Saguto’s comments came during a seminar on ‘Media’s New Forms and Patterns’ held on the second day of Arab Media Forum 2010. The session explored the rapid technological developments and its impact on the media.
Saguto added: “If we take a quick look at what is going to happen within the next few years, we will all agree that strongest collaboration measures need to be made between the media and telecom companies.”
Moderated by Ali Jaber, Dean, Mohammed Bin Rashid College of Communication, American University in Dubai, speakers at the seminar included Hakam Kanafani, Business Development Manager, Oger Telecom; Youssef Al Mugharbil, President of Digital Media, Rotana Media Group; Santino Saguto, Managing Director, MENA Region, Value Partners; Sam Barnett, General Manager and Chief Operating Officer, MBC Group, and Samy Abdulaziz, Chief of Board of Directors, TBWA/Egypt.
Analysing how the Arab media is keeping pace with technological developments, the session gave a forecast for the next few years. Panellists also examined how journalists react and adapt to the technological developments in terms of employment, training and professional performance, and debated on whether there are universal examples or mature Arab case studies worthy of emulation.
Sam Barnett said: “We are utilizing the shifts in technology by creating new portals such as mobile television, which we piloted in the UAE and are expanding regionally. Another service we now offer is ‘Shahid Online’, where viewers can watch their favourite show on our website MBC.net, and consume content that we produce. We have also developed an iPhone application for our show ‘Who Wants to be Millionaire’ that witnessed unprecedented success.”
He added: “This does not mean that watching television has become obsolete. In countries such as Japan and the US, where the technologies we are talking about have been available much earlier than us, people still watch television. In Japan, during year 2000, the average time spent by an individual watching television was about 200 minutes per day. In 2008, after the evolution of what we call new media, the average time spent by an individual in Japan watching television is 216 minutes per day.”
Concurring that the onset of fast evolving technologies continues to alter the way media carry their messages to the public, speakers pointed out that in the next few years, TV viewers might abandon their TV sets and digital satellite receivers as current television broadcasting equipment might be replaced by revolutionary and new broadcast modes. In such a foreseeable scenario, panellists said people could sit in coffee shops and restaurants and watch the news or sports programmes, and other television shows with their mobile phones.
Youssef Al Mugharbil said: “We are the first society in the world to write, but unfortunately we then missed the industrial revolution, and even missed the imitation revolution. Over 60 per cent of the Arab population is aged between 15 and 35; a relatively young population that will stop us from missing the information revolution, as it is the only opportunity to get us beyond borders. This conference now can be watched in a country as far as Brazil, which has an Arab population of 15 million.”
The same concept applies to magazines and publications that have already started to shift their print publications into online medium, to join the ever-expanding electronic media. Changes in radio broadcast that have begun to impact include digital radio, while the Internet radio and television radio have also become the latest phenomena.
Hakam Kanafani said: “The telecom industry witnessed a very successful experience. The invention of the mobile phones is the most successful invention, since there isn’t a product that reached this rate of penetration even with relatively poor countries. It has been historically a killer opportunity as it provided connectivity to everybody, as well as opened job opportunities and experiences for young talents. After calling and connectivity were granted, people then started looking for something else, where we began to seek more partnerships with other organizations such as media. Now people will have the Internet, television, radio, and phone all in their pockets.”
The media revolution ushered in by digital technology continues and roles in journalism will also not remain constant. New ideas and changes in media consumption will emerge, for instance Apple’s new iPad promises to usher in significant changes in mass reading and viewing habits. Simultaneously, the disappearance of some media empires and the emergence of some others are also being witnessed.
Sami Abdulaziz argued: “We must not underestimate the drawback of such shift in trends and technology. The Arab world has an illiterate population of 350 million. We do not want to alienate this large segment of the society. Even those who can easily connect with the new media are separated or alienated from their own environment and surroundings as we find the youth preferring to sit in front of their computer screens rather than spend time with their own families.”
Held under the patronage of His Highness Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice-President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, AMF 2010 opened on 12 May at The Atlantis-Palm. Themed ‘Shifting Mediascape: Inspiring Content…Expanding Reach’, the event has brought together more than 2,000 media personalities and experts from Arab countries and across the world.
Under the patronage of His Highness Sheikh Majid Bin Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Chairman of Dubai Culture and Arts Authority, the winners of the third edition of the Sheikh Majid Bin Mohammed Youth Media Awards received their prizes at a gala ceremony on the first day of the forum.
The Arab Media Forum 2010 will conclude with His Highness Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid honouring the winners of Arab Journalism Awards, the region’s most coveted distinction for journalistic excellence.
Dubai Media Incorporated (DMI), Arab Media Group (AMG), Nakheel, Dubai Department of Tourism and Commerce Marketing (DTCM) and Emirates airline are the key sponsors for the forum.
Thursday, May 13- 2010 @ 15:55 UAE local time (GMT+4) Replication or redistribution in whole or in part is expressly prohibited without the prior written consent of Mediaquest FZ LLC.