South Africa: State Entities do not have structures to keep up with global broadcast technology, says Neilsen


TV audience measurement firm AGB Nielsen told Business Day on 11 March 2010 that it was not ideal for state-owned entities to handle technology related to broadcasting, because their structures were not equipped to keep up with global trends.

Toni Petra, MD of AGB Nielsen Media Research Corporate Support Centre in Switzerland, said placing government-led companies in charge of this type of technology often saw countries being left behind when it came to broadcasting. "The problem is that technology changes so quickly that the government procurement process cannot keep up," she said.

A similar debate has evolved around state-owned signal distributor Sentech, which is considered crucial to public broadcasting as it has the most comprehensive infrastructure but which has failed to deliver on many of its mandates, one being the creation of a national wireless broadband network that would provide connectivity to schools, hospitals, clinics, community centres, post offices and government offices in under- serviced areas.

Petra, who is originally from SA, said she had not kept up with the issues surrounding Sentech but that her impression of SA was that broadcasters were "very jacked up and keen to learn from global trends". However, they were being held back by problems with infrastructure.

"Development is driven by infrastructure. Online, internet and broadband are still not that accessible here," she said.AGB Nielsen will be engaged in measuring viewership of the 2010 Soccer World Cup. Its research will involve monitoring TV, internet and mobile coverage of the games for the South African Advertising Research Foundation.

"The big challenge in SA is to measure out-of-home viewing of the games where people gather at one home to watch a game, and we have equipped over a 100 people with smart-phones who will be sent a survey five times a day to find out what they are doing or watching," Petra said.

Petra feels viewership of the World Cup games will differ from other sporting events overseas in that there will be less online coverage. "Again, SA does not have the infrastructure to support video streaming or mobile streaming," she said.

Measuring of viewership had become increasingly difficult, she said. This was because technology had increased, people's viewing habits were changing, there was greater media convergence and cross-media behaviour, and more use was being made of personal video recorders.