DESPERATE HOUSEWIVES - COMING SOON ON YOUR DESKTOP AND MOBILE PHONES

Web and Mobile Data_old

In the session dubbed "Television: yesterday, today, tomorrow", Devan Naidoo, of South Africa's Department of Communication, said that in a world where two billion people are mobile phone subscribers, with South Africa alone accounting for 25 million SIM cards, there should be preparation for the convergence of TV, broadcasting and telecommunications.

"Mobile telephones the world over have ambushed all kinds of communications. Legislation and licensing in the industry have to change because TV, radio, the Internet and telecommunications all seem to have a uniform infrastructure," Naidoo warned. Naidoo's presentation was directly related to the South African Electronic Communications Act, legislation created to harmonise the recent trends in TV and broadcast technology over the telecommunication platform. The session, chaired by Happy Ntshingila of Absa, included panellists Ben Ankoh of the Open Society Initiative for West Africa (OSIWA) and Vera Franz of the Open Society Institute.

Franz talked about how intellectual property rights treaties would retard technological innovation. Ankoh argued that with this technological convergence blurring boundaries, "elements are falling into place to deliver high-quality video from the Internet directly to viewers in their living rooms and on their mobile phones". He said that software has been developed to ensure the quality of video distributed over the Internet. Companies such as Microsoft and Cisco Systems' Linksys are developing products that enable TV viewing on any platform, including the Internet.

Apple Computer, which has changed the music industry with its iPod music players and the iTunes Internet music shop, has already introduced and launched a department that sells episodes of popular TV shows, such as Desperate Housewives and Lost, that can be watched over the Internet. Franz argued that despite the technological advances to move the TV industry to different heights, the World Intellectual Property Organisation (WIPO) "casting treaty" is likely to retard technological innovation and hamper competition as well as restrict access to knowledge and information in the public interest.

Highway Africa News Agency