By Balancing Act
Published December 21, 2014
The shadow hanging over African broadcasting in 2014 is the complete omnishambles of the digital transition in Africa. It has created investment uncertainty and the loss of advertising revenues in the countries where the Government has simply switched off the analogue signal.
African governments have never been very good with deadlines and the one for the digital transition in broadcasting is no exception. Most countries seem to have mistaken the final deadline in June 2015 as the date when things commence. I have heard regulators and Government officials tell me with a straight face that they will meet the deadline. They are in denial and the majority of African countries will not meet the deadline.
The defining feature of the new digital landscape in more competitive countries has been the proliferation of signal carriers to deliver channels. Take Nigeria, for example. There are the following ways of getting your platform delivered: through the Star Times/NTA joint venture on DTT; with the new Broadcasters of Nigeria Consortium on DTT; buying your own satellite signal (TVC); going on a satellite platform (the new SES platform); and streamed online. Broadcasters are now going from having a single distribution channel to having to work out the best mix of distribution channels.
The effects of going digital are beginning to have some impact on the TV content market. In those countries where the digital transition is more advanced, there are many additional new channels being set up. Some of these are from existing broadcasters whilst others are from new players. One effect of this in the short-term has been a small lift in prices for local content as there cannot be new channels without more content.