Issue no 6 13 June 2007

top story

  • This week CNBC announced that it would be offering a channel devoted to business news from Africa. But a more ambitious project may be just around the corner to launch a 24 hour African news channel. Russell Southwood spoke to Salim Amin, CEO of Camerapix, the man behind the idea.

    Q: What does Camerapix do?

    Camerapix was set up in 1963 by my Dad as photo agency. It then moved on to do film and video. We now have three sides to the company.

    The first of these is the TV side of the company which does things like broadcast work and documentaries. Then there’s the archive company that has the pictures of my Dad and his partner Duncan Willets. There are 3.5 million images taken over 20 years and 10 years worth of video. They photographed every aspect of the continent and its marketed as a business for those who want images from the continent.

    Q: Is it online?

    We’re not online and that is a problem in this day and age. We lose out to agencies like Getty because they are digital and the picture editors simply have their URL in their bookmarks. We need resources to get digital but we are currently doing it in bits and pieces.

    The third company is Camerapix Publishers which does guides, coffee table books and in-flight magazines. We do the in-flight magazine of Ethiopian Airways.

    Then there’s the Mohamed Foundation which runs a training school and is set up as an NGO in memory of my Dad to train African journalists. It has graduated over 60 students and 95% have got employment. We only take 17 students at a time and train them in broadcast journalism.

    Q: How many people work at Camerapix?

    We employ 30 people in all the different parts of the company. Our turnover is probably close to US$600-700,000 a year and we have a 12% profitability, We’re not a huge company but we are the biggest company of its kind outside South Africa and we have the biggest reach of any production house on the continent except North Africa. Our crews all depart from here and have been to just about every continent. We work for all the major broadcasters including CNN, ABC, BBC and CBC. Whether you need fixing or filming, we can sort it.

    How did the idea for a 24 hour African news channel come about?

    There were two previous attempts. There was the African Broadcasting Network which was just a concept. And then there was TV Africa that went on air in South Africa for a short time. The idea of the latter was to broadcast and distribute through local TV stations. It was recycled content. Both used up a lot of money and went under.

    So the idea started at News Exchange, one of the biggest broadcast conferences in the world. I was usually the only person there from Africa. And every year there was a session on Africa and there were no Africans in it. So I got a bit pissed off and ended up suggesting an African News Exchange. The next year News Exchange was held in Portugal and it had a session on Arab media with channels like Al-Jazeera. A light bulb went off in my head and at John Owen, the Conference Producer looked at each and nodded. Why not put together a channel? The British Council helped us put together an event that was held in Ethiopia in December 2005. It brought together 65 prominent TV people on the continent and global broadcasters and we all agreed that we needed to put the practicalities into place.

    So myself and my Managing Director Daniel Rifkin worked on putting it together, trying to raise funds. It’s been us moving on alone, looking for seed funding. We didn’t want anyone to have control of the channel.

    Q: What sort of shareholding structure are you proposing?

    There would be a maximum of 20% for any one investor. We’d put about 15% of the shares into the hands of employees so that there was some sense of ownership and loyalty. We want to raise $50 million which would be enough to run for four years. We’d open 46 country bureaus and operate in two languages, English and French. We’re still playing with the figures but we’d be cash positive in five years. And after that, we’d float on the African stock markets. We want a transparent ownership to guarantee the integrity of the channel.

    Q: Where would the service get its revenues?

    There would be various streams. It would be possible to get it as part of a standard subscription on DStv and GTV and we would get a percentage of that subscription revenue, the exact amount depending on the deals done. Currently DStv has a monopoly and can demand what they want but that’s changing. We’d get advertising from companies with a continent-wide presence like banks and airlines. But one key distribution means would be mobile TV and it would be the largest revenue generator. If it’s affordable, people will demand local news. There would also be sponsored programmes by NGOs. For example the Gates Foundation might pay for a series of shows or documentaries on HIV/AIDS.

    Some material will be sold to international broadcasters. Many of them have reduced their presence and if there’s quality material, they’ll use it.

    Q: What number of viewers will it attract?

    That depends on the kind of model used. We could give the signal free to all the continent’s terrestrial broadcasters, especially for their “dead” slot between 12pm and 9am. At present they simply rebroadcast things like CNN and BBC. If we had all those slots, then we might be able to have 150 million viewers.

    Q: I understand you’re trying to get it off the ground in a small way ahead of a full-blown launch?

    One of the advisory committee members is AllAfrica.com and it’s looking at doing video online. It may start life as a channel there and they can do the Internet side of it. We can provide content from across the continent. We’ll start slowly using local people around the continent.

    Q: What’s the competition? CNBC has just launched a 24 hour business news channel for Africa (see Broadcast below).

    CNBC is purely a business channel. And there’s SABC Africa that has been renamed SABC International. SABC’s problem is that it should have been the leader in this field but it’s Government-funded therefore it’s not independent and it’s compromised. Also it’s largely South Africa-focused. That said, there are South Africans who are interested in investing in this channel.

    Q: Where have you got with the fundraising?

    We are finalising the business plan and have discussed the concept with a number of investors. They have said:”Give us the figures and we will get you the money.” The funding came through to do the feasibility work. Within the next month, they’ll be a solid business plan.

    Q: Where will you get the commercial management needed for a channel of this sort?

    Invariably this may come from outside the continent. We need to pick the best people for the job. The people telling the stories have to be African but the people behind the scenes can be black, white or yellow so long as they can do their job. Initially I will be closely involved but I will come back to Camerapix because it’s my company. I will hand over to someone younger with vision and it will need to evolve over time.

content

  • The Voice of America (VOA) has launched African Music Mix, a continuous stream of African music favorites, available to African listeners, every day of the week.

    From N'dombolo to Benga to African hip-hop, African Music Mix offers the best in African music by artists from East, West, North, South, and Central Africa, as well as the islands. Broadcast daily, the new African-oriented music stream draws from VOA's archive of some 12,000 African songs to provide millions of music fans across the continent with a desired mix of local and pan-African favorites.

    African Music Mix airs Monday-Sunday from 0000 UTC-0300 UTC and Monday-Friday from 1100 UTC - 1400 UTC. VOA's English to Africa Service broadcasts 24 hours a day, 7 days a week to Anglophone Africa through shortwave, medium wave, television, the Internet, and a growing list of more than 40 affiliates, as well as two dedicated VOA 24-hour FM stations in Accra, Ghana and Nairobi, Kenya.

    (Voice of America (Washington, DC), 1 June 2007)

  • The Mozambican government expects that companies, through advertising and marketing, will compete in an environment of transparency, capable of bringing ideas about how to promote Mozambican produce and to maximise the benefits of regional integration, declared the Minister of Industry and Trade, Antonio Fernando, on Monday.

    Speaking at the opening of an International Festival of Advertising and Marketing, Fernando said regional integration, with the creation of a southern African free trade zone, creates immense opportunities, as the market available for Mozambican companies expands from 20 millon people to 230 million.

    As integration gathered pace, "more demands will be placed on our ports and railways", said Fernando. "And since Mozambique is potentially powerful in electricity, it can supply the region with that resource."

    Mozambicans had to work to promote the country, its tourism potential, and even its cuisine. "We have to promote the value of our prawns, of our kapenta (a fresh water fish found in Cahora Bassa lake), and the hospitality and generosity of our people", declared the Minister.

    He noted that in consultations among the business class about regional integration, held in Maputo, Beira and Nampula, the key role of advertising had been stressed. Companies should regard advertising as a necessary investment for promoting their goods and services.

    Mario Ferro, chairperson of the Mozambican Association of Advertising Companies (AMEP), said the fact that Mozambican advertising agencies are forming partnerships with foreign agencies was a sign that they have their eyes on regional integration.

    The advertising agencies, Ferro said, are aware that regional integration is not just about Mozambican borders to foreign goods, but is also an opportunity for an increase in business. The Festival, sponsored by Mozambican companies, displays the work of 13 advertising agencies from Mozambique, Angola, Cape Verde and Mauritius.

    (Agencia de Informacao de Mocambique (Maputo), 28 May 2007)

  • New Vision's own columnist, Aldrine Nsubuga has been selected by Supersport to provide the Ugandan perspective in the live television broadcast of the June 2 Nations Cup qualifier. Nsubuga, New Vision's renowned Voice Of Football, will analyse the make-or-break match between the Cranes and Super Eagles alongside a Nigerian pundit this Saturday.

    The Uganda-Nigeria game will be the only game televised by DStv and will be telecast on Supersport channels 3 and 8 to a continental audience. A prominent Liverpool fan, it won't be Nsubuga's first foray into television. He's a regular analyst on Uganda Broadcasting Corporation. Nsubuga also writes two weekly columns for The New Vision, a monthly piece for the Premiership Magazine and is a panelist on a weekend sports show on Sanyu FM.

    (New Vision (Kampala), 30 May 2007)

  • CNBC Africa, Sub-Saharan Africa's first 24-hour, live international business news channel, will begin broadcasting from its new Johannesburg headquarters beginning Friday, Xinhua reported from Johannesburg citing the company. The latest affiliate of CNBC, the US-based global business news channel, CNBC Africa will "focus on Africa's business markets and provide global business and economic news from an African perspective."

    "We will broadcast local content from our studio in Johannesburg, and will take feeds from our bureaux in Lagos, Abuja, Nairobi and Cape Town," Trevor Ormerod, Chief Operating Officer of CNBC Africa, said in a press release Monday. Ormerod added that further bureaux in Africa will be established on a roll-out basis.

    Regional programming will include in-depth analyses of regional and major international stock exchanges and currency markets, regular business and political updates, interactive talk shows that encourage debate and lifestyle programming tailored for African audience, he said.

    Peter Ndoro, head of communications for the channel, said the channel will be filling a critical need for real-time news, analysis, commentary and programming on the continent. The global CNBC network reaching 200 million households across the world will also provide resources that are needed by African viewers, he said.

    This development is likely to hit Summit TV, a South African business channel that broadcasts in the evenings. With a staff of 40 people, Summit has 200,000 viewers a week in South Africa and also sells content to Britain’s Sky News.

    (Ethiopian Herald (Addis Ababa), 30 May 2007)

  • Uganda Broadcasting Council on Tuesday evening closed Kitti FM in Kitgum over non-payment of operational license fees, Johnson Omona, the radio's director has said. The Kitgum-based private radio went off air on Tuesday evening at around 5 p.m just three days after Forum for Democratic Change President Kizza Besigye was blocked from speaking on it. However, controversy still surrounds the radio's closure as the Broadcasting Council last week denied knowledge of the matter.

    The radio was switched off for several hours on Saturday evening-30 minutes into Dr Besigye's two-hour talk show. Reports indicated that the radio was switched off on orders of Kitgum RDC Nahaman Ojwee, who also denied the allegations.

    (The Monitor (Kampala), 31 May 2007)

  • Presenter of the Jolly Good Show at the Sierra Leone Broadcasting Service (SLBS) 93.5 in Kenema, Sahr Victor Fayombo and his colleague, Samuel Obba Navo has been attacked for applying to the National Aids Secretariat (NAS) for the sum of Le 4 million to produce and present HIV/AIDS radio sensitization programmes. The funds were made available by NAS to Local Councils across the country for HIV/AIDS awareness raising programmes in the provinces.

    Fayombo, who also doubles as Secretary General of the Sierra Leone Association of Journalists in the Eastern Region was helped by Navo to write a project proposal for NAS asking for funds to host the programme without duly notifying the station management of SLBS.

    A senior officer at the local council in Kenema said the funds were meant for organizations registered with the Ministry of Social Welfare, Gender and Children's Affairs with bank accounts into which the money could be paid. "The Jolly Good Show is not an activity by a registered and qualified non governmental organization. It is just one of the programmes aired every Saturday on SLBS 93.5.," one embittered official working with one of the NGOs in Kenema said. The HIV Focal Person at the Kenema City Council, Musa Conteh confirmed the duo presented a project proposal with a budget of Le 9 million to sensitize the community on HIV/AIDS through radio programmes.

    (Concord Times (Freetown), 31 May 2007)

  • Grappling at home with rapid mysterious staff exit, Arua-based Radio Pacis FM on May 26 sailed to continental stardom after it was declared the best "New Radio Station of-the-year" in Africa during the inaugural BBC-Africa radio awards - 2007. Former Nations Media Group Chief Executive Officer Wilfred Kiboro handed over the coveted prize to the radio managing director Fr Tonino Pasolini at a colourful ceremony in Nairobi, Kenya on May 26.

    Radio Pacis, hit by staff resignations, now stands to receive broadcasting equipment worth Shs 8.3 million. "It is very exciting to be a winner but winning is also a challenge because we now need to maintain high standards and ethical behaviour," Sherry Meyer, the station manager said.

    The BBC's final panel of four expert judges - led by former World Broadcaster's Focus news anchor Robin White - were mesmerised by a one-hour long audio entry by Radio Pacis that combined 10-minute segments of its news journal, live talk shows, prime news, women as well as children's programmes.

    "Radio Pacis is a fine example of what a community radio station outside the capital can do. It may have few staff and modest resources, but it still addresses challenging issues including providing advice on medical and health problems. It also offers debate on matters of local interest alongside local and national news," the judges said in declaring the station winner.

    Commenting on the high labour turnover at the station, Mr Meyer who doubles as the human resource manager, said they were "concerned" about the sudden exit of staff but were undertaking candidate mentoring and in-house training to develop capacity of recruits to understand employment and management policies. At least 20 contract employees at the station have quit over the last two years; some for further studies but others due to unexplained reasons. Now the total labour force stands at 50 contract staff.

    The Catholic-owned 90.9FM radio began broadcasting on October 25, 2004. Its establishment spearheaded by Frederick Drandua, bishop of Arua Catholic Diocese, followed an appeal by grassroot Christians through the diocesan synod.

    Buoyed by the sudden feat, Father Pasolini disclosed that arrangements are in place to acquire an additional frequency for the radio that intends to dedicate one frequency to broadcasting in English, Alur, Acholi while the other takes care of the native Lugbara, Madi and Kakwa languages."We may get the second frequency by February next year. Our stand is to be professional everyday and use the radio as a means of communicating with people to promote development, faith matters, and issues of health, education and women dignity," he said.

    The award, the first of its kind in Uganda, has received overwhelming appreciation from the station's estimated 5 million listeners in northern Uganda, South Sudan and parts of northeastern Democratic Republic of Congo as a pioneering example of excellent media work and has effectively redefined the significance of the broadcast industry in championing development of rural areas.

    Other stations in the West Nile border enclave include; Radio Voice of Life, which is currently marking its 10th year of existence, Nile FM, Arua 1 FM, radio Paidha FM and the Koboko-based Spirit FM. Ghanaian Citi FM, one of the only two finalist stations, lost the top-notch New Station of the year honour under which only stations that started transmissions on or after September 1, 2004 were eligible. But Citi FM, through its flagship breakfast show scooped the Interactive/Talk show of the year award in the premier edition of the 7-category BBC-Africa radio competition organised primarily to celebrate "excellence" in African radio broadcasting.

    The South African-based 702 Talk radio emerged overall radio station of the year. The Local On-air campaign of the year went to Matilda Asante of Joy FM in Ghana, Esther Mbondo of Kenya Broadcasting Corporation (KBC) took the News Journalist of the year slot honours and her Kenyan Capital FM counterpart James Wokabi led the sports journalist pack. Talented teenage South African presenter Qaanitaah Dramat of Radio 786 won the Young broadcaster of the year prize.

    (The Monitor (Kampala), 6 June 2007)

  • In announcing its latest financial results, Worldspace revealed that it had lost a contract with the Kenya Institute of Education on 1 January to broadcast primary education programmes throughout the country. The contract accounted for about 13,000 of Worldspace’s subscribers in Kenya.

    According to its first quarter report for this year, the company had just 191,646 subscribers globally, 7,459 subscribers down on the last quarter. Revenue also fell to $3 million dollars for the first quarter compared to $3.5 million last year. Revenues from subscriptions stood at $1.8 million, a 14 per cent increase on the same period last year.

    Neverthless, as a result of lower overall revenues, the company recorded a $35.5 million loss compared to its first quarter loss of $29.2 million. Interestingly the company had only 8,344 new users in India, 65% down from the fourth quarter of last year. India is the company’s biggest market with 170,000 subscribers, probably making the number of African subscribers somewhere in the 15-20,000 range.

    The company’s satellite covers two-thirds of the earth’s population and it has the capacity to deliver up to 80 channels of digital audio and multimedia programming, Its Achilles heel is that it requires a proprietary radio to be able to access it. After a number of years where the company’s “burn-rate” has not come down and subscriptions have not increased very rapidly, the sceptics are wondering how much longer the company will able to maintain the idea that it has a workable business model.

    (East African (Nairobi), 5 June 2007)

  • A digital entertainment cable television with bias for information technology, business and gospel is set to hit the Nigerian screen soon. The TV called Focus TV is a cable channel on the Disc Communications platform. Coordinator of the cable TV, Tayo Adewusi, stated that the station is one in a bouquet of digital cable channels that can be received with an installed Yagi antenna on UHF 45.7 MHz on the DISC terrestrial transmission space.

    He stated that it has thus become a powerful tool in the hands of creative men and women, entertainers, politicians and the state as a medium for broadcasting items of news, music, talk, sports, entertainments and movies for people to appreciate.

    Adewusi added that "the arrival of digital technology in television broadcasting has further raised the stakes, as items of weather, holiday, business and more can be accessed on screen using a remote control port. This, according to him, is in addition to quality picture and networking brilliance which ensures 'no signal drop' .

    He reiterated that the story of Focus Television, is one that derives from the weighty proposition put forward by the visionary coordinating executive in concert with a bevy of professionals and kept in view until now. Programmes he added, have also been galvanized to sustain a projected viewership base of five million subscribers. For this reason, the station, he noted, promises to be ' uniquely different'. This ensign he disclosed is a constant reminder of its duty to the people they serve and to ensure the much talked about 'local content' that is needed to encourage ingenuity and pride of place in home grown broadcast inputs among Industry Practitioners at various levels.

    He stated that Focus TV is coming on stream with its network of experienced broadcast journalism professionals poised to foster an enduring and profitable cable channel that will stream entertainment, business, sports, features, documentaries, religious broadcast, news and quality programmes. It has bias for Information and Communications Technology - ICT reporting in line with global trends which take into cognisance the role of ICT in the development of the various strata of society and humanity.

    Adewusi who brings his experience to bear on the new digital TV offering is the anchor person of ICT Watch; a weekly industry feature on Minaj Broadcast International (MBI) which he has sustained for seven years and continues to provide issue-based reports and analyses as well as the coverage of industry innovation and product launch.

    He stated that broadcast investments around the world and the rapid growth and expanse seen in the platforms of propagation are the result of technology, innovation and liberalization which expressively have engendered resolute appetite by developers, practitioners and consumers of this media of mass communication. Adewusi believes that for the most part, liberalization has been the most dominant aspect that continues to influence the growth seen in broadcasting, whose history can effectively be traced to 1959 in Nigeria .

    (This Day (Lagos), 6 June 2007)

  • MultiChoice Kenya announced a new DStv Family Bouquet for Ksh1,350 ($19) a month, starting May 25, hardly a month after GTV - a European company - announced it will launch family entertainment programmes in July. The move by MultiChoice is no doubt a reaction to GTV's entry, although general manager Richard Tembedza said it resulted from research by the firm that sought to provide a package that balances desire with affordability."

    He further said that DStv Family is a direct response to the need of DStv lovers for a special package that caters to the home entertainment needs of the family at a reduced rate. "There's still the same excitement and entertainment that DStv delivers, now at a reduced rate in a new package, specifically created for families," said Mr Tembedza.

    The DStv Family package will offer 25 channels - AfricaMagic, Action X, Boomerang, Reality TV, Fashion TV, Mindset Learn, Play Jam, RAI International, CCTV-E&F (China's national TV), TV 5 Afrique, RTP, National Geographic, SuperSport Active, SuperSport Select, SuperSport 4, Channel O, Audio Channel, the Christian channels Rhema and TBN; and the news channels BBC, CNBC, Al Jazeera and SABC Africa and local channels NTV and KBC. However missing on the list are the up-market channels Movie Magic 1 and 2; Hallmark, M-Net Movies 1 and 2, M-net, M-net Series, Cartoon Network, Disney Channel, Discovery Channel, Animal Planet, History Channel, Mtv and MTV Base among other.

    During the announcement of its entry into Kenya's pay-TV market, GTV said, "When it comes to television, all too often Africans have been faced with limited choice, low quality and poor value for money. But that is about to change." The firm said it was planning to unleash an entirely different approach to satellite-based pay-TV, which will revolutionise lifestyles for the whole family. DStv's Family Bouquet will open a price war with GTV, which is yet to disclose its subscription price.

    "It will be much cheaper than what is available," is all the company could say. With this, the stage is set for gruelling competition given that GTV's initial focus - an innovative model that champions African consumer demand, which would have redefined the pay-TV market, and home entertainment - has been encroached. The significant drop in entry-level pricing is also a major change for DStv, which until now has remained out of reach for the majority of viewers.

    The soon to be rival channels seem to be reading from the same script, promising the same content. GTV viewers will have access to major international channels as well as GTV's own channels created especially to satisfy local tastes. Programming will include a diverse range of news, sports, movies, popular series, music, and religious content. Among GTV's own channels will be G Prime, an entertainment and movie channel, and G Sports featuring live international and African sports including top flight European football.

    But on the ground, GTV's entry might not be good news for entertainment venues that have been baiting customers with DStv entertainment, because of the increased affordability. Africa represents the least penetrated pay-TV region in the world. Less than one per cent of television-owning households in sub-Saharan Africa currently subscribe to pay-TV services, compared with 15 per cent in Eastern Europe, 36 per cent in Western Europe and 93 per cent in North America.

    In Kenya, of the 2.2 million households with televisions, only 23,100 subscribe to a satellite service. Julian McIntyre, founder of GTV said providing low cost pay TV will go a long way in ensuring quality content is accessible to many rather than a select few, as is the prevailing situation. According to the African Media Development Initiative: Kenya Report, 2007, growth in Kenya's TV sector has been slight in the past five year's. Satellite subscriber numbers have not shown any significant growth, with the monthly subscription cost remaining beyond the means of most viewers. TV stations in Kenya face financial problems, low quality production and presentation and generally lack local content.

    (East African (Nairobi), 5 June 2007)

distribution

  • The successful launch of Nigeria's communication satellite, NIGCOMSAT-1, has begun to yield dividends as both foreign and indigenous companies have initiated moves to subscribe to the services. Among the companies in this initial subscription deals are Eutelsat in Europe, Nigeria's Globacom, Link-serve, Celtel, and some other foreign firms in America, Hong Kong, China and the Governments of Kenya, Rwanda.

    Making this known yesterday in Abuja, Managing Director of NIGCOMSAT Ltd, Ahmed Rufai, said Eutelsat has been offered slots in the Ku bandwidth for an asking price of $1.6 million while Globacom has indicated interest in acquiring about four channels. Rufai said because of the cheaper costs of high quality services being offered by the company, operators abroad have found it cheaper to do business with it than other satellite operators in their areas.

    He said the comparative advantage of NIGCOMSAT-1 makes it the choice communications satellite currently in the world but that the company was cognizant of the need to allow Nigerian entities become prime beneficiaries of its services. The MD revealed that the satellite which cost $100 million less to build than it would have had it been built in Europe said the project was completed five months ahead of schedule to make it a record accomplishment.

    According to him, a period of 33 months was envisaged for the completion of the project but due to doubled efforts, it was achieved in about 24 months, ascribing the feat to the dexterity of the Chinese and Nigerian engineers engaged for the job. He also said local banks in the country have approached the company with offers to off-set the debts borrowed by the Federal Government to finance the building of the satellite as further indications of the profitability of the project.

    (This Day (Lagos), 1 June 2007)

  • The Government plans to license signal broadcast carriers to avoid infrastructure duplication. Information and Communications minister Mutahi Kagwe last week said the Government would continue to prioritise the sharing of infrastructure. In a speech read on his behalf by assistant minister Koigi wa Wamwere, he said "in the ICT policy guidelines of March this year, the Government has expressed its commitment to encourage the sharing of public and private utility providers."

    Kagwe said the spread and proportion of access to ICT services in Kenya and most African countries remained poor globally. The minister was speaking after opening the public and private sectors partnership forum at a Nairobi hotel. The two-day forum, which is co-organised by the International Telecommunications Union and Communications Commission of Kenya, attracted about 100 delegates from various African countries. Participants are expected to discuss the ways of transforming the prevailing digital divide to digital dividends.

    (The Nation (Nairobi), 5 June 2007)

  • Tanzanian power utility Tanesco will form a separate subsidiary company to handle its fibre business. According to TANESCO’s David Mshana:”Our business is to generate and provide electricity, but it is very important for us to use this facility (the fibre) for commercial purposes. Even TV and radio stations are welcome to use the facility. Instread of using the usual masts to telecast, broadcast or transmit, it will be prudent and cheaper for them to use the fibre optic cable.”

    Tanzania’s national power utility TANESCO has launched its fibre network for use by other carriers in a move that it promises will reduce the price of distributing broadcast signals in the country. It told the local press that it had advertised for a qualified and experienced company to run the service which will be launched on 5 June.

  • CV Telecom has recruited 250 customers in six months for its IP-TV service but its new private competitor has come in with a cheaper service ($20-30, depending on bouquet) and has recruited 200 customers in just 10 days.

investment

  • Visiting South African media group, Business in Africa has attracted Liberia media for the forth coming African Business Leaders Forum scheduled to take place in Ghana. The Analyst newspaper, Real TV and Truth FM all in Monrovia have entered into media partnership arrangements with the South African group to promote the 5th African Business Leaders Forum from October 17 - 19, 2007 in Accra, Ghana.

    "The Analyst is one of the leading newspapers in Liberia and internationally we are well recognized. With our rich website, The Analyst is a choice news source for Liberians in the Diaspora," said Stanley Seakor, Publisher and Managing Editor of The Analyst. He said his newspaper sees its association with the forum as an opportunity to extend its influence beyond Liberia. Earlier on Tuesday, the visiting team paid a courtesy call on Ghana's ambassador to Liberia, His Excellency Major General Francis Adu-Amanfoh.

    This forum will help us show what investment opportunities are in Ghana and also get to find out what business opportunities Ghanaian business people can take advantage of in other African countries," the ambassador said. A member of the visiting team, Mark A. Kwateng said: "Our visit has been a huge success. We've had fruitful deliberations with media groups and other prospective participants and we are confident that this year's forum will follow the tradition of success of previous ones."

    The forum forms part of Ghana's 50th independence anniversary and is sponsored by telecom giant, MTN, Coca Cola Africa, among others. The event is expected to attract top African business leaders, management of public institutions and politicians to strengthen their resolve to fight poverty and underdevelopment on the continent. The team left Monrovia Tuesday for Freetown, Sierra Leone, where they will be meeting business groups and media organizations in connection with the forum.

    (The Analyst (Monrovia), 6 June 2007)

  • The Advertisers Association of Nigeria (ADVAN) has made a projection that media advertising expenditure in the country would hit N80 billion mark by the year 2010. The organisation comprising of well over 50 blue-chip advertising companies operating in the country says its projection is based on current industry performance record which puts over all media advertising expenditure at N50 billion as at end of 2006.

    Making this projections public was the ADVAN President, Walter Fijnaut while addressing a pre- AGM media briefing of the organisation in Lagos. Fijnaut who took an over view of current operating business environment in the country, especially as it concerns adverting noted with optimism that the general economic outlook for Nigeria is positive. According to the ADVAN boss who is also the Marketing Director of Nigerian Breweries Plc " the country is now debt free and if stability in government remains, we will see a serious inflow of foreign investment into Nigeria in the next few years".

    This inflow, he reasoned, and the money to be made with continued exploitation of Nigeria's richness in natural and cultural resources may lead to the further development of a true middle class in society with its own spending power" he added. “This development may propel the economy of this country even further.”

    The ADVAN boss commented on various advertising industry related issues which, according to him are considered critical to advertisers in Nigeria including compliance to media schedules, improvements on media programmes content and the urgent need to create an independent Audit Bureau of Circulation (ABC) to comprise of all industry stakeholders.

    While commending the current levels of media compliance f on Television and radio which he estimated at 80 and 85 per cent levels in 2004 from the previous 60-65 per cent, he emphasised the need for continuous viewership and listenership research as according to him, " the big progress in content on TV and radio commands for such a continuous research to be made available to industry players as soon as possible".

    On the issue of media audit bureau of circulation, he said the organisation had entered joint agreement with other industry stakeholders including the Newspaper Paper Proprietors Association of Nigeria (NPAN) adding that the entity likely to commence operation September this year would see to it that future rate settings for newspapers and magazines have final objective basis. On industry debts, he said ADVAN is committed to playing a constructive role in resolving the bad debt issue adding that the association is in the waiting for a concrete member by member list of debts registered in the books of Broadcasting Organisation of Nigeria (BON) and NPAN members.

    (Vanguard (Lagos), 1 June 2007)

  • Johnnic Communications (Johncom), SA' s second-largest media company, said yesterday the Competition Commission had unconditionally approved the sale of its stake in M-Net and SuperSport to Naspers. Last year, media giant Naspers, the country's biggest company in the sector, agreed to pay cash and shares worth R3,15bn for Johncom's 38,56% interest in the two pay- television channels. The sale would boost Naspers' holding in the channels to 98.7%. Additionally, the deal forms a crucial role in Johncom's unbundling strategy and a possible empowerment deal.

    Johncom has unveiled plans to spin off and separately list its media and entertainment assets. It said that once the Naspers transaction had been completed, the remaining 38% shares in media group Caxton would be separately listed as Johncom, while the media and entertainment operations -- including Business Day, Sunday Times and Nu Metro -- would fall under a new listed company with the temporary name Opco. The company said the deal would allow it to focus on expanding its media and entertainment business and make it easier to bring black investors on board to meet affirmative action targets.

    In January, about 80% of shareholders voted in favour of the deal. It is now up to the Competition Tribunal to have the final say. The company said it would now turn to gaining th is approval as well as that of the JSE, which would need to unconditionally approve the listing of the Naspers N-shares on the exchange.

    (Business Day (Johannesburg), 1 June 2007)

regulation & policy

  • The Senegal Government’s tight control of media took an unexpected turn when two weeks ago a large contingent of armed soldiers burst into the 92.3 Premier FM to switch off the transmitters.

    The radio station is owned by Madiambal Diagne who has long been a thorn in the flesh of Senegal’s ruling elite. He also publishes a daily, Le Quotidien and is about to launch a satirical weekly called Cocorico. There is much to be satirical about in Senegal and maybe this is what worries the Government.

    Diagne’s radio station started test signals about two weeks ago but was asked to close down with the arrival of four truckloads of armed soldiers stormed the premises of Diagne’s company Avenir Communications. A staff member of Le Quotidien said:”Mr Diagne was asked to remove the station from the air but he refused asking them to do it themselves.”

    Diagne explained the rather lengthy process he had undergone to try and get frequency for his station. He had first requested a frequency in November 2003. The request was denied with the explanation that Dakar’s frequencies were saturated. However, others continued to be issued with frequencies despite the so-called saturation. Finally to overcome these obstacles, Diagne bought a radio station with a pre-existing frequency licence.

    It is not clear whether the Senegalese authorities will allow the radio station to resume its operations. The new station was to have been run by Michel Diouf, already well known as a founder member of Sud FM and Manager of Radio Television Senegalese (RTS).

    Diagne was charged with publishing confidential reports and correspondence, false information and news “which could cause serious political problems” and as a result spent 20 days in jail in 2004. When President Wade was asked on a recent trip to Mauritania why he had deviated from his promise that his government would never send a journalist to prison, he replied:”Senegalese journalists don’t respect the law.”

    Afrol News

  • Renaming of the controversial Media Bill was among the amendments agreed after industry stakeholders and a Parliamentary committee met. The Bill, which is awaiting the second reading in Parliament, is now called the Media Council of Kenya Bill 2007, and allows the industry to regulate itself. The Information minister has also lost powers to appoint the chairman of the media regulation body as proposed in the earlier Bill.

    The changes come as the Media Owners Association presented its draft. The Parliamentary Select committee on Energy, Communication and Public Works reached the amendments following a meeting with media players in Mombasa. The new Bill also seeks to give the council powers to enforce its ruling, chairman of the committee and Baringo Central MP, Mr Gideon Moi, said.

    Provisions giving the Government powers to regulate the media were also struck out. Kenya Union of Journalists secretary general, Ezekiel Mutua, praised the changes. "Self-regulation will enable journalists name and shame, but still retain their jobs," said Mutua. Before, organisations that were to nominate members of the council were 14, now they are nine.

    Moi said some of the organisations proposed earlier had no value to the council. The second proposed regulatory body, the Advisory Council, has also been left out. Media owners felt the earlier name implied that the Bill would duplicate some of the Communications Commission of Kenya functions. It also seemed to duplicate the broadcasting and sections of the Books and Newspapers Act. Meanwhile, chairman of the Media Owners Association, Hanningtone Gaya, says Information minister, Mutahi Kagwe, asked the association to present its draft in three weeks. "We will present our draft today (Wednesday) for amendments," he said.

    (East African Standard (Nairobi), 8 June 2007)

  • A journalist remained hospitalized today after police in the central diamond mining town of Mbuji-Mayi disrupted an official meeting of a prominent Congolese media group on Thursday, assaulting dozens of journalists and seizing personal items, according to the press freedom group Journaliste en Danger (JED) and local journalists.

    François Luboya, the host of a weekly civic education program on religious station Radio Mont Carmel (RMC), suffered broken ribs after six officers beat him with rifle butts, he told CPJ from the hospital. Several journalists, including Radio Okapi reporter Emmanuel Elamenji and RMC cameraman Fiston Lutumba, lost their mobile phones and recording equipment after being attacked, according to local sources. Luboya was assaulted when he sought to intervene, witnesses said.

    The journalists were among 125 attending a meeting of the local chapter of the Congolese National Press Union (known by its French acronym as UNPC) when police stormed the gathering, according to JED and local journalists. UNPC, a professional association mandated to deliver press cards for Congolese journalists, is the oldest media group in the DRC. The meeting was to resolve an internal dispute with the UNPC's provincial president in connection with his role in the recent suspension of local broadcaster Radiotélévision Debout Kasaï, according to the same sources.

    UNPC treasurer Anne Marie Kasenga told CPJ that intelligence agents summoned her for questioning prior to the group's meeting, but she refused because they had no written orders.

    "We condemn this police attack, and we're troubled that authorities in Eastern Kasaï are curtailing the work of journalists. These actions directly contradict the assertions of the DRC's new government that press freedom is respected," CPJ Executive Director Joel Simon said. "We call on the authorities to conduct a full and transparent investigation into this attack and to allow journalists in Eastern Kasaï to work freely without fear of reprisal."

    In a meeting with local UNPC officials later Thursday, Eastern Kasaï Gov. Ngoyi Kasanji pledged to conduct an investigation into the incident, freelance journalist and Kasenga told CPJ.

    (Committee to Protect Journalists (New York), 5 June 2007)

  • Following four days of closure, Shabelle Media Network, Horn Afrik and Holy Koran radio stations have been reopened after the Somalia transitional government has given their chairmen the consent to go on air again on Sunday afternoon.

    The CEOs of the three Mogadishu based independent FM stations and four members of the Somali government officials led by the information minister, Madobe Nunow, have convened in Mogadishu, the Somali capital, on Sunday, discussing what sparked the shut down of the stations. The minister said the decree to close down the radios was originated from the Somalia National Security Department, stressing that he only approved it.

    Mohammed Amin, Shabelle representative in that meeting said the minister promised that his information department would be fully engaged in going on with Somali media. “There were no further discussions in the closed door conference. Madobe Nunow has merely announced that we can on air again,” he said.

    In an interview with Shabelle, Michael Ranneberger, US ambassador to Kenya, said he was pleased that the radios have gone on air. “The media in Somalia are very essential to the national reconciliation congress and therefore their reopening is so important,” he said. Ranneberger stated that he contacted Somalia president Abdulahi Yusuf and premier, Ali Gedi, over allowing the independent media in the country to operate freely.

    The Somali government ordered the closure the radio stations after major military operations were carried out by Somalia and Ethiopian troops who confiscated caches of weapons and extracted number of Somalis from their homes after they were suspected of links with the defeated Islamists.

    (Shabelle Media Network (Mogadishu), 10 June 2007)

  • The Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ), a press freedom watchdog on Thursday condemned the Somali government's closure of three independent broadcasters accused of supporting terrorism, saying the authorities' allegations were unproven. The Somali government on Wednesday shut down three Mogadishu broadcasters, accusing them of supporting terrorism amid a virulent insurgency.

    "We condemn the closure of these three radio stations," said Joel Simon, CPJ Executive Director in a statement sent to The Daily Monitor on Thursday. "The authorities have silenced important, independent voices on the basis of unsubstantiated accusations." The Committee called on the Somali transitional government to allow the broadcasters back on the air immediately.

    The broadcasters were temporarily closed when similar accusations were made in January, just weeks after the Somali government and its Ethiopian military allies seized the capital Mogadishu from a rival Islamist movement. In January, the government closed the three broadcasters and the local office of Al Jazeera TV, just a few weeks after it took the city with Ethiopian military help from militant Islamists who wanted to rule Somalia by Islamic law.

    The latest shutdown came amid a virulent rebellion blamed on remnants of the Islamist group who have vowed to wage an "Iraq-style" insurgency against the government and Ethiopian troops trying to help the transitional government install peace and security to the cheaotic African nation.

    It was not immediately clear whether the closures were the result of particular broadcasts reports coming out from Somalia indicated. The reports said the move was rebuked by U.S. Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs Jendayi Frazer, in her comments about the incidence after a meeting of the International Contact Group on Somalia in London. Frazer also criticised the arrest as being against the spirit of reconciliation, the report said.

    (Daily Monitor (Addis Ababa), 8 June 2007)

technology & convergence

  • Blackberry, Safaricom's new wireless voice and data service, will go live on June 20. Briefing corporate executives at a breakfast meeting in Nairobi, Safaricom chief executive officer Michael Joseph said the hardware for the service is already available. The wireless service, which targets businesses and corporate clients, will enable its consumers, among other things, access secure e-mail, instant messaging systems and data.

    And to rope in the corporate clients who are the main targets, Joseph announced a number of sweeteners. While individual clients will acquire the BlackBerry gadgets at an introductory offer price of Sh27,000 and Sh36,000 for the 8700 and 8100 models respectively, corporate clients will buy five and get an equal number of the gadgets for free. However, the offer will only apply provided they pay Sh10,000 roaming fee payable to suppliers Alcatel Lacent and sign a contract with Safaricom. Both the individual and corporate clients will also pay a monthly Sh5,000 fee.

    The service, which is initially only open to Safaricom's prepaid clients is offered in support with Alcatel. Plans to rope in the postpaid customers is being worked out. With main competitor Celtel unveiling its own BlackBerry, Mr Joseph refuted claims that Safaricom had hurriedly launched the product last month after hearing that the former was about to launch a similar product.

    Competition between Kenya's two mobile phone service providers has intensified. Last month the two firms engaged in a war of words after Celtel launched its Mambo 6 tariff right on the heels of Safaricom's new Sasa tariff.

    (The Nation (Nairobi), 6 June 2007)

  • Taxi commuters will soon be in the crosshairs of advertisers hungry for a slice of mass-market action with in-taxi television. The elusive solution to technology limitations and difficult taxi associations might have been found with the introduction of in-taxi television by Provantage Media, the company said this week. It is not the first time that a company has tried to crack the taxi commuter market.

    ComutaNet is SA's oldest standing media company targeting this audience. In 1987 it started distributing Star Taxi Music, a prerecorded cassette tape with popular music and advertising for drivers to play to their audiences. Since then, in-taxi television has taken the spotlight, but due to technological and logistical difficulties it has remained a dream.

    One of ComutaNet's more recent projects include Rank TV, in which permanent screens were placed at 11 of SA's most frequented taxi ranks, reaching about 1,2-million people a day. Now, Provantage Media is fitting 500 urban taxis with specially developed flat-screen televisions. The content will be called Transit TV and will be held on a chip, which will be changed monthly. "It will reach an audience of just over 2-million economically active South Africans on a monthly basis," says Provantage MD Jacques du Preez .

    He says a single taxi transports about 4056 passengers a month, with a 2% chance that they will catch the same taxi in the same month. With an average journey time of 29 minutes, Provantage would provide a 30-minute looped programme, the company said.

    With all this television, commuters will be spoiled for choice. But there are fears of theft, as well as concerns about the robustness of the units, dealing with taxi owners, and the cost of maintaining the network. Some are sceptical, especially after UK-based Cabtivate, operating a similar model, went bust after it owed drivers too much in incentive -based compensation. "Taxi TV is great in principle, but I'm not convinced of the feasibility," says Pierre van der Hoven of TBM Media, a company that specialises in captive-audience media.

    But Du Preez says there are no risks. "The units are theft-proof and cannot be used with any other electrical devices except for the chip that we install," he says. He says the taxi associations, owners and drivers need special treatment and not many understand how to deal with them. The company will pay taxi owners for allowing them to place the screens in their taxis , as well as offer the drivers incentives.

    Provantage does not require any payment from taxi owners for the R3000 liquid crystal display screens. The screens took only 20 minutes to install, which also helped to get the drivers' buy-in, the company said.

    (Business Day (Johannesburg), 31 May 2007)

    § Africa Broadcasting and Media Congress 2007, (29 October – 2 November 2007) – with an extra IPTV briefing day

more

  • It is hard to underestimate the influence of Senegalese film-maker Ousmane Sembene who died last week after an illness. More recently, he was hailed as the “father of African cinema” but this came later in life. Creatively he started out as a writer but became a film-maker because he realized that so many of his compatriots were unable to read. Sembene himself was the first person in his family to get an education:”All my life, my father only lived to fish. He liked to repeat to me often that he would never work for a white man. All his experience was in fishing. In my I was the first person to go to school.”

    Sembene was a co-founder of Fespaco in Burkina Faso, the continent’s leading biennial francophone film and television festival in 1969. Despite Sembene’s desire to tell stories using film that would be understood by his compatriots, he was largely feted at European film festivals. Often his films were more widely seen outside Senegal on the European art film circuit. Distribution and censorship problems dogged his efforts to get them widely shown in Senegal. Former President Leopold Senghor often tried to ban them from playing.

    Sembene’s work owed little to Hollywood as he studied cinema on a scholarship to Moscow at the Gorki Studios in 1962. However late in life he confessed to the New York Village Voice that he had enjoyed westerns as a child, “but I always enjoyed them from the perspective of the Indians”.

    His life and work perhaps stand as a challenge for African film-makers in the 21st century: how is it going to be possible to make films that tell African stories that will get seen by Africans? Nollywood is providing one answer to that question but perhaps not quite the one Sembene himself would have imagined or approved of.

  • Connie Molusi, the ousted CEO of media company Johnnic Communications (Johncom), has taken up the position of chairman at Telkom Media, one of 17 companies applying for a commercial satellite and cable broadcasting licence.

    Molusi was suspended and later fired as CEO of Johncom, owner of Business Day and the Sunday Times, last year. The decision was never fully explained to shareholders but allegedly took place after a run-in with the company's chairman, Mashudu Ramano, over the company's black empowerment strategy.

    In addition to being the chair at African Media Entertainment, Molusi will immediately take up the position as chairman of Telkom Media, which analysts believe is a likely candidate to receive a licence to operate pay-TV from the Independent Communications Authority of SA later this year.

    "We believe that Connie Molusi's experience leading one of the country's largest media organisations, Johncom, makes him a brilliant candidate for the position, and we are very excited to have him on board," said Telkom Media CEO Mandla Ngcobo.

    Telkom Media was set up as a subsidiary to fixed-line operator Telkom to explore opportunities outside of fixed-line voice. The new company, which is 66% owned by Telkom, outlined its R7,5bn plan in April, saying it would launch a satellite offering aimed at middle-income earners as well as a more sophisticated product, internet protocol TV (IPTV) -- which would operate over a broadband DSL line -- to the top end of the market. IPTV allows television content to be received by the viewer through technology that is usually associated with computer networks.

    Analysts say competitors to DStv could attract a broader customer base by offering cheaper packages, but some say MultiChoice has already sewn up deals with the best global content providers, especially at the higher end of the market, and that newcomers will struggle to compete.

    (Business Day (Johannesburg), 5 June 2007)

  • The case in which former Namibian Broadcasting Corporation Director General Gerry Munyama is facing a charge of defrauding the NBC of some N$346 000 was postponed for a second time yesterday for the Prosecutor General to decide on the further course the case will take. Munyama (51) made a sixth appearance in the Windhoek Magistrate's Court yesterday.

    At his last appearance on February 8, he pleaded not guilty to a charge of fraud, alternatively theft, and a count of forgery and uttering, and the matter was postponed yesterday for the Prosecutor General's decision. That decision was not yet available yesterday.

    After Public Prosecutor Nuncia Sikongo asked Magistrate Helvi Shilemba to postpone the matter to July 2, Munyama's lawyer, Irvin Titus, told the court that the PG's decision was not available because the case file had not yet been sent to the PG's office. Titus asked the Magistrate to order the prosecution to speed up the matter and asked that the court postpone the case for a final time. The Magistrate declined the request to order a final postponement.

    Munyama was appearing in court for the PG's decision for the first time yesterday, she noted. Munyama now has to be back in court on July 2. He remains free on bail of N$20 000.

    He was granted bail at his first appearance in court on November 29 2005, which was the day that he was arrested in connection with allegations that he had been caught with his hands in the NBC till. The first charge against Munyama at this stage is a count of fraud.

    In this charge it is alleged that he had pretended to Standard Bank and an employee of the bank on May 17 2005 that he was entitled, in terms of a resolution taken at an NBC Board meeting, to open an "NBC Executive Account" and to exclusively handle the account.

    When he allegedly did that, it is charged, he knew that the claimed Board resolution was in fact false, with the result that he was not entitled to open the bank account and withdraw funds from it for his own benefit.

    Munyama also allegedly pretended to the bank that he was authorised to deposit three cheques - of N$307 145, N$13 850,88 and N$25 000 - into the account, and that he was further entitled to withdraw and transfer funds from the account. The result of the allegedly fraudulent opening of the account and subsequent withdrawals from it was that the NBC lost an amount of N$345 995,88, it is claimed. In an alternative to the fraud charge, Munyama is facing a count of theft.

    In that charge he is accused of having stolen N$345 995,88 from the NBC on May 17 2005. The second main charge against Munyama is a count of forgery and uttering a forged instrument.

    Here it is alleged that Munyama on May 16 2005 forged a resolution of the NBC Board meeting that was held on March 15 2005, and that he on May 16 2005, with the intention to defraud, offered that forged document to Standard Bank.

    (The Namibian (Windhoek), 5 June 2007)

  • The journalist Eduardo Magalhaes was appointed on Monday the new director of the State-run Angola National Radio (RNA), in a dispatch issued by the minister of SocialCommunication, Manuel Antonio Rabelais, ANGOP has learnt. According to the document, Eduardo Magalhaes will lead a management council of the RNA to overcome the challenges it currently faces.

    The management council, which is an executive organ, will deal with the new dynamic that this media organ intends to implement. Eduardo Magalhaes is also since January this year the deputy general director for the Information Area. Born in Luanda, aged 37, he is graduated in law by the Agostinho Neto University. He is currently doing a Master´s degree in political and juridical sciences in the same university, a course that is being given in partnership with the Law Faculty of the Portuguese Lisboa University.

    (Angola Press Agency (Luanda), 5 June 2007)

  • Kudzai Sevenzo is no stranger to show business or life on the road, but a new job as presenter for digital channel M-Net's Studio 53 has opened up horizons which the star never dreamed of. Sevenzo says she is enjoying her new job at Studio 53 which she landed two months ago to after beating more than a hundred other hopefuls to the job. Her new job -- if you can call it that -- involves travelling all over the African continent and presenting lifestyle programmes on various subjects such as people, tourism and fashion trends.

    Sevenzo has performed as a musician and compere at a number of functions but, last month saw her exploits go continental. Her first guests on M-Net's Studio 53 programme were two of Zimbabwe's well-known personalities -- business mogul Philip Chiyangwa and Catherine Katala, an interior designer.

    (Financial Gazette (Harare), 30 May 2007)

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