Broadcasting is essential in Africa because most Africans get information, education and entertainment from primarily traditional radio and television broadcasts. However, with the evolution of broadcasting, it can be noted that some parts of Africa are lagging in the development of online media, resulting in disconnect in-laws that can effectively regulate the new era of online broadcasting and OTT streaming services.
Broadcast Media Africa (BMA) will be convening an online forum to tackle the issues raised above. Ahead of the “Effective Regulation Of Online Broadcasting And OTT Streaming Services In Africa” meeting, which will take place on Thursday, 14 October 2021, BMA conversed with Fegus Lipenga, the Director of Broadcasting at Malawi Communications Regulatory Authority (MACRA).
During the conversation, Lipenga spotlighted the challenges in regulating online media. According to Lipenga, “online media content is difficult to regulate because its content is distributed through non-traditional methods, making it difficult to monitor using monitoring systems”. He further highlighted the lack of borders in online content distribution and consumption as the main factor that challenges regulating such content.
Take a look at the below excerpt from a conversation between Broadcast Media Africa (BMA) and Mr Fegus Lipenga ahead of the upcoming forum below:
BMA: What influenced your decision to agree to participate in the Hybrid Summit on “Effective Regulation Of Online Broadcasting And OTT Streaming Services In Africa”?
Fegus Lipenga: This is a new area of regulation. In Malawi, we are used to regulating traditional broadcasting. Participating in this summit will sharpen my skills and get more insights into how we can start regulating Online broadcasting and OTT streaming services as a country.
BMA: What key elements do you think make online media content challenging to regulate compared to traditional broadcast media platforms in Africa?
Fegus Lipenga: Online media content is challenging to regulate because the content is broadcast through non-traditional methods, and it isn’t easy to monitor using our monitoring system. It isn’t straightforward to identify the source as well as where the content is coming from. You may not have control over the content and where it is being broadcast to. Due to different cultures and traditions, some content may be acceptable where it is broadcasted but unacceptable where it is being watched.
BMA: What can industry regulators and policymakers do to ensure the effective regulation of online broadcasting and OTT streaming services?
Fegus Lipenga: Develop regulations to ensure effective regulation which curb some of the challenges such as illegal content, age-inappropriate content, misleading content etc
BMA: Is it the time to be looking at regulating online content, looking at the rate at which the technological landscape is currently changing?
Fegus Lipenga: Yes, but with softer regulations but also ensure traditional broadcasters are protected
BMA: How can effective regulatory, policy frameworks and modalities for regulating online media be achieved in Africa?
Fegus Lipenga: Harmonisation of laws to deal with the source where content is originating from. Do massive consultations with the providers to ensure buy-in.
BMA: Could you please tell us what you hope fellow participants will take away from this industry event?
Fegus Lipenga: Participants will note that technology is changing every day. Countries must work together to devise regulations on how to deal with online broadcasting with a broad audience. Traditional broadcasting is dying little by little.