HARARE – In less than a century, television has become one of the world's greatest technology gifts and has become the most important tool for information, education and entertainment.
Although the birth of television is known – 1936 in Europe, 1939 in North America – the evolution of television in Africa is less well known. It is said that the establishment of a Moroccan television station in 1954 marked the beginning of the television era in Africa, while others claim that the first terrestrial television signals on the continent took place on October 31, 1959, were sent to Western Nigeria's Television Service .
But, irrespective of the date, it is now firmly rooted as the most effective means of information, education and entertainment across the continent.
Starting November 21 is World TV Day, we think it's time to think about the role played by television and continue playing in Africa while the TV is heading for its centenary over the next 20 years.
The main issues in Zimbabwe came in November 1960, when the black and white program began in Harare. This was soon followed by broadcasts from other parts of the former Rhodesia and Nyasaland Federation: from the stations in Bulawayo, Zimbabwe and Ndola, Zambia. In the 1980s, these broadcasts became colorful, and in the early 1990s, nearly 80% of the country received ground signals.
Algeria, Kenya, Uganda and Senegal have launched television stations in the late 1950s and early 1960s, but some countries such as South Africa and television stations in Cameroon until the 1970s and 1980s. Nigeria was a runner in the introduction news and specific content genres. Nigerian Television – now known as the Nigerian Television Authority (NTA) – began broadcasting regional television in 1976 by Nigerian military authorities and became the spokesman for the government. News programming was the foundation of the government's plan to strengthen national unity, and the scenario news was introduced by this monopoly in the late 1970s.
By 1980, efforts to increase original content from Nigerian producers gained momentum, and the NTA network set a 20% ceiling for foreign programs to boost interest in local content.
Between 1980 and 1985, NTA began producing the first African soaps, children's programs and comedy series. This marked the birth of the Nollywood film industry, which now produces more than 50 films a week, outperforming Hollywood as the world's largest film industry after the number of productions after India's Bollywood.
Pay-TV was introduced in Africa in 1992, when M-Net launched an analogue service to over 20 countries. A year later, MultiChoice Africa began to expand beyond the borders of South Africa and is now present in 49 Sub-Saharan African countries.
In 1995, MultiChoice introduced digital technology on the continent with the launch of the DStv bouquet, and in 1996 analogue satellite services in Africa were canceled. DStv was one of the first non-US broadcasters to launch a satellite platform that allowed high-quality transmission in the most remote regions of Africa.
On-demand streaming and video services have long completed the TV show, especially in news. Today, most news consumers do not read longer, but view event videos while they are running on news agency or social media sites. The era of consumer and social networking reports has dramatically changed the power of traditional news agencies, and video is the forefront.
This has also led to a number of issues, of course, such as fake news, so media recipients have to check authenticity with well-known news agencies.
Given that relatively slow and expensive internet connections are the norms in Africa, VOD and streaming commercial services have seen slower growth than countries where data speeds allow for streamlined streaming in real time. Pay-TV continues to grow on the continent.
According to Dataxis, Africa's pay-TV revenues for 2016 amounted to $ 4.4 billion and are projected to reach $ 6 billion by 2021. In 2016, Africa's subscribers' TV base was of about 18.7 million people, millions of subscribers during the previous year.
Increasing broadband penetration and reducing data rates in Africa will increase the penetration of online video content. We expect online video consumption to be an additional service for traditional pay TV, as online providers do not offer news channels and live sports that are essential for viewing in the household. In some countries, traditional "video-stores" are now empty, as consumers no longer have to leave their homes to get a movie; Alternatives to this are the DStv Box Office services on Explora decoder, which offer an option where consumers do not have to pay for the film delivery, while streaming requires the cost of delivery and bandwidth.
In Zimbabwe, DVD sales on the street corner are still developing, of course, although the main problem here is that almost all of them are pirated children.
Local content will remain a crucial cultural and economic factor in African markets and require investment and care to allow growth in rapidly changing video entertainment space.
Similarly, Zimbabwe's film and television industry hopes to regain the production capacity it generated in the 1980s and early 1990s, when numerous international productions were created in the country. There is enormous potential for producing local content, and the only obstacle is funding.
Massive and continuous changes take place in the entertainment industry, and the US Time Warner's recent AT & T acquisition is a perfect example of how lines between content makers and distribution platform owners are blurred. The overall impact of this disruption on the global landscape remains to be seen.
On the giant and diverse continent of Africa, we will have to marry our global best practices to our unique needs, challenges and opportunities, enabling us to navigate our path through this changing media environment and make sure that we protect industries, culture and local economic growth. It will be a fascinating and sometimes unhurried walk, just like the trip so far.