Issue no 53 30 April 2009

top story

  • Just when it seemed that in terms of television programme sales it was all a one-way street, a French distributor, Thema, has reversed the flow by creating a bouquet of francophone African channels that it has launched through several broadband companies, most recently this month with Free. Russell Southwood spoke to Francois Thiellet, CEO of Thema.

    Thiellet is the first to confess that the idea for an African bouquet in France was not an original one:”The idea came from someone else. I read in a newspaper in France that a Chinese bouquet was going to be launched and I thought to myself I can do that for French-speaking Africa with a channel aimed at the diaspora. There has been a massive development of ADSL networks in France and these are the key networks used by foreigners and diaspora subscribers.” He also knew that most African programmes cannot easily be received from Africa and that there was no rights clearance for most programmes.

    The content of the bouquets launched on Free give some idea of the range of content on offer. The African bouquet “Premium”, composed of 9 channels, proposes 2 channels from Senegal, RTS and 2sTV, 3 channels from Cameroun, CRTV, STV2 and Channel 2, the public channel of Ivory Coast RTI, the public channel of Mali ORTM, the public channel of Congo, Tele Congo and finally the Pan-African channel Africable. This new bouquet will be free until the end of May for all Free subscribers, and then accessible for the price of €9.99 per month.

    The African bouquet “Classic”, composed of 7 channels, proposes 2 chains of the Coast of Ivory, public channel RTI and the private channel general practitioner Tam Tam TV, 2 channels from Gabon - RTN and the RTG1 - 1 private channel of entertainment from Senegal Walfadjri, MetroTV, a channel from Ghana and ORTB, a channel from Burkina Faso. This new bouquet of 7 chains will be free until the end of May for all Free subscribers, and then accessible for the price of €4.99 per month.

    Free will also offer 4 other African channels including 3 as part of the standard subscription: - Vox Africa, a Pan-African channel. - Africa 24, the 1st global information channel on Africa broadcasting 24/24h. - Hi TV, the Nigerian channel of entertainment and cinema (Nollywood). - Channel News Information, the first private continuous information channel on Africa.

    The channels initial launch was in October last year but it also wants to add TV Orange to its portfolio soon and Numericable in June. According to Thiellet:”There is a total potential for around 50,000 subscribers by the end of this year. There is a diaspora of 1 million people of Sub-Saharan origin.” Interestingly, there is also an Arab diaspora channel called Arabesque from ART.

    Thiellet says:”We want to first consolidate in France, then go to Belgium, Switzerland, followed by Spain, Germany and Italy. Then the big question is whether to go to the USA. There have been some talks but we want to get it right in Europe.” Thiellet is not sure how the English-speaking Nollywood channel will work but “wants to see what will happen.” The channel is based on the rights for two Nollywood libraries, i-Nolly and Trend Nolly. Other ideas to extend the service are in the pipeline so watch this space.


  • First there was Hollywood, then Bollywood and Nollywood, and now, brace yourself for Vendawood. The film industry in South Africa has problems accessing funds and attracting audiences. That’s not the case in South Africa’s northernmost province, however, where Venda filmmakers are making movies guerilla-style.

    According to the National Film and Video Foundation, only eight to 10 films are produced each year, with an average budget of R9 million, yet, at the box office they barely rake in R1 million.

    Special Assignment producers Godknows Nare and Johann Abrahams travelled to the hills of Venda to the world’s most unlikely film sets to see how they do it.

    In Tuesday night’s show on SABC3 at 8.30 pm they meet filmmaker Khathutshelo Mamphodo, who lives in Lwamondo village. His comedies about ordinary life in a Venda village have become favourites around the country. The budgets are tiny, and the actors are friends and family members, but the results are entertaining.

    Khathutshelo’s first film, Tshovhilingana, made in 2006, is a comedy that tells the story of an unemployed man with too many wives. He has since produced three follow-ups using the same characters.

    Another filmmaker, Tshidino Ndou, is an IT consultant in Sandton, but every weekend he sets off for his home village Tshakhuma to work on his latest film.

    All the Venda films are made for the DVD market and usually break even within the first month of release. The filmmakers say that they hope to reach a wider audience because they are telling universal stories that everyone can relate to. Is this the way to go for South African filmmakers? Experts are not convinced, but it could be the boost our film industry needs.

  • SABA and AIBD are jointly organizing a co-production of Children’s TV programmes. Given the success of the first project, AIBD with its international partners SABA(Southern African Broadcasting Association), ASBU (Arab States Broadcasting Union), IBU (Islamic Broadcasting Union), CBA (Commonwealth Broadcasting Association), French government and CBFA (Children & Broadcasting Foundation for Africa), is organizing the second series of the "I am" project. Three identical workshops are organized as follows: Tunis (6-10 April 2009), Kuala Lumpur (27-30 April 2009) and Johannesburg (4-8 May 2009).

    Then, participants, with the support of 2 senior Executive Producers, will produce their own episodes. At the end, AIBD will collect all episodes and edit a series for participating organizations. Whilst they have to cover the costs of one production, they will benefit by receiving 40 more programs at no cost and free of copy right to air during a period of one year.

    The plan is to bring together at least 40 Children’s TV programme producers from Asia, Africa and the Arab world to participate in this international co-production of short programmes series for Children with a view to strengthen cultural diversity and create a better understanding among children about various cultures and school of thoughts.

    Through these series, children will have the opportunity to voice their opinion on their own culture and express how they look at various other cultures. During the first round, which was completed in 2008, a series of 14 episodes were produced.

  • reports that Information and Communications Minister, Prof. Dora Akunyili of Nigeria has been pushing the 'Rebrand Nigeria' project. The Minister has extended a hand of partnership to Nollywood. wrote: "The minister, last weekend, at the Banquet Hall of the Ikeja Sheraton Hotel, Lagos interacted with the motion picture industry as she sought to find out what filmmakers could offer the nation, especially in the on-going search for better image perception. She told the gathering that Nollywood was arguably Nigeria's cultural ambassador:”You project Nigeria's cultural life to the world. Nollywood remains one of Nigeria's major employers of labour ...With the advent of Nollywood, Nigerians stopped going to see Indian films. You successfully brought the theatre to the homes of Nigerians".

    The minister therefore sought the cooperation of the film industry to change the negative image the nation now has, arguing that Nigerians were responsible for the country's current bad image. "Negative perception about Nigeria is generated by Nigerians because we don't believe in ourselves, even in the press," she charged. "If nothing is done, the image we have as a country of 419-ers, where nothing works, failing leadership, it becomes a liability. The most systematic way is to re-brand, to tell our story and prevent others from telling it the way they want to tell it." She was therefore counting on the great spirit of volunteerism Nigerians always displayed in enlisting Nollywood for Nigeria's re-branding effort.

    Prof. Akunyili argued that it was Nigeria's inability to tell its story properly that had affected it negatively and that it was the reason why Nigerian citizens often suffered in foreign lands. (...) and further added, "We need Nollywood on board. You are critical to this campaign. Almost everybody is watching you; you can project the image of this country. You can show negative things positively, constructively.

    Through the content of your films and videos, you'll project Nigeria positively to show the world that we're 'Good people, great nation'. To tell our great stories, we need Nollywood. You're one of our best icons and brands; speak to our country about this campaign. If you show Nigeria as a failed state or a country of 419s, that's how the world would see Nigeria and Nigerians." (...) The minister said there was a need to invest in the talents in the industry to make it viable, especially in the areas of scripting to make the stories better. "This entertainment behemoth is under-funded," she declared.

    "We are talking to the World Bank; we will bring succour to the industry. In the months ahead, we will see the virtue of believing in ourselves; (...)."(...) In effect, for Nollywood to play its part in the rebranding mission, which the minister had come to solicit, the minister had to help to rebrand the industry, which was in dire need of repositioning itself. DGN President enumerated other problems facing the industry.

    These were the lack of a National Film Development Fund, the Nigerian Film Policy and the Film Village. The co-director of "Mortal Inheritance' said the film fund was of more immediate and direct bearing on proceedings regarding Nigeria's rebranding via the Nollywood way as the minister was canvassing. He also noted that the new distribution framework being proposed by the censor's board needed being reassessed for effectiveness.

    Concluding, he stated, "We hold a solemn conviction that Nollywood with its robust quality of writers, producers, directors, cinematographers and creative designers, whose works around the world show hope for our nation will surely create a fresh new window through which the world will see and believe in Nigeria."(...) Other areas where Nollywood needed assistance, she said, were in film distribution network, "no bank is listening to us; there's a Bank of Industry; what is it doing? Use your power to make SME funds available to us."

    Echoing Igwe on the piracy plague, Zack Orji told the minister that movies were not being produced in Nollywwod right now because of piracy. "Piracy is an affront to the effort being made to rebrand Nigeria," he charged. "Alaba is the headquarter of piracy. They are so organized in their illegitimacy, our livelihood is being threatened."

  • Vodacom South Africa teamed up with Samsung Mobile to provide an action-packed reality game show names "Vodacom ThumbWars". Teams will travel across South Africa, relying on their wits and rapidity via Vodacom’s communication technologies using their Samsung mobile phones as they take part in the treasure hunt of a lifetime and getting regular clues on their phones from a "controller".

  • In the run-up to 2010 FIFA World Cup, FIFA and the broadcasters of the event in the sub-Sahara region, will hold seminars for up to 3,000 radio and TV professionals in up to 41 countries in order to pass on best practice in the field of football broadcasting and build capacity in areas such as TV journalism, commentary, commercial planning and TV production for matches.

    FIFA and the African Union of Broadcasters (AUB) launched, as part of their strategic alliance, a joint Broadcast Academy to enhance the quality of football coverage and to assist in the better commercialisation of sports rights in Africa. A similar project has been rolled out for written press and photographers.

    All of these projects are the result of FIFA's Win in Africa with Africa initiative, which aims to use its flagship competition to leave a lasting legacy on the whole African continent, both in the build-up to and in the wake of the 2010 FIFA World Cup™."It is crucial for FIFA that the first FIFA World Cup on African soil leaves a legacy not only for African football, but also for African society in general. The AUB-FIFA Broadcast Academy is a great example of that," said FIFA Secretary General Jérôme Valcke.

    AUB CEO Larry Atiase emphasised that it was "a ground-breaking step for the African continent, not only towards achieving high-quality football coverage, but also in helping us to establish a reliable continental broadcast network." Each "FIFA Broadcast Legacy Week" programme will offer long-term, high-quality sports journalism of broadcast standard, a professional tool for enhanced football coverage, techniques for producing new images and stories about the real Africa, commercial training in how to manage television rights and how to develop advertising and sponsor packages for broadcaster clients.

  • Sports Marketing giants and Nigeria Football Federation Sole Marketers, Pamodzi International, has saluted the choice of African Independent Television (AIT) as the official broadcast partner of the Nigeria 2009 U-17 World Cup.

    Pamodzi Chief Executive, Chief Mike Itemuagbor, said in a press statement that he was delighted that after several years of toiling for the growth and development of Nigerian football, Daar Communications, owners of AIT, was finally being recognized globally. He praised the Daar Communications Chairman, Chief Raymond Dokpesi, for his consistent support for Nigerian football and declared that he has no doubt that AIT will make an excellent broadcaster of the global youth World Cup.

    "Daar Communications were the first to invest a huge sum of N250million on Nigerian football as broadcast support for the NFA then, when other related stations did not believe in Nigerian football and were busy investing in foreign leagues. They have received little or nothing as support from the authorities in Nigeria, yet they have acquired some of the best equipment for modern broadcasting in the world and it gladdens one's heart when bodies like FIFA, recognize such heroics like Daar is doing", he said.

    Itemuagbor, called on other relevant organizations to emulate the good works of Daar Communications, instead of ambush marketing and desperation to reap where they did not sow. "The highest honour a station can receive in the world is to be recommended by FIFA as world class and FIFA Vice President, Jack Warner, has done exactly that, let's join Chief Dokpesi and the Daar team to celebrate this historic call to national and international duty", he said.


  • Islamist hardliners in southern Somalia have released three radio reporters Tuesday after detaining them a day ago and shutting down an independent radio station, Radio Garowe reports.

    The three journalists - Muktar Mohamed Atosh, Mohamed Adawe and Mohamed Nur - were all safely released, but the independent Radio Jubba based in the southwestern town of Baidoa remained off air. Atosh, who spoke after being released, said: "Al Shabaab accused us of spreading false news about the security situation in Bay and Bakool regions."

    He said that Al Shabaab guerrillas ordered Radio Jubba not to hire female workers or to play music on the air. The radio station remained silent all Tuesday and no comment emerged from the Al Shabaab side. Meanwhile, an Islamist member in Baidoa defended the independent media and called on Al Shabaab to allow the freedom of the press.

    "The journalists must be allowed to work freely...this [arrest] looks like oppression," said Mohamed Ibrahim Bilal, a member of the Islamic Courts Union. He noted that Radio Jubba is "owned by businesspeople" and called on Al Shabaab "establish your own radio station."

    Bilal said Al Shabaab fighters used to speak freely on local radio stations during the Ethiopian intervention and have now began to "silence journalists" since they control the Baidoa area.

    Garowe Online

  • Reporters Without Borders strongly condemned the return of censorship to Madagascar in the form of orders to the state-owned media not to cover opposition demonstrations. The press freedom organisation is also worried by the closure of Radio Mada, a station that supports former President Marc Ravalomanana, and acts of vandalism against other pro-Ravalomanana media.

    "Already badly hit by the crisis that lasted from December 2008 to March 2009, the media are again the target of alarming measures, some of them being executed in a heavy-handed fashion," Reporters Without Borders said.

    "While punishing appeals for hate or violence, President Andry Rajoelina must guarantee the free expression of opinions as well as complete and neutral coverage of demonstrations," Reporters Without Borders added. "We are disturbed by the course of events. The current political and institutional instability does not justify the return of censorship."

    The High Authority for Transition established by Rajoelina in March showed initial signs of goodwill by letting the state-owned media cover opposition activities. Télévision Nationale Malgache (TVM) and Radio Nationale Malgache (RNM) were able to cover demonstrations and invite such leading opposition members as Olivier Rakotovazaha and Constant Raveloson to participate in the Sunday programme "Savaravina" and other programmes.

    But various sources say that both TVM and RNM were recently ordered to impose a news blackout on the opposition demonstrations in Ambohijatovo and elsewhere.

    This was denied by TVM interim director Johary Ravaojanahary, who told Reporters Without Borders: "No one is preventing us, here at TVM, from reporting what is happening at Ambohijatovo." Speaking on condition of anonymity, a TVM journalist took the same position. "I have never, personally, received any ban regarding coverage of opposition demonstrations."

    But this was contradicted by another journalist. Also speaking on condition of anonymity, he said: "Effectively there is censorship. Higher instances are putting pressure on the editor in chief to forbid journalists from going to cover the demonstrations."

    A group of masked soldiers forcibly removed Télé Mada's transmitter and ordered Radio Mada to close on the night of 19 April. Both of these privately-owned media support former President Ravalomanana.

    The government accused the two stations of violating broadcasting regulations. The newly-appointed communications minister, Gilbert Raharizatovo, said: "Télé Mada is a pirate station because it does not have a proper broadcast frequency and causes interference to other TV stations. It has not filed a request for an official operating licence with the authorities."

    Officials accused Radio Mada of "inciting civil disobedience and undermining the public's confidence in institutions." Both presenters and members of the public speaking on the air had "incited listeners to unleash a civil war," they added.

    Ravalomanana supporters went to the high court on 20 April in order to hand in a letter to the public prosecutor protesting against the seizure of broadcasting equipment from Radio Mada, Radio Fahazavana and Télé Mada. One person was killed and at least 13 were injured when the police used tear gas and stun grenades to disperse the demonstrators.

    As he had promised to journalists on 30 March, President Rajoelina has created a communications ministry, a first in Madagascar, where the sector has never had an independent ministry in the past. The new minister, Raharizatovo, is a journalist who worked at RNM and TVM. He was appointed on 17 April.

    Reporters Without Borders believes one of the ministry's priorities should be to draft a communications law that clarifies the rules for the media and prevents abuses. The law should also ensure that the public has access to balanced news and information.

    "The public did not get this when the TV stations that have 80% of the country's viewers failed to mention the opposition demonstrations at a peak viewing time," Reporters Without Borders added.

  • - A mast that dropped from Katampe Hill after last Thursday's windstorm in Abuja, Nigeria is crippling the transmission activities of some media companies and security agencies. Media organizations affected by the fallen mast include Aso FM Radio, Vision FM, Kiss FM, and DSTV.


  • SatLink Communications Ltd. announced on 14 April that it has acquired its own capacity covering sub-Saharan Africa on ASTRA’s Astra 4A (Sirius 4) satellite located at 5° East. SatLink’s new MCPC (Multi-Channel Per Carrier) is a powerful platform for broadcasters aiming to reach Direct to Home (DTH) viewing for sub-Saharan African customers.

    “Our latest platform for Africa is a long awaited addition and strategically expands our total global content distribution experience. Africa is a fast growing market and SatLink’s geographic location linking Europe, Africa and Asia makes our new platform ideal for broadcasters extending services or tapping into the African market,” stated SatLink CEO David Hochner.

    SatLink’s new platform for DTH free-to-air and encrypted channels enables easy uplinks from Europe and downlinks in Sub Saharan Africa with dishes as small as 90 cm. Providing Sports, News, Entertainment and other broadcasters with the opportunity to reach households across the continent, the Astra 4A (Sirius 4) satellite represents an excellent choice for broadcasters, due to its location, footprint, elevation angle as well as technical makeup.

    The satellite is dedicated to video solutions over the African continent and SatLink's platform benefits from a high quality TV neighborhood for Africa. SatLink’s acquisition of capacity over Africa enhances its world- wide transmission capabilities and adds to its existing platforms over Europe, Asia, North America, the Middle East and Australia, and to its extensive global fiber network.

  • GlobeCast spokesman Matthew Rosenstein sais that GlobeCast has started transmissions on SES ASTRA’s Astra 4A (Sirius 4) satellite since March 2009. African broadcaster VoxAfrica is one of the first channels to sign up for the new platform which provides sub-Saharan Africa’s widest and most powerful coverage. This will allow Sub-Saharan African homes to receive quality free-to-air programming, including VoxAfrica, the first Panafrican, bilingual (English/French) and independent TV channel broadcasting throughout the continent via satellite.

    VoxAfrica called on GlobeCast to provide capacity and distribution its programming to Africa. VoxAfrica now broadcasts online, on cable and on satellite. The new platform on Astra 4A, located at 5° East is the first Ku-band DTH platform with coverage over sub-Saharan Africa, providing broadcasters with the opportunity to reach households across the continent.

    GlobeCast has contracted one transponder on the satellite that facilitates uplink from Europe and is compliant to distribute services to IPTV or terrestrial network headends. The new platform, which is an alternative to the pay TV bouquets in sub-Saharan Africa, responds to a strong demand for free-to-air Ku-band coverage of this crucial region. Several African broadcasters are already in contact with GlobeCast to secure positions in this coveted space to secure positions in this coveted space and extend their audience to 56 African countries.

    Matthew Rosenstein also confirmed that further to the transmissions on Astra 4A , Walf Fadjri, a key news source, web and radio group in Senegal, has joined GlobeCast's platform becoming the second major client on this new sub-Saharan distribution product. GlobeCast is also preparing for the Confederations Cup in South Africa, to be held from 14-28 June, offering facilities to rightsholding and non-rightsholding broadcasters covering the event. Facilities for this event include: Exclusive Live Position overlooking Coca Cola Park Stadium in Johannesburg, GlobeCast Johannesburg Office multi format Feed point & Live position, Pretoria and Bloemfontein studios and playout, Dedicated SNGs available on request, and International turnaround via satellite and fiber. GlobeCast, a subsidiary of France Telecom, is the leading global provider of content management and worldwide transmission services for professional broadcast delivery.

    The company operates a secure global satellite and fibre network to manage and transport 10 million hours of video and other rich media each year, providing ingest, aggregation, transmission and repurposing of content for delivery to direct-to-home satellite platforms; cable, IPTV, mobile TV, mobile and broadband headends; as well as corporate and digital signage networks. GlobeCast’s fleet of SNG trucks is deployed globally to support coverage of the biggest news and sporting events each year in SD and HDTV formats.

  • - CNBC Africa concluded a satellite distribution agreement with Multichoice Africa on 16 April, 2009. The agreement makes the channel available to DStv viewers in 41 countries across sub-Saharan Africa.

    - Canal Overseas launches its C+ BOUQUET in Morocco. The Package claiming to be the number one French language satellite package in Northern Africa.includes over 25 channels covering all themes (film, sport, discovery, children’s channels, etc.). It has been distributed for two months in Algeria through a system of pre-paid cards available from a network of distributors and local partners. It will be distributed in Morocco from today after being granted authorisation from the Morocco Higher Authority for Audio-Visual Communication (HACA). Jean-Noël Tronc, Chairman and CEO of Canal Oversaeas said: “After the launch of Le Bouquet de Canal+ in Algeria, this launch in Morocco allows us to reach over 12 million households”.


  • Mauritius Broadcasting Corporation earned Rs107.9 from 1 January to April 2009, according to a statement by the Mauritius Prime Minister to Parliament on 28 April. In the same statement it was revealed that MBC’s profits for 2006/2007 and 2007/2008 were respectively Rs26.9 million and Rs16.9 million. Profits on the Q1 revenues were estimated to be around Rs 10 million.

    In response to a question from Ajay Gunness, the Prime Minister confirmed that the Anti-Corruption Commission was leading an enquiry into the Sales and Advertising department at MBC. Responding to other parliamentary questions, the Prime Minister said that MBC had not signed a contract drawn up in July 2005 with Viditech and Digipro.


  • Producer, Tendeka Matatu launches Ten10 Sales - the sales arm of his Cape Town based production company Ten10 Films. Ten10 is a boutique sales agency that represents local South African films in South Africa and across the continent.

    In addition it will look towards securing other African titles for the South African market.

    The company has an impressive roster which includes the acclaimed gangster thriller, Jerusalema and the new romantic comedy White Wedding which releases in cinemas nationwide on 29th April. After many years producing South African films Matatu has built strong relationships with local distributors and has been able to secure groundbreaking deals with Theatrical, DVD and Television enterprises. He has also formed key alliances in areas of, marketing, press, publicity and new media.

    Attendance rates and box office for local movies are extremely low and Ten10 Sales is born out of the realisation that many emerging and experienced local producers have very little know-how when it comes to sales, distribution and marketing both locally and internationally.

    Ten10 Sales’ aim is to provide a vital link between producers and distributors, and will ensure that local producers get the best possible deals for their films across the Theatrical/DVD and TV platforms. Further to this the company will also act as consultant to producers in their marketing and release strategy, as well as provide guidance on selecting the appropriate international film festivals to showcase their films.

    Ten10 Sales is actively looking at new projects and is keen to forge relationships with emerging producers. For further information contact Joy Sapieka on 073 212 5492

  • - World football's governing body FIFA will earn 25 billion rands (2.7 billion dollars, 2.1 billion euros) on television rights to broadcast the 2010 World Cup in South Africa, the organisation said last week.

regulation & policy

  • In a sequel to the lopsided coverage of elections and political reportage by broadcasting stations Nigeria, broadcasters have been reminded of the provisions of the Nigeria Broadcasting Code designed to create and promote equity and political harmony amongst the populace.

    In a statement last weed in Abuja, the Commission’s Director General, Engr. Yomi Bolarinwa stressed the need for Broadcasting Stations to play strictly by the rules as contained in the Nigeria Broadcasting Code in the interest of balance and fairness which are crucial ingredients to achieving an egalitarian society. In specific terms, the stations are enjoined to take special note of the following provisions which form the bedrock of political broadcasts:

    Section 5.2.10 which says ‘A station or its staff shall NOT at electioneering time, broadcast the collated sum of votes obtained at different polling stations, or from exit polls, to project or speculate on the candidate who, at airtime, was leading or doing better or worse than his opponent(s)’ and Section 5.2.11 which says ‘A station shall broadcast election results or declaration of the winner of an election only as announced by the authorized electoral officer for the election’. Stations must note that the authorized electoral officer for elections in states are the state electoral commissioners.

  • Sierra Leone’s Minister of Information and Communication has, in a meeting with the national union of cinema entertainers (NUCE), stated that the proliferation of cinema houses was becoming a concern to the government and his ministry. Ibrahim Ben Kargbo said commercial cinema owners were not handling their business centers responsibly, noting that the country was law abiding, decent and civilized. “

    These cinema and sport centers are not registered and do not pay taxes. There is a complete absence of censorship on films entering Sierra Leone ,” he said. Kargbo explained that some students abandon their schools for these cinema and games centers where they would spend the rest of the day without doing much for themselves.

    “Cinema owners must apply the principle of self-censorship in their businesses,” he said. A primary six pupil of the St Anthony primary school Ahmed Vandi, 12, confessed that he almost failed his third term exams while in primary five because of his wild attachment to games centres.

    But deputy minister of information and communication Mohamed Koroma said since a union now exists to champion movie businesses in the country, he would give the necessary backup to bring harmony into the trade. “I am aware that some cinema operators are still in the habit of flouting the laws of the union. The time will come when we will use force to bring normalcy in the operations nationwide,” he said. NUCE's secretary general Martin Kargbo thanked the ministry and asked them to give the organization the necessary support needed to achieve the government's vision.

  • - The Committee to Protect Journalists has called on authorities in the Republic of Congo to immediately lift their ban on private TV station Canal Bénédiction Plus (CB Plus). The ban was enacted in February 2009 in response to political coverage in the lead-up to presidential elections in July 2009.

technology & convergence

  • According to Emmanuel Were writing in Business Daily Africa that giving Free access to mobile television is crucial to winning clients. "Kenyan mobile phone services providers and broadcasters will have to allow free access to users watching television on their mobile phones to attract substantial subscriber numbers before they charge for the service, industry analysts said.

    Participants at the 2009 Hong Kong Electronics Fair said evidence from Japan and South Korea - who make up nearly a half of the world’s mobile TV subscribers - indicates that free access to TV services can help mobile phone firms to build client numbers.

    In Kenya only Safaricom, out of the four mobile phone firms, has rolled out a mobile TV service.The mobile provider partnered with premium satellite content provider DSTV and national broadcaster KBC to introduce the service in October 2007. Sources at DSTV said that the firm was yet to implement a charging module for the service as it was still considered a trial service, saying the firm would keep the broadcasts free as it rolled out the service to all enabled handsets which can receive broadcasts.

    Initial plans had indicated that consumers would be charged Sh1,000 to access 10 channels in a month, and could only access the broadcasts using specific phone models." If this practice is not rocket science and definitely increases subscription take up, it has not been applied by most mobile service providers most probably due to regulatory barriers, market limitations, lack of funds or delay in infrastructure set up.”

  • The thrill and convenience of engaging in cashless transactions for goods and services was experienced by hundreds of MultiChoice subscribers for the first time when Afric Xpress, a pioneer mobile phone-based payment solution provider, activated its txtNpay interface with the direct satellite television service at the weekend.

    Hundreds of DStv subscribers who would normally swarm the offices of MultiChoice on weekends to settle their bills with cash at the counter in order to stay connected are now texting in their payments from home and elsewhere at whatever time via their mobile phones. txtNpay is a mobile phone-based secured payment system which enables its users to pay utility bills, send money to any other mobile phone user, buy prepaid air time, check bank account balances and purchase goods and service. The txtNpay wallet is an electronic stored value account which customers can charge by buying txtNpay electronic cash at any approved partner or outlet.

    The partnership between Afric Xpress and Ghana's most popular pay-per-view television service swung into motion when the electronic payment solution provider began its registration exercise for customers of MultiChoice just ahead of the Easter holidays. Once registered, MultiChoice subscribers become automatically hooked onto the txtNpay platform and are empowered, through its simple but highly encoded electronic system, to transact payments by texting from their handset at anytime and from any location within the coverage of their telecom network. The txtNpay service is rendered at no cost to the MultiChoice customer.

    "I am a busy person and I live at Amanfrom, way out of town; I am a staunch Liverpool fan and would not miss any of their games for any reason. I watch all the premiership games on DStv but my only headache has been the journey I have had to make to pay my bills to stay connected all the time. I prefer to pay my bills with as little hassles as possible - no journeys, no queues, no waiting. I think this txtNpay thing is amazing," said Ato Hagan, an excited customer who said he paid his last DStv bill from his car just outside the MultiChoice Head Office.

    To increase access to its services and decentralize the bill payments system for customers, MultiChoice has opened some branch offices across Accra and other metropolitan capitals. With the arrival of txtNpay however, officials strongly believe that payment of bills cannot be decentralized any better than enabling the customers to settle bills at a convenient distance and time by means of their personal mobile handset.

    "We fully embrace txtNpay as an alternative and a more convenient payment system for our subscribers. You see, MultiChoice is not really a money collection company; our core business is managing the interests of our subscribers and selling hardware. These are what we do best, and the less people engage us by making physical payments at our offices, the better for us and our subscribers themselves," Anne Sackey, MultiChoice's Public Relations Manager, told journalists. Aaron Ampofo, Head of Operations at MultiChoice, said the most exciting aspect of his company's partnership with Afric Xpress is the speed and ease of transaction which the txtNpay platform injects into bill payment.

    'They are paying their bills on time, without the inconvenience of travelling and being physically present at our offices; the fact that our subscribers now do not have to carry or handle hard cash to pay their bills is a bonus which txtNpay brings on board,' he said. "Our partnership with Afric Xpress is mutual, the important thing being that we are using their txtNpay platform to satisfy our subscribers' needs. While it ensures speed in bill payments and saves us time and space, it also offers our subscribers a lot more convenience and security. I think we will benefit even more from this partnership when Afric Xpress starts moving into the remote parts of the country," said Ampofo.

    TxtNpay interfaces with a wide network of partners which includes telecom companies, banks and financial institutions, petroleum marketing companies, internet service providers, tertiary institutions and utility services providers for services which include money transfer, mobile phone top ups, bill payments and merchant payments.




    - M-Net will bring out a new interactive youth channel, with content that will be viewed on TVs and cellphones. Vuzu, which is expected to start broadcasting in July, will also be supported by an online social networking site. “TV is reinventing itself and we are looking forward to working with all sectors of the local industry to create new and innovative ways to thrive in this fast-evolving environment,” says Vuzu channel director Yolisa Phahle. Phahle explains the channel will provide a platform for young people to have access to entertainment on their phones, PCs and TVs. Vuzu will replace the current youth channel, GO Channel.

    - Recently there have been a number of rumours circulating regarding the release of a new dual-view HD PVR decoder which would replace the current PACE HD PVR decoder that Multichoice offers. In response to this rumour a Multichoice representative recently said that “there are no plans to replace the current PACE HD PVR with another decoder which will enable dual view without the need to use XtraView or purchase another decoder”. MultiChoice said that “the PACE HD PVR is not going to be replaced with another decoder. The PACE HD PVR is the current model in the market and will be joined by the UEC HD PVR within the next few months. Both models are similarly specified and there will be no difference in service offerings, functionality and capability.”

    South African film director, Regardt van den Bergh, is to be awarded the special Ischia Global Award for his ‘extraordinary films and contribution to the art industry’ at the 7th Annual Ischia Global Film & Music Fest.

    Vacancy for Group Chief Executive Officer at the South African Broadcasting Corporation

    Recruitment notice for the position of the Director-General of the Islamic Broadcasting Union (IBU) by Javad Mottaghi:

    The Islamic Broadcasting Union (IBU) with its Head Quarters in Jeddah is in the process of restructuring itself with its new Vision, Mission and Objectives. The Asia- Pacific Institute for Broadcasting Development (AIBD) in Kuala Lumpur has been invited to act as a consultant to IBU to facilitate the procedure of recruiting the Director-General of the IBU among broadcasters in the IBU from 57 member countries around the globe.We seek your kind assistance in bringing this matter to the attention of interested candidates. We would highly appreciate if potential candidates who are applying for the said position could do so by reading the attached Recruitment Notice and adhering to the terms and conditions stated therein. The closing date for the receipt of applications is 15 May 2009. Applications received after the deadline will not be considered. /homepage/recruitment_ibu.pdf

    Africa and the Moving Image: the Role of Libraries and Archives

    Date: Wednesday 17th June

    Venue: Newnham College, Sidgwick Avenue, Cambridge, CB3 9DF, UK

    This day conference will explore questions relating to the production and preservation of moving image from and about Africa. What is happening in the world of African film and DVD production? What is the role of moving image in university teaching and research? How do image-based formats help us to understand African history, culture and politics? And what are libraries and archives doing to acquire and preserve this material, and to make it available?


    Dr Guido Convents (anthropologist, historian and organiser of the Belgian African Film Festival)

    Keith Shiri (Director, London African Film Festival)

    Dr Sloan Mahone (University Lecturer in the History of Medicine, University of Oxford)

    Prof. Vivian Bickford-Smith (Professor of Historical Studies, University of Cape Town)

    Dr Emma Hunter (Gonville and Caius, University of Cambridge)

    Dr Annamaria Motrescu (Researcher, Colonial Cinema Project, Birkbeck College, University of London)

    Susanne Hammacher (Film Officer, Royal Anthropological Institute, London)

    Bid for Broadcasting kits for AIDS programmes - DRC

    UC Berkeley offers fellowships for African journalists

    Last Call to enter Vodacom Journalist of the Year 2009

    The deadline for the 2009 Vodacom Journalist of the Year Awards is Midnight on 28 May 2009.

    This competition has contributed significantly towards raising the bar in pursuit of journalistic excellence. Vodacom's dedicated page states that "The winning entries are an opportunity for journalists to be saluted by their peers and the public for courageous, objective and honest reporting." Entries includes a wide choice of categories available. Entry rules stipulates that "All material must have been published or broadcast between 1 May 2008 and 30 April 2009." No entry fee is charged. Editors, with an eye for talent, can nominate up-and coming journalists in a special category, the Editors Choice Award. The Prizes' section reads that "One winner will be selected in each of the 14 categories, from five Vodacom regions around the country. Regional winners will each receive R7 500 in cash and a certificate. These winners will automatically be entered into the national competition. The regional winners will be invited to attend the final awards ceremony where a national winner will be announced in each of the 14 categories. The national winners will receive R15 000 in cash and a certificate. Finally, the Vodacom Journalist of the Year will be announced at the awards ceremony - and will receive the grand prize of R125 000 in cash, as well as the opportunity to donate R125 000 to an official charity of his/her choosing. The winner of the National Editors Choice Award receives a sponsored media leadership in the United Kingdom. The Editors Choice regional and national winners do not receive a cash prize due to the considerable value of the final prize."

    Call to enter the 2009 World Communication Awards

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