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Issue no. 188 25 September 2014

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  • Larry Izamoje’s Sports Radio 88.9 Brila FM was the first sports radio station on the continent and has now been going for 12 years. He’s been able to make commercial sense of a niche radio platform and is now looking at the possibility of extending into online. Russell Southwood spoke to him this week.

    The idea of doing sports radio came to Izamoje when he looked at what others were doing elsewhere. While he was producing sports programmes on radio, he discovered that there were 200 sports radio stations in the USA. So in 2002 he got a licence to broadcast.

    “In terms of transmission, you have to have a transmitter in each city and then employ people in these cities to look after them. It’s quite expensive to do.” He is currently in 4 cities: Lagos, Abuja, Kaduna and his home city Onitsha. Production is based in Lagos.

    The programming changes over the day and works in 15-minute segments. The morning focuses on sports news and the afternoon and evenings are made up of call-ins from fans. The evening is called The Popular Side and is in the words of Izamoje more “freestyle”.

    The audience is mainly 18-34 year olds although it picks up listeners of all ages. As with sports radio all over the world, the gender split is 70% male and 30% female. But things are changing:”Women are definitely getting more interested in sports.”

    So what audience share does it get? Like many in the industry in Nigeria he is distrustful of existing industry research:”There’s a problem in Nigeria. It can’t be relied upon. There are too many factors. It’s difficult to tell what the market share is.” One dipstick of its popularity is that it has 284,468 likes on its Facebook page without ever having advertised to attract likes.

    But for all the doubts about the research, he’s clearly got the formula right as advertisers have been placing spots:”Brands know that there are sports fans everywhere”. He also runs very successful competitions around the big sporting events like the World Cup, the Olympics and the African Cup of Nations.

    Some of the biggest advertisers are the mobile operators and beer companies. A new category of advertising is sports betting which just been legalised in Nigeria:”It’s beginning to be exciting.”

    It gets its international content through a series of partnerships including Voice of America, Sky Sports News Radio, Team Talk and Deutsche Welle. The latter provides Hausa content for broadcast in Kaduna.

    The next big step that Izamoje is contemplating is going online:”We’re looking at the technology for a Brila Sports News TV service, not a terrestrial TV service. We want to go beyond the borders of Nigeria with video channel that can be seen as a visual platform.” There are a number of regulatory issues that need to be clarified but it’s definitely on his agenda,

    __________________________________________________________________

    What’s Smart Monkey TV?

    Balancing Act has a sister website, the home of our web TV channel Smart Monkey TV – ‘Creators and innovators in Africa at the crossroads of technology and culture'. It produces 15 video clip interviews a month, many of which will be of relevance to Balancing Act Readers.

    The most recent one of direct relevance is an interview with Raul Martinez, Millicom who talks about moving from being a mobile operator to a digital services company in 3-5 years in the larger markets in Africa:

    To subscribe on You Tube to the Smart Monkey TV video clip interview feed, click on the link here and press the red Subscribe button in the upper right of your screen:

    Smart Monkey TV is also publishing two e-letters that will be of interest:

    Digital Content Africa covers film, music, media, digital advertising, social media and other digital content and services. For anyone trying to stay ahead of the emerging online space in Africa, it’s essential reading. To see the topics covered, click on the link here:

    Interested? Click on the link here to subscribe:

    Innovation in Africa covers start-ups, investment, energy, ICT4D, 3D Printing, innovation and cities. It gives you a ringside view of the most interesting innovation happening around the continent. To see the topics covered, click on the link here

    Interested? Click on the link here to subscribe:

    For breaking news, follow us on Twitter: @BalancingActAfr

content

  • In an innovative step towards convergence of print and digital channels Trajectory Media has produced an interactive video for print magazine House and Leisure. This is a first for a South African print magazine.

    The video, which accompanies the October 2014 print edition of House and Leisure, allows viewers to enjoy an entirely new experience of a house featured in the magazine. “This is a terrific addition to our growing digital offering," says Naomi Larkin, editor of House and Leisure. "It enables our audience to experience a house in an exciting new way that has not been possible before.”

    The video, which is divided into five segments, offers viewers the choice of experiencing the house from the perspective of the homeowner, the architect, the stylist and the photographer.

    "Interactive video is an exciting new way to engage audiences. It is fundamental shift in the way in which they engage with content," says Naashon Zalk, Trajectory Media's CEO. "Instead of just sitting back and consuming a traditional linear video, audiences now have the ability to shape their content experience, watching what they like, ignore what doesn't interest them, share on social media and respond to calls to action." Interactive video also has significant applications for gamification and education and training.

    For more information contact Trajectory Media at hello@trajectory-media.com or on 021-468-6053.

    Source: Filmcontact  19 September 2014

  • The 4th Nollywood and African Film Critics' Awards (NAFCA) and the NAFCA Special Honours 2014 took place on 13 September at the Saban Theatre in Beverly Hills, California.

    NAFCA, commonly referred to as The African Oscars, are US awards for achievements in the African film industry, while the NAFCA Special Honors are awarded to individuals whose professional careers have been marked by noteworthy personal and professional accomplishments.

    This year, the ceremony was hosted by Lester Speight, Kalitta Smith, writer and actor Michael Adegoke, Hollywood actor Jackie Christie, recording artist Sphynix Rose, Hollywood regular Tony Davis and comedian Trey Elliott.

    Nollywood and African Film Critics’ Award winners:

    Favourite Actor: Ken Smart (UK)

    Favourite Actress: Falia Justima (Haiti)

    Favourite Director: Obed Joe (Nigeria)

    Favourite Screenwriter: Princess Fumi S. Hancock (Nigeria)

    Best Promising Actor: Clara Folashade Fernaldo (Congo)

    Favourite Short Film/Trailer: J12 (Haiti)

    Favourite Scores: The Storm (Cameroon)

    Best Film: Half of a Yellow Sun

    Best Drama: Being Mrs. Elliot

    Best Actor in Leading Role: Chiwetel Ejiofor for Half of a Yellow Sun

    Best Actress in Leading Role: Omotola Ekehinde for Last Flight to Abuja

    Best Actor in Supporting Role: Ayo Makun for Being Mrs. Elliot

    Best Actress in Supporting Role: Sonia Ibrahim for No 1 Fan

    Best Director in a Film: Biyi Bandele for Half of a Yellow Sun

    Best Foreign Film: 12 Years a Slave

    Best Director in a Foreign Film: Neema Barnette for Woman Thou Art Loosed

    Best Actor in a Foreign Film: Blair Underwood for Woman Thou Art Loosed

    Best Actress in a Foreign Film: Sharon Leal for Woman Thou Art Loosed

    Best Supporting Actor/Actress in a Foreign Film: Nicoye Bank for Woman Thou Art Loosed

    Best Film Diaspora: Adora

    Best Drama Diaspora Film: Busted Life

    Best Actor in Leading Role Diaspora Film: Darrel Quevas for Ortega and His Enemies

    Best Actress in Leading Role Diaspora Film: Adi Alfa for Ortega & His Enemies

    Best Actor in Supporting Role Diaspora Film: Ike Eziefule for African Time

    Best Actress in Supporting Role Diaspora Film: Sana Kanu for Scarlet

    Best Director in Diaspora Film: Don Okolo for Gem of the Rainforest

    Best Indigenous Film: Moi Zaphira

    Best Docudrama: Silent No More

    Best Short Film / Trailer: Five

    Best Cinematography: Last Flight to Abuja

    Best Screenplay: Last Flight to Abuja

    Best Editing: Stripped

    Best Sound: When One Door Closes

    Best Original Score: Ekei

    Best Visual Effects: Last Flight to Abuja

    Best Costume: The Successor of Katanga

    Best Make Up: Obaapa Luiso

    Best Promising Actor: Jennifer Oguzie for Last Flight to Abuja

    Best Comedy: Go Fish

    Best TV/Online Series: Clinic Matters

    Best Child Actor in a Film: Kevin Saintil for La Joie de Lire

    Song of the Year: Aye by Davido

    Artist of the Year: Werranson

    Source: Screen Africa 15 September 2014 

  • Samsung Electronics has announced the addition of SuperSport and Red Bull TV app to its existing Smart Hub solution.

    Corrie Labuschagne, the Regional Product Manager for Africa Visual Display at Samsung Electronics said, “Content and apps are important features when it comes to providing a world of opportunities for our customers. This partnership with SuperSport and Redbull is another example of the power of strategic partnerships in delivering best of breed solutions to our customers.”

    The SuperSport app focuses on sport videos including game highlights and news. Via streaming, Samsung said users will be able to watch game highlights.

    “The Samsung Smart Hub is a highly advanced gateway on all Samsung Smart TVs and selected audio-visual products, such as the Smart Blu-Ray player. It allows users to search and access specific content quickly and easily via various apps, which in the end provides people with greater control of their entertainment experience,” Samsung said in a statement.

    Red Bull TV on the other hand features inspirational programmes including live global events and an extensive selection of sports, music and lifestyle entertainment.

    Corrie Labuschagne said, “Today’s consumers are more in tune with what they want and our role as a manufacturer is to ensure we respond to and continually evolve with these needs, in a way that enhances their lives.

    “Samsung Electronics aims to develop ecosystems aligned with our consumers’ lifestyles which form the perfect partnerships with our devices. Innovations to our Smart Hub offering are an example of this and we will continue to focus on enhancing the way that consumers interact with our technology and devices.”

    Source: Humanipo 16 September 2014 

  • Sudanese filmmaker and war reporter Hajooj Kuka‘s directorial debut Beats of the Antonov premiered earlier this month at the 2014 Toronto International Film Festival, winning the audience-selected People’s Choice Documentary Award. The narrative feature takes its name from the Russian cargo planes used by the Sudanese government in its air raids on the makeshift mountain hideouts and refugee camps located in the Blue Nile and Nuba Mountains.

    The film documents the daily lives of Sudanese citizens who have been displaced by their country’s civil war. The “Beats” in the film’s title also doubly refers to the new forms of traditional Sudanese music being made from found objects within the refugee camps–making Kuka’s film equal parts war-documentary and visual ethnomusicology project.

    Beats of the Antonov encapsulates a two-year period within the refugee communities tracing in non-linear vignettes a nuanced portrayal of cultural identity, the trauma of civil war, and what it means to be Sudanese today.

    Source: Okaya Africa  18 Septemner 2014 

  • DStv is adding Nicktoons as a new TV channel from 30 September and also adding Nick Jr and BET to DStv. All three TV channels are supplied by Viacom International Media Networks Africa (VIMN Africa) as part of new carriage agreements with MultiChoice. by Thinus Ferreira

    VIMN Africa already supplies channels like MTV, MTV Base, Nickelodeon, VH1 Classic and Comedy Central Africa to MultiChoice's DStv.

    BET's spin-off channel BET on Jazz was available on DStv in South Africa for a period in the past but was discontinued.

    BET has been available on On Digital Media's (ODM) StarSat satellite pay-TV platform the past four years and will remain available as a TV channel on this platform according to VIMN Africa.

    In 2008 BET was added on DStv in West African countries. In 2010 MultiChoice said BET didn’t test very well with South African viewers, but in 2013 MultiChoice tested BET again, yet cautioned that it didn’t mean the channel would be added to DStv.

    BET on DStv channel 135 will be available on DStv Premium, DStv Compact, DStv Family and DStv Extra and broadcast programming like talk show The Wendy Williams Show, reality like Real Husbands of Hollywood and dramas like Being Mary Jane and 106 & Park.

    Nicktoons on DStv channel 308 will be available on DStv Premium, DStv Compact and DStv Extra and is aimed at children between 4 to 9 – a younger skewing channel than the existing Nickelodeon channel also from VIMN Africa.

    Nicktoons programming include The Adventures of Jimmy Neutron, T.U.F.F. Puppy, Back to the Barnyard, Avatar and Rugrats and The Wild Thornberrys.

    Nick Jr. on DStv channel 307 will only be available to DStv Premium subscribers as a youth channel targeting pre-school viewers between the ages of 3 to 5 with programmes like Dora the Explorer, Bubble Guppies and Paw Patrol.

    New programming will start in 2015 on Nick Jr. including Dora & Friends, Blaze and the Monster Machines and Shimmer & Shine.

    "We are delighted to partner with MultiChoice to strengthen our kids and family, and general entertainment offering in Africa," says Alex Okosi, the senior vice president and managing director for VIMN Africa in a statement.

    "Our DStv customers will no doubt be delighted that BET is finally available on their screens," says Aletta Alberts, MultiChoice's general manager for content in the statement. "Kids will be entertained for hours with the great shows on Nick Jr. and Nicktoons. We want to add channels that fill a gap in our entertainment offering".

    Source: Filmcontact 25 September 2014 

  • The Gadawan Kura, or hyena handlers of Nigeria, were first introduced to a wider audience via South African photographer Pieter Hugo‘s striking 2007 series The Hyena and Other Men. Hugo spent two years photographing the itinerant hyena wranglers who subsist off the money they make from selling herbal remedies and performing with their semi-domesticated hyenas, baboons and snakes for awestruck audiences in towns throughout Nigeria.

    Inspired by Hugo’s photographs of the nomadic community, fellow South African Tarryn Crossman spent three years tracking down the gadawan kura for a documentary short titled Hyena Boys, which offers a glimpse into life within the gadawan kura training camp on the outskirts of Abuja. Currently making the festival rounds, the ten minute doc from Crossman’s TIA Productions took home the award for Best Documentary Short at the just-concluded California International Shorts Festival, which seeks to provide a globally-minded platform for independent filmmakers to showcase their work.

    Source: Okaya Africa  18 September 2014

broadcast

  • AfricAvenir Windhoek, the Goethe Centre, and the Filmmakers Association of Namibia invite to the Namibian Premiere of Senegal’s ‘Dakar Trottoirs’ on Saturday, 27 September, 19h00, at the Goethe-Centre Windhoek.

    The screening of Dakar Trottoirs by AfricAvenir in Namibia will see the world premiere of the English subtitled version of the film. The screening is part of the Namibia Film Week, organized by the Filmmakers Association of Namibia (FAN).

    Synopsis
    Dakar Trottoirs (Sidewalks of Dakar), directed by Hubert Laba Ndao, is the story of a burning passion between Salla and Siirou in this microcosmic world of the “sidewalks” of Dakar. Here the surrealist characters of a paradoxical theatre intermingle in the heart of the city. Behind the facades of the posh districts which stand alongside the settlements of the have-nots,
    The “deal” is the rule; grace and misery go hand in hand; sensuality is omnipresent and violence too. Here all dreams are possible but sometimes they become nightmares.

    Music by Didier Awadi (RFI competition winner like Elemotho) intensifies this ambiance which makes Siirou's head spin but at the same time fascinates him. The film stars the famous actor Eriq Ebouaney, one more reason to not miss this screening.

    In June 2014, at the Festival du cinéma Africain de Khouribga (FCAK) the film won an award for Best actress: (Prudence Maîdou).
    The scriptwriters for this film were Abdoulaye Tall and Léandre-Alain Baker. The audience might remember Leandre-Alain's film Ramata, which AfricAvenir Windhoek presented in 2012.

  • The BBC World Service is launching special Ebola broadcasts for West Africa starting on Monday 22nd September. Each evening shortwave transmissions to the region will be increased. There will be a round-up of News concentrating on efforts to combat the virus particularly to the three worst affected countries: Liberia, Sierra Leone and Guinea.

    News About West Africa will be a 9-minute daily programme (Monday to Friday) broadcast live at 19:50 GMT around the world and presented by BBC Africa’s Kim Chakanetsa. Through local stories, correspondents and interviews, the broadcast will include the latest information about local, regional and international effort to contain and combat the disease. There is a great deal of new information emerging about how best to respond to Ebola and the programme aims to share that with an African and global audience.

    BBC Africa in conjuncti with the BBC’s international development charity, Media Action, has since August been broadcasting two weekly Ebola bulletins on the BBC’s English, French and Hausa services.

     BBC Media Action has also been helping to tackle dangerous misinformation about the disease in a new radio programme. Kick Ebola Nar Salone (Kick Ebola out of Sierra Leone), is a 30-minute show produced weekly and broadcast three times a week on 35 partner stations across the country.

    Peter Horrocks, Director, BBC World Service Group says: "Lack of knowledge and myths about the disease are killing people as surely as Ebola is. Quality information from both within and outside the countries affected about how the risks of Ebola can be safely managed will save lives. The range of emergency activities on Ebola from the BBC World Service are in the finest traditions of the humanitarian instincts of our broadcasting.”

     This week’s programming includes:

    Assignment (Thursday 25th September) will hear from a wide variety of people living through the three-day lock-down in Sierra Leone as the authorities hope to restrict the spread of the disease.

    A special edition of BBC Africa Debate (Friday 26th September) from Ghana will look at the state of Africa’s health systems in the light of the Ebola outbreak. The debate will be hosted by BBC Africa’s Akwasi Sarpong, and broadcaster and health practitioner, Dr Graham Easton.

     Over the weekend, Mike Williams asked why people risk their lives for strangers as they talk to health workers who return to the packed West African hospitals to help those with the disease in The Why Factor.

    Source: BBC 24 September 2014

  • Multichoice announced the introduction of its BoxOffice service to DStv subscribers in Zimbabwe. The service allows subscribers with DStv Explora and HD PVR decoders to rent blockbuster movies for 48 hours. This is the first pay-per view service available for the local market, although it has been available in other Multichoice markets like South Africa and Nigeria, reports Techzim. Subscribers need to register for BoxOffice first, a process which has to be done online, after which they can rent any of the available titles for USD 2.50. Payments can be made via banks that accept DStv payments as well as through EcoCash and telecash, the two mobile money services that provide payment options and billing codes for Multichoice. DStv BoxOffice was also launched in Zambia in September.

    Source: Telecompaper 23 September 2014

distribution

  • The 13th edition of Locarno’s Open Doors co-production mart, dedicated to cinematographies in areas where making movies is especially tough, will focus on Africa’s Maghreb region, comprising Algeria, Libya, Morocco, and Tunisia.

    Choice of this region comes after Open Doors last year was dedicated to sub-saharan Africa. It marks the second time for Maghreb, following a previous focus on the area in 2005.

    The Open Doors lab, which will run from August 8-11, 2015, will pick a dozen projects from Maghreb and help them connect with potential co-production partners, especially European producers.

    The four-day affair will also dish out awards including the Open Doors Grant, worth $50,000, and two prizes offered by Gaul’s Cnc and Arte.

    As with previous Open Doors editions dedicated to Africa, expert Alex Moussa Sawadogo, director of Berlin’s Afrikamera fest, will act as a consultant.

    The 68th Locarno film fest will run in the lakeside town located in the Italian-speaking part of Switzerland August 5-15, 2015.

    Source: Variety Magazine 24 September 2014 

  • - uSkroef noSexy, the straight to DVD film which was released internationally in 2013 by South African producer Uzanenkosi Mahlangu of Ants Multimedia, has been turned into a 26 episode television series. The series will have its season premiere on 6 November 2014 at 21h00 on eKasi+ (channel 105 on OpenView HD) and on 10 November at 21h00 on e.tv

investment

  • Nigeria’s entertainment and media revenues is expected to hit an estimated $8.5 billion by 2018, a report by business solutions firm PWC has revealed.

    The sector’s returns, according to the report, will more than double 2013 figure of $4.0 billion at a CAGR of 16.1 percent. This is considered one of the fastest growth rates in the world.

    The Internet will be the key driver for Nigeria, where the number of mobile Internet subscribers is forecast to surge from 7.7 million in 2013 to 50.4 million in 2018.

    Television in the form of advertising and subscriptions and licence fees, will also become a $1 billion-plus market in 2018, while the market will grow steadily.

    East Africa’s economic giant Kenya is also primed to experience similar fortunes. It recorded $1.7 billion in entertainment and media revenues in 2013, and this is forecast to rise to $3.1 billion in 2018.

    Once again, it is Internet access that is driving growth television and radio will account for combined $1 billion-plus of revenues at the end of the forecast period.

    Source: Ventures Africa 18 September 2014

  • The South African Broadcasting Corporation’s (SABC’s) chief operating officer, Hlaudi Motsoeneng, said that its accounting to Parliament is giving its competitors the upper hand and has called on MPs to afford the public broadcaster an opportunity to table its strategies behind closed doors.

    A delegation from the embattled corporation, including its under-fire chairwoman Zandile Tshabalala and Mr Motsoeneng, appeared before Parliament’s communications portfolio committee on Tuesday to present the third quarter report, which showed that viewership numbers continued to decline and revenue from licence fees remained under pressure.

    The SABC remains in the spotlight after the controversial permanent appointment of Mr Motsoeneng as chief operating officer earlier this year. A probe by the public protector found that he had lied about having a matric, purged senior staff and irregularly increased his own and certain staff members’ salaries. The public protector recommended he be disciplined. The Democratic Alliance (DA) has challenged his appointment in court. Ms Tshabalala’s position is also under question and she is facing suspension following allegations that she also lied about her qualifications. The communications portfolio committee is to table a motion in the National Assembly on Wednesday that would recommend to President Jacob Zuma that Ms Tshabalala be suspended, pending an inquiry into her qualifications.

    Mr Motsoeneng appeared unperturbed on Tuesday despite the controversies surrounding the SABC. He said while the broadcaster was happy to share "its trade secrets" with MPs, it would only be fair to do so behind closed doors.

    "Our competitors are here as we speak and they are busy taking notes … we cannot be presenting in an open platform," Mr Motsoeneng said.

    He said the SABC was "actually doing very well on the audience share side". Though the third quarter report showed that the SABC TV platforms have delivered an audience share of 48% against a target of 53% for the period under review, Mr Motsoeneng raised issue with the methodology used by South African Audience Research Foundation, saying rural audiences had not been taken into account.

    "Every day, the SABC audiences are more than 26-million. This is huge. We are doing very well on the audience share side," Mr Motsoeneng said.

    But Economic Freedom Fighters MP Mbuyiseni Ndlozi said it was "clear that the SABC was struggling with numbers". Mr Ndlozi also took issue with Mr Motsoeneng’s request for the SABC to table some of its documents behind closed doors in future.

    "Mr Motsoeneng must not complain about accounting to Parliament, otherwise he must leave (the SABC) … I will be happy to see you go," Mr Ndlozi said.

    Earlier, Ms Tshabalala, also raised concern about the requirement that the SABC table some of its documents in an open session, saying this gave its competitors an unfair advantage. Ms Tshabalala also pointed out that the SABC funding model remained problematic. She said that the SABC was promised 60% public funding, yet it only gets 3%, which was not in step with the needs of a public broadcaster.

    "About 86% funding comes from advertisers. It cannot be right. This puts the SABC in a precarious position and constrains its ability to relay the messages that government wants it to relay … most of the (public) broadcasters internationally are funded (by government) 100% or 80% … it differs from country to country," Ms Tshabalala said.

    She said the bad publicity the SABC had received in recent times was scaring away potential business partners. She seemed to blame opposition MPs for this.

    "The tarnishing of the image of the SABC by some members is so bad that the businesses who want to partner with us (are not) … that is the sad part".

    Ms Tshabalala said a permanent CEO was set to be appointed in the coming weeks.

    Meanwhile, presenting the third quarter report, acting CEO Tian Olivier said total revenue of about R2.1bn for the period under review was R143m, or 7%, higher than budget. Mr Olivier said year on year total revenue had increased by R494m or 10%. This was higher than the previous year’s growth of 4%.

    Source: BD Live 16 Septmber 2014

  • igeria: Kene Mkparu, Filmhouse talks about how his cinema chain will be investing to create 25 cinema by 2019. Click here to hear his plans:

regulation & policy

  • According to a notice in the Herald, state-owned mobile network operator Netone has applied for a national datacasting licence from the Broadcasting Authority of Zimbabwe.The datacasting licence is one of ten broadcasting licences offered by the regulator.

    Datacasting, or the broadcast of data, is a service that delivers information via radio waves in varied forms which include text, data, speeches and images to any receiver or equipment that can accept or process the information.

    It usually works in the distribution on topical information in fields that can be as varied as traffic updates, weather, health, education and even retailing.

    This looks like part of Netone’s efforts at improving their performance by providing a wider range of product services. Currently every network operator needs to and has been making attempts at expanding its product range beyond the declining voice call offering.

    NetOne’s two competitors Econet and Telecel have been aggressively pushing data centric OTT services that include WhatsApp bundles and different Facebook promotions, lines of service which NetOne hasn’t offered on its own network.  It has however been engaged in mobile money services which have provided a healthy revenue stream for local telecoms.

    NetOne is likely to be leaning on its relationships with Chinese hardware and telecoms infrastructure giants Huawei in the roll out of this service.Huawei is already tapped to pick up Netone’s $218 million broadband expansion project which will focus on equipment upgrade and LTE service provision.

    Source: TechZim 15 September 2014

  • - The President of the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), Joseph Kabila, has scrapped the suspension of pay-tv operator StarTimes, Bizafrica reported. Three top government officials had ordered ARPTC, the regulator, to suspend StarTimes temporarily. The operator is facing an investigation and a court case on its legitimacy and the issue of frequencies. The pay-TV operator offers 29 channels for USD 10 and for 54 channels for USD 23.

technology & convergence

  • Manufacturer of space and hardware subsystems, Com Dev International has been awarded an Authorisation to Proceed (ATP) contract to deliver Multiplexer Equipment, Waveguide and Coaxial Switches and Microwave Components to be used on a high throughput communications satellite designed to provide direct-to-home premium television content to the Middle East and North Africa.

    The total value of the initial contract is over USD 7.5 million with an expansion to the contract expected in the coming weeks to include additional equipment valued over USD 5.5 million. Work on the contract will be carried out at the company's facility in Cambridge, Ontario with completion expected by August 2015.

    Source: Telecompaper 24 September 2014

  • Eutelsat Communications (Euronext Paris: ETL) and Cisco are unveiling the integration ETL of Cisco Videoscape and Eutelsat’s “smartLNB” technology at this year’s IBC exhibition. The two companies are combining their expertise for a demonstration of live IP streaming and Push Video On Demand (VOD) services accessed through an easy-to-navigate user interface that can offer broadcasters the most advanced turnkey solution for connected TV services.

    The integration of Cisco Videoscape, including MediaHighway set-top box software, VideoGuard conditional access and a Cisco user interface with Eutelsat’s “smart LNB” technology enables subscribers to easily navigate their way through a multi-dimensional programme guide incorporating high-quality live and recorded content. It delivers a unique experience that connects subscribers to broadcaster services, increasing customer choice and loyalty.

    The demo at IBC shows how the combination of the “smart LNB” and Cisco’s set-top box embedding Cisco Videoscape technology lights up the possibility of Connected TV in both mature and developing markets from today.

    Eutelsat’s “smart LNB” is a low-cost device that bundles DTH reception of TV channels with a narrowband satellite return channel for short transmissions of IP packets. As such, it opens the door for broadcasters to operate their own ecosystem of linear television and connected TV services directly by satellite.

    Cisco Videoscape is a cloud video platform, developed to enable a new generation of compelling, differentiated video experiences. It responds to user expectation for video experiences on multiple screens and empowers service providers and media companies to rapidly create and connect new synchronised, personalised, and intuitive multiscreen experiences.

    The live IP streaming service provides a secure multiscreen experience to users who can access content on any connected device. Push VOD enables secure delivery of subscription-based VOD services with large-scale catalogues at a transmission cost that is independent of the number of subscribers. Using the IP connectivity afforded by the “smart LNB”, other value added services can be offered including real-time audience measurement, customer intelligence, advanced customer support and home automation.

    Source: Company Press Release

  • Its launch follows that of Vidi, an online VOD service from Times Media Group which has a similar entertainment offering to what Node will provide.

    Like Vidi, Node offers a subscription service (albeit at a higher price of R299) which gives users access to TV shows and older movies, while newer movies can be rented for R15 or R25.

    Pricing on movie rentals is dependent on how recent a release the film is. Once rented, subscribers can watch a movie as many times as they want in a 48-hour period.
    Satellite-based

    Unlike services such as Netflix and Vidi, Node’s VOD offering does not require a broadband connection to stream the content over.

    Instead, it uses the same satellite as DStv to push content to a decoder-like set-top box (or “Node”), which is then stored on a 1 Terabyte hard drive.

    New content is pushed down to the Node on a regular basis, with old shows and movies cycled out as the hard drive fills up.

    The Node box itself costs R3,499, and for the moment includes a free dish and installation. It can be connected to any HDMI-capable screen.

    While subscribers watch content from the Node’s hard drive rather than streaming it via the Internet, the Node still requires Internet access to unlock movies or episodes from a series.

    This does not appear to require a large amount of data, and the Node does include a built-in 3G modem for those who do not have an Internet connection at home.

    The data costs incurred by the Node are the user’s problem, so it’s important to mention that the Node also offers web services.

    It includes a web browser and YouTube app, which, if you’re not careful, can eat through your 3G data pretty quickly (assuming you don’t just connect it to your home Wi-Fi network or LAN).

    In addition to entertainment services, Altech has also geared the Node be a home automation hub.

    Accessories include internal and external surveillance cameras, motion sensors, smart plugs, antennas, Wi-Fi boosters, and VoIP phones – which Altech said would all be available at the retailers that stock Node.

    The Node’s remote control features a QWERTY keyboard on the back, and there is also an app available in the Google Play store with which you can control the device over a Wi-Fi network.

    The Node will be available from the following stores from Friday, 19 September 2014: Altech Autopage Cellular, Cell C, Dion Wired, Game, HiFi Corporation, Hirsch’s, Incredible Connection, JetMart, Makro, Pick ‘n Pay Hyper, and other retailers.

    Source: MyBroadband 18 September 2014

  • In a tweeter message to its customers, the Station said, “All GOtv services will not be accessible to subscribers during the upgrade…We apologize for the inconvenience caused”.

    GOtv, a home of African television, said it is committed to delivering family entertainment to Africa.

    On number of cities that will be affected, the message read,” All cities in which GOtv currently operates in Nigeria including; Lagos, Port Harcourt, Enugu, Ibadan, Benin City, Abuja, Owerri, Uyo, Kano, Jos, Onitsha, Oshogbo, Kaduna, Aba, Asaba, Oyo, Calabar, Akure, Ogbomosho, Abeokuta, Makurdi, Ado Ekiti, Ilesha, Ede, Iseyin”.

    According to the network, benefit of the software upgrade is that, tt will increase capacity on the network for additional channels to be included in future.

    Meanwhile, reactivation will be done on a site by site basis, thus, subscriber need not to do anything; the decoder will automatically come on when they power it.

    Source: Nigreria Communications Week  23 September 2014

  • Samsung’s determination to leverage the large consumer market in Africa is glaringly clear with it’s latest innovation of a multi‐power TV which allows both AC and DC supply, meaning rural households can enjoy their viewing experience even with unsteady power supply.

    Robert Ngeru, Samsung Electronics VP and COO for East and Central Africa hinted that the new innovation was a move in line with the company’s “Built for Africa” initiative.

    “One of the hindrances to Kenyans’ owning household appliances is the lack of electricity, and its instability in areas already connected to the grid. At Samsung, our ultimate goal has always been to offer our customers a great experience with technology, no matter their locality,” Mr. Ngeru said.

    In the event the AC supply from public utility companies is unstable, the user can simply switch to DC power, for instance a solar charged battery can be used. The television was designed to accommodate power surges, therefore the sets are not damaged by an electric circuit when the voltage is too high or during times of unstable supply.

    Perfecting power supply all across Africa has been a continental challenge that governments and stakeholders have been trying to grapple with. The demand for rural electrification across the region grows year on year. In Kenya, for instance, the demand for rural electrification power increased by 12.3 percent last year according to the Kenya Economic Survey 2014.

    The multi‐power TV, because of it’s efficiency design and innovative features, has already been awarded with the Large TV category award at the Global LEAP Outstanding Off‐Grid Appliance Awards.

    Source: Ventures Africa 20 September 2014

  • MultiChoice is busy developing applications for its DStv BoxOffice and Catch Up services for the Xbox One, a spokesperson for Microsoft South Africa told MyBroadband.

    Microsoft launched the Xbox One to the South African market at an event in Bryanston on Monday, 22 September 2014, with the console going on sale on 23 September 2014.

    In addition to its video gaming features, Microsoft also talked up the ability of the console to plug into users’ home entertainment centres and control them via voice commands.

    Just about any device that supports HDMI can be plugged into the Xbox One (such as DStv, StarSat, and other set-top boxes), Microsoft said, though full integration with South Africa’s satellite TV providers is not yet available.

    This is because Microsoft has not enabled these features for the South African market yet, but the spokesperson said that the inclusion of DStv’s electronic programme guides in the “OneGuide” and support for channel switching from the Xbox One (through voice commands and more conventional means) is in the works.

    Microsoft has also had discussions with MultiChoice regarding DStv apps for Xbox One, and support for DStv BoxOffice, Catch Up, and SuperSport is also on its way for the console.

    DStv Catch up is a feature exclusive to DStv Premium subscribers with PVR access (R740 per month), which lets users stream recently aired episodes of TV series and movies to their web browser or iOS device.

    DStv BoxOffice is a movie rental service that’s available to anyone, even non-subscribers, and charges R10 to R32 to rent a movie depending on how recently the film was released. The films can be streamed via your browser, a Windows or Mac desktop app, or an Android app currently exclusive to the Samsung Galaxy S5.

    Update: Following the publication of this article, a different spokesperson for Microsoft contacted MyBroadband to say that DStv support for Xbox One was not yet confirmed.

    Any details about DStv integration with Xbox One was speculation on the part of the Microsoft spokespeople who provided the information at the event, Microsoft said.

    Microsoft has also provided the following statement:

    Microsoft is constantly exploring opportunities with various strategic partners. When any of these opportunities result in new services or products, we’ll make the necessary announcements.

    Source: My Broadband 23 September 2014

  • Africa Digital Media Academy has opened the first motion capture studio in East Africa. The studio, situated in Kigali, Rwanda, is the first of its kind in both east and central Africa.

    Motion capture is the process of recording live movement of objects or people and using the data to more efficiently create realistic animation for film and television.

    On 18 September, at the press conference at Africa Digital Media Academy offices in Kigali, Emmanuel Gasana – Director General of the Workforce Development Authority (WDA) – said the new facility will produce more income in Rwanda's economy through foreign trainees who will be making use of the services offered by the advanced motion capture studio. In addition, the studio will assist Rwandan youth from different sectors to train in the latest film making technology.

    Africa Digital Media Academy opened in January 2012 and is part of the technical and vocational education and training network, operated by WDA. The academy trains Rwandans in all aspects of advanced media production, from film editing and production to 3D animation.

    The academy is currently in the process of admitting around 100 students.

    To see Chris Marler of Africa Digital Media Academy talk about its programme, click on the link here

    Source: Screen Africa 22 September 2014 

  • Imagine Communications, a leading developer of media software and video infrastructure solutions serving the global broadcast, multichannel video programming distributor (MVPDs) and enterprise markets, recently unveiled its vision for enabling Communications Service Providers to gain strategic advantage in offering over-the-top (OTT) video and IPTV services. As one of the few companies in the industry with an end-to-end TV Everywhere solution – from media ingest to advanced advertising, subscriber billing and multiscreen CDN – Imagine Communications provides the technology to capitalize on the growing demand for optimized video distribution across multiscreen environments.

    Because of its end-to-end TV everywhere portfolio, Imagine Communications are able to offer a highly dense, scalable and operationally efficient solution to quickly deliver optimized experiences across multiscreen environments. The solution integrates the company’s SelenioNext™ Adaptive Bit Rate (ABR) transcoding, SelenioEdge™ Media Content Delivery Network (CDN), packaging, encryption, hyper-personal advertising, subscriber billing, ingest, automation, and storage. To integrate all components of the TV Everywhere solution together, the company’s next generation Zenium™ workflow manager provides an advanced, underlying, software-based media asset management tool that stitches workflow processes together and provides the lowest Total Cost of Ownership (TCO).

    For more information, visit the Imagine Communications website.

    Source: Screen Africa 23 September 2014 

  • Onlime announced signing of the contract during the IBC event in Amsterdam with Gazprom Space Systems taking capacity on Yamal-402 satellite to increase Ku offering addressing a growing demand in Sub-Saharan Africa.

    Onlime has full Ku and C-Band satellite coverage for VSAT services over the African continent, providing reliable business communications solutions to the enterprise market, whether directly through one of its own offices or via its substantial network of partners and VSAT resellers. Excellent coverage and the reliability of Yamal-402, in combination, with its long expected life, makes it a good fit for further penetration into many markets within its footprint, allowing for small VSAT terminals to be deployed in majority of locations in Africa. Onlime services include enterprise quality VoIP across Africa.   

    "We are pleased to sign the contract with such a reputable company as Onlime, for the use of Yamal-402 capacity over Africa allowing them to offer services in many African countries. We intend to further develop relationship with Onlime in African and Middle East markets," said Dmitry Sevastiyanov, GSS Director General.

    Paul Ziegler, Onlime CEO said: "Onlime is at the forefront of providing business communications solutions to the enterprise market across Africa that include satellite and fiber based networks, MPLS, VoIP and wireless solutions. The addition of Yamal-402 is part of network strategy to be able to offer seamless coverage across the African continent to address the needs of the market. We are proud of our partnership with Gazprom and look forward to growing the relationship further."

    Source: PR Newswire 15 September 2014

  • - SES, in partnership with free-to-air broadcaster OpenView HD, has kicked off its Elevate training programme for LXTV installers in Alexandra township Johannesburg. The training forms part of a countrywide SES initiative to equip OpenView HD satellite dish installers with the skills to help develop South Africa’s broadcast industry, and ensure that all OVHD subscribers receive quality digital television in their homes.

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  • Announcement by PAMRO

    The conference due to be held in Ghana in August 2014 is now to be re-schedued to August 2015 due to the health concerns and restriction in travel in West Africa. For further information please visit the website here:

    Important events in the African broadcast, film and TV sector

    Sept 25 - Oct 1 2014
    Lights, Camera, Africa! Film Festival 
    The Lights, Camera, Africa! Film Festival, created by arts and culture centre The Life House, takes place at multiple venues in Lagos, Nigeria from 25 September to 1 October. The theme for the 2014 edition will be Legacy, and will highlight perspectives of the diverse tradition of filmmaking in Africa. By partnering with the New York-based African Film Festival, the British Council, Alliance Francaise, the Goethe-Institut and The Ford Foundation as well as developing relationships with industry experts such as Nadia Denton, Peace Anyiam-Osigwe, Tunde Kelani, Femi Odugbemi and Chika Anadu, the festival aims to offer attendees a diverse and valuable showcase of African cinema.
    Email The Life House, info@thelifehouselagos.com, for more information.

    Oct 2014 (dates tba)
    11th. African Film Festival of Cordoba – FCAT

    Venue: Cordoba, Spain
    The main African film fest in Spain.

    5 to 7 Nov 2014
    DISCOP AFRICA 2014

    Venue: Johannesburg, RSA 
    The biggest African market & creative forum for TV programmes and audiovisual content trade: not to miss.


    11th-13th November 2014
    AfricaCast/Africacom

    Venue: Cape Town Convention Centre (picture below), South Africa
    AfricaCast will continue to bring together the growing number of Sub-Saharan Africa’s major broadcasters, content owners, telcos, investors, cable companies and pay TV providers. AfricaCom is the largest telecoms and IT event in Africa.


    exact dates tba, Novembre 2014

    Film Africa 2014

    Venue: London, UK.
    The UK’s largest annual festival of African cinema and culture. Film Africa is the Royal African Society’s annual festival celebrating the best African cinema from across the continent. Every year, Film Africa brings London audiences a core programme of fiction and documentary films alongside a vibrant series of accompanying events, including director Q&As, panel discussions, talks, workshops, master classes, family activities and Film Africa LIVE! music nights.
    exact dates tba, Novembre 2014

    Kenya International Film Festival 2014 (KIFF)
    Venue: Kenya.

    25th -27th November 2014
    Digital Migration and Spectrum Management Forum – Africa 2014

    Johannesburg, South Africa
     A high-level industry conference, this conference will bring together key stakeholders across the broadcasting, telecoms, broadband and associated industries to assess the latest developments in spectrum technology, applications, standard, services and platforms and the relevance to Africa.
    Please click here  to access the event website and to register your participation at this event.

    15 to 17 July 2015
    Mediatech Africa 2013

    Venue: Coca-Cola Dome in Northgate, Johannesburg, South Africa
    The biennial advanced technology trade show has positioned itself as the largest and most prestigious event of its kind in Africa for the media and entertainment industries.

     

    ................................................................................................................

  • Call for Oscars Foreign Language Film Category submissions

    It is that time of the year when the National Film and Video Foundation (NFVF) extends a call to South African Filmmakers to submit their films for The Annual Academy Awards (Oscars). The Academy has opened a call for entry for Best Foreign Language Film Award inviting South Africans to submit their feature films for consideration for the 87th Annual Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences Awards for Best Foreign Language Film Category.

    The closing date for submission is the 15th of September 2014. The South African Selection Academy Committee will choose one film as the country’s official submission for the Foreign Language Film Award. A foreign language film is defined as a feature-length motion picture produced outside the United States of America with a predominantly non-English dialogue track.

    To be eligible for entry:

    Films must have been released in South Africa for a period of at least seven consecutive days beginning no earlier than 1st of October 2013 and no later than 30th of September 2014. A film must be advertised and exploited during its eligibility run in a manner considered normal and customary to the industry, and need not have been released in the United States.

    Films that, in any version, receive a nontheatrical public exhibition or distribution before their first qualifying theatrical release will not be eligible for Academy Award consideration.

    Nontheatrical public exhibition or distribution includes but is not limited to:

    Broadcast and cable television
    PPV/VOD
    DVD distribution
    Internet transmission

    The recording of the dialogue track as well as the completed film must be predominantly in a language or languages other than English. Accurate English subtitles are required. The Academy will make the final determination in all questions of eligibility. The South African Academy Selection Committee under the patronage of the National Film and Video Foundation will select the SA film to be entered for consideration. Entries should therefore be hand delivered to the NFVF not later than the 15th of September 2014. Entries will be judged by the South African selection committee and the qualifying film from this initial judging phase will go forth to represent South Africa in the Academy's initial nomination phase for Best Foreign Language film.

    Foreign Language Film Award Guidelines:

    The Academy uses the following guidelines to determine a film's eligibility in the Foreign Language Award category:

    1. Citizens or permanent residents of the submitting country should be represented in at least two of these categories: a. Producer(s) b. Director(s) c. Writer(s)

    2. Citizens or permanent residents of the submitting country should be represented in the majority in these categories: a. Cinematographer b. Editor c. Art Director or Production Designer (whichever title designates the senior designer) d. Costume Designer e. Music Composer f. Sound Mixer

    3. Citizens or permanent residents of the submitting country should be significantly represented among the major roles in the cast.

    The National Film and Video Foundation is officially recognized by the Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences to make submissions on behalf of the South African Film industry.

    Applications and guidelines can be found on the following link

    Eligible films should be sent no later than 15th September 2014 16:00 for attention:

    The South African Academy Awards Selection Committee c/o Tumi Rabanye

    National Film and Video Foundation

    87 Central Street Houghton 2198

    http://www.nfvf.co.za

  • Adieu Guido

    We have received the news of Guido Huysmans’ passing with shock and sadness.

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