The pace of the transition to digital broadcasting in Africa is picking up with a larger group of countries now entering the race with practical action rather than just policy proposals. But the issue of who will be the signal carrier has not been settled and the private sector is understandably wary of putting itself in the hands of the incumbent broadcaster. Russell Southwood looks at the issues that surfaced at a recent public viewing of digital television in Uganda.
Outside of South Africa, Kenya has been the one country where the transition to digital transmission is making real progress. New signal carriers are likely to be set up but initially broadcasters will use incumbent KBC’s transmission network, currently being tested. There are proposals that the regulator CCK will subsidise set-top boxes for those who can’t afford them from the funds it collects from operators. Russell Southwood spoke to Freeview CEO Kass Khimji who’s pioneering a new Free-To-Air digital business model
Tiger Aspect’s Head of Animation and Children’s Claudia Lloyd travelled to East Africa and fell in love with Tanzania’s Tinga Tinga art and the classic African childrens’ tales about the origins of animals and why they are the way they are. She first did a pilot three years ago and chose to work with Kenya’s Homeboyz director Myke Rabar. Together they set up an animation studio in Nairobi and will be ready to release the 52 x 11 minute series in January 2010. Russell Southwood spoke to Claudia Lloyd about how it all happened.
As the Thema Pay TV channels in France have shown, there’s a huge appetite for news from “back home” amongst those living in the global African diaspora. Kenya’s Habari TV hopes to capitalise on this interest by providing streamed news programmes from key African broadcasters. Russell Southwood spoke to Habari TV’s Kelvin Karungu about its plans.
As Africa’s broadcast industry moves from time-based programming to thematic channels, viewers will stop asking “What time’s the news on?” and start saying “What’s my news channel?” Thematic programming also opens up the potential for TV broadcasters to address niche markets in a way that African vernacular radio stations have done in more liberalized markets. One of this new generation of niche TV channels is Ochre Media’s Saffron TV. Russell Southwood spoke last week to Stan Joseph and Alet Bensch of Ochre Media.
The latest national survey from market research company Synovate shows that Internet use in Kenya is beginning to eat into the time devoted to television viewing, particularly in the key 18-24 demographic. The number of Kenyan Internet users continues to grow and this growth is coming from both urban and rural areas. Russell Southwood looks at the latest evidence of change in the media landscape in this bellwether country.
Next week Italian-American filmmaker Franco Sacchi’s This is Nollywood is being shown at the Abuja International Film Festival before coming to the Raindance Film Festival in London in October. Sacchi’s film uses the making of Bond Emeruwa’s film Checkpoint as the core of a look at Nollywood’s actors and producers. Russell Southwood spoke to Franco Sacchi about the money behind the movies, the origins of Nollywood and the desire to raise production standards.