Issue no 18 26 November 2007

top story

  • Mobile cinema was always popular in colonial times and below the radar it appears to be undergoing something of a revival. It draws significant audiences and in some countries advertising revenues. In a continent where piracy and the lack of cinemas outside of urban areas has confined movie watching to television and DVDs, the success of this method of screenings offers clues as to how both rural and peri-urban audiences might develop in Africa. Russell Southwood takes a look.

    In West Africa, Cinema Numerique Ambulant (Mobile Digital Cinema) was first launched in 2001 in Benin but now does screenings in Niger and Mali. In its first season it put on 40 screenings and 15,000 people came to watch. Audiences at each screening started at 100-150 but quickly grew to 700-100. Initially they showed VHS tapes before graduating to DVDs as the technology changed, projecting them on to a 4 by 3 metre screen. Since then it claims that there have been 1.5 million viewings of its screenings.

    With support from UNICEF and other donors, five mobile cinema projection vans travel to remote villages across Niger, Benin, Mali, where they present African films, preceded by short UNICEF informational films containing vital messages about malaria prevention, child brides, HIV/AIDS prevention and water and sanitation.

    The motives are more missionary than mercenary and CAN puts on a diet of local films that they say are successful because there are no other distractions and because they speak to the audience’s experience:” “The objective of the CNA is to show to the most remote populations, populations that have no distractions, no radio, no television, to show them their own films: African films. The people here are really interested in our films, not only because they don’t have many distractions, but also the films we project and the themes debated are problems they experience.”

    The films shown are diverse and in a range of languages. They have included: The Wooden Camera by Ntshavsheni Wa Luruli (English with French sub-titles); Les enfants du pays Pierre Javaux (in French); Un héros by Zézé Gamboa of Angola (Portugese with French sub-titles); Kirikou et la sorcière by Michel Ocelot (French); Lili et le Baobab by Chantal Richard (French); Little Sénégal by Rachid Bouchareb (French); the documentary Lumumba by Raoul Peck (French); Le médecin de Gafire by Moustapha Diop of Niger; Sia, le rêve du python by Dani Kouyaté of Burkina Faso (I Bambara with sub-titles in French); Keïta, l’héritage du griot, de Dani Kouyaté (in Bambara with sub-titles in French); Madame Brouette by Moussa Sene Absa of Sénégal (in French and Wolof).

    At a screening earlier in the year in Niger, before the entertainment feature begins, two UNICEF videos are played: one about HIV/AIDS prevention, the other about early marriage. Both are shown in the two local languages: Tamachek and Haussa. After this”word from our sponsors”, there is a discussion followed by prizes for 100 of the most active participants: insecticide-treated bednets to keep away malaria-carrying mosquitos.

    Since 2000, UNICEF Niger has been active in Azzel, running an array of projects and programmes, including vaccination campaigns, cereal banks, community gardens, and the local school. Hassane Sanda Maiga, who is in charge of UNICEF Agadez’s head office, says the CNA is an effective way of sharing information with large numbers of people.

    UNICEF uses projections during the six large desert festivals near northern Niger’s largest city, Agadez, that attract thousands of nomadic people every year. “We believe these gatherings are a great opportunity to reach these hard to reach populations who are constantly on the move” says Sanda Maiga. “We are in a very nomadic region and this is the only time they regroup so we’re really able to reach everyone.” UNICEF is planning to produce a new film on safe nutritional practices to reach the people most affected by the ongoing nutrition crisis.

    In East Africa, the motives are more mercenary than missionary but some of the sponsors include the same donors and NGOs. But mobile cinema is viewed very differently by those who are organising it and its advertisers. There are a number of companies putting on screenings and within the advertising industry in Kenya it is seen as a way of reaching those in rural and peri-urban areas who are less likely to consume traditional media like newspapers and television. For example, a campaign to promote cocoa to these audiences used ad spots before mobile cinema screenings.

    Mobile cinema in Kenya thrives because as elsewhere cinemas are small in number and expensive relative to the disposable income of their potential audiences. The country has 42 cinemas owned by two companies, South Africa’s Nu-Metro and Fox Theatres. It has also has expanded in the last two years as the Kenyan economy has boomed but growth has been in the up-market areas of Nairobi. In these areas there have been multiplex cinemas with 3 screens in mall developments: The Junction is a good example. Tickets to these cinemas cost US$5 but other cinema outlets can cost as little as US$2. Significantly, cinema is not really seen as a serious advertising channel.

    One of the companies putting on mobile screenings is Skyfire East Africa. In Kenya, it is putting on a 27 shows a month to communities right across the country but with a clear focus on rural and peri-urban communities. Essentially the screenings are free to viewers as they are paid for by the advertising sponsors. It also runs screenings in Tanzania and Uganda. However, the screenings in Tanzania are largely shown in urban areas. Neverthless, it claims to have 2 million viewings there.

    The proposition is sold to advertisers in the language they understand:” Through effective and efficient advertising, (we) build connectively with the consumers through innovative memorable experience marketing and highly focused customer mentally that raises brand awareness, increases loyalty (and) builds sales”.

    The films shown by mobile screening operators in Kenya do not have the same high-minded cultural objectives as CAN and include mainstream Hollywood, available local product and kung-fu movies. But whatever the films shown, there is clearly a thirst for the outdoor cinema experience. Large audiences attend these screenings and they have a large, live event feel about them.

    One of Skyfire East’s advertisers last year in Tanzania was the BBC World Service. In this instance, it arranged screenings in a wider range of locations including areas around Arusha, Dar es Salaam, Dodoma, Kilimanjaro, Morogoro and Tanga, reaching approximately 2.5 million people.

    Tido Mhando, Head of BBC Swahili, said: "We value our audiences and we are always looking for new ways to reach them. A significant number of our audiences live in the rural areas so reaching them through mobile cinemas seemed like the obvious choice.The advertisement was first shown on domestic channel Star TV in 2005 and proved to be very successful, now rural audiences, with limited access to television, can enjoy them too."

    For most right-holders sit thousands of miles away in Hollywood or London (until recently) Africa was largely a marginal market. However, there are parallels with mobile phones and the their successful roll-out. Initially mobile phones were high-price, low-volume services targeted at Africa’s tiny elites. Then came low-cost, pre-pay phones and the technology spread to millions. The rest is history.

    The rights holders for popular films and things like football matches have yet to find their “pre-pay moment”. But if they did, it would probably in one form at least look like mobile cinema screenings. Imagine if you will a key African football match in the Cup of Nations being shown live to large audience sponsored by one of the brewers who might also sell its product at the event. Imagine if you will a premiere screening of the latest Hollywood movie in Kibera sponsored by a mobile company with it selling it services alongside the screening.

    The very fact that these audiences buy these kinds of products shows that they have some money even if they are poor. The challenge is to bring that together with screenings that have large, live event potential. In some ways this is what MTV Africa does with the music events it puts on, although for a very different audience. And perhaps one day, regular events like these might lead key rights holders to experiment with low entry cost screening venues using digital technology through a franchise system to places like bars. Again the parallel is with Internet development in Africa: these are the “cyber-cafes” of the digital viewing revolution. They might turn the current “pay-for” pirate viewing venues into something that the rights-holders can build an audience in against the day when Africa is known for more than just being the poor continent.


  • GTV, the pan-African satellite-based pay television service, has clinched its position as Africa's new home of football with exclusive broadcast rights to the entire FA Cup effective next season (2008/09).

    Part of the English Football Association's latest US$300m, four-year international rights deal, GTV's package will also include all England international home games and The Community Shield, GTV's sales marketing manager for Uganda Peter Mungoma revealed last Thursday in Kampala. Mungoma added that the rights deal covers 44 Sub - Saharan Africa countries and will run from next August to July 31, 2012.

    Currently, GTV has a three-year deal starting with the current season for 80 per cent of the Barclays Premier League and also owns rights to the Italian Serie A. GTV also owns the rights to the Ugandan Super League. GTV began its phased rollout across the continent in June 2007 and has firmly positioned itself in Uganda, Kenya and Tanzania.

    (East African Business Week (Kampala), 19 November 2007)

  • Over four billion football fans across the globe are expected to watch the Ghana 2008 African Cup of Nations live on television. To ensure that the facility works to perfection, personnel from the various television stations in Ghana are scheduled to visit France to acquire more insight on some of the latest television innovations at the Local Organizing Committee's expense.

    Magnus Rex Danquah, Chief Operating Officer (COO) of the Local Organizing Committee (LOC) told GNA Sports that his outfit was working in partnership with French Marketing and Media giants, Sportfive to guarantee the best television production for the competition that laces Africa's best 16 together.

    The three-week continental showpiece will have between 12-18 cameras per game in an effort of providing viewers with the best coverage for the event which spans January 20 - February 10, 2008. The Operating Officer said the number of cameras is the highest ever in the history of the competition and puts the event on the same pedestal as the UEFA Champions League and the quadrennial FIFA World Cup. The move is among the LOC's desire to set new benchmarks and raise the bar of excellence for the continent's biggest football party. About a million visitors are expected in Ghana to watch the competition envisaged as the best to come.

    (Accra Mail (Accra), 21 November 2007)

  • House of Representatives last week ordered the Nigerian Broadcasting Commission (NBC), to discontinue the airing of any clip or debate on Big Brother Africa (BBA). The programme, a reality TV show, ended last Sunday with a Nigerian girl, Offuneka Molokwu coming second.

    House Committee on Information and National Orientation handed down the order after a meeting with the Director General of NBC, Mr Yomi Bolarinwa. Bolarinwa told the committee that the commission drew the attention of the management of MultiChoice to the nudity being shown on air.

    Multichoice is the cable company that beamed the show live to subscribers in Nigeria and other parts of the globe. He said the commission invited MultiChoice on two occasions when it observed that the company was contravening the laws guiding broadcasting in the country. Chairman of the committee, Honourable Dino David Melaye, said that even though, the show has ended, the House was against showing the clips of the nudity displayed, which he noted was not in consonant with African cultures and values.

    In view of the recklessness of the broadcasting outfit, he said that the National Assembly would determine the future of Multichoice in Nigeria, adding that it was incumbent on every nation to protect the choice and values of the people. The live cast of inmates having sex had been condemned by viewers, while the emergence of a married man as the winner of the show equally attracted negative comments.

    (This Day (Lagos), 15 November 2007)

  • One Digital Media last week launched a digital advertising system called Loxion Network, aimed at directly linking brands with their consumers in the townships. The system downloads content via satellite, Internet and GPRS to a network of screens that are automatically monitored.

    The launch was held at one of the places that already has the system in place, the White House pub in Meadowlands, Soweto. The pub has a plasma screen that plays outlet adverts where the owner of the business communicates with his clients and can promote business while doing so. Outlet promotions are then followed by brand ads.

    One Digital Media provides the advertising and narrowcasting, as well as the management of each screen, from control centres in Durban and Stellenbosh. The network downloads different content to each screen or to a defined group of screens. Compliancy and scheduling of ads and content are monitored by an automated backend of information from each screen that feeds to a brand and advertiser countrywide.

    (Biz-Community (Cape Town), 19 November 2007)

  • Amid the headache of trying to delist Primedia from the JSE, there is one last irritation the company cannot seem to get rid of -- African Media Entertainment's (AME's) obsession with Kaya FM. Following a private equity buyout by the Mineworkers Investment Company and the Primedia's Kirsh family, Primedia has pretty much fallen off the radar screens of most analysts.

    But if it was still a listed company -- and indeed, even as a nonlisted entity -- the general impression is that losing out on a R19m, 24.9% stake in the Gauteng station would be little more than a blip on those screens. Primedia owns Highveld 94.7 and Talk Radio 702 -- both predominantly white in their profile. Kaya FM would make a nice addition, adding a number of middle- to upper-income black listeners to the mix. AME has argued that Primedia may become too dominant in Gauteng as a result of owning a stake in Kaya FM, hence the appeal court's decision to get the Competition Tribunal to reassess its decision once again.

    Primedia believes its Highveld 94.7 "white" profile is completely different to Kaya's "black" profile in advertisers' eyes. Whether that still will be the case in 10 years' time is another question. At R19m and considering the growth in the black middle class, it would be a nice asset to have, and fairly inexpensive too. But Talk Radio 702 has successfully raised its nonwhite listenership over the past few years -- it sits at about 35% black and 53% white.

    (Business Day (Johannesburg), 22 November 2007)

  • The Namibian Broadcasting Corporation (NBC) and the Japanese Broadcasting Corporation, NHK International, have signed an agreement aimed at improving the programmes broadcast on NBC television.

    Of the 528 programmes funded to the tune of N$3 million (US$445,000), 367 are educational programmes on mathematics, science and puppet shows for the young, while the rest are lifestyle, technology and cultural programmes. The General Manager of NBC Radio Services, Umbi Kauraihe-Upi, said the NBC had already decided which programmes were suitable and relevant to Namibian viewers and it was only a matter of time before they would be screened countrywide.

    (The Namibian (Windhoek), 23 November 2007)

  • Student Radio Network, a newly launched initiative aimed at unleashing the power of the student radio market, intends to bring in methods that will bridge the existing gap in getting access to airtime sales and barriers that prevents growth of student and community radio stations across the country.

    Student Radio Network uses a one-contact point system that is intended to give students and community radio stations access to airtime sales and ensure that the allocated airtime is scheduled is followed correctly by the broadcasters.

    Simone Kritzinger, MD for Student Radio Network, says, "Student-run stations are, and will forever remain, community radio stations. This however does not in any way mean that they have less potential than commercial stations. The loyalty of radio listenership has been what marketers sell and I believe the audience these stations have are not only the most loyal and niche, but an extremely viable and influential market.

    "Student Radio Network is dedicating itself to these stations in order to provide them with the tools to not only get them to a professional broadcasting standard but also to allow national advertisers to tap into this market with a one point of contact.

    Student Radio Network is planning to ensure that all stations across the network act in a professional manner, with a fully experienced advisory service to the stations, making sure each station has the ability to live up to the mandate they were designed for.

    (Biz-Community (Cape Town), 23 November 2007)

  • Pay-TV applicant Telkom Media says that its own market research shows a high level of willingness to pay for subscription television services amongst South African consumers. Telkom Media's initial concept testing indicates that the market potential for satellite subscriptions could be as high as 2.3 million by 2012 - more than double the current number of households with access to pay-TV.

    Telkom Media publicly presented its application for a broadcasting licence to ICASA on Tuesday, 12 June 2007. Telkom Media CEO Mandla Ncgobo says the favourable economic climate in South Africa creates the ideal environment for the launch of pay-TV. "The reason we don't have a higher uptake of satellite television services is that the 'middle market' is not addressed by the incumbent satellite player, DStv, which focuses on high-end consumers. More flexibility in the structure of packages will pave the way for greater affordability, allowing us to offer bouquets of channels that start at approximately R100 a month."

    Shareholders in Telkom Media include Telkom, Anant Singh's Videovision Entertainment, MSG Afrika Media and WDB Investment Holdings. According to Telkom Media, this shareholding - as well as the recruitment of a number of industry experts - combines a wealth of electronic media expertise and supports its empowerment policy.

    Telkom Media is currently 41.5% black owned and pledges to ensure that for the duration of the licence period, its BEE shareholding will be maintained at a minimum of 40%. As evidence of their commitment to BEE, the shareholders have pledged to either retain their shareholding for five years or to dispose of such shares only to similarly qualified BEE groups.

    Telkom Media will broadcast predominantly in English, but says Ngcobo, "in order to accommodate the diverse South African market, interviewees in news and current affairs programmes will be interviewed in the official language of their choice and live news events will be broadcast in the language of the event.

    "Local sport and local content is also important in terms of driving penetration of the target market, and budgets have been made available to ensure provision of sports coverage, local news, local music and a broad range of local content across other key genres. Telkom Media's entry into the market will provide a stimulus to the local TV production sector, and we aim to establish meaningful relationships with independent producers. In addition, special accommodation will also be made for people with disabilities. Telkom Media will provide for multilingual closed captioning or sub-titling, and be accessible to the hard-of-hearing and sight disabled people. Availability will be clearly identified in its programming guides and in any programme schedule material provided to the public."

    Recent appointments to Telkom Media include Connie Molusi as chairperson, Lourens Van Niekerk as CFO, Jimi Matthews as head of news, Hannelie Bekker as head of general entertainment, Clare O'Neil as head of advertising sales, and Setumo Mohapi as chief technical officer.

    (Biz-Community (Cape Town), 19 November 2007)

  • - Six months after receiving its commercial broadcast license, Capricorn FM began broadcasting from its state-of-the-art studios in Bendor, Polokwane. The station will broadcast 70% in English and 30% vernacular, incorporating the three dominant ethnic groups in the province (tshiVenda, sePedi, xiTsonga).

    - Nigeria now boasts of 308 broadcast stations comprising of 152 radio stations, 116 television and 40 cable stations.

    - Marketing of tourist activities is set to climb to a new level following the establishment of a new television channel to stream East African content for the UK audience. Kenya is among the 24 countries that will showcase their lifestyle, culture, travel, tourism and commerce on the digital TV channel to be launched November 26. Digital Sky Investments (Pty) Limited was recently awarded the sole and exclusive licence to commission content and market the channel in eligible countries. The company has kicked off acquisition and commissioning of TV content to provide a full picture of the region.

    - The community radio station in Gambia’s Brikama, commonly known as FMB village, has recently installed 500-watt power transmitter for its studio, thereby extending its coverage to the whole nation. The coverage of the radio station which used to be limited only to Brikama Town and its surrounding villages has now been extended to the whole of Western Region, the Nuimis in the NBR, LRR and up to Kaolock in neighbouring Senegal. This new development now poses a great challenge to the radio as it needs to come up with more educative programmes for the wide range of listeners. He disclosed that upon receiving the transmitter the management of the studio has decided to embark on capacity building for its staff which he said will take place as soon as possible to update their skills and techniques on radio presentation.


  • Namibia’s national broadcaster NBC this week signed two cooperation agreements with Radio France International. A renewed 5-year contract between the Namibian Broadcasting Corporation and Radio France International was signed on Tuesday, while the cooperation agreement with Japan was signed on Wednesday. The original cooperation contract with RFI was signed in 2002 and was on Tuesday renewed at the FNCC.

    "Thanks to this strong partnership between NBC and RFI, the two broadcasters have entered into a very exciting exchange programme for journalists, beneficial to both parties," said French ambassador, Philippe Bossiere, at the signing of the contract event at the FNCC.

    "RFI is not only a French radio. It is an international radio with a multicultural staff, primarily focusing on Africa in which the majority of its listeners live. The station also broadcasts in English and has more than 45 million listeners world-wide with a sense for quality news," he said of the station, which is daily broadcasted on 107.9. Mvula ya Nangolo considered the renewed contract as another milestone regarding the relationship between Radio France International and the Namibian Broadcasting Corporation.

    "To this end, RFI has provided broadcasting equipment to the value of N$250 000 which the NBC can keep at the termination of the contract," Ya Nangolo said. He also said that training for radio production and presentation will be provided by RFI periodically. "Later this year radio journalist and producer Soini Negongo will be attached to RFI for close to a month, while an RFI journalist will be attached to National Radio, to share some expertise in the field.

    "RFI currently leases NBC facilities to the tune of N$80 000 per year," he said on behalf of the minister of Information and Broadcasting, Netumbo Nandi-Ndaitwah.

    (New Era (Windhoek), 23 November 2007)

  • More than 300,000 Kenyans living in Europe can now access home news on television following the launch of a partnership between pioneer Internet television firm KenTV and satellite broadcaster Sky. Under the partnership, the Kenyan company will broadcast its content on Sky's European network, broadening the reach of the station, which started as an Internet broadcaster. The service, which went live on November 19, is targeted at Kenyans living in Europe.

    "A TV service creates a better sense of community and national spirit among Kenyans living abroad," said Joseph Muchemi, Kenya's High Commissioner to the United Kingdom. KenTV is among a host of television channels that broadcast through the Internet giving consumers access to news from all corners of the world.

    Local broadcasters such as NTV have latched onto this new channel with the launch of a partnership with YouTube to offer free content to viewers throughout the globe. The other major player on the local television scene KTN has partnered with to offer Internet-based broadcasts for as little as Sh400 per day. Unlike many other initiatives, KenTV is free-to-air and has its own team of dedicated news gatherers and producers who create content solely for broadcasting through the Internet portal.

    "This has been a major contributor to our success in drawing viewers and advertisers to the website," said KenTV's founder James Gachiri during the launch of the service in the UK. The Sky and KenTV collaboration is the first partnership that enables a traditional broadcaster receive content from an African-based Internet television station. Content is streamed through Sky Channel 194. The site also features content from Ben TV, a Nigerian TV channel based in the UK. KenTV plans to push its streaming service to the mobile phone, said its local office.

    (Business Daily (Nairobi), 21 November 2007)

  • Jean Christophe Ramos, CEO of pay TV Canal + Horizons is currently in Gabon to discuss with the National Council of Communication. Content broadcasted by Canal + Horizons in Gabon as well as subscription fees will be the focus of the meeting.


  • One Africa Television, Namibia's largest private commercial broadcaster, has announced a major investment in the company by newly licensed South African broadcaster Telkom Media. Telkom Media has acquired a 49 per cent stake in the company, while the remaining 51 per cent shareholding remains in Namibian hands.

    Local shareholders include two BEE investment companies, Aantu Investments and Consulting and Stimulus Investments, as well as the One Africa senior management. The announcement comes on the anniversary of One Africa's fourth year of operations.

    Announcing the deal, Paul van Schalkwyk, founder and managing director of One Africa, said he believed the investment was good for the Namibian broadcasting industry as it provided new avenues for growth for the local broadcaster."The transaction with Telkom Media now makes the One Africa dream of expanding into Africa a reality," Van Schalkwyk said. According to Connie Molusi, Chairman of Telkom Media, the company was extremely excited about the investment in One Africa Television.

    "One Africa Television has created a ground breaking free-to-air broadcasting model which is uniquely adapted to the requirements of the continent. We have no doubt that One Africa must rate as one of the best free-to-air television stations on the African continent," he said According to Van Schalkwyk, the partnership with Telkom Media is the next logical step for Namibia's most popular private television station.

    Schalkwyk said latest research indicated that One Africa has more than 400,000 viewers watching three and half hours of programming per evening. During the short span of 48 months One Africa television has grown from a small Windhoek-based broadcaster to a full-fledged national private television broadcaster.

    With the completion of its current expansion programme by the end of next month, One Africa expects to reach 90 per cent of the estimated television viewers in Namibia.

    The towns and major centres covered by the One Africa Television broadcasts include Eenhana, Gobabis, Grootfontein, Henties Bay, Karasburg, Karibib, Katima Mulilo, Keetmanshoop, Luederitz, Mariental, Okahandja, Okakarara, Omaruru, Ondangwa, Ongwediva, Oranjemund, Oshakati, Otjiwarongo, Oshikango, Rehoboth, Rosh Pinah, Rundu, Swakopmund, Tsumeb, Usakos, Walvis Bay and Windhoek.

    (The Namibian (Windhoek), 23 November 2007)

  • Free-to-air television station etv has posted another large jump in profits, according to figures released by parent company Hosken Consolidated Investments (HCI) on Thursday.

    Interim results to end September for HCI showed that the Media and Broadcasting division - which is largely underpinned by etv - bumped up pre-tax profits 45% to R225m from a 35% hike in turnover to R544.5m. That represents a trading margin of over 50% - a statistic that would make the SABC green with envy.

    Media and broadcasting was the second biggest contributor to HCI's interim pre-tax profit of R1,2bn - accounting for nearly 20% of pre-tax profits. HCI's gaming investments (mainly Tsogo Sun) chipped in over R600m to pre-tax profits.

    Aside from etv, HCI also holds interests in Gauteng-based radio station YFM, Dreamworld Film Studios, Dreamworld Film Studios, satellite television licence holder e.sat tv and mobile solutions provider ViaMedia. Directors said results were in line with expectations, but noted that profit margins were enhanced by "management's focus on containing costs while leveraging the inherent advantages of the media business model".

    Currently etv is the most-watched English-medium television channel in SA and the second-largest channel overall. Directors said etv remained committed to a pan-African media strategy - the company would adopt a cautious approach. They added that expansion plans remained focused on etv becoming a multi-channel, multi-platform business and a television content aggregator.

    With reference to e.sat tv's successful application for a satellite pay television license, directors said the group was currently evaluating opportunities in the sector with a view to launching new channels in 2008. This, they indicated, would be undertaken without exposing the media and broadcasting division to excessive financial and operational risk.

  • - The Senegalese national newspaper "le Soleil" is on the verge of bankruptcy but it has received this week, the support of members of the Parliament. They said that everything should be done to save the newspaper from closing down because it is the greatest newspaper on the continent.

regulation & policy

  • Somalia’s Ethiopian-backed government has forced three prominent private radio stations off the air since Monday over their coverage of the bloody conflict centered in Mogadishu, according to news reports and local journalists.

    In a press conference today, Mogadishu Mayor Mohamed “Dheere” Omar Habeeb accused the private stations Radio Banadir and Radio Simba of coverage undermining the government, according to local journalists. The closures come as government forces backed by the Ethiopian military, were pursuing suspected Islamic insurgents in city neighborhoods.

    The mayor’s statements came a few hours after Somali government troops led by agents of Somalia’s National Security Agency stormed the studios of Radio Banadir and Radio Simba, dispersing staffers, and ordering the stations to stop broadcasting until further notice, according to the same sources. Ethiopian troops later occupied the building housing the studios of Radio Simba, according to the station’s chief editor, Mustafa Haji.

    Dheere accused Radio Simba of inciting anti-government sentiment in a Sunday interview in which a spokesman for Mogadishu’s dominant Hawiya clan protested the arrest of clan elder Ahmed Dirye, Haji told CPJ. The mayor accused Radio Banadir of disseminating false news in reporting that mortar shells had landed in and around the presidential palace on Monday night, according to Abdirashid Abdullahi Haydar, an official with the National Union of Somali Journalists.

    Last week’s closures followed Monday’s forced shutdown of Radio Shabelle, a leading independent station broadcasting from Mogadishu’s main Bakara market, a suspected insurgent stronghold and the scene of house-to-house security sweeps.

    “Any time the authorities in Mogadishu hear unwelcome news of the fighting in the city they send troops crashing through the door of the radio station responsible,” said Joel Simon, CPJ executive director. “This is crude and unacceptable censorship. Radio Shabelle, Radio Banadir and Radio Simba provide a vital service for all Somalis. They must be allowed back on air.”

    Four private radio stations—including prominent HornAfrik Radio, Holy Quran Radio, Radio Somali Weyn, and Voice of Democracy—were still on air in Mogadishu, but were censoring their reports, according to local journalists. Saeed Tahlil, HornAfrik’s acting manager, told CPJ that stations still operating were vulnerable to being perceived by insurgents as pro-government.

    (Committee to Protect Journalists (New York), 13 November 2007)

  • The Electoral Commission (ECK) is monitoring how the media cover political campaigns. David Kiiru, an ECK official, said an ECK and donors' survey had shown that most TV stations were using different camera angles to highlight or blackout some candidates.

    He said vernacular FM stations devoted most of their coverage to presidential candidates of their choice. Speaking at a training workshop for journalists in Nakuru, Kiiru said the ECK had written to radio and TV stations on the need for fairness. On opinion polls, he advised the media to use international standards to ensure credibility.

    "The media must indicate who commissioned the poll, the methodology used and the number of people sampled to avoid confusing voters," he said. The official said the media had a responsibility to provide voters with accurate information to enable them make informed choices.

    Meanwhile, a former Assistant Minister, Adam Karauri, has asked the media to accord all political parties fair coverage during the campaign period. Karauri, a former Tigania East MP, said the media had shunned smaller political parties.

    (The East African Standard (Nairobi), 13 November 2007)

  • - In Niger, the International Federation of Journalists has asked the President Mamadou Tandja to free two journalists accused of acting against the law because of their coverage of the Touareg rebellion in the country.

    - The Senegalese Council of National Regulation of the Audiovisual Sector has announced in a press conference that it intends to better regulate the advertising activities in the local media (TV, radio and press). Misleading advertisers will be prosecuted and media which broadcast/publish them will be asked to remove them.

    - The International Freedom of Expression Exchange Clearing House has expressed again concerns about the attempt to limit the freedom of speech of the Tunisian press. High profile journalists are regularly prosecuted on false accusations or forbidden to travel abroad.

    Annual AFDA School of Motion Picture Film Festival

    November 30th and December 1st 2007 – Cape Town, South Africa

    Input 2007 Awards

    May 2008

    Joburg has been awarded the bid to host the International Public Television (INPUT) organisation’s annual showcase – considered to be the World Cup of the TV industry – and the preliminary events kick off next week. A series of mini Input’s are being staged around Africa in the lead-up to the international screening conference in May next year, the biggest global TV Extravaganza on our Continent ever. And, from November 2nd to 4th 2007 the Host Broadcaster, the South African Broadcast Corporation (SABC), and the Goethe Institute will bring the crème de la crème of the current travelling Input collection to Johannesburg.

    29th Durban International Film Festival

    23rd July-3rd August 2008 – Durban, South Africa

    Jeff Koinange, who reportedly left CNN under a cloud, is being promoted as one of its attractions by K24, Kenya’s new 24 hour news channel

    Although Somalia’s Shabelle radio is still off-air, it has appointed veteran staffer Muktar Mohamed Hirabe as its new Director. Hirabe said he was pleased to be offered the post but warned that it was a great responsibility. It is the eighth time the Government has closed the radio station.

    Africa: Radio scriptwriting competition to cope with climate change

    The Developing Countries Farm Radio Network (DCFRN) and the Technical Centre for Agricultural and Rural Cooperation (CTA) are launching a scriptwriting competition entitled African Farmers’ Strategies for Coping with Climate Change. The competition is open to African radio organizations, including broadcasters, production organizations, NGOs with a radio project, farmers’ associations with a radio show, etc.

    Competitors are invited to submit a radio script on one of the following themes related to local adaptation to climate change:

    * Water and soil management;

    * Cropping strategies emphasizing drought-resistant plants;

    * Livestock management practices;

    * Fisheries and Agroforestry;

    * Other (for original topics related to coping with climate change and not listed above).

    To assist radio practitioners with producing the radio scripts, a climate change resource kit and a guide to writing radio scripts will be prepared and distributed to interested African radio practitioners. Professional coaching and mentoring on scriptwriting will be provided to participants throughout the process. This coaching will be made available through the special website that has been created for this competition: Entries must be received no later than March 15, 2008.

    The scripts will be reviewed by an international panel of judges. The top 15 entries will receive high quality digital audio recorders. The winners will be announced in May 2008 and will be profiled on the competition website. The winning scripts will be published and distributed by CTA and DCFRN. All entrants will receive feedback on their scripts.

    UNESCO and CTA collaborate for the development of capacities in the domain of information, including within the framework of the FAO partnership for the Information Management Resource Kit.

technology & convergence

  • Not only did Touchline Media go mobile this week with mini Kick Off, Men's Health, Sports Illustrated and Shape magazines for cellphones, so too did Ramsay, Son & Parker launch the first of its mobizines for flagship publication Car, with more in the pipeline. These all follow a month after various Atoll Media titles went mobile.

    Mobizines are bite-sized magazines for your mobile phone that can be downloaded at any time and accessed immediately or saved for later. Mobizines are compressed so they can be quickly downloaded and do not take up much memory on your phone.

    Comments Andrew Lanning, head of new media at Touchline, "Convergence, a brand new buzzword a mere few months back, is now almost a given as the various media platforms come together via the Internet, cellphones, notebooks, PDAs, interactive TV, PVRs and print. Throw in the fact that consumers, rather than content producers such as ourselves, make the call on how, when and where they would like to engage our content, and one has an inkling of the environment we find ourselves in."

    According to Neal Farrell, RS&P digital publishing general manager, the range of content and services will grow in the months ahead as more choices are made available and the options become more interactive, with video being top of the list of content to be offered.

    (Biz-Community (Cape Town), 16 November 2007)

  • The European Commission (EC) announced last week its backing of Nokia's DVB-H mobile broadcast TV standard. Independent market analyst Datamonitor considers that the development will notably aide in the mass-adoption of mobile broadcast TV services as a whole but that it might come at the price of reducing open market competition.

    Chris Khouri, media and broadcasting analyst at Datamonitor, says that Datamonitor estimates Europe will have 42.7 million mobile broadcast TV subscribers in 2012 - making it the second largest subscriber base in the world after Asia Pacific.

    Mobile broadcast television has the opportunity to combine two of the most successful consumer products in history; television and mobile telephony. However, since the early part of the decade there has been a number of competing formats that have arisen with respect to bearer technologies, including MediaFLO, DMB, DAB-IP and DVB-H.

    Each of these bearer formats has significant actors backing their adoption looking to generate revenue from their success. In an effort to homogenise the market, the EC is tackling fragmentation by promoting "a common European strategy" in an effort to "enable consumers and industry to reap the full benefits of economies of scale."

    While DVB-H bearer technology provides an extremely attractive open standard akin to the current European terrestrial television infrastructure, the move potentially comes as a blow to an industry led competitive marketplace. MediaFlo, DMB and DAB-IP have all been trialled throughout Europe and the market was expected to harmonize through technological innovation and chipset interoperability sometime in the near term.

    Irrespective of bearer technology, Datamonitor considers that some of the biggest concerns facing the adoption of the service still reside with consumer education. Promoting public understanding and illustrating consumer benefits will be a must for market players to ensure that mobile broadcast TV is a success and not just the next expensive flop.

    (Biz-Community (Cape Town), 22 November 2007)

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