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African TV schedules aided by Germany, France, U.K.

African TV Schedules Aided by Germany, France, U.K.

Africa, a continent fully 10 times the size of Europe, has a long way to go in its development of radio and television. However, the enthusiasm for making both technical and conceptual improvements is there, as is the pressure to broaden the use of the media beyond the current government-imposed propaganda limitations.

At the same time, a number of European countries -- notably France -- are contributing training facilities, equipment and free trade shows, so as to help raise African program standards. The news comes from Demena Kassaye, secretary general of the Union of National Radio and Television Organizations of Africa, in which 48 countries are currently represented.

Kassaye was in New York to meet with UN Radio and Television and The International Council of National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences of which he is the only African board member. The Union has its headquarters in Nairobi, Kenya.

The important communications medium in Africa today is radio, not television, Kassaye said, since even the poorer people can afford a radio set. In the villages, the African population depends on radio for virtually all of its information.

"Our organization tries to promote the exchange of radio and television programs within Africa in order to create better cultural and informational links throughout the continent. We try to follow the fast-changing broadcast technology, doing extensive research and informing our members about what would be best under prevailing conditions," noted Kassaye.

"The fact is, most African people know very little about each other, because the geography of Africa is so vast, transportation is difficult and telecommunication is not well developed."

The African Broadcasting Union is engaged in a broad range of activities, from technical and production personnel training, to the interchange of programs.

"In many countries, virtually 100 per cent of the programs on the air come from abroad, from Europe and the U.S.," Kassaye reported. "Local programming often consists of nothing more than official news and some state functions, which involve the head of government.

"My dream is that each country's station will produce its own local shows to the extent of its ability to do so, and that the various governments, recognizing the importance of the media, will allocate more than shoestring budgets the way they do now."

The African program exchange is going well, Kassaye said. "We now have some 5,000 radio shows and probably 1,000 TV programs in our library, which can be interchanged. It's a good beginning, but it should go much further. We want that library to expand. Even now, just about every station carries one hour or half-hour every week from another African country."

France's Canal France International, originated in 1989, now satellites six hours a day to Africa where, in about 55 per cent of the countries. French is the spoken language. The programs are free, and even the satellite down-linking equipment is donated by the French government.

The BBC both contributes and sells programs, and has a training program for African technicians and journalists. Germany's Deutsche Welle also trains Africans to upgrade their TV skills.

"Times are changing. African audiences are becoming restless. Many stations in Africa tend to reflect the views of the government in power," Kassaye explained. "Naturally, audiences sometimes feel that their needs are not totally catered to, particularly in sensitive areas."

"There is some improvement now, with wider latitude given to the stations, in part because the governments realize that their policies have resulted in a loss of confidence on the part of the audience. Without viewership, programs become just propaganda, and nobody listens."
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Title Annotation:contributions of training facilities, equipment and free trade shows
Publication:Video Age International
Date:Nov 1, 1991
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