History of Television Around the World - Africa

About the history of television in the world and in Africa, use of TV for education and commerical purposes.

Television around the World


African television has developed slowly, since much of the continent's climate is devastating to delicate equipment, its population by and large is too poor to own sets, and its nations are unable to budget for well-appointed stations. Since its beginning in 1959, in Nigeria, TV has been almost exclusively a commercial venture, but because service is basically available only in the capital cities of Africa--and to those rich enough to afford sets--revenues from advertising are minimal. Nigeria, Ethiopia, Zambia, Kenya, and Ghana all are too impoverished to produce more than 40% of their own programming, and that forces them to fall back on American importations like "Land of the Giants," "Bonanza," and "UFO." Furthermore, government censorship is so extreme in Kenya that stealing, fighting, shooting, and killing are banned from the airwaves, which limits importations there as well.

The most ambitious project in Africa at the moment is the attempt to create a nationwide educational network. A collaborative effort between UNESCO and the Ivory Coast, the program will expend $500 million over a period of about 12 years to produce primary-school-level shows domestically. The programs will reach an estimated half million children by 1976. Still, in the words of Nairobi's Morris Mwendar: "Most of us have no idea what other TV services are doing; we ought to be working with them on coproductions, trying to create television that is truly African in character."

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