The Project for International Capacity Development for South Sudan TV and Radio
Posted on 19th June 2014
Elizabeth Smith, Chair, Commonwealth Media Group and Consultant, Transforming Broadcasting
Seminar in Kenya 8-14 June 2014
A Possible Outline Short-Term Road Map towards Public Service Broadcasting
The Seminar took place in Nairobi during the first week of the talks in Addis Ababa at which South Sudanese President Salva Kiir and former Vice President Riek Machar agreed in principle to form a transitional government in the following 60 days. This provided a hopeful framework within which the participants anticipated improvements in the security situation and the prospect of reconstruction and an eventual return to stability and prosperity.
The Seminar is part of the continuing work of Japan International Cooperation Agency, JICA, working through NHK International. NHK International has been supporting South Sudan TV and Radio (SSTV/R) for more than a year in a comprehensive and large-scale ongoing training project to help SSTV/R towards Public Service Broadcasting. This has been adopted enthusiastically by SSTV/R staff. During the Seminar discussions, in which managers from SSTV/R and from the Ministry of Broadcasting and Information for South Sudan were assisted by participants from the Kenya Broadcasting Corporation, and Transforming Broadcasting Consultant Elizabeth Smith who specialises in helping state broadcasters move towards PSB, the following major issues emerged:
- South Sudan has already taken many of the essential steps to move towards Public Service Broadcasting. The Broadcasting Corporation Act 2013 is an excellent framework for an independent Corporation, and meets all the major international requirements for Public Service Broadcasting. It has been passed twice by the Assembly and awaits the signature of the President to come into force. SSTV/R is currently a state broadcaster, required to broadcast in the interests of the Government by the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting, which assigns its funding. The need now is to define the internal procedures for the new Corporation, without which it will be unable to function effectively.
- It is essential to adopt modern management and budgetary procedures for the new Corporation to ensure efficiency and accountability. This will involve a new management structure to fit with new working practices in the broadcasting industry.
- Improving transmission should be a high priority. It is adequate in Juba for both Radio and TV. There are other areas, however, where there is no signal at all from the state broadcaster. TV is on satellite across the country (and round many parts of the world) but cannot be accessed outside Juba except by using a dish over a metre wide. It is a prime objective of the national broadcaster to reach the entire population. This lack is identified as a major problem needing immediate attention, especially in the post-conflict situation facing the country. The Seminar considered that the most cost-effective way to do this is through improved radio transmission.
- There is a continuing need for training throughout the organisation.
- A drive for refreshing the output is needed, possibly under a title such as: New Programming for the new South Sudan. There is a need to improve the broadcasting hours and scheduling of radio. This is identified in the Audience Research done by Forcier Consulting for JICA.
- Now is the time to prepare outline capital and annual budgets for the new Corporation, as well as to define the appointments procedure for the new staff. Starting at the top, the new appointments need to be made well ahead of the launch of the new Corporation, as they will take a considerable time and need to be in place to run the Corporation from the first day.
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