Beijing — The giant network operator and content provider for TV broadcasting recently hosted the 6th African Digital Television Development Seminar in Beijing, China.
China's most influential and one of the world's best system integrator, technology provider, network operator and content provider in television broadcasting industry - StarTimes group, has presented a medley of possibilities for Africa that could help the continent effectively switchover from analogue to digital broadcasting so as to reap the benefits of the mutation. The Chinese multinational media group on June 23-25, 2016 hosted the 6th African Digital TV Development Seminar in Beijing on the theme, "Making Digital TV more accessible and enjoyable in Africa" with over 140 media stakeholders from some 35 countries in attendance. The forum was to share switchover possibilities (financing, technology and content build up) with the hope of arming the continent to meet the new deadline after that of 2015 given by the International Telecommunications Union hit the rocks.
Financing The Mutation
StarTimes group through the various presentations that characterized the Beijing seminar told African media stakeholders that different governments could either embrace the Public/Private Partnership Model or go in for concessional loans to effectively go digital. The former gives room for mutually-beneficial agreements wherein the operator finances, carries out the mutation and runs the channels for some time before handing them over to government. Here, StarTimes pledged her readiness for the self-financing part. With this, StarTimes would be the project's constructor, the issuance of licenses and frequencies shall be the responsibility of the State and the Project's Operation would be through a joint venture between the outfit and government. Meanwhile, the company's experts also advised African governments to go in for concessional loans with the government of China to realize the dream. These loans with a 2 per cent interest rate, they said, could have a 20-year repayment period with a five-eight year period of grace. Profitability is guaranteed through transmission fee from signal distribution for the local TV stations, subscription fee from terminal subscribers and advertising revenue from the advertisement clients, some of whom should be new investors attracted into business by the technological evolution.
Content Is King!
According to Pang Xinxing, President of StarTimes group, the content of any television programme determines its view ability. Like him, other experts advocated audiovisual media organs to "find your audience first, create for them, build a digital community, and then move to new levels of creative engagement with that audience." For success, questions like, 'Is it worth watching, is it relevant, is it locally adaptable, is the programme renewable, repeatable and scalable?' must be answered. "Content is king, signal coverage is God!" officials said.
StarTimes covers 90 % of the Africa's population with a massive distribution network of 200 brand halls, 3, 000 convenience stores and 5, 000 distributors, with a featured content platform and 440 authorised channels consisting of news, movies, series, sports, entertainment, children's programmes, fashion, religion et al. It combines satellite and terrestrial DTV systems to provide an open and secured digital wireless platform. A wealth of experience expected to boost the continent's irreversible move to digitalizing television broadcasting.