Issue no 49 5 March 2009
Africa’s first full-blown media market started with a bang last week in Senegal’s Dakar. Over 400 people came to the event to either sell programming or buy it and Dakar’s Pullman Terranga was like an ant-heap as people moved between a seemingly endless succession of meetings. Both large and small distributors were there selling international content but there were also a small number of companies (successfully) selling local African content. Russell Southwood was there and wanted to find out what’s happening in the market.
Because DISCOP was held in Dakar, there were a great deal more francophone participants than might have been the case had it been held in an Anglophone location. Indeed all the main country language groupings - including Arabic North Africa, the lusophone countries and Africa’s only Spanish-speaking country Equatorial Guinea - were in attendance.
Media markets outside of America took off when American producers were no longer able to raise 100% of their production budgets in their home market and increasingly turned first to Europe and then other emerging markets to make up the shortfall. So in a time when the US TV industry is probably in the worst shape that it’s been for a decade, there was a sharp realization even amongst major producers of the need to find secondary revenues in new markets.
On the African side of the transaction, the media market gave tangible evidence to those who might only of previously dreamed of it that there was value in African programming, both for sales across the continent and internationally. The channels launched for the African diaspora in Paris by Thema were one type of example and the existence of new channels like Vox Africa and The Africa Channel were other examples. But there were also individual producers like Kenya’s Mediae (Makutano Junction), South Africa’s African Soccer, Ghana’s VTV and Senegal’s Picture Box who were all attracting interest and business.
International distributors were puzzled to find people not always turning up for arranged meetings but most discovered that the gaps were filled by people just coming by unplanned. A small number of companies seemed very tentative. One TV company had no prices for its programming as it said “we’re just looking at the state of the market”. Another was only able to give prices for its films if you e-mailed it after the market was over.
Kenya’s Citizen TV was there and told us that the last available audience data from the Steadman Group showed that it now had number one audience share in the all-important 6-9pm slot. It has built this position by investing in local content and developing shows that have garnered a strong following.
However it is one of only a handful of TV stations on the continent to invest in building itself this position through making its own shows. Outside of South Africa and Nigeria, there are almost no production budgets and relatively low rights acquisition budgets. But without having some distinctive local content (not just studio-based news and talk shows), African TV stations will struggle to keep market share. Local content always pulls the best audiences. The Nigerian Government clearly wishes to encourage this trend as it has passed legislation insisting that all TV stations only show local content between 6-10pm every evening.
One of the local content “pearls” of the event was DStv talking about its African film library. Through running its Africa Magic and Africa Magic Plus channels, it has acquired a significant catalogue of titles and has the potential to become the “MGM of Africa” in distribution terms.
Interestingly, Canal Plus has no francophone equivalent of these “made in Africa” channels although it would clearly like to if it could find the material. The problem? Francophone African countries make films that win prizes at European festivals but do not have the kind of instinct for the commercial jugular that Nigerian film-makers display.
Many African TV stations seem to be stuck in the “barter zone” where they essentially sell off short-term risk to anyone who will pay. There is an uneasy triangle of programme-makers, sponsors or advertisers and TV stations. The sponsor fronts the production budget in exchange for largely exclusive branding and the programme maker and/or the sponsor take a cut of whatever other advertising revenues can be found.
But as conference speaker Karina Etchison, VP Sales Europe, Africa and Middle East, Telemundo Internacional pointed out “you lose strategic control” and it “may become a bit addictive.” STV’s President Daniel David from Mozambique was complaining about precisely this loss of control: sponsors were insisting on keeping branding for products that were not available in his country and excluding local advertisers. He suggested the creation of local barter syndicates to address these problems.
But there is a bigger issue with whole African production ecology. Most TV channels produce in-house so there is no independent production and post production sector outside the larger markets. In-house production does not always breed creative ideas. New breed production companies like Gabon’s Buldof are seeking to bridge this gap by offering sponsors professional formats, an element of media planning and multi-platform delivery (including SMS and Internet).
But carving out a unique programming niche will have to be achieved under the most intense competitive pressure. Dakar itself will shortly have 7 television stations, not including the three Pay-TV channels you can get if you can afford them or can pirate a service.
The impact of Pay-TV competition from MMDS distributors like Excaf and Delta has forced Canal Plus to offer a low-cost bouquet in the market. But there is a tension between what conference speaker Mactar Sylla described as content being offered as in “a superstore” where you could buy what you wanted and the allegations made by the association of francophone TV companies that one of the Pay-TV channels has key premium content locked up.
The licence for Youssou NDour’s Future Media TV station is said to be two months away. Mamadou Baal, Directeur de la Television for the Government-financed RTS channel admitted on a Vox Africa TV round table that the pressure was intense but thought himself lucky to have a Government that put up some of its funding.
Further afield Lagos now has 13 television stations and perhaps three main Pay-TV channels. Kinshasa has over 40 television stations, many of which simply show pirated television content: there is no market research to identify how many people watch any of these channels. In this circumstance, no channel will get more than 20-30% of audience share on a regular basis.
Viasat’s entry into the Free-To-Air market in Ghana has certainly ruffled feathers in what was becoming a rather stable market. One local channel was muttering darkly that it had forced up rights acquisition costs and another was saying that the Government-run GTV was bringing down ad rates and were the only ones with national coverage. And there is still another channel to be launched: watch this space. It’s tough staying upright on a rolling log but if you don’t like the sport, stay at home.
Liberalisation has had a different impact in different countries. In places like Senegal, Ghana and Kenya, the new TV stations are largely independent of the Government but in places like Gabon, liberalization has merely meant the sharing out of business opportunities amongst the business elite, where ownership is closely associated with the ruling party.
There was much comment about LC2’s behaviour with the premium Africa Cup of Nations rights. African TV stations found they were offered them at a silly price and then just before the event, it came back and said, as one TV station told us, “we’re happy to take the peanuts you’re offering us.” Net result? No forward marketing of the event, no pre-programming and as a result, not always the highest advertising and viewership. Is this any way to build the long-term value of Africa’s key sporting event?
The death of Pay-TV challenger GTV attracted much comment and for many there was disappointment that it had not been successful as they felt there was a need for competition in this market. Never one to run away from a challenge, Hi-TV’s CEO Toyin Subair proposed in his conference speech sharing satellite capacity with other smaller, country Pay-TV operators and seeking to put together a consortium to bid for the English Premier League Rights when they come up for sale again in 2010.
24-hour kids channel Nickelodeon Africa (DStv Channel 305) is planning to make waves in Southern Africa this year with a host of activities designed to highlight the appeal of the channel to consumers and business audiences alike.
Key plans for 2009 include the launch of on- and off-air marketing opportunities for brands and companies targeting kids 2-14. Later this year, Nickelodeon Africa will offer advertisers the opportunity to target kids from pre-school to high school by opening up commercial airtime on the channel and a host of integrated sponsorship opportunities.
On the distribution front, Nickelodeon will be identifying new opportunities to grow its reach in Africa and increase the number of branded Nickelodeon programming blocks on terrestrial broadcasters throughout the continent outside of South Africa.
Off-air, Nickelodeon & Viacom Consumer Products will be focusing on the rollout of comprehensive consumer products programmes for multi-million selling licensing phenomena SpongeBob SquarePants and Dora the Explorer. Nickelodeon will be working with licensing agency, Character Licensing & Marketing (CLM), to promote key categories such as toys, gifts, apparel, housewares and home entertainment.
Further highlights of Nickelodeon’s year will include additional marketing support for Nickelodeon via live events and personal appearances by Nickelodeon characters. To celebrate the landmark 10th anniversary of cult seasponge, SpongeBob SquarePants, dedicated marketing activations and programming have been scheduled in three key periods throughout the year starting April 2009.
Executive director of the movie, 'Waking the Dead' Tuesday said the film is a true life encounter narrating the ordeal of a media practitioner in the country. The film will be premiered on March 21 at the Miatta conference hall in Freetown.
Sulaiman Stephens told Mid Week Entertainment that the objective of the movie is to ask questions about the true cause of the death of a journalist. He said the movie is centered on a journalist who was a victim of intimidation and violence.
"The film is telling the story of a fictitious writer Jenner Cole, a corporate executive who doubles as a leisure writer/novelist who attempts to investigate the story of Sorie Sawaneh (the dead journalist)," he said.
Stephens said Cole's interest in the story arose from the seeming natural death the matter suffered during the judicial process and wanted to publish his version based on independent research.
Concord Times Freetown
The Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) blamed media organisations in the country for distorting the banks' decision to curb excessive publicity and advertisements. In a statement posted on its website CBN it said at no time did Professor Chukwuma Soludo ban commercial banks from advertising their products. It was widely reported on Sunday that CBN had banned banks from advertising.
The statement signed by bank's Head of Media Festus Odoko reads in part: "From news reports making the rounds among media houses, the Central Bank of Nigeria has observed a deliberate attempt at distorting the decision jointly taken at the last Bankers' Committee Meeting held Friday, February 13, 2009.
"The CBN Governor Prof Chukwuma C. Soludo while briefing the media on Friday, February 13, 2009, after the Bankers' Committee Meeting, conveyed the decision that in order to curtail excessive competition, banks should moderate the fanfare with which they publish their annual financial accounts, limiting it to a half-page black and white advert in two national newspapers of their choice. Similarly that the publication of half-yearly and quarterly financial statements should be limited to quarter page black and white in two national dailies.
For the past few years, the Ugandan film industry has attracted a couple of foreign directors and producers. Some have come from Nigeria and others from Hollywood. The latest actor with a keen interest in Uganda's film industry is Tanzania's Abedi Zakwani. This actor, director, screenwriter and producer is set to make his next movie from here.
"The film interest in Uganda is not great probably because of lack of knowledgeable promoters and a weak copyright law," he says. He has a film company called Zingzong (French for togetherness or solidarity). In Kampala the 14 member group is based in Kabalagala.
"The movie they are currently working on is entitled Money is Not Everything. The notion is that there are people with money but are unhappy while there are those with little money who are contented."
The story revolves around two boys, one from a rich family and the other from a poor family. Zakwani says the shooting of this movie has already begun and is expected to end on March 5. The film involves different film groups in Kampala with different members of different nationalities.
- Principal photography commenced in South Africa on a Warner Bros Pictures as-yet-untitled drama, being directed by four-time Oscar winner Clint Eastwood (Million Dollar Baby, Unforgiven). The film stars Academy Award winners Morgan Freeman (The Dark Knight, Million Dollar Baby) and Matt Damon (the Bourne franchise, Good Will Hunting).
- An ANC commercial with the look and sound of a high-budget film will be the first on the air under new South African rules allowing political parties to advertise on television. The African National Congress will flight this two-minute advertisement on SABC 1. The Democratic Alliance plans to reply with a 60-second advertisement on SABC 2 on Monday .
On October 10, 2003, the Adventist Television Network (ATN) launched Hope Channel on its over 50 free broadcasting satellite with the concept of encouraging positive lifestyle television for the whole family.
With the 'fast life' programming of most commercial television that has in most cases corrupted morals of both the young and old people, Hope's mission is to convert, nurture and keep people in Christ Jesus. "Hope's mission is to send the message of Jesus and his return into a lost world. Even as God made the gospel accessible to all cultures on the day of Pentecost.
Like many emerging independent, Christian radio and television, Hope released the viewership monopolised by commercial channels, to offer a difference bouquet. Copperbelt field president of the Seventh-Day Adventist (SDA) Church, Webster Chabe said youths today have deviated from their parents dictates, and behave under the influence of television.
Christopher Mwampokota, who is Hope Channel co-ordinator in Zambia said that Hope administration from the SDA world headquarters in America intends to promote viewership of Hope pragrammes, as a way of evangelising God's word.
Mwampokota said that as a way of promoting Hope viewership in Zambia, the church intends to erect small antennas across the country called low power television that will transmit Hope programmes free of charge to interested families.
The Times of Zambia
The former General Secretary of the New Patriotic Party (NPP), Dan Kwaku Botwe has accused the Director General of the Ghana Broadcasting Corporation (GBC), William Ampem Darko of doing everything possible to please the new National Democratic Congress (NDC) government in order to protect his job.
He said, William Ampen Darko is a strong NPP man who on two occasions contested the NPP primary in Eastern region and lost, but because the party has lost power, he is trying to please the government to protect his job.
Dan Botwe, who is the Member of Parliament for Okere, was reacting to Ampen Darko's open confession on Peace FM that he personally stopped last week's breakfast show on Ghana Television, because the panel was not properly constituted.
The Okere MP said he was surprised with the behaviour of the GBC Director because he did not see anything wrong with two sympathisers of NPP and one from NDC being empanelled to discuss the State of the Nation address, which was delivered by the President. He noted that what the GBC Director General did was very disgraceful and should have apologized to the viewing public instead of trying to justify the action.
Reacting to Hon. Botwe's accusation through the same medium, Ampem Darko admitted that he once contested in NPP primary, but said since he became the Director General of GBC, he had never attended any NPP rally because his new position is supposed to be non-political.
Stating an hypothetical situation, he challenged Hon. Dan Botwe, who once served as the Minister of Information in the past NPP government, about how he would have reacted if GTV had empanelled names like Dr. Tony Aidoo and Baba Jamal against only one NPP person to discuss the State of the Nation address by former President Kufuor.
He dismissed suggestions that he was helping NDC in order to protect his job, saying that the Media Commission appointed him and not the government. He insisted that he was discharging his duty as a Public servant.
The Ghanaian Chronicle
The management of Southern Sudan Television has cut down religious content to news coverage of main festivals in the mostly Christian semi-autonomous region.
SSTV Acting Director, Faris Matthew, issued an order pinned on a public notice board, saying the public station shall not air any religious programs.
The order added that coverage of religious activities shall be limited to major holidays and events, and these are to be treated as news items. However, the order does not specify the major holidays and events.
The order limiting religious coverage on SSTV has caused some unease among many of its staff who alerted Catholic radio Bakhita FM and expressed their displeasure.
Algoa FM's Wayne Hart is getting a crack at the big time on Monday 2 March. Hart will be anchoring afternoon drive during weekdays and will host the show with Lauren Mungur. Programme Director Alfie Jay: “Wayne is an exceptional young talent who is celebrated by his on air peers and we are proud to have him on our team.”
Current afternoon drive anchor, Lance Du Plessis will take over the mid morning show from Charl Leslie who relocates to lunch.
Charlton Tobias vacates the 5am to 6am hour to make way for Selwyn Willis who will present a new 3am to 6am show. The only shows not affected by the weekday changes are the morning show with Daron Mann, Carol-Ann Kelleher and Charlton Tobias; early evenings with Briony Sparg and the Love Zone with Viv Bozack. KayCee Russouw will be presenting the midnight to 3am slot.
Weekends are also getting a newer look. Daron Mann comes out of weekend retirement to present Saturday breakfast. Wayne Hart moves to Saturday lunch; Viv Bozack to Saturday afternoons and Doreen Loubser will present “Your 80'S” between 6pm and 9pm. Unaffected on a Saturday are the Top 30 with Lance Du Plessis and the party show with Craig Ross.
Sunday breakfast will be hosted by Selwyn Willis who takes over from Pieter Du Bois who is leaving the station.
Kaycee Russouw takes over the 3pm to 6pm show and Craig Ross will present the Love Zone between 9pm and midnight. Unaffected on a Sunday are the Glory Days with Charl Leslie; Sunday lunch with Gordon Graham and the Reflective SA Radio Chart with Briony Sparg. The changes to Algoa FM's line-up take effect on Monday 2 March.
Optimum Media Prime (OMP), the exclusive Global media and TV rights holders of the Black Stars World Cup/Africa Cup home matches has presented GH ¢97,500 cheque to the Ghana Football Association(GFA) at the GFA Secretariat in Accra.
The short presentation was the third installment by OMP, as part of its obligation as the exclusive Global Media and TV rights holders of the Stars' second round World Cup/Nations Cup games.
The President of the FA, Mr. Kwesi Nyantakyi noted that: "Government alone can't shoulder the financial burdens of our national teams, hence the need for financial assistance from corporate institutions."
He commended OMP for displaying high sense of professionalism and honesty by honouring its financial pledge, saying "We are grateful for living up to your contractual agreement, we really appreciate the healthy relationship existing between us."Broadcasting is not free, it's a commercial property which must be exploited for the cause of the game," said the FA boss.
The Chief Executive Officer of OMP, Fadi Fattal, noted that the gesture forms part of his outfits social responsibility and hanker to take soccer and sports in general to a higher pedestal.
Ghanaian Chronicle Accra
The Cape Film Commission (CFC) has set off on an ambitious strategy to turn Cape Town and the Western Cape into a globally competitive film industry destination. Major deals on the cards includes seven major film productions, including a number of Bollywood productions to Cape Town within the first quarter of 2009 and another animated feature film also scheduled to go into production in early 2009.
The Human Factor, a movie about South Africa winning the Rugby World Cup in 1995, will commence production soon, and will be directed by Oscar-winner Clint Eastwood, with international film stars Morgan Freeman and Matt Damon. It is based on the book The Human Factor: Nelson Mandela and the Game that changed the world.
What is probably South Africa's first full-length CGI film, Lion of Judah, was also produced in Cape Town and is set for international release later in year.
In a recent interview, the optimistic CFC commissioner Laurence Mitchell stated, “Cape Town and the Western Cape is set to become a global film industry destination and that 2009 will be a crucial year during which we will have to up our game as the rest of the world would have taken notice”.
Mitchell firmly believes that the hard work and investment into the Cape Film industry over the past seven years is now paying healthy dividends. He particularly highlighted the importance of the tri-party investment into the film industry by the Provincial Government, the City of Cape Town and the film industry as a whole.
During 2008, 22 features films and series were filmed in Cape Town.
The recent CPA survey, which was also funded by the Cape Film Commission, also illustrated that Cape Town still remains the most popular destination for international commercials. In addition, Cape Town has become the home of Bollywood films in SA and several Bollywood films such as Seasons Greetings, Life Partner and 8 by 10 (Tasveer) were shot in Cape Town during 2008.
The CFC is planning to launch an Online Location Service in March 2009 which it claims will be the first of its kind in South Africa. It will hold online Industry specific information about profiled locations such as images, GPS maps, rules and regulations, as well as registration processes, and the site user will also have the ability to perform various functions against the location, such as short-listing and identifying the location contacts and search for a diverse range of film locations in Cape Town and the Western Cape by selecting a region or a type from the category list.
The CFC will also within the next few months launch the Cape Film Industry's Green Campaign, which is aimed at committing the film industry in becoming a clean and environmentally friendly industry.
As part of the CFC's strategy to drive a strong new media campaign, it has earmarked animation as a critical growth area over the next few years and to this end the CFC and Animation SA have agreed to a public private partnership aimed at collaboration in marketing, developing and supporting the animation industry in the Western Cape and SA. It is the intention to grow the Animation industry in Cape Town and South Africa quite rapidly over the next 10 years and with its fruition it should have the capacity to employ more than 10 000 animators at a given time.
This animation programme is set to kick off with the establishment of an Animation Film Resource Centre in the Khayelitsha/Mitchells Plain area. Recruitment on this project will commence towards the end of February 2009.
The 2010 FIFA World Cup also present serious opportunities for growth and development in the film industry and CFC has already started to map out certain projects which it has to do in order to prepare the film and television industry in the Western Cape.
The highlight for the Cape film industry will be the Imbongi Awards, scheduled for late March 2009. These awards will be recognising, rewarding and honoring individuals and companies for outstanding achievement in pre-production, production and post-production work within the Cape film industry.
- Africalia will present its Cinetoile project, a network for the distribution of African films present in 8 African countries at FESPACO this week. It will also give an example of a Cinetoile open-air screening at Sapone, 30 kilometres from Ouagadougou. It will show the latest documentary by Angèle Diabang Brenner and co-produced by Africalia, entitled “Yandé Codou, la griotte de Senghor” in the presence of the Director herself. This screening will be organised by CNA burkinabé, Cinetoile’s local partner.
- In a decision that will have relevance for francophone Africa, France Telecom's Orange brand has seen its rights to deliver exclusive coverage of the French premier football league suspended by the Commercial Court of Paris, according to local press reports, after complaints by rival telcos SFR and Free alleging unfair competition were upheld. According to reports in Les Echoes, the court found Orange guilty of unfair competition, as the football content is only available to its ADSL subscribers, allowing it to win customers from its competitors. The court ordered France Telecom, under penalty of EUR 50,000 per day for three months, starting in one month's time, to provide a wholesale offer to all distributors of TV channels, including Internet service providers, cable and satellite operators.
In fulfillment of the implementation of recommendations of the communiqué on the media strategy committee headed by Mallam Danladi Bako, Governor Aliyu Wamakko has approved the restructuring of media organizations in Sokoto State.
This was contained in a press release signed on behalf of the state Commissioner for Information, Mallam Dahiru Maishanu by its Director of Information, Mallam Ibrahim Adamu yesterday. He said Governor Aliyu Magatakarda Wamakko in line with his promise to fully implement the recommendations of the media and strategy committee approved the restructuring with immediate effect. He stated that the three media organizations; Rima Radio, Rima Television and Sokoto Newspaper Company would each be headed by a General Manager below whom would be the managers in charge of various departments.
The commissioner stressed that under the new dispensation, the media corporation ceases to exist and both Rima Radio and Rima Television would now have their own managements separately and operate independently. He added that Governor Wamakko had also in line with new structure approved the appointment of General Managers to head the three media establishments, noting that those appointed are, Alhaji Wafee Ahmadu Suka, GM Rima Television, Alhaji Shehu Muhammad Gidawa, GM Rima Radio and Alhaji Abu Shekara, GM, Sokoto Newspaper Company. The release further stated that the former Managing Director of the defunct media corporation, Alhaji Muhammadu Sani has been directed to report to the office of the Secretary to the State Government while the former Acting Managing Director of Sokoto Newspaper Company, Alhaji Garba Hassan is to revert to his position as Manager Production of the company.
The commissioner at a meeting with outgoing Managing Directors thanked them for the services they rendered to the state government in their various capacities, stressing that the decision to effect the changes was based on the media strategy committee and more importantly to improve performance of the affected organizations for the overall development of the state.
Potential investors will at last be able to see the scale of audiences and market share of different players in Rwanda. The Rwanda Media High Council (MHC) is carrying out a national survey on media audience and readership, the first of its kind in the country.
"Incisive Africa", a Kigali based research and consulting company that won the tender to take on the survey, on Monday held a consultative meeting with various media practitioners in Kigali to touch base on the feasibility of the survey.
Expected results from the survey will reflect the basic statistics on the state and practice of media industry in the country, in a move to improve on their activities and their impact on the community.
The Executive Secretary of the MHC, Patrice Mulama, said the survey has great potential to develop the media industry in Rwanda. "It is not possible to develop the media industry without having basic information about it," he said, adding that the results from the survey will also help to attract more investors in the field.
Mulama disclosed that the survey will help establish which type of media reaches deeper into the corners of the country, how their programmes are appreciated by the audiences from their own perspectives, and what challenges the media is facing today.
He was also quick to praise the Incisive Africa methodology of consulting different stakeholders before heading to the field for research, which according to him will make the questionnaires stronger enough to touch on different points of view from the audience.
The Director of Incisive Africa, Kenn Ndirangu, explained that the overall sample of the survey will consist of two thousand respondents aged 16 and above, gathered from two hundred total sampling points that will be selected throughout both urban and rural areas of the country.
The timeline for this survey shows that the fieldwork execution will be completed by early April, and the final report is expected in mid June this year.
The New Times
- In line with the existing strong relations between Eritrea and Egypt and the understanding reached between the information ministries of both countries, an advanced training dealing with satellite works was given in Asmara to ERI-TV technicians. The training provided by an Egyptian expert of satellite transmission, Eng. Abdulaziz Fewuzi, was focused on satellite communications and information system, as well as sound and distribution of live transmission system. Commending the dedication and competence of the technicians who took part in the training, Eng. Abdulaziz stated that the Eritrean media infrastructure is quite sophisticated in all standards, especially the introduced advanced technology and digitalized system.
- In order to enhance educational broadcast in the country, the Japanese government will tomorrow hand over a 200KW Medium Wave Transmitter to the Federal Radio Corporation of Nigeria (FRCN) in Kaduna.
- Satellite operator SES Astra has a 20% shareholding in South Africa’s new pay TV operator ODM (which will launch in September) but Viasat got out because under South African law it was not able to take a larger shareholder.
- Benin’s Imanle Africa TV is seeking a licence to operate a Pay-TV service.
A day after being sworn into office, Jameson Timba, the Deputy Minister of Media, Information and Publicity says his immediate task will be to restore media freedom in the country.
He said this will include working on the immediate return of closed publications and the freeing of the airwaves. Timba will work alongside ZANU PF Minister Webster Shamu, who has reportedly ordered the state media to start reforming by toning down it's inflammatory language against the MDC.
It is understood Timba, the outgoing chairman of the Association of Private Schools and a media columnist, has laid out a plan that he has already presented to Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai that will involve asking Parliament to repeal the government's tough media legislation. He has also promised to look into the issue of banned international news organisations such as the BBC and CNN. He has pointed out that the Global Political Agreement, signed by all parties to the inclusive government, calls for the country's tough media laws to be changed and to allow private radio, television and daily newspapers to operate under a unity government.
Zimbabwe's Access to Information and Protection of Privacy Act (AIPPA), is currently one of the harshest media laws in the world, under which journalists can be jailed for two years for working without a licence from the state Media and Information Commission.
The Criminal Codification Act imposes sentences of up to 20 years in jail on journalists or other citizens, convicted of publishing false information or statements that are prejudicial to the state.
A source told us the Zimbabwe Union of Journalists was preparing to make its representations to the new ministers, on the need to speed up the process and ensure they start work on the deregulation of the draconian media laws.
Sunsley Chamunorwa, a former editor of the Financial Gazette, said; 'If the state media can criticise the government and report things as they are and allow other media players to operate, only then can we say there seems to be some kind of reform in the country.'
SW Radio Africa
The Lower Chamber of Parliament yesterday unanimously passed the law governing the media after agreeing to all amendments made by a joint ad hoc committee.
Media practitioners' watched expectantly from the public gallery of the Kimihurura-based parliament, as the lawmakers calmly voted for the motion endorsing the media bill from the first article to the last.
"The law we are going to endorse has taken so long we are going to make our final decision because media practitioners and the government have for long waited for this law," Speaker Rose Mukantabana, told the lawmakers before they started casting their votes.
The law was voted unanimously by the lawmakers by calling their names and according to Bernadette Kanzayire, the chairperson of the parliamentary standing committee on political affairs, all articles in the bill were thoroughly studied in various consultations.
Kanzayire was also heading the ad hoc committee between lawmakers from both houses that had earlier been put in place to scrutinise the proposed amendments in the bill made by the upper chamber.
Among the provisions in the Act is the article that will compel all print media outlets to indicate on each copy, the number of copies to be printed and distributed for that particular edition. The Media High Council is responsible for enforcing this provision.
"Most of the articles are good, but I am worried some articles will give us limitations on access to information," a local journalist who preferred to remain anonymous said after parliament endorsed the bill.
The law will also compel sources to reveal information and sets fines for contravention that range from Rwf 100,000 to 300,000.
Meanwhile, it was agreed in the ad hoc committee that the amount of money required as start-up capital to set up a media house would be determined by a ministerial decree. In the draft bill forwarded by government to parliament, it had been proposed that any investor who wants to set up a print media outlet was required to have at least Rwf 6m as capital while radio stations and televisions were expected to have start-up capital of Rwf 50million and 100million respectively.
The New Times
- A minister in Somalia's new 'unity government' has declared war against the Horn of Africa country's free press, Radio Garowe reports. Abdirahman Ibbi, the new Minister of Fisheries and Marine Resources, told reporters that the Somali government will fight against the independent press "similar to the war against the warlords." Minister Ibbi accused Somali journalists of "misreporting political developments" and "exaggerating the government's mistakes.” Yusuf Ali "Farey," a Somali journalist rights leader in Mogadishu, angrily responded to Minister Ibbi's comments, saying: "The media is not hiding anyone's mistakes, because the media is neutral."
- The controversial Broadcasting Amendment Bill, which South African President Kgalema Motlanthe had sent back to Parliament unsigned, was adopted by the National Assembly after the necessary changes were made to bring it in line with the constitution.
The Independent Communications Authority (Icasa) unexpectedly withdrew an invitation to apply for mobile TV licences last week. Icasa wanted to finalise its digital migration policy and the frequency band plan before licensing these services, its press release said.
But Icasa does not need to have the digital migration policy in place to license mobile TV, according to analyst David Moore of Africa Analysis. Moore said the mobile operators and MultiChoice have been ready to launch commercial mobile TV services since 2007, when their trial period was due to end.
"All they need is for some spectrum to be assigned to them (and the licence of course), everything else is in place. The continued delaying of licensing is holding back the industry, and damages confidence in the local telecoms sector."
He said the digital migration policy, which would govern the switch from analogue to digital TV broadcasting, should have been finalised before the switchover began in November.
The communications department has committed itself to a November 2011 deadline, by which time digital migration must have been completed and the analogue TV signal would be switched off.
"Attempting to finalise policy while you are in the midst of enacting that same policy will just cause confusion and trouble further down the line," he said. Moore speculated that Icasa could have unannounced plans for the spectrum .
"Initially the department wanted a single mobile TV transmission network which would be shared by operators," Moore said. But the proposal was withdrawn after the operators reacted strongly. "This could be a delaying tactic in order to re-instigate that proposal," he said.
Ugandans have been blasted for not being in sync with the "information society." If it was because of a lack of opportunity to match along with the rest of the world, then that is set to be corrected.
Uganda telecom (Utl) recently launched a new hotspots service at Kyoto Restaurant. There have been hotspots for a time now but Utl is now making it easier to surf the internet at its hotspots.
"The payment mode will be executed on an sms based platform," explained Charlotte Kemigyisha, acting marketing manager. The system eliminates the on-site attendants, scratch cards and IT specialists. The hotspots are located at hotels, restaurants and cafes. At all locations will have a sign post indicating that it is a Utl hotspot.
A number of journalists were on hand to try out the service at Kyoto Restaurant last week. With every thing put on a silver platter, it is time Ugandans enjoyed the luxury of having a snack, coffee or soft drink while at the same time, be able to surf the Internet.
The New Vision
- Sajen Production, a Sierra Leoneon film production company has launched its new website: www.sajenpro.com
- When disaster strikes anywhere in the world Radio Netherlands Worldwide will go into action as an international disaster service. RNW will not only report on the events, it will provide a complete information service for any Dutch victims, those in trouble and their relatives. With special broadcasts, a separate website and mobile phone platforms all serving to keep the audience constantly up to date. RNW expects the disaster service to go into operation by spring 2009.
- Nelson Chamisa, the Minister of Information and Communications Technology, has accused ZANU PF's Webster Shamu, the Information and Publicity Minister, of 'over-chewing' into his mandate and trying to usurp his responsibilities.
Chamisa's ministry primarily oversees the posts and telecommunications sector, while Shamu runs the publicity arm of government, including broadcaster ZBC and the state owned newspapers. Shortly after the MDC Minister held a meeting with officials from mobile phone provider NetOne, fixed line operator TelOne and the Postal and Telecommunications Regulatory Authority of Zimbabwe, about the high tariff charges affecting consumers, Shamu proceeded to have another meeting with the same group.
- The Mozambican government on Tuesday dismissed the chairperson of the board of directors of the publicly-owned Mozambican Television company (TVM), Simao Anguilaze. His term of office had come to an end in December 2008, and the government declined to offer him a second three year term. Instead, it appointed Bernardo Mavanga as the new head of TVM. Whereas Anguilaze had built a career in television, Mavanga's experience is as a print journalist. For a decade, from 1993 to 2003, Mavanga was director of the country's main daily paper, "Noticias".
- CNBC Africa has announced the departure of its sales director, Susie White, who played a major role in implementing the company's sales and marketing strategy. White lead the sales team in Johannesburg, in addition to sales executives based in the offices in Cape Town, Nairobi, Lagos and Abuja.
Rwanda: Fifth Film Festival to Be Held in June
This year's film festival has been pushed to June in order for it to coincide with the popular annually celebrated Gorilla Naming Ceremony commonly known as Kwita Izina.
This was revealed Sunday evening by the founder of the Rwanda Cinema Centre (RCC), Eric Kabera, at an event held to encourage Rwandans to take ownership of the theatre complex currently under construction.
According to Kabera, the decision to push the festival forward, which normally takes place in March annually, was for it to coincide with the Kwita Izina week to allow more film makers to attend.
"June is the best time for this festival since many tourists will be in Rwanda for the annual gorilla naming ceremony- Kwita Izina. I therefore call upon all interested companies to support the festival," he said. He said that the decision to postpone the event was taken after consultations with the Ministry of Sports and Culture.
"This year's festival will be better and bigger, we will invite film makers from across the globe to witness and participate. I am also glad that many of you have taken ownership of this complex (Rwanda Cinema Centre), by committing to own chairs in the theatre," Kabera added. The Rwanda Film Centre, is a local body whose aim is to promote the country's film industry.
At a recent event that was held at the film centre's almost complete theatre, Rwandans were called upon to permanently own sitting space through pledging and paying for the theatre's seats.
North American Jennifer Bruneti is one of the centre's mentors, according to her; many film producers have already shown an interest to film in Rwanda. "It is a call for me to volunteer at the centre and I hope my contribution helps towards the success of this film centre. This year, the National Geographic has agreed to film here and many other producers are also interested," Bruneti said.
6th Edition of BobTV in Nigeria
The role of the Nigerian media in the global information exchange, would be a hot topic by the first week of March, when the cream of the Nigerian broadcasters, film makers and their counterparts across the globe would gather at the Ladi Kwali Conference Centre Abuja to discuss ways of consolidating on the Nollywood phenomenon.
That actually flags off the 6th edition of the African Film and television programmes expo tagged BOBTV, initiated by a veteran Nigeria film maker, Amaka Igwe.
The unique aspect of the 2009 edition of this expo is that the media and how it has fared in the global information exchange would be lead discussion and prominent Lawyer and human rights activist, Chief Mike Ozekhome is slated to deliver his findings on the issue as the opening paper at the show.
Explaining why Ozekhome comes handy for this onerous task of x-raying the media, BOBTV festival director, Amaka Igwe, said that "he has been an advocate for change and a culture of excellence for a long time. We feel that lending a voice like his to a discussion on how our stories are being told through various forms of media will be instructive."
The theme for BOBTV 2009 is “Consolidating the Phenomenon: Nollywood” and this year’s event is shaping up to be glorious with world class line up of events. BOBTV 2009 4 day event would include among others
* “Women in Movies” - Movies by women, for women about women
* RMD Hosts Hlomla (Jacob of Jab’s Cross) in a Q&A session
* National convention of Licensed Distributors - National Film and Video Censors Board
* Workshop on Nigerian Content - Production, delivery and Pricing - NBC
* World Premiere of “Ebuwa” - “Edo state film on Human Trafficking and Prostitution”
* “Delegate Dinner” with the Honourable Senator Ayogu Eze
* Manpower needs & Development in the Media Industries - Amsco/IFC & UNDP
* International Conference on Digital capture and Delivery - Adobe & HP
* Investment in Africa - Financing the entertainment Industry - SEAR Africa & Makeda FUNDS
* Annual Lecture, workshop and Awards - Nigerian Film Corporation
* Seminar on Film as a Tool for National Orientation - NOA
* Master classes/Training on Film, Media and TV programmes Production
* Nigeria First Movie Initiative - Yakadi Group, NTA & Bank PHB
* University Challenge amongst 26 Universities - Topic for this year, “Impact your world”
* Best of the Best Awards - to Bukky Ajayi Nkem Owoh, Okey Ogunjiofor, Lekan Ogunbanwo,Zainab Bewell for contribution to the film and TV industries