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Convergence of information, communication and technology : a case study of Sentech.

The global media landscape has undergone fundamental changes. South Africa is one
of the countries that has been part of the global media revolution, and it is therefore not
surprising that the broadcasting and the telecommunications industry in South Africa
finds itself in the midst of critical and rapid changes. From a technological and
legislative viewpoint, the industry is grappling with the meaning and implications of the
convergence of broadcasting (Sentech Annual Report, 2002). Sentech Limited is used
as a case study for this dissertation. The present study examines the nature of Sentech's
transformation as a service arm within the South African Broadcasting Corporation
(SABC) to a fully-fledged, profit driven, state-owned enterprise. The advent of
technological convergence and the introduction of new digital technologies afford
Sentech exciting new opportunities to expand in the communications arena.
The first chapter entails the methods of data collection used, as well as the analysis of
data collected from the interviews and surveys. It is worth reviewing the challenges that
Sentech faces as it operates independently of SABC, as well as how its transition into a
digital oriented enterprise has developed and necessitated the possible access to
Chapter two discusses and outlines Sentech's history and its structure. The two issues
raised guide the reader towards a better understanding of the 'old Sentech', and its
transformation to a 'renewed entity'. The history surveys Sentech's establishment from
the initial stages when it was a mere division of SABC, focused on technological
aspects of analogue terrestrial signal distribution. The new technological revolution
introduced and transformed Sentech into a digital transmitter. The 'new Sentech's
outfitted with new technological platforms for distribution and transmission. For
instance, IP Wireless mobile broadband and other new technological structures
contributed to reshaping Sentech into a digitally oriented transmitter. The design of the
company tracks different developments in which Sentech has engaged over the past ten
years, and are dealt with the following sections.
The third chapter deals with Sentech's transformation as an outcome of the
liberalization wherein the effects of this process need to be looked at including the role
of the government, market structure, issues of competition with Orbicom and Telkom,
the new competitive strategies and ICASA's role as a regulator.
The fourth chapter covers the concepts and theories that may help inform the
discussion in the dissertation. Three theories will be used in the discussion to help to
analyze and evaluate the data collected. The theories are very important as they
motivate this study. They are concerned with the concept of political economy. Political
economy signifies "the production, distribution, and consumption of the more general
interest in the process of control and survival in social life" (Mosco, 1996: 17). These
will exemplify the opportunities that Sentech faced as an independent commercial
enterprise. Furthermore, the section explains technological components. Sentech is a
signal distributor, which underwent transformation. Concepts such as 'convergence'
produce a vivid explanation of how Sentech was allowed to undertake an aggressive
business transformation, from being traditional signal distribution to international
telephony and multimedia service.
Chapter five entails the performance of Sentech. This part discusses the revenue, public
interest on matters relating to access and some of the key challenges. There is also a
discussion on globalization, digitization and convergence which Sentech has engaged
in. The last chapter will be concerned with a conclusion and will recommend a way
forward. / Thesis (M.A.)-University of KwaZulu-Natal, 2005.
Date January 2005
CreatorsMetso, Marathane Reggy.
ContributorsTeer-Tomaselli, Ruth Elizabeth.
Source SetsSouth African National ETD Portal
Detected LanguageEnglish

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