African broadcasting will never be quite the same again – focusing on how to regenerate and revive it

3 July 2020

Top Story

Talking to African broadcasters across the last few weeks, it’s quite clear that whilst media remains absolutely key that the old business models are unlikely to survive in the current form. Each broadcaster may have a different idea for the future but none is saying they just want to return to how things were.

And what is true for African broadcasters is also true for the e-letter service I provide for you. The Covid-19 crisis has accelerated some changes that I have been thinking about making for some time. So this week’s issue outlines why we are changing what we deliver and how I think you will continue to find it useful.

When we first started, we were among a handful of sources and I launched the e-letter so that it would be an intelligence gathering service that I shared with my readers, not unlike I was already doing for the telecoms and internet e-letter readers.

But there are good reasons for making changes. Firstly, there are now many sources for timely information on broadcast and media markets in Africa.

Secondly, over 20 years Balancing Act has done what it does because we earn our living from consultancy and research work, not from journalism. So we would like to offer something that more consciously uses the analytic skills we have.

Thirdly, I have signed a contract with Manchester University Press to write a book about the last 25 years of tech in Africa and I want a little more time and space to get that done.

So what will you as a subscriber to the e-letter be getting from this point forward? There will be two e-letters – this one covering broadcast and media and our other one covering telecoms and internet – and both will be fortnightly from now on.

In the past, the e-letter has been about 30 pages of aggregated content, made up of press releases and stories from other publications that are in the main based on press releases. There has been one original piece of journalism, the Top Story, which is usually between 1-3 pages. I have also had two other e-letters – Digital Content Africa and Innovation in Africa – which we have now closed.

The enormous amount of information means that you as the reader will inevitably not read everything – either from our e-letters or any other media. So I have decided to focus on one story a week (that I will write) that aims to identify a trend or change, either in an important market or (using our contacts) across the continent.

Depending on the topic, it will either be a long or a short read and may contain some of the kind of original research which goes into our industry reports. If I have enough information on a key topic (and I have no shortage of ideas) it will be like a briefing paper on the subject.

If you have topics you’d like me to look at, don’t hesitate to contact me with suggestions on I look forward to you joining me on the next stage of the journey as Africa negotiates Covid-19.

Russell Southwood


Balancing Act