South Africa: African readers get access to information via cellphones

Technology & Convergence

A South African newspaper last Sunday became the first on the continent to offer readers the opportunity to access information via cellphones with Internet connectivity.

The Sunday Times is inviting readers to take a picture of a front-page bar-code with the camera on their mobile phones, which will then give them automatic access to a website of one of the Springbok rugby team's chief sponsors.

But while the technology is being initially used as a marketing tool, the publishers of The Sunday Times and its sister paper The Times say it has the potential to revolutionise the way readers can bring themselves up-to-date.

"This technology makes cellphones become an extension of print media," said Colin Daniels, in charge of new media development at the newspaper group.

The bar-code technology has been in widespread use in Japan where it was invented in the 1990s but, according to Daniels, it is the first time that it has been used in Africa.

"In Africa, this is major. They all have cellphones but they are not online yet. This could help in bridging the divide between print and new media as well as the technological and social divide."

Daniels's enthusiasm is echoed by Johncom Media, the publishers of The Sunday Times, which sees it as an opportunity for advertisers to touch base with consumers who have certified spending power.

"There are 30 million cellphone users in South Africa and 83 million in Africa," said Gisele Wertheim Aymes, innovation manager at Johncom Media.

"TimesCode enables marketers to tap the growing consumer power of mobile users to communicate in a simple yet highly impactful manner," she added.

In time, Daniels believes the technology will enable readers to access a range of services offered by the newspaper's online edition, including videos and blogs in a country where Internet journalism is still in its infancy.

The Sunday Times also boasts of setting up the first multi-media newsroom, comprised of editorial teams which will include one multi-media journalist, two editors and a photographer.

The Times' deputy editor Moses Mudzwiti said journalists were having to adapt to a vastly different set-up at work than they had been used to but he is convinced that is the future of the market.

"People are not used to it, they want to work as individuals," he said.

But even if the demand is limited so far, Mudzwiti predicted: "It's tomorrow's audience. We'll be there already."

Sydney Seshibedi, a sports photographer for the paper, said the journalists themselves were embracing the technological revolution.

"You need to change, otherwise you hold on to a certain way of doing things until you become irrelevant," he said.

(AFP, October 7th 2007)

* 29th Cinemed Festival

26 October - 4 November 2007, Montpellier

The festival will be a unique overview of the best recent productions from all the shores of the Mediterranean, from Portugal to the Black Sea. More than 200 films will be shown, including more than 200 new works in the official selection: previews, competitions and panoramas.

* Africa Broadcasting and Media Congress 2007

29 October - 2 November 2007 - Johannesburg, South Africa

The Africa Broadcasting and Media Congress is committed to improving technology, service and ROI in this rapidly evolving African market. Bringing together leading companies with senior decision makers and helping to drive African broadcasting and media into the 21st century and beyond. By popular demand the Africa Media and Broadcasting Congress 2007 is proud to add an extra IPTV masterclass to the event. This separately bookable day will provide you with some essential insight into IPTV as well as its potential for the African continent.

* IPTV World Forum Middle East&Africa

5-6 November 2007, Jumeirah Beach Hotel, Dubai

The conference will focus on delivering multi-platform television over IP.

* 16th Annual Pan African Film and Arts Festival (Los Angeles)

7-18 February 2008, Los Angeles, California

Each year the PAFF presents over 175 quality films from the United States, Africa, the Caribbean, Latin America, Europe, the South Pacific and Canada, all showcasing the diversity and complexity of people of African descent.

Namibia: NBC's HR Manager still Suspended

The Namibian Broadcasting Corporation (NBC) has brushed aside legal counsel from its own lawyers who feel it should immediately reinstate its suspended human resources general manager Theo Karipi, because its 'ill-advised' charges will not stick.

Apart from the feeling from its lawyers that the NBC stands to be humiliated if Karipi is to challenge his suspension in the District Labour Court, sources indicated the NBC has in the last several months paid N$80 000 in legal and lawyers' fees, while paying Karipi benefits and a monthly pay of around N$30 000. The costs could also possibly skyrocket.

NBC lawyers Slysken Makando and Elia Shikongo, New Era was reliably informed, independently advised the NBC Board and Vezera Kandetu its Director-General, to abandon the charges against its suspended human resources manager for lack of "cogent" evidence.

The lawyers only submitted their legal opinion to the corporation after they weighed the merits and the demerits of the case. Reinforcing Karipi's defence was the fact he had yet to submit mitigating evidence though the NBC had fired all the big guns in its arsenal.

Sources feel the suspended manager is being made "the issue of focus" while other burning issues, such as the multi-million-dollar vehicle lease from the United Africa Group at great expense to the NBC, was seemingly swept under the carpet despite a damning report that implicates Jerry Munyama, the former D.G. now in the employ of the United Africa Group.

The five-year deal involving 27 vehicles will cost N$9 million by December.

There are suspicions the United Africa Group employed Munyama as 'pay back' when he was forced to resign after being arrested on allegations of misappropriating over N$346 000.

Efforts by the NBC to recover the money allegedly lost through Munyama have mothballed. His case is yet to be concluded and he is out on bail.

Other issues of interest raised in the forensic report involve the millions paid to Penduka Enterprises, a company owned by a prominent businessman that collected television licence fees on behalf of the NBC at a commission.

And the other deal is the cancelled N$20 million Rock Enterprises deal in which the NBC had pumped around N$10.5 million at the time of termination. This like the other deals was sealed during Munyama's tenure while the tendering process was ignored with impunity. Those in the know at the broadcaster regard Karipi as a 'sacrificial lamb'.

"We are awaiting a report from the lawyers and this report has not reached us. It's only when we have the report that we can know what they recommend," said Kandetu with regard to the Karipi case. He could also not comment further as the case is still sub-judice.

(New Era (Windhoek), 17 October 2007)

Nigeria: Enouch Emergs as the Next Movie Star

Enoch Hammond from Ghana emerged the next movie star (NMS), while Uti Nwachukwu and Martha Ankomah became the first and second runners up.

Enouch who was still in a state of excitement when Glitterati visited the house where the reality show took place said he feels real good and great, he however thanked God for granting him success. Enoch however, attests to the fact that the last six people in the show were also very intelligent. Though he acknowledges that most of the eviction sent fear running down his spine but he was also happy that not only did he win, but the next movie star went to Ghana.

Enouch who has acted a very minor role in Tentacles a television series in Ghana which is also aired in Nigeria, said he would want to take some of the Nigerian experiences in Movie production to Ghana because he believes a lot still needs to be done. He however acknowledges that one of his highest points was meeting Joke Silver who was one of the special guest lecturer, in the programme.

Uti Nwachukwu the first runner up said he is a winner. He is happy that he came this far on the show. Uti who is an undergraduate would want to go back to school to complete his studies, is also interested in presenting programmes and taking television commercials

Speaking further Mr. Shola Fajobi, the chief executive officer of Interactive media, organizers of the Next Movie Star told Glitterati that a consultant will manage the careers of the housemates. He however disclosed that the next show will comprise of a full house of 16 housemates from five different African countries.

(This Day (Lagos) 14 October 2007)

CALL FOR PAPERS - the 3rd annual Digital Broadcasting Switchover Forum 2008, 29 Jan - 1 Feb 2008, Johannesburg, South Africa

The organisation of the conference has now started and we are currently looking for broadcasting experts to contribute presentations. The key areas for discussion this year include:

1) National switchover frameworks and planning

2) Dual illumination

3) Financing the switchover

4) The digital dividend, spectrum allocation and the results of WRC 07

5) Infrastructure upgrading and its implications

6) Consumer aspects – subsidising set top boxes, switchover awareness, the switchover as a means of reducing the digital divide

7) Charting the future of African broadcasting – including IPTV, mobile TV, high definition television

8) Overcoming the shortage of broadcasting skilled workforce

9) Digital radio – technology evaluation, implications for local and national stations,

10) Protecting cultural and linguistic diversity through local content production

11) Infotainment

12) Encouraging locally produced content

13) How international financing can be increased

14) Broadcasting liberalisation in Africa

I would like to encourage you to contribute to this forum by participating as a speaker, therefore please reply to this mail, including the perspective that you would like to cover at the event. I am particularly keen to have case studies as these are excellent ways of spreading information and experiences.

For furhter information contact

Matthew Dawes
Commonwealth Telecommunication Organisation
Direct Tel: 0044 20 8834 1575
Main Tel: 0044 870 7777 697
Fax: 0044 870 0345 626