Issue no 66 28th October 2009

top story

  • Outside of South Africa, Kenya has been the one country where the transition to digital transmission is making real progress. New signal carriers are likely to be set up but initially broadcasters will use incumbent KBC’s transmission network, currently being tested. There are proposals that the regulator CCK will subsidise set-top boxes for those who can’t afford them from the funds it collects from operators. Russell Southwood spoke to Freeview CEO Kass Khimji who’s pioneering a new Free-To-Air digital business model

    Q : How did your operation get started ?

    A : Initially we started out as intending to go to cable TV. We purchased certain equipment but shortly after, two cable companies popped up so we said, let’s change the business model. So we decided to go the DTT route offering Pay TV. This was in 2006 and it took us ten months to get everything set up. The tramsmitters cover all of Nairobi an dits immediate environs. We launched what was then called Oxygen as a Pay TV network in 2007.

    Q : How did that go ?

    It was a tough start. The day we geared up our operations, DStv launched its Compact TV bouquet, its low price offering. We got about 2,000 subscribers and a lot of our customers were unhappy satellite customers. Then two cable companies – Mitsumi and CTN started and GTV launched two months later with a bang. I twas all football, football, football….We actually grew a little because of all the publicity about Pay TV from these companies.

    Renewals was the problem : there was a high churn and problems with payment. But in most cases there was no problem in getting the set top box equipment into the households.

    Q : So what happened ?

    We took a decision to change the business model completely and we took on new partners who put in more capital. We’ve now relaunched as Freeview. We’re starting out with 7 channels, including sports, religion, etc.

    We launched at the beginning of September and have rolled out into stores like Nakumatt, Ukwala and Tuskies (which has 17 locations). We’re also looking at electrical shops and mobile phone outlests.

    Q : What’s the set top box and what does it cost ?

    The cost to the end user of the set top box is KS5,000 (US$69) and it’s not been subsidised. It’s an MPEG 2, no frills box but it has the capacity for both parental control and an electronic programme guide. There are are 99 channels and it’s unencrypted.

    Q : It’s early days but how many subscribers have you attracted ?

    Currently there are 2,000 subscribers getting the free programmes and we calculate that’s somewhere between 5,500-6,000 viewers.

    Q : How many viewers do you need to to get to attract advertising ?

    There are around 3.5-4 million televisions in the country. If we can target 5-10% of that, then we stand a chance. We’re going to target Small and Medium size Enterprises (SMEs) for advertising who are excluded (for reasons of cost) from using mainstream broadcasters. These include : smaller banks, other financial institutions, real estate companies, financial planners, law firms, doctors and clinics. It’s only cost that currently excludes them.

    Q : How will the advertising rates compare with other media ?

    They will probably be about a third of radio rates but most of the advertisers will not be advertising agency customers. However, we will have the support of advertising agencies because they want to expand their client base. There are already smaller agencies doing work for SMEs. And we’ll be doing segmented advertising.

    Q : What will the socio-demographics of the viewers be ?

    Those with middle income is who we’re targeting and that’s why we’re selling the kind of box that we are. We’re working on the assumption that those with high income will have satellite Pay TV and those with low incomes will not have either the money or the required level of TV ownership.

    We’ll get the latest stats in a months time and Freeview TV will be carried by KBC which will give us an advantage.


  • Award-winning Kenyan filmmaker Wanuri Kahiu (From A Whisper) has teamed up with South African film producers Simon Hansen, Hannah Slezacek and Amira Quinlan of Inspired Minority Pictures to make a new sci-fi film titled Pumzi which takes its name from the Kiswahili word, for "breath". The film was written and directed by Kahiu, who owns film company One Pictures. The film stars first timer and South African actress Kudzani Moswela as Asha.

    Pumzi is a 20-minute short film about a futuristic Africa, in a "water war", 35 years after World War III. It was funded by the Goethe Institute, the US based Focus Features (Africa First Program) and Changamoto Fund (Kenya). Focus Features and Goethe Institute will handle distribution. The film was completed in September.

  • The Sky1 HD production, Strike Back, starring Richard Armitage, Jodhi May and Andrew Lincoln, commenced filming on location in South Africa recently. Based on the hugely successful Chris Ryan novel, and produced by BAFTA winning production company Left Bank Pictures (Wallander, The Damned Utd) Strike Back was commissioned by Elaine Pyke, Head of Drama, Sky1 HD and is produced by Andrew Benson (Prime Suspect , Hornblower) for Left Bank Pictures.

    Filming in September took place in around Johannesburg at locations that included the Nu World buildings and will continue through until December this year. Left Bank Pictures, a top London based production company, is working in South Africa with Out of Africa Entertainment.

    Strike Back, which is a 6 x 60-minute drama series, is a story of deception, redemption and revenge, all played out in the interlinked lives of two former soldiers; Major Hugh Collinson and discharged veteran John Porter. Their paths last crossed seven years ago. Now, amidst a new hostage crisis in the Middle East, their lives are about to collide again.

  • Celebrities around South Africa can benefit a charity of their choice by taking part in brand-new Survivor South Africa but they will have to give up their luxury lifestyles and endure hardship, devious tribe mates and the forces of Mother Nature to raise funds.

    M-Net is planning to shoot the series, produced by Endemol South Africa, at an exotic, but desolate, location in the Indian Ocean. Helen Smit, M-Net's head of local content, says this brand-new rendition of Survivor South Africa is designed to have both celeb-watchers and survivor fans talking. "It will be the Real McCoy, Survivor in all its television splendour and challenges. We're not planning to change the format to make it easier for our celebs."

  • Seven short films by up-coming young African filmmakers have been shortlisted for the 2nd annual Africa in Motion (AiM) short film competition.

    The films come from across the continent, spanning fiction and documentary, including: a silent and visually stunning experimental film from South Africa; a Tunisian love story set in an unlikely place; a passionate tale of courage in a Mozambique fishing village; a haunting South African tale of three friends harbouring a dark secret; a beautifully shot story about outsiders in a Moroccan village; a superbly acted story of a Rwandan friendship tested to its true limits; and a Malian exploration of freedom and independence.

    The shortlist is a follows:

    •A Rite of Passage, Paul Emmanuel, South Africa, 2008

    •The Young Lady and the Teacher, Mohamed Nadif, Morocco, 2007

    •Hidden Places (Fithla), Jamie Beron, South Africa, 2008

    •A History of Independence, Daouda Coulibaly, Mali, 2009

    •Borderline, Sonia Chamkhi, Tunisia, 2007

    •Waramuteseho!, Auguste Bernard Kouemo Yanghu, Cameroon, 2009

    •The Storm (Tempestade), Orlando Mesquita, Mozambique, 2008

    All shortlisted films were screened on Monday 25 October as part of the Africa in Motion Film Festival (22 Oct - 1 Nov), the UK’s largest African Film Festival, which takes place at the Filmhouse in Edinburgh. The winner will be announced at a special awards ceremony directly after the screenings and awarded £1,000 to help them with their filmmaking career. There will also be an Audience Choice Award, announced at the end of the festival.

    The judging panel will consist of acclaimed Algerian filmmaker and director of The Yellow House, Amor Hakkar; filmmaker, journalist and regular on BBC 2’s The Culture Show, Zina Saro-Wiwa; Director of the Scottish Documentary Institute, Noe Mendelle; and respected film critic, writer and producer Mark Cousins.

    Screen Africa

  • - The International Womens Film Festival (le Festival International du Film de Femmes - FIFFS) was held of September 28 to October 3 in Morocco. Among the 12 films in competition, "Fausta, le lait de la douleur" (Fausta, the milk of the pain) from Peruvian Claudia LIosa won the award.

    - South Africa ranks at number 13 in the world's Most Creative Countries ranking, winning a total of 19 Lions including two Grands Prix.

    - IN an attempt to raise awareness on children's rights, a new drama exploring the theme will be broadcast on Radio Zimbabwe beginning next month. The two-fold drama would be produced in Harare and Bulawayo.

    - Save the Tears for Tomorrow a new Nigerian television drama series will be shown at the Abuja International Film Festival on 29 October. According to Producer/Director Paul Julius : "Save the Tears for Tomorrowis unique because it is probably the only soap in Nigeria that a whopping 52 episodes were produced at a stretch and the first motion picture to be shot in support of the re-brand Nigeria project of the federal government, addressing salient issues of national importance," he explained.


  • Angola will host the 18th annual conference of the Southern African Broadcasting Association (SABA) in 2010. It was announced in Maseru, capital of Lesotho, by the Director for Programmes and Interchange of the Angolan state-run radio station (RNA), José Júlio Mendonça who was attending this year’s SABA conference. He was speaking at the end of the 17th annual conference of SABA, which concluded that member states needed to work hard on digital migration, which is expected to be implemented by 2015.

    Participants to the event recommended a greater interaction among media organs, mainly in reporting and diffusion of the main aspects affecting the region, namely HIV/AIDS, poverty and famine.

    During the meeting, the Angolan delegation expressed conviction that each member state is ready to turn SABA into a stronger and united organisation that is determined to proceed with its strategic goals, with values that meet the interests of the institutions and of the societies.

    Matters such as the current situation of media organs, their role in the fight against HIV/AIDS, the preparation of the Africa Cup of Nations, set to take place in January 10-31, 2010 in Angola, were also analysed during SABA's 17th conference.

  • Securenet Systems, Inc., a radio streaming services provider announces several new music stations in Africa and around the world signing up for their services as World Beat and African Beat music continue to grow in popularity.

    Some of the recent African Beat stations include Capitol FM in Nairobi, Kenya, Main 21.1 FM in Kisumu, Kenya, Africa’s Beat FM in Seattle, Washington, The Heartbeat of Ghana in London, England and Zodiak Broadcasting Station in Lilongwe, Malawi. Radio stations around the world sign on daily to use Securenet’s radio streaming services to reach their online listeners at their desktops and on their cell phones.

    In addition to 75+ interchangeable player skins available and the ability to upload customized player skins, stations also can also enable audio and video pre-rolls as well as black-out and white-listing for blocking content. Other features include royalty accounting, synchronized banner ads, album art with artist, title and album display, stream to mobile phones, and other features designed to help stations capture the growing segment of the online listener, expand their reach and branding, and generate extra revenue from new advertisers. Stations can broadcast at any bit-rate in Windows Media, MP3, Flash or AAC/AAC+, depending on the level of features needed.

    Each station can deploy up to two players; one for live streaming and one for on-demand streaming, plus stream separately to cell phone listeners. The customizable players come with a stats program showing live listener habits and traits. The radio streaming packages can accommodate small markets, or provide for unlimited listeners in large markets. Packages run as low as $.29 cents a listener per month, making it one of the lowest-cost applications available on the market today. Every package includes all the same range of features.

    Securenet Systems is a US company located in Deerfield Beach, Florida and is one of the largest hosting and radio streaming companies and a leading provider of core Internet services. Securenet serves the radio streaming market in over 200 countries and every US state, and offers a wide range of Internet services including high-speed website hosting, custom website design and programming, online marketing, and radio streaming. An Affiliate Reseller Program is available worldwide for companies and individuals interested in partnering with Securenet.

  • CNBC Africa this week launches its Media&Money programme, focusing on the competitive and business side of Africa's media, marketing, advertising, branding and communications sector. The show will each week feature some of the most influential advertising leaders and branding professionals as guest hosts.

    According to Jill de Villiers, CNBC Africa's head of programming, “Media&Money will tackle all of the topics that are relevant and important in the media and advertising industry at the moment. What makes this project exciting is that we are taking a creative approach to bringing this show to your TV screen. The team is looking at bringing movement, variety and something different to the traditional approach.”

    Each programme will feature some of the biggest names in marketing, advertising, media and branding - and aims to uncover and discuss the issues often hidden behind agency doors and to tell it as it is when it comes to the latest marketing campaigns.

    Adds De Villiers, “Every week our two anchors, Mandlakazi Mpahlwa-Sigcawu and Jacqui Nel will talk to the who's who of the industry to bring viewers up to date with the latest thinking and creative efforts of industry gurus.” Industry experts will include Gordon Patterson, Andy Rice, Giles Shepard, Jeremy Sampson and Harry Herber to name but a few.

    Starcom MD Patterson, who will be one of the first guest hosts on Media&Money, says that a show such as Media&Money “is long overdue. Too often the role of business in media and marketing is understated. I am delighted to see CNBC Africa making marketing a business rather than a consumer conversation piece.”

    Media&Money will be broadcast every Wednesday at 5.30pm on CNBC Africa, DStv channel 410.

  • There is a unique African aesthetic emerging in South Africa’s on-air promos and broadcast design, according to the international judges of the fourth annual Promax/BDA Africa Awards.

    This message was relayed to the industry at the Promax/BDA Africa Conference & Awards event which took place at Johannesburg’s Sandton Convention Centre on 16 October by Promax/BDA Africa chairwoman Nisha Jones (Sales Director & Acting Marketing Director, SABC).

    “The judges sent me an email in which they said that Africa has shown a bigger growth in quality of work than any other Promax/BDA region and that it rivals that of Europe,” said Jones.

    Noting that these were very challenging times for the broadcast industry with the recession shrinking budgets, the number of channels increasing all the time, audience fragmentation and more complex schedules, Jones said the importance of the Promax/BDA Africa conference was to help on-air creatives and marketers find waning audiences.

    “The easy days of appointment viewing are over. Promo producers have less time, less money and less support to do their jobs. It’s a time for writers, designers, etc. to invent the future. Programmes still need to be promoted, but more economically. In times of hardship creativity thrives. Imagination does not have to cost a fortune,” stated Jones.

    Ingrid Bell of Red Pepper, talked about the importance of viral campaigns. “There is a global budget crisis but you can always do viral marketing. The idea behind advertising on social networking sites is that your message lands up in millions of inboxes around the world. What you need is a short, sharp piece of great entertainment that you can’t resist sending to your friends. You don’t need a big budget to produce a great viral ad. Remember that no idea is a new idea.

    (Source : Screen Africa)

  • - 2010 FIFA World Cup update : On top of the actual matches, the FIFA will allow the production of 20 to 25 hours of TV programme per day. In addition, the matches will be transmitted on TV sets, computers, mobile phones and wide screens has announced Fifa TV in Monaco this month.

    - Brazil’s state broadcaster TV Brasil plans to launch an international channel targeting Brazilian emigrants, currently totaling approximately 3 million.The international channel is scheduled to launch in 2010, with Africa being the first continent to receive the broadcasts.

    - On October 10, Télévision Publique d'Angola (TPA) commemorated its 34th birthday with a visit paid from Angolan President, António Agostinho Neto. TPA has signed an agreement with Mozambican television to broaden its signal internationally. After Europe and Africa, TPA can also seen in the USA and in Asia.

    - Absolute Woman, hosted by Metro FM radio personality Melanie Bala, is to be the first ever local weekly series on M-Net Series (channel 110 on DStv), debuting on 6 January 2010.

    - Uganda’s National Association of Broadcasters has asked the Government to open the radio stations which were closed following the recent riots.

    - The South African Broadcasting Corporation (SABC) interim board has suspended four members of the broadcaster's executive management. The national broadcaster reported on Friday that the suspensions followed investigations conducted by the Auditor General (AG) and other parties.

    The four members are the Chief Financial Officer Robin Nicholson, Group Executive: Content Enterprises Mvuzo Mbebe, Head of Audience Services Anton Heunis and the Head of Group Procurement Mabela Satekge.


  • South African telecommunications company Telkom has won the rights for to carry the online coverage of the 2010 Fifa World Cup, a tournament for which it is also a major sponsor.

    Telkom beat off competition from Seacom for the tender. Industry sources speculate Telkom closed the deal as they have a ‘more established infrastructure and intra-African network’. Telkom has already laid 128,000km of fibre-optic cable for the event - enough to wrap around the world three times. "Fifa gave Telkom the opportunity to do the international transmission and we made the offer with competitive prices," said Telkom chief executive Reuben September.

    The Telkom tower boasts a 50-tonne, eight-storey high soccer ball which made it into the Guinness Book of World Records as the largest steel and fibreglass soccer ball in the world. Telkom is also a sponsor of the upcoming World Cup, a position for which it paid several million dollars.

    Source :

  • Discop Africa 3, the third edition of Discop’s new matchmaking and networking event targeting Sub-Saharan African free and pay television platforms, will take place in Dakar, Senegal at the Pullman Teranga hotel from 24 to 26 February 2010. Discop Africa is the main TV content trade show, one of the most important events for the development of audiovisual content business in sub-saharan Africa.

    This next Discop Africa will once again target Sub-Saharan African free and pay television platforms and TV channels fueled by the joint effects of the rapid growth of digital television services, the proximity of the FIFA 2010 World Cup, which takes place next year in South-Africa, 300 million mobile users, and the first undersea fiber optic cable that went live in East Africa, marking the beginning of an era of faster and cheaper broadband connections..

    In addition, a series of 3 training and case-studies workshops specifically aimed at African audiovisual content producers will cover the formating, funding and distribution of programs "Made In Africa". So far, on Oct 27th., 115 participants have already confirmed attendance at the upcoming 3-day event. Twelve Exhibitors have also confirmed their booth space.

    Close to 150 qualified, decision-making, acquisitions, programming and business development executives representing public and private TV Stations, digital platforms, cable and IPTV operators are expected to take part in Discop Africa in February, alongside close to 100 international suppliers of film, finished programs, formats and packaged TV channels.

    A total of 332 participants attended the last event, Discop Africa 2 just six months after the inaugural Discop Africa 1 which took place in Dakar, Senegal earlier this year. “Holding two events so close to each other has definitely increased the reach of our Discop platform across the continent, with half of the African broadcasters and Pay-TV platforms attending in Nairobi new to the market”, says DISCOP general manager Patrick Jucaud.

    Overall, 90 broadcasters and Pay-TV platforms from 21 Sub-Saharan countries were in Nairobi for the 3-day event, holding an impressive number of decisive meetings with the 79 international suppliers of film, finished programs, formats and packaged TV channels represented.

    “By the same token, close to half of the sellers who exhibited in Nairobi, had also attended Dakar and many indicated that they felt the additional business generated in Kenya justified their investment in a second Discop Africa”, adds Jucaud.

    Cherise and Tatiana at Basic Leads.

  • - The Moroccan city Tangiers hosted the 7th edition of the Mediterranean Short Film Festival from October 12th till 17th.


  • NASPERS , Africa's largest media company, has proved successful in growing its footprint, particularly in emerging markets where other South African companies have struggled or failed to have an effect .

    The secret of Naspers's success appears to be its vision, strategy, ability to bounce back and learn from its failures, and, most important , its focus on the internet-orientated business in emerging markets.

    CEO Koos Bekker told Business Day this week that while Naspers intended to keep its existing print media operations in SA, China and Latin America, it would not be expanding its print media portfolio. Naspers is active in about 50 emerging markets.

    Some attribute the company's success to Bekker's ability to foresee trends and to the entrepreneurial spirit of Naspers's senior management.

    Bekker believes Naspers does have an entrepreneurial bent but says a level of pig-headedness was required to have pursued internet investments as early as 1997.

    "There have been failures: we lost 80m on an internet provider in China .... But we try to limit the damage and use failures to understand what we did wrong. Then we fix it next time round. Some of our best successes came out of failures."

    In the case of the Chinese deal, Naspers placed western managers in key positions and then discovered they did not understand the Chinese culture and work ethic. Today, Naspers often buys minority stakes in profitable companies, leaving the day-to-day running to competent co-owners.

    "We like to buy into companies with solid management who need money. We say give us a significant stake (above 20%) and you continue running it," says Bekker.

    "Naspers wants someone in charge with a vested interest, not a bureaucrat. Bureaucrats' aspirations are a bigger office, a more expensive car -- while someone with skin in the game will look after the company's profits."

    Bekker says that last year the Naspers group considered about 200 deals and eventually closed 20; he expects the same number of deals to be concluded this financial year, depending on what is on offer.

    "We look first at the country and how it's doing economically, then at the management team, then the nature of the business -- will the model survive? -- then only financials and price."

    Antonie Roux, head of the internet division, says: "Most of the deals were small -- add-ons to an existing business. Standalone deals, like the recent purchase of a 91% stake in Brazilian e-commerce group, take more guts and preparation."

    Bekker says the group continues to focus on media: first, because it is the business Naspers knows; and second, because he believes there is still room for growth -- a future for print media. "An open society needs newspapers -- they are best suited to in-depth analysis and robust debate. Neither TV nor internet do these things very well."

    For the year to June , Naspers's revenue was R26,7bn, up from R20,5bn a year earlier.

    MIH Internet Division is the driver behind the emerging market internet expansion, and finding entrepreneurs to lead the internet expansion was not easy, says Roux. "Management is about people. We needed entrepreneurs driving the show -- and that is a rare breed."

    Naspers's expansion into emerging markets made good strategic sense, particularly during a recession, according to Bekker, because it allows the group to buy into companies at a reasonable price.

    "I am negative about the US for the next two years and Britain is a basket case," says Bekker.

    "Youngsters going over to Britain for a gap year need to realise that they are seeing the past. They would do better going to China, Russia, India or other developing countries to learn about the future."

    The group’s principal operations are in internet platforms (focusing on commerce, communities, content, communication and games), pay-television and the provision of related technologies and print media (including publishing, distribution and printing of magazines, newspapers and books). Most of Naspers’s businesses hold leading market positions.

  • Zain a leading global mobile telecommunications company across the African continent and the Middle East, has once again commissioned the services of the South African based TV production company, Diallo Entertainment to develop a concept for a branded entertainment television show in Niger.

    In partnership with production company Launch Factory, the 13 part series was successfully rolled out in Zambia under the title Touching Lives and will soon be in production in Ghana. Launch Factory will again work in partnership with Diallo to produce the show for the Niger market.

    Apart from developing the concept, Diallo’s role has been to also develop the advertising and communication elements to build awareness for the show in the respective markets. The Niger television show aptly titled Imani, a Hausa word meaning compassion, is about creating a platform where ordinary men and women in need of a helping hand have a chance to fulfill their lifelong dreams. The name of the show was adapted from Touching Lives to Imani to make it relevant and resonate with the Nigerian market.

    This engaging and emotional show will chronicle the recipients’ exceptional stories and Zain’s commitment to making their dreams a reality. Although the show aims to better and improve the lives of these people, it is not a ‘hand out’ show but rather provides support to those who are already making strides towards bettering their lives.

    “Advertising and content are moving closer as the pressure for brands to entertain increases. Our objective was to develop an innovative property that engages and connects the brand with the consumer using the mass medium of televison”, says Diallo Entertainment Managing Director, Lefeedi Maja. “The Imani series resonates with Zain’s positioning of ‘A wonderful world’. Our role is to ensure that there is sustained synergy between the core values of the brand and the branded content we develop, whilst building brand equity” she concludes.

    Although the branded content market across the African continent is still at its early stages, the commitment and foresight shown by key players such as Zain, is testament to the emerging role that this property has to play in the industry.

  • - A group of aspiring Cape Town filmmakers who have struggled to get a start in the film business are finally getting a boost. Nine short films highlighting issues faced by South Africans daily have been produced by the group of 20 talented hopefuls from various townships after they were chosen to be part of a workshop run by the Runway Film Resource Centre formed in partnership with the government and the film industry in 2008. They hope to send the best of the short films to the Cannes Film Festival.

    - There has been speculation regarding the future of the major Johannesburg-based post-production facility house, the Refinery, since Music For Pleasure (Pty) Ltd (MFP) went into liquidation in July.

    Acting managing director of the Refinery, Charl van der Merwe, sets the records straight. "It is correct that MFP has been liquidated at the insistence of its creditors. MFP forms part of the MFP Holdings Group and as such is a fellow subsidiary in respect of the group. The liquidation of MFP has not (and will not) affect the Refinery's ability to trade or continue to offer services of high quality to its customers. The Refinery will continue to honour its commitment to customers, including the timeous delivery of services and the protection of intellectual property."

regulation & policy

  • The local box office revenue of the South African blockbuster District 9 is estimated to have lost approximately R1.5m in ticket sales because of piracy, according to the South African Federation of Copyright Theft (SAFACT). The piracy will also have a huge negative impact on legitimate DVD sales.

    Globally, there have been 1.4 million Internet downloads of District 9, the first 60.000 of which originated from a camcorder recording in a Ukrainian cinema. Says SAFACT CEO James Lennox: "Locally there have only been a couple of thousand downloads, but once a film gets onto a network it can multiply. In terms of pirated hard goods [ie. DVDs], we have seized just under 1,000 copies of District 9, but we don't know how many have been sold. These days pirates keep low stock levels of high profile films and then replenish to order. The DVDs are being burnt locally. We haven't as yet seen the film offered for sale on the Internet."

    District 9 pirated DVDs were found in several Johannesburg locations, such as on the William Nicol motorway, North Rand Rd, at the Bruma Lake Flea Market and around the two main Fourways shopping centres. Prices ranged from between R20 and R50 per unit. Lennox notes that the pirated DVDs are very bad quality, courtesy of the original Ukrainian camcording. "Consequently, all the English subtitles in the film are obscured by Russian subtitles."

    Screen Africa

  • The Minister of Information, Culture Affairs & Tourism, Dr. Laurence Bropleh, has been suspended by President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, pending results of an ongoing investigation by the Ministry of Justice, into an alleged financial scandal at the Ministry.

    An Executive Mansion release says, the action by the President follows the return of Minister Bropleh to the country. The President met with the Minister Friday evening and informed him of his suspension. Meanwhile, the Deputy Minister of Information, Elizabeth Hoff, has been designated, Acting Minister by the Liberian leader.

    Two officials of the Ministry of Information, Culture and Tourism have been suspended for time indefinite for their alleged involvement in a financial scandal affecting the Ministry. The affected employees are the Ministry's comptroller, Joseph Z. Nyamunue, Sr. and Mr. Josiah Gwagee, Jr., chief accountant.

    The two men have been arrested and turned over to the Ministry of Justice for further investigation. An Executive Mansion release says the action follows the President's visit to the Justice Ministry on October 14, at which time the President was briefed on the alleged scandal.

    The President has, meanwhile, instructed the Minister of Information, Dr. Laurence Bropleh, to return to Liberia immediately to address the matter. Minister Bropleh is in China on an official visit. The President has also requested the Auditor-General, Mr. John Morlu, to focus the Commission's ongoing audit on payroll transactions at the Ministry in the wake of the latest alleged scandal.

  • - In mid October 2009, a Japanese national, Takano Makoto (36), was been found guilty of working illegally in Namibia while having a holiday permit. Swakopmund Magistrate Hannelie Prinsloo on Wednesday sentenced Makoto to pay a fine of N$10 000 or spend 12 months in prison. He was scouting for film locations in Namibia, as well as investigating possible recruits for a film that would allegedly have been produced in this country. A camera and long lens were confiscated but he had not apparently done any filming or employed anyone in Namibia for the planned film.

    - With a view to informing the public of the Radio and Television air-time allotted to political parties' and independent lists' candidates during the campaign for the 2009 legislative elections, the National Presidential and Legislative Elections Observatory released, on Saturday, a communiqué in which it makes known the air-time allotted to each list taking part in the campaign. and Tunisia online

    - In Switzerland, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs announced cooperation with Egypt on intellectal property rights and protection. Under the technical leadership of "la direction technique de l’Institut fédéral de la propriété intellectuelle" (IPI), 140 businessmen met up over a workshop dedicated to intellectal property.

    - The National Union of Somali Journalists (NUSOJ) is concerned about the shutdown of two media houses in Baidoa by Al-Shabaab administration. The closure of Warsan Radio and Jubba Radio comes after the Al-Shabab administration in Bay iyo Bakool regions issued today (21 October 2009) a decree ordering the closure of the radio stations for indefinite time.

    - REFRAM, "Réseau des instances francophones de régulation des médias" has plans to post a new dedicated website. Its mission is to exchange best practices and regulations and its permanant secretary is CSA, the French media regulator.

technology & convergence

  • Mobile TV targeting residential customers has started being used in several countries, and it has met a relative success: some users have found it useful as for example a news and current affairs source. Today, South Korea and Japan are at the forefront of this developing sector.

    Over the next five years, some African countries will be ready to look into mobile TV.

    If we review the technology penetration across Africa, mobile access is clearly the winner compared to other media: 45% mobile penetration in sub-Saharan Africa compared to 2% for internet access, and 7 to 10% for TV.

    The reasons why most vendors believe that Africa has great potential for mobile TV are as follows:

    -traditional TV has not developed that well.

    -high mobile penetration across Africa

    -content TV rights are usually lower in Africa than in other regions

    -Several African regulators support the case for mobile TV.

    -There is a strong demand for African TV programs such as football and news.

    Mobile TV will be another key differentiator among competitors, and could create an additional and cumulative revenue stream as subscribers numbers increase.

    Key barriers to entry are the initial investment and the user packaged offer. What clients get, the price they will have to pay and the handset's ease of use are essential to adoption.

    It should be noted that in Africa, sales staff in the high streets do not always appear to understand how to convincingly sell mobile services: when mobile TV comes, it has got to be made easy for clients.

    Many people are still concerned how using Mobile TV services will affect their bill and what image quality they will get. This has to be demonstrated in shops and made crystal clear.

    Power consumption, memory, User interface design and Processing power are some of the handsets' challenges, but recent smartphones now handle mobile TV well.

    On the content providers' side, mobile TV opens up a new market for the content specifically tailored for mobile TVs including what experts call mobisodes (3 to 5 minutes).

    In the past, we have seen some broadcasters, content providers and telecoms service providers ordering a mobile TV box instead of a custom solution. They have then tried to figure out how it worked and how to market it. Expensive user solutions has led to failures.

    Providers should keep away from these mistakes, and make sure that they understand the value proposition, clients' benefits, the technical aspect and the return on investment.

    Ericsson is one of the major mobile TV vendors present in Africa.

    Balancing Act’s Sylvain Béletre interviewed Sanjay Kaul - Vice President Multimedia Solutions & SI at Ericsson to find out more about the group's Mobile TV solution for the African continent.

    Q: When did Ericsson start providing Mobile TV solutions?

    A Early 2004

    Q: How many mobile operators and TV users do you support globally? What about in Africa?

    A: Ericsson globally has 70+ customers, in MUSA we have 3 (MTN NG, Mcel and Econet Zimbabwe)

    Q: Which countries in Africa should adopt Mobile TV solution?

    A: Kenya, Uganda, Ghana, SA - any countries where the operator has a 3G network

    Q: How long does it take to implement such solution?

    A: In general terms 3 Months

    Q: In practical terms, what are the implementation phases?

    A: Solution Analysis & Planning, Installation and Integration, Soft Launch and Launch.

    Q: Do you sometimes help launch the service if the client requires it?

    Ericsson is an e2e solution provider. We can assist in launch strategy.

    Q: Are there any typical mistakes that SPs do when launching Mobile TV?

    Operators tend to focus on Technology more than content and launch strategy. It is essential the customer knows which user segments they are going to target.

    Q: Can you help accelerate time to market and maximise return on investment (RoI)?

    A: yes, Ericsson can provide a standard package which can assist in and attractive launch to get maximum return

    Q: What type of software and equipment is required to set up an Ericsson mobile TV solution?

    A: Our ECDS Entry level solution consists of 2 Sun Servers, and 1 Encoder.

    Q: Would you be able to provide a price range for acquiring this solution? (entry level)

    A: An Entry Level solution is around Euro 160K

    Q: Who are your mobile TV clients? (proportion of telecoms operators vs. broadcasters )

    A: All our Mobile TV customers are Operators, who connect to broadcasters for content.

    Q: What is your business model for mobile TV? What is the right ecosystem to make it viable?

    A: Subscription based model

    Q: Which African countries and SPs' do you consider as having real potential for mobile TV?

    A: All operators who have 3G networks should consider Mobile TV.

    Q: What type of wireless network do you need to implement a mobile TV solution?

    A: Ericsson's Mobile TV solution runs on standard 3G networks using unicast as delivery.

    Sanjay Kaul - Vice President Multimedia Solutions & SI at Ericsson SA.

  • Francophone Pay TV operator Canal Plus (Canal+) has announced the launch of a major innovation on the African continent. Jean-Noël Tronc, PDG of Canal Overseas Africa, which has been present in Africa for over 15 years, explained that PVR (Personal Video Recorder) allows Canalsat Horizons subscribers to better « control » their programmes.

    Viewers will be able to put programmes on hold - freezing it - and record up to 120 hours while watching other programmes. Thus, subscribers will be able to build and maintain a whole programmes library. Canalsat Horizons bouquet is broadcast in more than 20 African countries.



  • - Vislink announced its first sale of Link L1500 HD wireless camera systems in South Africa -

    to Dimension Television Facilities It is purchasing four complete, high-end LINK L1500 wireless camera systems with 1 watt amplifiers, camera control and Link fibre units for High Definition video. They are to be used for live sport broadcasts in South Africa and internationally.

    - Zimbabwe Broadcasting Holdings is ready to start the digitasation of its studios following the arrival of equipment worth US$20 million for the programme.


    *2-6 November 2009

    Africa Media & Broadcasting Congress 2009

    Venue: Sandton Convention Centre - Johannesburg

    The Africa Media and Broadcasting Congress 2009 is a dedicated forum where key stakeholders gather to share knowledge, network and find solutions that enable you to maximise revenues and profitably leverage emerging markets.

    The event will discuss the uptake of mobile TV and video streaming.

    *3-7 November 2009

    Le Festival du Film de la Réunion

    Venue: Reunion in 3 locations

    5th. edition, 8 films in competition.

    * 5-6 Nov. 2009

    Africa Media Leaders Forum

    venue: Lagos, Nigeria.

    African Media leaders from across the continent and beyond, at the helm of the most prestigious and influential platforms, will have the opportunity to share ideas on the impact of new media on their industry, discuss new business models, debate their critical role in advancing the development agenda, and agree on a charter for the Forum which will define each member’s responsibilities and privileges.

    *7-13 November 2009

    8e édition, les Rencontres africaines de la photographie: "Frontières"

    Venue: Bamako, Mali.

    This edition will show pieces of work from African artists, whether they are "videasts" (video artists) or photographs.

    *11-12 November 2009


    venue: Cape Town, South Africa.

    The 12th annual AfricaCom Congress & Exhibition will offer networking opportunities with 3,500+ telcos and a 220+ exhibition for you to discover new products and build profitable business partnerships - not to mention the 2nd annual AfricaCom Awards.

    The event will gather players in Movile TV and broadband IPTV.

    *15-16 November 2009

    IPTV World Forum Middle East & Africa -

    venue: Jumeirah Beach Hotel - Dubai.

    Established as the world's leading event on IPTV, this is a must-attend conference and exhibition in the diaries of all Telco, TV and content executives. IPTV has evolved and telcos pursuing a television strategy across Middle East & Africa can launch with more sophisticated television services than witnessed during early-adopter deployments in Europe and North America, with more personalisation and cross-platform, multi-screen delivery among the obvious targets. Regional telcos have the chance to demonstrate their ambition to win, and not just play, in the Pay TV marketplace.

    Featuring Over 80 Speakers and 20 Service providers, the conference will also hold 2-Day Post-Conference Training Course. The event is organised by Informa Telecoms & Media.

    * January 2010 (date TBC)

    venue: Nigeria.

    Nigeria, India plan joint film festival

    INDIAN and Nigerian governments have concluded plans to host a joint film festival for Bollywood and Nollywood to commemorate the 60th and 50th independence anniversaries of both countries respectively. The festival, which is scheduled to take place by January 2010, is expected to serve as a vehicle for strengthening the cultural and economic ties that have existed between the two countries over the years.

    Mahesh Sachdev, Indian High Commissioner to Nigeria said the result of the partnership would benefit 1.1 billion people in India and 140 million Nigerians.

    *22nd till 28th February 2010

    Aluta Film Festival

    venue: Kimberley, South Africa.

    Call for Entries: The organisers of the Aluta Film Festival, South African premier township cinema event, are calling for entries from South African and International filmmakers for 2010, the 7th edition of the festival.

    Deadline: November

    Categories: Features; documentaries; animation; short films

    Requirements: Preview: DVD PAL. Screening: 16mm, 35mm and video

    Awards: Aluta! Revolution Awards

    Fees: None

    Administrative address: 18985 Guttenburg Pitse Street, John Mampe. Phase One, Galeshewe, Kimberley 8300, South Africa

    Tel: +27 (0)76 853 1214

    Fax: +27 (0)86 513 7783

    Festival Administrator: Nandipha Shwababa

    *24-26 February 2010


    Venue: Pullman Teranga hotel in Dakar, Senegal.

    Film and TV content trade show, one of the most important event for the development of audiovisual content business in sub-saharan Africa fueled by overall growth in disposable income and advertising spending, the ongoing switchover process, strong broadband deployment, a fast-growing home-video marketplace, the construction of multiplex cinemas and the emergence of IPTV.

    * February 2010 (date TBC)

    SAFTA 2010 -

    The 4th South African Film and Television Awards. The closing date for entry submission was July 30 2009.

    Formats include:

    * For the Feature Film, Made for TV Movie, Documentary, Television Non Fiction, Short Film, And Student Sections

    * In the Television Fiction section: TV Drama, TV Soap, Mini Series and TV Comedy

    *10-15 April 2010

    NAB Show 2010

    Venue: Las Vegas Convention Center, Nevada, USA.

    More than just broadcasting, the NAB Show is the world\rquote s largest digital media industry event attended by leading media, content, entertainment and communications professionals who share a passion for the next generation of video and audio content across multiple platforms \emdash from television, radios and computers to phones, the big screen and beyond.

    Over twice the size of any other event of its kind, the annual NAB Show usually attracts more than 23,000 buyers from outside the U.S. who come to do business with more than 1,500 of the leading industry suppliers.

    *10-11 April 2010

    MIPDoc 2010

    Venue: Cannes, France.

    *12-15 April 2010

    SatCom Africa 2010

    Venue: Sandton Convention Centre - Johannesburg, South Africa

    *12-16 April 2010

    MIPTV 2010

    venue: Cannes, France.

    The World's international TV content market event. The conference programme usually presents over 150 of the biggest names in global TV and film entertainment, digital media and advertising.

    Exhibitors from Africa and Middle East usually accounts for 3% of total figures.

    *13-April 2010

    SatCom Star Awards

    Venue: Sandton Sun Hotel - Johannesburg, SA.

    Africa\rquote s premier satellite event brings you the industry awards for best practice.

    *19-21 May 2010

    Broadcast & Film Africa 2010

    venue: Kenyatta International Conference Centre (KICC) Nairobi - Kenya.

    *June 2010 - date TBA


    venue: Kigali, Rwanda

    - The Hollywood Reporter has published its selection of the next generation of under 35s TV business leaders in the world. Representing the top TV leader from Africa is Juliet Asante, 34, who won the Ghana film industry’s award for best actress in 2001. To ensure a long career, Asante knew she had to diversify. To meet her objective, Asante became a director and producer and Eagle Productions, which she founded in 1999, is one of Ghana's most prominent TV production companies.

    Reminder: 2010 media accreditation workshops

    The Organising Committee (OC) of the 2010 FIFA World Cup is reminding media to learn about how to obtain media accreditation through the remaining workshops at various host cities this week.

    Africa film Academy 2009 Youngsters Film Competition

    Welcome to the 1st annual AFA Youngsters Short Film Competition, the most innovative international short film and video competition for filmmakers from African descent worldwide who are between the ages of 10-18. , it is a unique short film competition whose focus is on creating opportunities for young filmmakers  by bringing support and recognition to excellence in the art of filmmaking. The Youngsters Short film competition is a great opportunity for young filmmakers to feel the pulse of filmmaking and allows to catch them young and train them right. Their careers, They will receive international exposure using the Africa film Academy’s platform. Winning filmmakers will also receive awards, cash prizes.

    Enter your short films in any of the categories: Comedy, Drama, Horror / Thriller, Animation, Documentary, Action / Adventure, Family / Children, Music Video. Winners will be selected by a judging panel that is comprised of industry professionals and practitioners who are looking for the next generation of creatively talented filmmakers out there.

    Deadline: DECEMBER 15, 2009

    1.) Entries must be 1 to 10 minutes in length on DVD or VHS, regardless of original shooting format.

    2.) Entries MUST be PAL format.

    3) Entries submitted in a foreign language must have subtitles OR be dubbed in English.

    Learn the art of wildlife filmmaking in South Africa.

    This intensive one-month course offers lectures by industry professionals and includes a month in a game reserve. Each student produces their own unique three-minute short film, with the opportunity of it being broadcast on the Wildlife Report, news channel.

    The month long course will take place in the Entabeni (the place of the mountain, in the local language) Private Game Reserve, 23 000 Ha of bushveld, ravines, savanna, sandy wetlands and wooded hills, on the eastern end of the Waterberg Escarpment, a 3 hour drive from Johannesburg (OR Thambo) airport.

    Entabeni ensures that the game viewing and opportunities to film wildlife close up are unrivalled. The accommodation and food also far exceed the facilities in the Kruger concession and of course the bonus of Entabeni being malaria free. The transfer from the airport is also half the time of travelling to Kruger.

    Because of the 5 different ecosystems within the reserve, game viewing and bird watching are most rewarding in terms of the variety of species to be seen. This magnificent reserve has a wonderful array of fauna and flora, including the infamous 'Big Five' - lion, leopard, buffalo, rhino and elephant. There are also frequent sightings of cheetah. Diversity on the reserve is astounding, with more than 55 mammal species, 350 flowers, 70 grasses, 200 trees, 410 birds and innumerable insects, reptiles and amphibians.

    Each course can accommodate 8 students, so to avoid disappointment, book your course dates soonest. The course dates for 2010 are: 17 January – 16 February ; 16 February – 18 March ; 18 March – 17 April ; 17 April – 17 May ; 17 May – 16 June ; 16 June – 16 July ; 16 July – 15 August ; 15 August – 14 September ; 14 September – 14 October ; 14 October – 13 November ; and 13 November – 13 December.

    What the course fee includes :

    The course fee for the one month wildlife filmmaking course includes the following:

    · Transport from OR Tambo (Johannesburg International) to Entabeni Private Game Reserve.

    · Accommodation for the entire course (1 month) and 3 meals per day.

    · Game drives during the week and then filming game drives every day during the production section of the course.

    · All professional tuition by lecturers at the Wildlife Film Academy who are well known filmmaking experts in their chosen fields.

    · Access to camera equipment for practicals and lectures.

    · Experienced filmmakers on hand to give tuition.

    · Individual Apple editing suites using Final Cut Pro.

    · Course handouts and notes.

    · Access to pc’s for internet, email and research.

    · Access to reading material including journals and magazines.

    · Wildlife films to view in the evenings.

    · Assistance in arranging internships after the course should you request one.

    · DVD and masters of your film to keep with your certificate of completion.

    · Assistance in funding for your future films.

    · Free entry to the Wild Talk Africa film festival and conference, worth R3000 (approximately £250 and $450).

    Not included in the course fee are the following:

    · Mini DVD tapes and DVD discs.

    · Any additional lenses you want to use on your camera.

    · Flights and travel expenses from your home country or town.

    · Alcoholic beverages.

    Sponsors are NFVF (National Film Video Foundation) and NHU AFRICA (Nature History Unit Africa). Contact details: Wildlife Film Academy, Ph: +27 21 422 0012 - Fax: +27 21 422 0012

    2010 International Digital Emmy Awards - Last Call for Entry (outside of the US - including Africa)

    The 2010 International Digital Emmy Awards competition is now open and accepting entries. Entry deadline is November 2nd, 2009.

    Categories are: Children and Young, Fiction and non-fiction.

    The Academy was founded in 1969 to promote excellence in international television programming and is the organization that presents the International Emmy Award to the best television programs produced, and initially aired, outside the U.S.

    UNESCO recruits expert on media in conflict and post-conflict situations

    A post of programme specialist is open for recruitment at the Division for Freedom of Expression, Democracy and Peace of UNESCO's Communication and Information Sector. The post is initially planned for the limited duration, from 1 January until 1 September 2010. The major responsibility of the incumbent will consist in implementing projects related to media assistance in conflict and post-conflict areas.


    Call for film submissions

    Africalia is happy to announce an unusual "festival within the festival" devoted to African cinema at the next IFFR Rotterdam International Film Festival 2010 which will occur from January 27 to February 7, 2010.

    For this unique event, the organiser is actively seeking submissions from throughout the African continent in order to present a strong representation for as many African countries as possible.

    The festival will have a strong concentration in seldom seen African classics as well as contemporary films from all over the continent.

    There will be concentrations of short films by country as well as animations and documentaries. The festival will also feature new media installations and video art as well as performances that engage cinema, i.e. African musicians and storytellers performing with silent films and other manifestations of performing with projections with VJs and dancers...

    The State Theatre (Schouwburg) of Rotterdam will be transformed into a lively African market for several consecutive days with multiple venues springing up throughout the multi-tiered space to accommodate a range of alternate activities and environments.

    Submit new film for inclusion or inform those who should also be aware for what promises to be a unique forum for African films. Please send submissions a.s.a.p to:

    African Marketplace

    International Film Festival Rotterdam

    P. O. Box 21696

    3001 AR Rotterdam

    The Netherlands

    Be sure to clearly indicate "African Marketplace" when addressing the mail.

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