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The art of being different: Africa’s broadcasters seek to differentiate themselves in crowded markets

Last week’s 2nd Broadcast and Film Africa Conference had many topics but one that came through at almost every turn was the need for African broadcasters to understand what it means to differentiate themselves in increasingly crowded markets. Russell Southwood looks at what the best African broadcasters think makes them stand out in a crowd.

Over half of African countries are likely to fail to meet the 2015 deadline for the transition to digital broadcasting

According to new research from Balancing Act, over half of Africa’s 52 countries are unlikely to make the 2015 deadline set by the ITU for the transition to digital broadcasting. 29 countries appear to have not yet even started the policy and implementation process and although 2015 is four and half years away, the time remains tight to complete the process. Russell Southwood looks at the scale of the challenge facing the laggards in the field.

Zambia’s Breeze 89.3FM becomes a key regional player, mixing vernacular and English

In countries that have liberalised their airwaves, radio has become one of the most crowded sectors. Some countries have well over 100 radio stations. The stars of this upsurge have been vernacular radio stations that broadcast in local languages, often on a local or regional basis. In this issue Russell Southwood talks to Mike Daka, founder and Director of Breeze 89.3FM who has managed to carve himself a commercial niche in the Eastern Province of Zambia.

2nd African Broadcast and Film Conference will look at new challengers in the market and how Africa can generate its own local content

The 1st African Broadcast and Film Conference attracted over 200 participants from across the continent, There was a real buzz in the air as many people within Africa’s broadcast industry met for the first time. This 2nd African Broadcast and Film Conference will take place over two days (28-29 July 2010) in Kenya at the Kenyatta Centre in Nairobi. Key topics include a session on Africa’s newest generation of Free-to-Air and Pay TV Challengers, a look at how broadcasters can generate local content and a look at multi-platform strategies with social networking and blogs.

The Long Road to the World Cup: South Africa finally takes centre stage in the media spotlight

In the Apartheid years, the prisoners on Robben Island played football to FIFA rules and dreamt of the day when a Black South African Government would invite players from all over world to play. That day has finally arrived and this week we look at the media-build up to the big event that starts this Friday.

Sweden’s NGB takes the DTT route into both FTA and Pay TV content

After the death of GTV, it looked for a while as if no-one new would dare enter the African Pay TV market. However, a new report from Balancing Act (see Technology and Convergence News below) shows that competition is alive and kicking. Russell Southwood talks to Bjorn Weigel, Deputy CEO of Next Generation Broadcasting, one of the market’s new entrants about why Africa remains a compelling business opportunity for Pay TV operators.

Radio and TV stations using SMS messaging to raise money and generate interactivity

One vital source of income for TV and radio stations is the SMS messages sent in as votes or in response to competitions or questions about programmes. Although the income share of SMS votes on reality TV show programmes are big money earners – sometimes nearly enough to finance the programme – very few media owners have a clear strategy for raising money in this way. Russell Southwood spoke to Charles Etekamba Ekanem, Director of ESJ Interactive, who is hoping to change things in this industry.

Q: What does your SMS Messaging Platform do?

My TV looks set to provide a regional challenge in the African Pay TV market

With the launch of ODM’s Top-TV days away, competition in the Pay TV market in South Africa is set to become more intense as it takes on DStv in its largest market. But below the radar there are several regional challengers squaring up to them in key Sub-Saharan markets. My TV has enough subscribers in Nigeria to lay claim to being a contender. Russell Southwood talked to their CEO Bhajat Mirza about what the company’s got planned.

IDmage offers African film-makers distribution via VOD and pre-paid mobile cinemas

Enrico Chiesa, associate director at IDmage is gearing-up for the launch this year of a new web portal - http://www.africafilms.tv - that will bring African films back on screen...via VOD. He is also pioneering a new way of getting cinema to viewers in a way that will pay back revenues to film-makers. Russell Southwood and Sylvain Beletre spoke to Chiesa about these two path-breaking projects.

With the opening of three new production studios, will Nigeria generate a production ecology with real pulling power?

Outside of South Africa, there is no country on the continent that has a full-service production ecology. This elusive full-service ecology is a mixture of production and post-production facilities, skills and talent that draws film and TV makers like a honey-pot. It may sound ridiculous now but Nigeria has a chance to become a contender for this role with three new production and post-production complexes opening, the latest being Hi-TV’s Paradise Studios which opens this week. Russell Southwood sees which way the wind might blow.

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