Issue no 21 25 January 2008
The recent formal launch of mobile TV in Nigeria and the agreement signed between Algerian mobile operator Nedjma and the state broadcaster ENTV are just the latest in a growing number of implementations across the continent. Although described as television, mobile TV is a new and unproven medium but serious players – both in the broadcast and mobile sectors – are betting significant sums of money on the outcome. Russell Southwood looks at developments so far and whether mobile TV will be a winner with audiences in Africa.
The number of mobile TV implementations is increasing and in many cases is following the trail of 3G upgrades by mobile operators. Nevertheless, the key “first mover” has a parallel DVB-H implementation strategy. Africa is in the vanguard of this new technology as mobile operators take a bet that a significant minority of their users will be attracted to spending money to watch content.
The early implementations so far include:
* First off the blocks were Naspers-owned DStv which started trialling services with MTN in South Africa two years ago with its DVB-H network in Johannesburg, Soweto, Cape Town and Durban. Current trials now cover all three operators. Full implementation has been held up by delays in getting a licence broadcast. DStv says that in most instances its existing rights have covered the extension to mobile transmission.
* As part of its dual track strategy, DStv has also been working with Vodacom that is putting out a mobile TV offer over its 3G and HSDPA networks. These include reversioned news bulletins from e.TV, South Africa’s private free-to-air channel. Reversioning includes taking tighter shots of presenter’s heads and increasing the size of news item titling. There are also two minute “mobisodes” of Afrikaans soap “Seventh Avenue”. Usage levels vary enormously but it is at this early stage it is achieving users levels in the tens of thousands.
* DSTV’s recent formal launch of mobile TV in Nigeria comes hard on the heels of its roll-out by their mobile subsidiary in Kenya (again a formal launch follows) and Namibia. More countries are coming up and the strategy appears to be an exclusive arrangement for a year or more with the mobile operator followed by a more general roll-out. It is building DVB-H networks in the main urban area in each of the new markets it enters. However in Nigeria, its Abuja launch will be followed by a similar roll-out in other Nigerian cities over the next couple of months.
* In September last year, the Ghanaian incumbent’s mobile subsidiary OneTouch implemented a mobile TV roll-out with privately owned Black Star TV, using another of the mobile broadcast standards, DMB-T. Heads of State attending the African Union Summit in the middle of last year were treated to a trial of the service. DMB-T handsets will cost 2 million cedis and Black Star TV claims that a Korean manufacturer will open an assembly plant in the country. The latter should be filed under the “we shall see” category
* Last week Wataniya-owned Algerian mobile operator Nedjma signed a deal for roll-out with state broadcaster ENTV of its output. Nedjma said ENTV was providing an “invaluable source of content” for the Algerian public and that "the best sequences of the sports shows in a digitized and an interactive format" will be made available. This is an example of a broadcaster using existing material and rights to extend its potential income streams, something particularly important for cash-strapped state broadcasters.
At the time of writing this article, there were nine countries and eleven operators offering some form of 3G service that would enable mobile TV. DStv’s strategy is to roll-out in half a dozen or more countries and depending on take-up, increase that number accordingly. It is working with both existing operators with 3G networks and building its own DVB-H broadcast networks. The Ghana service which is using the DMB-T service is the odd one out, although this standard is more widely used in Asia.
Although many commentators have been quite dismissive about viewing a sports event with a small ball on a very small screen, I have seen a golf match on a DVB-H-enabled mobile handset and the picture is much clearer than you might expect.
The largest current obstacle to take-up of services by users will be the cost of DVB-H and 3G enabled handsets. The initial high cost of handsets will make this a “slow-burn” growth rather than a “sudden take-off”: unless you’re prepared to give this five years, don’t even start playing the game. But don’t underestimate the ingenuity of the market in providing second-hand, “refurbished” phones from Europe and elsewhere if there is genuine market demand. Indeed, it’s interesting to note in South Africa that there is a significant number of pre-paid users amongst Vodacom’s mobile TV user base.
For broadcasters, it has to be a “no-brainer” as they prepare for the coming fragmentation of viewing patterns that will start (or has already started) with liberalisation and will come nearer to completion with the increase in channel numbers post digital switchover. It adds a modest but useful stream of additional income and begins to get them ready to be “multi-platform”. Oh, I hear the sceptics say, Africans won’t want “multi-platform”. This is to forget that there are several different audiences out there: the small but growing middle class numbering in the millions and the rest numbering in the tens or hundreds of millions.
For audiences, there are probably three overlapping categories of likely users: firstly, “I want it and I want it now”, secondly, “I can’t get to a TV but I need to see…” and thirdly “I’m sitting in a traffic jam that’s not moving so why don’t I just see…” In the first category, Vodacom’s usage levels went considerably higher during South Africa’s triumphant progress through the Rugby World Cup. In the second category, you’ve missed an episode of a soap but you want to know what happened. And the third category is obvious to anyone who has sat in a stationery car in a traffic jam in Lagos, Nairobi, Dakar or anywhere else in Africa for that matter. Showing key mobile TV programming moments to those who you’re with will become a social moment and a shared experience.
So in years to come, expect colleagues to break into a conversation with you and say “I must go, I’ve just got to catch the goals in the African Cup of Nations match between Nigeria and Cote d’Ivoire on my mobile phone…”
US broadcast giant NBC and London-based Great Media have launched the MSNBC news channel as a free-to-air offering along with 35 other channels across Africa, relying on advertising to finance its operation.
The launch, which took place at the Melrose Arch Hotel in Johannesburg, will see consumers gaining access to 36 'exciting' channels - if they can afford buy a once-off package of a dish and a digital receiver at US$194.
Great Media chief technical director Malcolm Ramsay told Bizcommunity.com: "We don't have to know you because you won't pay us every month and we won't switch you off. All you have to do is to purchase your 88cm dish and a digital receiver at Space TV or Ellis and you are connected 'for life' to the whole world."
Ramsay added: "With the recent flood of Pay TV operators in the territory, South Africans will find digital TV landscape to be a confusing and complex place. Free2view's success is built upon the simplicity of our offering, combined with a fantastic channel line-up."
MSNBC Africa is a joint-venture between London-based Great Media Limited and MSNBC and is built on the worldwide resources of NBC News. The latter is owned by US giant General Electric.
The channels include a full schedule of live news of a world-class coverage and reporting, political analysis and award-winning documentary programming, 24 hours a day, seven days a week, Ramsay said. "The expansion is integral to NBC News' commitment to growing its business internationally," Steve Capus, president of NBC News, commented. "The opportunities are limitless and as MSNBC continues to grow and thrive within the US, the timing is right for us to increase its global presence as well."
Currently MSNBC Africa is on what is probably Africa's most powerful and biggest KU band satellite footprint, Eutelsat WSA at 7degrees East. "This will ensure that viewers from SA, Botswana, Mozambique, Namibia, Lesotho, Angola, Zimbabwe, Swaziland, Kenya, Tanzania, Madagascar, Congo, Gabon, DRC, Malawi and Uganda will be able to have the opportunity to view America's fastest news channel," Ramsay said.
Free2view, as the name implies, is southern Africa's only free-to-air satellite TV platform and aims to provide broadcasters and rights holders with a stable, advertising funded platform to deliver their content to the millions in the region who had been previously excluded from these content global streams.
Private finance has rescued the programming plans of Zimbabwean state broadcaster, ZTV with a local businessman putting up the money to secure the rights for Spain’s La Liga and talking of putting money into local commissioning to replace the now-lost rights to packages of Nollywood films.
Zimbabweans are seeing European soccer from Britain and Spain after businessman Phillip Chiyangwa - through his Native Investment Africa - secured a deal to have Spanish La Liga soccer matches broadcast live on ZTV courtesy of his property company, Pinnacle.
The latest deal started on December 23 with the clash of Spain's traditional rivals Barcelona and Real Madrid but the sponsorship of the Spanish La Liga coverage was officially unveiled at Rainbow Towers in Harare last night.
Late last year, Native Investment Africa clinched a deal to bring live English Premiership football on national television using Zeco Holdings.
Although the English Premiership and Spanish La Liga deals only provide for a fraction of the respective leagues' matches, they have restored some confidence in local television viewers.
Apart from bringing live football from the world's two leading leagues, the company is also finalising a package that will result in the airing of the world popular Oprah Winfrey talk show which will inevitably rival the locally produced Mai Chisamba Show.
There are also plans to bankroll local film producers to come up with Zimbabwean programmes to take over from Nigerian movies, which had become popular both on ZTV and at video clubs. Confirming the latest developments this week, Chiyangwa said he decided to give back to the community by making ZTV more attractive.
"Pinnacle Private Limited will be bankrolling live coverage of one La Liga match a week and Zeco Holdings Limited would be sponsoring two English soccer matches a week until God knows when.
"Anytime from now, I will be sponsoring coverage of the Oprah Winfrey show, Doctor Phil talk show as well as some international movies." Meanwhile, Chiyangwa was quick to concede that the La Liga coverage got off to an embarrassing start as the footage was taken from Supersport. Although the Supersport 7 logo was covered by a ZTV logo, the Discovery banner stayed on the top left of the screen for the entire match.
Discovery is a leading health insurance company in South Africa and sponsors Supersport's coverage of the Spanish La Liga matches. Also there was a seemingly deliberate delay in crossing over for the kick-off and start of the second half which would have been aimed at concealing the source of the footage.
(The Herald (Harare), 5 January 2008)
Commonwealth featherweight champion Jackson "Action" Asiku will become the first Ugandan boxer to debut on pay television GTV on February 16, when he defends his title against Matt Powell of Australia.
The Perth-based fighter under new manager/promoter Craig Christian, will be making his defense in Perth, in what could be a defining moment for him as he seeks to challenge for the World Boxing Association championship title against title holder Chris John of Indonesia. The Ugandan prize fighter is trying to resurrect his career prospects after overcoming a bitter row with his previous promoters Shakespeare promotions and his former agent Danny Lutaaya. They failed to honour their commitment of getting him five fights in a year.
Asiku is coming off a round one knockout victory over Thai Singdaeng Pattanasing. The win put his record to 22 (12 KOS) 3-0 ahead of the defense.
(New Vision (Kampala), 14 January 2008)
Nigerians have the opportunity to watch all the 32 matches of the MTN Africa Cup of Nations as the Broadcasting organisation of Nigeria (BON) and Nigeria Television Authority (NTA) have secured the rights to transmit all the matches nationwide.
Chairman, Broadcasting organization of Nigeria and Director-General, voice of Nigeria, Malam Abubakar Tijiwa said last week that the agreement was reached with LC2 under which NTA was given the broadcasting rights of the MTN Africa Cup of Nations/CAF Champions League 2008 in collaboration with BON.
As against the three million Euros demanded by LC2, the Rights holder of the Africa Cup of Nations, Mallam Jijiwa said both parties have finally agreed on 1.2million Euros and in addition, NTA in collaboration with BON member-stations will be given substantial amount of the revenue that will accrue from the continent-wide advertisements that would be transmitted by the broadcasting station during the fiesta.
Jijiwa said LC2 also ceded to NTA/BON more advertising windows and adequate compensation in form of more revenue given for full compliance in airing the continental advertisements.
"The agreement is now a win-win one and meets most of our expectations, especially that BON member stations should not loose revenue with the transmission of MTN Africa Cup of Nations. Based on this agreement I can now confirm to Nigerians that radio and television stations nation-wide will transmit all the 32 matches of the Africa Cup of Nations holding in Ghana from January 20, 2008."
BON and NFA have been in a face-off with LC2, the rights holder of the MTN African Cup of Nation which fixed the face for Nigeria Territory at three million Euros, only on Wednesday BON, NTA delegates and their marketing consultants, OSMI reached a mutual agreement in Paris with LC2.
Meanwhile, BON called on CAF to take a cue from the incident so as to forestall future episodes of disagreement between broadcasters and rights holders not only in Nigeria, but also elsewhere in Africa, noting that BON should be given the first option of refusal.
Bon however, called on corporate organizations to patronise OSMI and NTA in collaboration with BON member stations by placing advertisements and sponsorship on the joint transmission of the fiesta. The 26th edition of the Africa Cup of Nations commences in Ghana on Sunday, with the Super Eagles playing their first match against Cote d'Ivoire on Monday, January 21, 2008.
(Leadership (Abuja), 18 January 2008)
Digital satellite television providers Multichoice Uganda and telecommunication company MTN have launched promotions ahead of this year's Nations Cup that gets underway on January 20.
Dstv launched 'Win a trip to the 2008 Africa Cup of Nations Finals in Ghana' campaign that will require potential winners to subscribe or pay for three months to stand a chance of winning the trip to watch the last four games. They later announced that they had partnered MTN in another 'Predict and Win' promotion where 15 lucky individuals will win goodies every match.
Five decoders and Shs200,000 worth of airtime will be at stake for each game. "Dstv is the best thing that can happen to you during this season because we are going to show all the matches in Ghana live on SS3 and SS Maximo. We are also going to send journalists to accompany the trip winner for the last week of tournament.”
(The Monitor (Kampala), 18 January 2008)
In Gabon, private pay-for TV channels who had purchased rights to the African Cup of Nations assured the Minister of Communications, Post, Telecommunications and New Technologies Laure Olga Gondjout that they would offer the signal free to state broadcaster RTG1 after some arm-twisting from Gabon’s President. However, in Togo the Cup can only be seen on a private pay-TV channel, LC2. It offered state broadcaster TVT the rights to the event for FCFA382 million but it was unwilling to pay this amount to show the event.
Moroccan feature film "Squelette" (skeleton), directed by Yassine Fennane, won the "Golden Olive Tree", the highest distinction of the 8th Amazigh Film Festival, which took place on 9 through 13 January in Setif (east of Algeria). "Squelette" tells the story of Hocine, a man who returned to his village after a stay in the city and pledged to sell his body to science. The prize was awarded to the Moroccan filmmaker by a jury including Algerian director Belkacem Hadjadj (president), French producer Jean-Jacques Bernard and Swiss actor Jean-Luc Bideau.
A group of Gambian journalists and pro-media freedom bodies in West Africa on Saturday launched Radio Alternative Voice (Radio AVG), an online radio which can be accessed on www.radioavg.com.
Organisers said the launch in Dakar was in response to "very limited media freedom" in their tiny West African country (see In Brief below). "We cannot continue to live in a country where divergent views cannot be expressed," said Amie Joof-Cole, a Dakar-based Gambian journalist and coordinator of the project.
"This is like a dream come true! I'm excited about the online radio and I hope it gives more voice to Gambians," he said. "Citizen FM has been closed down physically, but the voice of the people will continue to be heard," Joof-Cole said.
Citizen FM, a popular radio station in the Gambia, has been illegally closed down by the authorities. The new radio will partner some Senegalese private stations, whose signals reach the Gambia, until such time that it starts its own independent live broadcast. This will help reach out to the larger Gambian communities especially those without internet access or facilities.
The Radio AVG project aims to monitor and report on human rights issues in the Gambia, promote dialogue and free exchange of knowledge, among other issues.
The radio project is initiated in partnership with International Media Support (IMS), Network of African Freedom of Expression Organisations (NAFEO), Media Foundation for West Africa (MFWA) and Network Media Programme of the Open Society Institute (OSI). Others are Open Society Initiative for West Africa, International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) Africa Regional Office, Foroyaa and Inter Africa Network for Women, Media, Gender Equity and Development (Famedev).
(Freedom Newspaper (Raleigh, North Carolina), 13 January 2008)
Sixteen years after the deregulation of the broadcast industry in the country, the Yar'Adua administration has removed the final vestiges of monopoly by granting a national network license to Daar Communications, owners of AIT and Raypower FM. In effect, the Daar channels can now be seen and heard across the country simultaneously, thus giving people the opportunity to share both private and public broadcast voices and visuals.
Vanguard gathered that after studying the recommendations of the National Broadcasting Commission (NBC), the President was swayed towards changing the position of previous administrations on allowing private companies to have network powers for fear of crisis.
In conveying the President's position to the broadcaster, Acting Director of the NBC, Engr. Yomi Bolarinwa, said: "I am pleased to inform you that in accordance with Section 2(1) (c) of the National Broadcasting Commission Act No. 38 of 1992 (as amended), the President, Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces of the Federal Republic of Nigeria has graciously granted approval to your company to establish radio and television stations across the country, subject to availability of channels and frequencies in each location."
Section 2 (1) in the Broadcast Act captures the functions of the commission and also its capacity to recommend broadcast stations to the President for approval. Specifically, Section 2 (1) (c) says the NBC shall have responsibility of recommending applications through the Minister to the President for the grant of radio and television licences.
It is in exercising this responsibility that President Umaru Yar'Adua awarded Daar Communications a network licence to broadcast throughout the whole territory of Nigeria. Bundled into the licence is a Direct to Home (DTH) package which empowers Daar to offer pay-for digital satellite subscription services.
Launching AIT International in New York in 2003, Dr Dokpesi spoke of a desire to promote and project Nigeria and the entire black race to the rest of the world using his broadcast platform. In a recent interview with Vanguard, Dr. Dokpesi said: "It is indeed sad that Nigeria which pioneered television broadcasting in 1959 and colour television broadcasting in 1973 in the continent of Africa is now dependent on other African countries for television services because of the restrictive manner that the industry is regulated particularly the private broadcasting sector."
(Vanguard (Lagos), 16 January 2008)
It was a quiet end of the year for South African radio, with no station growth over the previous Radio Audience Measurement Survey (RAMS(r)), and declining time spent listening. The South African Advertising Research Foundation (SAARF) has released the final installment of RAMS(r) results for 2007, covering fieldwork which began in mid-July 2007 and ended in mid-October 2007.
Unfortunately, the medium is not ending the year with a bang, although several stations will have something to celebrate, thanks to the growth of their audience figures over the past 12 months. The declining trend for time spent listening to radio is continuing.
SAARF RAMS(r) November 2007 shows that South African adults spent less time consuming radio than they did in both the previous two surveys, and in November 2006. South Africans now listen 20 minutes less on average per day, compared to November last year. The provinces most affected by this trend are Gauteng, the Free State and the Western Cape.
Despite this, total radio listening has remained stable for this RAMS(r) wave when compared to the previous wave of October 2007. There were also no significant changes for individual radio stations period on period.
Across a week, 92.1% of adults listen to radio. On an average Monday to Friday, 74.9% of South Africans consume radio (a significant decline over November 2006, when weekday listening stood at 78.7%). Similar year-on-year declines came through for Saturday and Sunday listening, from 74.2% in RAMS(r) November 2006 to 71.2% currently on Saturdays, and from 73.0% to 68.8% on Sundays.
When taking a longer-term view, several stations also showed significant changes in their listening patterns. Looking across 12 months, Algoa FM grew its weekly reach from 2.1% to 2.5%, with 786,000 listeners in total.
While it hasn't managed to grow its period-on-period audience this time around, Gagasi 99.5 nonetheless continues to feature on the growth charts, increasing its reach from 3.0% in November 2006, to 4.6% per week currently. Its total audience is now at 1,434 million.
Kaya FM 95.9's weekly reach is up from 2.9% a year ago, to 4.1% in RAMS(r) November 2007. At the end of 2006, the station's weekly audience was 899,000, and today it stands at 1.277 million. SAfm's weekly audience of 550 000 a year has grown to 670,000, boosting the station's reach from 1.8% in November 2006 to 2.2% today.
Three stations showed significant declines in their year-on-year audiences. Ikwekwezi FM is down from 5.3% to 4.8% reach per week, although its audience is stable over the previous survey. Lesedi FM's weekly reach has dropped from 12.4% to 11.4%, year on year. Finally Radio Pulpit now reaches 0.6% of all adults each week, compared to 1.6% a year ago.
The next wave of SAARF RAMS(r), and the first release for 2008, is scheduled for 6 February, 2008.
The South African Advertising Research Foundation (SAARF) is the provider of research data to the advertising, marketing and media industries. Its main objective is to direct and publish media and product/brand research for the benefit of its stakeholders, thereby providing data for target marketing and a common currency for the buying and selling of media space and time.
The information is also used by media owners for strategic programme and editorial planning. SAARF conducts a number of major media and product/brand surveys. The All Media and Products Survey (AMPS(r)), includes extensive information on media as well as products, services and brands, and is South Africa's only free source of data on over 160 product categories and approximately 1 700 brands. Other important surveys are the Radio Audience Measurement Survey (RAMS(r)); the Television Audience Measurement Survey (TAMS(r)) and the SAARF Out of Home Media Survey (OHMS).
SAARF also provides comprehensive information on target groups, and supplies segmentation tools which include the SAARF Universal Living Standards Measure (SU-LSM(r)), SAARF Life Stages, and SAARF Lifestyles, which are widely used for segmenting target markets.
(Biz-Community (Cape Town), 14 January 2008)
The Angolan Public Television (TPA) will launch this week in Luanda a staff training project, with the aim of improving the quality of its service, ahead of the introduction of private competition into the Angolan market.
According to TPA’s announcement, the project is intended to improve the quality of TPA's service, by providing refresher courses to over 80 of its national staffs, until the end of 2009.
The training will be done in all of the station's production areas. The document also states that TPA's channel 2 will be improved with entertainment programmes, mainly directed at young people.
The announcement reiterates that both TPA 1 and 2 will remain public channels, and that there are no plans to privatise either of them.
Gambia authorities on January 15, 2008 indefinitely suspended the broadcast of Radio France International (RFI) in Banjul for airing what they referred to as an "erroneous news story". A release from the Department of State for Communications, Information and Technology, three days after the closure on January 21 in explaining government's action said the decision was in line with the professional ethics of the media in The Gambia. RFI was taken off air, following its reports that some Mauritanians accused of killing four French nationals have fled to Guinea Bissau through The Gambia. The RFI news bulletins are broadcast in Gambia through, the government-controlled Radio Gambia.
UNESCO has published “Community Radio: A user’s guide to the technology” is a guide to technical parameters of community radio in India. Produced for potential community radio operators, this technical manual takes into account the intention of the Government of India to establish 4000 community radio stations by 2008. Although based on Indian experiences, the guide will have a wider relevance to African readers.
Gateway Broadcast Services, a subsidiary of Gateway Telecommunications, has raised US$60 million to accelerate the roll out of its pan African pay-TV service, GTV.
GTV is Africa's first widely accessible pay-TV service, providing a choice of high quality television programming at an affordable subscription price. The service includes exclusive coverage of some of Africa's most desirable programming including the English Premier League and the FA cup.
Gateway is experiencing strong demand for the GTV service and having launched in June 2007, the company has sold tens of thousands of decoders and GTV is now available in 12 countries across Africa.
A press statement issued by the company said this investment in GTV will allow Gateway to accelerate the roll out of the service to expanding its footprint to over 30 countries during 2008, while maintaining a fully funded business plan.
(East African Business Week (Kampala), 14 January 2008)
MultiChoice Nigeria, has promised to give all its viewers the greatest coverage of the 26th edition of the African Nations Cup finals which gets underway in Ghana Sunday. Managing Director of the company, Collins Khumalo, in an interview with ThisDay revealed that all the 32 matches from the group stage all through to the final match on the 10th of next month in Accra would be broadcast live on three SuperSport channels namely 3, 5 and 6.
According to him: "We have concluded arrangement to the live telecast of the matches in a way we have not done before and it is our belief that Nigerians who have passion for football will follow the games religiously," he explained.
The MultiChoice package according to him, will ensure detailed previews and reviews of all the matches just as repeat broadcasts are also assured. He said further all the regular soccer analysts will be on hand just as some competent guest analysts will be on hand to add value to the coverage of biggest sporting fiesta on the continent.
Khumalo also took time to explain that the company had signed another four-year contract extension for the broadcast of the Carling Cup and the English FA Cup till 2012 while the regular coverage of the UEFA Champions League, South American World Cup qualifying round of matches and Europe 2008, which will come up this July, are also to be aired on the station. He stressed that the coverage of all the matches are the exclusive rights of MultiChoice.
On the conflict of intersts that may arise during the Nations Cup as regards the English Premier League, Khumalo explained that Super Sports 10 will take over flow of matches in case some matches in Ghana extend beyond their schedules.
(This Day (Lagos), 15 January 2008)
New software capable of stripping ads out of TV programmes seems to be yet another nail in the coffin of the die-hard 30-second TV commercial. A US company, VideoReDO, has developed a product called TV Suite that can strip content from television programmes and films on TV.
Seva Mboiny Simon, D-G of l'Office de la radio et de la télévison nationale malgache, and Volatahiana Ranaivomanana, director of the state TV channel confirmed that the Government had agreed to put up US$3.4 million to get the right for the African Cup of Nations.
This followed negotiations with the Confederation of African Football that appointed LC2 to deal with francophone territories for the 2008 event in which TVM agreed to pay 600 million Malagasy Ariary. Following the completion of negotiations Ranaivomanana said:”We are now going to be able to show the African Cup of Nations.” One local press report described the sum paid as “faramineuse” (staggering).
The southern Moroccan city of Ouarzazate intends to multiply its film-making revenue by seven and become the Hollywood of the Mediterranean.
"Morocco will disburse 43 million dirhams (27.3 million euros) so that by 2016, 38 feature films will be shot every year in Ouarzazate (as opposed to 11 currently), raising close to two billion dirhams," said the authorities of the city, twinned with Los Angeles, in a statement.
Beginning in 1949, Ouarzazate -- one of the most profitable film-making regions in the Mediterranean Basin -- welcomed the film crew for Orson Welles' "Othello." Since then, hosting Hollywood super productions has become a tradition for this gateway to the desert.
From David Lean's "Lawrence of Arabia", to Martin Scorcese's "The Last Temptation of Christ", to several Ridley Scott films (including the recently wrapped up "Body of Lies" with Leonardo Di Caprio), the varied landscapes of southern Morocco have been a stage for feature films, advertisements and documentaries.
Following the example of Warner Bros Studios in Hollywood or Dreamworld Film City in Cape Town, South Africa, Ouarzazate is proposing supplementary infrastructure and diversified services, notably for pre- and post-production.
In 2005, the so-called "Moroccan Hollywood", which had two studios, added CLA studios, one of the biggest in the world, in a joint venture with Dini de Laurentis and Cinecitta of Italy. Subsequently, numerous film schools have opened in the country to train local personnel for foreign productions.
Finally, Morocco will step up incentives such as nominal fees for filming in historic sites, reductions on air transport, exemptions on taxes for goods and services paid for in the country, as well as the availability of official state forces for cinematic purposes.
Filmaker South Africa
A new free-to-air lifestyle and culture channel, Southern Africa Direct, has been launched on Sky and it claims to be the first “destination TV” channel. The channel is an Anglo-African collaboration and features programming commissioned from 25 countries in Sub-Saharan Africa. Founded by four entrepreneurs, Alan Joy, Pierre van der Hoven, Zenani Dlamini and Zwelakhe Mannkazana, its content production and ad sales will be handled by Digital Sky Investments based in Johannesburg.
The ban on live media coverage will remain in force until calm is restored, the Government has said.
This ban meant that the opening of Parliament was not be transmitted live as has been the tradition.
Information PS, Dr Bitange Ndemo, said the embargo was to ensure that the public was "not fed with statements or actions that could fan the tension in the country". "We want the media to be responsible and air material that is not injurious to peace, especially at this time of heightened tension," said Ndemo.
He added: "If media stations have technology to review and edit real-time material before airing, then the Government has no problem, but we do not want to have irresponsible reporting as already experienced in most FM radio stations."
Asserting the Government's position on the ban at a media forum to review the political impasse in the country, Information and Communication minister, Mr Samuel Poghisio, said the move to suspend real-time coverage was aimed at curbing "the inciting nature of some political pronouncements like were being made on December 30". He added that live radio and TV news bulletins are not affected by the ban.
Meanwhile, top media women have unveiled a joint campaign to send powerful messages on truth, justice and reconciliation. The campaign, 'Healing the Nation', intends to ensure that broadcast and published materials tell the truth. They called for a radical shift in news packaging to ensure that coverage in volatile areas does not stir further chaos.
The Deputy Managing Editor of The Standard, Weekend Editions, Jane Godia, among other speakers, advised journalists to desist from using inflammatory language, as it would only serve to aggravate the situation. "We cannot suppress the truth, but can we do it without pitting a neighbour against another or one tribe against another?" Godia asked. She added that the media must speak in a language that will bring Kenyans together and heal the nation, a sentiment that was supported by all in attendance.
(The East African Standard (Nairobi), 15 January 2008)
Reporters Without Borders has protested at the arrest and detention on 15 January 2008 of a stringer with the BBC Somali service, Ayanle Hussein Abdi.
The worldwide press freedom organisation condemned the impunity with which the Somali Transitional Federal Government and provincial governors unfairly arrest journalists.
"The very few journalists who continue to work in Somalia at risk of their lives are easy prey," it said. "Week after week, the authorities flout the most elementary rules of justice towards journalists who annoy them."
"It is time that the new Prime Minister, Nur Hassan Hussein, whose silence is unacceptable, states that this cannot go on any longer," the organisation said.
Hussein Abdi was arrested in Beletwein, capital of the central region of Hiran, on the orders of provincial governor, Yusuf Ahmed Hagar "Dagobed", according to Reporters Without Borders' partner organisation, the National Union of Somali Journalists (NUSOJ). The local authorities gave no explanation for the arrest and it is not known were he is being held.
This latest arrest brings to four the number of journalists currently being held in Somalia. Three, Mohammed Shidane Daban of Radio Banadir; Bashir Mohammed Abdulkadir and Abdirahman Mohamed Hudeyfi of Radio Somaliweyn, are being held secretly in Mogadishu without any charges being laid against them since 4 and 13 January 2008.
(Reporters sans Frontières (Paris), 17 January 2008)
Police in the Chad capital N'djamena closed radio station FM Liberté and arrested its Director, claiming it had defamed various people after broadcasting a press communiqué for a local consumer rights group, protesting about the costs of obtaining identity documents from the Ministry of the Interior.
When CDS of local music were introduced slightly over a decade ago, they sold at Ksh800 ($12.5) while those for imported music ranged from Ksh1200-Ksh1500 ($18.75-$23.5).
Not anymore though, as the prices have plummeted to Ksh200 ($3) or just about the cost of a good quality super chrome cassette for the local music, while imported music may fetch up to Ksh500 ($7.8).
Ordinarily, pirates are the first to be blamed, but the reality is that hard-copy sales are no longer a core income-generator in the music business. The issue is not unique to Kenya; as areas of public broadcast diversify and numbers grow, a good record will be playing everywhere and the public may feel no need to own a copy.
Kenya's relatively small radio and television sector, the 30 or so radio stations in operation, provide more than enough choice for most music fans. Add clubs, hotels, and public transport vehicles, public places that pipe music, lifts and so on, and the need to buy music is drastically reduced.
In fact a decade ago, matatus estimated at 25,000 countrywide were major customers for music in cassette form, but today a vast percentage uses radio music and no longer buy music of their own. Assuming that every matatu bought at least one cassette or CD a month, one would be talking about that number in lost sales.
In more developed countries, licensing fees and procedures have taken into account the impact this proliferation of public broadcasting networks is having on the music industry. Now, revenue comes mostly from the royalties from public broadcasting.
In Kenya, the Music Copyright Society has to ensure that royalties become a reliable income generator for musicians able to sustain the artistes and the music activity. But even if it that were to happen, the content ratio that is broadcast works against Kenyan music.
According to Roger Hoolijer, a director with an international music licensing body, as things stand, Kenya will soon become a major royalty exporting country due to the preference for foreign music.
"The country needs to work out a ratio that favours local music for Kenya music to benefit," he said.
Kenyans need to find a way to have music used more widely in public broadcasts both locally and internationally and to ensure that the royalties are well distributed to those whose music is played.
East African Standard
The challenge this year for advertisers is to really connect with their consumers in credible spaces online and learn how to become part of their personal space with an authentic voice, not 'client or brand-speak', predicts Nazeer Suliman, Universal McCann South Africa GM in his broad predictions for 2008.
Q: Adspend generally, do you predict a slow down or a continued upward spiral for 2008?
I don't think we'll see a marked downward trend. Global and local trends show strong growth. However, the continued upward hike in interest rates, may well impact ad-spend further down the line - considering that early indications point to a slowdown in the economy.
Q: General trends/usage of print, radio, TV, outdoor, out of home - where is the money going to go. TV will always be king but who will the other winners be and who will suffer?
The current profile of spend by media type will continue into 2008. However, if anything, 2008 will be the year for online, when it finally comes into its own. We will see more communications companies gearing up with online/digital offerings and capabilities. Advertisers will grow more confident in "colonising" this space after more than a decade of slow experimentation and exploration. This will in most part be driven by an increase in online access and broader consumer appeal.
Q:Online and mobile - predictions for 2008 - increased usage or more of the same? Your views on social networking/ blogs / podcasts etc as media channels?
Mobile penetration will continue to grow as the three mobile network operators battle it out in the lower to middle end of the market. It's the only viable segment to fuel volume growth. Online access will continue to grow, in part to new product offerings and convergence (internet access bundled with existing technology products). Social networking will surge, claiming new addicts - it's better than crack! Successes like Facebook that combine networking with the ability to "blog", "message", "game" and upload personal paraphernalia will continue. The challenge for advertisers will be to carve a credible space in these areas by facilitating the "personal user drivers" that fuel the social networking phenomenon. This means that advertisers will have to get out of "broadcast"/ "intrusive" /"target" mode and learn how to genuinely "befriend" their prospective "mates" with credibility.
Q:What do clients / media agencies / media owners need to do to engage more with consumers / what more we can be done for communication to stand out?
Agencies will continue to demand flexibility from media owners in driving communication innovation. The standardised production lines of most media owners will come under continued strain as agencies continue to demand anything but the standard. New connection options will challenge traditional media owner power. Clients will continue to up-skill and reconfigure their marketing departments to meet the continued growth in market and consumer complexity and the challenges that this brings.
Nigeria: Amake says BOB TV 2008, a Time to Build Capacity for Broadcast And Film Industry
As the countdown to BOB TV 2008 begins, organiser Amaka Igwe told us that the entire programme is being packaged as a contribution to helping build capacity in both sectors where Nigeria has made significant inroads since 1992 when the broadcast industry was deregulated, a development that coincided with the coming of the Nigerian home video, later christened Nollywood.
Just in the final days of last year, JWT, one of the biggest US advertising agencies marked out Nollywood as one of the 80 things to watch this year.
It is a global rating and one of the very few from Africa. In spite of the global popularity and following, at home Nollywood suffers some snipes, jeers and contempt treatment over quality thus giving vent to perennial call for some kind of programmes that will help build capacity in the sector.
Being one of the prime movers of Nollywood Igwe said the 2008 programme will help build this capacity as she is putting together a comprehensive package that will look at the various sensitive features of Nollywood and broadcasting. Local and international experts will address the various packages.
Theme of the 2008 programme is Greater Heights for African Films and this will be addressed by four major conferences under the subheads - Filmmakers, Finance, Broadcasters and Advertisers.
The knowledge of the organisers most of who have traveled extensively pursuing broadcast and movie concerns is demonstrated in the diversity of topics put together and constellation of personalities they have assembled to address the issues.
There will be a lot of focus on new media which today occupies the height of most broadcast discourse across the world. The reason being the advent of digital formats and high definition facilities which have altered the way creative business is done.
There seems to also be a deliberate invitation to the financial sector operators to play their role in the industry as they will gather to discourse importance of finance to the broadcast and film sectors and how all the parties can interface with each other.
Theme of the Filmmakers Colloquium is: Arts, Business and Politics: Strange Bedfellows? This will be addressed by a veteran in the sector, Chief Frank Okonta, boss of Nkem Gallery based in Lagos.
But the sparks will really begin to flow when the session on Finance opens. With the sub- theme: Infrastructural Development for the Entertainment Industries, the panel will be chaired by Mrs. Cecelia Ibru, MD/CEO, Oceanic while the lead paper will be discussed by Mr. Albert Okumagba, MD/CEO, BGL.
Others in the team are: Gabriel Ize-Iyamu, Ex-Director, UBA, Kene Mkparu, GM, Odeon Cinema, London, Tony Ikoku, MD, Minaj TV, Henry Nelson, Executive Director, Ecobank, Ben Murray-Bruce, CEO, Silverbird Group, and Charles Igwe, MD, Big Pictures. The session will be chaired by Dr. Raymond Dokpesi, Executive Chairman of Daar Communications plc, owners of Raypower FM and AIT.
The Broadcast Colloquium will focus on Broadcasting in Africa and the Challenges of New Media. The lead paper titled: Regulatory Environment and the New Media, will be delivered by Engr. Bolarinwa of the National Broadcasting Commission, NBC. While most of the other discussants in the team, from advertising to private and public broadcasting, will also explore the growing importance of new media to their relevant fields.
The Advertisers Forum will focus on Global Trends in Audience Delivery. Featuring here are: Dan Isiekpe who will speak on Audience Sophistication and New Media; Reality TV and African Audience, Myths and Realities by Charles Odibo, Bank PHB; The Rising Profile of Sports TV Properties by Rotimi Pedro, OSMI; Interactive TV, Game Shows and Nigerian Audience by Femi Ayeni, Ultima Communications, and Tajudeen Adepetu of Consolidated Media, among others.
Igwe pointed out that other features of the programe like the Programes Market and Exhibition, and the University Challenge will still feature, but this time more robust. She informed there is provision for participants in the programme to shoot a film in a day, edit before evening of that same day and send the film for screening in the evening.
(Vanguard (Lagos), 9 January 2008)
Liberia: Ledgerhood Rennie Resigns
The Station Manager of Radio VERITAS, Ledgerhood Rennie has resigned. institution. Rennie, who has gone into history as one of the youngest Liberian to head a radio station, is credited for moving VERITAS from a community facility to a national broadcast medium. Over the years as manager Rennie maintained the reputation and credibility of the station; thus making it one of the nation's most respected and reliable.
(The Inquirer (Monrovia), 14 January 2008)
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.