President Muhammadu Buhari has challenged public broadcasters in Africa to pay attention to the creation of content in order to take their rightful place and be a catalyst for growth.
Declaring open the 9th African Union of Broadcasting (AUB) General Assembly in Abuja on Thursday, the President, who was represented by the Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, said public broadcasters in Africa should use the power of their reach to invest in good quality content for the viewers, saying that in the media industry, ‘content is king’.
”Broadcasting is not just about equipment, and technology is not an end itself but a means to an end. There has been too much focus on equipment without massive investment of time and resources into content,” he said.
The President cited the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) as an example of a public broadcaster that has leveraged on content to dominate the media space, adding: ”They have become the catalyst for growth in the production and channel industry with spin-offs like BBC FOODS, BBC PRIME, BBC WORLDWIDE, etc. Their catalogue of content that they now sell all over the world is admirable.”
He said the creation of content and world class production would create jobs, provide revenue for government and quality entertainment capable of increasing the broadcasters share of the advertising pie.
”Therefore, I challenge you to be the stimulant for growth in your creative industries and serve the promotion of culture. You must not lose the younger generation who are fast changing their view of television, what they watch and how they watch it. If the issue of content is not addressed urgently, public broadcasters in Africa that once dominated the broadcasting landscape will have no viewers in the next 10 years,” President Buhari said.
He also said African countries must not see the Digital Switch Over as a simple crossover from Analogue to Digital ”but an opportunity to provide enhanced services, quality programming, interactive content and a new and vibrant media industry that will help grow the economy of the various African countries and create jobs”.
President Buhari said Nigeria had recorded significant achievements in her digitization effort and is willing to share her experiences with the AUB member countries
He urged the AUB, formerly known as the Union of African National Television and Radio Organizations, known by its French acronym URTNA, to retake the initiative of ensuring that more African viewers are able to watch global sports events like the FIFA World Cup and the Olympics.
”URTNA used to get the radio and TV rights for broadcasting such events to African viewers, using the public broadcasters, instead of the practice now that some individual marketing companies will simply secure the rights and price such beyond the reach of national broadcasters, thus limiting viewership to the few who can afford pay TV subscription. The AUB must work hard to regain its lost glory in this respect,” the President said.
He urged AUB member countries to explore and exploit the commercial viability of the services of the Nigerian Communications Satellite (NIGCOMSAT) for the socio-economic benefits of Africa and the world at large.
The Federal Radio Corporation of Nigeria (FRCN) and the Nigerian Television Authority (NTA), the two largest radio and television networks in Africa, are the official hosts of the 9th AUB General Assembly.