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About this book

This book places television in Africa in the digital context. It address the onslaught of multimedia platforms, digital migration and implication of this technology for society. The discussions in the chapters contained in this book encompass a wide range of issues such as digital disruption of television news, internet television and video on demand platforms, adaptations, digital migration, business strategies and management approaches, PBS, consumption patterns, scheduling and programming, evangelical television, and many others. The book is an important reading for academics, students and television practitioners. It offers an insightful view of television in Africa.

Table of Contents

Frontmatter

Navigating the Digital Milieu in the Context of Television in Africa: A Synchronic Appraisal of the Disjunctures, Continuities and Prospects

Abstract
Television as a medium has been widely studied. Most studies focus on television effects, representation and television journalism (Sevareid in In the news: American Journalists View Their Craft, Scholarly Resources, pp. 35–41, 1991; Phillis in Media Asia 24:79–80, 1997; Motsaathebe in the Journal of Communication and Media Research 2:13–24, 2011; Cushion in Television Journalism, Sage, London, 2012). While there are studies that look at television in the current technological environment, most of these studies focus on the European and American contexts, unlike this book which focuses on television in Africa in the digital age. Since its invention, television has been hailed as a medium that offers audiences a range of benefits that other media could not provide.
Gilbert Motsaathebe, Sarah H. Chiumbu

Disjunctures

Frontmatter

Entertaining Africans: Creative Innovation in the (Internet) Television Space

Abstract
This chapter offers one of the first studies of television and video on demand (VOD) for domestic and diasporic African audiences. It gives a brief overview of screen and television infrastructure across Africa before moving on to describe the landscape of Internet television in Africa, focusing on six core competitive factors: content, Internet connectivity, data costs, payment options, security, and multimedia convergence. Finally, it identifies and briefly analyses the potentially most popular Africa-based and Africa-focused Internet television and VOD platforms. The article draws on original interviews conducted with key players at some of the most important Africa-based and African-focused Internet television and VOD platforms and with other African media scholars and filmmakers who have expertise in different regions of the continent.
Lindiwe Dovey

Understanding Netflix’s Foray into Original Productions in South Africa: A “Jet Plane” and “Helicopter” View

Abstract
This chapter takes a “jet plane” and “helicopter” approach to understanding implications of Netflix’s foray into original content production in South Africa. The chapter argues that bringing together critical political economy, associated with a “jet plane” view, and critical media industry studies, associated with a “helicopter” view, offers a fuller understanding of what Netflix’s manoeuvres mean for South African television industry. The chapter further argues that coloniality needs to be accounted for when analysing Netflix’s entry into Africa. Combining critical political economy and critical media industry approaches helps account for coloniality at macro-, meso-, and micro-level. Netflix is a relatively new entry in South African television market and little study has gone into implications of its entry. Newspaper articles about Netflix’s activities in South Africa provide data that is used for this analysis.
Collen Chambwera

Digital Disruption in South African Television News

Abstract
Africa is plagued by the digital divide and there is a scarcity of reliable information and insight into digital disruption in newsrooms on the continent. This chapter examines the obstacles faced and opportunities provided in the digital age. In-depth interviews with senior editors/publishers of four of the nation’s most trusted media brands uncover issues such as fake news, the role of youth, trust, relevance, sustainability, the right business model, constraints of legacy networks, cost of data and concerns about properly anticipating the future. The analysis provides an extensive understanding of digital convergence in South African newsrooms.
Susan Stos

Culturally Refigured: Assimilating Oedipus Rex into the Yoruba Mythical Universe Through Television Adaptation Processes

Abstract
In Africa, ancient texts have increasingly been transformed into adaptations that have been screened as TV miniseries and long duration movies that are often distributed through digital media platforms. These adaptations are used by producers for ideological, resistance, protest, aesthetic and entertainment purposes. However, theorists have generally raised two methodological problems concerning adaptation processes: hierarchy and succession. Lorna Hardwick has proposed three methodological approaches and a list of keywords that help to explain trends and patterns of creative and cultural appropriations of classical texts. Through a mediated conversation between Lorna Hardwick and Michel Foucault, I explore the possibility of resolving the adaptation methodology. As a case study, I discuss the emerging canon of Ola Rotimi’s adaptation of Sophocles’ Oedipus Rex, the gods are not to blame, as an example of primary adaptation and extended/succession myth by Wale Adenuga Productions with the same title, and Funke Fayoyin’s the gods are still not to blame. This chapter asserts that the succession myths have achieved the calibration of the acculturation process of the Oedipal myth into the Yoruba mythical universe. The chapter shows how certain African television channels and streaming platforms have contributed to solving the problem of access to productions for entertainment and research purposes.
Segun Ige

Continuities

Frontmatter

“Strike Fear in the Heart of the White Men”: Hate Language on Digital Television—The Case of ZBC Television Online News

Abstract
Utilising a media-centric critical discourse analysis, this chapter makes two arguments. Firstly, it argues that the Zimbabwe Broadcasting Corporation television station (ZBC TV) extensively parroted the ruling party Zimbabwe African National Union Patriotic Front’s [ZANU PF] hate discourses that were fashioned against the opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC). Secondly, it argues that ZBC online hate discourses were a catalyst that poisoned and, simultaneously, legitimised the ruling party’s anti-opposition narratives, based on ideological and racial differences. This was a form of ‘weaponisation’ of hate speech for political dominance. Consequently, our overall conclusion is that the television station abrogated its responsibility of serving the public interest by not meeting their communication needs. The station’s online news failed to contribute to society because it did not engender ethos of democratic governance, culture and production of valuable information and knowledge, cohesion and integration, which are key expectations of a public broadcaster. Rather, it engendered binary discourses of pro-ruling party and pro-opposition that further fuelled an already polarised political environment.
Allen Munoriyarwa, Stanley Karombo

Persuasion Across Platforms: A Rhetorical Analysis of Televised and Digitised News Reports on Economic Matters

Abstract
This chapter explores the persuasive effect of various audiovisual communication strategies featured in television news reports on economic matters and the extent to which these strategies carry the same persuasive appeal when they move from television to YouTube. Using classical rhetoric, the study undertakes an analysis of economic news reports that were broadcast in the eTV prime time television news bulletin which is South Africa’s most viewed free-to-air English channel, over 30 days. These bulletins are also available on the channel’s YouTube page. The findings are that these reports rely on numbers to persuade that the reports are accurate and factual, and thus credible; metaphors to evoke emotions, and economic experts to persuade us of the credibility of the commentary provided. Strategies which appeal to a sense of logic and those that rely on evoking emotions were found to not have the same appeal when the economic news reports are moved from the televised platform to YouTube. However, those strategies that appeal to viewers based on the credibility of the speakers featured do. The conclusion arrived at is that by relying heavily on the archival features of YouTube, eTV has not yet properly harnessed the full potential that this platform presents for producing and publishing news content.
Sisanda Nkoala

Exodus, Access and Inequalities: The Impact of Digital Migration in the Least Developed Countries of Africa

Abstract
Discussion on the much-heralded migration from the analogue broadcast transmission to digital terrestrial television (DTT) often praises digital migration as a catalyst that will enhance the quality of audio and visual signals and increase the number of channels as well as effective utilisation of available spectrum amongst others. Focusing on the digital divide that characterises much of Africa, this chapter examines the impact of digital migration not only concerning its anticipated benefits but also to its implication for access and inequalities in poorer countries of Africa. The chapter concludes that digital broadcasting will not necessarily bridge the digital divide and that it will instead exacerbate the inequalities in most African countries. The poor have no money for the subscription that enables them to access the multitude of channels that are available to those who have money.
Gilbert Motsaathebe, Sarah H. Chiumbu

Prospects

Frontmatter

Digitization of Television in Kenya: Changing Trends in Content and Consumption

Abstract
This chapter examines the digitization of television in Kenya and its influence on the production, dissemination, consumption as well as the functions of television broadcast. The liberalization of the airwaves, the relaxation of ownership and content regulations, and advancements in technology invited new entrants into the market. It led to changes in market dynamics, resulting in extended privatization and commercialization of the media industry. From the review of the literature and in-depth interviews, there is an increase in new sources of information, audience segmentation and adoption of convergence. Further, there is increased interaction between the audience and media organizations. Also, the functions of the media have been tilted as citizen journalists now play the information role of the media by posting incidents on social media. Pegged on uses and gratifications theory, the study establishes the salience of digitization on Kenyan television media.
Protus Murunga, Rachael Diang’a

Analysing How Zimbabwe Broadcasting Corporation (ZBC TV) and Eswatini TV (ESTV) Are Adapting to the Digital Era

Abstract
Television stations have increasingly embraced the use of digital media platforms to reach out to fragmented audiences that have migrated online. Facebook, YouTube, Twitter and Instagram have been adopted to share digital clips of news items or excerpts of news programmes to keep the audiences informed or enticed by the highlights. Also, television stations have set up websites which are regularly updated with information and news. The chapter analyses the impact of digitalisation on content on ZBC TV and ESTV which are both state-controlled broadcasters. Informed by technological determinism theory, we use interviews with the editorial staff and qualitative content analysis and argue that the shift online allows for audiences to contribute their views. However, the broadcasters do not engage with comments in opposition to the state as content online is still biased towards the state and dominated by government officials.
Carolyne M. Lunga, Rosemary Musvipwa

Regulation and Policy

Frontmatter

Chinese State Capitalism and the Transition to Digital Television in Africa

Abstract
The transition to digital television or digital migration, is part of a global agreement between member countries of the International Telecommunications Union (ITU) at the Geneva Conference in 2006. The implementation of the agreement in Africa is plagued by several factors, including the shortage of funds, and many African countries resulted in seeking foreign financial interventions, particularly from the Chinese state. The chapter details the effect of Chinese state capitalism on the implementation of the digital migration programme in the sub-Saharan African region, involving three case studies in Zambia, Nigeria and Kenya. Primarily, the study asks: What are the implications of China’s financial interventions and investments in the transition to digital television in Africa? As viewed through the political economy of Chinese state capitalism, the study conceptualizes Chinese state capitalism and the institutional mechanism involved in expanding the dominance of state-controlled and state-owned enterprises (SOEs) in the global market economy. The analysis of the digital television environments considered in this study suggests that the investments and interventions of the state-sponsored broadcast services, particularly StarTimes Television Network in the region’s transition to digital television mostly serves the interest of the Chinese state and a significant attempt to dominate the digitized communication spectrum in Africa.
Femi Abikanlu

Digital Terrestrial Television Broadcasting (DTTB) in Botswana: Prospects and Challenges

Abstract
The year 2015 was set by the ITU for most of its member states in Africa, Asia and Europe to adapt digital broadcasting formats. With a focus on Botswana, this chapter indicates that digital migration is an expensive project whose costs overwhelmingly outweigh its benefits. The promise that DTTB will bring significant structural changes to the broadcasting sector in Botswana has not been archived. Interestingly, television broadcasting remains state dominated, and there are challenges related to the accessibility of technical equipment compatible with the adopted ISDB standard. The chapter argues that the experiences of digital broadcasting in some African states reflect that the continued importation of Western ideas, such as DTTB, remains detached from local realities.
Seamogano Mosanako, William O. Lesitaokana

Dilemmas in Zimbabwe’s Public Broadcasting in the Era of Digitisation

Abstract
Broadcasting has faced rapid changes in the past decade following the advent and wide use of digital tools and with it digitisation. These changes have affected the mainstream media production practices and facilitated the emergence of new media players and introduced new consumption and interactive cultures as more transmission spaces and platforms have opened. This chapter, with a gaze on Zimbabwe, examines how the southern African nation has embraced this technological evolution by looking at its sole flagship broadcaster, the Zimbabwe Broadcasting Corporation Television (ZBC-TV). This study is one of the seminal works on digitisation in Zimbabwe making empirical findings crucial to both policy makers, broadcast houses and future scholarship on digitisation in the global south. Semi-structured interviews, Focus Group Discussions, document analysis and observations were employed as data collection tools. The chapter employs the public sphere theoretical framework due to its emphasis on participatory politics. The results of the study indicate that ZBC-TV is lagging, in part, due to discohesion with other implementing partners. A lack of funding is also affecting the acquisition of critical infrastructure. More so, content creators’ failure to access relevant supporting infrastructure or the absence of enough mechanisms to regulate the quality of content was observed to be another challenge.
Trust Matsilele, Golden Maunganidze, Pedzisai Ruhanya

Concluding Remarks: Looking Backward, Looking Forward

Abstract
Television in Africa offers a nuanced understanding of how television in Africa is grappling with the new technological environment. The book looks at different manifestations of the shift from traditional broadcasting to digital broadcasting and implications of such shifts. From the generations that were using traditional media such as TV, Radio and Newspapers as primary sources of credible news to the generation that relies on online platforms and streaming services for news and entertainment, the audience dynamics have changed considerably. This calls for research such as the one represented in this book, which tries to situate the study of television in Africa within the current media environment characterised by multiple online platforms. It is the first attempt to place television scholarship in the African environment within the burgeoning milieu of digital media.
Gilbert Motsaathebe, Sarah H. Chiumbu

Backmatter

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