Issue no 15 15 October 2007

top story

  • Freedom of expression in the media has not been the kind of hot political issue in Africa that it should have been. A small but tireless group of NGOs plugs away at the issue year after year but it’s not something that seems to catch light: the man or woman on the matatu is not generally discussing it. Africa’s first generation of nationalist politicians seem to have successfully persuaded their peoples that stomachs came before mouths. This week sees the publication of a UNESCO study of what might sound the rather dryly titled Media Legislation in Africa: A comparative legal survey by Professor Guy Berger. Russell Southwood looks at what’s at stake.

    In the short 30 or so weeks since this e-letter African Broadcast, Film and Convergence started publishing, we have covered the following items:

    • In issue 13, forces of the Somali Transitional Government forced their way into the building of the Shabelle Media Network (who run Popular Radio) and arrested 19 staff members.

    • In the same issue Rwandan Interior Minister Sheikh Musa Fazil Harerimana said the government would hold reporters responsible for using leaked documents. "If a journalist writes a story quoting a letter smuggled to him, he is equally liable to punishment. He has to tell us who gave him the letter before his case is dropped." The Minister appeared on a programme that featured a panel of government ministers and representatives from the security forces.

    • In issue 12, in Kinshasa at least four journalists were questioned for several hours by the intelligence services, a private TV station (CCTV/RALIK) was closed, and a tape recording of an interview with a rebel leader was seized.

    • In the same issue, Niger’s state-run broadcast regulator, the High Council on Communications has banned the broadcast of live debates on an armed rebellion of nomadic Tuaregs in the north of the uranium-rich West African nation, according to local journalists. Attacks by Tuareg fighters have killed at least 45 soldiers since February, according to Reuters. The ruling on Tuesday was linked to the broadcast of a live panel that contained commentary critical of the government's handling of the conflict.

    • In issue 8, Nigeria's leading independent broadcast network said it would take the government to court next after authorities demolished three new station facilities in the capital, Abuja. African Independent Television (AIT) plans to sue for damages after the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), a local government entity, last week bulldozed without warning three structures, including a digital studio, a technical operations office, and a common room for news anchors. AIT Chairman Raymond Dokpesi said he believes the demolition was politically motivated and was intended to intimidate the station because of its critical coverage during the recent elections in May.

    • In issue 8, the Hon. Ansu Kaikai of the ruling Sierra Leone Peoples Party (SLPP) allegedly threatened to shut down Radio Wanjei in Pujehun and have its Station Manager arrested if he allowed members of the People's Movement for Democratic Change (PMDC) in the Diaspora to sensitize its membership about the August polls on the radio.

    • Issue 7 reported the closure a Congolese community radio station in Mayi-Munene by National Intelligence Agency officers because it was functioning without the ANR's approval."

    • In issue 6 we reported that the Senegalese Government had sent in four truckloads of armed soldiers to close down private radio station, Premier FM owned by Madiambal Diagne who has long been a thorn in the flesh of Senegal’s ruling elite. He had first requested a frequency in November 2003. The request was denied with the explanation that Dakar’s frequencies were saturated. However, others continued to be issued with frequencies despite the so-called saturation. Finally to overcome these obstacles, Diagne bought a radio station with a pre-existing frequency licence.

    • In issue 5 a man suspected of having insulted Uganda’s President Yoweri Museveni during a talkshow on NBS radio in Jinja was arrested. Richard Ssenyonga alias Madiru was on May 21 picked by the Criminal Investigations Department boss Willy Panuha from the Bus Park in Jinja where he works. Eastern Region Police Commander Christopher Kubai told journalists on Tuesday Ssenyonga admitted having called the radio but said he was disconnected before he could convey his message to the President. Kubai said immediately the talkshow hosts realised Ssenyonga's intention to embarrass the President, they cut him off and alerted police who started hunting him.

    • In issue 4 a journalist for Al-Jazeera and the London-based daily Al-Quds al-Arabi, was sentenced to six months in prison on charges of "possessing and giving false pictures about the internal situation in Egypt that could undermine the dignity of the country" in connection with an Al-Jazeera documentary she made about torture in Egypt. The court also fined her 20,000 Egyptian pounds (US$3,518). An Egyptian national, Taha is currently free on bail in Qatar, pending appeal.

    • In issue 3, we reported that Nigeria’s State Security Services (SSS) raided the Abuja office of the African Independent Television (AIT) on April 17th and reportedly carted away transmission tapes of the station (including a documentary on then President Obasanjo). The raid took place barely 48 hours after the company's transmitters and transmission equipment were razed by fire on Sunday disrupting transmission of both AIT and RayPower signals in Lagos area.

    • In issue 3, Ghanaian reporter Kojo Hayford and cameraman Lord Asante Fordjour of TV3, an independent Accra-based television station, were mistreated by Raymond Gbegoah, coordinating director of Akuapem South District Assembly in the eastern region of Ghana. Gbegoah slapped Fordjour and insulted the two journalists before chasing them out of his office. The MFWA correspondent reported that the incident occurred at the district office, where Hayford and Fordjour had gone to interview Gbegoah about a mountain of refuse at a market in Nsawam, the district capital. It was learned that, immediately following the incident, Gbegoah dispatched a team to remove the refuse.

    • In issue 2 the Media Institute of Southern Africa (MISA) in Zimbabwe warned of an increasingly hostile working environment after the abduction and subsequent murder of a freelance reporter, and the arrest and torture of two other foreign correspondents.

    These items are merely the tip of a much larger pyramid (we could fill pages with just these items) in which those in power quite casually use either force or their power to close down or influence debate. And whilst Professor Guy Berger’s study may sound dry and unattractive, it is these issues that it is addressing by asking what legislation exists to cover “the ground rules” for how the media might operate in a plural society.

    The report Media Legislation in Africa covers the position in 10 countries that represent a reasonable cross-section of the continent by language and geography: Ethiopia, Ghana, Kenya, Mali, Mozambique, Nigeria, Senegal, South Africa, Tanzania and Zambia.

    Abdul Waheed Khan, Assistant Director-General for Communication and Information, UNESCO goes to the heart of the matter in the report’s foreward:

    “Over the last two decades, media independence and pluralism in Africa have rapidly increased. In several countries, vibrant civil societies and new media legislative frameworks have enabled the proliferation of private

    broadcasters and of community media. Some state media outlets have also undertaken reforms aiming at their transformation into public service broadcasters”.

    However, there is still some distance to travel as a close analysis of the report makes clear. Only one country (Ethiopia) out of the 10 still only allows state broadcasters. However five countries (Ghana, Kenya, Mali, Mozambique and Tanzania) still do not allow national licences to private broadcasters.

    For example, Tanzania still has on the statute book a 1994 directive (as part of the 1993 Broadcasting Sources Act) that states that private radio and TV stations cannot broadcast to more than 25% of the population. Not allowing national licences is a way for Government to retain a monopoly at that level, although to be fair, a number of these countries allow broadcast stations in the capital.

    In the remaining countries, there is at a legislative level no formal difficulty in obtaining a private licence to broadcast. However, as one can see from the Senegal item above, this does not prevent Governments from choosing rather carefully who to exclude.

    The more diverse the media, the greater the likelihood that Government will have difficulty in controlling freedom of expression. But this is also – like telecoms – also a commercial opportunity that will bring jobs and skills. There are now two broad categories of African countries: those that have a flourishing media sector that supports tens or hundreds of broadcast stations, depending on the size of the economy. And their economic and population size-equivalents that have only 2-3 state-run broadcast stations. Which would you prefer your country to be?

    The report can be downloaded by clicking on the following link:

    portal.unesco.org/ci/en/ev.php-URL_ID=25478&URL_DO=DO_PRINTPAGE&URL_SECTION=201.html

content

  • Six matches of the new Super Division soccer league season will be broadcast live by GTV, officials said last week. The firm's agent Neil Mackenzie, said that broadcasts of 72 other games will be delayed. Mackenzie announced this at a workshop that drew representatives of soccer governing body FUFA and super division league clubs at the Regency Hotel.

    He also said the live telecasts will be aired every Friday or Monday to avoid a collision with the English Premiership. "There are many things we have to consider for these matches. We will have five cameras for every match to cater for live coverage, replays and slow motion," he added.

    Mackenzie said the live broadcasts will increase every season. GTV signed a five-year sh8.7bn deal with FUFA for media and television rights in July. The average costs of screening a game live is $50,000 (sh90m). Recorded games will be edited in London and screened two days later. FUFA legal officer Fred Muwema reminded the clubs that time keeping was crucial if the live broadcasts are to succeed.

    (New Vision (Kampala), 10 October 2007)

  • Judy Davis, 2007 Emmy winner of Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Miniseries or Movie, The Starter Wife, has recently been in South Africa for filming of the lead in Rough, a two-part adventure/drama miniseries.

    This screenplay of Canadian writer David Vainola is being helmed by British directors Andy Wilson and John McKay. The international cast is headed up by the multiple award-winning Davis whose other Emmys include include (1995) Outstanding Supporting Actress, Serving in Silence: The Margarethe Cammermeyer Story (1995), Outstanding Lead Actress in a Miniseries or a Movie, for Life with Judy Garland: Me and My Shadows (2001), for which she also garnered a Golden Globe Award Best Performance by an Actress in a Miniseries or Motion Picture Made for Television in 2002.

    British artists include James Purefoy (Marc Anthony in the series Rome), Sir Derek Jacobi (Gladiator), and Louise Rose (Dream Team). Among the stellar South African cast are Marius Weyers (Blood Diamond), Jeremy Crutchley (Lord of War), and newcomers Mbongeni Nhlapo and Njabulo Qobose.

    Rough is a Canadian (Sienna Films), South African (Philo Pieterse - Love Reigns) and British (Alchemy Television Productions) co-production. The series is executive produced by award-winning Canadian producing partners, Jennifer Kawaja and Julia Sereny, and Carrie Stein. Philo Pieterse is the SA producing partner along with Nick Witkowski in the UK. The series is associate produced by Elise Cousineau (CA), with Georges Campana (France) serving as production executive.

    In the tradition of epic mini-series events, Rough weaves together five story strands, each providing a different perspective of the world of diamond trading and the enigmatic characters that inhabit it. The intertwined sagas encompass power, war, sex and politics in the shocking and exploitative world of diamonds.

    "It's great to be shooting this story, there are so many layers into this world and we are trying to capture it." says Jennifer Kawaja. "We are proud to have been successful in having a partnership with Jennifer Kawaja and Julia Sereny, and for South Africa to be one of the principle locations in the production." commented Philo Pieterse.

    In the upcoming months the epic adventure/drama is filming on location in three countries: in Johannesburg and KwaZulu-Natal in SA, in the UK, and in Canada - where filming wraps in December.

    Alchemy Television Distribution is distributing and, to date, the series has been licensed to broadcasters in Canada (CBC), France (Canal Plus), Spain (Antenna) and SA (SABC).

    (Biz-Community (Cape Town), 8 October 2007)

  • Two of Africa's leading pay-TV companies Gateway broadcasting's GTV and DSTV's Super Sport have shown keen interest in sponsoring this year's Cecafa Senior Challenge Cup that is slated for November in the North of Tanzanian town Arusha.

    Cecafa's Secretary General Nicholas Musonye confirmed to Times Sports from Nairobi that the tournament's long-term bankroller, Ethiopian Tycoon Sheikh Al Amoudi Mohammed's contract had expired. "Sheikh Al Amoudi Mohammed's four-year deal expired last year and he has not renewed it which is why we are restless searching for new sponsors," Musonye said.

    During his four-year contract, it is estimated that the Ethiopian Tycoon parted with over US$600,000. "The good news is that GTV and Supersport have shown interest in sponsoring the regional event but we are yet to decide who will take the tournament's full sponsorship rights," the SG continued. "We need some time to negotiate with both companies such that we can come up with a strong and cooperative company who will steer the region's soccer standards to the new heights as we head to 2010 World Cup due in South Africa," Musonye further added. GTV's parent company Gateway broadcasting of Britain has already signed a five-year sponsorship deal with Uganda's football governing body, Fufa worth US$5m (Frw.2.75 billions) to bankroll the national football league. Ugandan football fans will soon enjoy live local football league matches on television following a landmark deal between Gateway Television Broadcasting and the Federation of Uganda Football Association.

    According to the agreement, Fufa and GTV will work together to increase the commercial value of the League. GTV service made its presence felt Uganda in June this year after it announced that it had clinched exclusive rights to broadcast 80% of the English Premier League which pundits say is Africa's most watched foreign football league. The 80% exclusive rights to broadcast the English Premier League have already given GTV a competitive edge in terms of sales.

    Musonye also said that Castle lager had also expressed their interest in bankrolling the tournament. South African Breweries (SAB), under its brand, Castle Lager terminated its 11-year sponsorship deal of the 13-nation Cosafa Cup tournament mid-last month.

    Sources indicate that the termination had a direct link to Bafana Bafana's failure to host the Cosafa Cup regularly.

    (New Times (Kigali), 3 October 2007)

  • Multichoice will next month add five new channels to its DStv Premium bouquet in order to provide a wide range of information, entertainment and education to viewers.

    Launching on consecutive days starting from November 1, the five channels are M-Net Stars; an acclaimed general entertainment channel, Sony Entertainment; the well-known animation channel Animax; a religious channel for family viewing, One Gospel, and a lifestyle and fashion channel, The Style Network.

    M-Net Stars, which opens on November 1, is about films that are firm favourites and contemporary classics will be launched on November 1 and November 2 Sony Entertainment, a mixture of dramas and comedies will hit the screens.

    The Animax channel that has a wide variety of contents, from action and horror to sci-fi and fantasy starts on November 3 just before One Gospel, a channel that will feature gospel songs from all over the world.

    To complement its extensive music line-up, the channel will also include spiritually themed talk shows, magazine programmes and game shows, meaning it will be more than a music channel.

    Rounding off the new line-up will be The Style Network that comes alive on November 5 and showcases original series and specials featuring beauty, leisure, home, weddings and fashion.

    Kirsty Brien, marketing manager of MultiChoice Zimbabwe, said in addition to all the five new channels being available to viewers of the DStv premium bouquet, two of them would also be added to the DStv Compact bouquet, which has become increasingly popular in Zimbabwe.

    "The new channels come as part of MultiChoice Africa's commitment to bringing subscribers the best premium content available. The five new channels expand the already unrivalled choice of family entertainment and they continue the DStv tradition of providing top-quality programming across a range of genres," she said.

    The announcement of the new channels comes as MultiChoice Africa performs an extensive channel reshuffle across its products, in a move specifically aimed at creating additional channel space.

    With all channels on DStv moving from two-digit to three-digit numbers, the five new channels can now be effectively accommodated on DStv, with the additional benefit of channels fitting into their relevant genres.

    "Providing convenient, logical channel surfing for subscribers, the channel re-shuffle translates into a direct subscriber benefit, with the new channels launching just four weeks later," said Brien.

    "We now look forward to bringing audiences more of the best international and local programming that they've come to expect and enjoy with DStv. And subscribers can be assured that there's more to come in the months and years ahead.

    "The content range has been designed to cater for viewers' requirements, as determined in research and feedback, so Zimbabwean viewers will be pleased with the offering launching during the first week of November," said Brien

    (The Herald (Harare), 4 October 2007)

  • New pay television station, GTV Namibia, was launched on last Friday after it received a broadcast licence the week before. According to Johan Schutte, Director of the Namibia Communication Commission (NCC), the commercial broadcast licence is N$80000 per annum, and GTV Namibia has already paid N$20000.

    GTV is a Pan-African television service already available in Kenya, Uganda, Tanzania, Botswana, Rwanda, Mauritius, Zambia and Ghana, and is currently proceeding with a phased rollout across sub-Saharan Africa. "In preparation for launching GTV, we asked consumers what they want from their televisions. Overwhelmingly, English football was the answer - and high subscription prices was the complaint. We listened and our service will give consumers Premier League football for less," said Julian McIntyre of Gateway Broadcast Service, the company behind GTV.

    The station will carry around 80 percent of all football matches, including up to eight live matches per week. Less than two percent of Namibian households subscribe to pay television services.

    This compares to pay television penetration of 15 percent in Eastern Europe, 36 percent in Western Europe and 93 percent in North America. The GTV Namibia service promises to broadcast the Barclays Premier League, which is internationally recognised as the most popular football competition.

    The Premier League will be broadcast on 'G Sports 1' channel dedicated to international football. "The Premier League's increasing popularity and profile in Africa has been phenomenal over recent years. "This has been driven by the high tempo style of play and the fact that some of Africa's biggest stars have made a huge impact on the English game," said Richard Scudamore, Chief Executive of the Barclays Premier League.

    Commented Tania Frankle, GTV Namibia's General Manager: "Increasing consumer access to the content they most want to watch underpins our business. The Premier League adds immense value to our programming mix and proves that premium content does not have to be a luxury. "GTV is delighted to include the world's most popular football competition in an affordable service within reach of millions across Africa. The growth potential of the Premier League in Africa is huge, and it is about to be realised."

    The GTV service is a direct-to-home satellite-based service and promises to deliver at substantially reduced costs.

    The service offers two packages: the 'G Base' is available at N$170 per month and includes 'G Prime', BBC World, Sky News, Al-Jazeera, MTV Base, Kiss, God Channel, and Zee Cinema. 'G Plus' offers the full bouquet of G Base plus G-Sports 1 and 2, and Fox Sports Africa for N$260 per month. The cost of the dish, decoder and smartcard package is N$1 950 including installation and value added tax (VAT).

    "With an innovative model that champions African consumer demand, GTV is completely redefining the pay-television market and home entertainment," said Frankle.

    "Challenging existing services, we are significantly dropping entry level pricing and boosting consumer service, promoting real value for money."

    Gateway Broadcast Service has invested over US$250 million in Africa and has announced a further investment of over US$35 million in expanding its next generation network (NGN) in West Africa.

    (New Era (Windhoek), 15 October 2007)

  • The CEO of Wal Fadjri group referred to "the advancement of the Senegalese democracy ' following the granting by the government of a TV frequency to its media group.

    'It is a long struggle that knows its epilogue today', "said Sidy Lamine Niasse who went over the various milestones since the famous tender, which was launched at the beginning of the political changeover that took place a few years ago.

    Faced with the refusal of the state to free television channels, the project leader of Walf Tv had been forced to explore other opportunities. '”I was the only one to respond to the invitation to tender and yet, we saw that new promoters of TV have gone through other channels to deliver, including 2Stv which broadcasted via Rts 1 and Canal Info with Canal Satellite and Rdv emitting from the network of Mmds”.

    To compete with these channels, Sidy Lamine Niasse turned to satellite to air Walf Tv. Today, the microwave frequency is the culmination of a long process. According to our interlocutor, the fact that frequency has been allocated to a private group, is a strong signal which proves that the state wants to move forward on the democratic process. Sidy Lamine Niasse believes that “there are other Senegalese people that deserve it and they must have their television channel too”.

    Wal Fadjri

  • As part of its program to modernize its infrastructure and its deployment throughout the national territory Broadcasting Company Algeria (TDA) has signed a contract with the American group Harris Corp. for the supply of two new TV stations and broadcasting, which will be based in F'kirini and Sidi Bel Abbès.

    According to TIA, the American group was chosen after selection, as they have offered to carry out the work for $15 million in a short period of time. The project, whose delivery is expected for the year 2009, provides for the design and installation of these two stations to be fitted with new generation equipment.

    "We are very excited about the new Harris transmitters because they will allow us to reduce our operating costs and significantly improve the audio quality of our programs," said Abdelmalek Houyou, the Director General of Algerian Television (TDA), which has signed the contract with the American group.

    (La Tribune (Algiers), 3 October 2007)

  • A new FM radio station, Amazing Grace, will hit the country's airwaves soon.

    The Christian station has already been granted permission to get a radio frequency, Pastor Gregg Schoof, on of the proprietors, said during a fundraising function at Union Trade Center over the weekend.

    Schoof said the station's equipment is being erected on the top of mount Jali on the outskirts of Kigali City.

    When it goes on air in January 2008, Amazing Grace, will see the number of FM stations swell to 21, of which 14 are already operating while the rest have just acquired licenses.

    Schoof said the station will be focusing on preaching, airing children's programme, news and great music both in English and Kinyarwanda languages.

    (New Times (Kigali), 9 October 2007)

distribution

  • In a move that has been described as unprecedented, HiTV, Nigerian owned pay television station, has announced a one-month free subscription for all existing subscribers, applicable in October 2007.

    The gesture, according to the platform owned by Entertainment Highway Limited, is in appreciation to its teeming customers for remaining loyal to the brand despite teething challenges.

    In a statement in Lagos made available to Leadership, the station, which commenced operations in February this year, said it was not unaware of the difficulties subscribers have encountered particularly since broadcasting of the English Premier League began last month.

    While noting that several measures have been taken to redress the situation, the company said: "We are not making excuses for the lapses experienced because we are under an obligation to apply ourselves consistently and tirelessly to ensure quality services even as a start-up".

    It, however, took note of a few salient factors that the subscribers should be informed about, especially as the company has a policy of carrying all stakeholders along by updating them on developments and steps taken.

    Among them include the freezing of satellite signals during the transmission of matches, which is as a result of technical issues emanating from the satellite service providers overseas, denial of access, which may be due to expiration of subscription fee or wrong installation of dishes, and the fact that the station cannot extend its cable service outside Lagos based on the license from the Nigerian Broadcasting Commission (NBC).

    The hooking to satellite since August, the company noted, has made its signals available to viewers throughout the country, while the cable service, which is currently in operation in Lagos only with 17 channels, continues to grow.

    Also the shortage of decoders that was experienced at launch due to high demand by subscribers has been addressed with the importation of over 100,000 decoders, just as the distribution chain has been reinvigorated to ensure smooth and prompt deliveries to all parts of the country.

    On content, the company noted that the broadcasting of CNN would be discontinued at the end of September due to the malicious activities of a hostile competitor, though it has been replaced with other dedicated news channels as BBC, Sky News, and CNBC Africa.

    Managing director and chief executive officer of HITV, Mr. Toyin Subair, who reiterated the company's determination to be consumer-sensitive, added that more content in such areas as movies, news and music,would be unveiled soon.

    Subair said the immensely popular Hi Nolly, which showcases the best of Nigerian entertainment including movies, series and documentaries, has been refreshed with the addition of opera and drama, apart from more religious channels, including Love World. More local content is being developed.

    Besides ensuring that there are no more breaks in transmission, he said the launching of the station's satellite means that its signals can be received throughout the country without hitch.

    From different parts of the country, including Calabar, Enugu, Benin, and Kaduna, among others, subscribers have confirmed receiving clear signals on HiTV even as Subair gave assurances that "we have our eyes, ears and minds open to respond to customers' suggestions while exploring further opportunities to raise the stakes."

    (Leadership (Abuja), 3 October 2007)

  • At the launch of its new programs for 2007-2008, Ms. Françoise Leguenou-Remarck the CEO of Canal+Horizons denounced excessive rate of piracy of its encrypted programs.

    According to her "the phenomenon has made a comeback in Cote d'Ivoire in the last few years. Due to the high level of piracy, Canal+Horizons has been forced to close down broadcasting stations in North African countries. The situation is not better in Cameroon and Guinea where piracy of the television programs is endemic”. The CEO of the company invited viewers to denounce Ivorians developing underground subscription networks, which can legally be prosecuted under the laws in force in Ivory Coast.

    Responding to the concerns of customers, distributors and journalists on the comparatively high cost of access to the bouquet, Ms. Leguenou-Remarck argued that local packages offer more than 60 channels, more than those proposed in the sub-region. In addition, the chain introduced flexible and customised services with the launch of the new season programs. The latter will include major sport events (CAN 2008, Euro 2008, 2008 Olympics, etc.), cinema’s specials (Caesars, Oscars, etc.) in addition to successful films and TV combined to documentaries and news

    (Fraternité Matin (Abidjan), 7 October 2007)

investment

  • As the first bout of public hearings into broadcasting licence conditions got under way, Telkom Media and the National Association of Broadcasters both requested that new pay-television entrants be given 20-year licences.

    During a day of back-and-forth questions, in which the Independent Communications Authority of SA (Icasa) heard oral submissions from stakeholders, one issue arose as an industry requisite for building the newly created subscription television industry -- the need to increase the duration for which a broadcasting licence is valid.

    Telkom Media, the first broadcaster to address Icasa's panel, said the licences should be valid for not less than 20 years; if they were for less, the authority should provide good reasons why.

    Icasa said in a previous position paper that it would seek a tenure of 12 years for pay-television broadcasters, but the industry indicated yesterday that Icasa had revised this by publishing in its draft conditions paper that licences would need to be renewed every 10 years. Telkom Media chief strategy and operations officer Rikus Matthyser told the Icasa panel that a longer period would help to secure investment because the terms of paying back debts would be more secure. Telkom Media has committed R7,5bn to pay television over the next 10 years.

    The break-even period for Telkom Media was likely to be just over 11 years, Matthyser said. Investors would not be attracted to growing the industry "if we commit investors to a time period of 11 years, only to tell them there is a chance that they won't get the licence renewed a year later".

    A consultant said on behalf of Telkom Media: "The authority needs to outline its reasons, as well as explain why it went back on its initial commitment (of 12 years)."

    Matthyser said it had taken 20 years for MultiChoice to bring 1-million subscribers on to its platform. Telkom Media had estimated it would need 600000 subscribers.

    Telkom Media, together with On Digital Media, e.sat and Walking on Water Television, joined industry incumbent MultiChoice in the pay-TV space last month when Icasa awarded new pay-television broadcast licences.

    Matthyser said it would be overly optimistic to add four new operators and give them less than 20 years to grow the market when this had not happened in a "monopolistic environment".

    Icasa said it had based its decision on the international average for pay-television broadcasting licences of eight years. Telkom Media consultant Libby Lloyd said she believed this to be based on free-to-air commercial broadcasting standards and not pay television. She understood that Malaysia had a 22-year tenure for operators.

    (Business Day (Johannesburg), 3 October 2007)

  • Third Generation (3G) mobile services could become operational in Nigeria in the next few weeks after the four GSM operators reported that tests for the release of the services had been successful. .

    HANA's correspondent in Lagos has learned that MTN Nigeria, Celtel Nigeria, Glo Mobile and Alheri Engineering have already connected a few of their staff to the service as part of the final phases of tests towards the rollout of the service that is expected to offer data services including Internet services. Glo, MTN and Celtel had confirmed earlier in the year that they had carried out initial tests on 3G services in some states in the country and weer ready ready to receive their services. But capacity constraint and poor quality of services in the current 2G services, has delayed the rollout of the services while precautions to overcome poor quality are bing taken.

    The chief executive officer of MTN Nigeria, Mr. Farroukh Ahmad, earlier confirmed MTN's readiness to rollout its services in the fourth quarter of 2007. Meanwhile, the chief marketing officer of Celtel Nigeria Mr. Michael Foley said, Celtel was on the verge of service rollout. He added that a few of the company's staff were already on the 3G platform as part of the testing of the service, adding that the firm had achieved good quality on voice service in the 3G platform so far. Alheri Engineering, a subsidiary of the Dangote also confirmed that its near-readiness for service rollout. The spokeman for the Dangote Group, Mr. Okonmah Joseph, said the firm was also perfecting its plans for the introduction of 3G services. He said, "Preparations are in top gear to rollout. Though I cannot ascribe a date to it, but by the time will rollout we will have substantial coverage in the country." Sources at Glo Mobile also confirmed the readiness of the firm for 3G services rollout, saying that all that was being awaited for was a final nod from its Chairman, Otunba Mike Adenuga. Foley also said that part of the delay for the rollout of services was the need to ensure that besides voice, other offerings in the 3G service, especially data and video were of the highest quality.

    Foley said only when this had been achieved would the company rollout the services. Based on this, Foley said that the rollout date would not be uniform among operators but that subscribers could expect operators to rollout within a few weeks after one another. He noted however, that he did not expect 3G services to substantially change the way people use their mobile phone services as was just another service, adding that voice would continue to dominate apllications that are mostly used by subscribers. Each of the four firms is said to have paid $150 million for the 3G licenses, after they opposed the price as exhorbitant.

    (Highway Africa News Agency (Grahamstown), 12 October 2007)

regulation & policy

  • With support from UNESCO, a publication on media legislation in Africa has just been released, result of a research undertaken by a team of African scholars, coordinated by Professor Guy Berger, Head of the School of Journalism and Media Studies at Rhodes University, Grahamstown, South Africa.

    The study, entitled "Media Legislation in Africa: A Comparative Legal Survey", includes an overview of the existing media legislation in ten multi-party democratic countries in Africa and a comparative analysis, whilst also putting the legislation in perspective with regional and international standards and best-practices in the field of media law conducive to freedom of expression. The countries surveyed are Ethiopia, Ghana, Kenya, Mali, Mozambique, Nigeria, Senegal, South Africa, Tanzania and Zambia.

    According to the coordinator, Professor Berger: «This book puts country laws in an international and African context, and it also generates recommendations that apply to both the ten states in the study as well as others.”

    Abdul Waheed Khan, UNESCO’s Assistant Director-General for Communication and Information, says, in the foreword of the study: “I fully share the hope of the research coordinator that this study will add to the impetus in Africa for the continent not just to fulfill human rights, but to take its rightful place in the world as an exemplary place in this respect. Let us remind ourselves that the date on which the Windhoek Declaration on Promoting Independent and Pluralistic African Press was adopted in 1991, May 3, has become the date of the celebration of World Press Freedom Day worldwide.”

    At the launch of the book at the Highway Africa Annual Journalism Conference held in September at Rhodes University, some 500 hundred copies of the publication were distributed to media professionals from the whole of Africa.

  • Two journalists of the Daily Monitor have been detained in Mugunga, 15 kilometres south of Goma town in the DR Congo. Paul Harera Sebikali and Robert Isaur were arrested by the DR Congo army as they headed for Masisi, a territory held by rebel Gen. Laurent Nkunda.

    They are accused of being "in contact with the dissident."

    The journalists left the country at the beginning of October and headed for Congo to interview Nkunda, who is accused of fighting the Congo national army, (Forces armées de la RDC (FARDC).

    According to Journaliste en danger (JED), a Congo-based local group, their representative met Harera and Isaur on October 9 at the intelligence agency of the 8th military district in eastern DR Congo, where they have been detained since October 3.

    "At the time of their detention, they were suspected of "attempting to deliver weapons to the dissident general."

    But according to Colonel Delphin Kayimbi, the assistant commander of the military district, the journalists were accused of wanting "to make contact with the enemy of the DRC and to hold interviews without authorisation of the national army in this war zone," JED reported in a statement.

    The statement said the journalists were assigned by Daily Monitor to interview Nkunda and to verify the authenticity of a press release that the National Congress of the People (Congrès national du peuple, CNDP), a political-military movement led by Nkunda, had sent to the newspaper.

    "They were carrying orders from their newspaper and had legitimately entered Goma. Based on the information obtained by JED, the journalists did not commit any offence, while seeking to verify the source of their information. It is thus aberrant to keep them in prolonged detention in a place that is completely outside the country's legal system. JED calls on the commander of the 8th military district to release the journalists," the statement said.

    Unconfirmed reports state that the journalists were released on Tuesday and ordered to travel through Rwanda to avoid contact with Nkunda.

    (New Vision (Kampala), 10 October 2007)

technology & convergence

  • Competition in Kenya's broadcasting market has moved a notch higher with the launch of a new Internet-based television station. Known as Kenya 2.0, the service offers local viewers and Kenyans in the diaspora access to news and features for free. Content will be streamed on the website www.kenya2.0television.com.

    Its proprietors say Kenya 2.0 is designed to help the planned digital villages broadcast from remote parts of the country to the whole world. "Our aim is to revolutionise news reporting from Africa to the rest of the world," said Bitange Ndemo, permanent secretary in the Ministry of Information and Communication.

    Web-based televising is rapidly becoming a trend in the broadcasting industry as convergence alters traditional delivery channels into multi-faceted media. Recruitment of news gatherers, producers and hosts is under way. The station is said to be promising the recruits relatively competitive salaries in comparison to more mainstream television channels.

    Full time hosts will earn between Sh150,000 and Sh300,000, while part-time or segment hosts will get between Sh8,000 and Sh15,000. Plans are under way to establish hundreds of digital villages countrywide with at least one in every constituency. Digital villages are computer facilities located in rural or peri-urban areas that are typically owned by members of the resident community. They act as providers to let citizens access ICT services, in addition to accelerating the economic and social development of local communities.

    By the end of the year, the government plans to have over 1,470 digital centres operational in local constituencies, with a further 5,880 planned by December next year. As the Kenya 2.0 television project rolls out, it will depend heavily on the implementation of several infrastructural plans that the government has in place to facilitate access to affordable Internet connectivity, power and hardware solutions to rural areas where such services may not be available currently.

    "Broadband is key to this country because it is going to enable us to provide jobs thousands of youth in the country-those who will be employed in digital villages and those employed in the BPO industry, which is growing so fast in this country," said Dr Ndemo, who made a recorded statement on the website.

    Kenya 2.0 is currently only available to just over three per cent of the country's population. The country's sluggish uptake of Internet services has long been blamed on high connectivity and the lack of locally relevant content on the Internet. "I would be interested in seeing what this website is about but I cannot even access it because the bandwidth is so slow here."

    This is something that needs to be worked on if we are to take advantage of the opportunities the company has advertised," said Mr Noel Kithuku, a college graduate at a cyber-cafe in downtown Nairobi.

    (Business Daily (Nairobi), 8 October 2007)

  • A South African newspaper last Sunday became the first on the continent to offer readers the opportunity to access information via cellphones with Internet connectivity.

    The Sunday Times is inviting readers to take a picture of a front-page bar-code with the camera on their mobile phones, which will then give them automatic access to a website of one of the Springbok rugby team's chief sponsors.

    But while the technology is being initially used as a marketing tool, the publishers of The Sunday Times and its sister paper The Times say it has the potential to revolutionise the way readers can bring themselves up-to-date.

    "This technology makes cellphones become an extension of print media," said Colin Daniels, in charge of new media development at the newspaper group.

    The bar-code technology has been in widespread use in Japan where it was invented in the 1990s but, according to Daniels, it is the first time that it has been used in Africa.

    "In Africa, this is major. They all have cellphones but they are not online yet. This could help in bridging the divide between print and new media as well as the technological and social divide."

    Daniels's enthusiasm is echoed by Johncom Media, the publishers of The Sunday Times, which sees it as an opportunity for advertisers to touch base with consumers who have certified spending power.

    "There are 30 million cellphone users in South Africa and 83 million in Africa," said Gisele Wertheim Aymes, innovation manager at Johncom Media.

    "TimesCode enables marketers to tap the growing consumer power of mobile users to communicate in a simple yet highly impactful manner," she added.

    In time, Daniels believes the technology will enable readers to access a range of services offered by the newspaper's online edition, including videos and blogs in a country where Internet journalism is still in its infancy.

    The Sunday Times also boasts of setting up the first multi-media newsroom, comprised of editorial teams which will include one multi-media journalist, two editors and a photographer.

    The Times' deputy editor Moses Mudzwiti said journalists were having to adapt to a vastly different set-up at work than they had been used to but he is convinced that is the future of the market.

    "People are not used to it, they want to work as individuals," he said.

    But even if the demand is limited so far, Mudzwiti predicted: "It's tomorrow's audience. We'll be there already."

    Sydney Seshibedi, a sports photographer for the paper, said the journalists themselves were embracing the technological revolution.

    "You need to change, otherwise you hold on to a certain way of doing things until you become irrelevant," he said.

    (AFP, October 7th 2007)

    * 29th Cinemed Festival

    26 October - 4 November 2007, Montpellier

    The festival will be a unique overview of the best recent productions from all the shores of the Mediterranean, from Portugal to the Black Sea. More than 200 films will be shown, including more than 200 new works in the official selection: previews, competitions and panoramas.

    http://www.cinemed.tm.fr

    * Africa Broadcasting and Media Congress 2007

    29 October - 2 November 2007 - Johannesburg, South Africa

    The Africa Broadcasting and Media Congress is committed to improving technology, service and ROI in this rapidly evolving African market. Bringing together leading companies with senior decision makers and helping to drive African broadcasting and media into the 21st century and beyond. By popular demand the Africa Media and Broadcasting Congress 2007 is proud to add an extra IPTV masterclass to the event. This separately bookable day will provide you with some essential insight into IPTV as well as its potential for the African continent.

    www.terrapinn.com/2007/mediaza

    * IPTV World Forum Middle East&Africa

    5-6 November 2007, Jumeirah Beach Hotel, Dubai

    The conference will focus on delivering multi-platform television over IP.

    http://www.iptv-mea.com/

    * 16th Annual Pan African Film and Arts Festival (Los Angeles)

    7-18 February 2008, Los Angeles, California

    Each year the PAFF presents over 175 quality films from the United States, Africa, the Caribbean, Latin America, Europe, the South Pacific and Canada, all showcasing the diversity and complexity of people of African descent.

    www.paff.org

    Namibia: NBC's HR Manager still Suspended

    The Namibian Broadcasting Corporation (NBC) has brushed aside legal counsel from its own lawyers who feel it should immediately reinstate its suspended human resources general manager Theo Karipi, because its 'ill-advised' charges will not stick.

    Apart from the feeling from its lawyers that the NBC stands to be humiliated if Karipi is to challenge his suspension in the District Labour Court, sources indicated the NBC has in the last several months paid N$80 000 in legal and lawyers' fees, while paying Karipi benefits and a monthly pay of around N$30 000. The costs could also possibly skyrocket.

    NBC lawyers Slysken Makando and Elia Shikongo, New Era was reliably informed, independently advised the NBC Board and Vezera Kandetu its Director-General, to abandon the charges against its suspended human resources manager for lack of "cogent" evidence.

    The lawyers only submitted their legal opinion to the corporation after they weighed the merits and the demerits of the case. Reinforcing Karipi's defence was the fact he had yet to submit mitigating evidence though the NBC had fired all the big guns in its arsenal.

    Sources feel the suspended manager is being made "the issue of focus" while other burning issues, such as the multi-million-dollar vehicle lease from the United Africa Group at great expense to the NBC, was seemingly swept under the carpet despite a damning report that implicates Jerry Munyama, the former D.G. now in the employ of the United Africa Group.

    The five-year deal involving 27 vehicles will cost N$9 million by December.

    There are suspicions the United Africa Group employed Munyama as 'pay back' when he was forced to resign after being arrested on allegations of misappropriating over N$346 000.

    Efforts by the NBC to recover the money allegedly lost through Munyama have mothballed. His case is yet to be concluded and he is out on bail.

    Other issues of interest raised in the forensic report involve the millions paid to Penduka Enterprises, a company owned by a prominent businessman that collected television licence fees on behalf of the NBC at a commission.

    And the other deal is the cancelled N$20 million Rock Enterprises deal in which the NBC had pumped around N$10.5 million at the time of termination. This like the other deals was sealed during Munyama's tenure while the tendering process was ignored with impunity. Those in the know at the broadcaster regard Karipi as a 'sacrificial lamb'.

    "We are awaiting a report from the lawyers and this report has not reached us. It's only when we have the report that we can know what they recommend," said Kandetu with regard to the Karipi case. He could also not comment further as the case is still sub-judice.

    (New Era (Windhoek), 17 October 2007)

    Nigeria: Enouch Emergs as the Next Movie Star

    Enoch Hammond from Ghana emerged the next movie star (NMS), while Uti Nwachukwu and Martha Ankomah became the first and second runners up.

    Enouch who was still in a state of excitement when Glitterati visited the house where the reality show took place said he feels real good and great, he however thanked God for granting him success. Enoch however, attests to the fact that the last six people in the show were also very intelligent. Though he acknowledges that most of the eviction sent fear running down his spine but he was also happy that not only did he win, but the next movie star went to Ghana.

    Enouch who has acted a very minor role in Tentacles a television series in Ghana which is also aired in Nigeria, said he would want to take some of the Nigerian experiences in Movie production to Ghana because he believes a lot still needs to be done. He however acknowledges that one of his highest points was meeting Joke Silver who was one of the special guest lecturer, in the programme.

    Uti Nwachukwu the first runner up said he is a winner. He is happy that he came this far on the show. Uti who is an undergraduate would want to go back to school to complete his studies, is also interested in presenting programmes and taking television commercials

    Speaking further Mr. Shola Fajobi, the chief executive officer of Interactive media, organizers of the Next Movie Star told Glitterati that a consultant will manage the careers of the housemates. He however disclosed that the next show will comprise of a full house of 16 housemates from five different African countries.

    (This Day (Lagos) 14 October 2007)

    CALL FOR PAPERS - the 3rd annual Digital Broadcasting Switchover Forum 2008, 29 Jan - 1 Feb 2008, Johannesburg, South Africa

    The organisation of the conference has now started and we are currently looking for broadcasting experts to contribute presentations. The key areas for discussion this year include:

    1) National switchover frameworks and planning

    2) Dual illumination

    3) Financing the switchover

    4) The digital dividend, spectrum allocation and the results of WRC 07

    5) Infrastructure upgrading and its implications

    6) Consumer aspects – subsidising set top boxes, switchover awareness, the switchover as a means of reducing the digital divide

    7) Charting the future of African broadcasting – including IPTV, mobile TV, high definition television

    8) Overcoming the shortage of broadcasting skilled workforce

    9) Digital radio – technology evaluation, implications for local and national stations,

    10) Protecting cultural and linguistic diversity through local content production

    11) Infotainment

    12) Encouraging locally produced content

    13) How international financing can be increased

    14) Broadcasting liberalisation in Africa

    I would like to encourage you to contribute to this forum by participating as a speaker, therefore please reply to this mail, including the perspective that you would like to cover at the event. I am particularly keen to have case studies as these are excellent ways of spreading information and experiences.

    For furhter information contact

    Matthew Dawes

    Commonwealth Telecommunication Organisation

    Direct Tel: 0044 20 8834 1575

    Main Tel: 0044 870 7777 697

    Fax: 0044 870 0345 626

    Email: m.dawes@cto.in

Syndicate content