Issue no 55 29 May 2009

top story

  • Africa’s francophone countries have been slow to liberalise compared to many of their anglophone counterparts but the tide may be turning as events in Senegal seem to show. Its increasingly liberalised media is winning the battle for audiences hands-down and putting very real pressure on the previously well-entrenched state broadcaster. Russell Southwood looks at the latest survey results from Adesr.

    Dakar will soon have 7 television stations, not including the three Pay-TV channels you can get if you can afford them or can pirate a service. In addition it has many radio stations that compete for listeners both inside and outside Dakar. The latest of these - Zig FM - has like President Obama recently celebrated its first 100 days.

    L'Agence dakaroise d'études stratégiques et de Recherches (Adesr) has recently published the results of its media survey conducted between 21-28 March 2009. In both the fields of TV and radio, the Senegalese state broadcaster has lost listeners and viewers to Walf TV and Walf FM. As the group’s newspaper put it : »The state broadcaster conjures up the image of an old mammoth surrounded by young wolves with long teeth. »

    Walf TV is the latest private TV chain to join the fray and the Adesr survey results show that it has 93% of viewers in Dakar who view it regularly, up from 89.7% in the last quarter. 2Stv is level pegging on 92.4% but lost two points since last survey. However, RTS1, the state channel lost a whopping 10 points since the last survey, taking it down to a 80.2% habitual audience. According to Adesr : »With the exception of Walf, all channels lost (audience share).

    When asked what their favourite channel was, 39.2% of respondents replied Walf TV compared with 31.5% for 2Stv. The fourth most liked channel was Rdv with 7.8% of preferences and pay-TV operator Canal Plus with 2.6% of preferences. Also Walf TV came out top in all of the different programme categories offered in the survey.

    The field of radio is far more competitive in Dakar. Neverthless, Walf FM got 34.7% of preferences, 13 points ahead of Rfm. Again, in terms of regular listeners, Walf FM scored 76% against Rfm’s 55% and Sud FM’s 25.9%, with Soxna FM (24.5%) and Nostalgie (24.2%) taking fourth and fifth place respectively. Community radio Oxyjeune FM went up from 21st to 8th place.

    In time, loss of market share will mean loss of advertising revenues. In defence of the the state broadscaster, it should be remembered that the survey described was focused on the capital Dakar. Outside the capital, the state broadcaster still largely has a monopoly but that will not last.

    Mamadou Baal, Directeur de la Television for the Government-financed RTS channel admitted on a Vox Africa TV round table at DISCOP in February 2009 that the pressure was intense but thought himself lucky to have a Government that put up some of its funding. That steady support might waiver if the state broadcaster can’t find a formula that begins to win back its audiences.


  • For some years acclaimed South African movie producer and CEO of Videovision Entertainment, Anant Singh, and Chief Executive of South Africa's private television station,, Marcel Golding, have being working on building a state-of-the-art production studio in South Africa, The Cape Town Film Studios (CTFS). The duo announced during Cannes that The Cape Town Film Studios (CTFS), a state-of-the-art studio, is currently under construction outside Cape Town and is due to open in March 2010.

    CEO of CTFS, Nico Dekker, is in Cannes to introduce the studio to the global film industry. "Cape Town Film Studios is the first custom-built, Bollywood-style studio complex of its kind in Africa," says Singh. "South Africa has great potential with filmmakers around the world and we are delighted that we are finally able to give producers and directors the opportunity of a one-stop-shop to maximize everything that South Africa has to offer and to make a complete film in Cape Town. This is a world-class facility and will be among the best on offer anywhere in the world. We believe that it will be the dedicated hub for media, new media, entertainment and film on the continent."

    "The complex will consist of over 75,000 square feet of high-specification soundproof stages, each with a roof height of more than 65 feet, and lighting gantries at almost 40 and 50 feet," explains Dekker, CEO of CTFS. "With five-foot-wide walkways, a hanging capacity of 150kg/m² and a point load of 1.8 tons, we are confident that we will be able to meet the technical needs of any producer. CTFS will also have the ability to transmit dailies electronically anywhere in the world. In addition, the complex will boast two fully equipped workshops of 31,000 square feet each for set construction, art department, wardrobe and storage, as well as an extensive backlot for exterior set building. Blue screens, water paddocks and super stages are also available," he adds.

    CTFS will offer a cost-effective production environment with no compromise on quality. Savings on stock and processing will be up to 30%; production support and cast costs could be halved. "South African crew, cast and production support are experienced, non-unionized, creative and universally English speaking. In terms of cast, talent deals are done on a buy-out basis with no residual fees," says Singh. Dekker added, "In addition, we will have a variety of financial structures in place to aid the financial and commercial success of productions, and will facilitate applications for rebates and refunds, where applicable." Further financial support is on hand from the South African government, the Industrial Development Corporation (IDC), the South African National Film and Video Foundation (NFVF), and the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI). The CTFS will have full AV production services including off- and online digital editing tools; AVID and Lightworks; SFX systems Flame and Henry; high-quality Ursa Diamond and Spirit Digital telecines with Da Vinci grading in PAL and NTSC formats; world-class digital neg-matching systems facilities; and one of only five existing Kodak high-definition lighting transfer systems. The majority shareholders of CTFS are Videovision Entertainment and Sabido Investments.

    Anant Singh has produced more than 70 feature films, including the Oscar-nominated Yesterday, and also holds the rights to Long Walk To Freedom (the only authorized feature on Nelson Mandela) which will go into production later this year. Sabido Investments, a media investment holding company headed by Marcel Golding, owns, South Africa’s first, privately owned free-to-air television channel. "Cape Town is one of the 10 most desirable cities in the world, and when CTFS opens in March 2010, filmmakers from across the globe will be able to make movies in a beautiful location at a fraction of the price," says Marcel Golding. South Africa's telecommunications systems are reliable and top-notch and CTFS is just 15 minutes drive from Cape Town International Airport, which has direct flights from London, Frankfurt, the Middle East and Asia. "Some of the world's greatest and oldest stories have originated in Africa.

  • The filming of Sex In the City, Harare, which saw 14 brave men and women as well as famous Zimbabwean personalities talking about sex on camera last year, has come and gone. Now the producers, International Video Fair Trust, are in the process of raising additional funds for post-production in the hopes of securing an international editor. “We have more than 90 hours of footage and are looking for an international editor with experience working on documentaries particularly those of an anthropological nature, to do the editing,” said Charity Maruta, International Video Fair Trust’s Director.

    She added that an editor from the United Kingdom had already been identified but additional funding was required to bring him out to Zimbabwe for two months not only for the editing of Sex In the City, Harare but to conduct training with local editors. “The editor we have found is vastly experienced in editing documentaries and has a particular interest in anthropology, which is ideal considering that Sex In the City, Harare, is centred around a focus group,” said Maruta. “But we are not just concentrating on our own production when the editor comes - we want to make him available for training local editors in Final Cut Pro with an emphasis on documentary editing,” Maruta added, saying that she hoped this would help strengthen Zimbabwe’s film industry, which has suffered with other industries as a result of the political and economic problems that have affected the country over the past few years.

  • A coalition of television workers plans to protest against the public broadcaster’s non-payment of millions of rands to independent producers which, it claims, has led to retrenchments throughout the industry.

    The Television Industry Emergency Coalition (TVIEC), which claims to represent more than 80% of local content on air, said the protest would take place next Thursday. “The protest has been provoked by the public broadcaster’s nonpayment of millions of rands to independent producers and the subsequent retrenchments that are occurring throughout the industry,” the coalition said yesterday. Production companies, industry organisations, unions, friends of the industry, soapie stars, actors and technicians were expected to take part in the action. The coalition said the protest, scheduled to take place in Johannesburg and Cape Town, had not only been sparked by anger over nonpayment, but also by “much deeper and more significant issues”.

    These included “unfair terms of trade, unsustainable business relationships with the content creators, unfair rights ownership and a deep arrogance manifested in the heavy- handed management style the South African Broadcasting Corporation (SABC) displays”. The coalition said it had held several meetings with the SABC in past months, but had not received any “credible feedback”. “Crews and cast are without work, production companies are facing closure and viewers are being cheated of quality programming.

    “Estimates of up to R58m owed have been made, but it is not possible to confirm this amount as the SABC has been unwilling to reveal the extent of the debt,” said the TVIEC. The SABC is facing a R784m deficit this year. It has been plagued by in- fighting between its axed CEO Dali Mpofu and its former head of news, Snuki Zikalala, while at least three board members have resigned since March. Beeld newspaper reported yesterday that local producers had received a text message from the SABC, telling them to stop all new production. Several newspapers had reported that popular soap operas such as Isidingo and 7de Laan might be pulled off air because of nonpayment. The coalition said budgets were now lower than they were seven years ago. “This while SABC management takes home exorbitant fees and performance bonuses - some bonuses exceed an entire year’s production fee for a major daily soap - and enjoy first-class air travel, five-star hotel suites and lavish entertainment,” it said. SABC spokesman Kaizer Kganyago said he was not aware of the planned protest. “We are finalising a follow-up meeting between them and us.

    “We are trying to find a relevant date for that,” he said. Kganyago said the SABC was also due to meet disgruntled unions yesterday to discuss the implementation of salary increases. Sapa

  • Orphaned and vulberable children have now got their own slot to say what they think in Zimbabwe. The programme series, entitled "Inzwi Redu/Ilizwi Lethu/Our Voice", will be aired every Thursday on Radio Zimbabwe.

    The nation-wide radio series, which will be aired between 1630 and 1700hrs, aims to reach at least 200,000 orphans and other vulnerable children in Zimbabwe with comprehensive, life-saving and life-enhancing information and skills that will contribute towards their development.

    The programme will be a studio-based discussion between a grandmother, "Gogo", and children which will see two children every week read a story after which "Gogo" will ask them questions on what they would have learnt.

    Issues that the producers will look at would include those around HIV and Aids, life skills, access to basic services and psycho-social support, among others. Information on the programmes would be tailored towards the general development of the children, breaking the vicious cycle of vulnerability and HIV transmission at the same time enhancing the children's personal survival. Children at home will also have an opportunity to participate in the programme through letter writing, phone-ins, and competition prizes.

    On different programmes technical experts would be called in every four weeks to discuss issues raised in previous programmes so as to encourage young listeners as well as caregivers, programmers, and other adults, to share what they would have learnt in previous weeks. The interactive series will be broadcast in Shona and Ndebele and will run for a year.

    (Source : The Herald)


    Twice a month, euronews’ new environmental programme terra viva will spotlight initiatives by individuals, non-profit and business organisations, who have adopted practical solutions to safeguard our planet. terra viva travels around Europe to meet them. The first edition tackles flooding problems, with two examples in Netherlands. The second edition is directed in Tuscany, where the residents aim at ‘zero waste’ by 2020.

  • The Nigeria Premier League (NPL) said last week in Abuja that its greatest challenge in the outgoing season was lack of television-friendly pitches. Kwame Arthur, Special Assistant (Technical) to the NPL Chairman, Chief Oyuki Obaseki, said the league body had made strong efforts to ensure the situation improved.

    "I must confess that the most tasking challenge for us this season has been the issue of good playing pitches but we have made concerted efforts to have television-friendly pitches. This is because we are aware that we must have good pitches for the league to attract sponsors, spectators and quality players," he said.

    Arthur, a former Executive Secretary, League Football Club Proprietors Association of Nigeria, said courses and seminars were held on pitches by the NPL as part of efforts to salvage the situation. "There was one coordinated by the Groundsman at the Wembley Stadium, England, and other local ones. All were geared toward making our pitches better than they are," he said.

    The NPL had held the courses and seminars at the beginning of and mid-way into the 2008/2009 season. It invited experts from Nigeria and abroad to impart knowledge to groundsmen at the clubs in the Globacom Premier League. Arthur said the NPL also donated related items to all the clubs in order to assist them in maintaining lush pitches. "We gave out sprinklers and mowers in the attempt to ensure we continuously have pitches that will remain green for our matches," he said.

    Arthur, however, observed that the NPL's efforts had not yielded the desired fruit in spite of the huge financial investment and efforts. "Although we have achieved some measure of success, we must admit that things have not been as it should be since we have not achieved what we want. This is because almost all of the pitches are owned by governments and there is a limit to the level of effort or control that can be exercised on them," he said.

    (source : Daily Trust)

  • FIFA, world soccer’s governing body, predicts a cumulative global TV audience of 26.3 billion people for the 2010 World Cup, and for the first time live coverage specially produced for mobile phones will be offered. More than 10 mobile TV broadcasting networks will be opened in Africa in time for the soccer world championships to be held in South Africa during June and July next year, according to Nokia Siemens Networks.

    Stefan Schneiders, the Head of Business Development for Mobile TV at Nokia Siemens, said he expects many African countries to shortly follow Nigeria, Ghana, Kenya and Namibia in launching DVB-H mobile TV broadcasts. The World Cup, one of the world's most closely followed sports events, will be held in South Africa in June and July of 2010.

    Screen Africa

  • The Nigerian Broadcasting Commission has created support for local production by putting in place a local content requirement diring evening prime time. Thanks to sections 2 and 20 of Act 38 of the Nigerian Code of Broadcasting amended in 1992, the country of Nollywood - where 1771 films were produced in 2008, generating about 250 million USD - has positioned itself as a pioneer in the field of African audio-visual legislation.

    Since April 1, 2009, the Nigerian Broadcast Commission (NBC) requires that programmes should be 100% Nigerian on all national terrestrial television stations during prime-time (19h-22h). The content of these productions will also be strongly regulated in favor of quality and family programmes.

    Claire Diao,

  • MultiChoice is pleased to announce the launch of UK based Islam channel onto its DStv bouquets from 5 June 2009. The channel offers choice news and current affairs programmes, children and women's programmes, as well as Quaran recitals in Arabic with English subtitles, Islamic values and doctrine.

    MultiChoice’s General Manager Content Aletta Alberts said: "We are pleased to launch the Islam channel onto our DStv bouquets. The channel is another example of MultiChoice’s commitment to meet the diverse viewing and cultural requirements of our customers.

    Islam Channel's spokesperson in Africa, Dr Feroz Bham, said the channel would provide Muslim and non Muslim viewers with inspirational, informative and educational programmes, accessible to a larger audience, as it is broadcast in English. Bham said: "

    The Islam Channel will be broadcast from our London headquarters 24/7, with provision for local content being our long term goal." Viewers will be able to look forward to children’s programs, City Sisters, a feminine show, News, Politics and Beyond, Legal Corner and the Health Show on the Islam Channel.

    The channel originally launched in the UK on Sky TV in 1994, and is already a success in the Middle East, Europe and North Africa. The UK CEO of the channel, Mohamed Ali Harrath added: "The Islam Channel aims to appeal to both Muslims and non-Muslims with its high quality programmes.” "We believe the addition of the Islam Channel will provide a choice of high quality programmes that are informative and compelling.” MultiChoice also announced that the Arabic IQRAA channel will no longer be broadcast on DStv from 31 May 2009. It will be replaced by the English Islamic channel, which will have greater appeal, due to the fact that the channel is broadcast in English, and the language understood by a a greater number of viewers. The Islam Channel will be broadcast on DStv Channel 347 on all bouquets.

  • - Speaking at its annual general meeting, Orange’s Chairman Didier Lombard said the group was very interested in continuing its expansion in Africa and highlighted three service areas : Triple Play (including IP-TV), mobile broadband (including video) and M-Payment services.

    - The Western Cape Provincial Government recently announced that Cabinet has in principle agreed to support the BBC`s plans to set up their production and presentations studios in Cape Town for the duration of the 2010 Soccer World Cup

    - A well-known Mozambican television journalist, Ercilio Zacarias, has been forced to move his family, after receiving anonymous death threats against them, reports Thursday's issue of the independent newsheet "Mediafax".


  • South African ISP Goal Technology Solutions (GTS) has launched a nationwide on-demand IPTV service, using a solution provided by Nextvisiontv and World Media Distributors. The service is available throughout South Africa, but the company is initially focusing on the cities of Johannesburg, Pretoria, Heidelberg and Nelspruit.

    The company has not yet acquired a licence for linear broadcasting. The new service is delivered over GTS's fibre-to-the-kiosk (FTTK) and powerline communication (PLC) access network, and the company plans to expand the service to other major population centres in South Africa and neighbouring territories at a later date. Content partners already on board include Warner Brothers, and other major studios are expected to be available shortly. Unlimited access to library titles is available for a fixed monthly subscription fee, while premium and new releases can be viewed on a pay-per-view basis, costing between ZAR 30-45 (US$ 3.50-5.30) each. There won't be a need to go out of your home to get a DVD.

    (source : IP-TV News)

  • RFI-Radio France International has been changing its audience priorities and has put Africa at the top of its list. But the organisation’s changed priorities mean job cuts and these have led to strikes, although these seem to have been poorly supported.

    RFI has 46 millions listeners globally but could lose some with this new plan as it re-targets its resources. Six of RFI's foreign-language services, German, Polish, Romanian, Albanian, Laotian and Serbo-Croatian, will be shut down by the plan. Four others, Persian, Chinese, Russian and Vietnamese will have their broadcasts moved entirely online, a move unions object to, citing Internet censorship in the destination countries. RFI currently broadcasts in 20 languages, with only one, Turkish, exclusively on the web.The English service is the only service which is not threatened with job losses. RFI management says that the language services are outdated and were part of a Cold War effort to bring uncensored voices beyond the Iron Curtain in eastern Europe and south-east Asia. However, it has indentified Africa as its new target audience.

    Four of RFI-Radio France International’s five trade unions called on all employees to walk-off the job start of May, demanding the scrapping of a management plan which would see the international radio network lose nearly a quarter of its workforce. Only 7% of all employees were reported to be on strike. The management team suggested laying off 206 out of just under 1,000 employees, while having plans to invest in new technologies in order to increase RoI and efficiency. The plan also mentions the possibility of hiring 34 new people once the firings have been completed.

  • - French film star Juliette Binoche and other leading lights of the silver screen are joining forces to raise funds to reopen cinemas that are vanishing across Africa. Binoche, the star of Chocolat, The English Patient and The Unbearable Lightness of Being, co-heads a group that plans to revive cinemas across the continent, including Mali's iconic Soudan Cine, which closed in the capital, Bamako, 14 years ago. "The people of Mali will be able to rediscover movies," Binoche said at the Cannes Film Festival." Binoche and Cannes Festival president, Gilles Jacob, each wrote cheques for e5 000 (about R58,400) and handed them to Mali filmmaker Abderrahmane Sissako for the 2010 re-opening of the theatre. Binoche and Sissako also said it was difficult for African films to be seen in their own countries. "The cinema is by far the best place for people to watch films," said Sissako, whose films include Waiting for Happiness.

    - African animation films/cartoons are being ignored by television channels of the continent to the profit of achievements from Asia and Occident. The round-table held during the itinerant animation/cartoon festival closure made it possible to review the eighth African art. A genuine financial manna can be drawn from this sector if television channels of the continent simply broadcast local productions. To ensure more visibility for African cartoon, certain film makers are ready to offer their films to televisions on the continent. Beside distribution, African animation films are also confronted with difficulties in terms of logistics, training and financing.

    - After the successful screening of their first music event, Nu Metro will host another one at their cinemas at the end of this month. And this time they will screen one of the country’s most successful bands, the Parlotones. South Africa’s premium cinema exhibitor announced the launch of Nu Metro Beat last months. It is a once a month, one night only music event, featuring music concerts and documentaries. Nu Metro cinemas content and marketing head Mark Harris explains: “The first event was a phenomenal success. It was a full-length documentary about the first leg of Iron Maidens’ historic Somewhere Back in Time World Tour in February and March last year.

    “Our next event feature is The Parlotones Unplugged, which was filmed at Emperors Palace last year and was part of the Radio Controlled Robot Tour,” he says. “This amazing live performance is followed by a documentary of their European tour, which covered the UK, Switzerland and Germany. “This event will take place on Saturday May 30 - a simultaneous one night-only release at Nu Metro cinemas : Bedford Centre, Clearwater Mall, The Glen, Montecasino, Menlyn Park, Boardwalk PE, Canal Walk, The Pavilion, Riverside, and Loch Logan at the 5.15pm, 7.45pm and 10.15pm shows,” Harris says. The Parlotones will also make a surprise visit to one of the above cinemas on the night of the event.


  • While the SABC has blamed a disastrous advertising market for R400m of its R784m loss for the year to March, its competitor,, says the TV advertising market has held up well. "Television adspend continues to increase over the period, albeit at a slower rate and e .tv continued a steady gain in market share of that spend," Hosken Consolidated Investments (HCI), which owns through its subsidiary Sabido Investments, said in a statement of its results for the year to March.

    It said's audience share also "continues to creep up slowly". The 24-hour news channel on the DStv bouquet was performing well, HCI said. The company said that while it had taken around five years to become profitable, "it is expected that e-News will turn positive in the near future".

    HCI and declined to comment on these results. It is unclear what effect the introduction of new digital TV channels will have on's results. South Africa is in the process of migrating from analogue to digital TV and the digital spectrum will allow for more TV channels.

    The Independent Communications Authority of SA has not yet assigned these channels, but it published draft regulations suggesting that current broadcasters be incentivised with additional channels. In terms of the draft regulations, will be allocated 60% of a digital multiplex, which combines several TV signals into one data stream.

    It had asked for four channels last year. It warned that the total new TV channels could result in a glut in the supply of airtime available to advertisers, pushing prices down so low it could threaten the viability of commercial broadcasters.

  • Jacques Stoltz, senior marketing manager at the Gauteng Film Commission, recently contributed an article to the Annual Guide to the Crocodile Ramble, one of Gauteng’s popular and well-known art and craft routes. In it, he looks at why Gauteng is fast becoming a global player in the film and TV industry. The importance of the film and TV industries to the South African economy is often still poorly understood. While the country had a prolific industry in the early parts of the 20th century, it is only more recently that there has been renewed hope that the fledgling film industry is once again becoming a global player.

    Recent data shows that the film production industry (excluding broadcast and distribution) enjoyed an annual turnover of R2.4 billion in 2007 and supports more than 8,500 direct jobs and many more thousands of freelance jobs in the province alone. Recent productions that have been filmed in Gauteng include the second and third series of Wild at Heart (shot on location at Glen Afric Safari Lodge, as well as the US pilot version, Life is Wild), Leon Schuster’s Mr. Bones II, Jozi H (a Canadian- South African co-production), the Academy Award winning Tsotsi, Rough (starring Judy Davis), Skin (with Sam Neill and Alice Krige), the local blockbuster Jerusalema as well as the yet to be released District 9 - a Peter Jackson (him of the Lord of the Rings fame) project filmed on location in Soweto.

    The province has also been used by Hollywood luminaries such as Mira Nair for Amelia (expected to be released in 2009), Terry George with Hotel Rwanda, Phillip Noyce for Catch a Fire and most recently Clint Eastwood working on an adaptation of the book The Human Factor: Nelson Mandela and the Game That Saved South Africa which revisits the 1995 Rugby World Cup. In addition more than 340 commercials were filmed in Gauteng last year and not forgetting the nearly 1 billion rand worth of local programming commissioned every year by the broadcasters. With 2010 and the world’s media attention firmly placed on the country for at least the next 18 months, there is already an indication that demand for South African and pan-African content in run up to this global spectacular is not currently being met. 2008 also saw the introduction of a new tax rebate scheme which allows local and co-production producers to claim back 35% of expenditure as a tax rebate from the Department of Trade and Industry.

    This has given a boost to local productions across a range of genre’s including animation, feature films and documentaries. For those in the tourism and hospitality industries this bodes well as film productions require a range of services including catering, vehicle hire, accommodation and air transport - as well as of course scenic locations. At the other end of the spectrum films are increasingly also understood to play a major role in promoting a destination. Take Baz Luhrmann’s Australia as case in point, a production supported by Tourism Australia.

regulation & policy

  • No President is ever immortal but any discussion about their failing mortality makes them very nervous. Two newspapers were suspended by the Conseil National de la Communication (CNC) for discussing who might be Omar Bongo's successor. Last Saturday it suspended publication of two privately-owned newspapers, Ngange (for one month) and Ezombolo (for six months).

    But in addition to trying to leash the local press, it also turned on international broadcasters, making threats against them. It accused Canal Overseas and Radio France Internationale (RFI) of putting disorder into the minds of Gabonese by even raising the subject. CNC condemned Canal Overseas and not abiding by the clauses signed with the Government in its licence agreement, which guarantee the respect of public order, the country's safety, national unity, morality and dignities of the citizens. Since all of us must one day die, it seems silly to try and prevent discussion of this immovable fact.

  • Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai on Thursday said there have been "significant improvements in media freedom in the country," during an announcement on the outstanding issues of the Global Political Agreement. But improvements, in the form of pledges, are not translating into action. The Prime Minister referred to recommendations made at the recent media conference in Kariba to repeal the Access to Information and Protection of Privacy Act (AIPPA), a critical step that the government is yet to take. Tsvangirai instead lauded the slight amendment of the Act, which saw the scrapping of the repressive Media and Information Commission in January.

    AIPPA for years has given the Robert Mugabe led government extensive powers to control the media and suppress free speech by requiring the registration of journalists and prohibiting free expression. The Act created the Media and Information Commission, which has drastically restricted journalists. Under the law, all independent newspapers have been shut down and many journalists have also been arrested and jailed under the Act. AIPPA was amended in January 2005 to allow for the imprisonment for two years of journalists who had not registered with the Commission.

    The formation of the unity government in February was heralded as a welcome opportunity to banish such restrictive media laws. But in that time, there has been no action to support the various pledges of media reform made by the government. Instead, media freedom has remained elusive. Last week Zimbabwe Independent Editor, Vincent Kahiya and News Editor, Constantine Chimakure, spent a night in police cells after the newspaper published alleged 'falsehoods' in a story that named Central Intelligence Officers and police officers in the abduction and torture of MDC and other human rights activists last year. They were charged under the Criminal Codification and Reform Act. A few days prior to that, a group of Spanish journalists were severely harassed when they visited a farmer who had been illegally invaded and attacked. They were briefly detained and their government had to intervene. So there is still no possibility of journalists working freely.

    There has also been no move to actively allow either the foreign or exiled Zimbabwe media to return and work in the country.. Last week Mugabe's spokesman and Permanent Secretary in the Information Ministry, George Charamba, told state media that journalists from both the BBC and CNN are welcome back to the country. But CNN's Johannesburg Bureau Chief, Kim Norgaard, told SW Radio Africa on Thursday that such an invitation has not been extended to them. Norgaard explained they had contacted the Ministry about the issue and were merely told that at some time in the future they could 'talk' about it. Despite the Prime Minister's insistence that 'significant improvements' have been made, powers that could have reformed the media have been dragged back from the brief control of the MDC.

    For example the Interception of Communications Act allows government authorities and agencies to open postal and electronic mail, while internet service providers face jail if they do not give government access to personal emails. Responsibility for this Act had been unilaterally stripped away from Nelson Chamisa's Ministry of Information and Communication Technology by Robert Mugabe last month. At Thursday's announcement, Tsvangirai explained that the Act now remains under the Ministry of Transport and Infrastructural Development - headed by ZANU PF's Nicholas Goche. Meanwhile control of Transmedia, the company that controls signal distribution services for broadcasters and telecommunications, is also back under the control of ZANU PF.

    London based political commentator and freelance journalist Crisford Chogugudza explained on Thursday that media freedom in Zimbabwe is far from becoming a reality, arguing that "there is no political will for the reforms to take place." He agreed that pronouncements made by the government are not being backed up by action, and said there is a desperate need for fast change.

    "Damage over the last 29 years of media repression has been massive," Chogugudza said. "In order to redress the situation, there needs to be seismic and overwhelming change as soon as possible."

    (source : SW Radio Africa)

  • - In order to defend the interests of the professional journalists of Ivory Coast and to organize them within a federated framework a new organisation, « L'Organisation des journalistes professionnels de Côte d'Ivoire » (Ojpci) has been launched. Brou Aka Pascal, journalist with the first national television channel is its president. This new organization will hold its pre-congress on June 13 and its first assembly on June 27.

technology & convergence

  • Newtec announced tlast week that it has been selected by NTT Electronics to be the DVB-S2 technology partner for the development of the new HVD6100 IRD - the world’s first professional IRD (Integrated Receiver Decoder) to combine decoder functionality, with a DVB-S2 demodulator and AVC/H.264 4:2:2 HDTV support. The project is using the Newtec NTC/7044 high end DVB-S2 demodulator board.

    The NTC/7044 demodulator board from Newtec was chosen for the project as it is able to process data rates up to 155 Mbit/s and operate in 16 APSK and 32 APSK high-order demodulation schemes. It has also been specifically designed for the type of contribution and distribution applications that the HVD6100 IRD will provide to satellite, broadcast and telecoms operators.

  • Vizada, the world’s leading provider of global satellite communications, has successfully completed testing of the Inmarsat BGAN X-Stream service with a number of media customers, including CNN and Al-Arabiya News Channel. The service is now commercially available through Vizada.

    Both Vizada media customers are existing users of the Inmarsat BGAN service, a mobile satellite device that enables reporters to perform live broadcasting anywhere in the world. With X-Stream, customers now benefit from a guaranteed streaming service with increased data rates of up to 450 kbps, minimum of 384 kbps. The test phase was co-ordinated closely with Vizada’s Service Provider partners Digital Skies and Atlas Telecom. BGAN X-Stream also caters for government and military customers requiring increased data connection speeds for live videoconferencing and other bandwidth-hungry applications, particularly for media and government customers.


  • Need new broadcast equipment with a limited budget?

    South African commercials for DSTV, directed by Fresh Eye Film Production Director Bevan Cullinan, have been selected as finalists at the global 2009 Promax|BDA Promotion and Marketing Awards to be held on 16 June in New York. All three, in the ‘Guess Who?’ comedic series were given gold finalist status from the competition judges. The one that is most exciting to Cullinan is ‘Construction Worker’ which has been noted for its direction. South African viewers will remember it as strangely funny when a construction worker pulls out a gourmet lunch at a construction site, but it is the look on his fellow worker’s face that is priceless. Culinan’s interpretation of the scripts was based on very sound creative ideas from advertising agency Studio Zoo. Creative team Adi Leach and Cathy Ferrara are also holding thumbs that their DSTV commercials make it onto the winners list.

    Mediatech Africa ‘09 drives 2010 industry business opportunities (23-25 July 2009)

    Since its inception in South Africa in 1997, Mediatech Africa 2009 - SA’s only all-inclusive broadcast, media, entertainment and AV trade fair - comes at a crucial time, as the industry prepares to capitalise on the multitude of opportunities the 2010 World Cup presents. Taking place from 23 - 25 July 2009 at the Coca-Cola Dome at Northgate, Johannesburg in South Africa, Mediatech Africa 2009 showcases cutting edge technologies and services from industry leaders in television and broadcast, sound and audio, lighting and staging, animation, communication and related fields.

    Register free before 10th July to save R50 entry free. From major growth in staging and production equipment sales and high-definition broadcast technology to increased demand in roof systems, trussing and sound and audio services, the South African broadcast, media and entertainment industry is set to reap significant rewards from South Africa hosting the 2010 FIFA World Cup. With less than 18 months to go until this global soccer showpiece opens in Johannesburg, Mediatech Africa 2009 - SA’s only all-inclusive broadcast, media, entertainment and AV trade fair - comes at a crucial time, as the industry prepares to capitalise on the multitude of opportunities the World Cup presents.

    Taking place from 23 - 25 July 2009 at the Coca-Cola Dome at Northgate, Mediatech Africa 2009 showcases cutting edge technologies and services from industry leaders in television and broadcast, sound and audio, lighting and staging, animation, communication and related fields. Particular emphasis will be placed this year on the role these sectors can play in the successful staging of the World Cup, and the benefits thereof. Nick Matzukis, managing member of AVL Distribution, says he anticipates increased equipment sales and demand as a direct result of the World Cup. “We expect to see about a 25% growth in staging and production equipment sales and at least a 25% increase in demand for roof systems and trussing,” he explains.

    Colin Wainer, general manager of Inala Broadcast, agrees. “I think increased product sales and system integration are some of the positive spinoffs we’ll see coming out of this event,” he says. AVL Distribution and Inala Broadcast are just two of the many exhibitors participating in Mediatech Africa 2009. “The event is vital for the industry. It provides an opportunity to interact with a broad base of users and other providers. Without it, there would be no centralised showcase for new product developments,” says Matzukis. Wainer adds further, “it provides for presence, new business opportunities, networking possibilities and principal participation.” Simon Robinson, Mediatech Africa trade fair director, notes that aside from the World Cup, the industry is facing a number of other opportunities.

    “Getting to grips with the introduction of high-definition (HD), Dolby E and 5.1 surround sound to television; DTT implementation and new players in the DTH space, as well as training technically qualified personnel, well-versed in these new technologies, are just some of the opportunities and challenges we face at the moment,” he says. These issues, along with the latest technology such as video servers, digital live mixing consoles, automation systems, routers, LED lighting and circular roof truss systems, will be explored at Mediatech Africa 2009. The expo will cover the following sectors: broadcast, film and production; professional AV (sound, lighting, staging and rigging); DJ and professional music equipment; system integration; animation, new media and web; satellite and signal; and - two new sectors that have been introduced this year - computer music and production tools; and musical instruments. The trade fair is a must for industry professionals working in these areas and attracts buyers, top decision makers and influential visitors from across the spectrum. It combines the absolute in current technology with live demonstrations and special events, and offers unparalleled industry networking opportunities.

    A host of industry leaders have already signed up as Mediatech Africa 2009 exhibitors, including Sony SA, Spescom, Altech UAE, Inala Technologies, AVL Productions, Touchvision, Concilium Technologies, Visual Impact, Zimele Broadcasting, Questek Broadcast Technologies, Academy of Sound, Matrix Sound, ProSound, The Camera Platform and Movie Vision, amongst others. The previous Mediatech Africa drew 4170 trade visitors. The trade fair also sparked interest from around the world and a total of 233 foreign visitors attended from 26 countries, with the majority coming from Africa. “Substantial growth in visitor numbers is expected this year as the industry prepares for 2010 and seeks to investigate the plethora of new technology,” adds Robinson. This, together with Mediatech Africa’s increased sector profiles, necessitated the need to move the fair from its previous location at the Sandton Convention Centre to the Coca-Cola Dome at Northgate. This new venue is not only bigger but also offers up state-of-the-art exhibition technology, meeting the exact requirements of a trade fair of this nature.

    SCOLMA Annual Conference - Africa and the Moving Image: the Role of Libraries and Archives

    (17 June 2009 )

    Venue: Newnham College, Cambridge, 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?

    Calls for entries: 30th Durban International Film Festival 22 July - 2nd August 2009

  • The 4th edition of the annual Lola Kenya Screen audiovisual media festival for children and youth in eastern Africa will be held at Goethe-Institut, Nairobi, Kenya, August 10-15, 2009.

    Established in October 2005 to explore, identify and nurture creative talents among children and youth in areas of filmmaking, cultural journalism, events planning and presentation and critical appreciation of creativity, Lola Kenya Screen has over the past three years, Lola Kenya Screen has, through hands-on mentorship workshops, helped add 31 child filmmakers, 14 journalists, 13 film judges, 7 MCs, 15 producers of television drama for and youth and 6 producers of documentary films for children and youth to Africa’s creative and cultural spectrum.

    While Lola Kenya Screen has produced 20 short animation films and six short documentaries that have won-and continue to win-accolades and awards around the world, the festival has also showcased more than 1200 films from 71 nations representing all the continents in various genres, formats and lengths.

    In 2009, Lola Kenya Screen shall exhibit films from 50 countries and train children and youth in the production, appreciation, promotion, distribution and consumption of high quality audiovisual media content.

    Lola Kenya screen, presented by ComMattersKenya in conjunction with Goethe-Institut in Kenya, is in 2009 working with UNESCO, Prix Jeunesse and CIFEJ.

    Meanwhile, films made by children during the annual Lola Kenya Screen film production workshops are being translated into German and French, beginning with the well-loved Kiswahili and English hit, LITTLE KNOWLEDGE IS DANGEROUS, made by Adede Hawi Nyodero, Samora Michelle Oundo and Karama Kilibwa Ogova in August 2007.

    The translation is being undertaken by children in France and Germany through the partnership between Lola Kenya Screen and the Brussels-based Studio Malembe Maa of Congo-Kinshasa. Catherine Lion-Berl, a France-based teacher and member of Studio Malembe Maa, is coordinating the activity.

    LITTLE KNOWLEDGE IS DANGEROUS, the African representative in the Global Kids For Kids Festival Competition in 2008, is also winner of the Lola Kenya Screen Most Creative Project in 2007, 2nd Kids For Kids Africa Festival Competition Grand Prize in 2008, Special Jury Prize at 17th Jugend Medien Festival Berlin 2008, and nominee for Best Animation at the continental Africa Movie Academy Awards 2009, among other awards and accolades.

    Highway Africa conference, Grahamstown, South Africa (6 - 10 September 2009)

    Highway Africa is a partnership between Rhodes University (School of Journalism and Media Studies) and the South African Broadcasting Corporation (SABC), with the support of several partners, development agencies and sponsors. For eleven years the Highway Africa conference has been at the centre of Africa's debates on journalism and new media. The conference has over the years become the largest annual gathering of African journalists in the world (701 in 2007).

    People to People International Documentary Conference (10-12 September 2009)

    Following on the successful inauguration of the People to People International Documentary Conference in 2007, the biennial conference is scheduled in 2009 for 10-12 September.

    A joint initiative of the Tri-Continental Film Festival, Encounters South African International Documentary Festival and Southern Africa Communications for Development (Sacod), the conference helps fulfil the critical role of documentary film in Africa and the global South.

    Planned to coincide alternately with the Tri-Continental Film Festival in September and Encounters South African International Documentary Festival in June, the second edition of the conference is to take place in concert with the Tri-Continental Film Festival, as it did in 2007. This has been necessitated by Encounters unfortunately having to curtail the Johannesburg leg of its festival due to a funding shortfall. The People to People International Documentary Conference will however also benefit from and share synergies with a revived Sithengi market, which too is scheduled for September in Johannesburg. Registration for the conference, which is to engage urgent issues confronting documentary film and society, will open in July.

    The Southern African Broadcasting Association's (SABA) 2009 Annual General Conference will take place in MASERU, LESOTHO 11-14 OCTOBER 2009.

    Theme: Embracing Digital Migration

    Venue: Maseru, Lesotho

    Dates: 11-14 October 2009

    Invitations and further details to be sent to delegates in due course. (<>)

    Assistance needed - Future of Encounters in jeopardy

    Are you a professional African journalist or do you employ African journalists that could benefit from international training? Does your publication or radio station wish to receive free high-quality content in the run-up to, and during, the FIFA World Cup in South Africa in 2010? If so, read on!

    Twenty Ten. African media on the road to 2010 (and beyond)

    World Press Photo Foundation, Free Voice, Africa Media Online and lokaalmondiaal invite African journalists and media houses from different professional backgrounds (photo, print and radio) to participate in the Twenty Ten project. Here, you will find information about the aims and benefits of this project, as well as information on how you and your employee can be involved.

    Year 2010: for the first time in history, one of the most important sport and media events, the FIFA World Cup, takes place on the African continent. While the world's focus will be on South Africa and football, Twenty Ten grabs this unique opportunity to give African journalists the chance to report on football and all the associated stories in Africa from an African perspective.

    The benefits?

    Why should my employee apply for the Twenty Ten project and what are the benefits for African media?

    • Twenty Ten strengthens the professional journalistic skills and capacities of my employee in different fields: editorial, technical and ethical. Training workshops will be organized in 2009, parallel to qualifying matches of the African teams for 2010, and other championships in Africa, such as the FIFA U-20 World Cup.

    • My organization does not have to pay for this high quality training and mentorship.

    • Twenty Ten is an opportunity for African media organizations to become involved in the reporting, production and publication, both within Africa as well as outside the continent.

    • The Twenty Ten network gives most African media free access and user rights to a large amount of journalistic products about football in Africa, made by African professional journalists all over the continent, to be broadcasted or published freely by my organization before and during the FIFA World Cup 2010.

    • My company benefits from 50% of the revenue on the sale of products created by my employee.

    • My organizations’ reputation will be increased by a worldwide distribution of my employee's journalistic work via the Twenty Ten.

    Training: Distribution and Marketing for industry professionals

    Bigfish School of Digitial Filmmaking presents a 5 day skills development course funded by the Gauteng Film Commission. 5 day skills development course. WHO: Producers, Marketing and Publicity practitioners, Festival Directors, would-be Distributors with industry experience and Film Makers who wish to self distribute. WHY: New opportunities are constantly opening up in the area of distribution: mobile; internet or classically based models. Producers, filmmakers, industry related professionals need to participate in shaping their financial destinies by factoring in distribution at the onset of a production to see returns and profit from investment in intellectual property.


    • Design and implement a business plan for your marketing and distribution.

    • Increase and grow new income streams through effective and innovative distribution strategies.

    • Understand the legal requirements and deliverables needed for distribution.

    • Understand different channels’ formats and platforms of distribution.

    • Understand the international business of distribution and sales.

    • Benefit from new and converging technologies available to the industry.

    WHEN June:

    Friday 19th Monday 22nd Tuesday 23rd Wednesday 24th

    Thursday 25th June 09

    Weekdays 9-4pm;

    This course will be facilitated by Dan Jawitz, an Emmy award-winning producer and distribution expert involved in production, distribution, sales and marketing of African film and TV product for 15 years.

    Contact details, motivations and CVs for this course should be sent to:

    Connie Mosegedi

    Tel: (011) 482 5599

    Fax :( 011) 482 6699

    This course is made available through funding from the Gauteng Film Commission.

    Script registration offered through Pitchit

    Script registration offers protection to filmmakers and writers for work that is not yet published. It provides filmmakers with evidence of priority of ownership by establishing the completion date of their work. This evidence is crucial in a legal dispute of ownership, and it is important that filmmakers and writers ascertain proof of ownership prior to sharing the work with anyone.

    “Such a service has never existed in the country and we certainly need the protection” said Uzanenkosi Mahlangu, creative activist and managing director of Ants Multimedia Entertainment.

    Camera Assistants’ Course 2009

    Course: Slamdance 2-Day Guerrilla Film School Stellenbosch & CT in June

    The Slamdance Africa 2 Day Film School runs for the first time in Stellenbosch 6/7th June and in Cape Town 13/14th June ‘09. The course is designed by filmmakers for filmmakers who want to write, shoot, cut and sell their zero to low budget guerrilla film.

    Started in 1995 by a group of independent artists, the Slamdance Film Festival continues to be organized and programmed exclusively by filmmakers, for filmmakers.

    No less, here at our 2-day film school, the course is designed by our filmmakers for filmmakers, actors, writers and producers who want to learn the hard and true methods of screenwriting and film making that made the careers of Slamdance alumni like Steven Soderbergh (Traffic, Oceans 11), Christopher Nolan (Batman Begins, Memento, Dark Knight) , Marc Forster (The Kite Runner, The Quantum Solace) and Jared Hess (Napoleon Dynamite).

    Want to write, direct a feature film or documentary? Want to do it on a dime? In 2 days you will learn how to write, finance, cast, shoot, cut, post, get to a film festival and sell your film.

    At Slamdance we have proven methods based on hundreds of successful filmmakers who have followed the basic tenets of our low budget filmmaking 101.

    1. Get writing with The Knowledge: Writing for budget, Aristotelian Three-Act, Field’s Paradigm, Robert McKee’s Method, The Hero’s Journey and the Scorsese five-sequence archetype.

    2. Get Technical! You gonna need to learn more than rip a DVD. You will need to learn how to shoot and cut. It’s simpler than you think.

    3. Get professional! Get Smart! This is your new career. It is brutal out there in Hollywoodland and only the smart survive! We will show you how to navigate through the sharks of the industry, the film festivals, the sales agents and distribution execs. All this for R700/R450 students.

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