Issue no 32 26 June 2008

top story

  • Once mobile phones were the playthings of the African elite with a few hundred thousand post-paid subscribers who paid (or quite often did not pay) their monthly bills. Then mobile companies introduced pre-paid options where users paid when they wanted and for as much time as they could afford. Because of this “pay-as-you-go” approach mobile phones are now in the hands of millions and the rest is history. African Pay-TV needs a similar “pay-per-view” breakthrough moment and Russell Southwood argues that one element could be M-money payment systems.

    Before the advent of competition in the Anglophone Pay-TV market, subscribers might pay as much as US$70-80 a month for a bouquet of programmes. Prices have come tumbling down as both GTV and Multichoice seek to outdo each other in offering low-cost, low-end TV offers to increase the habit of paying for viewing. However, payment remains a critical barrier for a lot of potential users: one of Multichoice’s really low-cost offers requires the user to pay the relatively small annual sum up front. (Without competition, Francophone viewers of near-monopoly Canal Plus do not have these kinds of choices).

    So what are the building blocks to create the breakthrough moment where potential Pay TV viewers can pay for what they can afford when they can afford it, including for premium content like football?

    - M-money systems like Safaricom’s M-Pesa in Kenya are already in place. That particular system is used by around 2 million people so it’s well on the way to being able to be described as widely used. A mobile user can send cash to someone to transfer money to them. Tanzania’s e-Fulusi and Ghana’s AfricExpress allow individual users to pay bills. All three use relatively simple interfaces and offer a way of checking payment. If an individual has topped up, he or she can use easily use their phone to make an almost instantaneous payment.

    - Unfortunately for the Pay TV operator, the choices between M-Money systems are not completely straightforward. Safaricom’s M-Pesa system is proprietary to Vodafone (who helped develop it) and its network affiliates. Even if their networks gain sufficient critical mass in the next 1-2 years, Vodacom/Vodafone is not present in some of the key markets. Non-proprietary systems like e-Fulusi and AfricExpress work on persuading mobile companies to add their services for users as Value-Added Services on the network. To succeed, they need either major marketing clout in their own right (with a large-scale backer) or for a mobile company to buy into the idea, in which case it becomes more like M-Pesa in approach.

    - However, assuming such a building block is in place, the customer can then transfer money to the provider of the programmes and films. There then needs to be a platform which stores the value of the credits. The customer can then order using a simple menu (sub-menus by genre) an item of programming having first checked the price. He or she may say to themselves, I’m bored this evening and I really want to watch this latest movie or a particular football match. The user sends an SMS requesting this programme to the provider. The providers’ platform checks the cost against the credit in the provider’s account and if there’s enough to cover it, the transaction is OK’d. If not, an SMS goes to the user saying you’re short by however much and why don’t you top up again?

    - The next building block is how to deliver the programme to the user who’s paid for it. There are probably two ways of doing this: a set-top box or a broadband connection capable of offering IP-TV. In the first instance, the signal is unscrambled for the duration of the programme and for IP-TV, it’s simply a case of having a one-off authorization PIN number to initiate a streamed screening. The coming digitilisation offers the right moment to introduce appropriate set top boxes.

    - Once accustomed to this process, there is nothing to stop people paying per day, per week, per month or per year. The only question is: does the cost of the programme represent good value in the eyes of the customer? The benchmark for this will vary. Tomorrow’s UEFA Final? It may be possible to load a premium. The latest available movie? Slightly cheaper than the rather high African cinema ticket prices. Older movies and music content? Slightly cheaper or the same as their pirate content equivalents but with better picture quality maybe.

    - The final part is probably the trickiest as it touches on who controls the value in the transaction. A number of vertically-integrated mobile companies are already planning for Triple Play and realize that with a payment system of the kind described they have every chance of ending up owning the customer, whoever has the rights. However, in the short to medium term, the Anglophone Pay-TV operators hold most of the power as they control the access to the majority of the interesting content.

    - It’s a bit like the beginning of cinema and the relationship between the cinema owners, the distributors and the film studios. There could evolve a highly vertically integrated delivery chain or there could be a more diverse infrastructure. For there are now many African Free-To-Air channels who might sell their successful local content within a country market.

    The creation of a “Pay-per-viewing” approach – whether for a single item of programme or on a timed basis – could allow the Pay-TV industry to push out more rapidly the boundaries of its addressable markets and maybe offer others the chance to market repeats of successful local programmes. Do not forget the mantra: It’s what they want, when they want it, where they want it.

    The arguments in this article are based on two pay-for reports recently published by Balancing Act:

    African Broadband, Triple Play and Converged Markets

    M-Money: Finances, Banking and Payments through mobile phones

    For details of what they contain and their prices, click on the link below:

    http://www.balancingact-africa.com/publications.html

content

  • BBC Worldwide Channels, in partnership with MultiChoice Africa, has said that it will launch four new channels - BBC Entertainment, BBC Lifestyle, BBC Knowledge and BBC CBeebies - from 1 September 2008 on the DStv platform to replace and build upon the success of its existing channels, BBC Prime and BBC Food. The announcement was made, Tuesday 10 June, at the Saxon Hotel in Sandhurst, Johannesburg.

    “After conducting an intensive research, we found that audiences are strongly connected with the BBC brand in Africa,” Dean Possenniskie, BBC Worldwide SVP and GM for Europe, Middle East and Africa, said.

    “Africa has always been of great importance to us, and we are now making a significant investment as we launch four dedicated channel feeds for Africa. This new deal with MultiChoice confirms our commitment to the territory and allows us to deliver a greater range of contemporary, award-winning programming across all four channel genres to loyal BBC viewers, in addition to attracting new ones.”

    BBC Entertainment will replace BBC Prime and is set to showcase comedy, drama and light entertainment programming from the BBC and other UK production houses.

    BBC Lifestyle, which will replace BBC Food, is a destination offering inspiration for home, family and life. The channel dishes up six tasty strands to engage and inspire viewers. Favourite African series, once on BBC Food, will now broadcast in Food. The other lifestyle strands include Home & Design, Fashion & Style, Health, Parenting and Personal Development.

    Through programmes such as Science & Technology and Business, BBC Knowledge will provide non-fiction and factual entertainment material and explore new cultures around the world. The Past will bring historical events, places and people back to life.

    BBC CBeebies is a pre-school channel for children aged 0-6 years and will emphasise on educational entertainment.

    Pressed by Bizcommunity.com to disclose the financial costs of such a huge project, Possenniskie said: “Look, come September, we will sign a five-year contract with MultiChoice and if you were to take account of the 2,500 hours of programming every year, it could amount to an estimated £50 million (about R750 million) over the next five years.”

    Since the awarding of new licences to upcoming pay TV players by ICASA last year, MultiChoice has been hard at work, restructuring its DStv contents and adding a variety of new programmes, and the BBC Worldwide announcement fits that philosophy. It appears that the strategy's aim is to flex DStv's muscles and sharpen its defence as stiff competition from other players looms in what many observers see as a very unpredictable market.

    But MultiChoice Africa GM for content, Aletta Alberts, flatly denied that the strategy had something to do with competition. “No, it is not about that. These things have been planned long time ago. We are just adding value on our platform to satisfy our audiences, and we strongly believe that BBC Worldwide being one of the world's biggest entertainment players will definitely bring a new flavour with these exciting programmes.” Alberts also told Bizcommunity.com that MultiChoice's partnership with BBC goes a long way back - it is now in its 13th year.

    Asked about the challenges that emerge as the broadcaster brings such an expensive and complex project in Africa in general and SA in particular, John Taite, BBC Worldwide director of programming for Europe, Middle East and Africa, said: “We've handpicked the programmes and designed the channels specifically for our African audience. The challenge will be creating an African feel so our viewers come to think of them as their BBC channels.” Taite said that his company has been consulting with the SA production community in terms of ‘evolving' the UK channel into localised content by bringing local faces into the channel.

    BBC Worldwide Channels is a fully-owned subsidiary of the UK public broadcaster BBC, which was established in 1922. Asked whether, BBC Worldwide does get some funding from the state as it is the case all over the world, Possenniskie replied: “No. We do not get funds from anyone. Instead, we generate our own revenues which go into the coffers of our parent company.” Created only two and half years ago, BBC Worldwide has already launched programmes in India, Poland, Singapore, and now in Africa.

    www.bbcworldwide.com

    Bixcommunity,com

  • MultiChoice Africa has signed a multi-year distribution deal with MTV Networks International to carry leading kids' entertainment brand, Nickelodeon, in southern Africa. Starting 1 July 2008, Nickelodeon will launch as a 24-hour English language channel, broadcasting to more than one and a half million DStv subscribers in Botswana, Lesotho, Malawi, Mozambique, Namibia, South Africa, Swaziland, Zambia and Zimbabwe.

    The news was announced Wednesday, 18 June 2008, by Nolo Letele, CEO - MultiChoice South Africa Group and Alex Okosi, SVP and MD, MTV Networks Africa.

    Targeted at kids aged 2 - 14, Nickelodeon is the world's only multi-platform entertainment brand dedicated exclusively to kids. The channel will carry Nickelodeon's well-known programming for preschool, primary school and tween-age kids, with a dedicated programming block, Nick Jr. where kids play to learn, and Nick at Nite, a primetime slot created for older kids.

    The new 24-hour Nickelodeon channel will consist of a mix of Nickelodeon's globally award-winning animation and live action programming. The channel's schedule will boast a rich programming lineup including Nickelodeon's beloved pre-school hit, Dora the Explorer and whimsical sea sponge SpongeBob SquarePants ,as well as anime-inspired action adventure Avatar - The Legend of Aang, and comedy/live action series, Unfabulous and Drake & Josh.

    Nickelodeon's new channel in Africa will complement the wide range of Nickelodeon programming that airs on K-All Day, broadcasting on DStv channel 300, and Nickelodeon's regional consumer product business.

    Commented Okosi, ‘‘Nickelodeon is one of the world's most influential and appealing kids' brands. We are thrilled to partner with MultiChoice to bring Nickelodeon's award-winning programming on a 24-hour basis into Southern Africa.''

    Letele says, ‘‘We are pleased to launch the globally successful Nickelodeon kid's entertainment channel onto our DStv platform. The channel will complement and strengthen our current youth offering, whilst simultaneously providing more choice. Kids are in for a treat with the array of exciting content featuring their favorite characters and programmes.''

    Distribution and marketing for Nickelodeon in sub-Saharan Africa will be managed by Johannesburg-based MTV Networks Africa, which is also responsible for MTV, MTV base, MTV France, MTV Portugal and VH1 in the region.

  • The second series of the Imagine Afrika reality programme kicked off on ZBC Television on Saturday with a look at how the top Zimbabwean candidates for the programme were selected. Broadcast of the continental Imagine Afrika reality show is due to begin in October. The new series beginning this Saturday focuses on the Zimbabwean selection process and the short-listed candidates.

    Ten candidates were selected from hundreds of entrants and taken to the Eastern Highlands for a taste of the Imagine Afrika experience before being interviewed on camera. Three were selected by the judges as the top contestants in their view. The three are Harare corporate lawyer Sharon Maposa, Beitbridge Sunday News columnist Delta Law Milayo Ndou and Dudzai Mureyi, a pharmacy student at the University of Zimbabwe.

    The three were selected from a short list of 10 entrants. However, all hope is not for the remaining seven whose names and video tapes of the interviews have since been sent to South Africa where they would be viewed along with those from the more than 30 participating countries throughout the continent. The contestants are all eagerly awaiting news, which should come this month, of whether or not they have made it through to the next round in the selection process. The series that began last Saturday will enable viewers not only to see how the contestants were selected and what they did in the Eastern Highlands but also to listen to their views on HIV and Aids and see how they presented them. Imagine Afrika exposes contestants to an unforgettable real life experience of different cultures and traditions, as well as testing their ability to work as a team while at the same time examining, at times to the limit, their physical, intellectual and emotional will power.

    Viewers of last year's inaugural Imagine Afrika reality show will remember some of the challenges former Studio 263 actress Yvonne Mangunda and other members of her team, Tumaini Africa, faced before coming out tops and winning prize money of US$6,000 each.

    The Herald Harare 10 June 2008

  • Renewing a successful TV partnership in South Africa, Disney-ABC International Television and the public broadcaster, SABC, have signed an agreement for a wide range of content. The deal includes live-action dramas including Desperate Housewives (first seen on M-Net), Disney Channel's Hannah Montana My Wife and Kids.

    Also included in the agreement according to The Hollywood Reporter is a selection of hit movies from the portfolios of Walt Disney Pictures, Disney/Pixar, Touchstone Pictures and Miramax Films. Titles include The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe and the Disney/Pixar hit Finding Nemo. Selected titles will air in a new monthly Wonderful World of Disney time slot.

  • - Cape Town-based Steps International has been listed in Realscreen’s Global Top 100 Production Companies working in non-fiction.

    - A 48-minute documentary by Johannesburg-based television production company Chedza Media entitled “The Letter” has won the World TV Award for 2008.The film was filmed on location in the West Bank and Tel Aviv and follows an Israeli mother who lost a son to sniper fire during his service in the reserve army. Speaking from the heart, the mother wrote a letter to the sniper’s family in the hope of finding closure and reconciliation.

    - 'Tsehai Loves Learning,' an Ethiopian children's television show sponsored by UNESCO, was honoured with an award at the Prix Jeunesse International 2008 Festival. The 2008 Next Generation Prize was bestowed upon the creators of the show, Whiz Kids Workshop, a local production company that focuses on serving Ethiopia through educational media.

    - A radio soap opera The 'Urunana' in Kinyarwanda language tackling taboo issues has turned into an international success now scooping the One World Special Achievement Award for Development Media in the UK, RNA reports.

    - The African Food Adventure, a TV series produced by a Zimbabwean organisation, Video Promotions will start showing on DStv's Channel 114 (Africa Magic) this Friday.This will be the first time for DStv to run a Zimbabwean produced series. The African Food Adventure is a 13-part cookery series wholly produced by Video Promotions, based in Harare. In the series, the host, Roger Zowa, travels through the scenic backdrop of wild and urban Africa.

  • SuperSport, announced Thursday, 19 June 2008 that it had signed a deal for the exclusive pay-TV rights in sub-Saharan Africa for the UEFA Champions League and UEFA Cup from 2009 - 2012. The latest agreement means football fans will be treated to the best of European club action until 2012.

    The three-year deal means the action from both competitions will be broadcast on SuperSport 3, 5, 6 and 7 on DStv, with as many as four UEFA Champions League matches broadcast live on both Tuesdays and Wednesdays and UEFA Cup matches on Thursdays. The agreement includes the semi-finals and finals of both competitions.

    SuperSport has the rights to broadcast 146 live UEFA Champions League matches and 205 UEFA Cup matches, which includes the UEFA Super Cup.

    SuperSport offers subscribers a plethora of live football action. with coverage from many of the world's leading leagues, including Spanish La Liga, English Premiership, Portuguese League and many of the African leagues, including Angola, Kenya, Zambia and Nigeria.

    Also, the football offering includes numerous internationals, including friendlies, qualifiers for the various contintental competitions and World Cup qualifiers. This weekend's World Cup qualifier is the Nigeria-Equatorial Guinea clash from Abuja at 4.45pm CAT on SuperSport 3.

    Biz-Community

  • In response to the outcry of viewers who have come to associate Optimum Media Prime(OMP) and Metro TV with the broadcast of all top quality sporting action on TV, OMP has secured rights to cover Euro 2008 tournament from the Quarter, to Semi & Finals exclusively. This coverage is sponsored by Tigo.

    The first match was aired on Tuesday June 17, 2008 and the other matches will follow till the 29th of June 2008. OMP has successfully syndicated and marketed the rights and sponsorship for the Black Stars current World Cup Qualifiers campaign.

    "Though the rights we secured from the GFA covered only the home matches of the Black Stars, we have successfully secured and syndicated the Live coverage of the Lesotho vs. Ghana game as well as the Gabon vs. Ghana Matches," a release noted. "Our team produced and covered the Lesotho Ghana match with commentary run by the renowned Barry Lambert and Yaw Amfo Ankrah," the statement added.

    Our track record in the Syndication and marketing of rights started with the successfully syndication of sponsorship and managing of the TV rights on seven national TV stations in Ghana for the of just ended AFCON, Ghana 2008. This was preceded by the syndication of rights and sponsorship for the Germany 2006 World Cup.

    Our current Euro 2008 Rights are exclusive to the territory of Ghana for Free to air transmission and currently Metro TV is the only TV station who OMP have sub licensed to broadcast the games live.

    However, any other TV networks who are interested in the live/delayed feed of the Semi final & Final matches should contact OMP for sub-licensing.

    Ghanaian Chronicle Accra

  • The telenovela Seven Sins. launched this year by the Brazilian distributor, Globo TV International, has been sold to 13 countries, including Mozambique, and is still being negotiated in other markets. Channels in Mozambique, Argentina and Ecuador, among others, have secured the purchase rights to broadcast the show.

    Telenovela Seven Sins is a romantic comedy by the same author of Pepper Chocolate and Soul Mate, Walcyr Carrasco, and shows that good and evil are not too far from each other as one might think.

    For the purpose of promoting the arrival of the telenovela in Uruguay, channel Teledoce, invited actress Giovanna Antonelli, who is well-known in the country for her roles in the internationally successful productions The Clone and Shades of Sin, to participate in the launch party of the channel’s programming. In addition to Giovanna Antonelli, Seven Sins includes in its cast well-known actors such as Reynaldo Gianecchini (Shades of Sin) and Priscila Fantin (Soul Mate).

  • Parliamentary proceedings will be covered live on television by the State-run Kenya Broadcasting Corporation from next week.

    Speaker Kenneth Marende reminded members that the State broadcaster had been covering them live on radio since Tuesday after he used his discretion to give KBC the green light to open up the House to its listeners. That was in line with the Speaker's reform agenda and a motion passed over a decade ago to have parliamentary rules amended to allow live coverage of the proceedings and committee meetings.

    On Thursday, Marende said he had made the historic decision in line with his pledge to reform the House during his tenure so as to make it more open and accessible to the public.

    The Speaker made the pledge to members in January in his acceptance speech soon after he was elected to replace Francis ole Kaparo. Marende said the State broadcaster would be given the monopoly to do the test runs for the rest of the year as a technical committee formed by Parliament finalises arranges to open up the service to all the media houses.

    Marende said the official launch of a parliamentary live radio broadcast service will be in August while the TV broadcast was scheduled for next February. Only two occasions in Parliament have been covered live previously - the State Opening by the Head of State after a General Election and the reading of the annual Budget statement.

    The Nation, Nairobi

  • - A group of filmmakers and artists from the UK have created a film company in Cameroon called "Zoomers Pictures”. The aim of the film company, according to the group, is to provide humanitarian assistance by training and providing young people in grassroots communities with a greater say in environmental, developmental and sustainable research through films.

distribution

  • As from 23 June, video sharing website YouTube will present full length independent films. The aim is to showcase films that have been unable to find distributors.

    YouTube has sourced many of the independent movies for its “screening room” at film festivals. Filmmakers will be able to receive a percentage of profits courtesy of a “buy-now” button on their presentations.

    Meanwhile, in another example of alternative distribution, Sony Film has announced that its forthcoming film Angel of Death will be released first a s a series of eight-minute instalments on the web in 2009. The instalements will eventually be combined into a full length film for DVD or TV release.

    Studio Briefing

  • Nearly a year after its launch, DStv on Demand remains the only web TV offering geared specifically for local South African audiences, despite increasing customisation of TV services overseas. Elsewhere on the continent, TV companies have not even started with this process.

    DStv on Demand is a website offering selected content from certain DStv channels. The content is streamed or downloaded from the website over the Internet. Customisation has become an increasingly popular trend in the entertainment industry, allowing viewers to choose the most convenient time to watch their favourite programmes .

    Overseas media consumers already enjoy content on demand with access via computers, cellphones and iPods, in addition to the traditional TV set. Richard Fyffe, MultiChoice's GM for new media, described DStv on Demand -- launched as a trial service in August -- as a "catch-up service".

    The platform is free for DStv Premium subscribers, and will reach DStv Compact subscribers in the next three months. Eventually it could be made available to all subscribers and potentially to pay-per-view consumers.

    DStv on Demand could even bring new subscribers to MultiChoice. "Some content will be available to non-subscribers to give them a taste ... it's all about encouraging people to become subscribers," Fyffe said.

    The site's local content is its draw card, with Egoli and Carte Blanche among the most popular programmes . Sports highlights, Afrikaans programming and M-Net series programming is also available. Some international series are included and movies will be available from August.

    Fyffe was reluctant to reveal how many DStv customers were using the site, but said: "It's in the thousands ... It's been gently marketed to users and the response has been good. People are using it more and more."

    The success of the venture is tied to the availability of broadband services. A large percentage of DStv customers also had broadband, Fyffe said, but consumers had been concerned about the cost of exceeding their broadband download limits. But the numbers of registered users were growing every month, and subscribers were downloading more content.

    (Business Day, Johannesburg)

  • - International download TV company JumpTV is no longer focusing on African programming.

investment

  • Kano State governor, Malam Ibrahim Shekarau has commissioned a N250 million transmitter to boost coverage of the state by the television station, CTV 67. The governor who also unveiled a new name for the television said his administration would continue to give priority to information dissemination as an important tool for mass mobilization.

    The governor also commended the management of the television station for their courage to ensure the success of the installation of the transmitters, adding that the state government would extend similar support to all other information dissemination outfits in the state. In his address at the commissioning ceremony of the transmitters, the Permanent Secretary and Chief Executive of the station, Alhaji Farouk Umar explained that the transmitters were brand new Twin Digital-Ready Harris transmitters and a new 2.5 Kilowatts FM Radio Transmitter worth N10.7 million for the audience who don't have electricity supply.

    He stated that with this development, the station's popular name of CTV 67 is now changed to CTV 44 due to the replacement of the 26 year old transmitter which was on UHF service line, adding that the state government had also approved the sum of N150 million for the purchase of new 10 Kilowatts Digital-Ready transmitter to be installed at Tudun Wada and Doguwa Local Government Areas for the benefit of the people in those areas and beyond.

    He said that among the achievements of the station were the purchase of VSat and other satellite equipment for the live coverage of hajj activities and distant coverage, adding that it would soon also be expanded to allow live coverage of activities from any part of Nigeria and the world, while the OB van for live transmission was locally fabricated, saying that the station was promptly paying the annual broadcast license fees to the NBC.

    Daily Trust,Abuja

  • Global mobile advertising network has entered the South African market with the intention of capitalising on the opportunity presented by the very active local base of mobile Internet users. South Africa is a very important market because of South African users love of the mobile web. AdMob has seen early success helping advertisers reach South African users and is now investing to give itself a South African presence, says AdMob's VP of Business Development, Niren Hiro.

    Biz-Community

  • - Wassa Janneh, a native of Brikama Town, resident in the United States, recently donated some radio equipments, worth over D25,000, to Yiriwa Development Radio Station, situated in Brikama.

    -The Angolan Government to invest in new infrastructure for Angola Public Television and National Radio. Besides building a broadcasting centre, the Angolan National Radio (RNA) is also building in Grafanil warehouses to store equipment, which shall be distributed for setting up several broadcasting centres, while the production and broadcasting centres of TPA and RNA are being built in Camama commune.

regulation & policy

  • Broadcasters and members of Parliament's communications committee united on 17 June 2008 in criticising the government's delay in releasing its digital migration policy as a serious hindrance to undertaking the technological switch by the November 1 deadline.

    But Communications Director-General Lyndall Shope-Mafole and state-owned signal distributor Sentech insisted the switch-on would occur on the planned date. Shope-Mafole drew a distinction between the availability of digital transmission and the readiness of broadcasters to make use of it.

    She said four policy documents had been introduced in the cabinet process dealing with general migration policy, the development of the TV set-top box industry, specifications for set-top boxes, which will be necessary to convert analogue signals to digital ones, and incentives and subsidies for set-top boxes. Another policy on local content, which would include the launch of three regional channels by SABC, was being formulated.

    E.tv CE Marcel Golding warned that the delay in finalising policy would hold back the full commercial launch of digital terrestrial television, which would only be possible about 16 months after the policy had been issued.

    "There have been repeated undertakings (since last year's budget speech) that the release of the policy paper is imminent, but we remain in exactly the same position as we were in April 2007. This lack of certainty over the past year has had a detrimental impact on planning and budgeting by incumbent broadcasters for the digital terrestrial television roll-out," he said .

    E.tv Chief Operating Officer Bronwyn Keene-Young stressed the importance of a new frequency plan, which could only be finalised by the Independent Communications Authority of SA (Icasa) after the policy had been issued and after taking into account public submissions.

    " This process could at best take nine to 12 months from the date of the publication of the policy paper," she said. The failure of the department to release the specifications for set-top boxes would be the single biggest constraint to the introduction of digital terrestrial television, she said.

    M-Net director of regulatory and legal affairs Karen Willemberg also complained about the absence of policy, which Democratic Alliance communications spokeswoman Dene Smuts said was holding up progress.

    African National Congress communications spokesman Khotso Khumalo said "it seems that we will not be ready," and a three-year time frame might be necessary for the set-top boxes. But Shope-Mafole emphasised that set-top boxes would not be required on switch-on day.

    SABC group executive for content enterprises Mvuzo Mbebe said the November target date would be achievable only for the pilot phase of rolling out the transmitter network to test the service, but policy delays would affect further progress. Policy certainty was needed urgently, he said.

    Business Day, Johannesburg

  • The Malawi Communications Regulatory Authority (MACRA) has summoned Joy Radio Limited, owned by former President Bakili Muluzi, and the state broadcasters Malawi Broadcasting Corporation (MBC) and Television Malawi (TVM) for breaching the Broadcasting Services Code of Conduct.

    A letter to Joy Radio dated 30 May 2008 and signed by MACRA Director General Allexon Chiwaya, lists five charges against the station. The letter further states that Joy Radio's reports relating to government and the president are "not truthful, accurate and objective, contrary to the requirements of Section 3(1) of the Broadcasting Services Code of Conduct".

    "You have used your private (commercial) sound broadcasting licence predominantly for the advancement of the political views and agenda of the United Democratic Front and Dr. Bakili Muluzi, as opposed to doing so for the making of profit and the advancement of the financial interests of the owners of Joy Radio Limited, contrary to the purpose and interest of the licence," reads the letter, in part.

    In response, in a 4 June letter to MACRA, Joy Radio's lawyer, Ralph Kasambara, argues that the letter to his client is too general, and asks MACRA to be more specific. Kasambara says his client charges customers for their services and that Muluzi and the United Democratic Front (UDF) are paying customers of his client's.

    According to Joy Radio's manager Peter Chisale, MACRA is merely looking for an excuse to close the station. MACRA Public Relations Manager Zadziko Mankhambo said MBC and TVM had also been summoned, based on complaints from the public and MACRA's monitoring unit, which noticed the breach of the Broadcasting Services Code of Conduct by the two institutions in some of their programmes.

    The summons to Joy Radio comes amid declarations by Information and Civic Education Minister Patricia Kaliati that the station is "political" in its conduct and that MACRA should withdraw its licence.

    This is not the first time Joy Radio has clashed with MACRA. In early 2007, the station challenged the composition of the MACRA board, arguing, among other things, that some of the appointed members lacked qualifications, expertise and experience in the field of telecommunications and broadcasting. Subsequently, on 13 July 2007 High Court Judge Frank Kapanda ruled for the dissolution of the MACRA board, as then comprised. On 29 October 2007 Joy Television, a sister company to Joy Radio and linked to former president Bakili Muluzi, was prohibited from broadcasting by MACRA, which argued that the station's licence had expired.

    MBC and TVM, on the other hand, have been accused of promoting the ruling Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) party's propaganda and of continually castigating the opposition. In 2007, the opposition-dominated Parliament denied the two institutions funding from the national budget, citing "biased reporting towards government and DPP" as one of the reasons. The main opposition Malawi Congress Party has also threatened that in 2008, MBC and TVM will not be funded.

    On 2 June 2008, MCP Spokesperson on Parliamentary Affairs Ishmael Chafukira said his party hoped that, having been denied funding in 2007, the MBC and TVM would endeavour to improve, but that, instead, the practices of the two broadcasters have deteriorated and, therefore, they do not deserve support from the national budget.

    (Media Institute of Southern Africa,(Windhoek)

  • - A local Indian lifestyle programme has been pulled off the air from a popular television channel in South Africa for not meeting broadcasting standards.The programme was withdrawn from its SABC3 channel after receiving several complaints from the production crew that they had not received payment from the producer for the past two months.

technology & convergence

  • Nigeria has the capacity to meet the 2012 deadline for the switchover from analog to digital television , the Acting Director-General of the National Broadcasting Commission (NBC), Engineer Yomi Bolarinwa, said 17 June 2008 in Abuja.

    He spoke at a sensitisation luncheon held by the commission for media editors on the issue of the digitization of the broadcast media following the presidential approval for the 2012 date. Engineer Bolarinwa emphasised that contrary to impressions in some quarters, the country "is ahead of most African countries in the march towards the 2012 switchover date , as well as in the state of the industry."

    The International Telecommunication Union(ITU) has set a deadline for the full transition to digital broadcast for 2015,and Nigeria is a signatory to this agreement ,fixing its switchover date at December 31st 2012.Technology has grown rapidly since the analog system was introduced,and the current analog system cannot support future development. According to the NBC boss, there are 24 million televisions in households in Nigeria. According to him, discussions about the switchover date from the 50 year old analog modebegan in Nigeria in 2004.

    Daily Trust,Abuja

  • June 2008 marked the fourth season of 94.7 Highveld Stereo's popular Fugitive promotion which, for the first time ever, had extensive reach across various digital platforms. A highly interactive, listener-driven competition, the Fugitive is based around a mystery man - unknown even to 94.7 presenters - with a cash bounty on his head, who reveals clues on-air as to his whereabouts in order to allow listeners to find him and win the money.

    “This year, together with sponsor Vodacom, we really maximised use of our digital platforms with the aim of creating even more listener interaction. We also introduced a number of new features to take the Fugitive concept to a new level. Listener response has been overwhelming, with very positive feedback being received for the new digital innovations we've implemented,” said Simon Parkinson, 94.7 Highveld Stereo promotions manager.

    “Vodacom got involved with sponsoring the Fugitive as an opportunity to drive consumer awareness of our extensive broadband offering. To this end we are extremely happy with the outcome as the format, and 94.7 Highveld Stereo's execution thereof, was digitally interactive and demonstrated the benefits of our broadband offering- high-speed data mobility,” said Enzo Scarcella, managing executive, marketing, Vodacom South Africa.

    The Fugitive also made his TV debut this year, with an above-the-line campaign on etv. A number of different marketing tactics were also employed, including a sneaky ambush campaign, where the Fugitive visited schools and businesses - with the help of a mole on the inside - and left calling cards in various locations.

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  • - Public broadcaster SABC’s Radio Broadcast Facilities (RBF) has launched the digital revitalisation of the RadioPark Foyer in preparation for South Africa’s digital migration.The revamped Foyer houses the studios for the public commercial radio stations, Metro FM and 5FM and a public broadcast service radio station.

    - With the launch of the test version of the new Mail & Guardian Online Tuesday, 17 June 2008, it has been revealed that South African social media site Zoopy.com is the news site's online video delivery partner. Launched in March 2007, in December that year Zoopy was selected as Nokia's regional imaging partner for South and West Africa.

    - One of Power FM radio station disc jockey Scott Matengambiri, popularly known as DJ Scott, has been fired from the radio station.

    - Gearhouse SA is offering a newly established service called EventCam, a camera and broadcast facility headed by Ian Watts. EventCam is a solution for broadcasting, recording or displaying at events such as conferences, concerts, product launches and expo’s. “We can set up video-conferencing via satellite, and our equipment is top of the range, featuring cameras like the Sony PD170 and D50,” Watts explained. EventCam can work all over the continent. “We have a fly-away unit designed specifically to be compact and mobile enough to fit into any 737-aeroplane – if there is an airline flying to that country, we can broadcast from there.”

    iwatts@eventcam.co.za

    - The African Photo Entrepreneur Programme is specifically aimed at growing photo entrepreneurs who can compete on the global stage in terms of photo production and market savvy. Launched ahead of the 2010 FIFA World Cup, the programme will be run in South Africa in the latter half of 2008 and represents an investment of over R30,000 in each participant.

    http://www.africancolours.net/content/16652

    Citizen Journalism, Journalism for Citizens

    Dates: 8-10 September 2008

    Venue: Eden Grove Complex, Rhodes University, Grahamstown

    1. Background

    Highway Africa is a partnership between Rhodes University (School of Journalism and Media Studies) and the South African Broadcasting Corporation (SABC), with the support of several partners, development agencies and sponsors.

    For eleven years the Highway Africa conference has been at the centre of Africa’s debates on journalism and new media. The conference has over the years become the largest annual gathering of African journalists in the world (701 in 2007). In the last four years Highway Africa has evolved into a multi-pronged programme with the following components:

    - Research: mapping the terrain of the challenges of the interface of technology, journalism and the media

    - Education and Training: responding to the gaps identified in the research this project makes a practical intervention by re-skilling, upskilling, educating and training journalists.

    - News Agency: a niche news agency with a network of correspondents across the continent it offers weekly news digest on ICT developments in Africa

    - Conference: the flagship of the programme, it is the forum for critical reflection on journalism, media and technology and a celebration of Africa

    2. 2008 Theme: Citizen Journalism, Journalism for Citizens

    Over the past few years the world has witnessed a surge in the use of new media - especially those based on the World Wide Web - by ordinary users across the globe. Parallel to this upsurge has been the development of the semantic web (Web 2.0, Web 3.0). The emergence of social networking websites such as MySpace, Facebook, YouTube and ubiquitous use of instant messaging technologies such as Skype, Yahoo and MSN has marked the shift in the utility of the internet. Time magazine's 2006 decision to name "you" its person of the year at once acknowledged and publicized the prevalence and utility of content generated by ordinary internet users.

    Mobile phone technology and its dramatic penetration in Africa and the developing world opens myriad possibilities for empowering the ordinary citizen to access and to generate content. Through “Mxit” style systems there is now enormous use of instant messaging on cellphones, raising new challenges for dissemination and interaction with journalistic content

    Across the globe examples exist of news sites whose content is generated by ordinary citizens. South Korea may have the best examples but the phenomenon is to be found in as diverse places such as South Africa and the Philippines. The structure and use of such content is frequently different from that of the mainstream although there can be similarities between both.

    Some media houses have encouraged their readers/audiences to contribute to major stories by sending in their photographs, video and audio clips, and in doing so make ordinary citizens part of the news production process. Other news media organizations have created options for audiences to subscribe to news alerts to their mobile phones.

    Citizenship has often been counterposed with consumership. In much of Africa, there has also been the identity category of subjects added to the mix - where people are neither citizens with rights, nor consumers with some power, but dispossessed and often stateless subjects of tyranny. The advent of citizen journalism means that people can not only consume journalism, but also produce it. They now have, in real terms, not only the rights of access to information produced by journalism, but the right to free expression in a practical form, where they can generate on and comment on journalism. With new media, this means that subjects have new possibilities to build these freedoms.

    The challenges in the production of media and its distribution impinge on the quality of journalism and the professionalism of journalists. The 2008 conference will seek to address a number of questions related to the goals of journalism in society and how the ordinary citizen fits within those goals as a consumer and producer.

    The questions to be addressed include:

    - What is Citizen Journalism?

    - How does journalism serve citizens?

    - What quality control exists in citizen journalism?

    - What technology is driving citizen journalism?

    - What are the African experiences of Citizen Journalism?

    - How should ‘traditional’ media respond to citizen journalism?

    - What is the ‘business model’ of citizen journalism?

    - How is citizen journalism implicated in the democracy project?

    - What should be the technical and journalistic skills of citizen journalists?

    - What are the gender dynamics in citizen journalism, media ownership and

    - What are the ethical issues arising from citizen journalism?

    - Is there a case for ‘converged journalism’ and multi-skilling of journalists in Africa?

    - What is the role of free software and open source in supporting Africans to have a voice in cyberspace?

    - Is mobile technology the future of journalism?

    Via formal presentations, keynote addresses, workshops, interviews and practical examples, the Highway Africa Conference will explore the challenges of print, radio, television, online and multimedia.

    3. Venue & Participants

    Highway Africa takes place in Grahamstown, close to the South African city of Port Elizabeth. The venue is the Rhodes University campus which provides access to state-of-the-art facilities. These include the “intelligent” building called the “Africa Media Matrix” which houses the School of Journalism and Media Studies. There is a convergent computer lab for skills training, and fully equipped seminar rooms.

    Accommodation ranges from high quality University Residence rooms through to B&Bs, hotels and guest houses.

    The conference is open to journalists, academics, bloggers, students, publishers and other interested media professionals.

    www.highwayafrica.ru.ac.za

    4. Parallel and Linked Events

    • Highway Africa – SABC New Media Awards ceremony – live televised event

    • 3rd Digital Citizen Indaba – using new media for citizen journalism

    • Training programme: Advanced Digital Journalism

    • Meetings of SA National Editors Forum, Southern African National Editors Forum, The African Editors Forum and community radio representatives

    • Free and Open Source Software and African Media: training workshop programme on use of FLOSS in the newsroom

    • Book launches

    • Exhibitions

    www.highwayafrica.ru.ac.za

    C.Kabwato@ru.ac.za

    First African Broadcast, Film and Convergence Conference, Kenyatta Centre, Nairobi

    September 23-25, 2008

    The first African, Broadcast, Film and Convergence Conference will take place at the Kenyatta Centre in Nairobi, 23-25 September 2008. It will bring together senior broadcasting executives, producers, advertising agency executives, regulators and policy-makers to discuss the challenges faced by the industry over the next five years.

    Speakers lined up include: David Waweru, MD, KBC; David Maingi, CEO, Kenya Film Commission; Khalik Sherriff, COO, e.TV; Ian Fernandes, MD, Nation TV’s Digital Division; Toyin Subair, CEO, Hi-TV; Eben Greyling, CEO, Multichoice Africa; Richard Bell, African Telecoms, Media and Technology Fund; Redeemer Kwame, Ghana Telecom on its IP-TV service with Indian partner WiseNet; lawyer Claudia Rinke on international rights issues; Angelo Kinyua, Big Ideas Entertainment; Kenyan producer Thump Campbell; UK’s Lucy Scher, Script Factory; Ronnie Andrews, GTV; Jeremy Nathan, DV8; Lenny Nganga, Saracen Media; Joe Otin, Steadman Group; James Boyd McFie, Business School, Strathmore University; John Sarpong, Africast; Joe Mucheru, Google; and many, many more.

    For preliminary details:

    http://www.afridigital.net/archive/broadcast_031.html

    Angola: Luanda Film Festival

    November 22-29, 2008

    The event is intended to stimulate cultural cooperation, particularly in the field of cinema, between local and foreign producers and directors and re-launch the system of production and distribution of cinema in the country. Addressing the launch ceremony, Miguel Hurst said that Angolan Government intends to award prizes to films screened in Angola, both local and foreign, seeking to increment the production of movies in the country. With the expected participation of local and foreign movies, the festival will comprise competitive, non-competitive categories and parallel activities.

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