ITWeb (Johannesburg)

22 May 2002

South Africa: SABC Unveils Info Hub for UN World Summit

The SABC has outlined a plan to create a R1.5 million multimedia communications and information hub for the UN World Summit on Sustainable Development, which takes place in Gauteng in August.

As the official broadcaster for the event, the SABC has designed an information hub that will produce TV, radio, Internet and SMS news and information for delegates to the summit.

Steven Lang, SABCnews.com executive producer and coordinator of the World Summit information hub project, describes the plan as a world first. Lang says a 30-strong SABC team will set up the information hub at one of the major summit venues, The Wanderers, and will coordinate coverage and information dissemination to the 65 000 delegates at the summit.

"News and logistical information targeted at the event delegates and organisers will be available via multiple channels on a 24/7 basis," says Lang.

The broadcaster will draw on its existing resources to provide the extensive coverage needed for the event. Its online service will dedicate a section (www.sabcnews.com/joburg_summit) to news, audio and video feeds of the summit, and its existing SMS (short message service) and WAP (Wireless Application Protocol) news services will be used to send personalised reminders, news and advisories to delegates. The Internet service should be accessible to delegates via Internet cafés and kiosks to be installed at key areas by the summit organiser, the Johannesburg World Summit Company (Jowsco). The site will also be accessible via WAP-enabled phones.

The SABC will also operate a World Summit radio station, WSSD Radio, to be licensed to Jowsco, from 6 August to 6 September.

The Independent Communications Authority of SA has not yet approved the licence, says Lang. However, if it is licensed, it will probably use a 1KW Sentech transmitter on the FM frequency 92.7. The station will cover events at the three main summit venues and around 100 smaller venues throughout Gauteng, offering news, live broadcasts, talk shows, weather, traffic and other logistical information.

Lang says Jowsco has undertaken to install radios in the buses to be used for delegates, so that information is available to them wherever they are. The SABC is also exploring the option of streaming WSSD Radio live to mobile phones via Exactmobile, the SABC's mobile news partner.

It is intended that the project will generate revenue through advertising sales across the various media.

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