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The Process of Launching Educational Broadcasts in Botswana

JAMCO Online International Symposium

30th JAMCO Online International Symposium

February 2022 - March 2022

For a Sustainable World – Responses to the COVID-19 Crisis

International Cooperation in Broadcasting
The Process of Launching Educational Broadcasts in Botswana

Koji NAKAI
Broadcasting Consultant

Japan has been making a large variety of international contributions through a mechanism of the Official Development Assistance (ODA). Nevertheless, ODA activities are state contributions to other states, at any rate, which involve both physical and psychological supports provided in response to requests from other countries.

In 2008, I had an opportunity to be involved in the launch of an educational channel in an African country—the Republic of Botswana. It was not a project between states, but an intensive cooperation directly requested by Botswana, and in principle at the expense of Botswana in principle. In that sense, it was a business project between a private organization and a state and based on human relationship.

1. Republic of Botswana

The Republic of Botswana is often described with the following terms: a small country in the southern Africa, most of the land is covered by the Kalahari Desert, the world’s top diamond producing country, the land area is 1.5 times that of Japan, the population is one sixtieth that of Japan, the population density is four persons per square kilometer. Botswana is also known as: more than 50 years since its independence, party politics created by multiparty democratic general elections, and maintaining the principles of peace and equality without any civil wars (any independence wars or ethnic wars) since its independence.

It is also a semi-developed country, which is growing out of a diamond-dependent economy, advocating to become an education-oriented nation. Since its independence, Botswana has built schools in every community across the nation and established a solid educational system, with its national university, the University of Botswana, at its apex, and now receives a considerable number of foreign students. Its ten-year compulsory educational includes primary education (seven years) and junior secondary education (three years), with almost 100% enrollment ratio, which is followed by. senior secondary education (two years) and university (four years).

Despite its vast land area, the passion for compulsory education prevails across the country. It is surprising that even a remote village or a tiny community with a population of several dozens of people has a school without exception, which vividly shows the nation’s tremendous enthusiasm for education. It may be likened to the post-Meiji Restoration Japan that built schools as educational institutions all over the country. It reminded me of a provision in “Gakusei” (educational decree) issued in 1872 (the 5th year of Meiji): “No household without education in a village, no person without education in a family.”

In 2008, fate brought me an opportunity to fly to Gaborone, the capitol of Botswana, where I stayed for three years as a consultant to the Ministry of Education of Botswana*, dedicating myself to the establishment of educational broadcasting channel. At that time, its national broadcaster, Botswana Television (BTV), had only one television channel, and “direct teaching programs” were aired on radio. The government had previously been advised by delegations from Nordic and other countries that educational TV broadcasts should be launched, but the reports were shelved in a locker of the Ministry of Education.

*Currently the Ministry of Basic Education and the Ministry of Tertiary Education, Research, Science and Technology

My trip to Botswana was prompted by then Ambassador of Botswana to Japan, who took notice of Japan’s educational broadcasting soon after his arrival and sought my cooperation for the implementation of it in his country. The Ambassador told me earlier that Botswana was good at making catchphrases of visions and missions, but not good at implementing them. I thought it was just a humbled remark, and it was some time after I started working on the front line of implementation that I understood what he had wanted to tell me.

2. Activities as Consultant to the Ministry of Education

Broadcasting in Botswana was under the jurisdiction of the Ministry of State President* (Botswanan counterpart of Japan’s Prime Minister’s Office), and since broadcasting was state-run, it was directly linked to the center of the government. Meanwhile, educational broadcasting, which was linked to school curriculum, was delivered only via radio and under the jurisdiction of the Ministry of Education. In short, the Ministry of Education was responsible for producing content and delivering it to the public via state-owned broadcasting signal.

*Currently Ministry of Presidential Affairs Governance and Public Administration

For TV broadcasting, BTV had only one channel, and my mission was to launch another channel to actualize “educational television,” which the Ministry of Education had long been dreaming of but struggling to put into practice despite their visions and missions. As mentioned above, the main reason for that was the existence of two presiding authorities—the Ministry of State President and Ministry of Education, with the former acting as channel operator and the latter content provider.

In addition to this, Botswana was no exception in terms of having a vertically segmented administrative system, and it appeared to be difficult to receive prompt decisions at various stages. Therefore, I told myself that my tasks as a consultant included finding the right button to push, or playing a cross-sectional role, to make the project move forward as much as possible.

Market Research for Starters

As a TV director and producer, I have made various television programs, one of which was a documentary about the San people (at that time called Bushmen) in the Kalahari Desert. I visited the place and lived with them in a tent for about two months. It was in 1981, when Botswana had just won its independence and was still among the poorest countries in Africa. And, almost thirty years later, the Botswana government (the Ministry of Education) requested me to become a consultant, but even though I had an experience staying in the country, I felt a long stay might be too adventurous. Therefore, I decided to take a four-week field trip in April 2008 to investigate the local situations beforehand.

The capitol city, Gaborone, had seemingly been developed into a modern city with shopping malls and hotels.

The Ministry of Education’s director and division manager were responsible for the establishment of educational channel. In cooperation with them, I started exploring Botswana’s educational situation: whether there were needs for educational content, the situations at schools and other educational institutions, and whether government’s policies were reaching them. For this investigation, I visited schools and related institutions and met various people including teachers and the Educational Ministry officials in charge of each site.

The investigation revealed that there were strong needs, especially among those on the educational front line, who expressed great expectations for the early implementation of educational broadcasting to solve the scarcity of teaching/learning materials and to raise pupils’ motivation for learning by improving their understanding and performances through educational broadcasts.

It was also found that most textbooks distributed to pupils were issued in the United Kingdom and that they were short in number, which forced two pupils to share one textbook. I also learnt there were regional disparities in teachers, which was creating latent educational disparities.

Setting a Grand Design and Objectives

To pursue this project on a full scale, I returned to Botswana in August 2008 to stay for a long term. The first thing I did was setting a grand design for the project. Then, based on the grand design, I made the following six objectives, which should be shared with the Ministry of Education, as a foundation for the launch of the project.

  1. Play the role of content provider (broadcasting is operated by the Ministry of State President, and the Ministry of Education will provide content, TV programs, for BTV.)

  2. Confirm the areas to cove: the production of content that can “contribute to school education”

  3. Secure broadcast hours (six hours per day right after the launch of the educational television, which shall be gradually extended)

  4. Employ the “multi-run style” in programming to broadcast programs in the six-hour time slot four times a day (6h x 4 times, and later 8h x 3 times). We regard this style as multiple runs, not reruns, to make the content accessible around the clock.

  5. Securing resources (people, things, and money) to respond to diverse needs.

  6. Explore a way to generate income from the secondary use of programs in the future.


Progress Report for the First Two Years (2008 to 2010)

  • A. Full of shortages
    As mentioned earlier, Botswana already had audio (radio) broadcast service of educational programs, but they were simple ones with teachers’ straightforward explanation. On top of this, the programs had been aired as reruns for several years, without any changes or additions.

    Furthermore, there were only dozen or so production members, only one radio studio, and radio programs just following text books without ingenuity. No discussion was being made about how and what kind of broadcasts should be delivered on television because, for many people, launching educational broadcasting was like “crying for the moon,” or something very unrealistic. My responsibility was to make the unrealistic into reality, namely implementation.

  • B. First, organizing a project team
    In order to implement educational broadcasting on television, I started with forming a project team. Yet, it took a considerable time for me to organize a team consisting of special, dedicated staff members (government officials of the Ministry of Education) and to establish a typical scheme where team members would make plans and discuss matters.

    The Ministry of Education had a deep-rooted idea that “it’s all right as long as school education is being practiced” and was yet to take actions about securing new personnel and associated budget.

    As a foreign consultant, I might have been out of line to interfere in human resources (a matter of the Ministry of Education Secretariat), finances (Accountant General, the Ministry of Finance and Economic Development), and securing broadcast hours and programming schedule on BTV (the Ministry of State President). I was well aware of that, but in order to produce the maximum results as a consultant, I spent an enormous amount of energy to negotiate with officials in charge of each ministry (usually director or permanent secretary) about these issues.

    As I kept contacting these ministries, I came to admire the officials’ accommodating attitudes: they willingly responded to me, a foreigner. Meeting with government high officials in a cross-sectional manner was indispensable to implement the project. The process of negotiation made me realized that advocacy was crucial to let the officials from diverse ministries understand that broadcasting should be a fundamental national media, for which we were striving to establish a new channel that could be utilized in school education.

  • C. What educational TV broadcasts should be delivered
    Educational broadcasting covers many diverse fields. For example, NHK has various genres in its educational broadcasting (school broadcasting, lifelong learning, welfare, health, life style, hobbies, foreign languages, children, child-rearing, culture, etc.). To pinpoint the programs to broadcast that would contribute to school education was the most pressing issue for Botswana, which was advocating “education-oriented country” and striving to raise the nation’s academic standard. Taking this into consideration, I decided to start with school broadcasting as a fast way to achieve it.

    It was necessary to convince all the stakeholders, both inside and outside of the team, to have a common understanding that broadcasting would play a major role in attaining this goal, especially in a country with a vast land area and scattered population. Hence, I defined the contributions of broadcasting to education as “DEE” as a slogan.

 Consider “DEE” as the basic idea

  • Democratic (Everyone can view the same programs and learn from the same materials, regardless of the region, which is democratic.)

  • Economical (Transmission content throughout the vast country simultaneously via a broadcasting signal is economical.)

  • Effective (Programs utilizing audiovisual information is educationally effective.)

Because of its convenience, broadcasting can eliminate educational disparities nationwide, create equality by eliminating regional disparities, and ensures the benefits and utilization of broadcasting. We made these three aspects our common understanding.

Thus, our project team somehow started working. As a team, we discussed how to make visualized educational programs, how these programs should be used, and the content, purpose, and methodology of the programs used in the class; these three were our main topics.

 Categorization of purposes (school education programs)

  • Knowledge acquisition: learn about the unknown world (history, science, chemistry, etc.)

  • Promoting developmental learning: generalize given examples (social studies, biology, etc.)

  • Facilitating discussion and communication: ethics, health and physical education, welfare

Based on the above classification, we clarified our production goals, and thoroughly discussed what we should take into consideration in program productions, which included how each program should be used to serve the users better, such as when the programs should be viewed during the class (at the beginning, in the middle, or at the end as a summary of the lesson).

3. Setting a Term for Test Broadcasts to Make Pilot Programs.

The next two years passed quickly as we spent most of the time preparing for gaining the above-mentioned basic understanding. The Ministry of Education asked me to extend the contract for another year, and I was happy to accept the offer because I myself also wanted to do more than just make a plan. Thus, I decided to stay one more year, hoping to make it take shape.

Procuring equipment for filming

As the previous two years were spent on debates, I wanted to take actions, so I started with specifically considering what kinds of programs we should make, as part of “on-the-job training.” The problem was, however, the establishment of BETV (Botswana Educational Television) was yet to be included in the priority list of the government, and naturally we were on a tight budget. That was when then Ambassador of Botswana to Japan came up with a great idea: some hundreds of millions of yen are kept at the Embassy due to the debt relief of yen loans, which might be used for equipment procurement for production of the pilot programs. I visited various authorities and stakeholders to explain the situation. Consequently, the Japanese side decided to let the Botswana government decide the usage of money. I immediately called on one of the NHK affiliates, NHK Media Technology, Inc. (current NHK Technologies, Inc.) to provide an estimate and arrange for the equipment necessary for the production of pilot programs, and eventually we were able to acquire the equipment. We purchased a set of equipment necessary for Botswana’s very first digital production, including three state-of-the-art digital high-definition cameras, audio equipment, lighting equipment, and two types of video-editors. We also asked the Ministry of Education to install a voice-over booth for narrations, etc.

Later, NHK Media Technology, Inc. dispatched technical experts to Botswana who designed and installed the equipment for a short period of time before completing the setting up in November 2010 so that we could start producing pilot programs.

As mentioned earlier, the Ministry of Education did not own any production studios and had to install the equipment inside a building of BTV (Botswana Television), the state-run broadcaster. In other words, the Ministry of Education became a “lodger” of BTV, which was quite a challenge already at that phase. This may a bit off-topic, though, our digital high-definition cameras and non-linear video editor attracted interest of BTV technical staff, who later requested to use them at BTV.

Delegation to Japan (October 2009 and September 2010)

During those three years, the high officials of the Ministry of Education and the Ministry of State President visited NHK Educational Corporation more than once to talk with TV production staff and producers about the production methods of various types of educational programs as well as the development process to understand the importance of program planning.

Delegates were interested in what equipment was used for productions, and the NHK Broadcasting Center filled with the cutting-edge devices attracted their attention.

NHK articulated that it would support the project, albeit indirectly by bolstering its affiliates involved in this project, and the Botswanan officials had a lively discussion with NHK President and other executive board members about how to proceed the project.

The visits to the NHK Broadcasting Center and other facilities must have made the delegates feel a gap—the number of channels, personnel, cutting-edge technologies such as 8K—between their organizations and NHK, one of the largest broadcasters in the world, but I am sure the visits were significantly inspiring for them.

Finding a Way to Secure Content

Installing the equipment and visits to Japan alone did not make it easy for the team to create all programs from scratch. Therefore, I suggested they should start with purchasing existing programs such as NHK’s Discover Science, and make a new program by using an existing program as the core part of the show and adding local teachers’ commentaries both at the beginning and the ending of the core content (as a strategy for acquiring diverse types of programs using different procurement methods such as “in-house productions,” “commissioned productions,” and “purchase.”) Following a style used in NHK High School Courses, we employed three cameras to shoot a model lesson conducted at an actual classroom and tried our best to produce greater visual effects, inserting graphics and live footage as much as possible. As the Botswana side requested us to make programs featuring science, arithmetic/mathematics and debates with in-depth discussion, we made programs for trial (their direction quality was not necessarily high, though) to explore standard models for production periods, production staff, budget, etc. I asked the NHK Educational Corporation to send a director for a short term for this process, and I served as a mentor.

Programming Schedule That Best Suits the Project Team

To secure a broadcasting slot we had to negotiate with BTV, but we managed to secure a two-hour broadcasting slot per day for eight programs within the broadcast hours of BTV, which had only one channel at that time. The two-hour programming schedule was just suitable for our capacity with limited staff and equipment.

Eventually, we embarked on programing, production, scheduling, and other specific tasks, with an aim to have the team members learn in a short period of time the importance of programing for providing content regularly and on time as well as the essential functions of a broadcaster such as annual planning and the development of new programs.

Test Broadcasts Started on the First Week of July (June 13th, 2011)

On the day of the first test broadcasting, to celebrate the Ministry of Education’s commencement of an entirely new style of education—education through television, an opening ceremony was held with attendance of high officials of Botswana government, Ambassador of Japan to Botswana, and representatives of NHK and its affiliates. The ceremony was widely reported on TV news and newspapers. Thus, broadcasting venturing into a new filed was kick-started.

At that stage, our test broadcasts were still a “lodger” of BTV channel, and we had not yet achieved our initial goal—the launch of the Botswana Educational Television (BETV) as an alternative channel. Nevertheless, expectations were growing for BETV broadcasts as an more developed and more independent version of the test broadcasts.

Around that time, African countries started considering the digitalization of broadcasting (transmission system), and in Botswana, too, where broadcasting should be heading for in the near future became an extremely important issue of the government. (As a result, Botswana became the only African country that adapted Japanese standard.) It was after we completed the project that I realized that the momentum for digitalization had acted as a barrier to the progress of our project.

A Gap between the Sender’s Circumstances and Receivers’ Environment and Status

We planned to deliver the first test broadcasts on June 2011 as BETV. Botswanan team members aimed at equipping themselves by then with fundamental skills necessary for program production and for delivering regular broadcasts, such as transmitting programs on time according to the broadcast schedule and having these programs utilized in school classes across the nation. Not only instructing the team, the author also gathered information, looking ahead for full-scale broadcasts, to summarize the issues surfaced through the test broadcasting as well as requests from teachers.

What I found out was not a footing for the full-scale broadcasts, but something totally unexpected, which was the circumstances of receivers: many schools could not receive even the test broadcasts. Problems reported by those schools included (1) no or not enough TV sets, (2) difficulty in maintaining TV sets (can be stolen), and (3) no access to the BTV broadcast signal (it covered only 80% of the country).

Despite these complaints, the Ministry of Education that was responsible for school management could not take any measures due to tight budget. Consequently, we had to continue the test broadcasting while problems were still there.

This kind of challenge has been frequently discussed as a common issue of African countries, which could be described as over-dependence, represented by statements such as “we cannot manage without foreign assistance” or “material support is a must.”

As I mentioned earlier, Botswana was regarded as a semi-developed country at that time, but things did not go as planned. “Why does it happen?” Even now, this question is repeatedly uttered by people engaged in Africa, and we are yet to see a clear-cut answer.

Assessment Report (March 2012)

Nine months after the start of test broadcasts, I conducted follow-up research by interviewing persons in charge of each program as well as teachers and other relevant persons, based on which I provided advice as a consultant on the aforesaid problems as well as the need for increasing the number of personnel, especially in management, for enhancing the supply of equipment, and for delivering wider range of programs.

Meanwhile, the production team were enthusiastically requesting the Ministry of Education to provide a stronger leadership and actualize the establishment of an alternative channel as BETV as soon as possible.

Unfortunately, however, the problems I pointed out remain unsolved, and even now “test broadcasts” are still going on.

As a result, the author completed the three-year contract and left Botswana, and years have passed since then. As a person involved in broadcasting, I went to Botswana, a modern nation, by myself, stayed there, met ministers and government high officials for countless times, and whenever the Botswanan delegates visited Japan, they paid courtesy calls on President of NHK and other key personnel to discuss various matters. Such cooperative relations greatly supported the project that was driven at a private level.

Although I dedicated these three years to the project as a consultant, it was difficult to achieve the initial goals. There were a few factors I should mention: (1) the project was not on the priority list of the Botswana government despite the growing demand, (2) a broadcasting innovation, namely digitalizing, coincided, and (3) the country’s bureaucratic structure impeded a smooth compromise between the Ministry of Education that was responsible for the content of educational programs and the Ministry of State President that had jurisdiction over broadcasting itself.

4. Broadcasting Landscape in Botswana Afterwards

This section reports other involvement with broadcasting in Botswana than the establishment of educational television. The Japanese government has been offering television programs to BTV through Cultural Grant Assistance of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Japan (MOFA). In 2013, a total of 38 titles (464 episodes, 7,944 minutes in total) of NHK programs such as documentaries introducing Japan and educational programs were provided through the NHK International, Inc. Among them were 8 titles (84 episodes, 1,203 minutes) archived in the Japan Media Communication Center (JAMCO).

Subsequent Moves of the Governments of Botswana and Japan, and the Promotion of Digitization

Since I left the project, the Botswana government has been greatly depending on Japanese government’s assistance in terms of broadcasting. The Japanese government has been actively involved in the digitalization of Botswana, promoting it at the expense of Japan, with ardent calls of the Ministry of Internal Affairs and Communications (MIC) as well as through a Technical Corporation Project as a part of ODA. In a sense, Japan’s involvement affected the sense of ownership which shifted from “determined to do it all by ourselves” to “if Japan’s willing to assist us, let them to it.” The Japanese government provided material assistance including HD television sets capable of receiving digital signals (number unknown), transmitters for sending out broadcasts (installed at about 80 locations nationwide), and computers and other devices necessary for producing data broadcasting content. The project also included the training of BTV workers in Japan. In this way, the Japanese government provides both tangible and intangible support.

Moreover, the MIC played a significant role in the digital migration in Botswana by implementing a sophisticated system of data broadcasts linked to television programs. JICA commissioned this technical cooperation project to Yachiyo Engineering Co., Ltd. exclusively, which submitted a report on the completion of the project in 2016.

Priority Issues for Digital Migration in Broadcasting

After ending the project on educational broadcasting, the Ministry of Education of Botswana also became highly interested in digitalization, which led me to visit Botswana again as a consultant in February 2014. I delivered a presentation of a model lesson in front of the ministry officials and teachers to show what kinds of lessons would be feasible. I demonstrated what precisely would become possible by digital broadcasting: for example, each pupil is given a tablet computer, a TV program is shown on a large screen monitor in the classroom, each pupil uses the device to check his/her understanding level, the data on the device is simultaneously sent to the teacher’s computer, and the teacher can give advice on the lack of understanding or correct mistakes (interactive learning). The participating teachers deeply understood that this system would bring about a dramatic reform in school lessons.

Yet, broadcasting was under the jurisdiction of the Ministry of State President, and their priority was digital migration of transmitting system and the introduction of new equipment for data broadcasting. I had an impression that the project launched by the Ministry of Education had been buried amidst the promotion of digital migration of BTV. It was BTV that took initiative in making strategies about broadcasting, and the Ministry of Education was not able to get out of the frame of a content provider.

Personally, I thought it was too early for Botswana to implement data broadcasting—a highly sophisticated form of digitalization, when the broadcasting signal was still not prevalent around the country. Even now, I believe that broadcasting has its meaning only when broadcast content (programs and related services) becomes available to the entire public and is appreciated by them.

During the three-year project, I placed importance on realizing the initial goal, which was to introduce television broadcasts into the world of education as a new tool to utilize the audiovisual theory, which should be reflected on each program and be of help to people. We started the project in tandem with the Ministry of Education, but unfortunately the state’s interest shifted to digitalization, a completely new tool for them. As a person involved in program production, and based on my experience in supporting education and broadcasting at home and abroad, I cannot think of the introduction of any new technology without considering how it can be useful for the users and beneficiaries.

Botswana in 2021

The coronavirus pandemic has been seriously affecting Botswana, too, which is desperately fighting against it, defending its people by intermittently issuing lockdown orders and state of emergency declarations. Vaccines are provided by China for free, but the vaccination rate is still low, and other problem remains. As the closure of national border is damaging tourist industry, a selling point of the country, it is said Botswana is facing an economic crisis.

In response to the request to write this article, I contacted a former colleague of mine, a government official who now work for a different division, to ask him about the current situation. At the moment, he belongs to a department not at all related to educational broadcasting, but he is now a successful high-ranking official and kindly helped me gather information. The following is the summary of what I learnt about the broadcasting situation there.

  1. Terrestrial digitalization is not fully implemented yet due to a problem with digital transmitters (to be installed in over 80 transmitting stations nationwide) and delay in installing and/or distributing set-top boxes that will enable digital broadcasts to be viewed on conventional television sets. With the pandemic, it is difficult to foresee when it will be completed.

  2. On the contrary, there still are educational broadcasts in a form of test broadcasting. In addition to the government policy of expanding services using data broadcasting for the public, there is a plan to launch a new channel, on the premise of providing services for young people for the Ministry of Youth Empowerment, Sport and Culture Development. The test broadcasting is being conducted in preparation for the new channel (most of the programs are purchased, not produced in-house).

  3. “Educational broadcasting” programs produced by the Ministry of Education continue to be available in the two-hour slots on BTV 1. Pupils can watch these programs at home during the school closure. In this context, these broadcasts are playing at least its essential role. (Detailed information on the current programming schedule is not available, but it appears to be following the schedule of the test broadcasts that our team conducted.)

  4. Since the Department of Broadcasting Services (DBS) of the Ministry of State President has jurisdiction over any of the above broadcasts, issues regarding initiative still remain (BTV, Ministry of Education, and Ministry of Youth Empowerment, Sport and Culture Development).

In other words, given that transmitters and receivers—essential infrastructure for digital switchover—have not been penetrated across the country, it will take some time for Botswana to get around to content development. This reality makes me think from afar that in order to convince the public it is more important to simply present broadcast content (TV programs) before providing data broadcasting that is merely an additional service associated with digitalization.

Botswana is still fighting against the coronavirus crisis just as other nations are, and I am a little surprised that the two-hour educational broadcasts happen to be helping people during school closure. To rephrase it, although they are being used in a slightly different way from our original intention, I am glad that the content proved to be helpful as being suitable not only for home learning but also for self-study (without teacher’s involvement). In this light, I think that school broadcasting, which is still half-done but still modestly continuing, has created a stir in education in Botswana.

A similar thing is happening in Japan. “NHK For School” (NHK’s educational portal site) has increased the number of access and is being recognized anew as contributing to online, remote lessons, which tells it is meeting the needs of learners.

5. International Cooperation through Broadcasting: Taking SDGs into Consideration

Globally speaking, the digital switchover of broadcast transmission (methods to deliver broadcast signals to recipients) has been almost completed. Yet, this is merely a methodology regarding how to deliver content. Meanwhile, digitalization enables the creation of additional services different from conventional ones. Meanwhile, digitalization enables additional services different from conventional ones. Competition is getting fiercer not only in developed countries but also in other countries, with various services utilizing this new technology having emerged to attract users, to explore untapped needs, and to seek a competitive edge in pursuit of profits.

With the spread of smartphones, it is getting more difficult to find differences between broadcasters’ services delivered via broadcasting signals and services available on smartphones. We are witnessing a great change: content is becoming widely accessible, based on the idea of how it can help the users and contribute to culture and education beyond practical use.

As a broadcasting consultant and an expert, I visited emerging countries of Africa and Asia where I witnessed different needs of each country. To sum up, their needs were about how to deliver intangible aspects of broadcasting—the content and the message of program, rather than about the hardware of infrastructure for transmission.

Based on my consulting experience, I summarized how the roles and meaning of broadcasting are perceived in countries other than Botswana as follows.

  • A: Broadcasting for democratization (South Sudan, Ukraine, Myanmar)
  • B: Making content that meets the needs of people to enrich services (Vietnam, Rwanda)

  • C: How to link tradition and modernization and what TV can do (Malawi, Brunei Darussalam)

  • D: What can be done beyond straightforward visualization (Cambodia, Singapore)

  • E: Objective reporting and cooperation with Japan trough programs (Kenya, Qatar)

I was involved in these countries through various channels such as part of JICA and/or government projects as well as requests from overseas NPOs, but their goals shared one thing in common, which was human resources development.

There is an often-cited saying among people involved in assistance to Africa. “Give a man a fish, and you feed him for a day. Teach a man to fish, and you feed him for a lifetime.” Basically, they want goods because they are short of them. Nevertheless, they know they have to do it by themselves to become independent and accomplish something. What is really needed is showing them how to do things and discuss with them specific methods to solve problems, namely on-the-job training (OJT). In this light, I have learnt from my experience that having an attitude to solve problems together can help gain their understanding and assurance. I acutely feel human resources development is one of the most important factors.

Amid growing calls for public diplomacy, I have participated in program productions in various countries, exploring with local staff the way that would best suit each country, with an aim to make the most obvious thing to happen, which is to provide relevant and objective news and programs for the people. Otherwise, people do not trust broadcasting because just delivering the state’s interests is not enough to reach people.

Although there are differences in the circumstances of each country (political system, reception environment, equipment and other physical conditions), one can send messages in videos easily today. For broadcasting, whose major responsibility is communicating messages, the key to content production is choosing the right presentation (program direction, methodology) for sending the message. On the premise of this perception, program makers have to have a skill to tell the story properly though the filming and editing for each program. I sometimes had heated debates because of conflict of ideas or logics. I always tried to remind me of the idea of “symbiosis.” Rather than use techniques such as sounding humble or keeping a low profile, I always asked myself as well as local staff how we would be able to fulfill each task together under restricted circumstances to build a cooperative relationship.

Technological innovation is constantly advancing in broadcasting. On top of this, everyone can take and share videos using smartphones and other digital devices today. Making visual content and deliver it across the nation, or even across the world, has long been the privilege of broadcasters, but now the benefits of digitalization is widely spreading all over the world, whether it be developed or developing countries, and this momentum is explosive. In the face of this progress, what should broadcasters do? The answer I think is that they should differentiate themselves to take advantage by demonstrating “credibility,” “continuity,” “contributing to society,” and “quality content” amidst information overload on the internet.

Each community has diverse problems. An important mission of broadcasting is to proactively report them and ensure services that will contribute to social development. As part of SDGs, broadcasting is also required to take actions to achieve these goals.

Acknowledgements
I participated in the project assisting Botswanan broadcasting, not via the government, but through personal connections, as one might say. I received a great deal of support from many people from the following organizations, who I hope will forgive me not mentioning their names. Without their understanding and cooperation, I could not have come so far.

  • [Botswana]
    Ministry of Education
    Minister, Permanent Secretary, Deputy Permanent Secretary, and all respected partners

    Ministry of State President
    Minister, Executive officers of DBS (Department of Broadcasting Services, BTV)

    Ministry of Finance and Economic Development
    Accountant General

    Ministry of International Affairs and Cooperation
    Minister, Director of Department of Asia and Pacific Affairs

    Embassy of Botswana in Japan
    Successive Ambassadors

  • [Japan]
    Ministry of Foreign Affairs
    Deputy Minister, Officers at Second Africa Division, African Affairs Department

  • NHK and Affiliates
    Group Planning and Management Department
    NHK Media Technology, Inc. (current NHK Technologies, Inc.)
    NHK Communications Training Institute
    NHK International Inc.
    NHK Educational Corporation

Koji NAKAI

Broadcasting Consultant

Provides advice from the viewpoint of a TV producer on program production, program scheduling, public interest, etc. for broadcasters’ launching new channels and/or reforming broadcasting stations. Assists Asian and African broadcasters and international cooperation as a specialist for NHK International, Inc. and a short-term expert for Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA).

He joined NHK in 1970. Worked at Correspondence Education Division, Nagoya Station, School Broadcasting Division, Hiroshima Station, before moving to Program Production Department as Senior Producer. He served in number of posts for NHK, its affiliates, and other organizations, including the following.

2012-2017: Professor, University of the Sacred Heart, Tokyo
2011: Administrative Affairs Controller, NHK Educational Corporation
2008: Consultant to the Ministry of Education of Botswana where he stayed for three years
1999: Executive Director, NHK Educational Corporation,
1996: Supervising Producer, Cultural and Educational Division, Director for School Broadcasting, Executive Producer (Secretary General of Japan Prize), General Broadcasting Administration Department, NHK
1993: Executive/Senior Vice-President of NHK Enterprises USA, Inc. (New York)

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