[FoME] Highway Africa + FES: The Future of State Broadcasting in Southern Africa

Christoph Dietz christoph.dietz at CAMECO.ORG
Do Sep 17 15:06:40 CEST 2009

Beyond Broadcasting: the future of state-owned broadcasters in Southern
By Guy Berger, with contributions from Fackson Banda, Jane Duncan,
Rashweat Mukundu and Zenaida Machado.
Published by Highway Africa, School of Journalism and Media Studies,
Rhodes University, Grahamstown, South Africa. September 2009.
ISBN: 9780868104553
The authors acknowledge the support of the Friedrich Ebert Stiftung.

Download: http://nml.ru.ac.za/files/fesreport.pdf 

2. Foreword
3. Introduction: Beyond broadcasting
4. Namibia – moving amidst uncertainties
5.Mozambique – progress by many players
6.Zambia – teaming up for public interest communications
7. South Africa – migration underway
8.Conclusion: Looking forward
Appendix One: Beyond protocols and rhetoric
Appendix Two: Response
Abbreviations and technical terms

Aus "Summing up", p. 53-54:

Digital communications technology does many new things. Its spread
means that it is no longer a case of a tiny minority of professionals
and politicians having a monopoly on mass communication. Implicit in the
observations of this report, is the recognition that - amongst other
things - digitisation also disrupts old boundaries between
inter-personal and mass communication. What used to be the subject of,
or product of, communication between a few individuals, can increasingly
be put into the public sphere. Much of this content remains personal in
quality, despite it being public in availability. But there is also much
that is of public interest. In some ways, this therefore threatens those
institutions supposed to be specialising in public interest information.
In other ways, it can help them not only reinforce this mission, but to
also take a step towards expanding their role into becoming wider public
interest content and commun-ications agencies. They can, in short, be
the motive force that pulls personal conversations into focussing on
journalism that is of common public interest.

That image of leading the transformation of mass communication is,
however, just one of the scenarios outlined in this report. The others
point to lesser roles, even including extinction. It should be noted
that scenarios are not predictions of the future, but attempts to
highlight a range of possible options. They help guide action in one or
other direction.
The complication is that digitisation and all that comes with it can
deal a surprise to even the best-considered scenario possibilities. Who
would have thought that a search engine company (Google) could become
such an effective player in the advertising arena? Or that newspaper
newsrooms would start hiring video-capable staffers, or that some
cell-phone companies would move into distributing content? Could anyone
have guessed that a company like Twitter could attract and burn millions
of dollars of investment without even a proper business plan about how
it intends to make money?

The digital revolution, if it is to succeed, needs to have top quality
cadres in the newsrooms. In the face of these kinds of developments, it
is tempting to throw up one’s hands and take a come-what-may approach.
That’s preferable to the illusion of controlling and managing the
process. At the same time, between these two extremes of paralysis and
over-planning, there is a broad direction that can be identified and
pursued. We may not know exactly where we are going, but - as this
Report seeks to do - we can look at where we are and what’s
immediately ahead. More fundamentally, however, there’s worth in
remembering from whence we come. In other words, while looking at the
present and near-present, and keeping an eye on what future scenarios we
can imagine, we can hold onto our values. In the context of public
broadcasting, these values are - in a nutshell - to focus mass
communications on deepening democracy and development. These public
interest values remain all the more valid in a time when the historical
informational “service” model is being expanded to also function as
a public interest communicational mode. Keeping these ideals aloft helps
state-owned broadcasters steer a course between delivering
government-interest and commercial-interest content. They help to define
the meaning of universal access in the face of financial pressures and
socio-economic divides. They empower people to see the big picture and
to bring concerted action to bear on it. In sum, they help us reinvent
“public service broadcasting” in a fashion appropriate to its
contemporary possibilities. Roll on digitisation in Southern Africa -
and the transformation of at least some state-owned broadcasters to
become leaders in this process.

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