle for the Premiership rights that it would be easy to miss the development of Setanta Africa’s Free To Air coverage through its partner stations on the continent. This week Russell Southwood talks to Setanta Africa’s founder Barry Lambert and to Nada Anderson of Sports TV Uganda, one of its partner stations.
Mozambique’s TV broadcast industry is comparatively small for the size of the country. It is limited by how many of the country’s population it can reach and therefore the level of advertising revenues that can be achieved. Nevertheless it s making serious inroads into the audiences of the state-run TVM. Russell Southwood looks at the current state of play.