Broadcast News

African independent producers have three major challenges: getting known globally, finding the right distribution network and getting some money back.

Established in Cape Town, Film Afrika Worldwide is launching an office in Los Angeles to be headed up by CEO David Wicht. David started out as a writer and director and made Windprints with Sean Bean and John Hurt in 1990, so the move will allow him to focus more on developing original material with American partners. “In addition to facilitating productions shooting in South Africa, we will be developing original material with US partners for filming in South Africa,” says David. Balancing Act looks at the potential impact of this move.

Nollywood may be the planet’s third biggest film industry after Hollywood and Bollywood but it is feeling the squeeze. Despite the brio with which it churns out new films, times are hard and the returns are not good. A sign of this pressure is that this week the Film, Video Producers and Marketers Association of Nigeria (FVPMAN) declared that it would try and stop DStv’s Africa Magic channel from showing Nollywood films before they were released elsewhere. Russell Southwood look at Nollywood’s success has been its own downfall in some ways.

There is a growing interest globally among broadcasters for African sports and for African football in particular. Last week Sylvain Béletre of Balancing Act interviewed the two directors of African Football Factory, Olivier Monlouis and Gabriel Bartolini, about how they are planning to open up the broadcast sports space.

There’s a strange paradox operating around African film. Outside of Nollywood, which is largely telenovelas-style episodes, only relatively small number of people see African film, either in Africa or elsewhere. Those that do get a chance to watch it are more often than not art-house cinema or festival visitors. Scottish Festival Africa in Motion (AiM) set out to make a small change in this uneven viewing pattern by touring African films around schools. This sounds such a good idea that it leaves you wondering why African schools don’t show African films in a similar way.

There are so few new TV sporting opportunities and even fewer football opportunities. Cote Ouest, the largest distributor of TV programmes across the African continent has sealed a new agreement with Brazil's TV Globo allowing African TV broadcasters to relay the most spectacular Brazilian football matches all year round. Rights are available for both Pay TV and Free-To-Air. Sylvain Béletre, Senior Analyst at Balancing Act interviewed Nicolas Lacassagne, Cote Ouest’s new Marketing and Programmes’ Director to find out what the deal is all about.

The African broadcasting market has been growing rapidly. New players have sprung up in liberalised markets and there is growing international interest from external investors. Tracking this growth is far from easy but Balancing Act has taken 10 months to produce what is almost certainly the most detailed report on the African broadcast market. Russell Southwood outline what’s in this “monster-size” report.

Africa has begun to join in the fun on crowdsourcing some of the funding for feature films. Crowdsourcing is getting lots of small contributions from individuals that taken together can make up a good chunk of change. Furthermore it connects the film to the audience at pre-production stage. Russell Southwood and Sylvain Beletre look at how it might improve film finance and speculate on whether it could do the same for local TV programmes.

The rational version of how advertisers and advertising agencies buy airtime is through using media planning based on audience research. Africa’s reality is very different with only a few countries having continuous research. Very little of the existing research is focused on programme audiences on an overnight timeline that will allow agencies to adjust their choices. But for the majority of countries on the continent, there is only blissful ignorance and “gut feel”. Russell Southwood looks at how this lack of audience research holds Africa’s broadcast industries back.

Two events at the end of last year highlighted that Africa has now reached a crossroads in terms of how its broadcast sectors operate. 35% of countries in Africa now have TV stations other than a sole Government broadcaster: others are joining this list but far too slowly. A report for the African Telecommunications Union which was presented at an event in Nairobi just before Christmas identified that with the exception of a dozen states, almost all other African countries have considerable spectrum resources to expand their TV markets.