Broadcasters Face Screen Test In COVID-19 Age

A TV camera operator is seen in the empty tribune ahead of the German first division Bundesliga football match VfL Wolfsburg v Eintracht Frankfurt on May 30, 2020 in Wolfsburg, western Germany. Swen Pförtner / POOL / AFP.


Sport has been forced behind closed doors for the foreseeable future but experts are divided over whether broadcasters will suffer or prosper in the new landscape.

Some believe television rights will either stagnate or decline in value, others think they will be driven up due to increased interest from tech companies such as Google and Amazon.

The sums in play are enormous. American broadcaster NBC’s current deal to cover the Olympics until 2032 is worth $7.75 billion.

The English Premier League’s most recent overseas TV rights package for 2019-22 rose a reported 35 percent in value to £4.2 billion ($5.25 billion) despite a fall in the value of the domestic rights.

European Broadcasting Union executive director of sport Stefan Kuerten is unconvinced that rights deals will continue to soar despite potentially millions being added to viewing figures.

The 61-year-old will on Friday step away after almost 20 years of negotiating global and European rights for events such as World Cups and Olympics on behalf of public service broadcasters.

“They (TV) will be in a strong position but will price go up because of it? There I have doubts,” he told AFP by phone from Switzerland.

He believes the virus will have an impact on the industry.

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“Broadcasters have learned now these kinds of pandemics exist and could ask for new exit and security clauses in contracts like a force majeure (unexpected event) or unforeseeable event.

“The virus has placed a safety belt on sports broadcasters as to whether they increase the payment in case something else happens.”

– Atmosphere –

Kuerten warns that viewers will tire of watching events without crowds, even if they can watch sport from the comfort of their armchairs.

“Without any fans in the stadium, TV is not sustainable for football or other sports,” he said. “When the crowd reacts, then emotions spill over into the screen.

“If one of these elements is missing then there are different sensations and viewers hesitate to have the same interest in the product as before.

“I have to say from my experience following matches (in the Bundesliga, taking place behind closed doors), something is missing.”

British advertising tycoon Martin Sorrell, who founded advertising giant WPP, is more bullish, though he admits the waters are choppy.

“There are not exactly positives to come out of this (coronavirus) but demand will see live sport at a premium and may see more distant viewers/fans tuning in and watching,” he said.

“The rights will continue to increase driven by the incursion of digital media players, platforms and hardware companies.”

– ‘The COVID pause’ –

Sorrell, who sits on the International Olympic Committee’s Communications Commission, says it is clear that “public thirst for live sport, for watching it, has increased”.

The 75-year-old Englishman, who left WPP in 2018 and set up digital advertising and marketing services company S4 Capital, says the public have adapted to the online world.

“COVID-19 has had influence, with huge amounts of people unable to go to the shops due to lockdown shopping online, communicating online,” he said.

“As media becomes increasingly more digital and less analogue, that moves it more online so potential audiences move online.”

Terrence Burns, who since leaving his marketing executive role at the IOC has played a key role in five victorious Olympic bid campaigns, believes sponsors and advertisers who partner with broadcasters will be more selective.

“I think the ‘COVID pause’ will lead to what I call the ‘great value realignment’ in sport,” he said.

“Obviously, brands (sponsors and advertisers) will come back to sport — it is the most emotive marketing strategy on the planet and most efficient.

“The question is what are they coming back to?

“Brands will be necessarily more demanding in terms of expenditure and value — they will be ‘pickier’ about what sports (competitions and events) they invest in.

“This means that smaller and or marginal sports may indeed suffer in the short term, but I also think this will force federations to find and create niches for the right brands.”


BON Chairman Challenges Broadcasters To Be Balanced, Objective And Fair

BON Chairman Challenges Media Operators On Greater Transparency, Accountability
BON Chairman, Mr John Momoh


The Chairman of Broadcasting Organisations of Nigeria (BON), Mr John Momoh, has challenged media operators in the country, especially broadcasters to be more transparent in the course of their duties.

Mr Momoh, who is also the Chairman/CEO of Channels Media Group, said this on Wednesday while addressing BON 69th General Assembly in Lagos State.

“Greater transparency and accountability are much needed in the current climate of misinformation, political lies and widespread distrust.

“In the social and political circumstance that we live in, the broadcaster should strive to be a medium of moderation, in such a way as to relay information with decorum, with a logic of perspective, and to be dispassionate in news reporting,” he said.

READ ALSOJohn Momoh Addresses BON General Assembly [FULL TEXT]

The BON chairman noted that the rules and codes of practice of journalism had already highlighted balance, objectivity, and fairness as some of the key requirements in the profession.

He said that although the operators have a general understanding of these values; some keep them while others drop the ball in some cases.

As Nigeria steps into another critical time in its political life, Momoh urged the broadcasters to perform their roles creditably and professionally.

He also warned them to give careful thought to how content is being created, to avoid discrimination, lack of understanding, misinformation, intolerance and conflict.

He said, “There are several examples of where literal work or media content has been a source of great human conflict. There are also many examples of how a misguided broadcast has caused upheaval in societies, just because due regard for the rights or wishes of others have not been considered.

“We cannot also overstate our obligations as broadcasters, either in the moral or in the constitutional sense. In all the dimensions, the charge before us is not only very clear but also onerous, which is why we cannot afford to shirk our responsibilities.”

The Channels Media Group boss stressed further that the occurrence of hate speech cannot be undermined, with the growing influence of social media and its likely role in the forthcoming elections.

Momoh described hate speech as a great threat to national cohesion which can only be rivalled by physical harm, through maiming, and killings.

Some of the other speakers at the event are the Chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), Professor Mahmood Yakubu, as well as distinguished broadcaster and diplomat, Dr Christopher Kolade.

Professor Yakubu gave an insight into the preparations for the coming elections as it relates to the media, while Dr Kolade focused on hate speech in the build-up to the 2019 polls.

AfricaCom 2017: John Momoh Challenges Broadcasters To Explore Global Trends

John Momoh

The Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of Channels Media Group, Mr John Momoh, has challenged mainstream broadcasters to become more inclusive, embrace new technology, and build talent networks.

He made the call on Tuesday at the 2017 AfricaCom Conference in Cape Town, South Africa, where players in Africa’s media and technology industry met to discuss the continent’s tech realities as well as the challenges and opportunities they present.

“The local has become global and global, local. The responsibility of the broadcaster has increased immensely, meaning that we must now be very progressive and proactive in meeting the challenges of this responsibilities,” Mr Momoh, who was the Keynote Speaker at the event, said.

He spoke on the topic ‘New Thinking, Respect And Vision For Professional Broadcasting’, stressing that service and not content is now king.

Mr Momoh is also hopeful that broadcasters and other industry players at the conference will seize the opportunity it provides to “explore new ways of doing business and create opportunities for effective professional collaborations”.

“It has become such a small world and we can seize the opportunity of what technology presents to us and use it as a leverage for all broadcasters,” he added.

The Editor-In-Chief of Stuff Magazine, Mr Toby Shapshak, on his part, highlighted Africa’s increasing influence and potential.

“Africa, as you know, is the fastest growing region in the world, second only in size to Asia, and there are still challenges and massive opportunities,” he said.

Also, at the event, a panel of broadcasting experts looked at the role and challenges of public broadcasting in an evolving African digital landscape.

“Public service broadcasting has been behaving like subsistence farmers where you produce for your own consumption,” a former Chief Executive Officer of the South African Broadcasting Corporation (SABC), Mr Phil Molefe, said.

According to him, the challenge facing broadcasting doubles as an opportunity.

“The opportunity is (that) we must create top quality, compelling content that can travel, that can be distributed, (and) that can be exported,” Mr Molefe said.

As part of efforts to encourage professional collaboration, Mr Joel Churcher of BBC Worldwide told participants at the conference that his organisation has found ways to protect programmers.

“Essentially, if you are a young production company and you come to a public broadcaster with an idea, you keep that idea if it is broadcast under the pact agreement,” he said.

The AfricaCom Conference is one of Africa’s largest telecoms, media and technology gatherings. It is said to be the place to shape Africa’s digital future.