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Press experts discuss media industry readiness in digital age

KIGALI Rwanda (Xinhua) -- There is need to rethink new roles of media practitioners and media business viability in light of freely available content to media audiences, experts have said.

This was among the key message at the opening of three-day media conference in Kigali, Rwanda’s capital. The University of Rwanda in collaboration with the Fojo Media Institute of Sweden is hosting the 7th edition of the annual East African Communication Association (EACA) conference from Aug. 25 to 27.

It is held under the theme "The economics of media business in the 21st Century."

The overall aim of the conference is to discuss media and communication developments, challenges and models in the digital age especially in an increasingly market-oriented environment, according to organizers.

It has attracted over 100 delegates from East Africa and beyond.

For media business to remain viable in the digital era, according to Tawana Kupe, an associate professor of media studies at the University of the Witwatersrand in South Africa, it requires constant engagement with society, connecting better with target audiences while seeking public subsidy.

"If media are market-driven, they will not necessarily make a profit," he said at the opening.

"We have to talk about the real challenges of society today when we talk about the economics of media business in the 21st century."

The chief executive officer of the Rwanda Governance Board (RGB), Anastase Shyaka, said there is need for media innovation in order to remain in business.

"The format and method of delivery of news ought to change in line with the changing tastes and lifestyles of media consumers," he said.

Anette Novak, vice president of Fojo Media Institute Board of Directors and CEO of Interactive Institute Swedish ICT, said social media should be used as an opportunity for professional media platforms.

According to experts, ways need to be devised to prepare the content creators to align themselves with new media demands as well as leveraging on the technologies to keep the businesses afloat.

Participants will discuss media industry readiness, threats and opportunities for the digital age, capacity building imperatives for the new age, as well as cases of successful media business models, according to a concept statement released ahead of the conference.

Over 100 research papers are expected to be presented by delegates drawn locally, regionally and internationally.

The East African Communication Association was established in 2011 and mainly draws its membership of journalism and communication scholars and researchers from the EAC region, with open membership and collaboration from other international scholars and experts.

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