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Issue no. 176 3 April 2014

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  • Africa Media Management (AMM) and its AfricaXP Channel bouquet addresses content packaging and trading issues in Africa with a game changing business model and a cloud based channel delivery platform. They call it AXP 1.0.

    As a TV content producer or distributor, selling content to TV channels across Africa is rather frustrating: over 50 countries with over 500 FTA TV channels, mostly with small budgets. Travel costs are high but prices are low and volumes are often small. Content delivery is also difficult and costly, which all means low return on investment. Craig Kelly, CEO of AfricaXP, has developed a number of solutions to some of the most pressing challenges for African producers and international content distributors alike. Balancing Act’s analyst Sylvain Béletre talks to him about his model that and how it could help change the industry.

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    Amongst African media commentators generally and at industry events such as DISCOP Africa, there have been many references to the need for a new leader, a kind of game changer who will bring solutions to the market and facilitate the development of the industry to the level it needs and deserves to be.

    Among industry experts, there has not been much agreement as to the timing of this great event: nobody knows when it will happen. So while international investors and major media companies eye Africa as the last great frontier, they are also wary, as they are in fact not sure how to capitalize on this huge opportunity.

    While the industry hopes and waits, most African producers are struggling. It’s no easy feat trying to cobble together sufficient funds to produce programmes from art grants, social development funding and occasional small commissions from FTA channels. As the demand from upcoming DTT platforms or new alternative distributors like VoD platforms keeps growing, African producers don’t have content on the shelf to meet this demand, nor can the prices being offered fund new production on a single sale. So producers cry out for more – more grants, more commissions, more local content quotas, more Dollars per hour. They want broadcasters to make them viable.

    The trouble is most broadcasters have challenges of their own. Problems like the fact that they need to invest significantly to be able to migrate to new broadcast technologies like DTT and IPTV - while advertising is famously slow to move to new media platforms even when they have proven audiences. Then they must fill the new channels this technology offers with compelling content. While engaging with this, they simultaneously need to buy or produce better programming to maintain their audience share in increasingly competitive and more complicated broadcast markets. In short broadcasters need more and better content, but at lower cost per hour, precisely while producers demand higher fees for content as they simply can’t improve quality on the rates presently being paid.

    So both parties need the other to move in the opposite direction - clearly the model is broken and so far, nobody has come up with the right fix.

    When I started watching this sector 5 years ago, I got quite frustrated by the lack of information available on this market and the lack of a common voice to help solve the pressing problems with content distribution. The picture is slightly different today: I get plenty of industry articles each day; DISCOP Africa, the “MIPTV of Africa” allows content buyers and sellers to meet up once a year; DTT and Broadband internet access are being rolled out, digital technology is more affordable; there are several African film festivals in place across the world; South African blockbusters and Nollywood films cross oceans and billions have been invested in the industry. We are at a turning point but the sector is still missing something.      
        
    Experienced independent pan African television producer, Craig Kelly recognised some years ago, that one of the key reasons for the failure of the African production industry to expand sufficiently was the lack of a content market of any scale in every country except Nigeria. He says "As an independent producer I couldn’t find buyers easily: the commissioning process at bigger broadcasters is heavily relationship dependent, while other smaller broadcasters couldn’t pay enough on their own to cover production costs. I needed to find a way to sell to multiple broadcasters simultaneously and with one transaction and content distribution cost.”  So he quit production and went into distribution to address one of the sector’s key challenges: the African broadcast market's extreme fragmentation.

    Not surprisingly, Nigeria’s Nollywood proved to be Kelly’s inspiration to find a new model more suited to the digital age. “Nollywood had been growing rapidly around its unique content market and VCD/DVD distribution network and it was based on the commercial model we know best in Africa: farming. You grow or create your product and sell it in the market immediately – then reinvest in more product with the proceeds, making some profit in each cycle.”

     AfricaXP’s new commercial model recognizes that the industry needs a Nollywood inspired system for the whole continent, but one that also needs to cross boarders and that recognizes that the age of DVDs is rapidly passing us by. It must enable distribution worldwide and into new content delivery platform of all technology, shapes and sizes. It must also be adaptable to various new commercial models like revenue share and pay per view.

    Above: a broadcast control room (Globecast).

    “Content distribution has become a full time occupation - it’s no longer a trip to the market on a Wednesday morning for a quick one-to-one cash transaction. To some extent we need to be more like the music industry and collect royalties from multiple broadcast platforms on an ongoing basis.  Our mantra is “exclusivity is the enemy of progress” because in a market with over 500 broadcasters, the key to success is multiple low value transactions across every platform type. This is time consuming, requires specialist expertise and ongoing management and attention to detail. This is not a focus that producers can provide in between takes on the set of their next project and so AfricaXP steps in.”

    They have built a state of the art Central Content Repository Platform for both broadcasters and distributors through which they can efficiently match buyers (broadcasters) and sellers (producers) in an effort to provide the function of a “market”. In so doing, they assist African content producers monetize their libraries, catalogues and ongoing output across all established and emerging media channels globally. In addition, they offer both African and international content distributors entry into multiple African markets though a single gateway by plugging them into a client base which includes TV broadcasters, closed circuit TV service providers, mobile operators and mobile social networks or content service providers.

    “We design, assemble and distribute bespoke or themed channels with the content in our library in response to broadcaster demand. We can customise and deliver a channel to a customer anywhere in the world at very low cost.”
     It’s clear that the strategy is to partner with good quality content suppliers and then fill the extra channel capacity created by technology infrastructure advancements by delivering their own bespoke African and international themed channels to emerging or expanding broadcast platforms. 

    “We are already providing traditional content supply services as well as packaged channels to customers and we will see the complete channel delivery business growing rapidly in the rest of 2014 and 2015 as demand comes from both sides – our broadcasters and content suppliers. Broadcasters need channels and distributors see participating in a quality channel offering as being an effective way to develop stable future revenue growth when compared to the vagaries of ad hoc programme sales – especially in the light of our low risk 50/50 revenue share model.” says Kelly.

    “We share the revenue from every content supply contract on a 50/50 basis with the respective content suppliers. Once understood that this is a no-risk revenue share model (because content is only supplied once payment is made by the broadcaster in advance) it has been very well received by all of our partners.”
    “Large international distributors are excited by the fact that we assemble channels and distribute the signal to broadcaster clients at our own cost – they therefore don’t have to invest in playout, uplink and satellite costs not knowing if they will ever breakeven. This as a risk-free invitation to enter an exciting but uncertain market.”

    This sounds compelling for large companies with big catalogues but is perhaps less relevant for African producers? 

    “Not at all” says Kelly. “The benefits of being part of a quality channel are there for all suppliers whether a channel is programmed by one supplier or twenty - and it’s not only the no-risk entry into the market and free signal distribution that’s exciting, it’s the value of being part of a brand that is building a relationship with the audience. The stronger the relationship is, the higher the value of the channel and by extension the constituent content.”

    “But smaller African producers also benefit by eliminating, marketing, sales, content duplication and supply costs. We also quality control and “fix” quality issues in their material where we can, reducing broadcaster rejections for producers and at the same time, assuring our broadcast customers of a reliable supply at a predictable quality. To date this has not been a given in Africa.”
    AMM are also offering African producers a range of project development assistance in order to transform their programmes into sexier, smarter products that have not only African, but also international sales appeal at markets they attend, including MIPCOM and MIPTV, AITEC Africa in Nairobi and of course DISCOP Africa.

    “I am a London Film School graduate with experience over 20 years pioneering low cost, high quality production across the length and breadth of the African continent and our development and support team has produced at the top end for the SABC, Multichoice, eTV, TVAfrica, BBC, TV5 and many others – so we are well qualified to provide assistance.”

    The support AMM provides could also take the form of supporting The AfricaXP Channel suppliers in raising funds in order to facilitate productions or coordinating partners in multiple African countries to contribute towards the production of pan African programming with greater global sales potential.
    “We could even go as far as getting involved in script writing, but we do not produce programmes ourselves, our role is to assure quality and volumes and aggregate – so that we can confidently meet broadcasters ongoing needs.”

    So what benefits do they offer to African TV broadcasters or telcos with a B to C media offering?

    “The situation most broadcasters in Africa face is a shortage of cash, content and channels. As a multi-genre one-stop-shop content and themed channel supply origination, we reduce the time, trouble and cost of acquisition and offer bulk discounts in exchange for long term contacts. We quality control and can even take content orders which we can get our suppliers or producers to meet. In short, we supply a high quality but scarce resource at a great price.”

    “Looking at content from outside Africa, the best international content channels are already sold exclusively in Africa. Broadcasters need to make another plan and assembling a bouquet of their own channels is not a quick, easy or cheap option. Channel playout equipment is costly to buy and operate 24/7, while acquiring content programme by programme is far more costly than buying a complete channel. We can close the gap by offering clients the themed channels they need. Further, we can programme our channels especially to African tastes and interests and even allow 100% customization for a fee – in a sense we feel we can turn the challenge of shortage into an opportunity.”

    To submit your TV programme or to buy programmes and channels, contact AMM here  or email Craig at Craig(at)africamm.com
     
    Video interview: Craig Kelly on why Tanzanian Swahili movies are much better than Nollywood


    Picture above: Balancing Act’s broadcast TV market analyst Sylvain Béletre.

     

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    Digital Content Africa: Balancing Act’s web TV channel Smart Monkey TV has launched a new e-letter called Digital Content Africa. On a fortnightly basis, it will cover online film, music, publishing and services and applications. We have already produced 9 issues and these can be viewed on this link:  Essential reading for those in broadcast or film or anyone just interested in what African and relevant international content they can now get online. If you would like to subscribe, just send an email to info@balancingact-africa.com with Digital Content Africa in the title line.
    Here are some examples of past issues below:
    Online film, music and TV content in Africa – In search of the elusive business model

    Zimbabwe’s TV Yangu offers a social TV platform with original programming

    Nigerian VoD content platform Dobox TV offers simultaneous online premiere of cinema releases

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    Video clip interviews this week

    Tendeka Matatu on his forthcoming film about South Africa's corrupt police chief Jackie Selebie

    Ayob Alarbi on a Libyan black TV comedy about the current insecurity in the country

    Graham Wallington on WildEarth TV's live streaming of animals in Africa & elsewhere

    Nick Wilson on Africa's answer to South Park - My Child: Teenage Mutant Azanians

    A Different Nollywood: Andy Kozlov on a Nigerian-Ukrainian co-production, Feathered Dreams

    Daniel Effiong on his 3 part film series of great Nigerian historic mysteries

    Kunle Afolayan on his latest film October 1

    Debra Odutuyo on her latest TV comedy show T Boy and changes in season 2 of Meet The Adebanjos

    Nyasha Mboti on ReaGile's plan to build 1300 cinemas in South Africa's townships

    Mo Abudu on how she started Ebony Life TV and licensing Desperate Housewives from Walt Disney

    Gaurav Singh, Chief Digital Officer, Scan Group on when brands will spend more on digital in Africa


    Hans-Christian Mahnke on Namibian film-makers and the state of the country's film industry


    Martin Munyua on the things that make Dads Can Cook a successful TV format show


    Grazyna Koscielska on South African smartphone gameshow Thumb Wars & new version for Abu Dhabi TV


    Steven Markovitz on African Metropolis and Jim Chuchu's contribution Homecoming

    For breaking news, follow us on Twitter: @BalancingActAfr

content

  • Felix, the South African youth and family film, written by Shirley Johnston and directed by Roberta Durrant, wins two further awards: Best Feature Script at the WGSA Muse Awards, and the Audience Award at Tumbleweeds Film Festival, in partnership with the Sundance Film Festival. This brings the number of awards to 9 awards in total, both locally and internationally, since being on the festival circuit from October last year.

    Shirley Johnston accepted the Writers’ Guild of South Africa (WGSA) Muse Award for Best Feature Script for her screenplay, Felix, on Saturday 15 March 2014. The inaugural WGSA Muse Awards celebrated the best performance writers in South Africa for their film, television and stage scripts at an event at the Barnyard Theatre in Cresta Johannesburg.

    According to Screen Africa, (ScreenAfrica.com), writers responded to a call for entries into the six categories in the last quarter of 2013. Both local and international judges evaluated the submissions and thewinners in five categories were announced at the event.

    Felix won the Audience Award at the Tumbleweeds Film Festival for Children and Youth. The 4th annual Tumbleweeds took place from March 14 to 16, 2014 in Salt Lake City, USA. Tumbleweeds is presented by the Utah Film Center and is in partnership with the Sundance Film Festival.

    Felix tells the story of 14-year-old Felix Xaba (Hlayani Junior Mabasa) who dreams of becoming a saxophonist like his late father, but his mother Lindiwe (Linda Sokhulu) thinks jazz is the devil’s music.

    When Felix leaves his township friends to take up a scholarship for grade eight at an elitist private school, he defies his mother and turns to two aging members of his father’s old band (Royston Stoffels and Thapelo Mofokeng) to help him prepare for the school jazz concert.

    Felix is produced by Penguin films for Sabido Productions.

    Source: nfvf, 24 March 2014.

  • EbonyLife TV hosted a Media and VIP cocktail event at Terra Kulture,
    Victoria Island, Lagos to premiere two new productions – New Horizon and
    Married to the game on March 7, 2014.

    New Horizons is a powerfully emotional and pulsating flick that
    spotlights the plight of women across Africa who have to bear the pains
    of domestic abuse, a crime far too familiar but rarely spoken about.

    Starring Nollywood’s hottest Divas, Funke Akindele, Rita Dominic, Kate
    Henshaw-Nuttal and Uche Jombo, New Horizons is the story of triumph over
    abuse of these four women from different walks of life who meet together
    within a self help group for women. They help each other get over and
    through their various challenges and arrive at a new horizon in their
    individual lives.

    Executive Chairman and CEO of EbonyLife TV, Mo Abudu said “I feel a huge
    sense of accomplishment at the premiere of New Horizons. As the world
    celebrates World Women’s Day tomorrow, March 8, we dedicate the short
    movie to all the women of Nigeria, Africa and the world at large who may
    be going through this terrible scourge. We are happy to put this dark
    subject on the table for discussion so that there can be hope for many.
    For us, it may be the premiere of the movie; but for all women of
    Africa, it may just be the beginning of a new era; an era of
    self-discovery, awareness, belief, hope and confidence.”

    Guests at the premiere event included Tosyn Buknor, Ebuka Obi- Uchendu,
    Alex Ekubo, Oreka Godis, Noble Igwe, Yemi Alade, Ikechukwu, Adams
    Ibrahim, Zainab Balogun Olisa Adibua, Lanre Olushola, and many more.

    Married to the Game (MTTG), a suspense-filled, cutting edge drama
    thriller was also premiered at the event; starring Alex Ekubo and
    Leonora Okine as lead characters. The series was produced by EbonyLife
    TV and directed by Walter “Waltbanger” Taylor winner of AMVCA Best Short
    Film 2014.

    Walter “Waltbanger” Taylaur said “Married to the Game is a roller
    coaster ride of a drama series; distinct in its blend of a cleverly
    crafted script, visually engaging cinematography and exceptional acting
    performances. It brings to African audiences a fresh and cutting edge
    approach to television viewing.”

    The series tells a story of newlyweds Vincent and Gloria Coker who are
    headed toward a blissful future together. Gloria (Leonora Okine) marries
    Doctor Vincent (Alex Ekubo) in a bid to appease her father, who is
    unhappy because of her total lack of interest in becoming a doctor and
    inheriting his hospital. The tale, however, takes a new twist when the
    couple runs over a stranger after their wedding reception.

    Mosunmola Abudu popularly known as Mo Abudu, is the Chairman and Chief
    Executive of EbonyLife TV, Hostess and Executive Producer of Moments
    with Mo, a Media Personality, Human Resource Management Consultant and
    Entrepreneur/Venture Capitalist.

  • Senegal is in the spotlight for this 3rd edition of the Luxor African film festival that will be held from March 16 to 24 in Luxor (Egypt).

    The Luxor African film festival, initiated by Sayed Fouad, is a project of the Independent Shabab Foundation (ISF). This festival aims to promote African movies in Egypt and delocalize to Luxor the cultural and artistic activities always organized in Alexandria or Cairo.

    Senegal will be the guest of honor at the third edition in homage to the great Senegalese filmmaker Ousmane Sembene. The festival will also be dedicated to the memory of Chadi Abdel Salam who was a renowned Egyptian director.

    The selection committee of the festival received more than 191 films including feature films, short films, documentaries and animated films from 34 African countries.

    For more informations about Luxor festival click here

  • The First Preparatory Forum of East African Film Festivals and Film Producers has formed a new body-East African Film Network (EAFN) -and has elected an interim leadership to spearhead promotion and development of the East African film industry in the region. Inaugural meeting in Arusha agreed that full leadership to be in place in a year's time. Full story here

    The inaugural Cape Town Eco Film Festival will take place at the Labia Theatre on Orange Street in Cape Town from 27-31 March 2014.

broadcast

  • MultiChoice: Netflix, Apple pose ‘real threat’:

    MultiChoice CEO Imtiaz Patel says online streaming services offered by Apple, Google, Netflix and others pose a “real threat” to DStv. By Duncan McLeod.

    Netflix, Apple, Google and other online streaming video providers are the real threat to MultiChoice in South Africa’s subscription broadcasting industry, the pay-television operator’s CEO says.


    Imtiaz Patel, who heads up MultiChoice South Africa Group, tells TechCentral that while his company and rival e.tv are locked in a high-stakes battle over the use of encryption in free-to-air digital terrestrial television, big international competitors are plotting their entry in South Africa.

    “The barriers to entry to them are, like, nothing,” Patel says, adding that Telkom is already in talks with a view to bringing one or more of these companies into the country.

    These companies represent “the real threat” to MultiChoice, he says. “There are already 200 000 Apple TV boxes in this country.”

    He claims international content players “don’t pay tax” in South Africa, but says they are “big gorillas” who can afford to compete aggressively with local companies. “The department of communications has not fully accepted and understood what this threat really means,” he says. “If you lock yourself in with set-top box control, these guys will get an even bigger leg-up.”

    Patel was responding to a question on how the department of communications should go about promoting greater competition in South Africa’s television broadcasting industry if not by using an encryption system in the set-top boxes that government intends subsidising for up to 5m households.

    E.tv has argued that a control system is needed to allow a strong free-to-air broadcasting sector. It says such a system is necessary, among other things, to allow free-to-air players access to more modern and high-quality content from Hollywood and elsewhere.

    MultiChoice, which owns DStv, M-Net and SuperSport, is vehemently opposed to the idea, however, warning it would amount to an unfair subsidy of its rivals. It argues, too, that a control system would be difficult to implement and would ultimately harm consumers. It took the fight to the court of public opinion at the weekend, with newspaper advertisements taking on communications minister Yunus Carrim directly on the issue.

    That ads drew a sharp response from Carrim, who labelled MultiChoice a bullying monopoly.

    But Patel says MultiChoice is already facing growing competitive threats, and not only from online streaming companies. “StarTimes has just taken over TopTV. They [StarTimes] are a formidable competitor to us on the rest of the continent,” he says. StarTimes recently acquired a 20% stake in On Digital Media, the company, currently in business rescue, that owns StarSat (known as TopTV until late last year).

    “TopTV did exceptionally well in its first two years, before it made some very silly commercial decisions,” says Patel.

    He claims MultiChoice would like a strong competitor. “It would be much easier for us, because everyone would get off our back,” he says. “It’s sad that people are demonising us when we have been more than a just citizen.”

    On suggestions that SuperSport should be unbundled in some way from MultiChoice to facilitate competition, Patel says it’s far from clear if such intervention would benefit consumers.

    Also, he says, SuperSport is “the major funder of South African rugby, for the Premier Soccer League, for all the major African leagues”.

    “They have benefited more than fairly over the years, in an environment with a so-called monopoly. We are a good partner to sport, to industry and to government.” 

    Source: (c) 2014 NewsCentral Media

  • Discovery is launching ID Xtra in Central & Eastern Europe, Middle East and Africa. The new channel, ID Extra, will roll out on April 1, 2014.

    Discovery already operates the Investigation Discovery channel in the region and the new service will sit alongside the existing brand.

    The new female-skewed channel will be programmed with real-life mystery, crime and suspense factual and lifestyle programming. The launch in the CEE and MEA regions follows the success of Discovery’s ID channel in the US.

    The new channel’s launch line-up includes Tabloid, a new show from US talk show host Jerry Springer. In the series he will look at larger than life true stories. Other shows for the new channel include House of Horrors: Kidnapped following some of the world’s most infamous kidnappings.

    It will also have Redrum, a series that chronicles murders, starting from the crime scene and working back to the crime itself. Crime with Tamron Hall, meanwhile, will have the eponymous CNBC news anchor and fellow correspondents exploring true crime stories.

    “After the successful roll-out of TLC, we are now expanding our proposition for female viewers with ID Xtra. We believe the channel provides our distribution partners with truly unique content from the mystery & suspense genre and strengthens our portfolio, making it the best offer in pay TV today,” said Kasia Kieli, president & managing director, Discovery Networks CEEMEA.

    Paul Welling, senior VP, head of channels, Discovery Networks CEEMEA said: “Mystery & Suspense is one of the fastest growing genres in Pay TV and Discovery is in pole position leading the category.”

    Source: digitaltveurope, March 25, 2014.

  • Two African Channels Benie TV and Ouest TV Choose Globecast for Access to Canalsat Bouquet on SES-4.

    Benie TV and Ouest TV, two recently launched African channels, have chosen Globecast to distribute their programming via satellite to new audiences in West Africa. Via the Globecast service, Benie TV and Ouest TV are now part of the CANALSAT bouquet available on the SES-4 platform.
     
    CANALSAT is a satellite pay-TV package including +150 channels, covering more than 30 countries in West and Central Africa. Ouest TV is a regional news channel, and Benie TV is a Christian channel.
     
    “Viewers in French-speaking African countries are hungry for news programming and specialized content, so joining SES-4 platform is a tremendous opportunity for Benie TV and Ouest TV,” said Lionel Antoine, Sales Manager Africa for Globecast. “The diversity of CANALSAT offer and our leadership position in the African market, enable us to provide the service levels these channels need to achieve a maximum visibility with their target audiences.”

  • Satellite distribution across Africa, North America, Europe and the Middle East is to extend ERTA global audience reach.


     
    On March, 2014, SatLink Communications Ltd., a leading teleport, Content Management & HD Playout Centre, has today announced that SatLink has been selected by the Ethiopian Radio and Television Agency (ERTA) for the global distribution of its ETV news channel. The Ethiopian Government owned television channel, whose broadcasts include news, entertainment, music and sports content, will extend its audience reach across Africa, North America, Europe and the Middle East over SatLink’s Global Satellite and Fibre Network.
     
    SatLink will broadcast ETV, whose aim is to broadcast informative, educating and timely information of the development of Ethiopia utilising state-of the-art technology, to the African market utilising SatLink's capacity on AMOS -5 C-band to allow them to effectively distribute their content easily to Africa’s multi-channel platforms. As ETV’s partner, SatLink worked closely with the broadcaster in order to help design the uplink capabilities for the channel from ETV’s facilities in Ethiopia on to Amos 5 and ensure the network of satellite’s chosen specifically met the broadcasters needs and achieve the international reach that was required.
     
    ETV will also be transmitted across Europe and the Middle East on Hot Bird 13.0° East on the Ku-band. For distribution into the North America market, ETV will take advantage of the Galaxy 19 at 97.0° West Ku-band, which hosts the largest ethnic video platform in North America, to reach the Direct to Home (DTH) ethnic market in the US.
     
    ETV is the latest news broadcaster to select SatLink for the global distribution of content joining international news broadcasters such as France 24, i24 News, NTV-MIR and euronews and leading news agencies including Thomson Reuters and APTN.


    Worku Gachena, Deputy Director General for Media Technology at ETV commented: “We were looking for a global provider to not only distribute our content but to work alongside us as a partner to help us extend our global reach further than before. We needed a provider who had the experience to help design our uplink capabilities and also obtain satellite space on Amos-5 so we could meet the multi-channel platforms in Africa, a rapidly growing a prosperous broadcasting region. SatLink’s strategic location coupled with its extensive knowledge and experience in this market meant that we knew that they would be able to assist us as we extend our reach further and address our growing audience’s needs across the globe.”
     
    David Hochner, CEO of SatLink, commented: “We are thrilled to work with ETV to extend its audience reach to different corners of the globe using our Global Satellite and Fibre Network. By working closely alongside ETV we gained a real understanding of their broadcasting requirements and were able to tailor a reliable and effective solution, help them uplink their signal directly from Ethiopia and be on the world's most popular satellite TV platforms. As a result we have been able to proactively assist ETV meet the objective of reaching their audiences, much of which is scattered across multiple continents, so they are able to connect with the news that is happening back home in Ethiopia and share the success stories of the country.”
     
    SatLink delivers your content to every corner of the world. Recognised as a pioneer in global satellite communications services, SatLink is among the world’s 15 top independent teleports and a leading provider of transmission solutions for Global Content Distribution over Satellite Platforms, Fibre and IP. SatLink's services include Uplink, Downlink and Turn Around in SD, HD & 3D, Playout facilities, Production, SNG & Fly Away, Hub Hosting, iDirect VNO hosting, Video Monitoring, IPTV and TT&C. Strategically located in the heart of the Middle East, SatLink provides access to a worldwide network covering five continents and has been providing its clients with flexible and cost-effective transmission solutions for close to two decades. www.satlink.tv
     
    Ethiopian Radio and Television Agency /ERTA/ disseminates its news and programs nationwide and overseas via Radio, Television and Online. Ethiopian Radio launched its regular in 1935 while Ethiopian Television /ETV/ was inaugurated in 1964.
     
    However, prior to its inauguration, ETV had transmitted the first and historic assembly of the Organization of African Unity held in 1963, in Addis Ababa. Ethiopian Radio and ETV were merged in 1995 forming the Ethiopian Radio and Television Agency /ERTA/.
     
    ERTA is directly accountable to the House of People’s Representatives.
     
    Source: Bryony Cox, éclat Marketing, March 2014. Tel: +44 (0) 1276 486 000
    satlink@eclat.co.uk

  • South Africa, Audience results by TV programme:

    The week of 10 March — 19 March 2014

    saw e.tv’s Big Momma movie sequels keep e.tv in our Top 5 on our SAARF/MarkLives #Top40TVratings national chart, while the Absa Premiership also scored a Top 10 position on our national table.

    On the DStv chart:

    e.tv grabbed the no. 3 slot with Big Mommas: Like Farther Like Son. Mzansi Magic took the no. four slot on our DStv chart with Isibaya.

    From 17 March 2014, Isibaya is being broadcast five days a week on Mzansi Magic, in the primetime slot of 8.30pm, as a 208-episode isiZulu telenovela.
    Full story here

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    Digital television penetration will shortly exceed 50% of TV households in Sub-Saharan Africa, thanks to the analogue transmission switchover across the continent.

    By 2020, more than two-thirds of TV homes in Sub-Saharan Africa will have access to digital terrestrial television (DTT) signals, according to a new report from Digital TV Research.

    In addition, around 28% of TV households will have access to either subscription-based or free-to-air satellite TV services.
    Read more here

distribution

  • Supa Strikas, South Africa's most popular animated TV series launched on Disney France this month.

    Supa Strikas is the number 1 kid's series in South Africa at present and on Israel's Zoom channel. This year it also reached the number 2 spot on Disney Italy. The show’s director, “We are expecting a stellar performance in France as well, considering the show’s success in other international territories”, said Bruce Legg.

    The France feed which includes Belgium, Switzerland and Luxembourg joins the 130-strong territories where the series has aired over the last three years.

    Supa Strikas is the first animated South African show to be purchased by a French broadcaster and the most widely-seen South African TV series ever.

    Strika Entertainment producer Richard Morgan- Grenville added by saying: “It’s fantastic that this story with South African roots continues to reach a wider and more diverse audience”. Supa Strikas is based on the popular comic of the same name which, in South Africa, is published in You, Drum and Huisgenoot magazines and sponsored by KFC, with 600 000 copies published monthly.

    “I am very impressed with how quickly Shakes, Supa Strikas main character and his teammates have picked up French”, jokes head illustrator of the Supa Strikas comic product, Loyiso Mkize.

    Supa Strikas is also aired in Mandarin, Arabic, Spanish, Portuguese, Bahasa Malay, Romanian, Azeri, Thai, Polish and Hindi.

    Source: March 2014 nfvf.

  • Comedian Barry Hilton thinks video stores are closing down, not because people are flocking to online alternatives, but because the big video rental chains are failing to adapt to change. By Duncan McLeod.

    The humble video store isn’t dead, provided it adapts to the times by taking advantage of modern technology, says Barry Hilton. The South African comedian has an idea he thinks can save the DVD rental industry. And he’s not joking.

    Hilton, known for his comedic sketches that poke fun at South African society, says video stores have failed to deal with shifting consumer trends. And those that don’t adapt won’t survive, he says.

    “I’m a big fan of DVDs. It’s a very good and cost-effective way to entertain your family and not everyone has DStv and streaming and this and that,” Hilton tells TechCentral.

    But as consumers go online, as property rentals in prime shopping malls shoot up and the economy stagnates, big DVD stores are struggling to survive. Across the country, video shops have been forced to close their doors. This doesn’t have to happen, says Hilton.

    Video stores, instead of having huge, airy spaces with DVD covers spread out on display along their racks and against their walls, have to use technology to compress the space they use, thereby reducing their rentals and maintaining profitability.

    “People have this impression that DVDs are finished because wherever you go, you see big franchise stores closing down. But the reason these big franchise DVD stores are collapsing at such a rate is they can’t afford to pay their rent, and the franchisees have to pay the franchisor, who is crushing them before they even start.”

    Far from killing the industry, Hilton believes technology can help save it. The idea is to use significantly less retail space, and to allow customers to browse for and book their DVDs either on in-store screens, or online using a PC or smartphone. Discs can then be collected from an in-store clerk, or even through a drive-thru facility.

    “I can operate a 5,000-disc store from 10sq m,” Hilton says. “I could run a 10 000-disc DVD store out of a space the size of a London Pie shop.”

    He claims his model can save DVD stores 80% of what they pay on property rental. “I remove the need for stupid amounts of floor space. I can take the DVD stores back to the small shops,” he says, adding that retail chains could have in-store DVD kiosks, allowing people to pick up a movie while they’re buying their bread and milk.

    “A DVD store doesn’t have to be in a DVD store anymore. It can be in any pizza or takeaway store, a convenience store, even the forecourts of garages,” he says.

    “A certain shop opened next to the Spar next to me, a big franchise,” Hilton says of one of the stores he operated using his software. “They scoffed at me. They said, ‘Haven’t you got that little shop around the corner?’ I said, ‘How many discs do you hold here?’ He said, ‘Twelve hundred.’ He asked how many could I stock. I said I was down to about 15,000. They have subsequently closed down. They could not beat me.”

    Hilton had implemented the technology in his own stores, which operated under the name Cousins DVD, but has since sold them to focus on Vision Adventures, which develops the software that powers the system. So far, 13 video stores have rolled it out.

    “The perception of the DVD industry is that it’s collapsing. It’s not, it’s changing,” he says. “DVD stores are closing, but for the reasons people think. They are closing because the people who control the industry are refusing to change their business model.”

    Netflix, DStv BoxOffice and other online streaming solutions will not reach most South Africans for a long time, says Hilton, meaning DVD stores will remain popular. “Even with Netflix in America, they still have DVD stores. The majority of the population hasn’t got Netflix.” 

    Source: (c) 2014 NewsCentral Media, by Duncan McLeod on 24 March 2014.

  • To celebrate Namibia B-Day and 24 years of freedom, AFTV offers 13 beautiful films in partnership with AfricAvenir Windhoek. The selection of the Namibian Film Collection is available at only US$1 or 1€ for a 48hour-rental - only until March 31 2014!

    Formerly called South West Africa, German colony from 1884 to 1915 and a protectorate of South Africa, Namibia became an independent state in 1990. Since then the national day is held on March 21 each year and is celebrated with great pomp with parade, sports and cultural events.

    We invite you to view our selection of Namibian movies HERE to better immerse yourself to the Namibian culture and celebrate this happy event.

     

     

    Born in Etosha Part 1 and Part 2
    (Andrew BOTELLE and Robert SCOTT, 2011)
    Etosha National Park (Namibia) is world-famous for its huge herds of wildlife and stunning desert landscapes.

    Eembwiti (Perivi John KATJAVIVI, 2008)
    Tech-wit and pop cultured children, who are used to the hustle and bustle of the city go visit their Grandma in the village. Selected in Cannes in 2011, a great premiere for Nam cinema!!!!

    Flight to heaven (Virginia WITTS, 2008)
    Vulture, the most hatred bird in nature, is also a symbol of purity and serenity. Discover the philosophy of sky burials…

    Looking for Ilonga (Tim HUEBSCHLE, 2011)
     When Simon tries to clear his wife’s debts, it sets off a nightmare-like sequence of events in this award-winning South Africa short.
     
    Love Is (Perivi John KATJAVIVI 2009)
    Two young lovers, who are forced to confront and decide what their dreams and wants really are. Their relationship is rocked when the woman decides she wants to leave town.
    The Power Stone (Kelly KOWALSKI, Andrew BOTELLE,1999)
    This true story follows the journey of a sacred stone belonging to the Kwanyama people of Northern Namibia and Southern Angola.
     
    Best Short Films  (Tim Huebschle, 2007) 
    A selection of  best  shorts by Tim Huebschle. Includeing : Horse without rider, Beef and Orange Juice (photo). A savoury bunch of Festival Hits !
     
    Skymaster (Nghidipo Nangolo, 2008)
    The glorious days of Township Jazz in Namibia’s shanty town. A flashback on J. A. Mureko, a musical hero in the days of apartheid.

    Testimony, breaking the wall of silence
    (Simon WILKIE 2003)
    Testimony traces the story of four people who were detained, tortured and imprisoned for years in underground dungeons.

    Wanahepo (Per Sanden 2006)
    Feature-length documentary on a great Namibian Hero. He was a founder of the SWAPO, a leader, commander... husband, and father.

    AfricAvenir is a NGO engaging in political education and information dissemination both in Africa and in Europe. Founded in Cameroon & Germany by Prince Kum' a Ndumbe III, AfricAvenir is also active in Namibia and Benin.

    Source: AfricaFilms.tv/IDmage, 20 March 2014.

     

  • The National Film and Video Foundation released the 2013 Box Office report.

    2013 has been a competitive year for the South African film industry at the box office and internationally. We saw some very successful releases for films such as "Schuks! Your Country Needs You" and "Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom" at the same time giving local audiences real choices on genre - between homegrown comedy and true story of the life of South African icon, former President Mandela.

    South Africa has generated revenues of more than R879 million in 2013 for the 204 films shown at box office. This is due to a growing film industry and higher demand from consumers. Locally produced films have increased from 19 in 2012 to 25 in 2013 generating revenues of over R98 million and putting SA's market share at 11%, while foreign films altogether generated over R780 million with market share of 89%.

    Of the 204 films that were screened at box office, 33 of them were 3D films which accounted for 41% of the box office revenue, and the remaining 59% was standard format. Khumba an SA animated film was also part of the 33 3D films released and earned more than R8.5 million.

    The biggest distributors dominating the exhibition chain are Ster Kinekor Distributors (SKD) with a larger share of films distributed (83) generating box office revenues of more than 38.5%, followed by Nu Metro Distributors (NMD) distributing (76) films and taking 35.7% of box office revenues.

    South Africa continues to be a prime film location, offering a combination of solid film infrastructure and attractive financial incentives. Thus 2013 has been a success for South Africa with most of local production performing quite well at box office.

    To view the full Box Office report, click here.

     

  • Multiscreen TV has been the big story of the last year, with pay TV operators as well as OTT service providers extending the reach of their content by targeting devices including tablets, smartphones, smart TVs and game consoles, as well as traditional set-top boxes. The resulting report, produced by Digital TV Europe in conjunction with Brightcove, is now available to download , free of charge.

    The annual iRepresent International documentary film festival is fast becoming a cultural movement that connects Nigerian documentary filmmakers and producers with their foreign counterparts, who share identical passion in preserving cultural facts and truths. Going by the large turnout of guests at the Freedom Park during the opening ceremony of the 2014 edition of the festival last Thursday in Lagos, one can rightly say that documentary film is a rallying point for artistes who are keen on self-expression.

investment

  • The Ivorian Minister of Communication, Affoussiata Bamba-Lamine has lead a delegation to China in order to prepare Ivory Coast for the transition to digital terrestrial television (DTT).

    His delegation met with Chinese Minister of Administration of the press, publishing, radio, film and television, Nie Chenxi.

    Visits were also held in four Chinese companies that have already led to securing DTT in several countries around the world. It is envisaged that the DTT training of Ivorian professionals will take place in China .

    Côte d'Ivoire intends to comply with June 2015 deadline set by the International Telecommunication Union (ITU) for the migration to DTT (TNT in French).

    Since October 2013, the country established its National migration Committee to DTT. Excluding China, it multiplies contacts with potential technical partners, including France, Spain and Britain.

    Source: March 11, 2014 - Agency ( Ecofin ) – translated from French by Balancing Act.

     

  • Al Jazeera-owned beIN Sport has chosen Pace to deliver home media servers and HD set-top boxes to enable it to roll out its service across the Middle East and North Africa.

    BeIN Sport is offering a range of sports to subscribers in the region, recently adding Formula 1 motorsports to its list of rights in the region.

    beIN Sport is taking delivery of Pace’s DMS7000NBS home media server, the first deal for this in the region. The device will enable subscribers to watch sports on multiple screens and includes a 1TB hard disk.


    Pace will also supply its DZS3000NBS HD set-top to beIN Sport in the region.

    beIN Sport already uses Humax set-top boxes to deliver its services in the region.

    Roger Hall, managing director of beIN (MENA), said, “Pace’s Home Media Server and HD STB allow us to provide our customers with our latest TV services to every screen within their homes. The Home Media Server gives us a flexible platform to add multiscreen TV applications and services to further cement our position as the leading Pay TV provider in the region.”

    Source: digitaltveurope, March 10, 2014.

  • Over nine out of 10 housheholds in 15 countries across the Middle East and North Africa now take satellite TV for pay TV and free-to-air services, up from two thirds four years ago, according to satellite operator Eutelsat’s latest survey.

    Out of a population base of 77.1 million TV homes, 92% of TV homes take satellite TV, up from 67% in 2010.

    Over the same period, the number of homes receiving analogue terrestrial TV slumped from 18.2 million in 2010 to 4.1 million in 2013. IPTV now accounts for 700,000 homes, mostly in the Gulf states.

    Free-to-air TV has increased its share, accounting for 94% of satellite households, up from 90% in 2010.

     

    The number of homes equipped with an HD Ready or Full HD display has crossed a threshold of 20 million, accounting for 29% of TV homes in the region. Penetration of HD consumer equipment in Saudi Arabia, UAE and Jordan is above 50%. Of the 41.3 million homes not equipped for HDTV, 50% intend to buy an HD display within the next 12 months, according to the survey.

    The audience of the combined Eutelsat-Nilesat video platform at 7° to 8° West has broken the barrier of 50 million homes in the Middle East and North Africa, according to Eutelsat.

    The combined satellite neighbourhood now has an audience of 51.5 million homes, according to the company.

    “Our new survey confirms the exceptional dynamics of the video market in the Middle East and North Africa and the key role played by satellites that now reach into more than nine out of ten homes in the region. This result reflects longstanding partnerships between Eutelsat, Gulfsat, Nilesat, Noorsat, Viewsat and anchor media groups, including Al Jazeera, MBC and OSN that are experiencing strong commercial success and are well placed for further expansion in the region,” said Eutelsat chairman and CEO Michel de Rosen.

    “The survey also confirms the leadership of the Eutelsat-Nilesat 7/8 West neighbourhood whose audience of more than 50 million homes can receive an unequalled line-up of 1,050 Arabic and international channels. Going forward, we believe that the move to higher quality afforded by HD and, for the future, 4K will further consolidate satellite as a core infrastructure in the region.”

    Source: digitaltveurope - March 11, 2014.

  • Qatar-based satellite operator Es’hailSat has issued a request for proposals for a second satellite.

    The Es’Hail 2 satellite will be placed in orbit at the regional hotspot at 26° East.

    Es’hailSat said the new satellite will significantly add to its capacity to deliver premium DTH services across the Middle East and North Africa.

    Es’hail 2 will have Ku-band and Ka-band capabilities. Propospals to build and launch the satellite are due by the end of April, with the satellite expected to be launched towards the end of 2016.

    Es’hail 1 entered service at the end of last year. Customers include Al Jazeera and beIN Sport.

    “With the success of our first satellite – Es’hail 1 – we are delighted to move forward with our satellite procurement program.  Es’hail 2 demonstrates both our commitment to providing premium satellite capacity for broadcasters in the MENA region and to building a sustainable satellite industry for the State of Qatar,” said Es’hailSat CEO Ali Al Kuwari.

    Source: digitaltveurope, March 21, 2014.

  • SES’s Astra 5B and Hispasat’s Amazonas 4A have been successfully placed in orbit by an Ariane 5 rocket, launched from Kourou end of March 2014. Astra 5B is equipped with 60 active Ku- and Ka-band transponders and will be positioned at the 31.5 degrees East orbital slot to deliver broadcast and broadband services to Europe and Africa. Source: digitaltveurope

    Microsoft will launch its much anticipated next-generation videogame and entertainment console, the Xbox One, in South Africa in September 2014, distributor Westcon-Comztek has announced. The launch comes almost a year after Sony introduced its next-generation console, the PlayStation 4, in South Africa. Source: Tech Centra

    Owora Deusdedit from Uganda baseball and softball association needs funds to promote the talent of kids in Uganda: Deals with TV channels, radios and producers are welcome. Contact Owora Deusdedit  <OworaDX@state.gov>

regulation & policy

  • The statutes and rules of procedure for the broadcasting regulators Platform in the countries of the West African Economic and Monetary Union (UEMOA ) and Guinea Conakry were adopted at the "unanimity" by members of the Platform to generate founding texts of the organization during a meeting on 4 and 5 March 2014 in Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso .

    The Platform brings together the chairpersons of the broadcasting regulators of different Member States. They also approved the texts of the West African Audiovisual Observatory as a tool in the service of the Platform. Its main mission is to collect socio- economic and technical data to conduct discussions on the audiovisual area of West Africa.

    Presidency of the platform is provided by the President of the Superior Council of Communication ( Conseil supérieur de la communication  - CSC in French ) of Burkina Faso, Beatrice Damiba.

    The Permanent Technical Secretariat is occupied by Ibrahim Sy Savane, President of the High Authority for Audiovisual Communication ( Haute autorité de la communication audiovisuelle – HACA in French ) in Côte d'Ivoire.

    Source: Agency ( Ecofin ) – March 11, 2014
    . Translated from French by Balancing Act.

  • The South African Government has allocated R265 million (US$24.5 million) for digital terrestrial television (DTT) migration over the medium term, as part of its budget for the year 2014-15. 

    Of this funding, R195.1 million ($18.02 million) will be allocated to the South African Broadcasting Corporation (SABC) for its digital library and a digital playout centre, Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan announced on 26 February.

    Sentech will be allocated R69.8 million ($6.45 million) to finalise the roll out of DTT infrastructure. In addition to the new funding from this year’s budget, R1.5 billion has already been allocated to the Universal Service and Access Fund to subsidise set-top boxes, antennae and digital TV equipment installation for the underprivileged, the Treasury said.

    “Between 2011/12 and 2013/14, R690 million was transferred to the agency to cover the subsidies for the set-top boxes. These funds remain unused due to a delay in finalising the criteria to determine qualifying households and the court case around the set top box mechanism,” said the government.
    An additional R700 million has been made available under the DTT sub-programme to enable the agency to roll out set-top boxes, antennae and instillation over the medium term.
    In addition, funds have been re-prioritised towards planning for broadband roll out, said the Treasury.

    The Department of Communications aims to enable this by allocating 676,000 subsidised digital set-top boxes to subsidy scheme recipients by March 2015, switching off 63 analogue transmitter sites nationally by March 2015, and transferring required funding for digital infrastructure to Sentech by March 2015. A digital opportunity plan and digital development plan will be established by March 2014, and the digital readiness plan and digital future plan by 31 December 2014.
    The complete transition from analogue to digital broadcasting has faced delays in South Africa, but switch over is now set for 1 April 2014.

    South Africa: March 2014 | Rapid TV News

     

  • Yaa Hammond, (journalist), Kingsley Acheampong (cameraman), Suleiman Awudu (soundman) and Douglas Kofi Benyin (driver), of privately-owned TV Africa were on March 7, 2014, detained by some security personnel at Adjei Kojo, a suburb of Accra, Ghana’s capital.

    C. Ohene, head of news and current affairs of TV Africa told MFWA the crew had gone to the area to do a follow-up on a demolition exercise that was undertaken some weeks ago.

    He said upon seeing the crew with their branded vehicle, the security personnel questioned them on why they had come to the site. They then searched them, seized their camera, wrist watches, mobile phones and detained them at a camp they had pitched at the demolition site.

    They were released after two hours and their wrist watches and mobile phones given to them without the camera.

    According to Ohene, on March 10, he accompanied the crew to the site to retrieve the seized camera. One Colonel Nibo and Colonel Ahadzie deleted the video footage of the site the crew had captured on the camera before giving it to them.

    Meanwhile the station has filed a complaint at the country’s statutory media regulating body, the National Media Commission (NMC) against the treatment meted out to the crew. “We are asking the NMC to ask the National Security to render an unqualified apology to us. We think this attack on TV Africa is an attack on press freedom”, he added.

    The MFWA is worried about the sudden rise in attacks on journalists and media organisations by security personnel and individuals in Ghana. We urge the public and security operatives to recognise the important role the media plays and desist from attacking them when they are performing their professional duties.

    For more information please contact
    Sulemana Braimah
    Executive Director
    MFWA
    Accra
    Tel: 233-0302-24 24 70
    Fax: 233-0302-22 10 84

    Follow on Twitter
    Visit Facebook page Media Foundation for West Africa

    Source: Media Foundation for West Africa, March 2014.

  • The Yaoundé Declaration sanctioned the 7th General Assembly of the African Union of Broadcasting (in French UAR-Assemblée générale de l’Union africaine de radiodiffusion), held on 27 and 28 January 2014 in the capital of Cameroon.

    The Yaoundé Declaration declares that radios and televisions from the continent require the postponement of the 17 June 2015 deadline set by the International Telecommunication Union (ITU) for the complete digital switch.

    Still, the UAR want to ensure that, despite the difficulties, the member countries have committed to make every effort to achieve next year’s goal. A memorandum was signed, calling for easier access to sources of funding to ensure a smooth and successful digital transition. The memorandum will be submitted to the African Union.

    The UAR also wants to take the Heads of State of Africa to advocate for lower prohibitive costs of broadcasting rights for sporting events, including the Confederation of African Football ( Caf ). It is a call to African channels for the adoption of a common position on the sharing of digital dividends.

    During the two-day meeting, delegates of the 7th of general assembly of the UAR also discussed the production of quality local content through the national TV channels and radio stations. These media are called to also promote the status of women.

    The UAR is committed to develop a more effective communication plan to make its activities more visible. To achieve that, you need resources. This is why member countries were invited to settle their arrears of contributions.

    Source: Agency  Ecofin – Wednesday, 29 January 2014. Translated from French by Balancing Act.

  • The 17 June 2015 deadline for global migration to digital terrestrial television (DTT) will not be extended for any country, Dr Hamadoun Toure, secretary general of the International Telecommunications Union (ITU) has said during a visit to Kenya. Kenya, Tanzania, Rwanda, Nigeria, Cameroun, Malawi, Botswana, and Mauritius are among those African countries that have begun the analogue to digital migration process. However the majority of the continent is still to convert to DTT. Read more: ITU rules out digital TV deadline extension | Rapid TV News

    DTT in Namibia: start of March 2014, the Namibian Broadcasting Corporation (NBC) Director-General Albertus Aochamub says the consumer awareness campaign on Digital Terrestrial Television (DTT) has not taken off in the way it was planned to. So far only 2 900 decoders have been sold in Windhoek, Swakopmund and Oshakati. Full story here:

    DTT in Tanzania: The Tanzania Communication Regulatory Authority (TCRA) is preparing for a second and last phase of the switch off of analogue to digital television broadcasting. In this phase 12 regions are expected to be involved in switching to digital. Full story here:

technology & convergence

  • New TVs and tablets were on show at the Samsung Forum in Spain this week.
    Samsung Electronics has unveiled a line of curved, ultra-high-definition televisions at the Samsung Forum in Málaga, Spain, along with a set that has been designed specifically for consumers in Africa.

    The 23-inch entry-level high-definition LED TV will be available in South Africa and the rest of Africa at the end of the second quarter for less than R 4 000.

    It is aimed at users with unstable sources of electricity. Head of product marketing for audio-visual product at Samsung South Africa Lance Berger says a back-up power supply kicks in when the power goes out. The TV uses a battery system or solar power (not included) as additional energy sources.

    “By simultaneously being connected to an AC power source from a common house outlet and a DC power source through an alternative energy source, the consumer is still able to enjoy a comfortable TV viewing experience despite power supply conditions,” says Berger.

    Meanwhile, Samsung’s new curved ultra-HD TVs have quad-core processors and will be available in 55-, 65-, and 78-inch variants in the second half of the year. They’ll feature ultra-HD upscaling for lower resolution content, dimming technology for deeper blacks and improved contrast, evolution kits for future-proofing and a video pack of ultra-HD content.

    The video pack is a 1TB hard drive that includes content from movie houses like Fox and Paramount Pictures and other ultra-HD content.

    “Consumers will also be able to download additional UHD content that becomes available, and even house storage capacity for consumers’ own content and TV recordings,” says Berger.

    The curved screens gives videos a “stronger presence” and the wider field of view creates a panoramic effect that makes the display seem larger than it is, according to Berger.

    The company’s proprietary new technology called “auto depth enhancer” gives a 3D effect without requiring 3D glasses. It is an algorithm that analyses regions of images and automatically adjusts contrast for a “greater sense of depth”, says Berger.

    The UHD sets will have a new smart feature called “multilink screen”, allowing viewers to multitask. They’ll be able to split the screen in two — to launch a Web browser while watching live television, for example. The right-hand side of the screen brings up Web search results and YouTube content. New Series 9 TVs will allow up to four splits, while the rest of the range will divide the screen in two.

    Another smart feature, called NewsON and developed in partnership with Yahoo — accessible by those with low bandwidth connections — provides real-time news and weather in the user’s local language.

    Samsung also unveiled a 12,2-inch Galaxy Note Pro with a screen resolution of 2 560×1 600 pixels. It supports multi-tasking by allowing users to resize, drag and drop content between up to four concurrently open windows.

    The tablet has an “e-meeting” feature that lets people view the same content remotely and make live annotations and edit in real time.

    The Galaxy Note Pro is powered by a 2,3GHz quad-core processor, has 3GB of RAM and 32GB or 64GB of storage, and runs Android 4.4 KitKat.

    It weighs 750g (Wi-Fi only) or 753g (Wi-Fi and 4G/LTE) and is 7,95mm thick. It has a 9 500mAh battery.

    Source: (c) 2014 NewsCentral Media - Added by Nafisa Akabor on 6 February 2014.

  • A South African company is selling a “mini PC” on a stick that converts a user’s television set into a smart, Internet-connected TV able to stream video and launch apps.

    A Durban-based company, Maslow Holdings, has developed a gizmo that promises to turn any HDMI-enabled television set into a smart TV. The R1 195 Piko “smart stick” is the size of a USB flash drive and connects to a TV through HDMI.

    The Piko smart stick, which is manufactured in Durban, runs Android 4.0 “Ice Cream Sandwich”, has 1GB of RAM, 8GB of storage (about 2GB available to users) and built-in Wi-Fi.

    Inside the box is an HDMI extender, USB power supply, four-port USB hub, USB converter, Air Mouse and receiver, USB SD/MMC/RS-MMC reader, micro SD adapter and 2x AAA batteries. All you need to use the device is a HDMI-capable TV with spare USB port.

    The Piko smart stick is a hybrid of a mini PC and tablet on a large screen, with “air mouse” (wireless point and click) controls.

    Once the Piko is plugged into a spare HDMI port and the air mouse, which comes with a USB receiver, has been connected and paired, it is ready to use.

    Anyone familiar with Android will quickly figure their way around the Piko’s software and they may only need to adjust to the idea of using an air mouse. The sensitivity of the mouse can be adjusted under settings, but the default setting works well.

    The home screen layout looks just like an Android tablet, with Google search at the top left, app drawer at the top right, and back, home and multitasking buttons on the bottom left.

    The home screen consists entirely of pre-installed apps. They include Khan Academy, Amazon Kindle, Kingsoft Office, AntiVirus, social networks such as Facebook and Twitter, and a selection of games such Angry Birds and Fruit Ninja. There’s also YouTube, SuperSport, News24, an e-mail app and Google Drive. Other options include video player, gallery, music, browser and X-Plore, a file manager.

    To get content onto the Piko, you can plug it into a PC or laptop through USB and browse the device like any other Android-based product. Users can drag and drop content onto the Piko or, alternatively, make use of the USB card reader with micro SD card adaptor and access content from another source.

    The Piko’s software runs fairly smoothly: there was no sluggishness between browsing and running multiple apps, but we did kill apps running in the background once we were done with them.

    Playing Fruit Ninja and Angry Birds with the air mouse felt like it was the first time we were playing them, mostly due to not using an air mouse before. In Fruit Ninja, it felt as if there was a one-second delay between actions, but it didn’t take away the full experience of the game.

    Using the built-in Web browser or other apps that require typing is terribly time consuming when using the air mouse, especially switching between screens of characters. However, the four-port USB hub comes in handy as you are able to plug in a keyboard to speed things up.

    The Piko could find a home for those who can’t justify the cost of a full PC. It’s also a cheap solution for those who want a tablet experience — to an extent — without purchasing a tablet. But plugging in a keyboard is highly recommended.

    The Piko also appears aimed at those who are looking to watch multimedia content on an HD TV by copying files to the device or stream content to it from any device on the same network.

    We tested the live streaming feature, but had a few issues. The manual does not tell users to install the MediaHouse app for Android or a DLNA player for iOS.

    We managed to get onto an iPhone 5 from the Piko, went into our multimedia folder, but could not play any music from the tracks visible on screen, which were all free of digital rights management software.

    We also had no luck connecting the Android handset to the Piko through the streaming service. This problem could be fixed through an app update or it’s just a matter of finding another third-party DLNA player. However, we did manage to browse an Android phone — an LG G2 — after turning it into wireless storage device, and using the X-Plore file manager, but files loaded very slowly across the network.

    Nevertheless, we think the Piko would be an excellent device for schools wanting to provide access easily and cheaply to students who need to use educational apps or just access to the Internet for research. It could also be used as a learning aid in classrooms.

    While there are several really cheap Android tablets available in South Africa, none of them run Android 4.0 or have specs similar to the Piko, which also has full HD capabilities.

    The Piko smart stick is available at selected Game stores for a recommended retail price of R1 195.

    Source: (c) 2014 NewsCentral Media - Added by Nafisa Akabor on 21 January 2014.

  • Downloads are now available for DStv Catch Up on iPhone and iPad, with live streaming available from SuperSport.

    MultiChoice has added new features to its DStv application for iPhones and iPads, allowing DStv Premium subscribers to download selected videos from its Catch Up service.

    Live streaming of major sporting events has also been incorporated into the SuperSport iOS and Android apps, it announced on Friday.

    DStv Catch Up is a video-on-demand (VOD) service available only to Premium customers — those on DStv’s top-end package — and is available on personal video recorder (PVR) decoders, its new Explora decoder, the iPhone, iPad and the DStv website. The VOD product carries no additional costs, except for bandwidth consumed.

    Users can now download videos and save them for later, to watch when travelling, commuting on public transport or waiting in a queue, the company said.

    They can also stream major sports events online from the SuperSport website and now via the SuperSport app for iOS and Android as well.

    “Streams are available whether you’re connected to the Internet via a mobile network or a Wi-Fi connection,” MultiChoice said. 

    Source: (c) 2014 NewsCentral Media - Added by admin on 17 January 2014.

  • At TV Connect this morning, during a fireside chat with Informa’s Rob Gallagher, Francisco Varela, Global Head of Platform Partnerships, YouTube, revealed Google’s TV “end game “ when asked directly by Gallagher about Google Chromecast…

    The answer he gave (if taken at face value) is a reassuring one for a watchful industry…
    “The end game,” insisted Varela, “is access. How do we provide someone with a very inexpensive way to access Internet services on their TV, paralleling with their smart phone access. The end game is about filling that space between someone with a non-connected TV and someone who doesn’t.”
    Well, that’s okay then.

    Elsewhere in the engrossing one-on-one, Varela discussed the response YouTube received from STB manufacturers. “In the early stage,” he conceded, “we thought there might be some resistance from operators bringing YouTube into their STBs, but they’ve been incredibly welcoming.”

    As for the future of YouTube, the response was similarly innocent:
    “The future of YouTube? Our opportunity is huge. People come to YouTube for the content. Our challenges are sourcing the content people want and making it relevant. Speed of the video and relevance of the content are our priorities.”

    Source: By Thomas Campbell March 18th, 2014 - iptv-news.com

  • Sierra Leone: MIT discovered Kelvin, an engineering whiz kid. MIT found a 15-year-old scouring trash bins for parts. He built a radio and batteries, and wants to set up a windmill and promote innovations in his community. What he's built will leave you stunned.
    http://sftimes.co/?id=115&src=share_fb_new_115)" target="_blank">Watch the documentary here

    Johannesburg was the most active Twitter city in Africa in the last three months of 2013, according to a new study called How Africa Tweets. Johannesburg had 344 215 geo-located tweets, followed by Ekurhuleni with 264 172 and the Egyptian capital Cairo with 227 509, communications agency Portland said. Source: Tech Central

    In a move aimed at speeding up the roll-out of digital television in South Africa, cabinet has okayed the use of a control system in digital television set-top boxes (STBs).

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  • April 5 – 10, 2014
    NAB Show

    Venue: Las Vegas Convention Center, Las Vegas, Nevada, USA.
    NAB Show® provides a meeting for creative inspiration and next-generation technologies to assist audio and video executives with their content.

    7-10 April 2014
    MIPTV

    Venue: Cannes, South of France.
    The world's market & creative forum for TV content.

    23-27 April 2014
    Festival International Du Film Panafricain - Cannes /PanAfrican International Film Festival

    Venue: Cannes, France. The festival is devoted to the new generation of African Digital filmmaking.

    14 to 25 May 2014
    The 67th annual Cannes International Film Festival (Festival de Cannes)

    Venue: Cannes, South of France.
    One of the largest International Film Festivals in the World.

    20-21 May 2014 
    The Broadcast Show Africa 

    Venue: Sandton Convention Centre - Johannesburg, South Africa.
    The Broadcast Show Africa provides a platform where new revenue streams can be explored; key technologies can be evaluated, and operators and businesses can gain valuable insight into implementing successful TV business models. 

    20-21 May 2014
    SatCom Africa
    Venue: Sandton Convention Centre - Johannesburg, South Africa. The largest satellite conference & expo focusing on the needs of the African continent. Bringing together end-users & suppliers of satellite technology to find cost effective & reliable communication solutions.

    June 2014 (dates tba)
    Encounters - South African International Documentary Film Festival

    Capte Town, South Africa
    Encounters is Africa’s premier documentary event, celebrating its 15th edition in 2013.

    4-5 June 2014
    Broadcast, Film & Music Africa 2014

    Venue: Kenyatta International Conference Centre, Harambee Avenue, Nairobi, Kenya.
    A large conference and trade show on the Broadcast, Film & Music industries in Africa gathering over 1000 attendees and organised by Aitec Africa.

    5th to 8th June 2014
    NollywoodWeek Paris

    Venue: Cinema l’Arlequin, 76 Rue de Rennes, 75006 Paris, France.
    NollywoodWeek Paris is an annual film festival dedicated to showcasing the best of Nollywood to a French audience in order to foster distribution opportunities in this untapped market. 2013 marked its first edition in a very successfull way. It included BtoB debates and conferences. Lined up in 2014; Friday, June 6th from 10 am to 12: workshop. Saturday, June 7th: A round table.


    17 - 27 July 2014
    Durban International Film Festival

    The 35th Durban International Film Festival
    The DIFF is organised by the Centre for Creative Arts (University of KwaZulu-Natal) with support from the National Lottery Distribution Trust Fund (principal funder), National Film and Video Foundation, KwaZulu-Natal Department of Economic Development and Tourism, City of Durban, German Embassy, Goethe Institut, Industrial Development Corporation, KwaZulu-Natal Department of Arts and Culture, and a range of other valued partners.

    18-21 July 2014
    The 5th. Durban FilmMart 2013 (DFM)

    Venue: the Blue Waters Hotel in Durban, South Africa
    The DFM is a large annual co-production and finance market, a joint programme of the Durban Film Office and the Durban International Film Festival/DIFF with principle funding from the City of Durban.

    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, 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.

    3 June to 25 July 2014
    Africa in Motion (AIM) Edinburgh African Film Festival
    Venue: Scotland
    A large festival aimed at introducing African cinema to Scottish audiences. Well organised. Africa in Motion (AiM) Film Festival has announced their upcoming festival, ‘Sports Stories from around the African Commonwealth’ which is set to take place during the lead up to the Glasgow 2014 Commonwealth Games. The full programme will be launched on the 27th of April (the anniversary of 20 years of democracy in South 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.

    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.

     

  • Video: Lupita Nyong'o, won the Oscar for Best Supporting Actress

    People know her not so long ago, Lupita Nyong'o, the Kenyan origin actress is the rising star that now illuminates the red carpet like at the Screen Actors Guild Award, the Critic's Choice Movie Award and the recent ceremony Oscar® 2014. On this occasion, she was awarded for Best Supporting Actress in the film "12 years a slave."

    Christoph Waltz presented Lupita Nyong'o with the Oscar® at the 86th Oscars® in 2014. Watch her fabulous speech when she received her prize here

    South Africa: Tian Olivier
    has been appointed SABC's new acting CEO and James Aguma has taken up the reins of acting chief financial officer.

  • Durban International Film Festival:
    Film festival accepting submissions [Worldwide]

     
    Date: Friday, July 18, 2014 - Tuesday, July 22, 2014
    Deadline: 3/24/14
    Durban International Film Festival
    Filmmakers may submit their projects to be screened at this film festival in South Africa.

    The Durban International Film Festival is accepting film submissions to be screened at its 35th annual celebration this summer. This year’s festival runs from July 18 to 22, and its theme is “continent of contrast.”

    Filmmakers may submit films in four categories: feature-length film, short film, feature-length documentary and short documentary.

    There is no cost to submit a film for consideration, but DVD screeners must be received by the festival’s committee by March 24 in order for films to be considered for the festival.

    For more information, click here

    Short film festival accepting entries [Egypt]

    Deadline: 4/4/14
    Arab filmmakers ages 16 to 36 can submit their short live-action films, animated films or documentaries to a festival.

    Qabila’s second annual short film festival is accepting entries from filmmakers who want to tell a story through art and make a difference by reaching a global audience.

    Films should range in length from 1 minute to 30 minutes. Films in languages other than English must include English subtitles. Filmmakers may only submit one film, and their submissions must not have been created before Jan. 1, 2012.

    Interested candidates must complete the submission form, here and upload their films to their private YouTube channel as (unlisted)/ or on their Vimeo channel as (private). Once uploaded, they must include the following biographical details about the director: name, age, original place of birth and the country from which he or she is submitting the film. Upon completion, they should send the link to apply(at)qabilafilmfestival(dot)com.

    The deadline for submissions is April 4.

    For more information, click here

    The 2014 call for projects for the cinema Committee of the Francophone Fund (la commission cinéma du Fonds francophone) is reserved to requests for help to finish feature films projects. Deadline to submit dossier is set between 15 to 30 April 2014. Contact the OIF in

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