TECHNOLOGY & CONVERGENCE

South Africa: Pay-TV Group to Relay DStv On Mobile Phones

Multichoice Africa plans to air its Digital Satellite Television services to subscribers on mobile phones, the company's CEO Eben Greyling has said.

Greyling said, "We not only plan to introduce new programs but also new technology. In the next 12 months, we will be broadcasting directly to your mobile phone." He was speaking at press luncheon as part of activities to mark its Multichoice's 10th anniversary in Uganda, at the Sheraton Kampala Hotel on October 15.

He said the innovation will be made possible by collaboration between local telecommunications companies with Third Generation (3G) network technology and Multichoice Africa. In Uganda, MTN, Uganda Telecom, and Celtel Uganda the nation's telecommunications operators have all upgraded to 3G technology which supports bulky multimedia transfers between mobile phones and computers.

"In other markets, between $10 and $15 is charged for mobile television," Greyling said, adding that subscribers should therefore expect a lower rate for the service. His company charges a monthly subscription fee of between $18 and $66 for between 20 and 50 channels, on its home and business customers, for its service.

At the event, Aletta Alberts GM Head of Content Africa Multichoice Africa also revealed that DSTV will add five new channels on its menu which already boosts of over 60 channels, in the first week of November, this year. The channels she said are in line with DSTV's agenda of improving its local content and providing services that are sought by African, on Pay-TV. The new channels will include; Trace a new urban music channel, One Gospel for Christian Music, Natural Geo Wild for people who like discovering more about nature and animals, Style Network and M-net stars that will broadcast news and information about Hollywood film stars.

She said the five channels and others which will be added onto the menu were found to relate to the audiences and more efforts will be directed towards fulfilling the demands of African subscribers.

Alberts also said that a recent content survey promoted DSTV to come up with a new East African drama among other local programs. The 26-episodes drama, which will feature Uganda, Tanzanian and Kenyan actors and actresses, will be broadcast in widely spoken East African languages. "We have received 26 proposals and the person who gets to make the drama will be announced on October 29," she said. Alberts said, the drama will be unveiled on April 22 next year.

The group's innovations come at a time when pay-TV just got competitive in Uganda. GTV entered the market earlier this year, and they are riding high on 80% exclusive rights to broadcast the English Premier League. Their entry led to significant reduction in hardware and subscription charges by Multichoice for its DSTV services. The services initially cost an arm and a leg and thus were branded the wealthy people's television.

So far, Uganda has three pay-TV providers including Pearl Digital Television which is owned by three citizens. Pearl Digital is scheduled to hold a major launch next month and is most likely to see the race to offer better services further reduce service charges.

(Biz-Community (Cape Town), 21 December 2007)

South Africa: SABC denies Mpofu rumours

Reports that SABC chief executive Dali Mpofu was going to resign were dismissed by the broadcaster on Monday. According to a report in a Sunday newspaper, Mpofu was heard saying at the ANC's 52nd National conference that he would resign as chief executive of the SABC.

His comment was preceded by Jacob Zuma's victory over Thabo Mbeki for the presidency of the ruling party, the report claimed.

"The SABC has been the subject of an orchestrated campaign aimed at impugning our commitment to one of the fundamental values of public service broadcasting, namely editorial independence from political bias," said SABC board chair Eddie Funde in a statement on Monday.

The report in the Sunday paper said the SABC had become part of the ANC's leadership battle with coverage given to Mbeki's key cabinet ministers in order to promote his campaign - this coverage was, however, not afforded to the Zuma camp.

The report said Congress of SA Trade Unions general secretary Zwelenzima Vavi had described the SABC's bias as "scandalous".

He identified Mpofu, head of news, Snuki Zikalala and political reporter Sophie Mokoena as central players in the broadcaster's propaganda role.

The broadcaster dismissed the report, saying there was "no truth" in it and that it was an "attempt to discredit the SABC and the three senior officials mentioned".

"Accusations like this are intended to discredit the public broadcaster for narrow political or commercial gains.

"Traditionally these accusations emanate from powerful lobbies representing either political, commercial, and other social interest groups," said Funde.

He said the broadcaster would take the matter up with the press ombudsman in order to "clear its name" and to "rid this country of bad journalism".

The broadcaster said the journalist who wrote the story did not contact the SABC for a response.

The SABC also claimed that there were factual inaccuracies - for example, Mokoena was described as a political editor, but she is a senior political reporter - in the story.

"The biggest disservice to the public which an institution like the SABC can mete out is to abuse this power by seeking to influence the hard fought human right to exercise free choice," Funde added.

"The SABC will not allow itself to be derailed by people who have agendas that are unknown to us.

"We will strive to provide credible information and news to all citizens irrespective of their political, economic and social orientation."

South Africa: New MDDA Board Appointed

The new board for the Media Development and Diversity Agency (MDDA) has been announced. The MDDA promotes the facilitation of development and diversity in the South African media sector and the promotion of the right to freedom of expression as enshrined in the country’s Constitution. The appointments were made by President Thabo Mbeki.

The Media Development and Diversity Agency is a statutory development agency for promoting, supporting and ensuring media development and diversity, set up as a partnership between the South African Government and major print and broadcasting media companies, in terms of the MDDA Act No. 14 of 2002. The President of South Africa is responsible for appointing the board.

The following five new Board members have been appointed with effect from 01 January 2008 for a term of office of three years and five years for the chairperson:

1. Gugu Msibi (chairperson)

2. Nomonde Gongxeka

3. Siviwe Minyi

4. Prof Guy Berger

Gugu Msibi has been appointed as the new chairperson of the MDDA; replacing Kanyi Mkonza whose term of office expired on the 31 December 2007 with three other Board members. In addition, Baby Tyawa was appointed as a fifth member to complement the MDDA Board. The MDDA thanked outgoing Board members for their contribution: Kanyi Mkonza, Dr Boloka Mashilo, Kerry Cullinan, Tony Trew and Govin Reddy .

New MDDA chair, Msibi, a former journalist and media trainer, developed communication and public affairs strategies for different Government Departments and companies. She is a former marketing and communications executive at the State Information Technology Agency (SITA) and was responsible for creating and managing the brand of the agency. She was a strategy and media advisor to the chairman of Mvela Group, Tokyo Sexwale, the SABC, Land Bank, Gauteng Shared Services (GSSC), Parliament, Transnet and the Department of Home Affairs.

Pan African Film Festival to feature Charles Burnett’s 'Namibia' and ‘The Dream’ set for Sundance release

The Pan African Film & Arts Festival announced today that award-winning filmmaker Charles Burnett's Namibia: The Struggle for Liberation will open its 16th annual festival on Thursday, February 7, 2008 in Hollywood at the Directors Guild of America.

Known for showcasing new films first and recognized as America's premiere black film festival, past festival features have included box office and award-winning hits: Ray, Lackawanna Blues, Redemption, Crazy As Hell, Kingdom Come, The Brothers, Gridlock'd, Days of Glory, and the 2006 Academy Award® winner for Best Foreign Film, Tsotsi.

The festival will take place in Los Angeles February 7-18, 2008 and is expected to draw over 200,000 attendees during its twelve-day run. The new '08 PAFF website will be launched this week at www.PAFF.org.

Meanwhile the documentary about the life of Ugandan professional boxer Kassim "The Dream" Ouma is being edited and could be released next month at the Sundance Film Festival in Park City, USA.

Feature Film Production Grants : Call for Submissions

In its continuing effort to promote original filmmaking by individuals from around the world, The Global Film Initiative has again announced a Call for Applications for the Spring cycle of its feature-film Production Grants programme. This year, The Global Film Initiative will award Production Grants of up to $10,000 each, to select applicants during its Spring granting cycle.

http://www.globalfilm.org/

- THE CTO’S 3RD ANNUAL DIGITAL BROADCASTING SWITCHOVER FORUM

29 Jan – 1 Feb 2008, Sandton, Johannesburg, South Africa

Covering National Switchover Frameworks and Planning, the Digital Dividend, the Results of WRC 07, Dual Illumination, the Broadcasting Skills Shortage, African Content Production as well as a host of other critical issues that were raised in the 2007 event.

m.dawes@cto.int

- 29th Durban International Film Festival

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

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