TECHNOLOGY & CONVERGENCE

Zambia: MISA lobbies Government to zero rate media equipment

The Media Institute of Southern Africa (Misa) Zambia has recommended that the Government should zero rate taxes on media equipment owing to the global economic recession. Misa Zambia is of the view that newsprint, printing presses, broadcasting equipment such as antennas, consoles and mixers should be zero-rated to make media operations easier.

Speaking during the launch of the Misa annual publication 'So this is Democracy?'in Lusaka yesterday, chairperson Henry Kabwe said that the media was seriously threatened by the economic meltdown. "We call on the Ministry of Information and the ministry of Finance and National Planning to apply the same policy as they did on the music industry and indeed like the mines were given incentives when the sustainability is threatened by unfavourable economic situations," Kabwe said.

He reiterated Misa's position on statutory media regulation saying globally, self-regulation was the acceptable norm. Meanwhile, The Post managing editor Amos Malupenga has said that the present structure of the Media Council of Zambia (Mecoz) board is not representative and does not reflect the current landscape of the Zambian media. Malupenga was responding to questions raised by members of the parliamentary committee on information and broadcasting who wanted to know why the newspaper was not part of the council.

"If Mecoz will have any meaning to the growth and effective functioning of the media, it needs a complete structural-functional overhaul. This means that the whole project of Mecoz must be taken back to the drawing board," he said.

Mpika Central member of Parliament (MP) Mwansa Kapeya asked whether it was true that in Zambia there were two types of journalism where the private media was for the opposition and the public media for the Government.

Nakonde MP Claver Silavwe asked why it was difficult for media houses to have one body while his Itezhi-tezhi counterpart MP Godfrey Beene wanted to know why the media feared to be regulated like lawyers.

In his answer, Mr Malupenga said there was only one type of journalism in Zambia and that was about reporting the truth regardless of whether one was from the private or public media. Malupenga said that the composition of current Mecoz board membership should be reviewed so that individuals with proven media expertise, independence and integrity were taken on board.

M-Net Idols vote: a case study of the benefits and pitfalls of technology

M-Net's decision to opt for a recount of the South African Idols vote after it found that many SMS votes cast before the cut-off time were possibly not counted is an example of just how critical reliable, real-time technology is in every aspect of modern life.

That's according to Graham Braum, country manager at Acer South Africa. He says that M-Net's announcement that a vast number of votes were unaccounted for after last Sunday's (May 3) Idols finale shows that technology is not yet completely fail-proof, as dependent as we have become on it in our day to day lives. Sasha Lee Davids from Atlantis was initially announced as the winner, but M-Net decided to make her joint winner with Jason Hartman following the recount when it emerged that the delivery of many SMS messages possibly sent before the cut-off time was delayed.

"Of course, without SMS voting, counting audience votes for contestants in this show would be expensive and time-consuming, perhaps prohibitively so," says Braum. "Without technologies that allow for real-time audience participation, reality shows such as Idols would be nowhere near as compelling as they are.

This year's Idols also highlighted just how easy it easy for the contestants and producers of the show to stay in touch with the fans, thanks to technologies such as cellphones and the Web. " Acer Africa is one of the sponsors for the fifth season of M-Net's Idols.

The company offered up a range of its latest netbooks and notebooks as prizes for the aspiring musicians as well the television viewers who are voting for them.

Acer planned to give the winner crowned as South Africa's Idol of the year a brand new 18.4" Gem Stone Blue Acer Aspire 8930 notebook, a high-end machine designed for demanding entertainment and multimedia applications. This prizes is valued at R37 000.00. Following M-Net's decision to crown Jason Hartman and Sasha Lee Davids as joint winners, Acer South Africa will give them each one of these notebooks.

Jason and Sasha Lee will be able to use this beast of a notebook to manage business affairs, edit videos and mix songs quickly and easily, and watch high-definition content during downtime.

"This technology brought a whole new level of interactivity to the show, bringing fans and contestants closer together," says Braum. "It's a perfect example of the sort of connected world we live in where information and people are always just a wireless connection away from us."

Acer also gave away 12 Acer Aspire One netbooks over the duration of the show to viewers who voted for their favourite idols. In addition, Acer offered four Acer Aspire 5735 entertainment notebooks to four lucky Idols fans. The Aspire 5735 is a powerful consumer notebook that offers the new 15.6" HD Acer CineCrystal TFT LCD screen with native 16:9 aspect ratio, two built-in Acer 3DSonic speakers and high-definition audio support for stunning home entertainment.

The 10 finalists in the show have already each received an Acer Aspire One netbook, a compact device with a diminutive 8.9" form factor that will allow them to stay in touch with their fans wherever they are. The Acer Aspire One netbooks feature integrated 3G connectivity and webcams, enabling the Idols finalists to engage with their fans through blog posts, video chat and other online tools wherever they may be.

"We were very happy with the outcome of this show - it was the perfect vehicle to showcase how our empowering technology simplifies and enhances the lives of our customers," said Braum. "Being part of M-Net Idols was really great for the Acer brand."

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