(Left photo) Beal presenting (Center photo) With Mohamed Gharib Bilal, VP of Tanzania (Right photo) With Prof. John Nkoma,
DG, Tanzania Communication Regulatory Authority (L) and TZ Minister of Information -- Youth, Culture & Sports, Dr. Fenella Mukangara.
Arusha, Tanzania -- The importance of public awareness campaigns during digital migration was stressed by Meredith Beal in a presentation at the Southern African Broadcast Association’s Digital Summit. Beal outlined strategies to reach large numbers and encouraged collaboration between stations, ministry officials and regulators. “It’s in everyone’s best interest that the public be well informed and participate in the process,” Beal says. He showed some examples of compelling and humorous television public service announcements and emphasized the value of clear messaging. He also outlined the benefits and pitfalls of not doing it correctly.
“If the switch to digital TV broadcasting takes place and significant numbers of people are not aware or aware but not ready, that could have a direct impact on the bottom line of television stations if they lose viewers in the process,” Beal says. “How much they can charge for advertising is determined by the number of viewers,” he noted.
Most of the countries in southern Africa had a self-imposed deadline of 2013, however most announced months ago that they would miss that deadline. All countries must make the change by June 2015.
As part of his work with the African Media Initiative (AMI) (www.africanmediainitiative.org), the continent’s largest association of media owners and executives, Beal has been conducting regional workshops to support the continent’s migration from analogue to digital television broadcasting. AMI, in partnership with the United States Telecommunications Training Institute and the Federal Communications Commission brought experts to Africa to share their experiences from the U.S’s successful migration in 2009. Beal also wrote a pamphlet on the subject, published by AMI and the International Center for Journalists (www.icfj.org), containing tips for television station managers responsible for their station’s transition.