By: Mongameli Jabavu

Digitalisation has changed how broadcasters conduct their business. It has enabled both public and privately owned broadcasters to shift their thinking about what to sell, how to sell it, and to whom to sell. In Southern Africa for example, these assumptions have created an inextricable link between people/customers and broadcasting. Furthermore, digitalisation has revolutionised Broadcasting by giving viewers and listeners more choice. In fact the new
environment places enormous challenges to both regulators and managers to involve civil society in evolving new ways of seeing and listening. Digital broadcasting in Africa for example is in a better position to grow and diversify the industry and open the doors for new entrants.

Not to mention the Internet, satellite broadcasting alone offers viewers and listeners news and information from remote areas where terrestrial and free-to air signals do not reach. Digital/satellite broadcasting does not only guarantee viewers and listeners better picture and sound quality but offers choice and interactivity as well.

In this respect co-operation between Southern Africa Digital Broadcasting AssociationSADIBA) and Southern Africa Broadcasters Association(SABA) will form the basis for digitalisation in the Southern Africa Development Community(SADC) region. The co-operation will definitely accelerate endeavours towards an agreement on systems and standards for digital broadcasting in the region.

The difference between SADIBA and SABA is only marginal and should not blur our vision for a more integrated approach to broadcasting in the region. SADIBA promotes a digitalised environment which in itself drives the opening up of the airwaves and the liberalisation of the broadcasting environment. SABA the other hand
represents the interests of both privately and publicly owned broadcasters in the SADC region and their publics.

The co-operation/partnership of SADIBA and SABA will also make sure that the systems and standards to be adopted for a digitalised environment take into consideration issues of domestic/local content, investment and ownership. The partnership will also narrow the gap between those who see the broadcasting environment as a 'cultural industry' and those who consider it as part of the 'entertainment business'. Ultimately, a positive outcome would be to achieve a greater consensus among broadcasters from all sectors of broadcasting, including community broadcasters.

Mongameli Jabavu works for Channel Africa and is a member of SADIBA.