• Focus
    Experience in developing the digital TV market in Africa
    By Shen Jiawen | chinawatch.cn | Updated: 2019-06-12 17:40

    With the sound development of information technology, digital TV is replacing analog TV on a global scale, and the integration of three networks, telecommunication network, broadcasting network and the internet, has become the direction of the digital TV industry. New media provides a new channel and a new kind of information carrier for the spread of its TV programs globally. Statistics show that the overseas audiences of Chinese TV programs are mainly from Asia. For example, in 2016, 87.9 percent of exported Chinese TV programs went to other Asian countries.

    In recent years, China’s private enterprises have also made great strides in developing the digital radio and TV market in Africa.

    While expanding the African market, Chinese enterprises have been playing the role of a technology leader, a model creator, a market promoter and an undertaker of the changeover from analog TV to digital TV.

    And thanks to their efforts, at present, the digital TV network has become the most important transmission platform of TV signals in many African countries, which greatly improves the quality and coverage of the TV signals, as well as the numbers and quality of TV programs there.

    StarTimes Group is one such enterprise. In 2002, like many Chinese private companies, it started to dip its ties on overseas markets.

    And after 10 years of development, branch companies in more than 30 African countries such as Rwanda, Nigeria, Kenya, Tanzania, and South Africa have been set up, which focus on digital TV and mobile TV projects.

    With the popular TV programs it provides for the locals, it has developed into the most powerful digital TV and mobile TV operator in Africa’s radio and television market.

    Digital TV belongs to the network economy, which is an economy of scale, ie. larger scale results in more profits. For the operators, even if there’s only one subscriber, they’ll still need to buy the broadcasting rights to dozens of television shows and even if there’s only one country covered, they’ll still need to set up the whole satellite system and a transmission system.

    After nearly 20 years of operation, the total number of employees of StarTimes in Africa has reached more than 4,300, among which local employees account for 96 percent, which means 4,000 job opportunities. Besides, the company has set up more than 6,000 agents in Africa, indirectly creating about 50,000 jobs in managerial, technological and other areas.

    In the Beijing headquarters, there are two African vice-presidents who are responsible for content management and brand building.

    Signals from the three network platforms cover 90 percent of the African population, and the broadcasting center based in Beijing transmits programs to each African country in real time.

    There are more than 440 channels with programs broadcast in English, French, Portuguese and a dozen Africa local languages.

    StarTimes has also helped African countries to digitize their radio and television system, which includes many big turn-key projects, such as the construction of Zimbabwe’s national radio and television coverage network.

    The company has also made full use of its technological advantages to invest in the wireless digital TV transmission system in Rwanda and other countries, and to provide paid-TV programs as well as digital TV signal transmission services.

    The setting up of digital TV networks has opened up new channels for cultural exchanges between China and the African continent.

    And Chinese films and TV programs are now a key window for African countries to learn about Chinese culture.

    In order to make the shows more audience-friendly, English and French subtitles and voices were first added. And the shows have also been dubbed into Swahili, Hausa, Yoruba and a few other local languages.

    Besides this, a total of over 5,000 episodes from 160 Chinese films and TV programs have been dubbed into local languages for different TV channels.

    StarTimes also seized the opportunity to set up a translation workshop with an annual output of 10,000 hours of translated subtitles for Chinese films and TV programs. Many of its online translators are from Africa.

    Chinese enterprises in Africa always shoulder the responsibility of benefitting local people. So, in order to make digital TV affordable to local people, the preliminary installation fees and the fees for buying programs are lowered. Besides, an all-in-one digital TV set has also been developed for the African market, which incorporates a set-top box into the main body of a TV set, thus significantly reducing the price.

    In the African countries where StarTimes provides services, a set-top box costs as little as $10 and a program package costs only $3, which are all you need to watch HD digital shows.

    The key to Chinese enterprises’ success in Africa lies in its compliance with the principle of respecting and adapting to local conditions. As a foreign company in Africa, StarTimes abides by the laws and regulations of the country where its project is located, respects local culture and habits, and establishes a feedback mechanism for further improvement. Its success shows that running businesses in other countries can not only win the trust of local partners, but also reduce the cost of the parent company.

    Shen Jiawen is director of the Editorial Office, and associate researcher at the Globalization Magazine of China Center for International Economic Exchanges.

    The author contributed this article to China Watch exclusively. The views expressed do not necessarily reflect those of China Watch.

    All rights reserved. Copying or sharing of any content for other than personal use is prohibited without prior written permission.

    With the sound development of information technology, digital TV is replacing analog TV on a global scale, and the integration of three networks, telecommunication network, broadcasting network and the internet, has become the direction of the digital TV industry. New media provides a new channel and a new kind of information carrier for the spread of its TV programs globally. Statistics show that the overseas audiences of Chinese TV programs are mainly from Asia. For example, in 2016, 87.9 percent of exported Chinese TV programs went to other Asian countries.

    In recent years, China’s private enterprises have also made great strides in developing the digital radio and TV market in Africa.

    While expanding the African market, Chinese enterprises have been playing the role of a technology leader, a model creator, a market promoter and an undertaker of the changeover from analog TV to digital TV.

    And thanks to their efforts, at present, the digital TV network has become the most important transmission platform of TV signals in many African countries, which greatly improves the quality and coverage of the TV signals, as well as the numbers and quality of TV programs there.

    StarTimes Group is one such enterprise. In 2002, like many Chinese private companies, it started to dip its ties on overseas markets.

    And after 10 years of development, branch companies in more than 30 African countries such as Rwanda, Nigeria, Kenya, Tanzania, and South Africa have been set up, which focus on digital TV and mobile TV projects.

    With the popular TV programs it provides for the locals, it has developed into the most powerful digital TV and mobile TV operator in Africa’s radio and television market.

    Digital TV belongs to the network economy, which is an economy of scale, ie. larger scale results in more profits. For the operators, even if there’s only one subscriber, they’ll still need to buy the broadcasting rights to dozens of television shows and even if there’s only one country covered, they’ll still need to set up the whole satellite system and a transmission system.

    After nearly 20 years of operation, the total number of employees of StarTimes in Africa has reached more than 4,300, among which local employees account for 96 percent, which means 4,000 job opportunities. Besides, the company has set up more than 6,000 agents in Africa, indirectly creating about 50,000 jobs in managerial, technological and other areas.

    In the Beijing headquarters, there are two African vice-presidents who are responsible for content management and brand building.

    Signals from the three network platforms cover 90 percent of the African population, and the broadcasting center based in Beijing transmits programs to each African country in real time.

    There are more than 440 channels with programs broadcast in English, French, Portuguese and a dozen Africa local languages.

    StarTimes has also helped African countries to digitize their radio and television system, which includes many big turn-key projects, such as the construction of Zimbabwe’s national radio and television coverage network.

    The company has also made full use of its technological advantages to invest in the wireless digital TV transmission system in Rwanda and other countries, and to provide paid-TV programs as well as digital TV signal transmission services.

    The setting up of digital TV networks has opened up new channels for cultural exchanges between China and the African continent.

    And Chinese films and TV programs are now a key window for African countries to learn about Chinese culture.

    In order to make the shows more audience-friendly, English and French subtitles and voices were first added. And the shows have also been dubbed into Swahili, Hausa, Yoruba and a few other local languages.

    Besides this, a total of over 5,000 episodes from 160 Chinese films and TV programs have been dubbed into local languages for different TV channels.

    StarTimes also seized the opportunity to set up a translation workshop with an annual output of 10,000 hours of translated subtitles for Chinese films and TV programs. Many of its online translators are from Africa.

    Chinese enterprises in Africa always shoulder the responsibility of benefitting local people. So, in order to make digital TV affordable to local people, the preliminary installation fees and the fees for buying programs are lowered. Besides, an all-in-one digital TV set has also been developed for the African market, which incorporates a set-top box into the main body of a TV set, thus significantly reducing the price.

    In the African countries where StarTimes provides services, a set-top box costs as little as $10 and a program package costs only $3, which are all you need to watch HD digital shows.

    The key to Chinese enterprises’ success in Africa lies in its compliance with the principle of respecting and adapting to local conditions. As a foreign company in Africa, StarTimes abides by the laws and regulations of the country where its project is located, respects local culture and habits, and establishes a feedback mechanism for further improvement. Its success shows that running businesses in other countries can not only win the trust of local partners, but also reduce the cost of the parent company.

    Shen Jiawen is director of the Editorial Office, and associate researcher at the Globalization Magazine of China Center for International Economic Exchanges.

    The author contributed this article to China Watch exclusively. The views expressed do not necessarily reflect those of China Watch.

    All rights reserved. Copying or sharing of any content for other than personal use is prohibited without prior written permission.

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