The Scramble for Africa: Transnational Television Broadcasters’ Segmentation of the African Sports Mediascape

TitleThe Scramble for Africa: Transnational Television Broadcasters’ Segmentation of the African Sports Mediascape
Publication TypeConference Paper
Author(s)Akindes, G. A.
Affiliation (1st Author)Ohio University, USA
Section or WGMedia and Sport Section
DateFri 28 June
Slot CodeSPOF1a
Slot Code (Keyword)SPOF1a
Time of Session9:00-10:30
Session TitleMedia and Sport around the globe
Submission ID4625

In the early 1990s, Africa’s mediascape was transformed. The transformation was due to new satellite television technology, changes in media regulation, and the laws and the political democratization of most African countries. Progressively, transnational television broadcasters pounced on African air space. Their access was the result of innovative technology, improved telecommunications, and advanced information technology, coupled with the liberalization of media policies. Subsequently, international and transnational broadcasters (such as the South African DSTV and Multichoice, French CanalSat Horizons, and Qatari Al Jazeera) became significant suppliers of television content across Africa. Capitalizing on the transnational capability provided by satellite technologies and the cultural discount provided by sports (mostly football), transnational broadcasters gradually became the main suppliers of international sports content. This content essentially is European football games. Communication-satellite technology in television broadcasting had decreased the relevance of political borders in term of audience access and created new opportunities. Any transnational television broadcaster could (theoretically) reach any viewers, no matter their location. Despite this open access, the language of the audience currently defines the primary target market of the broadcasters, who prefer to reach audiences with linguistic similarity to their primary language of production (French, English, or Arabic). Thus the languages of the viewership are important. Also important are the specificities of sports broadcasting, widely defined by the broadcasting rights acquisition. Consequently, there are two substantial factors to accessing the market of sports broadcasting getting broadcasting rights,, first, the viewers’ language; and second, the capacity to acquire major and popular competitions broadcasting rights. These two factors contribute to shaping the sports broadcasting map of Africa. Most national broadcasters in Africa have limited technological and economic capacity, so they have a limited transnational sport broadcasting ability and visibility. Thus, African government-owned broadcasters or privately owned broadcasters are progressively established on the margin, or they are maintained at the periphery of the global sports-media complex capture of the African sports audience. This paper provides a better understanding of the how transnational television broadcasters are supplying African football fans with various national, continental, and global sports (within the unofficial linguistic boundaries). The report analyzes the position of national privately owned and government-owned television broadcasters in a transnationalized African sports mediascape. The study unfolds in three sections. The first section shows how Al Jazeera, SuperSport, and Canal Horizons became key players in transnational sports broadcasting. The second section examines the socioeconomic and technological implications of the control of the African transnational sports viewership market by a very limited number of players. This section also looks at the position of national domestic television broadcasters. The last section of the study discusses the theoretical pertinence of globalization, cultural imperialism, electronic colonialism, and modern world systems in understanding transnational sports broadcasting as a media market penetration instrument with economic externalities, and transformation of African sport fandoms cultural identities.

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