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Issue no. 200 27 March 2015

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  • In June 2015 the broadcast market will be opened to new players. Abidjan is making a comeback as the business hub for Francophone Africa and looks set to become a very active TV production hub. Russell Southwood spoke to the Sales Manager, BeBlack TV about this Ivorian produced TV channel and its Pan-African ambitions.

    Since the beginning of broadcasting in Cote d’Ivoire, there has only been one Government-run channel RTI. That’s all about to change come June when the process of the digital transition in broadcasting will see the broadcast space opened up to new, private operators.

    Rumour has it that Trace TV is already recruiting technical staff and a TV company from another francophone African country will be among the first applicants.

    Alongside this, Africa’s TV market DISCOP is running a DISCOP Express event in Abidjan from the 2nd-4th June, which will provide a focus on the country and its soon to be established private sector. See here.

    Below the radar, Abidjan seems to have a lot of production talent. Among the companies based here is Gondwana City Productions, which produces francophone TV comedy series and live events with 3 comedians who are popular across francophone Africa.

    But the biggest development has been the launch of BeBlack TV, an ambitious channel that seeks to offer African culture a much higher profile globally. According to Sales Manager, Hypolithe Bouabre the idea came from “wanting to have a channel where African culture was well explained because it’s a global culture”. There’s strong desire to give African artists greater visibility.

    And if you think that sounds a bit like Trace TV, it does but the new channel – although it has started with a lot of music content, also covers Black film, fashion and African food. Specifically, it has things like entertainment magazine programmes and reality TV shows. The intention is to reduce the music content over time:”We want to respect the cultural diversity of the continent so we are buying content from many countries.”

    Launched in December 2013, it is currently available on channel 61 on Canal+. Long-term, the company wants to look at broadening its audience by looking at other platforms, including things like the new, free-to-air digital platform. It’s also in discussions with a mobile operator to get VoD distribution. In the longer term, it would like to move to three channels: BeBlack Classique (for France); BeBlack Caribbean and BeBlack Afrique. They are also at the very early stages of discussions with DStv about doing an Anglophone version. It will be carrying out a marketing campaign in June with road-shows and concerts.

    So what’s the business model?:”It’s an advertising business model. We want to reach the maximum number of people and explore a range of opportunities.”

    The man behind this new TV channel is Ivorian music producer David Monsoh who is a legend in the francophone music scene. There is a striking parallel with Senegalese musician Youssou D’Dour who has seemed to pivot effortlessly from music performer to media mogul.

    Monsoh studied in Paris and while a student handled the management of Nyaka Bell’s Visa Nayanka album which won an African Music Award. He then moved into producing artists having his first success with footballer Gadzhi Celi in 1994. This opened the way to a job at French record distribution company Sonodisc with a brief to find new talent from the African continent for international markets, where he also worked as an executive producer. And from there his name is part of the story of many of the most successful francophone music artists. So is the new project too big for him to swallow? He is quoted as saying:”I love new challenges and I hate to lose.”

    In overall business terms, Abidjan is staging a comeback after the bad years of the civil war. It has much going for it: Ivorians are welcoming, the electricity stays on and whilst there is traffic, it’s nothing like Dakar. So it may yet become a TV production “hot spot” for francophone Africa.



    So far 876 people have subscribed to Smart Monkey TV’s web TV channel which uploads 10-15 video clip interviews a month, covering African TV, Film, VoD, social media  and media.

    “Creators and Innovators in Africa at the crossroads between Culture and Technology.”

    Should you be one of those subscribers? Find out on this link:

    Video Clip Interviews - This week:

    Amos Neumann, Armoza Formats on selling The Package TV format into Ghana and Tanzania

    Uche Iwuchukwu on the launch of Udala Media's SVoD platform for African and Caribbean Users

    David Forbes on his documentary about an Ndebele women shot over 20 years of her life

    Lancelot Oduwa Imasuen on his film Invasion 1897 - The British remove the last King of Africa

    Writer Tom Rowlands-Rees on Kenneth Gyang's Confusion Na Wa and their latest film project

    African football talent scout Mikko Perala on a new TV programme - Top Spot - Spotting Top Talent

    Nicholas Beveney on Kingmakers, an Africa TV drama series about a struggle to be President

    Nigerian You Tube phenomenon T-Boy on his next TV comedy series and his ambition to act

    South Africa start-up Mediabox's James Muir on an open access version of Apple TV

    Eban Oliver, Skyroomlive on livestreaming top African music acts in concert to the

    For news updates, follow us on Twitter: @BalancingActAfr



  • Excitement is growing among the many Zimbabwean fans of Telenovelas as a second exclusive channel prepares to start broadcasting on DStv this month.

    MultiChoice Africa is excited to announce the launch of Eva, a brand new telenovela channel made for Africa by AMC Networks International – Zone (AMCNI Zone).

    Liz Dziva, publicity and public relations manager of MultiChoice Zimbabwe, said Telenovelas, soap operas from Portuguese and Spanish-speaking parts of the world, mainly South America, had proved popular in Zimbabwe, and the existing Telemundo channel had been well received since launching two years ago.

    Now the excitement grows as a second channel devoted to this genre is launched on DStv on Monday March 23, with a line-up of new soaps for Zimbabweans to follow, along with their peers across the continent” she said.

    Eva is the name of the new channel – a woman’s name in recognition of the core following of the genre, which is dedicated to stories of romance and passion. Programming will feature new series that are not already being seen on Telemundo, among them some of Latin America’s most popular shows such as Prisoner of Love, The Swindler, The Perfect Woman and Timeless Love.

    Eva is a first for this genre as it is a channel created specifically for Africa and seen only in Africa, but with a line-up of shows that have proved themselves in other parts of the world,” said Ms Dziva.

    The new addition to DStv will launch with a host of high production value programmes including Prisoner of Love (Amor Cautivo), a saga about three families, the Santacruz, Bustamante and Del Valle who are united by a terrible secret, that premieres on Monday, 23rd March at 18:00 CAT, then every weekday at 12:00 CAT.

    We know from customer feedback how popular Telemundo has become and how fascinated local viewers are with the storylines of the telenovelas. Like Telemundo, Eva will feature programmes dubbed into English.” she added.
    Source: Technomag 20 March 2015 

  • The Sound of Torture is a haunting, multi-award-winning documentary about the plight of Eritrean refugees. In the last decade, more than 300,000 Eritreans have fled the military dictatorship in their homeland, despite a ‘shoot to kill’ policy on the borders. They are followed by an estimated 3,000 every month.

    Since 2006, when Europe closed its borders to Africans seeking asylum, more and more Eritreans have sought refuge in Israel, reachable by land via the Sinai desert.

    In 2009, Bedouin smugglers in the Sinai desert started kidnapping, torturing and ransoming these refugees.

    The Sound of Torture follows Meron Estefanos, an Eritrean journalist living in Sweden. She broadcasts a weekly programme on Radio Erena called Voices of Eritrean Refugees. Meron says, “In this radio programme, we give voice to those in the torture camp and to those who are trying to set them free.”

    The hostages’ only lifeline is the cellphone provided by their kidnappers. Family members often hear them being tortured as they desperately beg their relatives for the money needed to secure their release.

    International human rights organizations report that an estimated 35,000 Eritreans have managed to cross the Egyptian border into Israel, but of that number 8,000 of those have reportedly endured these torture camps.

    The Sound of Torture follows Meron from Sweden to Israel, where the Eritrean ‘infiltrators’ have no legal status whatsoever. There she meets with former hostages, as well as family members trying desperately to free wives, sisters and children. She also travels to Egypt to see the torture camps.

    For Meron, giving the hostages a voice is no longer enough. “I want to end this,” says Meron. “I come from a country where animal rights are respected, you know? You hit a dog in Sweden, you go to jail for six months. You know? You kill a cat, you go to jail for three-and-a-half years. And here, I listen to people being tortured every hour. And the whole world is watching, doing nothing. It’s just… I don’t know.”

    The heart-rending documentary has won six international awards, including The Audience Award from Movies That Matter. The Sound of Torture premieres on Wednesday, 18 March 2015 at 22h00 CAT on Witness, Al Jazeera's observational documentary strand.
    Source: Filmcontact 19 March 2015

  • ITV’s Choice will launch across Africa for the first time following a deal between ITV Studios Global Entertainment and African pay-TV operator MultiChoice.

    The commercial channel will launch exclusively on DStv across the continent on Tuesday, May 5, 2015. All programming will air very close to UK transmission dates, with the soaps airing within 48 hours of the UK.

    The launch means that ITV Choice will now be available in over 100 countries across the Middle East, Asia and Africa.

    “We are delighted to bring ITV Choice to Africa for the first time with MultiChoice as our partners,” said Nic van Zwanenberg, Channel Director of ITV Choice.

    “Viewers across the continent will join 11 million households in over 40 countries and territories in the Middle East and Asia who already enjoy the best British entertainment and drama within days of it airing in the UK. This is a key element of our strategy to build the ITV Choice footprint, and we look forward to announcing further expansion in due course.”

    Aletta Alberts, GM for Content for MultiChoice South Africa commented: “Our customers love British content and when we decided to add more British channels, ITV was the natural choice. The cherry on top is that our DStv Premium customers will get to see the majority of programming only two days after the UK broadcast.”
    Source: Broadband TV News  21 March 2015

  • SCREEN AFRICA EXCLUSIVE: On Friday, 20 March the South African Film and Television Awards (SAFTAs) presented by the National Film and Video Foundation, took place at Gallagher Estate in Johannesburg. The first of two awards evenings to celebrate outstanding talent in the local industry awarded the highest achievers in technical and non-fiction genres with Golden Horn trophies.

    Telenovela-turned-soapie Isibaya, wildlife documentary Hippo vs Croc and satirical comedy ZANews: Puppet Nation were the evening’s frontrunners earning five awards each. And, after a string of awards abroad, Rehad Desai’s Miners Shot Down took the award for Best Documentary.

    Here is the full list of winners:

    Best Student Film
    Ana, Patrick & Nicholas - AFDA

    Best Achievement in Scriptwriting - TV Comedy
    Check Coast: Meren Reddy, Rethabile Ramaphakela, Katleho Ramaphakela, Salah Sabiti, Tumi Osei-Tutu, Mpho Osei-Tutu

    Best Achievement in Art / Design Production - TV Comedy
    ZANews: Puppet Nation: Franci Van Den Heever, Matthew Sanna

    Best Achievement in Make-Up and Hair Styling - TV Comedy
    ZANews: Puppet Nation - Franci Van Den Heever

    Best Achievement in Costume Design - TV Comedy
    ZANews: Puppet Nation - San-Mari Calaca

    Best Achievement in Sound - TV Comedy
    ZANews: Puppet Nation - Lyle Bennett

    Best Achievement in Original Score - TV Comedy
    ZANews: Puppet Nation - Lyle Bennett

    Best Achievement in Editing – TV Comedy
    Lastborn does The Loeries – Kholofelo Malatshi

    Best Achievement in Cinematography - TV Comedy
    Lastborn does The Loeries – Moabi Maseko

    Best Achievement in Scriptwriting - TV Comedy
    Check Coast - Meren Reddy, Rethabile Ramaphakela, Katleho
    Ramaphakela, Salah Sabiti, Tumi Osei-Tutu, Mpho Osei-Tutu

    Best Children's Programme
    Challenge SOS - 2 Blonds and A Redhead Filming

    Best Youth Programme   
    Ispani - Blue Wizard Productions

    Best Achievement in Make-Up and Hairstyling - TV Drama
    Donkerland - Nicola Roodt

    Best Achievement in Costume Design - TV Drama
    Donkerland - Suné Jansen

    Best Achievement in Art / Design Production - TV Drama   
    Swartwater – Marna Heunis

    Best Achievement in Sound - TV Drama
    90 Plein Street - Guy Steer

    Best Achievement in Original Score -TV Drama
    90 Plein Street – Jorge Arrigone

    Best Achievement in Editing - TV Drama
    End Game - Nicola Comminos, Jeremy Briers, Jack Esterhuizen, Karien Goosen, Gugulethu Sibandze

    Best Achievement in Cinematography - TV Drama
    Soul City - Tom Marais

    Best Achievement in Scriptwriting -TV Drama
    Geraamtes in Die Kas - Joshua Rous, Luke Rous, Sandra Vaughn, Corine Du Toit

    Best Reality Show
    Ultimate Braai Master: Roads Less Travelled - Cooked in Africa Films

    Best Magazine Programme   
    Mooiloop! - Blue Marble Entertainment

    Best International Format Show
    Clash of the Choirs SA - Endemol South Africa

    Best Achievement in Make-Up and Hair Styling - TV Soap
    Binnelanders - Elzette Van der Schyff

    Best Achievement in Costume Design - TV Soap
    Isibaya - Rochelle Selling

    Best Achievement in Art / Design Production - TV Soap
    Isibaya – Dylan Lloyd

    Best Achievement in Sound - TV Soap
    7De Laan - Neil Rattray

    Best Achievement in Original Score - TV Soap
    7de Laan - Jason Cochrane, Louis Van Rensburg

    Best Achievement in Editing - TV Soap
    Isibaya – Sibongeleni Mabuyakhulu, Jeremy Briers

    Best Achievement in Cinematography - TV Soap
    Isibaya – Zeno Petersen

    Best Achievement in Scriptwriting - TV Soap
    Isibaya - Catherine Stewart, Libby Dougherty, Craig Higginson, Jacob Ntshangase, Gillian Breslin, Desiree Maarkgraaff

    Best Factual / Educational Programme
    Think Big - The Bomb Shelter

    Best Current Affairs / Actuality Programme
    Safe Haven - Combined Artists

    Best Variety Show
    Charly`s Cake Angels - Cooked in Africa Films

    Best Talk Show
    I am Woman - Leap of Faith - Plexus Films

    Best Game Show
    Clover Little Big Cook Off - Quizzical Pictures

    Best Achievement in Sound – Wildlife
    Hippo vs Croc - Dave Birch

    Best Achievement in Original Score – Wildlife
    Hippo vs Croc - Dave Birch, Nux Schwartz

    Best Achievement in Editing – Wildlife
    Hippo vs Croc - Ruaan Botha

    Best Achievement in Cinematography – Wildlife
    Hippo vs Croc - Boris Von Schoenebeck, Grant Brokensha, Barry Skinstad, James Boon, Dale Hencock

    Best Achievement in Director – Wildlife
    Mystery of the Arctic Cairn - Kyle O Donoghue

    Best Wildlife
    Hippo vs Croc - Earth Touch

    Best Short Film
    Picture Perfect Heist - Benchfilms

    Best Achievement in Sound - Documentary Short
    Orbis - Guy Steer

    Best Achievement in Editing - Documentary Short
    Port Nolloth: Between a Rock and a Hard Place - Anna Telford

    Best Achievement in Cinematography - Documentary Short
    Orbis - Felix Seuffert

    Best Achievement in Directing - Documentary Short
    Port Nolloth: Between a Rock and a Hard Place - Felix Seuffert

    Best Documentary Short
    Port Nolloth: Between a Rock and a Hard Place - Butterfly Films

    Best Achievement in Make-up and Hairstyling - Feature Film
    Faan se Trein - Theola Booyens

    Best Achievement in Scriptwriting – Feature Film
    iNumber Number - Donovan Marsh

    Best Achievement in Costume Design – Feature Film
    Winnie Mandela - Pierre Vienings

    Best Achievement in Art/Production Design – Feature Film
    Faan se Trein - Waldemar Coetsee

    Best Achievement in Editing – Feature Film
    iNumber Number - Donovan Marsh

    Best Achievement in Cinematography - Feature Film
    Four corners - Vicci Turpin

    Best Achievement in Sound - Feature Film
    Four Corners - Barry Donnelly

    Best Achievement in Original Score - Feature Film
    Four Corners - Markus Wormstorm

    Best Achievement in Sound - Documentary Feature
    Miners Shot Down - Vaughan Phillips, Mark Phillips

    Best Achievement in Editing - Documentary Feature
    The Vula Connection - Annamarie James

    Best Achievement in Cinematography - Documentary Feature
    The Vula Connection - Peter Rudden

    Best Achievement in Directing - Documentary Feature
    I, Afrikaner - Annalet Steenkamp

    Best Documentary Feature
    Miners Shot Down - Uhuru Productions

    Source: ScreenAfrica 20 March 2015

  • Arcade Content’s Lebogang Rasethaba co-directed A New Belief: The People’s Race with German Stephan Wever. The inspiring short film celebrates the Nike Soweto Marathon, which returned last November after skipping a year in 2013 for the first time since it began in 1992.

    Founded in the year of the referendum to end Apartheid, The Soweto Marathon has become known as ‘The People’s Marathon,’ attracting people of all races, from across Africa and the rest of the world.

    Lebogang says he wanted to tell the film from the perspective of Soweto, so the marathon didn’t come across like “this big alien.”

    In A New Belief: The People’s Race, over striking visuals of the Soweto Marathon, motivational speaker Les Brown narrates the story of Roger Bannister, who broke the four-minute mile record in 1954, silencing skeptics who had argued that it was not physically possible.

    “Since that time, up to this day, over 20 000 people have done it, including high school kids,” says Brown in a Martin Luther King-style voice-over. “20,000 people. What changed? Here’s what happened: when they got on the track, they knew it had been done, and because they knew it had been done, there was a new belief about this barrier that was unreachable, and those 20,000 people got in a race believing, knowing in their hearts that someone had done it, that it’s possible, that they can do it.”

    Over 20,000 people is also the number of runners in last year’s Soweto Marathon, an event which, like Bannister, has changed perceptions of what’s possible.

    Lebo praises the Soweto Marathon and running culture for making the streets accessible again. “If it wasn’t for running culture, a lot of us wouldn’t be able to experience the city the way we have.”

    To view more of Lebo’s work, visit here: 

  • The 4th annual Luxor African Film Festival (LAFF) took place last week in Cairo, Egypt, from March 16-21, 2015. The LAFF is an annual event which screens films from across the Continent, showcasing Africa’s talent in cinematography and movie production, while celebrating the diverse cultures found within the Continent.

    Formed by the Independent Shabab Foundation, a nonprofit organization in Egypt under the auspice of Egypt’s Ministry of Culture, LAFF aims to promote screening of African movies in the North African Country. This year, the LAFF event saw participation from 41 Countries in Africa coming together for a celebration of the arts culture and to learn from directing and screenwriting workshops which will be led by leading African filmmakers.

    As part of the LAFF objective to grow and nurture the Arts in Africa, the festival in 2014 - with support from private sector institutions - launched the Space to Establish Partnership Program (STEP) competition to support the development of long narratives by young African filmmakers, specifically concerning their first or second work. The 2015 STEP program is supported by private organizations, Qalaa Holdings, a leading Egyptian investment company in infrastructure and industry, and ETISAL Fund Management of Egypt.

    The 2015 installment of the STEP program drew a record 59 film submissions from across Africa, competing for the $5,000 prize to fund the development and pre-production phase of the winner’s first or second work of film. The competitors were clustered in four film categories: Long Narrative Competition, Long Documentaries Competition, Short Films Competition, and Freedom Competition. 

    “We firmly believe that promoting the arts is one of the best ways to build cultural bridges and discover how much we have in common; one history and one destiny,” said Ghada Hammouda, CMO and Head of Communications at Qalaa Holdings, who in addition to the sponsorship of the festival, are also sponsoring an award for the best short film category and a special workshop for long feature films.

    The Luxor African Festival is a platform for unifying Africa through culture, while celebrating the diversity of the continent. It is a chance to show the alternative "Africa Rising" rhetoric- a youthful populace that celebrates and embraces it’s Africanness; a different landscape than was the case two decades ago.

    The support in nurturing the talent in the Arts by private institutions, such as Africa Investment Company Qalaa Holdings, demonstrates a different kind of inclusive growth taking shape in Africa - where policy makers and business leaders integrate and nurture the social cultural space to enable youth development and advancement of enterprise through the arts.

    “The Africa film industry is still relatively immature with a long way to go before it can catch up to those of Western Countries. Encouraging participation in the sector through program such as STEP is a step in the right direction, as it will help, not only in training, but also in instilling confidence in young African filmmakers to help them advance their careers,” said Ms. Neema Reed, a film producer and actress from Tanzania.
    Source: Indiwire 23 March 2015


  • With more than 2.3 million calls made by music enthusiasts who wanted to become stars, Airtel TRACE Music Star is by far the biggest music competition to ever take place on the African continent.

    During a 6-month-selection process in Kenya, Tanzania, Uganda, Zambia, Madagascar, Malawi, Nigeria, Ghana, Burkina Faso, Chad, Congo Brazzaville, The Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) and Gabon, tens of thousands candidates had to demonstrate their skills and talent in their native land.

    To enter the competition, the contestants called an Interactive Voice Respond system with their phone and recorded their songs. Then, in each country, TRACE selected 5 finalists who went head-to-head to win the national title and the right to represent their country at the pan-African finale in Kenya.

    The winner of the Airtel TRACE Music Star competition will be crowned in a spectacular pan-African Grand Finale filmed at Enashipai Resort & Spa on March 28 and will be televised starting on April 18 at 8pm all over Africa on TRACE music channels and national leading Free to Air TV networks.

    Final decision to select the pan-African winner will be made by public vote and 3 judges:

    1. Akon, the multi-platinum artist/producer and the most African of the American artists

    2. Devyne Stephens, the acclaimed manager of some of the best rap and R&B artists in the world (Alicia Keys, 50 Cent, P Diddy, Mariah Carey etc.)

    3. Lynnsha, the multi-platinum artist from the French Caribbean

    Judges will each retain twenty five percent voting power, leaving the public with an additional twenty five percent leverage. Public voting polls are open until March 25 and you can vote for your favourite finalist by sending an SMS to the short code dedicated to their country, along with their key word.

    The finale will be hosted by Capso and Wanjira Longauer.

    The overall grand prize comprises of a record deal, promotion and mentorship campaigns for a total value that exceeds $500,000.

    Follow the link here to meet each finalist:

    To watch Olivier Laouchez, Trace TV talk about the competition, click on the link here:

    Source: Techmoran 20 March 2015

  • African pay-TV operator Azam Media, has signed a three year USD 750,000 sponsorship deal with Football Kenya Federation (FKF) Premier League to broadcast league matches live, the Standard reported. Azam Media CEO Rhys Torrington said the operator will broadcast the first league match on 28 March. Thereafter, it will broadcast two matches a week for the duration of the league. The agreement also provides for FKF to allow a local free to air station rights to transmit two matches every week.
    Source: Telecompaper 20 March 2015

  • I'm happy to see this short work finally making its way online for all to see - we first mentioned it on this blog in late 2012 when it had just kicked off its international film festival travels, taking it to countless destinations all over the world, winning acclaim along the way.

    In brief, it comes from Kenyan filmmaker/animator Ng'endo Mukii, and is titled "Yellow Fever" - an impressive piece of mixed-media art, combining hand-drawn animation, computer animation, pixilation, and live action, to make a statement on global standards of beauty and those who control them.

    "Yellow Fever" also happens to be Ng'endo's thesis film, made in 2012, at the Royal College of Art in London.

    In her own words: "I am interested in the concept of skin and race, and what they imply; in the ideas and theories sown into our flesh that change with the arc of time. I believe skin and the body, are often distorted into a topographical division between reality and illusion. The idea of beauty has become globalised, creating homogenous aspirations, and distorting people’s self-image across the planet. In my film, I focus on African women’s self-image, through memories and interviews; using mixed media to describe this almost schizophrenic self-visualization that I and many others have grown up with."

    It's certainly a topic that's been addressed, and continues to be addressed, in work featured on this website and elsewhere - a source of much consternation.
    Watch "Yellow Fever" in full here:

    Source: Tambay A. Obenson for Indiwire 23 March 2015

    To see Ng’endo Mukii talk about the film, click on the link here:


  • The new telenovela channel 24 hours of free reception Africa, Romanza + Africa, has been launched in Kenya, reaching approximately 4.5 million households.
    Romanza + Africa is transmitted through the digital TV service Bamba TV, part of the conglomerate Kenya, Radio Africa Group. Romanza + Africa is the result of a partnership between Azteca and Venevision International, and distributor of digital content Africa XP.
    Romanza + Africa is home to some of the most successful soap operas in recent years, offering the best in original programming from the extensive catalogs of Venevision International and Azteca. The autonomous channel is available across multiple platforms AfricaXP digital distribution, offering broadcasters of the region's most romantic in the world portrayed by internationally renowned stars among captivating scenes stories.
    With over 3000 hours of programming in English, the channel offers exciting drama series Azteca as Catalina y Sebastián, and fascinating novels Venevision International as secret love, to name a few.
    Source: CISNEROS 19 March 2015

  • announced in Boston that it will do a first-ever worldwide release of a South African movie on the same day it is released in theaters.

    On April 2 will present "Strikdas" to a worldwide audience via their VoD platform that also hosts other South African movies, TV shows and documentaries. "Strikdas" will also be released in theaters in South Africa on April 2, 2015.
    Source: Filmcontact 24 March 2015 

  • CanalSat Africa will launch 25 new channels during the week of 23 March, after having introduced the premium channel A+ last year, Les Echos reports. Some are existing channels such as France 3, which will be marking its return to CanalSat Africa, and Histoire and Ushuaia TV. Others include new channel EdaNetwork, AB’s Sciences et Vie and a new version of Lagardere children’s channel, called Gulli Africa. One of the new channels is Edan, founded by Senegalese woman Eveline Diatta, who worked for Orange for many years. She is backed by South Africa’s TransAfrica Capital, invested EUR 5 million in the project. Edan has signed a 3-year exclusivity deal with Canal Plus and aims to break even within 3 years.

    CanalSat has increased satellite capacity for new bundles, the cheapest of which costs XAF 5,000 (EUR 7.50) a month for 100 channels. Canal Plus Overseas’ director for Africa, David Mignot, told the newspaper that the company aims to sign up half of all homes to be connected to electricity in the next few years, a potential of up to 5 million homes. Canal Plus subscribers in Africa rose to 1.5 million at the end of 2014, twice the level two years earlier. It is present in every African country except South Africa and the Maghreb, where it ended operations due to piracy.
    Source: Telecompaper 23 March 2015


  • The 4th annual Luxor African Film Festival (LAFF) commenced in Egypt on 21 March 2015. Formed by the Independent Shabab Foundation, a non-profit organisation in Egypt under the country’s Ministry of Culture, LAFF is an annual event which screens films from across the continent, showcases African filmmaking talent and celebrates the diverse cultures within the continent. This year, the LAFF event saw participation from 41 African countries.

    As part of the LAFF objective to grow and nurture the arts in Africa, in 2014 the festival, with support from private sector institutions, launched the Space to Establish Partnership Program (STEP) competition to support the development of long narratives by young African filmmakers, specifically concerning their first or second work. The 2015 STEP programme is supported by private organisations Qalaa Holdings, a leading Egyptian investment company in infrastructure and industry and the ETISAL Fund Management of Egypt.

    The 2015 STEP programme drew a record 59 film submissions from across Africa competing for the US$ 5000 prize to fund the development and pre-production phase of the winner’s first or second film. The competitors were grouped in four film categories: Long Narrative Competition, Long Documentaries Competition, Short Films Competition, and Freedom Competition.

    “We firmly believe that promoting the arts is one of the best ways to build cultural bridges and discover how much we have in common; one history and one destiny,” said Ghada Hammouda, CMO and head of communications at Qalaa Holdings, which in addition to the sponsorship of the festival, are also sponsoring an award for the Best Short Film category and a special workshop for long feature films.

    The support in nurturing talent in the arts by private institutions such as Africa Investment Company Qalaa Holdings demonstrates a different kind of inclusive growth taking shape in Africa - where policy makers and business leaders integrate and nurture the social cultural space to enable youth development and advancement of enterprise through the arts.

    “The Africa film industry is still relatively immature with a long way to go before it can catch up to those of Western countries. Encouraging participation in the sector through programmes such as STEP is a step in the right direction, as it will help not only in training but also in instilling confidence in young African filmmakers to help them advance their careers.” said Neema Reed, a film producer and actress from Tanzania.
    Source: ScreenAfrica 23 March 2015

regulation & policy

  • The Film and Publications Board plans to spend over R8-million a year to police YouTube, but is about to have its child pornography wings clipped.

    Soon, the Film and Publications Board (FPB) hopes it will “have the power to order an administrator of any online platform to take down any content that the Board may deem to be potentially harmful and disturbing to children of certain ages.”

    In other words, if anyone again decides to display a presumed presidential penis online, the FPB will be there to save the day.

    In 2012, when artist Brett Murray did just that with his controversial painting “The Spear” (featuring the exposed genitals of a man strongly resembling President Jacob Zuma), the FPB “classified” the painting as unsuitable for children under the age of 16.

    By that time, however, the painting itself had been defaced while pictures of the original spread online, and so the FPB decided it too had to venture online, and censor it there.

    It found that it lacked the reach to do so, and was still scratching its collective head about how to go about censoring everyone from Wikipedia to local news websites when its own appeals board slapped it down – hard – for classifying the painting in the first place.

    “The Spear” was declassified, but the underlying problem continued to haunt the FPB: how does it censor the web?

    Earlier this month it delivered an answer, by way of a 14-page set of draft regulations for online content that would, in theory, have given it the power to order Wikipedia et al to remove the image, and then send them an invoice for the cost of doing so.

    Much like its conduct with “The Spear”, the draft regulations show a pig-headed insistence on replicating the real-world censorship role of the FBP in an online space.

    And although there are elements of the regulations that seem set to make it into law, other aspects are impractical, unconstitutional, and sometimes downright silly.

    “A lot of difficulties with the draft [regulations] flows from FBP’s lack of understanding of how content is distributed online,” says Dominic Cull of Ellipsis Regulatory Solutions, and an expert advisor to the Internet Service Providers’ Association (Ispa) and other bodies that are directly affected by the FPBs efforts.

    “They deal well with the easy stuff, but don’t understand where the easy stops and the hard begins.”

    The “easy stuff” is the move of television online. The FPB is, uncontroversially, responsible for providing age ratings for broadcast television and films in cinemas, down to the trailers for movies.

    That kind of entertainment is rapidly moving towards online streaming, with several home-grown services now offering films and series on demand.

    The amount of content these streaming services can make available is enormous – in theory every film ever produced anywhere on the planet – and well beyond the FPB’s capacity to review each.

    So the board has proposed co-regulation, which will allow each streaming provider to classify its own content with an in-house team of people after they are trained, for no more than five days, by the FPB.

    By June 2016, everything such streaming providers make available to South African audiences must be rated.

    That may prove a challenge for in-house teams too, so the FPB draft regulations make another concession – content classified under another system can be “deemed” classified by the FPB, if the regimes are sufficiently similar.

    In practice, a 13 (language) or 16 (nudity) classification imposed by regulators in the US or Europe will be accepted for local use, and everyone can get on with their streaming.

    So far so good, but then the FPB delves into “hard stuff”, the world of what it describes as self-generated content.

    This, the draft regulations say, could include “a drawing, picture, illustration or painting; recording or any other message or communication, including a visual presentation, placed on any distribution network including, but not confined to, the internet”.

    Translation – make a sexy video and upload it to YouTube and the FPB could be coming for you. Likewise if you tweet a picture of your artistic interpretation of the genitals of a public figure. And perhaps even if you describe the results of a botched circumcision on your blog.

    Streaming services will be responsible for their own classification expenses, and those who distribute “self-generated” content can expect an invoice from the FPB once it has decided to classify such content of its own accord.

    So it appears that finding harmful content is the driver behind an expected eight-fold increase in the money the FPB says it will need to police the online space.

    This week the department of communications, under which the FPB falls, published its budget forecasts. In the last financial year, the budget shows, the FPB spent under R1-million for “online and mobile content regulation”.

    By 2016 that is expected to increase to R8.2-million.

    The department of communications has long dreamt of having a crack team of people surfing the internet and looking for things that must be policed.

    In 2002, in the Electronic Communications and Transactions Act, these “cyber inspectors” were given wide powers to inspect websites, with the unspoken justification that they would be a first line of defence against child pornography, as well as guarding against cyber crooks and cyber attackers and other baddies who can have the prefix associated with them.
    Internal disputes

    Despite several promises over the following decade and a half, cyber inspectors were never appointed. One reason for the long delay was a fierce fight between various government departments for the staff, budget, and prestige that would come with policing the internet.

    Departments dealing with children and justice all wanted a piece of the action, and fought to a standstill every attempt to implement the cyber inspectors provision.

    Much the same seems set to happen with the FPBs new regulations in the near future.

    The department of state security is expected to release, within weeks, a first draft of the Cybercrimes and Related Matters Bill. That law is being drafted behind closed doors, but is understood to be a clear victory for the state security department over the department of telecommunications and the department of communications.

    By several accounts the law will make online child pornography a matter for security services rather than censors.

    That will be a significant blow for the FPB, which often insidiously conflates child pornography with sexual content to which children should not be exposed in its arguments for broader powers.

    That, in turn, will leave the FPB with only the old argument that the internet is a minefield of sex, and that somebody must think of the children – arguments that have floundered time and again on the rocks of technical unfeasibility.
    Source: Mail & Guardian 18 March 2015

  • The Botswana government expressed optimism it will meet the 17 June deadline for the digital migration. Assistant Minister for Presidential Affairs and Public Administration, Gaotlhaetse Matlhabaphiri said the country should be able to meet the set deadline, BOPA reported.

    He said the choice for the ISDB-T system was made after extensive research and comparative tests with DVB-T2 by the government and non-government engineers with assistance of reputable institutions.
    Source: Telecompaper 25 March 2015

  • The public utterances of junior personnel in the Department of Communications are indeed unfortunate. While Solly Mokoetle is the DTT Programme Head at the Department of Communications, he - for all intents and purposes - is a junior official with no authority to make such declarations, public or otherwise.

    USAASA is well aware of the intention of some in the sector to delay the broadcasting digital migration (BDM) and find the need to discredit credible brands doing diligent work. It is a pity Mokoetle has played into those tactics at the cost of the country.

    USAASA is also aware of service providers who did not bid having been deterred by promises to stop the BDM procurement process; it is unfortunate that such promises were made while there is no legal jurisdiction to effect such over USAASA. The USAF is under the legal direction of USAASA's shareholder, the DTPS. It is perhaps prudent that Mokoetle start first by seeking the permission of Minister Cwele before misleading his stakeholders and the public at large.

    USAASA's procurement process has been undertaken in compliance with government procurement regulations. It is advised that Mokoetle familiarise himself with such codes of conduct and refrain from making loose statements.

    USAASA's procurement process is in no way affected by the recently published BDM Policy Amendments and will proceed towards closure. Those industry players that ignored the rumours and focused on what they do best will have bid for the work and will be evaluated. Those who elected to listen to ill-informed statements and promises have only themselves to blame.

    Cabinet (in 2012) mandated the USAF under the legal administration of USAASA with the procurement, and as such will be not interfered with by any person. Movement of project mandate - as per Mokoetle's indication - from USAASA does not automatically mean movement of funds. In fact it results in a delayed migration and brings into question allegiance to country or sector. Mokoetle must explain to the nation where he stands relative to the public interest.

    It is truly unfortunate that private interests have penetrated the public realm and resulted in seemingly desperate utterances as this.

    USAASA is committed to performing its part in assisting the country to migrate for the sole purpose of freeing up spectrum for sectoral advancement.

    With the completion of the Sentech's network, the poorest of the poor must be assisted as per government's intent, which the Department of Communications is expected to implement, not deride or permit junior officials to do so.

    Government has obligations it has committed to and it is high time all stakeholders put their differences in the past and join hands to deliver on this migration or risk signal interference.

    Policy makers must retain their functions. Implementers must retain their functions.
    Source: ITWeb 24 March 2015

technology & convergence

  • Towards moving the Nigerian broadcast industry from analogue to digital broadcasting, the National Broadcasting Commission has signed an agreement with Inview Technologies Limited for the provision of a National Common Set-Top-Box system.

    A statement issued by the Assistant Director, Public Affairs, NBC, Mrs. Maimuna Jimada, in Abuja on Thursday, said the agreement would see Inview Technologies Limited, in collaboration with MTS Communications Limited, make available the software for the provision of key services.

    According to the NBC spokesperson, the key services include collection of annual digital content fee, conditional access system, electronic programme guide, push video on direct-to-home television, and interactive advertising.

    Jimada said, “The agreement will essentially help the commission give birth to the National Set-Top-Box Platform that will enable commonality for all digital television services in the country.

    Source: Punch 20 March 2015

  • Digital TV service provider StarTimes has adopted a range of Conax certified set-top boxes based on ALi chipset solutions to further expand in Africa.

    “The collaboration with global leading partners, ALi and Conax, helps us deliver optimised total solutions in terms of performance, security, and costs that drive DTV expansion in Africa,” said StarTimes chairman XinXing Pang.

    ALi Corporation is a set-top box chipset solution provider, while StarTimes now has branches in 26 African countries, operations in 14 countries and almost 5 million subscribers across Africa. In addition to being a network operator, StarTimes is also a digital TV system integrator, technology provider and media content producer.
    Source: Digital TV Europe 23 March 2015


  • Mzansi Women Film Festival 2015 – call for submissions

    The 2nd annual Mzansi Women Film Festival (MWFF) – taking place at Constitution Hill in Johannesburg from 7 to 9 August 2015 – is now open for submissions. Films in any genre and of any length may be submitted for consideration. Films by women directors, producers, editors, DOPs, writers and women in lead roles may be submitted for consideration.

    The Mzansi Women Film Festival was founded in 2014 in collaboration with Constitution Hill and 75 Films, and was supported by the Gauteng Film Commission. All films which screened at the 2014 festival were South African, from independent women filmmakers and the Big Fish School of Digital Filmmaking in Johannesburg.

    This year, the festival will screen films by women filmmakers from outside South Africa in an attempt to encourage and promote collaboration and co-production amongst women in the industry across the globe. The Mzansi Women Film Festival 2015 will include a plethora of screenings and workshops in and around the city of Johannesburg and will be held in partnership with Constitution Hill, Destiny Ventures Events, 70 Films and Gracefully Consulting.

    DVD submissions may be sent to Ntokozo Mahlalela at:

    Mzansi Women Film Festival
    53 Von Brandis Street
    Turffontein 2190
    Johannesburg, South Africa.

    For more information, email

    Coffee Table Magazine About TV Business in Africa

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    Here are some deadlines and things to know about the upcoming issues:

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    The 2015 Loeries take flight

    This year, Loeries Creative Week will be held in KwaZulu Natal from 10 to 16 August at the Durban International Conference Centre. Organisers have stated that moving the event from Cape Town, where it has been hosted for the last two years, will allow for better weather conditions, greater seating capacity and easier access for participants.

    Loeries Creative Week is an annual event which celebrates and recognises creative excellence in the brand communications industry.

    The DStv Seminar of Creativity
    This creative conference covers trends in brand communication and features an address by the Loeries international jury chairmen and contributions from other international speakers and thought leaders. The seminar will be held at the Durban ICC on 14 August 2015.

    Awards ceremonies will take place on 15 and 16 August and will feature new categories: Music Videos and Service Design. For a full list of what's new in 2015 visit the Loeries website

    Entries for the awards are open, the deadline of which is 15 May. Those who submit entries before 14 April will receive a 10% discount on entry fees.
    To enter, visit the Loeries website

    For more information, follow the Loeries on Twitter  and Facebook

  • The National Film and Video Foundation appoints new leadership

    In its mission of ensuring the growth and promotion of the local film industry the National Film and Video Foundation (NFVF), an agency of the Department of Arts and Culture is proud to announce the appointment of new executive management.

    The NFVF welcomes Mr. Peter Kwele who has been entrusted with the responsibility of heading the Marketing and Communication Department of the Foundation, as well as Ms. Vuyo Sokupa who will be heading the Production and Development department. Both individuals bring a wealth of knowledge and experience within the industry.

    Mr. Kwele brings with him experience from both the broadcast and retail sectors. Welcoming him the NFVF CEO Ms Zama Mkosi was elated, “We are confident that Mr. Kwele will champion our cause and help fulfil our mandate of growing the industry. The industry is already experiencing growth and we believe his marketing and communications experience and expertise will help accelerate growth and reach out to the masses.”

    Armed with B.A. Honors Degree from Marquette University in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, USA Mr. Kwele’s experience has made him an expert in broadcasting and production management of large scale sporting events, with a diverse background in finance and social development. Mr. Kwele is not new to the content industries, he has served as the General Manager: 2010 Project at the South African Broadcast Corporation (SABC) and therefore his experience will be valuable for both the NFVF and the industry at large.

    During his stay at the SABC he was responsible for developing and facilitating the implementation of 2010 Project Office strategies, with regards to the following Project Areas; Technical and Technological, Sports, Marketing and Communications and Stakeholder Management amongst others.

    Ms. Vuyo Sokupa previously held the position of Head of Programming at Mzansi Magic channels for M-Net. She obtained her BA Journalism degree and a Post-graduate Diploma in International Studies and African Diplomacy from Rhodes University.

    Her career began at Mail & Guardian where she worked as a trainee journalist. She then moved to African Leadership Academy and Red Pepper Pictures before joining M-Net in 2012. She manages the creative commissioning output for the Mzansi Magic channels; providing strategic insight and encouraging increased market share for the company’s channels. She has managed a team of Commissioning Editors that co-create television shows that have high resonance with audiences.
    Source: Filmcontact 23 March 2015


    13 - 16 April 2015

    Cannes, France

    13 - 24 May 2015
    68e edition of Festival de Cannes

    Cannes, France

    26 - 27 May 2015
    Satcom and Connected Africa 2015

    The Sandton Convention Centre - Sandton, Johannesburg, South Africa

    An event mainly focused on satellite communications.

    2 - 4 June 2015
    DISCOP Africa Express
    Sofitel Abidjan Hotel Ivoire, a 5 stars hôtel in Côte d'Ivoire 
    THE African market & creative forum for TV programmes and audiovisual content trade in francophone Africa: A must go! Organised by Basic Lead.

    4 au 7 June 2015

    Nollywood Week Paris

    The 3rd. edition of the now popular Nigerian film festical in Paris (Festival du Cinéma Nigérian à Paris), France.

    17-19 June 2015
    Convergence Africa World 2015

    Kenya (Nairobi) - Oshwal Centre (Parklands)
    Organised by Exhibitions India Group (EIG) 

    20-22 June, 2015
    Natpe 2015

    conference and trade show - Film and TV.
    Miami, USA
    Source: Natpe

    15 to 17 July 2015
    Mediatech Africa 2015

    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.


    10-15 September 2015
    IBC Amsterdam

    Big! global meeting place for everyone engaged in creating, managing and delivering the future of electronic media, entertainment technology and content. Featuring an influential conference and world-class exhibition, IBC immerses 55,000+ professionals from over 170 countries...


    5 - 8 Oct. 2015

    Cannes, France

    4 to 6 November 2015

    Venue: Johannesburg - The Dome @NorthGate Johannesburg, RSA
    The biggest African market & creative forum for TV programmes and audiovisual content trade: not to miss. About 1500 participants.  Organised by Basic Lead.

    17 – 19 November 2015
    AfricaCom / AfricaCast / TV Connect Africa 2015

    Africa Com welcomes the re-launch of the AfricaCast event as TV Connect Africa.
    About 8000 participants. 
    Organiser: Informa

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