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Motsumi finds potential partners in China and Japan

Tokyo - With over 1.2 billion viewers, in excess of 95% of its population, regularly tuning in to both radio and television for news, information and entertainment, China on any given day has more consumers of its broadcasting services than the combined totals for all of North and South America as well as Africa.

Serving this vast audience is a network of over 2000 combined radio and television broadcasters, along with several hundred stand alone stations, most of which though falling under the State Administration of Radio and Television (SARTV) exist as self-financing, commercially independent, operators.

Given the size and diversity of its consumer base it should come as no surprise that Chinese broadcasting services, delivered through cable, satellite and online as well as terrestrial means now cater to a wide range of tastes and social perspectives; a reality that might come as a surprise to some.

With over 400 million of its citizens also now regularly accessing the internet, media growth in China is consistent with the country’s overall emergence as a globally competitive economic superpower.

Meanwhile in neighboring Japan rapid advances in digital broadcast technology, including Super High Definition and 3D television, are fundamentally redefining the role of television both here and around the world, as a platform for interactive communication, learning and other, occasionally controversial, uses, such as surveillance. The long-term social implications of this technological transformation will only become clear in the fullness of time.

Advances in Japanese broadcasting have come about through a sustained commitment on of its Government and NHK, the public broadcaster, to work closely with private industry and academia in promoting innovation through applied research and development.

Given China and Japan’s shared status as leading Global Information Age centers, the Minister of Presidential Affairs and Public Administration, Lesego Motsumi was happy to honour separate official invitations to come to both countries in to discuss potential cooperation and partnership in the field of broadcasting and associated services, for which she holds portfolio responsibility.

The Chinese invitation was further linked to SARTV’s hosting of this year’s Asia Media Summit in Beijing, which brought together over 800 industry stakeholders from five continents, providing a unique networking opportunity.

Throughout the Minister’s working visits a lesson which emerged was that modern broadcasting services, even in small developing societies, can no longer afford to survive as passive recipients of other people’s technology and programming.

There is, instead, an urgent need for countries like Botswana to build sustained global partnerships that combine technology transfer with system adaptation to local developmental needs and circumstance, along with a greater emphasis on co-production, content sharing for cost recovery and aggressive global outreach.

In such a process inter-government contacts can ideally lead to the forging of cooperative frameworks that will also come to incorporate civil society and private sector stakeholders as a catalyst for knowledge based economic growth and the wider and more efficient provision of public services.

An example of this potential is NHK’s current collaboration with Al-Jazeera’s Children Channel, which is being seen as a benchmark for similar NHK assistance in the anticipated launch of educational television services in Botswana.

Japan’s readiness to explore additional avenues for increased technical cooperation, training and investment in Botswana media was confirmed in Minister Motsumi’s talks with senior Japanese leaders and officials during her intensive five day working visit, which involved engagements with communications and broadcast industry representatives, aid agencies officials and senior members of the Japanese Business Federation, as well as Government contacts.

While in Beijing Minister Motsumi also held a series of high level meetings with Government leaders and top executives, culminating in bilateral talks with the Chinese Minister of the State Council Information Office (SCIO), Wang Chen, who assured her delegation of China’s own interest in pursuing a bilateral cooperation agreement with Botswana for the two countries mutual benefit in the spirit of South-South cooperation.

The SCIO exists as China’s key “working organ” for media outreach, being responsible for promoting bilateral and multilateral cooperation through the Forum of China Africa Cooperation or FOCAC process.

In Beijing, Minster Motsumi also met with the senior managements of SARTV, China Central Television (CCTV) the China Radio and TV Corporation for International Techno-Economic Cooperation (CRTV) and Xinhua News Agency, which confirmed its desire to open a bureau in Gaborone.


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