19th AGM of the Southern African Broadcasting Association -‘Know your audiences to satisfy their needs,’ broadcasters told


Delivering the keynote address at the opening yesterday of the 19th annual general meeting of the Southern African Broadcasting Association (Saba), Dr Rolph Payet, vice-chancellor of the University of Seychelles, said : “Knowing our audience is about knowing what they like watching and hearing, and also when.”

Dr Payet delivering his keynote address at the opening of the meeting yesterday

The two-day meeting at the Le Meridien Barbarons hotel is being attended by some fifty delegates from broadcasting organisations in South Africa, Namibia, Mauritius, Angola, Botswana, Malawi, Lesotho, Tanzania, Zambia and from our own Seychelles Broadcasting Corporation (SBC).

Also present are broadcasters from such international channels as BBC World, the Commonwealth Broadcasting Corporation and Deutsche Welle of Germany.

The SBC has constituted a choir for the occasion to sing “The heartbeat of the Nation”, an inspiring composition of Raymond Clarisse.

Dr Payet, who is also presidential advisor on Environmental Affairs, said our youth are contented with good, exciting music videos, teenage drama, gaming and topical talk shows.

Our average worker, he said, wants to know what’s happening in the country and the rest of the world, as well as be entertained after a long day at work, catch up on the odd sports game, local documentary, and so on.

However, our elderly have become our most faithful audience, since they sit and watch absolutely everything on TV.

Hence, Dr Payet noted, the expectations of differing generations vary a great deal.
“Knowing our audience and what they want is one of the challenges of modern broadcasting.

Bringing content to suit all those tastes is like having a supermarket at home to cater for the needs of the entire family.”

He added that in Seychelles, we have only one TV channel, one FM and one AM radio, which means that broadcasters have a difficult task when deciding on programme content and scheduling them.

Dr Payet said he personally feels that our audience thirsts for local but interesting content - in their own language and contributed by their fellow citizens.

“When we capture action in our communities, we convey to them information that can affect their day to day lives,” he said.

Dr Payet said that with the advent of streaming technologies, features such as on-demand broadcasting is a reality in many countries and will soon dominate broadcasting in southern Africa.

“Broadcasting is no longer in a league of its own, but rather seen as part of a global pool of information our audiences can access for news, entertainment, knowledge, investment, business and education.” 

He added that in his view, the globalisation of information poses many threats to broadcasters, but also many opportunities.

Welcoming the delegates earlier, SBC managing director Antoine Onezime noted that the conference comes only days after the SBC held a two-day workshop under the theme “Engaging audiences in content development”.

“We invited members of the public from all walks of life to talk to us about their listening and viewing experiences, their expectations and suggestions on how we can do better to fulfill their aspirations.”

Mr Onezime said as the SBC launches itself into digital terrestrial broadcasting, our audience will judge its success or failures.

He said that when at last year’s Saba meeting in Angola he was approached by the then secretary general, Arlindo Lopes, with a proposal to host this year’s AGM, there was no hesitation as he knew local support for such an important gathering would be forthcoming.

“We knew then that this would be a challenge since 2011 was set to be an eventful year for the SBC and the country, hosting such gatherings as the Indian Ocean Games.  Still, SBC had not anticipated two elections within four months and other unplanned events it has had to cover.”

The conference is being sponsored by the government, Seychelles Tourism Board, Seychelles International Business Authority, the BBC and Deutche Welle.

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