The Sunday Mail
Chris Chenga Open Economy
Inception or expansion of industry requires a demand pull factor that aligns all stakeholders in the supply chain. A supply chain begins from raw material used to compose goods or services and ends at final retail to demanding consumers. The entire premise of a market economy is grounded on readily demanding markets for goods or services, the end of the supply chain.
Demand goes beyond simple consumer want, but consumers’ ability to actually pay for whatever goods or services a sector may offer at the market-determined price.
Accordingly, the digitisation and expansion of visual transmission in Zimbabwe requires going beyond consumer excitement for new platforms on which to watch produced content, but also substantial consumer ability to pay for these expanded offerings.
It is important, however, to put conditionality of responsibility in this context: it would be a reasonable argument that digitisation itself, from a regulatory perspective, can simply serve the purpose of infrastructural expansion by extending the distribution platforms for market participants to offer their content to a broader market.
That argument would suffice for Governmental responsibility.
From a regulatory position, it is permissible to have little accountability that increased platform capacity should be reciprocated by demand!
Consider it similar to how the ICT, Postal and Courier Services Ministry can commission expanded broadband capacity without being liable to the eventuality of whatever capacity the market will actually use.
Indeed, then the context of my presentation takes greater relevance to all stakeholders in the visual media supply chain, who are content creators, content interest groups, retail agents, to retailers hoping to connect product and services to demanding markets.
Content creators, for instance, can take heed of the structural difficulties that have harmed the agricultural sector over the last decade-and-a-half.
Just as how farmers create goods and services in the hopes of satisfying demanding markets, non-aligned supply chains can lead to content creators vulnerable to the risks of not finding readily available off-takers of their productions.
This often happens for either one of two reasons — pricing or market identification.
In terms of pricing, production costs for content vary greatly dependent on the subject matter and means of capture of content.
However, the variance of content is not in parity to the concerns of off-taker valuations.
This means that while certain content may be costly to produce, that does not imply off-takers of content are obliged to abide by costs of production. Rather, off-takers offer content producers prices with greater concern to the retail value determined by the final consumer demand for that content.
In more mature markets, interest groups with an attachment to less commercially viable content such as awareness campaigns or socially conscious causes fill in this pricing gap that otherwise disadvantages content producers.
The second factor of market identity is often just a lack of convergence between content creators and off takers. Location, networking, or simple exposure can be attributed to this supply chain breakdown that deprives content producers from finding off takers for their otherwise desirable productions.
This requires active retail agents who seek out desirable content and understands its pricing metrics and demanding off takers.
Evidently, the aforementioned structural difficulties require a supply chain approach with stakeholders that are conscious of these market imbalances that exist.
At the extent that supply chain stakeholders in terms of content producers, content agents, or retailers fail to structurally align the supply chain in an equitable manner, central governance intervenes in the form of subsidies or price fixing; much so you will find screen actors, production crews and other labour involved in visual media are all guaranteed minimum wages and professional benefits.
In an economy with an affinity towards State paternalism, it would be ill-advised to try and conceive or expand visual media platforms on the dependency of an under-resourced central Government.
Perhaps it is time we grow an industry through the competence of self-aware industry stakeholders.
Visual media, unlike other traditional industry such as manufacturing and agriculture, cannot be guided by central governance, in terms of resources and market intelligence.
Thus, unlike prior mentioned sectors which now depended on instruments such as SI 64 to ease structural competition or Government intervention for stimulation, visual media must start to gather diligent stakeholders who identify their imperative role if the sector is to expand and be competitive even beyond our borders.
It is no secret how sensitive visual media have become globally, the commercial viability of numerous traditional platforms having become an existential uncertainty.
Inept supply chain stakeholders can cause not only private loss, but pervasively dire outcomes for other stakeholders operating in the same supply chain.
If digitisation and the expansion of visual media platforms are to be sustainable success, they require a stakeholder approach to develop strengthened supply chains.