Issue no 45 8 January 2009

top story

  • The Ethiopian Government is best known for the tight control it has exerted over the political process of the country. Therefore it comes of something of a surprise to learn that it has made the development of media a priority and with a certain amount of external prompting has liberalised the radio sector. Two new private radio stations have been launched (more will follow) and community radio stations have also started broadcasting. Well-informed sources say that there will be a new private free-to-air television channel within two years. Against this backdrop, the country is also sustaining a significant local film culture in Amharic.

    Based on figures from the last census, there are probably between 1-2 million television sets and around 8 million radio sets in Ethiopia.

    The Ethiopian Radio and TV Agency has overall responsibility for the state run channels but radio and TV have their own organisation and management. ETV is completely supported by Government money and advertising. There is no licence fee. Two channels: ETV1 which carries ads and ETV 2 which does not. ETV1 covers about 47% of the population whereas ETV2 covers only the capital Addis Ababa. The programming schedule is built around new bulletins throughout the day. Each channel shows around 16 hours programming a day.

    The majority of programming is in Ethiopia’s most widely spoken language Amharic and the majority of programmes are made by ETV which has its own studios. A standard quality 20 minute programme would cost between 50-70,000 birr an hour. There is a small independent production sector but it has little chance of growing in current circumstances.

    Advertising is very cheap at around 1,000 birr a minute. The main advertisers are cleaning products and government organisations like the Anti-Corruption Agency. As the country still has a monopoly phone company (ETC), there is not the volume of mobile phone advertising found in other African countries. That said, ETV has been able to buy some of the premium sports rights by attracting sponsors.

    The transition to DTT is at an early stage as there is no plan from the Government specifying when and how it will happen. The Ethiopian Broadcasting Authority has done a study which has been submitted to the Government, which needs to create a Task Force to tackle the when, how and what technology issues. Given the overall approach of the Government in other fields, it is likely to opt for a planned approach. However, the issue of subsidy will require considerable resourcing.

    ETV has made some progress in digitalising its production processes and parts of its archive. For although the Government has declared that the development of the media is a priority, there is a shortage of professional people and resources. Furthermore, ETV as state media is very clearly tasked by the Government to help promote its policies and the implementation of its strategies and that does not always make for interesting viewing.

    There are two Pay TV companies – GTV and Multichoice – who between them probably have between 6-7,000 subscribers, 75-80% of whom are in the capital Addis Ababa.

    Community radio development is being funded by a combination of the World Bank (US$18 m), the Ethiopian Government (US$5 million) and GTZ (US$3 million). The regulator, Ethiopian Broadcasting Authority, has two ways of defining community radio: either by geographic region (with a range of up to 25 kms) and/or addressing a particular community (young people, women or the disabled). 5 community radio licences have been issued by the regulator EBA.

    One of the country’s universities runs a radio station in partnership with an international NGO with a 3 KW transmitter with an 80 mile radius. Makele University in Tigray is developing locally produced antennas and transmitters.

    One of the conditions of World Bank funding was that the Government start offering private commercial licences. There are currently two private FM radio stations (Sheger FM on 107.3 and Zami on 90.7) and a third radio station focusing on English and French programming (Afro FM) will be launched next year. In addition, there are two Government radio stations and Radio Fana (see below). However, there is a considerable thirst to launch stations as there were over 45 applicants for the current round of licences. Critics of the liberalisation say that too few stations have been licensed and that they are all in the capital, Addis Ababa.

    One of the most dynamic of the new private sector radio players is in fact an already existing station, Radio Fana. It came out of the military struggle against the Dergue and had its origins as a clandestine radio station in the bush. As a result, it has remained broadcasting after the current Government came to power. It broadcasts in Amharic, Afar, Oromo and Somali and is expanding its number of stations, launching new transmitters in Jimma in the south and Gonder in the north. It transits on FM in the urban area and on short wave in the rural areas. In the next two years it will have 10 stations with increased local programming. All together the company employs 254 people and before too long it will move from its current “hut-like” premises to a new multi-storey office block it is building next door to its current offices.

    It is supported by three different kinds of advertising: conventional advertising, mainly on the FM stations (30% of revenue), programme sponsorships (15%) and programme partnerships where an organisation will fund a programme. The latter category includes Government Ministries and international donors like UNICEF and Save the Children. Programmes include community discussions on health and sanitation issues and talk shows in the urban areas.

    Advertising rates vary between 10,000 birr for three spots in an hour for programme sponsorship to six thirty second spots for 690 birr for a more conventional national ad on a premium programme. There are reductions for the three non-Amharic languages. Advertising for non-commercial organisations goes as low as 35-40 birr a minute.

    The losers in the struggle for radio advertising have been the Government radio stations. Whereas they used to have a 40%+ market share with Radio Fana taking the lion’s share, they are now down to 18-20%. Radio Fana has more or less kept its market share with Sheger taking 25%. Radio Fana takes a very bullish view of competition, believing that it helps them sharpen up the delivery of everything they do and grows the market.

    Radio Fana would clearly be one of the contenders for a free-to-air TV licence as and when the Government puts one on the table. Well-informed sources told us that it’s “in the pipeline”. New elections are only 18 months away and the decision could be taken after the elections.

    Ethiopia has a large and thriving film culture which is unusual given the history of cinema in the country. Emperor Menelik II was in conversation with Stevenin when the latter mentioned cinema and how he had abandoned importing a projector because of opposition from the country’s priests. The original cinema was opened by a Frenchman and was quickly dubbed Satan Bet’ (The devil’s house) by the public. The cinema went bankrupt and its projector passed to the Emperor who used it to watch films with a spiritual theme with his officials and priests in the Grand Palace. It was not until “talkies” came into being that cinema really took off in Ethiopia.

    Addis Ababa has ten cinemas where many African capitals only support one or two venues. Of these, four are privately owned and the rest are Government-run venues. The smartest of these cinemas is in the Edina Mall and was built by a local millionaire a year ago. Outside of Addis Ababa, films get shown in big general-purpose halls. There is a strong audience for locally made films and almost all screenings are crowded, often requiring a police presence for crowd control. Interestingly, people pay a premium to see local films: 15 birr (US$1.53) for a locally made film as against 5 birr (US30 cents) for seeing two Hollywood movies.

    The Ethiopian International Film Festival takes place in the country’s capital Addis Ababa at the end of November each year. In 2008 it showed 24 Ethiopian films and 28 African and international films: the Ethiopian films shown are all competition entries. Its director Yergity Teshome is promising that this year’s festival will be even bigger than last year’s and he wants to do a pre-festival training workshop for 10 people, 3 of whose short films (of between 5-7 minutes) will be shown at the Festival.

    Last year 33 feature films were made in Ethiopia by independent filmmakers, all shot on Betacam HD and in country’s most widely spoken language Amharic. Because they are in Amharic, they tend only to be shown in Ethiopia or to the diaspora in Europe and North America. Ethiopians have their own popular music which is widely used in the films made but no-one really knows this music outside the country.

    According to Teshome:”Our neighbours like Kenyans and Ugandans don’t know Ethiopian music and Ethiopians are not globalised in a cultural sense.” Recent entries to the film festival have been shown at the Amakula Film Festival in Kampala and at ZIFF in Zanzibar and on the international festival circuit but this has bought critical acclaim but not audiences.

    Prize-winning entries to last year’s Ethiopian International Film Festival give some idea of the types of stories involved. Operation Agazi is an action movie that looks at a jailbreak mounted during the Dergue regime to release political prisoners. Best Man is a comedy about two couples: one male partner wants to marry, the other does not. The rise of the current film sector dates back to the end of the Dergue regime and probably one of the first films to be made was Aster. After the collapse of the regime, the film sector simply blossomed.

    The budget needed to make films is raised from box office revenues or initial capital is loaned by the families of film-makers. Most of the film makers are very young and the industry is not, according to Teshome, either “institutionalised or industrialised.” But as he acknowledges for the sector to become more sustainable, a system needs to be built and one with its own institutions. The country has its own film stars but each needs to make several films at once to survive and they supplement their income with TV and radio ads.

    In revenue terms, filmmakers rent cinemas (that range from 700-1,500 seats) for around 3,500 birr and sell tickets for 15 birr per person. On this basis, the filmmaker can get around 50,000 birr (US$5,100) or more revenue from a film. Some films are high budget and one has run to 3.5 million birr. The maker of this particular film was the person who launched one of Ethiopia’s first ad agencies and is a prolific film-maker. In terms of post-production, there are no facilities houses and each individual film-maker makes their own edit. However, the volume of films being made has seen camera hire go from 100 birr a day to 700 birr a day.

    After the film has been shown at the cinema, it will then be distributed on VCD by local distributors but this raises very little money as copies are almost immediately pirated. However, what income does get made is split 50/50 between the distributor and the film-maker. Again renting local films commands a premium: it costs only 2 birr to rent a Hollywood movie for three days but 5 birr to rent a local movie for one day.

    Films are not screened on television. The only explanation is that ETV is state-owned. For as Teshome sees it:”That’s our big problem. They don’t want to give air-time to a private person. ETV has its own dramas but they’re not very good.”

    Some of the difficulties with the uncertain relationship between independent producers and ETV is illustrated by the recent changes in access to the channel.

    Wizzkids Workshop is a small company supported by donor commissions. It produced four 7 minute animation features on childrens’ health, the environment and recycling water. ETV agreed to show them for 300 birr (US$30.64) a minute.

    But buying airtime is now no longer possible because of two factors. Firstly, inspired by the Government’s anti-corruption approach ETV is now commissioning programmes one year ahead and not allowing programme makers to share advertising income. Secondly, there is a new bill covering CSOs which says that only local organisations can address issues of rights. To be an Ethiopian NGO defined as local you must get 90% of your funding from Ethiopian sources. Programme makers have to bid to make programmes and this means this type of programming may no longer be aired.

    UNESCO has organised a film and development workshop as part of the Ethiopian International Film Festival looking at how development issues can be incorporated into films. Paul Hector of UNESCO says:“We’d like to do the equivalent of product placement where an issue becomes part of the plot.” He is also trying to organise an event this year involving the Ethiopian diaspora that would involve them in making productions.

    There’s a film school at Addis Ababa University but according to one source it’s of a fairly low standard because many of those teaching the subject do not have a wide experience of film-making. In addition, there are three private film-making schools, one of which is a complex run by the company that owns Radio Fana.

content

  • An Angolan Series titled "Encontros e Desencontros", produced by Oscar Gil Productions will be shown on TPA during the first half of 2009, according to its producer. Speaking to Angop news agancy, Oscar Gil indicated that the 30-part series looks at the professional and private lives of doctors and their patients.

    The miniseries has famous Angolan actors such as Carlos Carvalho and Yolanda Veigas and follows the life of an Angolan medical doctor, who during the colonial period was sent to Tarrafal field, in Cape Verde. Different parts of the series will be recorded in Lisbon and Cape Verde.

    Created in 1999, Oscar Gil Productions is the only national television programme production company established in Luanda and so far it has produced two mini-series screened on TPA: "Caminhos Cruzados" and "Vidas a Preto e Branco".

    Angola Press Agency (Luanda) 22 December 2008

  • Multi Links Telkom has launched a new television based game show, Break The Bank, through which the leading telecommunications and internet services provider will continue to empower its numerous subscribers. The new game show, which was launched in Lagos at the end of December will run for a period of six months, between the December launch date and May 2009. Break The Bank will be recorded every Thursday and air every Saturday.

    Break The Bank will be a studio-based production and its production team is being supervised by a New York-based production company currently under contract assignment in Lagos . It will be a five-minute live-to-tape game-show. It will be presented by broadcast journalist, Freeze of Cool FM who will be assisted by Aishat Danjuma. The show, which promises to be great fun, is structured around two contestants who come on set and win a minimum of N300, 000 weekly.

    The contestants have each to choose one of the 17 letters that make up the sponsors name. Behind one of the letters lies a N5 million prize with smaller prizes behind other letters. Break The Bank is open to everybody. To play, subscribers simply need to text 'Break The Bank' to 35388 from any mobile network for a chance to participate. Everyone who qualifies to play certainly wins something.

    Speaking with journalists before the maiden edition of the show, the presenter, Freeze, explained that one of the reasons why he chose to be the presenter of the show was because of "The transparency of the show and the fact that it will weekly empower and positively touch the lives of the people."

    Vanguard (Lagos) 15 December 2008

  • The M-Net Channel is seeking to commission drama series for broadcast in prime-time during 2010 - 2012. M-Net seeks to engage the services of experienced drama producers, directors, writers and production companies to produce exciting, entertaining, quality English South African drama series.

    M-Net Drama is interested in commercial, mainstream, feel good family entertainment with a happy ending - heart-warming South African stories for the South African audience. Stories that will mesmerize, captivate and seduce the viewer to make an appointment with the characters.

    The proposal should be original. Serials will not be considered, only series. The story must end at episode 13. M-Net reserves the right to develop only the scripts and not to commit to production in case the scripts do not meet requirements.

    marida.swanepoel@mnet.co.za

    Filmmaker South Africa

  • Daarsat, the new satellite Direct-To-Home (DTH) Pay TV platform, is set to hit the airwaves soon as it intends to excite Nigerians with bouquet of broadcast content.

    It comes with what it describes as a deep afrocentric orientation with a programme bouquet to satisfy the yearnings and aspirations of Nigerians. It will start operations with 40 channels that span entertainment, sports, movies, lifestyle, news, fashion and music. A major feature of the new pay TVs is the deliberate choice of the channels to align with the expectation of the Nigerian viewing public.

    It will offer MPEG4-based HD-TV programming and in order to accelerate the digital transition it will in its first year of operation start making decoders in Nigeria.

    The Executive Chairman, DAAR Communication, Dr. Raymond Dokpesi, said Daarsat has a focus to Nigerianise the pay TV industry in Nigeria. The vision is predicated on the need to make every Nigerian have a sense of belonging in the new pay TV. It is an attempt at creating a voice for Nigerians.

    Dokpesi also said the company has engaged expatriate engineers who will develop the competence of its manpower in engineering and technical areas to accelerate the transfer of technological skill sets required in this new industry.

    The Vanguard

  • - SABC 3’s lifestyle talk show, 3 Talk, has been moved to 4pm to make way for the more popular Oprah Winfrey Show that will be shown in prime time at 5.45pm. Sources close to the show say the move was made because 3 Talk has lost viewers to Oprah. A source said there were many complaints that the show was dull and that its host followed the same sequence every time.

    - An emotional new local TV documentary series, The Heart is Beautiful, begins on M-Net at 19:30 on Thursday. It was filmed over two years and tells the story of a Klerksdorp family's struggles during a drawn-out and exhausting heart transplant process.The four-part series made by Jan Groenewald and Pieter de Vos, follows the Gird family, with 19-year-old Melanie and her brother Trevor jnr, 15, who both suffer from a rare genetic heart disease, Arrhythmogenic right ventricular dysplasia (ARVD).

    The disease is incurable and the only treatment is a timely heart transplant. The documentary series was made in high definition and BBC-style so it could be sold overseas.

  • A new free-to-air TV channel, VIASAT 1, which will predominantly broadcast entertainment programmes has began operation in Ghana. Viasat Broadcasting G Ltd, is part of an international Entertainment Broadcasting Group, known as Modern Times Group (MTG AB) which is the largest free -TV and satellite premium Pay-TV operator in Scandinavia and the Baltics.

    The launch in Ghana is MTG's first ever TV channel in Africa. It also operates free TV channels in the Czech Republic, Hungary, Slovenia and the Balkans and a DTH platform in the Ukraine as well as pay-TV channels in a total of 24 European Countries. VIASAT 1 says its mission is to become the leading entertainment television channel in Ghana dedicated to bringing the best African and world content to viewers.

    Rune Skogeng Chief Executive Officer of the company said, "We have successfully exported our proven business model to numerous countries throughout Europe and we are starting that same fantastic journey on the African continent."

    He explained that as part of a bigger media group, Viasat has a strong and long-standing relations with all the major Hollywood studios, that enables it to bring the very best blockbuster content to Ghana. He said it has also entered into agreements with some of the biggest African content owners and secured what it deems is the best African movies, series and current affairs programmes.

    "Viasat is your number one entertainer. We will deliver on this promise. Our research clearly indicates that more and better TV information is something the Ghanaian population wants." Skogeng said his company is a gender neutral TV channel primarily targeted at all audience, especially those between the ages of 15 and 49 years. He added that they will attract this audience by being modern, fresh, positive and passionate.

    Currently, Viasat has set up transmitter sites in the Greater Accra, Ashanti, Central and Western regions. The Accra site will be significantly vamped up in terms of power over the coming weeks in order increase picture and sound quality and coverage. Viasat hopes to set up a transmitter site in the northern region early next year to cover that part of Ghana as well.

    Public Agenda (Accra) 22 December 2008

  • A group of private investors with close links to the Government of Southern Sudan (GOSS) have invested in a new radio station that will have wider reach than the existing broadcasters. Based in Juba, the new Voice of the People (VoP) will, according to its proprietors, deal mainly with developmental issues. “It will be the voice of the people of Southern Sudan and will mainly focus on the developmental challenges facing the Southern Sudanese people and ways of overcoming this. As a result, we shall be hiring professionals from all walks of life from Africa, but mainly from Southern Sudan,” says 31 year old, Benjamin Bol Yei, a shareholder of the soon to be launched station.

    According to Bol, VoP will also try to bring back the numerous Southern Sudanese professionals from the diaspora around the world. “This radio station will be relaying its content on the Internet and anyone in the world can tune in, therefore a big amount of content will be dedicated to urging Southern Sudanese professionals, such as doctors to come home and help rebuild the country,” he says. Attracting professionals is crucial, he argues, citing the Juba hospital as an example: Even though the government has tried to equip the hospital with some of the best equipments, and set up a private wing that is good by international standards, there is dire shortage of doctors and other medical professionals. “We have a serious shortage of medical personnel and so the equipment is more than not lying idle, I hope that Voice of the People, will be able to convince Sudanese in the diaspora to come back and work here,” he says.

    Cyprien Hiniolwa, an engineer who works for the United Nations and who is in charge of setting up VoP, says that the new radio station will be able to relay its content to a radius of 360 kilometers in Southern Sudan. “There is no other indigenous radio station that currently has this reach. All the radio stations currently on air serve small radiuses of about five kilometers and that is mainly in the towns of Rumbek and Juba,” he says, adding that having its content available on line will enable VoP to reach an even larger audience.

    VoP also plans to set up a TV station. Currently, the only Southern Sudanese TV Station, Southern Sudan TV (SSTV), is wholly owned by the government and is yet to become fully operational. Although already on air, it is currently just replaying advertisements telling what it will offer.

    Ratio

  • The Independent Communications Authority of South Africa (ICASA) is calling for interested individual electronic communications services, broadcasting services and electronic communications network services licensees to apply for frequencies to provide mobile digital video broadcasting services.

    Two metropolitan multiplexes have been set aside to enable a provision of mobile digital video broadcasting services based on the Digital Video Broadcasting-Handheld (DVB-H) standard. The DVB-H standards were adopted by South Africa as per the Ministerial Policy Directive of September 2007 and are also consistent with the decisions adopted at the International Telecommunications Union (ITU) Regional Radio Conference of 2006.

    Currently, frequencies are available in Johannesburg, Pretoria, Durban and Cape Town and the areas surrounding this metropolis. It is envisaged that in the future and with the freeing-up of spectrum following the digital migration process, ICASA may extend the coverage to other areas in SA.

    www.icasa.org.za/Licensing/tabid/56/ctl/ItemDetails/mid/695/ItemID/226/D...

    The closing date for the response is 27 February 2009.

    Bizcommunity

  • Broadcasting organizations in Nigeria that still owe the mandatory license fee and the 2.5 percent remittance of their income may have their licenses revoked next year, the National Broadcasting Commission (NBC) has said. NBC Director General Engineer Yomi Bolarinwa said that the Commission would in the coming year drive intensely all efforts to ensure that all owed license fees are collected from defaulting stations.

    Describing the non-payment of the fee as unacceptable, Bolarinwa who spoke at a meeting between the Chief Executives of Broadcasting Stations in the country and NBC tagged Meeting of Terrestrial Radio and Television Licensees in Nigeria noted that the NBC enabling Act is very clear about the non-payment of license fee and the 2.5 percent of the income.

    "One of the reasons by which a license can be revoked is not meeting the financial commitment to the commission, dead line would be given for the payment of the fee, for the license fee, it is less than ten percent, for the 2.5 percent income fee you have over 70 percent owing. It must be paid," he said.

    While frowning at the technical output of the stations, which he described as worrisome, Bolarinwa said, "Noisy or tearing pictures, impaired audio, or audio that rises and falls epileptically is not the standard we want to take to the globalized 21 century of broadcasting".

    In his remarks, Minister of information and communication, John Ogar Odey, who lamented the non-payment of those fees by the broadcasting organizations, warned that the federal government would not condone illegality.

    Daily Trust (Abuja) 16 December 2008

  • - In Ghana, Suhum-based businessman, Frank Amponsah says that his plans to launch a community –based radio station are well-advanced. Speaking to the local press, he explained that the station, which has yet to receive accreditation from the National Media Commission, would operate in the local language.

    - NTV Uganda's 24-hour programming can now be accessed on DStv, thanks to an ongoing pan-African drive by Multichoice to include public broadcasting channels on its pay television bouquet.

    - A broadcast license has been issued to the National Teachers' Institute (NTI) in Nigeria and transmission of programmes has already commenced on its FM radio transmitter. The main aim of the workshop, he said, is to develop "a core of trainers who will subsequently train all NTI's course tutors in different parts of the country". He also said the training will promote an understanding of the nature and principles of tutoring in Open and Distance Learning (ODL).

    -South Africa’s Premier Soccer League has received a unique Christmas gift after a leading European sports television channel made a request to broadcast 200 of its Absa Premiership matches. This was announced by Irvin Khoza, PSL chairman, at a media briefing in Parktown to deal with their achievements in 2008. The interest by Eurosport can be attributed to the success of the PSL, which is now rated among the best 10 financially secure leagues in the world. The PSL was on the verge of clinching a deal with a prospective sponsor, who are reported to have since withdrawn because of the global financial meltdown. The PSL will still have the MTN 8 next season following a request by the sponsors after the success of the inaugural tournament.

    - The Angolan movie director, Henrique Narciso "Dito" announced on Sunday in Luanda that he is preparing his new film entitled "A Guerra do Kuduro", portraying issues around the kuduro music genre and national dance. Speaking to ANGOP, on the fringes of the session of the public sale and autographs of the his DVD film entitled "Assaltos em Luanda II" (Robberies in Luanda II), Dito said that in the new movie he will try to show to the public the reality of kuduro music, its singers and problems. He revealed that the movie will start to be shot this month and the filming should last about two weeks. Henrique Narciso "Dito" also said that after this film he will concentrate on the production and directing of the movie entitled "O homem branco". He added that after these productions he will be making TV series. Henrique Narciso "Dito", to prominence as a film director and producer after releasing the film "Assaltos em Luanda I" and "Assaltos em Luanda II".

distribution

  • The BBC has launched a series of new partnerships with other public service broadcasters that could deliver more than £120 million per year by 2014. This development includes the production, distribution and exploitation of content and offering the BBC’s highly successful iPlayer to other broadcasters and bringing it to the television set.

    One partnership project to deliver on demand TV over broadband is already underway and involves the BBC and ITV together with telco BT. The initiative is open to other public service broadcasters, developers and ISPs.

    Mark Thompson, the director general of the BBC, presented the plans and said the proposed partnership secured the future of public service broadcasting: "We are proposing that the BBC shares some of the benefits of its scale and security with the rest of the industry to strengthen it for the long term.Through partnerships I believe broadcasters can help secure the future of public service broadcasting in this country."

    The partnership, if approved by the BBC Trust (which initiated the challenge in June 2008) and supported by the other partners, will ensure excellent financial benefits not only to the BBC but PSBs as well.

    Other proposals include supporting regional news outside the corporation; sharing digital production technology; investing and sharing technology that will allow a common industry approach to producing, sharing and editing digital content; a co-operation between BBC Worldwide and Channel 4 and sharing public service content across the Internet.

    Five's director of strategy, Charles Constable, released a statement in support of the proposed partnerships: "Five welcomes the proposals the BBC have announced on PSB Partnerships. We believe the ideas they have outlined could make a significant difference to sustaining the Public Service Broadcasting system, in particular sharing the iPlayer and developing IPTV. We look forward to discussing them further with the BBC, ITV and Channel 4."

  • BET Networks has announced that it is now offering BET (Black Entertainment Television) in 29 countries in sub-Saharan Africa on multiple platforms, expanding the channel's international reach that already includes the United States, Canada, the Caribbean and the United Kingdom.

    Through an agreement with GTV, BET will be seen in 21 countries, and through an agreement with MultiChoice, BET will initially launch on DStv in 11 countries.

    Available via DStv's Premium and Compact bouquets, as well as GTV on both English-language bouquets G Plus and G Choice and French-language bouquets G Choix and G Grand, BET will provide consumers in Africa access to the network's top-rated and critically acclaimed shows, including 106 & Park, College Hill, Keyshia Cole: The Way It Is, Baldwin Hills, Real Life Divas, The Bet Honors and Bobby Jones Gospel.

    "Expanding into Africa is an extremely important, exciting and rewarding move for us," said Debra L. Lee, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer, BET Networks. "With our launch in Africa on both GTV and DStv, BET Networks is continuing to build on our commitment of providing high-quality content to international audiences."

    "We're so excited to establish a presence in Africa, as these key partnerships give us valuable scale in the region," said Michael D. Armstrong, Senior Vice President and General Manager, BET International. "Africa makes great strategic sense, and we're confident that we'll continue to grow and deliver content to viewers across the continent who are eager for the programming we offer."

    Commenting on the launch of the channel, MultiChoice Africa CEO Eben Greyling welcomed the new addition to DStv. "Our general entertainment line-up has grown over the past decade to include the world's biggest and best channel brands and the addition of BET to this line-up completes our multi-channel general entertainment offering and means that our subscribers will get the greatest selection of channel choice on DStv."

    "We're delighted to have BET on board," said Julian McIntyre, Founder and Managing Director of GTV. "Our service continues to break new ground in multi-platform content distribution and this partnership reflects our commitment to bring the best tailored content to our viewers at the most competitive costs. This announcement demonstrates again the strengths in content and innovation that position GTV well for sustained growth."

    BET Networks is the leading provider of media and entertainment for African Americans and consumers of Black culture, currently reaching more than 97 million viewers.

  • - Telnet, a Tunisian ICT group is expanding its international operations. The group which has signed a partnership agreement with the American firm Patton Electronics, will conceive innovative products related to broadband access technologies VDSL2, as well as multi- service digital terrestrial television.The products will be made in the US and destined to Africa, the Middle East, as well as to the American market.

investment

  • Vivendi SA’s pay-television unit Canal Plus is in talks to buy pay-TV operator GTV which is seeking as much as $100 million for the pay-TV company, Le Figaro said.

    GTV has 100,000 subscribers in sub-Saharan Africa, compared with 3 million for its competitor Multichoice.

    The South African pay TV operator had sales in the last quarter of about $10 million and a loss of $30,000, and needs 400,000 subscribers to reach breakeven, Le Figaro said.

    Canal Plus Overseas is the biggest pay-TV operator in French-speaking Africa, and the purchase of GTV would add an English-language business, according to the newspaper.

    http://www.bloomberg.com

  • Enugu State Government has approved more than N1 billion for the execution of infrastructural development projects in different parts of the state.

    The Commissioner for Information and Culture, Chuks Ugwoke announced this while briefing the press about the approval given by the State Executive Council at its last weekly meeting in 2008.

    According to the Commissioner, out of the total amount over N978million was for the total rehabilitation and refurbishment of the state owned radio and television stations..

    Ugwoke disclosed that contract for the renovation exercise was awarded to Techno Broadcasting Company, adding that in a matter of months, the broadcasting stations would bounce back to life and function optimally again.

    On the issue of staff welfare of broadcasting stations, he said that government had taken steps to address it in addition to other similar government owned parastatals, adding that at the end of the day, the staff of the broadcasting house and other government owned parastatals would have cause to smile.

    (Leadership (Abuja) 24 December 2008)

  • - In the context of the current economic environment and to respond to the requests for information from our viewers, euronews has created a new programme called business agenda which will highlight the most important business events and decisions that affect or provide insight into the global economy.

regulation & policy

  • The Federal Government has charged all broadcasting media organisations in the country to ensure that all programmes that are broadcast to the viewing public are programmes that would help in deepening positive development of Nigeria.

    Minister of Information and Communication, John Odey, stated this at a meeting with operators of terrestrial radio and television stations. Odey, who was represented by the Director General, NBC, Yomi Bolarinwa, noted that broadcasting is an important tool in influencing the populace, it is therefore crucial for all media outfits in the country to obey the Nigeria Broadcast codes.

    His words, "I appeal to you to intensify your public enlightenment activities to create a national ethos around government programmes, appreciate it, identify with it, and thereby, help to take our nation to the Promised Land."

    He continued, "We can also take direction from the our constitution. We can see that our national ethics include discipline, integrity and the dignity of labour as well as social justice, religious tolerance, self-reliance and patriotism.

    As agenda-setting citizens of Nigeria, it is our duty to rally the Nigerian populace around these wonderful values. We must positively mould the character of Nigerians, especially our youths, whom we must show what is right and what is wrong, and in which direction we must go in order to build the egalitarian society of our dram."

    He also urged reporters and broadcasters to always respect the 1999 Constitution, this will ensure that all media operators do not go wrong in news reporting.

    Director General NBC, Engr. Yomi Bolarinwa, in his welcome address earlier said broadcasting is vital to the development of a nation and Nigeria, and therefore it must be use with "wisdom and vision".

    He condemned some broadcast stations for their choice of words saying, "The commission is deeply concerned that today bad language and swear words, violence, vulgar lyrics and nudity in our musicals are more of the rule than the exception, despite all the monitoring and sanctioning by the commission.

    Vanguard (Lagos) 16 December 2008

  • The Islamist faction that controls the southern Somali port of Kismayo shut down an independent radio station Sunday, Radio Garowe reported. A decree issued by the Islamist Al Shabaab information secretary, Sheikh Hassan Yakub, effectively silenced Radio HornAfrik-Kismayo after accusing the station of "playing music and misreporting the news."

    Ahmed Mohamed "Alanle," the radio's director, said shutting down radio station is part of other media freedom violations under the Islamists. "I can say the radio was shut down as an attack against independent media and to control public information, because the radio aired different political views," Mr. Alanle said.

    Kismayo' s Islamist rulers issued prior decrees curtailing journalists' and media outlets' content, including a ban on all types of music. Alanle said emerging reports indicate that the Islamist administration wants to establish their own radio station "that speaks as their mouthpiece," he added.

    Radio HornAfrik-Kismayo was established in 2005 and is associated with HornAfrik, a Mogadishu-based media organization.

    Garowe Online (Garowe) 14 December 2008

  • - Kenya’s ODM believes the contentious Kenya Communications Act is part of a hidden agenda by some PNU hardliners to retain power in 2012. Three senior ODM Ministers told the Nairobi Star that the Act, which has shaken the stability of the Coalition government, was intended to put pressure on the media. FM and TV stations will have to be friendlier towards those in control of the Communication Commission of Kenya as they will operate under the fear of having their licenses withdrawn if they were deemed to be causing disaffection among the public.

technology & convergence

  • Star Africa Media, a Chinese pay television service provider has introduced the first digital TV sets that receive digital signals before the Christmas break. According to Star Africa Chief Executive Officer, Dr. Ken Xie, this is in line with the government's vision to digitalize the broadcast media by 2012 and the fulfilment of the agreement they had with the Government of Rwanda to help in digitalizing the media.

    The digital TV sets will not need decoders to connect to digital pay TVs like Star Africa, GTV and DSTV. "Our vision is clear; we need to digitalise the population not some people, that's why our services are affordable for all to have access on developmental technology," Xie said in an interview.

    The company which started its operations in Rwanda in June this year, has so far registered 5,000 subscribers and the process to be efficient needs all television stations to also be digitalized in the studio, transmission and receivers in an effort to move from the current analog system to a digital era.

    "Our first eight hundred affordable TV receivers will be on the market by December 16, this year. Our subscribers who will buy these sets will not need decoders to be connected to our network, because the digital receivers have got inbuilt decoders," said Leo Hao, the company's marketing executive.

    Star Africa media, whose official launch was graced by President Paul Kagame, will be the first pay TV to introduce the digital sets in the country and in the region. "It is also the first company to introduce DVB-T technology in Africa," Hao added. Xie, revealed the company's plan to extend their services to Kenya, Uganda, Nigeria and Tanzania very soon, and establish the Africa headquarters in Kigali.

    "By December 16, we will have opened our branch in town, to ease the burden to our clients of coming to the headquarters, and we shall continue to open branches in the whole country to extend our products near the customers," Hao emphasised.

    (The New Times (Kigali) 16 December 2008)

  • Backspace Communications, LLC has delivered their IPTV Power Plant, a complete IPTV / Internet Television system, to Africa. The "IPTV Power Plant" is a complete IPTV solution-in-a-box. The system includes all components necessary to encode, broadcast, manage, and display IPTV and Internet Television. It is shipped pre-racked, pre-cabled, and pre-configured so that all a customer needs to do is to plug in power, video sources, and an Internet connection -- and then begin signing up subscribers for service. Prior to delivery, the system can even be customized with the customer's name and logo on the Interactive Programming Guide and delivered complete with pre-programmed sign-up interfaces. The Backspace Communications "IPTV Power Plant" system allows subscribers to view content on all three screens: a television screen, a computer, or even a mobile device.

    "We view Africa as a strategic growth area," said Fling Traylor, CEO of Backspace. Infonetics reported that Africa has been one of the fastest-growing markets for broadband connections. CTO Joseph Lea added, "As IPTV relies on broadband, we believe that this makes a ripe market for new business models based on Backspace IPTV solutions."

    Backspace Communications offers a full complement of services to providers who wish to begin offering IPTV - the customer experience begins with a new business consultation, realistic advice about equipment requirements, and comes full circle with support consultations. "Since we also built an IPTV broadcast company utilizing our own solution, we completely understand all the challenges someone will face as they start their own venture," says Lea. "We can offer first-hand insight into what it takes to run a broadcast company, bringing knowledge and experience that other IPTV System vendors can't provide to their customers."

more

  • - ICASA’s public hearings on digital migration have revealed concerns that the launching of multiple digital channels will see the market oversubscribed.With so much new air time to choose from, advertisers may migrate from existing channels, namely e.tv’s single channel, SABC’s three channels and M-Net’s three pay-TV channels, to the glut of new channels that will result from the commercial launch of DTT in the second half of next year. And this in an economic environment where adspend is already declining. According to ICASA’s draft regulations, when DTT is a reality, e.tv will have two channels and M-Net four, while the SABC would have five channels for public service broadcasting, two for commercial services and another for community broadcasting.At the hearing ICASA was urged to conduct a review of broadcasting policy before allocating any new channels.

    - Telkom is currently streaming a reality show called Do Band Up through their dedicated broadband portal which is akin to Big Brother. After a national search, 20 musicians were placed in a house in Pretoria for five weeks, living, eating and working together.

    http://www.do.co.za

    - Sadly, veteran Nigerian journalist and ace broadcaster, Alhaji Ahmed Abba Zoru died over Christmas. He was 75 years old.

    -The General Manager (GM) of a Kano-based independent radio station, Freedom Radio also died over Christmas in Cairo, Egypt. A statement by the station's Board of Directors' Chairman, AVM Mouktar Mohammed (rtd), said Malam Umar Dutse Muhammad died in Cairo after a brief illness.

    - On a happier note, the rising star of Cameroon’s STV Constantain Mbom got married to Mercy Ngahene Assama on December 27 in the sea-side resort town of Limbe.

    African Movie Academy Awards calls for entries

    Organizers of the AMAA have released guidelines for the 2009 edition of the awards billed to hold in Yenagoa, the Bayelsa State capital, Nigeria on April 4, 2009. Addressing the media at the Protea Hotel, Maryland, Lagos venue of a press briefing, Chief Executive Officer of AMAA, Mrs. Peace Anyiam-Osigwe said the rules were posted by the academy early for better participation in the 2009 AMAA entries.

    www.amaaward.com

    Still on the issue of entry submission, chairman of AMAA 2009 screening panel, Shaibu Hussein, said producers must ensure that they completely fill out the space provided for synopsis and credits on the application form.

    He said all submissions must be in triplicate and films should be submitted before the set deadline, as any film submitted after the deadline shall not be reviewed.

    "AMAA is an international award thus our criteria’s meet the minimum standards required by the international norm of film submissions. Therefore all films produced other than in English must be fully subtitled in English including pidgin, songs, proverbs, chants and expressions

    info@amaaward.com

    Address for Submission:

    AMAA Secrtariat: ATT: Tony ANIH ,10a Obaladejobi St gra Ikeja lagos Nigeria

    Attention: Ms. Nerissa Solomon

    3 Ferry Street – Unigray – South Hills – Johannesburg – South Africa - 7405

    Filmmakers must guarantee, should their films be selected, that permission from the rights holder are secured. Short films, features and documentaries are accepted for the AMAA,

    AMAA will accept films made by Africans in Africa or the Diaspora, with a particular focus on Africa,"Films must indicate year of copyright and the academy would only accept director’s cut of not more than 120 minutes for entries in 2009," he said.

    info@amaaward.com

    Broadcasting Frequency Planning and Associated Technical Activities of the Sector in Ethiopia

    Danish ICT Management is presently searching for individual experts for the Broadcasting Frequency Planning and Associative Technical Activities of the Sector in Ethiopia. Please indicate to us if you are interested in this project. Also, and if not, please distribute this to personal contacts and networks where you believe that experts could find interest in this. Thank you kindly in advance.

    Application deadline: 12 January 2009

    Contract duration: 80 man-days of total input

    http://www.danishmanagement.dk/

    Objectives of the Assignment: To plan the frequencies assigned to stations of the broadcasting service in accordance with agreed planning principles and policy to provide a well designed, interference free service which is adequate for the current and future needs of national and regional broadcasting services. It should also be noted that the new plan envisages the intricacies of digital radio/TV broadcast migration. It is intended that assignments will be compatible with the allotments and assignments of neighbouring countries included in the various internationally agreed broadcasting plans of the International Telecommunication Union (ITU). The frequencies and other technical criteria relating to stations proposed by the Consultant will also be notified to the ITU for coordination with neighbouring states in accordance with the rules and procedures of the ITU. The Consultant will also address other related technical activities related to the planning and licensing of stations operating in the broadcasting service.

    The Specific objectives and scope of the assignment are:

    * Prepare a comprehensive frequency plan for Digital Radio, VHF Digital TV and UHF Digital TV

    * Suggest the coordination and registration of the plan

    * Develop Policy direction for most convenient digital broadcast migration in Ethiopia

    * Suggest timeframe for set of tasks to be done phase by phase during transition from analogy to digital

    * Recommend appropriate technological option that suits the Ethiopian context

    * Training for EBA, technical personnel on Digital Broadcasting

    * Propose additional analogue VHF frequency to satisfy the current need priority of Digitalization

    Expected Results:

    There shall be three missions to Ethiopia. The first and second missions will be for the preparation of a comprehensive frequency plan for Digital Radio, VHF Digital TV and UHF Digital TV; and to suggest the coordination and registration of the plan. In the final mission: Expert is required to provide training to staff of EBA in Ethiopia.

    Report 1: Providing Progress of Work;

    Report 2: Final Report and End of Term Report providing all work done and accomplished including all documentation of all required outputs.Language: All documents shall be submitted in English.

    Location of the Assignment: Ethiopia and home-based

    Skills/Competences and Qualifications:

    The Short Term Expert will possess a Masters University degree in communication and broadcasting Engineering. Skills and Specialization: The Short Term Expert must be experienced in RF planning of Radio & Television broadcasting services and must have a proven track record working on digital broadcasting and have familiarity working with Government agencies, broadcasting agencies and broadcasting regulators. The Short Term Expert must have at least 6-8 years of progressive working experience in the Radio and Television broadcasting services. Relevant experience with ITU procedures and working manuals will be an added advantage. The expert must be fluent in English.

    Contact person:

    Jane Moeller Larsen

    Danish ICT Management

    Overgaden Neden Vandet 45, 5th floor

    DK-1414 Copenhagen K

    MOBILE: +45 26847817

    skype: janemollerlarsen

    Web: http://www.dictm.dk/

    ITVS International call – Funding opportunity

    ITVS International promotes the exchange of compelling documentary films between the United States and other nations, going beyond stereotypes and headline news to provide television audiences around the world with new insight into the cultures and people that comprise the global community.

    ITVS International Call enables independent producers from outside the United States to create documentaries for US television. Through the Call, storytellers from other countries introduce US audiences to their global neighbours, opening a window into unfamiliar lives, experiences and perspectives from around the world.

    ITVS International Call seeks films in production or post-production phase and encourages independent producers to submit their projects for consideration.

    www.itvs.org/producers/international_guidelines

    Call for Entries to the Wild Talk Africa Film Festival

    The call for Roscar entries is now open. The competition is open to all wildlife, travel and cultural productions. Building on the success from last year’s Awards, six new categories have been added. The Festival will run from 19 – 23 April 2009.

    The categories are now:

    Best Editing - Awarded to the production which displays the most creative editing style.

    Best Cinematography - Awarded to the production which displays the most exceptional camerawork.

    Best Production with a Limited Budget - Awarded to the best production with a budget of less than R5 000 per minute (approximately $650 or £330 per minute).

    Best Children’s Production - Awarded to the best natural history production produced for a children’s audience, aged 12 and under, which stimulates an interest in the natural world.

    Best Environmental and Conservation/Campaign Production- Awarded to the best production which contributes to the awareness of environmental and conservation issues facing the natural world. The production must convey a conservation message and/or a ‘Call to Action’.

    Best Eco-Tourism, Travel and/or Culture Production - Awarded to the best production which promotes tourism of a place, town or country through the use of cultural aspects and wildlife.

    Best Use of Music - Awarded to the production which has the best original music score.

    Best Script - Awarded to the production which, through the use of original storytelling, creates a captivating script.

    Best Series - Awarded to the best series with a natural history theme.

    Best Sound Design - Awarded to the production which, through the creative combination of production mixing, sound editing and post-production mixing, displays an inventive use of sound.

    Best Newcomer - Awarded to a first-time producer (or filmmaker) in the natural history filmmaking arena. To qualify as a newcomer, a filmmaker should have only been producing films or documentaries from January 2007 onwards.

    Outstanding Achievement for African Wildlife Filmmaker - The production shows the unique relationship between Africa’s people and animals. This category can only be entered by a national of an African country.

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