Issue no 37 4 September 2008

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  • The broadcast television market in Nigeria is as complex as the country itself. With an estimated 138 million population, it is more like several countries in one and until recently broadcast television tended to follow this regional pattern. The capital Lagos alone has a staggering 7.1 million potential viewers over the age of seven. It is a cauldron of competition as established private players seek to hold their own against new entrants. Russell Southwood looks at developments in the capital city.

    According to the most recent census, about 24 million households have televisions in Nigeria. However, almost everyone in urban areas has access to television, either at home or in many public locations like bars, cafes and restaurants.

    But with the exception of the Government station, the Nigerian Television Authority, there are no private companies with a national footprint. There are a number of reasons why this has not occurred. Until recently, access to the signal carrier was difficult as it was part of the NTA and Government restricted private stations geographically, guarding its own national monopoly carefully. However, this has recently changed and a number of the private stations have announced their intention to roll-out nationally. For example, both Silverbird and AIT have operations in Port Harcourt and Jos. There is resistance in the largely Muslim north where political leaders want to be able to control what their voters watch.

    Although there were closures of stations in the pre-election period, content is relatively unrestricted. However, media ownership is often very political with owners aligning themselves with different political parties or figures within parties. Most of the original licences were given under previous military regimes.

    According to the Nigerian regulator, the Nigerian Broadcasting Corporation there are nine privately owned Free to Air television channels, two Federal Government Channels and one State-run channel in Lagos. In addition there are five Pay-TV channels including DStv, Hi-TV and Trend TV.

    The main free to air TV channels in order of viewing figures are: Silverbird, AIT, Galaxy, Channels (which is 80-90% news) and LTV. It’s fair to say that the top ranked position in audience terms is disputed between entertainment channel Silverbird and news and entertainment channel AIT. According to the industry’s audience survey company MPS, Silverbird was top placed for the first three months of the year but before that the honours went to AIT. Silverbird has a younger demographic than most of the other TV stations. The number three position has been held by Galaxy for some while. The Federal Government run channels are not widely watched and have the lowest audience figures.

    Other stations include: Minoj Broadcast TV, MITV and Lagos Day TV. The newly opened Continental TV appears to be the one to watch as its partisan (opposition) coverage is attracting a widening following. But to complicate matters further, Lagos viewers are able to tune into a further five free to air television stations from adjoining states.

    Several companies run channels for Nigerian diaspora audiences. The NTA has launched a channel on Sky Television in the UK and AIT has a real-time broadcasting operation to Europe and the USA that will re-open shortly after a period of closure.

    Television companies tend to produce some of their own material in-house (like studio-based productions) and externally commission other work. Most have around 80-90% local content but also runs American series, South African and Mexican soaps and Hollywood movies. Silverbird prides itself on its entertainment mix which includes Miss World, World Music TV and Next Stop Model. As a result of the relatively high proportions of local content, there is large and thriving local production sector. Along with Nollywood movies, it has been responsible for producing some of the blockbuster reality TV shows including Africa’s version of The Apprentice. According to local insiders, the production sector is developing very fast but skill levels are dropping as the sector expands.

    The key companies are nearly all cross-media owners. AIT started life as a print media owner and diversified into radio before ploughing the profits from that venture back into a new television station. It is owned by former civil servant Chief Raymond Dokpesi. AIT recently raised funding in the market to expand. It has a thoroughly converged view of the future and has launched a broadband Internet service, which will be the precursor to a Triple Play service, more of which later.

    According to the company’s fundraising prospectus, in the past five years of its operations, turnover has grown by 287 percent from N652.7 million in 2002 to over N2.53 billion in 2006. The offer prospectus also showed the company’s projections from 2007 to 2010. It projects turnover moving to N3.2 billion in 2007, N10.2 billion in 2008, N17.6 billion in 2009 and N25.0 billion in 2010.

    AIT/Daar will soon set up a film village in Lagos to undertake the production of not only movies for sale but also for the consumption of Nigerians. Chair of the company Chief Raymond Dokpesi said at the time of the offering that AIT was commencing pay TV broadcasting with 40 channels and will transmit on high definition.

    "We are starting with 40 channels. It is the first time in Africa that you will see transmission at this level in high definition. Viewers will see broadcasting at a new level.We are engaging more hands, engaging in training and exposing people to new technologies”.

    "We are going from the present eight stations to 24 stations. That means we have 16 new stations coming up. Our Abuja station is already 100 percent digital while the Lagos station is about 60 percent digital and is being upgraded. We are running out feed to Asia, Europe, USA and all of Africa."

    The moving force behind Channels is former journalist John Momo and it would like to be seen as the CNN of Nigeria.

    The owner of Silverbird Productions is Ben Murray-Bruce, former beauty pageant organizer. He also owns a multiplex cinema and shopping mall on Victoria Island, the first to open in years after a long and almost terminal decline of cinema and has plans to open more. In addition, he has a radio station (Rhythm FM) and events promotions.

    A number of broadcast television owners are looking at continental expansion but are keeping their powder dry in terms of the detail of their actual plans. It also appears likely that there will be two new Free to Air television stations opening in Lagos in the next months.

    Media spend on broadcast channels reflects the viewership pattern above. Advertising spending has been on the increase over the last three years as the economy has expanded. The top ten spenders are almost all multinational brands and as elsewhere, the mobile telcos are well represented in high positions in the top 10 spenders but banks are also very prominent.

    AIT has announced its intention to shift to DTT and offer HD programming. This week the regulator the Nigerian Broadcasting Corporation held a meeting locally with stakeholders and announced that 2012 would be the deadline for the end of the transition. However, there will be significant difficulties if there is to be a subsidy for set-top boxes as the population eligible will be enormous. At a production level, most companies are still using a mixture of analogue and digital.

    Convergence is happening apace. Zain Nigeria, and MTV, have revealed plans to turn upcoming Nigerian music artistes into super stars, through a newly created platform, Zain/MTV Advance Warning. He said Zain/MTV Advance Warning, a music talent development reality TV series will be aired on both satellite (MTV Channel on DSTV) and a number of terrestrial television stations such as the African Independent Television (AIT) and Silverbird Television (STV).

    Nigerians are hungry for news and in July BBC International who run the news website revealed that 61% of its WAP users (in other words, who access it on a mobile phone) were Nigerian, against only 19% from South Africa. Page views for this type of usage are growing at the rate of 100% a year from a low base. 61% translates into 35 million page views.

    Various players have mooted the possibility of triple play including Globacom and Daar. Globacom is perhaps one of the few players that has the spread of infrastructure to support a retail offer and with a hybrid IP-satellite bundle it could become a player. Daar would need to form an alliance with an existing player. Given the rights issues, the market locally thinks it’s more likely that those entering the market will simply sell DStv as part of a bundle. MTN has acquired VGC who offer a DSL broadband package.

    1st African Broadcast and Film Conference, Kenyatta Centre, Nairobi (23-25 September) – Register now and get 25% off

    For details of the conference, check the Events section at the bottom of this e-letter.


  • Stalled by Zimbabwe Television (ZTV) due to a long-standing contractual disagreement, Studio 263 management is to put the series on DVD as prospects of getting the production back on television are becoming increasingly dim. Sources close to the first Zimbabwean soap told Standardplus that production of episodes, which has been on hold for more than two months, would resume on September 1.

    The soap's management revealed that the DVD would comprise old and new episodes. The plan is to produce 13 episodes at a time and breaking thereafter to reduce the cost of production. "The 13 episodes will be done in seasons. So starting on September 1 we will do the shooting and then break and continue again," a source said. "This is so that we keep the cast and crew in employment and the soap running."

    The soap's management was set to meet Zimbabwe Broadcasting Corporation acting chief executive Happison Muchechetere last week to try and negotiate for the soap to bounce back onto the screen. Godwin Mawuru, the executive director of Studio 263, confirmed the soap would be on DVD but said he had failed to meet Muchechetere. Sivukile Simango, public relations manager of Zimbabwe Broadcasting Holdings said: "We at ZBH would like to have Studio 263 back on air. However this will depend on the outcome of a meeting we are scheduled to have with the soap's executive producer, Godwin Mawuru, very soon."

    He refused to disclose if ZBH was offering more money for the soap and how much ZBH was paying which resulted in the stalemate. The soap disappeared from the screen last year after a conflict precipitated by Studio 263 demanding a review of the "meagre" amount ZTV was paying. Studio 263 also wanted a written contract. Standardplus can also reveal that the soap still has the services of its cast, but there is "genuine concern" over the future of the production among the actors.

    The source said: "Some members of the cast are now cross-border traders while some do various other money-generating projects, but they all want the soap to continue. Who in Zimbabwe is relying on work only nowadays? So the media should not be alarmists by saying we no longer have a cast."

    An actress who spoke on condition of anonymity said the cast was confident that it would resume work but feared that some actors could have deserted the soap. "Everybody says they are still holding on but you can tell some want out and they feel their patience has been stretched too far," she said

    The slot for the main character, Vimbai, which was left vacant by Barbara Vhengedza who is now into theatre and short films, has been filled. Anne Nhira was the first to play the protagonist. Although Mawuru confirmed that there is now a new Vimbai he remained tight-lipped on who it was. However, a member of the cast hinted that the actress was a former Bulawayo model.

    Studio 263 has had a bumpy life since it started in 2002 and has had an almost new cast since then.

    Zimbabwe Standard (Harare) 26 August 2008

  • The new season of M-Net Face of Africa kicked off last weekend in Gabarone, Botswana, that will see the team traveling to 12 countries including Ethiopia, Ghana, Kenya, Malawi, Mozambique, Namibia, Nigeria, South Africa, Tanzania, Uganda and Zambia. In each country, there will be one open casting session held at which any young women, between the ages of 17 and 24 from anywhere in sub-Saharan Africa, can enter.

    The only documentation required from entrants is proof of identify and of citizenship of any sub-Saharan African country. Further, entrants should note that the minimum height requirement is 1.72m, the maximum hip measurement is 96cm and entrants should not have an existing modelling contract.

    From Nigerian supermodel Oluchi who began her meteoric rise to global fame on the Face of Africa stage to Botswana's Kaone Kario whose striking looks made her a fashion magazine star in Africa and including Namibia's Venantia Otto, who recently graced the red carpet at the Cannes Film Festival, M-Net's Face of Africa has established itself as the premier model talent initiative in Africa today.

    The Uganda leg of the M-Net Face of Africa search will take place in Kampala on Saturday 6th September at Kabira Country Club in Bukoto starting at 8:00am. With the prospect of winning US$50,000 in cash and a three year modeling contract with Oluchi's dynamic O Model Africa agency, the new season of Face of Africa can make a woman’s dreams come true.

    Commenting on the launch, M-Net's Director of Original Productions Carl Fischer, said: "Face of Africa has captivated the imagination of our audiences, inspired countless entrants and turned dreams into reality for several dozen young models. Its legacy and its success is the reason it returns in 2008, and M-Net is proud to launch a new season."

    At the end of the 12 casting sessions, approximately 24 finalists will be selected to participate in a Model Boot Camp, in Zanzibar from which the top 10 finalists will be selected. The top 10 will then head into the glittering Finale on Saturday November 29, at which one winner will ultimately be chosen.

    New Vision (Kampala) 31 August 2008

  • Untold Stories in a Time of HIV and Aids, a series of nine feature films, starts showing on ZBC-TV beginning this Saturday at 8:30pm. The series, launched at Elite 100 by Harare regional education director Tomax Dhoba, was co-ordinated by the Zimbabwe Action Trust and supported by Soul City Institute for Health and Development Communication based in South Africa.

    Zimbabwe's entry in the series, Chipo's Promise, features former radio personality James Maridadi and debutante Ruth Chitsinde of Gateway School as lead actress. The films address a number of themes exploring love, hope, courage, betrayal, secrets and lies in the lives of ordinary people living with HIV and Aids.

    Caroline Majonga, the Action programmes manager, said although the stories told in the films are for Africans by Africans, they have universal themes that any individual can in any country can relate to. "The films address a number of themes in and around the area of HIV and Aids, including stigma, discrimination, gender violence, multiple and concurrent partnerships.

    "The power in these films is in the fact that the nature of HIV and Aids is that it does not pick and choose according to race, religion, ethnic or language group . . .and that in order for us to achieve an Aids-free generation we need to understand its nature and know that every single individual in this region has to be involved," she said.

    Majonga said the project was the first of its kind and the largest locally developed HIV and Aids prevention programme on the continent. "The Sadc region is the most affected by HIV globally. According to UNAids, 40 percent of all people living with HIV reside in this region.

    Director of Zimbabwe Action Trust Pyke Chari said the project was unique because Action had for the first time managed to produce a multimedia programme to complement messages depicted in print media. "We see this as an important development in our march towards complementing the efforts of Government ministries and several organisations in the fight against HIV and Aids which is impacting greatly on the family unit," he said.

    Conceived in 2002, the project was a capacity-building initiative involving 11 writers and nine producers drawn from across Southern Africa who underwent an intensive eight-month training in scriptwriting and film production which was facilitated by Curios Pictures, a production company working with Soul City.

    Chipo's Promise depicts the hardships Aids orphans face and is based on research conducted in selected provinces in Zimbabwe. "The need for this development is based on the fact that about 19 percent of the child population in Zimbabwe are orphans and a large percentage of these children have lost their parents to HIV and Aids.

    Apart from its involvement in the film programme, the organisation has, through its partnership with Soul City over the past six years, produced more than four million booklets and a radio drama. Dorothy Meck of Afro Vision, the production company behind award-winning film Tanyaradzwa, and Curios Pictures directed the Zimbabwean production.

    Some films that are part of the series are Rebel Rhymes from Botswana done by Choose Life, The Test (Malawi), Mapule's Choice (Lesotho), The Storm (Mozambique), Secrets and Lies (South Africa), Ulendo waRose (Zambia), Batjele (Tell Them) (Swaziland) and Between Friends (Namibia).

    The Herald (Harare) 22 August 2008

  • Reality TV is becoming more than a mere fad, especially as free-to-air stations jump onto the bandwagon. The latest of these shows is Muvabulaya that will soon start airing on WBS TV. But this Muvabulaya show is a completely Uganda affair under the wings of the Cultural Educational Organisation. 10 Ugandan housemates, aged between 18 and 40, will compete for the top prize yet to be announced. "It is a culture based show. Participants will be locked up in a house," says Hanifah Hernandez, the project manager.

    It will be an exhibition of Uganda's diverse culture since the 10 participants have been selected from different regions of the country. The last participant will leave "confinement" after 30 days. To spice up the show, UK based commercial modal Campbell Mirembe, will host the show.

    Mirembe, born to an Australian father and Ugandan mother, is returning to Uganda for the second time this year. "I do not expect a cultural shock because I have done my research," she says of her expectations.

    At the age of 20, Mirembe left Australia to find her relatives. She got to Uganda earlier in the year, meeting her people in Mukono where she was introduced to her grandparents. The show was launched over the weekend at Hotel Africana.

    New Vision (Kampala) 20 August 2008

  • - Noah’s Ark is the latest lTV drama to boast the crème de la crème of South African actors. Flighting on SABC2 on Tuesdays at 7.30pm, the four-part miniseries has stars such as Patrick Shai, Nakedi Ribane, Koketso Mojela, Moshidi Motshegwa and Antonio Summerton. The mini drama is a story about the bonds of love that bind a family and the secrets that threaten to destroy it

    - The Goethe-Institut Library Lounge in Rwanda has organised a series of movies made in Rwanda to be shown to the public free of charge. Movies like 100 Days have already shown been on July 22 and 24 respectively. On July 29, a collection of movies will be shown like Scars Of My Days by Gilbert Ndahayo and Omar M. Sibomana, Behind These Walls by Pierre Kayitana, A Love Letter To My Country by Thierry Dushimirimana, Graduation Day by Ayuup Kasasa Mago.

    - A total of 70 minutes daily has been set aside for Angolan political parties contesting in the parliamentary elections of September 5 this year to air their electoral campaigns on the Public Television (TPA).

  • An unusually large number of subscribers besieged the Abuja office of Multichoice yesterday to get connected or reconnected to the network cable. The surge was caused by subscribers wanting to view this year's Big Brother Africa, which started Sunday. Due to its run-in with Nigeria’s legislators over the last season of the programme, Multichoice has been requiring subscribers to indicate that they were willing to receive the programme.

    "I notice that there are a lot of people here," Chief Chide Ikoroha, an estate valuer, told This Day. "This is my second time of coming here. I was here in the morning and was asked to come back in the evening. Now I am here. I think that, because Big Brother Africa is showing, everybody wants to make sure that their systems have the programme."

    Subscribers who spoke to This Day said a message appeared on their decoders two weeks ago asking them to send their smart card numbers to Multichoice, if they wished to receive Big Brother.

    Some subscribers, including Ikoroha, said that they responded to the message but that they were not connected. "A lot of people responded, but nothing happened," Ikoroha said. "So people resorted to coming physically to the Multichoice office. I for one responded. I for one sent my smart card twice and was not connected.

    "Unfortunately, a lot people did not get the message, or did not pay attention, or respond until Big Brother Africa started yesterday (Sunday)," Mrs. Onoshe Nwabikwu told This Day. Nwabikwu who writes about multimedia and keeps a column in Saturday This Day, Airwaves, added that such scrambling is not unusual. "For some reasons, Nigerians don't do things on time and usually people leave their subscriptions dormant until there is a major event like the World Cup, Champions Leagues or even the Premiership."

    People have the option of renewing by paying through banks but, according to Ikoroha, even when this is the case, they still have to come to the Multichoice office to activate their systems. "I think that, to solve this problem, Multichoice should open more outlets. Everyone in Abuja coming to one office has become cumbersome."

    Like every subscriber who wanted to be connected to Big Brother, Chide Ikoroha was asked to fill a "Multichoice request for Big Brother activation". Before now, owners of DStv decoders were not required to go through this process. The programme was beamed straight into their homes. So the requirement of formal authority to receive the programme is new and comes as a result of controversies raised by past editions, especially the last edition, of the programme.

    It will be recalled that the National Assembly had at some point indicated that it would ban the programme because of the nudity contents of the popular show. This position was later clarified to mean that explicit sexual scenes should be edited out and, where they are aired, it should be after 10 o'clock in the night. The clarification also raised the age of viewers from 16 to 18.

    According to Nwabikwu, "it has come to a point where parents have to ensure children below 18 do not watch the programme. "The other challenge, which I don't know how this is going to change things, is viewing the programme in public places. From what I understand, public establishments are supposed to have different subscription from private places.

    "But people don't always indicate whether they are using their decoders in public places. Someone should make sure that Big Brother and other programmes like it are not seen in the wrong places. I think that NBC (Nigerian Broadcasting Corporation) is the institution which has that responsibility. The regulator has the responsibility of what should be shown or not shown in programmes. But I personally feel that, as long as such programmes are direct to home, heads of families at a point have the greater responsibility of ensuring that they check what goes into their homes.

    "Another thing is that people rushing to renew their subscriptions, of course, shows that people want to watch this programme, not because they want to indulge in depravity. And it does not mean that, if a lot of people want to watch what is bad, what is bad becomes the norm or the standard.

    "I personally don't like the shower hour in Big Brother. It is a sad thing that I should sit down and watch a programme and, at the height of my excitement, I see people bathing naked.

    "If our lawmakers say that they are representing the people, and that they are legislating for the people, they must have a way of finding out what the majority of people want, and making some adjustments to reach some balance because, if people really want to watch the programme, an outright ban would not be the right way to go."

  • South Africa is keen to sell its cricket telecast rights for four years, till June 2012, and has invited bids for the process. Tenders for the rights ensures 118 days of international cricket, for which Cricket South Africa (CSA) has refused to fix a floor price. India visits South Africa in 2010 for test matches, ODIs and T20 games.

    Ten Sports and Sri Lanka Cricket (SLC) have yet to reach an amicable solution on their broadcast rights. Nimbus Sports has earlier this week signed a two-year deal with the Asian Cricket Council (ACC) for the 2009 and 2010 Afri-Asia Cup. Nimbus has got a headstart in bagging the ACC deal.

    Under the new deal, Nimbus will market all commercial rights to the events, on global basis. The parties have agreed to explore new opportunities for the growth of cricket at all levels in Asia and Africa. Both the parties have resolved their earlier differences, which led to the ending of their previous agreement for the last Afro-Asia Cup in June 2007.

    Last year, Nimbus pulled out of the three-year partnership, for which it had bought the rights for $ 12 million. Nimbus cited the absence of several big stars in the Asia XI as the reason for pulling the plug.

    The Afro-Asia Cup is an ICC-sanctioned event comprising three One-day Internationals between the best players from Asia and Africa. The Afro Asia Cup 2009 is scheduled to be held in Kenya and 2010 in India.

    In the case of South Africa, Cricket South Africa had last sold the TV rights to Ten Sports for just one year. The Afro-Asia Cup was first held in South Africa in August 2005. The idea was to raise money for the Asian Cricket Council and the African Cricket Association. It could not be held in 2006. This time round, the bidding is expected to be competitive as the timings of the matches suit Indian audiences. Prior to Ten Sports, ESPN Star Sports had the rights for CSA.

    As for the SLC series, Ten Sports had signed a deal last year with SLC renewing its deal from 2009-2012. India will visit Sri Lanka again during this period. The deal was subsequently cancelled. However, Ten Sports maintains that it is on solid legal ground. A decision in this regard will be taken soon.

  • Pay television service provider MultiChoice Africa has been given the rights to broadcast four new channels from the London based BBC and ESPN Classic, starting September 1.

    The new thematic channels including, BBC Entertainment, BBC Knowledge, BBC Lifestyle and CBeebies will be relayed via MultiChoice's DStv platform, from 1 September 2008. The new channels will replace existing channels like BBC Food and BBC Prime. ESPN Classic is a 24/7 sport channel that will shoe the greatest sporting moments from the past.

    Darren Childs, Managing Director, and BBC Worldwide Channels, said: "Today's announcement builds on BBC Worldwide channel's long-term relationship with MultiChoice. In asking us to provide more channels for the platform is testimony to the BBC brand and the quality of our content."

    MultiChoice Africa CEO Eben Greyling said,"MultiChoice welcomes the four BBC channels which we believe will contribute to our ongoing commitment of ensuring our customers receive high quality channels from a variety of different genres."

    Dean Possenniskie, General Manager, BBC Worldwide Channels, said Africa has always been of great importance to BBC. "We are now making a significant investment as we launch four dedicated channel feeds for Africa." He said the new deal with MultiChoice confirms BBC's commitment to the territory, and allows it to deliver a greater range of contemporary, award-winning programming across all four channel to their audience.

    The Monitor (Kampala) 27 August 2008

  • On 27 August at Johannesburg’s Hazeldene Hall, hundreds of glamorous guests, including celebrities from the South African Indian community and soaps like Isidingo and Scandal, attended the glitzy launch of Saffron TV, DStv’s new locally produced Indian channel.

    A lifestyle and entertainment channel, Saffron TV goes on air at 1 September. It features presenters such as Strini Pillai, Sorisha Naidoo, Shalandra Bunseelal and Letisha Singh and promises a mix of local and international shows. These cover food, style, beauty and health, as well as Bollywood news and reviews, showbiz gossip and community news, lifestyle programmes and family entertainment shows. Saffron TV is produced by Ochre Moving Pictures and was conceived by Stan Joseph and his team.

    GM of Business Development at Avusa Media, owner of Ochre, Andy Gill, said that Saffron TV had been a long time coming as it had involved an in-depth period of research. “We believe the Indian market in South Africa is both highly under-serviced and very commercially viable. The viewer proposition for Saffron TV is that it will satisfy a core need for a community with a unique identity in the South African environment, a community that is an avid consumer of TV. This boutique channel will offer DStv’s Indian subscribers a shared family viewing experience. At the same time, Saffron TV offers advertisers a very attractive reach into the local Indian community.”

    Gill noted that in today’s fast changing media environment with new platforms and continually evolving consumer habits, niches had become very attractive to media owners. “We will use other Avusa properties, such as Sunday Times Extra and Nu Metro Bollywood to cross-market Saffron TV.”

    Aletta Alberts, head of Content at MultiChoice (owner of DStv) added that MultiChoice was committed to offering a diverse choice to viewers. Many years ago DStv launched its Indian bouquet which comprises “The Best of India”. Michelle Pennington, VP of Business Development of the MIH Group (under which MultiChoice falls), noted that while sales for the Indian bouquet had been good, they were not fantastic. “We did our research which informed us that we had the right content. One day it dawned on us that we were putting ‘The Best of India’ into homes where the first language was English and not Indian. It was Aletta Alberts who said we needed to add something local to the Indian bouquet. At about the same time, Stan Joseph walked through the door with the Saffron TV proposal.” Joseph commented: “Saffron TV, is an exciting project that showcases Ochre's strengths as a creative company, and the benefits we can leverage by being part of a major local media group like Avusa.”

  • - The "loud" youth radio station, YaRona FM, will be celebrating its ninth anniversary on August 30. The radio station's bash will be hosted at Orange Farm in Oodi.YaRona FM and Gabz FM were the only country's private radio stations until last year when another station, Duma FM started operating. it was first licensed in 1998, but only started broadcasting the following year.

    - Angola National Radio (RNA) and Public Television (TPA) signals transmitted from Luanda, are being received since Monday in Capenda Camulemba and Xá Muteba, north-eastern Lunda Norte Province, after being inaugurated by the provincial governor, Ernesto Muangala.The official informed that with a radius of action of 50 kilometres, citizens in Xá Muteba District can tune to 93.8 FM, while 91.5 of the same frequency is for Capenda Camulemba residents.

    - Nation Media Group's new Kiswahili radio station, QFM, will go on air Monday.The station was launched on Saturday at a colourful event at the Kenyatta International Conference Centre grounds. It will broadcast on FM frequency 94.4.Listeners in Nairobi, Mombasa, Nyeri, Meru, Eldoret and Nakuru will receive QFM, which targets an audience between 25 and 34 years.QFM will feature a group of well-known presenters, including Talia, Maureen Medza and comedians Nyambane, Kajairo and Kazungu Katana, now using the name Cleopas Awinja.

    - President Paul Kagame on Tuesday launched the Star Africa Media wondering why local investors have not expressed any interest tin putting money into the Chinese Pay-TV firm, RNA reports. Kagame specifically criticized the only available local TV, the government owned Rwanda Television, for not taking advantage of the technical expertise of the Chinese firm, providing some 20 channels. Star Africa Media was on Tuesday launching operation of its mast in Kigali which is part of its $20 million investment in a Pay-TV outlet it wants to position regionally.Its cheap subscription rate of RW8100 Francs (US$25) stands out as almost the cheapest option compared to its competitors.


  • SABC2 has signed a deal with Earth Television Network - part of the Telcast Media Group from Munich, Germany - to broadcast live earthTV programmes every day, plugging SABC into Earth Television Network's worldwide media community. This SABC2 deal is intended as a new departure for the genre to localise the format for South Africa.

    From Monday, 1 September 2008, SABC2 will show earthTV's The World LIVE four times daily, with each 90-second short offering live glimpses of different places on Earth from earthTV's worldwide network of 80 cameras.

    “As the Channel for the Nation we are very pleased to be able to offer our viewers a daily ‘slice of life' from across the country and the world. South Africans should also be proud that live images from South Africa will be beamed every day around the planet within the earthTV packages,” says Ed Worster, SABC2 programme manager.

    SABC2 has also licensed a bespoke local version of the format called South Africa LIVE, which will follow the same format and frequency as The World LIVE. South Africa LIVE will feature feeds from new earthTV cameras installed in Cape Town, Durban, Johannesburg and Londolozi in the Sabi Sands Game Reserve. Further earthTV camera installations are planned for the near future.

    The shows, often used by networks as lead-ins to news bulletins, offer a global snapshot of daily life, weather information and event details from all over the planet, including Antalya, Venice, Sydney, Manila, Munich, London, Paris and New York. earthTV has been secured by broadcasters and multimedia platforms around the world, including NHK in Japan, France 2, ProSiebenSat.1 Group in Germany, NDTV in India and CCTV in China.

    Telcast president and CEO Thomas Hohenacker said that since earthTV content airs in primetime on major terrestrial channels in each market, "it is probably the most widely distributed TV content in the world and has a daily reach of over 2.2 billion people in 60 countries. We are delighted to be working with SABC2 in this way. Their enthusiasm is allowing us to develop a dynamic new template for earthTV and I am confident that this will be the first of many country and regional versions of earthTV in the future”. The deal was brokered by earthTV's agent in the region, Richard Wood of African Eye Television Network.

    These timelapse clips race with the day from one camera - from SA or the World into a dazzling 60 second clip that showcases one location from sunrise to sunset. Material shot by the SA cameras will be used by Morning Live in its traffic reports, giving viewers a chance to see the CBDs of Johannesburg, Cape Town and Durban each morning.

  • Nigeria’s Government owned satellite operator NigComSat has signed a deal with the Nigerian broadcast signal carrier DigiTech.

    Under its joint venture with DigiTech Broadcasting Limited, the Nigerian signal carrier distributor will use bandwidth on NigComSat for its digital broadcasting operations. Both organisations plan to provide direct-to-home (DTH) services to Nigerians and broadcasters, including free-to-air and pay television.

  • - The Angola Public Television (TPA) is to inaugurate on Tuesday its new production centre, located in Camama commune, in Luanda's Kilamba Kiaxi District, according to a report from Angop.

    - New South African pay-TV operators, On Digital Media Television (ODM) and Christian network Walking on Water Television (WOWtv), will begin broadcasting in mid-2009.


  • The Angolan Government has launched INFRASAT, a multi-sectoral satellite communications support project that will connect the entire country, even the remotest areas. In terms of broadcast, it will allow viewers across the country to receive DTH signals thus enlarging the potential audience for Pay TV subscribers.

    The project is the brainchild of the Inter-ministerial Commission for the Overall Coordination of the Multi-Sectoral Telecommunications via Satellite Support Project. It will offer new television and radio channels to parts of the country currently unable to receive terrestrial signals.

    Among its various services there will be bouquets with multiple national and international channels, offering a greater variety of channels in Portuguese and serving to promote local audio-visual production. There have been long-standing rumours that there will be new Free-To-Air and Pay-TV entrants in the Angolan market but none have yet materialised.

    Sources: Angop

  • The Gauteng Film Commission (GFC) has expressed concern regarding escalating location fees being charged by tourism venues and other city attractions to film crew shooting in Johannesburg.

    This follows complaints that film crew are increasingly charged for access to locations and venues in Johannesburg or in some instances are refused access completely. According to the GFC, such reports give credence to perceptions that Johannesburg is becoming ‘film unfriendly’ and undermines the significant media exposure the City stands to benefit from by hosting the Confederations Cup next year and the 2010 FIFA World Cup South Africa. This, the GFC says, could contribute to negative coverage of the country in the international media in the run up to both events.

    “A promotional shoot in Johannesburg can easily involve more than 15 city locations over two days. If you add up the location fees, film crew are expected to pay up to R25,000 (US$3,271) per day. In many instances the film crew are in Johannesburg to film promotional films of the City’s key attractions in the run-up to the Confederations Cup and the 2010 FIFA World Cup. Over and above the location fees, crew also need to pay R450 an hour for filming on public roads. To these crew it understandably feels as if the City is doing them a favour and not the other way around! The result is that even London and New York seem to offer more value, a scenario that will have a negative impact on the country,” says Jacques Stoltz, Senior Marketing Manager for the GFC.

    Interest in film shoots covering South Africa has been rising, with the GFC confirming it has noticed a sharp increase in requests for access to filming locations by international film and TV crew. They are visiting the province to report on progress around the hosting of the 2009 Confederations Cup and the 2010 FIFA World Cup South Africa. The interest is particularly around 2010 stadia, transport infrastructure, host cities, hospitality and accommodation services, leisure amenities and visitor attractions.

    As many of these film shoots are for travel magazines and shows, from some of the province’s key international tourism markets, this provides a valuable opportunity for the City and the tourism industry to market both its public and privately owned tourism attractions to the world in the run-up to 2010.

    “We have raised these concerns with the City and the tourism industry and have stressed the importance of ensuring uninhibited access by film and TV crew to our visitor attractions. This, we believe, is not only in the interest of the film industry but is vital to the marketing and tourism efforts of the City of Johannesburg,” Stoltz concludes.

  • - The team behind an English Civil War drama that was filmed in South Africa rather than the UK has defended its decision. UK’s Channel 4 drama The Devil's Whore, set to hit screens in November, was filmed in countryside in South Africa because it was cheaper, the programme makers said.

regulation & policy

  • International radio stations, among them the BBC and Voice Of America (VOA), have been strongly warned to desist from what is described as non-factual reporting or else risk being banned from broadcasting in Rwanda. Information Minister, Louise Mushikiwabo Thursday singled out BBC and VOA reporters, particularly those who broadcast in Kinyarwanda who have previously been put on notice.

    "If they can not respond positively to government warnings to abandon their non-factual reporting, then suspending them is inevitable," Mushikiwabo warned. The two stations have been accused of giving airtime to some of the genocide fugitives to spread their ideology. The concern prompted four member States of the Tripartite Plus Joint Commission (TPJC) mid last year to ban any media coverage of rebel activities in DRC.

    The diplomatic agreement among the TPJC members, also set measures to deny rebel leaders safe havens for fundraising, movement (including visas) and areas of operation. The said rebels include Forces for the Democratic Liberation of Rwanda (FDLR), FNL PALIPEHUTU fighting the Burundian government, and two Ugandan rebel groups.

    A Rwanda parliamentary report released the same year blamed the two stations for airing programmes that do not apparently support the unity and reconciliation process. The Lower Chamber of Deputies which was dissolved this month, in July this year demanded the government to come up with a plan for countering the influence that foreign media is having locally.

    Lawmakers had summoned the minister to explain why people in large parts of Rwanda were not accessing local TV and Radio signal but were able to listen to international stations.

    The New Times (Kigali) 23 August 2008

  • Globecast Africa, a South African broadcasting company that was being accused of circumventing the Broadcasting Services Act by operating in Zimbabwe without a licence, was on Monday cleared of the charges.

    The firm, which was represented by Thabani Mpofu, had been accused of interviewing the Minister of Information and Publicity, Cde Sikhanyiso Ndlovu, in March and transmitting the interview to CNN in the United States without seeking authority from the Broadcasting Authority of Zimbabwe.

    Globecast denied the charges when the trial opened, saying the staff and the broadcasting equipment were brought into Zimbabwe by the Government's Transmedia Corporation, which failed to pay for the licence to cover the March 29 elections as agreed.

    Florence Ziyambi of the Attorney-General's Office represented the State while Mrs Beatrice Mtetwa appeared for Globecast. Harare magistrate Mr Archie Wochiunga acquitted Globecast, saying the State had failed to prove a case against the firm.

    Wochiunga ruled that there was no reason for the company to be prosecuted considering the fact that in the trial, the State failed to challenge the agreement between Globecast and Transmedia. Transmedia, as per agreement, was responsible for the procurement of a licence for Globecast and there was no reason for charging the company. Transmedia is the one that had been authorised to bring Globecast into Zimbabwe and there is no reason why Globecast should be charged.

    They entered into a contract which is clear and no evidence has been adduced to prove that Globecast intentionally committed the said offence”.

    "The essential elements of the offence have not been proved and, therefore, the accused is found not guilty and acquitted at the close of the State's case," ruled Wochiunga. It was the State's case that on March 28 this year, Globecast brought its two engineers, Moses Maseko and Abdulla Gaibee, an outside broadcasting van and other satellite uplink equipment into Zimbabwe. Transmedia had hired them for the coverage of the harmonised elections between March 28 and 29. The State alleged that Globecast did not seek authority from BAZ and broadcast Ndlovu's interview on CNN.

  • - Zimbabwe’s Urban groovers have accused local radio station Power FM of ditching its 75% local content policy. They said the station was playing more international songs than local tunes, depriving them of airplay that is necessary in boosting their careers. Some of the urban groovers who talked to Standardplus expressed their disgruntlement, saying the radio station was "disempowering them".

technology & convergence

  • Nigeria is getting ready to switch from analogue to digital broadcasting platform. The National Broadcasting Corporation of Nigeria is in the process of complying with an order from regulators to switch by 2012.

    The Director General of the Corporation, Yormi Bolarinwa, said although the company is facing enormous challenges to transmit signals on a digital platform, it can meet the deadline.

    Bolarinwa said the mandatory condition given to owners of broadcast organizations is that their licenses would not be renewed if they do not make an attempt to switch. The process, he said, would be a gradual one to allow them sufficient time to achieve the new demand.

    He was speaking ahead of the forthcoming Africa Communication Association [AFRICAS] Conference on 24th October 2008. It is themed: “Digitization and the challenges in Africa.” Stakeholders in the sector of broadcasting would discuss how to implement digital mode of broadcast, best sensitization methods to employ as well as adopt a policy draft that would serve as a guide to activities in the digital era. Bolarinwa said digital broadcasting requires patience to effectively broadcast signals to the viewers on a timely basis. It is also possible to transmit to a specific viewer, he added.

    Currently, about 24 million households have television in Nigeria.

    Africa News

  • According to Andy Brauer, Business Connection’s Chief Technology Officer the next big trend will be widespread use of high-definition digital TV (HDTV) sets that have a standard connection that allows internet based TV programmes and other content to be downloaded and watched.

    “It will be possible to do everything on HDTV that you can now do on a PC.” This will include downloading movies from and watching internet-based TV channels.

    With traditional satellite TV, viewers have to watch programmes according to a schedule or after they have been aired, but with IPTV viewers can download a whole series and watch it when they want to. “First we had convergence of data and voice, and now broadcast is joining this world with TV, radio and video.”

    He says it is possible for movie owners to protect their content and control the number of times it is viewed after downloading, and how viewers pay for it, using digital rights management (DRM), which is based on electronic certificates.

    The growing demands of multimedia applications on broadband bandwidth is taking its toll on the internet, which is sometimes fast and sometimes slow, and it is impossible to guarantee throughput quality and speed. But the next internet generation will be mostly fibre driven and will enable real-time digital TV broadcast.

    This will require tremendous amounts of fibre infrastructure and mechanisms in between that allow for guaranteed bandwidth, says Brauer. He says once movies can be downloaded and watched quickly and easily in real time using high-speed broadband, it could threaten video stores.

    Global revenues generated from online video content is expected to reach $4.5bn by 2012 from $1.2bn this year, according to online research company In-stat. This growth will be stimulated by an increase in subscription services such as Netflix, which charges a flat monthly fee to deliver bundled packages of online content that can be viewed on home TV sets. Advertisement-supported video will also start emerging from major TV networks and will be a strong contributor to growth in this market.


  • - South Africa’s Department of Communications says it plans to award DVB-H mobile TV licences early next year. Pay-TV operator Multichoice has confirmed that it is interested in acquiring a DVB-H permit, while the country’s largest cellular operator in terms of subscribers, Vodacom, says it will wait to see the full auction rules before deciding whether or not to bid.

    - Madagascar’s Government owned television broadcaster La télévision nationale Malagasy carried out its first online reporting after a week long training session organised in partnership with l'Organisation Internationale de la Francophonie, l'Association Malagasy des Utilisateurs de Logiciels libres and the Department of Physics at l'université d'Antananarivo. Journalist Andriankoto Ratozamanana wrote a blog at the same time as covering events for the television channel. The training was carried out by Douglas Mbiadou, President of Club de la Solidarité Numérique and Technical Director of Objis. This is the third session of its kind, the other two having taken place in Abidjan and Yaounde.

    - Owners of DStv, Naspers is building on its Internet businesses in Poland and the Czech Republic and, at the same time, is eyeing Web developments in China and Russia. Naspers MD Koos Bekker announced on Friday that the media company was looking at expanding its Internet companies into the rest of Eastern Europe. Naspers is a major shareholder in the Allegro Group, which runs a number of e-commerce trading platforms that range from online property sales to price comparison Web sites.

    The group has a presence in more than eight countries in Eastern Europe, including Poland, the Czech Republic and Russia. Naspers hopes to use Allegro to expand into the rest of the region.

    - South Africa’s Department of Communications has set the date for the digital switch-on of public broadcast television for November 1 this year. This does not mean, however, that ordinary people, especially the poor, will be able to watch their free-to-air television programmes on a digital signal. Communications minister Ivy Matsepe-Casaburri said: “It’s a major shift, equivalent to the shift from black-and-white to colour TV. “It’s been a long process, but we are there. We had to wait for the International Telecommunications Union to agree on the different frequencies in the different regions before we could start the migration process,” she said. She was speaking yesterday at the launch of the department’s broadcasting digital migration policy launch, which was approved by the cabinet.

    - In a move certain to shake up Uganda's media landscape, Central Broadcasting Services (CBS), the Buganda-owned radio station, has recruited the internationally renowned celebrity deejay, Kags-Yo.

    - In its quest to chart a new course for the Accra branch of the Association of Sports Broadcasters, Ghana (ASBOG), the group has named an interim executive committee to steer the operations of the group.In a release signed by the Chief Operations Officer (COO) of ASBOG, Mr Charles Osei Asibey, it stated that the initiative was to reorganize, amend its bye-laws and constitution ahead of its elections. The members are Nathaniel Laryea (TV 3), Christopher Opoku (Asempa FM), Prince Annan (Metro TV), Davis Appiah (Adom FM), Mosses Antwi Benefo (Hot FM), Ernest Koranten (Joy FM) and Dan Kweku Yeboah of Peace FM fame. The COO has appealed to stakeholders and the general public to help in its discharge of duties.

    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.

    A limited number of scholarships will be made available for participants who are unable to cover their costs. The scholarships will be advertised on the Highway Africa website ( from 19 May to 20 June 2008.

    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

    For more information:

    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; 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:

    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.

    - 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.”

    - 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.

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