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AfricaCom to explore TV future

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Currently, only 11% of Africans are pay TV subscribers, however as new technologies such as DTT online and mobile TV gain ground, satellite broadcaster will be challenged.

‚With the market for television services in Africa growing exponentially year on year, the continent is on stand-by to experience far reaching changes and increased competition‚ stated Nick Jotischky, Principal Analyst at Informa Media & Telecoms, organisers of the upcoming AfricaCast conference which is co-located with AfricaCom 2011 at the CTICC on 9 and 10 November. In 2010, Sub-Saharan Africa had 34.5 million TV households and this is forecast to expand to at least 42.1 million by 2015. Currently, 3.5 million households are pay TV subscribers which represent a market penetration of 11%.

However, new technologies (DTT, online and Mobile TV) and the impending switch to digital, this dominance by satellite based broadcasters will be severely challenged. ‚Whilst challenging indeed, this new era is also exciting and stimulating‚ commented Jotischky. New telecoms, media and ICT services are affecting the lives of millions of ordinary Africans in a way never truly anticipated. ‚This affects how Governments, brands and all manner of organizations communicate with their audiences who are now becoming more sophisticated in their choices and demands,‚ Jotischky continued. One of these key changes and surely the most significant is the transition to digital television including interactive channels which is still provoking much debate and question amongst many audience groups and which is set to happen in April 2012 in South Africa. The ‚digital migration‚ will result in the frequency spectrum currently used by analogue TV broadcasts to become available for other applications and is specifically of interest to the mobile network operators looking to expand their reach into rural areas and for installing new high-speed technologies such as Long Term Evolution (LTE). AfricaCast 2011 will aim to address these issues that are still provoking consternation and debate, via a variety of panel discussions, case studies and presentations. Linked to the demand for television services and the explosion of mobile communications on the continent, audiences for the first time are airing their voices and in an audible manner. They are not afraid to share their opinions and they have plenty of mediums in which to do so. But this is a two way street and the media now have unprecedented access to greater audience participation and their influence is vast. Internet TV is no longer a pipe dream. It is a reality appearing at a mobile phone near you soon. Increase in broadband penetration and speeds promoting a greater array of services such as connected verticals and entire weather systems of cloud based offerings: pull internet advertising strategies via the television or mobile phone that deliver exceptional content, incentives and worthwhile services, and true engagement with multiple audiences, are all actuality. The consumer choice is overwhelming. But the basic choice will be whether to switch on or off. Governments, brands, agencies and corporates who adapt and embrace this new technology and communication epoch will be the ones to survive and prosper in this new dawn. Those who can remain connected across multiple platforms in a continuous conversation, which listen and hear what their audiences are demanding and needing and who deliver on these requirements, will be the ones ultimately benefiting and enduring. Some of the burning topics that AfricaCast will cover include: Is Google disrupting or enhancing the market? How is Facebook providing innovative ways for Africans to use their mobile phones? What are the opportunities for 3D content in Africa? Are we employing the correct strategies for an increasingly converged environment?

Gadget editor-in-chief Arthur Goldstuck will chair the Social Media session at AfricaCom exploring social media. The session, comprising talks and a panel discussion, will include Motribe co-founder Vincent Maher, Afrigator CEO Justin Hartman, MXit marketing head Juan du Toit, Myriad senior VP Mike Brady, Africanplanet.com CEO Etinyene Okon, and Jose Henriques, MD of Unitel Angola.

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