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Issue no 198 - 27 February 2015

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  • VIDI, South Africa's premier video on demand entertainment service, has acquired a raft of top music documentaries, some of which are currently available on the service on subscription and others coming soon.

    And there's literally something for everyone and all tastes including:

    -Taylor Swift: America's Sweetheart - the country/pop superstar who has taken the music scene by storm, going multi-platinum on her first album, earning four Grammy Awards for her second and being listed in the 2012 Guinness Book Of World Records as the Fastest Selling Digital Album by a Female Artist for her third album Speak Now. Through her own words and great archive footage this documentary takes an incredible look at the life and times of this truly amazing young artist. (Now Showing)

    -Black Eyed Peas: The Beginning of the E.N.D. - The Black Eyed Peas have been one of the best selling and most popular groups for over a decade. Creating albums that are more innovative than the last, they have transformed themselves from the West Coast Underground into global superstars. Includes interviews with Taboo,,, and Fergie (Now Showing)

    -Rihanna: Good Girl Gone Bad
    - begins with the performance of Umbrella at the Manchester show when the scenes are intercut with Rihanna talking about how her fans are coming to watch her on the tour concerts. Other scenes of Rihanna and her crew members, dancers and band are also shown backstage. Rihanna then continues with the interview telling about how she went to some places that she never heard in her life and explains how flying in a private jet with her team like "one family" is fun, but very rare. (Now Showing)

    -Justin Bieber: Rise of a Superstar
    - This exclusive documentary explores Justin Bieber's meteoric rise to fame, as a young ice hockey player, growing up in a small town in Canada right through to his incredible discovery on the Internet, and arrival on the music scene as one of its most iconic pop stars. Some of the world s leading show business journalists talk about his life, his work and his music and some of Justin s greatest music videos are also featured like Baby and U Smile . This is the definitive story of one of the new millennium's most dazzling stars. (Coming 1 March)

    -Lady Gaga: On the Edge - In three short years, Lady Gaga has become the most famous recording artist and music personality in the world. With the recent release of her latest album, she has become the fastest selling digital artist in history and dominated the charts in more than 25 countries. Follow the story of this cultural icon as she takes the next steps towards world domination. Interviews include Reporter - Dan Wootton, Editor - Ashley Pearson, and Radio DJ - Roberto. (Coming 1 March)

    -Beyonce: Baby & Beyond - Platinum-selling singer, A-list actress and new Mom, Beyonce Knowles is a superstar with no limits. From Destiny's Child to her relationship with Jay-Z - and birth of their baby Blue Ivy - she's become an ever-evolving woman who can seemingly do no wrong. Featuring exclusive interviews with her family and inner circle of friends, Beyonce: Baby and Beyond provides an in-depth look at what drives this diva's passion for life! (Coming 1April)

    -Bob Marley: Freedom Road - He was and is, without doubt, Jamaica's finest export and in this documentary the filmmakers reveal - for the first time - the behind the scenes Bob Marley that only his closest confidantes could know. (Coming 1 May)

    -Tupac Shakur - two Tupac Shakur films will be available on VIDI from 1 June until 31 December - Tupac vs and Tupac: Before I Wake.  The former is described by one fan as a documentary which is not just about crazy, or "cool" things he did, but a detailed analysis of his music, as an art. It is for those who are really interested in Tupac, the artist, and for those who want to get know what is behind the symbols and the metaphors he used in his lyrics and throughout his life." Before I Wake is unique in that it is the only known documentary that chronicles the last year of Tupac's life as seen through the eyes of the one person that was closest to him, his bodyguard, Frank Alexander. For the first time you see intimate details, including behind the scenes studio footage of Tupac creating some of his most innovative music. The filmmakers also take you to the place where Tupac was shot in Las Vegas and speak with investigators who are still to this day trying to solve his murder. (Coming 1 June)

    -Amy Winehouse: A Final Goodbye - is an intimate look into the life and times of Amy Winehouse from her rise to pop superstardom through to the inner demons that inspired her work and eventually caused her untimely death. (Coming 1 July)

    For those music and movie fans not yet signed up, VIDI is offering a seven-day trial membership so that all South Africans can experience just what it has to offer and just how easy, affordable and accessible it is.

    Source: Press Release 19 February 2015

  • It's been almost two years since we first reported on Nigerian writer, director and producer Nosa Igbinedion‘s superhero film Oya: Rise of the Orishas, which reimagines the Orishas (folkloric deities of West African origin with mythical powers) as a band of crusaders fighting against evil forces. Since then, Igbinedion's short film has scored its creator the Rising Talent Award at the 2015 Screen Nation Awards in London and enjoyed successful screenings at festivals in Nigeria, Brazil, the US and across Europe.

    Igbinedion's production company Igodo Films recently shared Oya: Rise of The Orishas in full online. They also revealed that the Oya project has been adapted for the silver screen with principal photography on the feature-length film version scheduled to begin later this year in Brazil. The London-based filmmaker shared in a recent interview that he made the short film in order to prove that there is a market for sci-fi films revolving around African characters and storylines. In this regard, Oya joins Ethiopian post-apocalyptic flick Crumbs in forging a path for future film projects from the continent within the realm of speculative fiction. In addition to the full-length project, Oya‘s creators have also confirmed plans for a comic book adaptation of the film, which is currently available for pre-order.

    Watch the 12-minute short film here
      starring Ethosheia Hylton as Oya, Prince Shoyelu, Jayde Stedford, Quincy Okpokpor, Luiana Bonfim and Orwi Imanuel Ameh. Keep up with future developments on Oya: Rise Of The Orishas on Facebook and Twitter.

    Source: Okayafrica 18 February 2015

  • The continued banning of certain films in Kenya without making known detailed reasons for such censorship is a big blow to artistic expression and a clear violation of artistic freedom guaranteed by the constitution of Kenya, Article 19 says.

    The recent ban of the film, Fifty Shades of Grey, by the Kenya Film Classification Board ostensibly on obscenity grounds has angered and dismayed many Kenyan film enthusiasts. This is the fifth film to be banned in Kenya in the recent past, and is deeply worrying considering it comes just after the recently enacted Security Laws (Amendment) Act, which also introduced broad and vague grounds for the banning of photographs and broadcasts.

    "The continued banning of certain films in Kenya without making known detailed reasons for such censorship is a big blow to artistic expression and a clear violation of artistic freedom guaranteed by the constitution of Kenya," said Henry Maina, Regional Director, ARTICLE 19 Eastern Africa.

    The Fifty Shades of Grey film was banned (rated as 'restricted') on Tuesday 10th February 2015. The film was scheduled to premier on the 14th Feb 2015 in Kenya.

    According to a statement issued by Bishop Jackson Kosgei, the Chairperson of the Kenya Film Classification Board, the film was restricted because of "prolonged and explicit sexual scenes depicting women as sexual slaves."

    It is the artist's role to challenge and provoke, sometimes in a way that may offend, and artistic expression is protected as an important aspect of the right to freedom of expression. While under international standards, states can limit freedom of expression in the interest of public order and public morals, a number of important factors must be examined. These include such considerations as whether the expression was in fact harmful, whether the concept of public morals was not applied in a discriminatory fashion and whether the sanction is proportionate to aim pursued.

    Other films banned in Kenya include the Wolf of Wall Street, Stories of Our Lives, Movie 43, and Paradise Love. The common reasons provided for banning these films is that they contain explicit images of sexual activity, obscenity, indecency, and use of illegal drugs and alcohol.

    The Kenya Film Classification Board is a state-owned corporation whose main mandate is to examine and classify films meant for public exhibition. The classification seeks to ensure films conform to the national aspirations, moral standards and the protection of children.

    Source: Pambazuka News 16 February 2015


  • The Writers' Guild of South Africa (WGSA) and M-Net have announced the nominees for the WGSA Muse Awards 2014/15. At the event - set for late April 2015 - performance writers in film, television, radio, stage and new media industries will gather to recognise and celebrate the integral role played by their peers in the South African entertainment industry.

    On this, the second annual WGSA Muse Awards, WGSA is elated to have M-Net as a headline sponsor for the competition and awards ceremony, which honours the best local performance writers in the industry.

    M-Net corporate affairs director, Kershnee Govender, commented on M-Net's support of the event, "For the past 29 years, M-Net has remained a proud sponsor of local arts and culture initiatives. This event confirms our belief in the very important and often undervalued role which writers in various disciplines play in South Africa. These writers bring the many diverse stories of our multi-faceted society to life, in so doing enriching the lives and cultural fabric of all who come into contact with their work.”

    "A substantial number of entries were received for the WGSA Muse Awards, and we would like to thank all the writers who submitted their scripts for consideration. The judging benchmark for this year has been set high, and entries have now been evaluated by the first round judges,” said Harriet Meier, the chairperson of WGSA.

    "The top three scripts reaching or surpassing the standard set by the minimum judging criteria will make up the nominees. These screenplays will proceed to the next phase, where the winners will be selected by a new set of judges, which include big name international writers, agents and Writers' Guild representatives from around the world.”

    The nominees for the WGSA Muse Awards 2014/15 are:


    1) Tracy Eccles: Wheelin'

    1) David Forbes: The Cradock Four
    2) Meg Richards: 1994: The Bloody Miracle
    3) Peter Goldsmid: Dance Up From the Street

    TV Comedy / Sitcom:
    1) Fidel Namisi: Call Centre
    2) Joshua Rous: By the Numbers

    TV Drama:

    1) Amor Tredoux: Danz! Episode 6
    2) Marina Bekker: Thola Episode 1
    3) Shirley Johnston: Traffic Episode 25

    TV Drama:
    1) Amor Tredoux: Danz! Episode 6
    2) Marina Bekker: Thola Episode 1
    3) Shirley Johnston: Traffic Episode 25

    Stage Play:
    1) Janet van Eeden: A Matter of Time
    2) Janet van Eeden: In-Gene-Uity
    3) Janet van Eeden: The Savage Sisters

    Spec Script:

    1) Fidel Namisi: Bring Back Lost Lover
    2) Hanneke Schutte: Meerkat Moonship
    3) Zamo Mkhwanazi: The Good Doctor

    No nominations were made for radio plays, and the over 100 feature fllm entries received were all for unproduced screenplays. As such, it was decided by the organisers to dedicate the Spec Script in Any Genre category this year solely to feature films, and to include unproduced work in other genres in their own genre categories.

    The WGSA gratefully acknowledges the hard work of the judges from all industry sectors, who participated in this extensive first round.

    Albert Du Plessis, Julie Hall, Yolanda Lindeque-Strauss

    Carolyn Carew, Veronica Stewart, Vlokkie Gordon

    TV Comedy/Sitcom
    Harriet Meier, Nim Geva, Theoline Maphutha, Tracey-Lee Dearham, Yolanda Lindeque-Strauss

    TV Drama

    Anna-Marie Janse van Vuuren, Dorette Nel, Eubulus Timothy, Harriet Meier, Jacqui Achilleas, Saskia Schiel, Theoline Maphutha

    Spec Script: Feature Film
    Adze Ugah, Amor Tredoux, Anneke Villet, Dan Jawitz, Dorette Nel, Elsa van Schalkwyk, Harriet Meier, Jan Engelen, John Hill, Joy Sapieka, Marc Nekaitar, Matthew Kalil, Quanita Adams, Robert De Mezieres, Sam Phillips, Thandi Brewer, Victor Molele, Yolanda Mogatusi

    Radio Play

    Harriet Meier, Lelia Etsebeth, Veronica Stewart

    Stage Play

    Karen Jeynes, Paulette Reynecke, Sam Phillips

    Source: Screen Africa 19 February 2015

  • Subscription based channel M-Net has decided to shut down its less than a year old Maisha MSubscription based channel M-Net has decided to shut down its less than a year old Maisha Magic channel due to low popularity.

    In a press release sent to newsrooms, M-Net said this was a business decision .

    "M-Net regrets to inform DStv viewers that after much deliberation, a business decision was taken to make changes to the Maisha Magic channels in East Africa. Following an in-depth assessment of each of the channels viability was concluded, including a review of the rankings and popularity of the channels, a decision was taken to close Maisha Magic and refocus on the Maisha Magic Swahili channel.

    Unfortunately, Maisha Magic has not performed and grown as per our expectations.

    Overall, the channel was unable to achieve the ratings consistency we needed to sustain the business and support our continued investment,” said Patricia van Rooyen, CEO M-Net Sub-Saharan Africa.

    M-Net however stressed that is still "remains firmly committed to the Kenyan market and will ensure that it continues to support film makers by showcasing their talent on other M-Net channels.”

    Source: Daily Nation 21 February 2015

  • A story of revenge set against the backdrop of a polygamous family, Umlilo is's new ground-breaking drama that makes its debut on Monday, 2 March 2015 at 21h00. Umlilo offers both a heart-stopping mystery, and a deeply affecting family drama.

    The show features a moderately affluent Johannesburg family headed by the dynamic patriarch Mnqobi (played by Hamilton Dhlamini), a self-made man in his 40s. Mnqobi is a successful businessman and global player on the brink of landing a lucrative business deal that would make him and his partner happy.

    Umlilo starts Monday, 2 March 2015 at 21h00 on and HD on channel 104 on OpenView HD.

    Read the Full Story here:

    Source: Screen Africa 18 February 2015


  • Globecast has announced that it has risen to the considerable challenges of this year's Orange Africa Cup of Nations, EQUATORIAL GUINEA 2015, football tournament, proving a variety of successful contribution and distribution services that helped bring the tournament to screens around the world.

    François Persiaux, Head of Global Contribution France, said, "The Orange Africa Cup of Nations, EQUATORIAL GUINEA 2015, presented some very specific - and sizeable - challenges. For instance, the venue was finally switched to Equatorial Guinea as the host country as late as the end of November last year. This presented a massive logistical challenge, one that we rose to.”

    Globecast gathered a highly experienced team from its staff and began the process of configuring and shipping seven HD flyaway uplink kits - there was a total of 4.5 tons of equipment - then had to organise local logistics and seven different satellites for contribution and distribution.  The situation was made more complex by the fact that the capital of the country - Malabo, to where all the equipment had to be shipped - is a 45-min flight from the mainland.

    Globecast supplied uplinks and contribution - main and backup feeds - from the four stadium locations for its customer, to sports marketing agency SPORTFIVE AFRICA. Distribution was global to 51 broadcasters, with Globecast supplying a field team of engineers and a coordination manager in Africa as well as a MCR in Paris with a dedicated engineer and coordinator for each match.  There was also a supervisor for worldwide distribution plus remote live monitoring for each downlink on every satellite. Additional French commentary was added in the Paris MCR, giving a total of eight language broadcasts.

    Persiaux said, "This was clearly a very big project carried out in a very short space of time. Having shipped and set up all the equipment, we produced 170 hours of live HD transmission using four C-Band and three Ku-band satellites. This was the biggest single flyway operation managed by our Paris office using skills from across the company. We are very proud to have succeeded so well.”

    Source: Press Release

  • Zimbabwe Broadcasting Corporation (ZBC) acting chief executive officer Mr Patrick Mavhura has said national broadcaster will be introducing channels that will be accessible only after paying a subscription fee.

    Mavhura told Sunday Mail that switching over from analogue to digital, in less than four months, will result in the introduction of multiple channels.

    Mavhura told the newspaper that "there is an internal project team that is 100 percent dedicated to the generation and stocking of content for the new channels. As you might be aware, we have been running an advert on television and radio calling for concepts and programmes from independent producers."

    He also said the process is on-going and according to the company's plan it will guarantee enough content for the multiple channels.

    Source: Bulawayo News 22 February 2015

  • In a bold move to enable more Nigerians conveniently switch over to and enjoy full digital television experience, foremost cable TV service provider, StarTimes, today announced the launch of its newest and most affordable bouquet called Nova ahead of the digital switch over deadline in 2015.

    The Nova bouquet went live nationwide on Monday February 9; it is permanent and becomes the fourth bouquet available on StarTimes, specially designed for the entry level customers. Its introduction was aimed at further facilitating a smooth and convenient transition from analogue to digital broadcasting by creating the most affordable bouquet that anyone can afford. This is really to make it easier and comfortable for more Nigerians to get access and enjoy digital television without stress or missing their favorite television programs when the analogue TV gets switched off later in 2015.

    The Nova bouquet will be retailing at just N500 per month giving more new subscribers access to a digital television experience with over 15 channels; 8 international channels, including Star Kungfu, Star Music, Star Dadin Kowa (Hausa channel), E-Stars (Nollywood), Child Smile, CCTV-News, TBN, IQRAA and about 7 local channels, including NTA news 24, NTA sports, AIT, Channels TV, Silverbird, NTA Local, other state TV stations and other analogue TV stations like TVC, MiTV, Super Screen and Galaxy.

    Speaking at the launch of the new bouquet in Lagos, Mr. Israel Bolaji, Public Relations Manager, (StarTimes) NTA Star-TV Network, said the new digital TV bouquet was designed to offer new subscribers an affordable bundle that makes switching over to digital TV more convenient, promote refreshing television experience and create values that will further deepen digital television penetration in Nigeria.

    In the coming days, more Nigerians will have to acquire type approved digital set top boxes, most of those who will be affected by the switch over in 2015 are first time buyers; We observed that the cost of acquiring the decoders is a major factor to growing access; we have therefore considered making it very affordable for them to acquire and access our digital television service. We have also strengthened our customer feedback and interactive points like the call centre and after sales support services to further bolster our offering,” noted Mr. Bolaji.

    Bolaji observed that the move is advised by the company's mission to ensure every household accesses and enjoys digital television noting that the company has rolled out extensive after sales services to ensure the best customer experience with the StarTimes set top box. This is our strategy to ensure all Nigerians have access to digital television.

    "We are committed to a smooth transition from analogue to digital broadcasting while enabling Nigerians to overcome entry barriers through affordability as we equally showcase our premium channel offering and customer centered after sales services that will swiftly manage any challenges faced by our customers.” added Mr. Bolaji.

    "As a platform for digital migration, we are ever committed to supporting Nigerians actualize the 2015 deadline by ensuring that Nigerians get the best of digital television at an affordable price. We are poised to aid Nigeria migrate successfully from analogue to digital television transmission and revolutionize the digital broadcasting industry by providing quality digital TV experience that is enjoyable and accessible,” Bolaji noted.….. Ends.

    Source: Company Press Release 18 February 2015

  • Euronews is expanding its reach in Sub-Saharan Africa with new distribution agreements with DStv Africa and Ouest TV, as well as launching on a DTT network in Mozambique, Broadband TV News reported. The DStv Africa satellite bouquet is now carrying the Portuguese service of Euronews on GoTV+, its DTT service in Mozambique. DStv has also decided to allocate a specific channel to Euronews Portuguese for its DTH customers in Mozambique and Angola. DStv Africa now offers its Sub-Saharan viewers seven out of Euronews' 13 languages (English, French, Portuguese, Spanish, German, Italian and Russian). Euronews and Ouest TV, a news channel for West and Central Africa, have signed an agreement allowing the African channel to rebroadcast programmes, live, from Euronews French, every hour between 6.30 pm and 11.30 pm, in 30-minute segments. Based in Senegal, Ouest TV broadcasts in French to 24 countries in West and Central Africa. It is also available unencrypted across Sub-Saharan Africa via the Amos 5 satellite.

    Source: Telecompaper 18 February 2015

  • Angolan cableco TV Cabo now offers corporate data, voice and TV services under the Viv brand, replacing the Fibra Business name previously used. The rebranding exercise means that TV Cabo's residential and corporate units now operate under the same banner.

    Meanwhile, TV Cabo notes that it has extended its fibre-to-the-home (FTTH) network to Lubango, the capital city of Angolan province Huila. TV Cabo is currently available in the metropolitan areas of Luanda, Benguela and Lobito.

    Source: Telegeography 20 February 2015

  • Angolan cable TV operator TVCabo has announced it will update the prices for its TV packages from 5 March. As a result, the Mini package will cost AOA 1,600, the Max package will cost AOA 3,200, the Premium package will cost AOA 6,400, abd the Plus package will cost AOA 1,600.

    Maroc Telecom-backed Gabon Telecom is set to deploy a nationwide fibre-optic network, enabling it to introduce video-on-demand (VoD) services for end-users. The plans were revealed by Maroc Telecom chairman Abdeslam Ahizoune after a one-on-one meeting with Gabonese president Ali Bongo Ondimba last week. Gabon Telecom currently offers mobile, fixed line and xDSL broadband services, and in October 2014 claimed to be the first company in Central Africa to launch 4G Long Term Evolution (LTE) services.


  • The Liquid Telecom Group recently announced that it has raised US$150 million which will fund the further expansion of its fibre network in Africa.

    Liquid Telecom is a pioneering company that has improved the telecoms infrastructure of Africa. It has spent more than five years building what is now Africa's largest independent cross-border fibre network which runs across 15 nations in East and Central Africa, covering Africa's fast-growing economies where no fixed network has existed before and connecting to all the subsea cables.

    The network currently spans over 18,000km and includes fibre rings around a multitude of towns and cities and The East Africa Fibre Ring - the first fully redundant regional fibre ring in East Africa.

    The new investment will be used to extend Liquid Telecom's fibre network into additional countries as part of the company's continuous expansion strategy. It will also finance ongoing Fibre To The Home (FTTH) builds in Kenya, Rwanda, Zambia and Zimbabwe which will provide homes and businesses with unlimited data packages and 100Mbps, the fastest broadband ever available in Africa.

    Liquid Telecom's customers include other wholesale carriers, mobile network operators, ISPs, financial institutions and businesses of all sizes and homes. It also operates retail businesses in Kenya, Rwanda, Uganda and Zimbabwe.

    Nic Rudnick, CEO of the Liquid Telecom Group, who has been listed as one of the top 100 most influential people in the global telecoms industry said, "We believe in the power of connectivity to transform lives and our goal is to connect as many people in Africa as possible. Our fibre networks provide capacity for high-speed fixed and mobile broadband networks, enabling Africans to access digital content, apps and OTT services. This funding will help us in our mission of building Africa's digital future.”

    The US$150 million loan for Liquid Telecom was facilitated by Standard Chartered and provided by large global investment banks.

    Source: Company Press Release 24 February 2015

regulation & policy

  • The ITU is reported to be permitting 30 African countries to slip past its ‘absolute deadline' of June 30th this year to switch off analogue TV transmissions. According to Kenya's Daily Nation newspaper, the date extensions apply to some major African nations not least Egypt, Tunisia, Algeria and Morocco.

    An ITU spokesman, speaking exclusively to, insists that the ITU has not altered its June 30th deadline for analogue switch off of TV signals.

    The news emerged during a tough court battle in Kenya and where existing analogue broadcasters are seeking to continue transmissions beyond the June 2015 deadline. Kenya switched off its main analogue transmitter last week on February 14th.

    The ITU's position is that June 30th is the latest date for switching from analogue to all digital transmission.

    Source: Advanced Television 25 February 2015

  • The National Association of African-American Owned Media alleges that Sharpton and other advocates have been bought off.

    Even though the FCC hasn't yet ruled on the proposed merger between Comcast and Time Warner Cable, one group has already filed a lawsuit claiming at least $20 billion in damages from the way the two giants allegedly discriminate against black-owned media.

    The complaint, filed in California on Friday, comes from the National Association of African-American Owned Media, which also filed a similar suit against AT&T and DirecTV in December.

    This time, the plaintiff is not only targeting both Comcast and TWC — on the eve of the two companies merging to become what would be the largest pay television distributor in the United States — but also various African-American advocacy groups and MSNBC host Al Sharpton for allegedly facilitating discrimination.

    Comcast is one of the biggest companies to employ a chief diversity officer, and its practices have been lauded by many including Black Enterprise magazine, which recently named it as one of the 40 best companies for diversity. The lawsuit figures to face many hurdles, from the sufficiency of its allegations to possibly the First Amendment, but for now it presents a larger portrait of a media company that isn't carrying many fully owned black channels and the dangers of allowing it to grow bigger.

    "We do not generally comment on pending litigation, but this complaint represents nothing more than a string of inflammatory, inaccurate, and unsupported allegations," responds Comcast in a statement to The Hollywood Reporter.

    Sharpton tells us that he "welcomes the opportunity to answer the frivolous allegations" and says he will be bringing counterclaims for defamation.

    According to the lawsuit, Comcast and TWC "collectively spend approximately $25 billion annually for the licensing of pay-television channels and advertising of their products and services, yet 100% African American-owned media receives less than $3 million per year."

    At the time of Comcast's 2010 acquisition of NBCUniversal, Comcast entered into memoranda of understanding with the NAACP, the National Urban League and the National Action Network, but the lawsuit says the voluntary diversity agreements are "a sham, undertaken to whitewash Comcast's discriminatory business practices."

    The plaintiff objects that the only fully black-owned channel picked up by Comcast is the Africa Channel, and that entity is owned by former Comcast/NBCU exec Paula Madison, who "was directly involved in putting together the sham MOUs and obtaining government approval for the Comcast acquisition of NBC Universal, thus creating a serious conflict of interest."

    Other black channels are said to be "window dressing," with black celebrities as "fronts" when they are "white-owned businesses" that are run by friends or family of Comcast executives.

    The lawsuit goes on to say that Comcast made large cash "donations" to obtain support for its acquisition. The money includes $3.8 million to Sharpton and his National Action Network. The money, it's charged, was meant to pay Sharpton to endorse the NBCU deal and divert attention away from discrimination. As for Sharpton's MSNBC gig, the complaint says, "Despite the notoriously low ratings that Sharpton's show generates, Comcast has allowed Sharpton to maintain his hosting position for more than three years in exchange for Sharpton's continued public support for Comcast on issues of diversity."

    Sharpton objects that the budget for National Action Network is not even $4 million, and as for his MSNBC show, he believes he has the most successful show in the 6 p.m. hour at MSNBC, that "the numbers speak for themselves." The lawsuit seems to count Sharpton's reported $750,000 annual salary at MSNBC as part of the $3.8 million and leverages past criticism of the noted civil rights leader that's rooted in him allegedly turning an eye and forgoing boycotts and protests on corporations upon receiving monetary contributions to the National Action Network.

    As for support to the theory of discrimination in contracting, the lawsuit says Comcast has a "Jim Crow" process with respect to licensing black-owned channels, and that one Comcast exec stated, "We're not trying to create any more Bob Johnsons," referring to the founder of Black Entertainment Television.

    The NAAAOM is suing along with Entertainment Studios Networks, which was founded by Byron Allen and now has a television operation with stations like Justice Central that reach 7.5 million consumers through deals with smaller pay TV distributors.

    Representing the plaintiffs are Louis "Skip" Miller at Miller Barondess. The attorney has been a mainstay for many years on The Hollywood Reporter's list of the 100 most powerful lawyers in the entertainment industry. Besides representing clients including Rod Stewart, Steven Tyler, Elton John and Bob Dylan, he also defended the city of Los Angeles in the Rodney King civil rights case.

    A Comcast spokesperson responds, "We are proud of our outstanding record supporting and fostering diverse programming, including programming from African-American-owned and -controlled cable channels. We currently carry more than 100 networks geared toward diverse audiences, including multiple networks owned or controlled by minorities."

    She adds, "Comcast has engaged in good-faith negotiations with this programmer for many years. It is disappointing that they have decided to file a frivolous lawsuit. We will defend vigorously against the scurrilous allegations in this complaint and fully expect that the court will dismiss them."

    The National Action Network also responds.

    "National Action Network has not been served with any papers and considers this claim frivolous," says a spokesperson. "If in fact we were to be served, we would gladly defend our relationship with any company as well as to state on the record why we found these discriminatory accusations made by said party to be less than credible and beneath the standards that we engage in."

    The group adds, "As for Rev. Sharpton's TV show ratings the numbers are clear. Rev. Sharpton's show has the highest ratings of any 6 p.m. show in the history of the network."

    Source: Hollywood Reporter 23 February 2015

technology & convergence

  • Kenya's StarTimes Media has effected a 17.5 percent cut in the cost of acquiring its DVB-T2 free-to-air set-top box with the move aimed at making it more affordable for Kenyans. The receiver will now retail at a one-off fee of KES 3,300, down from 4,000, with free access for one month the 'Unique' bouquet worth KES 1,500 and offering over 75 premium international channels. The FTA offer includes over 55 local channels.

    Source: Telecompaper 24 February 2015

  • Netflix-like video streaming service Vidi has promised to pay for your ADSL data

    Vidi, the Netflix-like video streaming service from Times Media Group, has announced a promotion which offers subscribers free ADSL data for watching videos on the service.

    Queried about how it works and which ADSL service providers are supported, Vidi said it supports all ISPs.

    "If you are using ADSL and ADSL only, the player will detect whether point-to-point tunnelling protocol is enabled and available via your router,” Vidi said.

    Should your router support PPTP, the Vidi player initiates a secure tunnel connection to its server, creating a separate connection to your normal point-to-point over Ethernet (PPPoE) account.

    If it detects PPTP support and successfully establishes a tunnel, Vidi will deliver video content that way.

    If the Vidi player fails to detect the tunnel protocol, it will run over the PPPoE connection to your Internet service provider.

    "The video that is delivered via the tunnel does not affect the PPPoE account at all,” Vidi said. In other words, it won't use your normal ADSL ISP account at all so long as your router has the correct features.

    The features and routers supported are as follows:

        VPN passthrough for IPSec, PPTP or L2TP
        TP-Link, Netgear, and Siemens routers are all compatible
        Billion and other brands: only certain models are supported

    Vidi warned that certain budget routers do not have the necessary features.

    Source: MyBroadband 18 February 2015

  • Digital Television Company StarTimes Media has  slashed its DVB T2 Free-To-Air(FTA) set top boxes by 17.5 percent today; the company did this to ensure that many Kenyans can afford the boxes as they do not attract monthly subscription charges.

    StarTimes FTA set top box will now retail at a one off fee of Ksh 3,299 down from 3,999 with free access to one month Unique bouquet worth Ksh 1,499 giving Kenyans over 75 premium international channels.

    Upon the expiry of the one month free Unique bouquet package, Kenyans will enjoy uninterrupted access to over 55 free to air local channels in digital quality for good. Customers will also be in a position to enroll to the company's pay television platform without the need to acquire another set top box by subscribing to a bouquet of choice at will.

    StarTimes Vice President for Marketing Mark Lisboa notes that the move is advised by the need to enable more Kenyans access free digital television service with the country having already switched off the 1st and 2nd phase of the analogue transmissions.

    "The new price is testament enough that as a brand, we are committed to see more Kenyan household's access affordable set top boxes and premium digital television service. Our free to air set top box is equally superior in that it saves the consumer the cost of acquiring a pay television set top box in the event they want to upgrade and access international channels as they can use the same set top box,” noted Lisboa.

    The free to air set top box will complement the Pay Television one that is currently retailing at just Ksh 199 upon subscribing to a bouquet of choice at Ksh 1,500 giving Kenyans a choice for either of the two.

    Kenyans who enroll on either the StarTimes free to air or the pay television platform will enjoy an elaborate aftersales service the company having established a 24 hour seven days a week call centre and a door to door technical service that is aimed at ensuring customers have the best digital television experience.

    StarTimes has equally extended a 14 percent subsidy for the external antenna and 10 metre cable with the same retailing at Ksh 1,200 down from Ksh 1,400 to guarantee the best digital television signal reception.

    Uptake of set top boxes has been on the rise since the Communication Authority initiated the switch off of the analogue transmissions with the 3rd and final phase expected to take place on 30th March 2015 with StarTimes progressively positioning itself as the preferred brand for digital migration.

    Source: Techmoran  23 February 2015

  • As the process of creating new regulations for RPAS (Remotely Piloted Aerial Systems, commonly referred to as drones) comes to completion, the film industry is very eager to begin using camera drones again. Legal drone operations will be possible with the full blessing of the SACAA (Civil Aviation Authority), and through some 50 pages of new regulations and technical specifications, specific to RPAS drone operations in SA airspace. It is anticipated that the new drone regulations will be promulgated towards the end of March 2015.
    Benefits of Camera Drones in the Film Industry:

    Camera drones are able to achieve shots that were previously difficult or impossible to achieve. They offer the film industry a unique perspective, with the ability to capture new visual footage lower than typical full sized helicopters, and higher and with less restriction of camera movement than typical crane or jib shots. Drone operators are typically cheaper to hire than full sized aircraft, and more mobile with less disruption on the film set. While camera drones do not replace existing film equipment, they are becoming very popular tools available to the film industry.
    New Regulations a Good Fit for the Film Industry:

    The new regulations will allow Camera Drones of up to 20kg total takeoff weight (future regulations will allow for up to 150kg and beyond). As typical camera drones vary in size from 1kg (GoPro type drone) to 20kg (Red Epic type drone), the regulations are a good fit technically, for immediate use on feature films, commercials, corporate shoots, etc.

    The aviation industry is well respected for its high level of safety, and commercial film drone operators should strive to bring a high level of safety and reliability to their drone operations in the film industry.
    A RPAS Pilot License is Required:
    Much like one needs a license to drive a car, ride a motorbike or fly an aircraft, all commercial and private drone operators will be required to complete training and obtain a drone pilot license (theory exam and practical demonstration).
    Any remote controlled aircraft used for any purpose other than purely for "fun” is defined as an RPAS, and the regulations apply to any RPAS including remote controlled multirotors, RC aeroplanes (fixed wing) and RC helicopters.
    Commercial operators will also be required to meet a number of standards and submit quite a number of documents before receiving permission from the SACAA to operate commercially. These requirements include:

        ROC - RPAS Operators Certificate (annually renewed document achieved by the commercial drone operator company only after all paperwork and credentials are in place).

        RPAS Pilot License for the category of drone to be operated.

        Certificate of Registration of each RPA (drone aircraft).

        Operations Manual specific to the operator - key important document generated by the operator detailing all flight operations and safety measures.

        Insurance - including suitable liability insurance.

        Business registration and compliance documents.

        Certificate of Proficiency in Radiotelephony (to communicate with manned aircraft and ATC).

        Air Services License (permission to operate aircraft for commercial purpose).

        Specific approval for regular drone filming operations near people, buildings, roads and controlled airspace including flying within 10km of an aerodrome.

        Licensed operators may be given special permission through ROC and Operations Manual specific to the operator, to operate within 50m from people, buildings, roads, and within controlled airspace (such as near airports), flying at night, etc. They may require permits from local authorities where bylaws are in place (for example all SA National Parks are a no fly area for drones or any aircraft below 1500 feet).

    Commercial operators will also be required to:

        carry an air radio to communicate with manned aircraft and ATC.

        carry a fire extinguisher and first aid kit.

        carry RPAS Pilot License, RPAS Operator Certificate (ROC) and Operations Manual specific to that operator.

    Employing Licensed Operators:

    Production companies who employ drone operators who are not licensed and who do not have all credentials are at risk.

    Before confirming a camera drone operator for a shoot, production companies will want to request, at a minimum:

        a copy of the operators RPAS Pilot License.

        a copy of the ROC document (annually renewed document achieved by the commercial drone operator company only after all paperwork and credentials are in place).

        Proof of insurance.

    Local bylaws may require additional special permits from local authorities, issued only to fully licensed operators with correct credentials.

    What about Smaller Drones?

    Even a small 1kg drone used for recce or basic shots falls under commercial or corporate use, and therefore the operator will need a RPAS Pilots License and appropriate credentials, and each drone will need to be registered with SACAA before it is used commercially.

    Only flying purely for "fun” is permitted without a license with a drone of up to 7kg, however such operation needs to be below 400 feet, within 500m of the pilot (LOS), and more than 50m from people, buildings, roads, and more than 10km from aerodromes. This rules out "fun” flying in just about all urban areas.

    Expected Timelines:

        It is anticipated that the new drone regulations will be promulgated towards the end of March 2015.
        Implementation may take a number of months, and will have a number of challenges as the SACAA adapts paperwork and processes to allow for the new regulations, and commercial operators strive to achieve compliance.

    Commercial operators who have been a part of the many meetings and debates with SACAA and affected parties, particularly over the last year, may have the upper hand in understanding the regulations and achieving compliance before others. However it has been made clear that no application will be given special attention or be fast tracked. Due process will need to be followed by all to achieve compliance.

    The new regulations drafted by and proposed by SACAA have been praised by both local and international industry experts, as well as international aviation authorities.

    "We are confident that as experienced film industry drone operators we will be able to comply with, and operate successfully within the bounds of the new SACAA drone regulations.” — John Gore (Drone Crew)

    Source: FilmMaker Africa 24 February 2015


  • Mzansi Short Film Festival Call for Entries

    Short films, past and present, are true works of art, and deserve a festival dedicated to their exhibition. Short filmmaking is in the midst of a renaissance. Screening at a festival is a sure-fire way to start creating a buzz around your film and your career.

    The second annual IMSFF is taking place from 2 - 5 July 2015, and short films will be screened over a four-day period at the Atterbury Theatre in the Lynnwood Bridge Complex, Pretoria (just off the N1). We'll screen up to 30 hours of short films from some of the most up-and-coming directors and producers in our country!

    Our mission is to present quality short films from around South Africa as well as support, recognize and honour filmmakers creating a films under 30 minutes. This is a movement to exhibit and expand the art form of short filmmaking and support emerging filmmakers in reaching new audiences through the powerful language of film.

    Serving as South Africa's only dedicated short film festival, the IMSFF was founded to showcase contemporary short filmmaking, and aims to exhibit the most captivating and innovative short content. In the process, IMSFF hopes to build an audience for short film and help giving aspiring filmmakers a foot in the door of an rapidly growing industry. The short films will be organized thematically, in hopes of representing the full range of the human experience as reflected by our chosen filmmakers.

    This year, we'll have 20 award categories, or better known as the MZANSI's. Nominees and winners will be chosen by a distinguished jury of industry professionals. Awards will be given for the following achievements:

    1. Best Short Film

    2. Best Director

    3. Best Student Film

    4. Best Original Screenplay

    5. Best Actor

    6. Best Actress

    7. Best Cameo by any Actor/Actress*

    8. Best Use of Music

    9. Best Original Score*

    10. Best Cinematography

    11. Best Editing

    12. Best Sound Editing & Mixing

    13. Best Visual Effects*

    14. Best Production Design

    15. Best Animated Short Film

    16. Best Makeup & Hairstyling

    17. Best Costume Design

    18. Best Documentary Short Subject*

    19. Best Trailer*

    20. IMSFF Choice Award.

    * new categories

    Nominations in each category will be announced a week prior to the event, and published on the website and in Screen Africa.

    Educational Program:

    The INDEPENDENT MZANSI SHORT FILM FESTIVAL is designed to educate and inspire the next generation of filmmaker. We feature interviews with working industry professionals, live Q&A sessions with directors and producers in attendance, as well as workshops/ seminars for low-budget filmmakers. The festival will also give emerging filmmakers opportunity to network.

    2015 Call For Entries


    - Films must have been completed after November 1st, 2013.

    - All non-English films must have English subtitles. (Afrikaans, Xhosa, Zulu, Sotho, etc.)

    - Films must be submitted on MP4 video and MOV video.

    - Film aspect ratio is preferably 16:9 (Since 2009, it has become the most common aspect ratio and is also the international standard format of HDTV and Full HD).

    - Audio is STEREO only.

    - Works-in-progress will be considered, provided they will be completed two weeks prior to the festival.

    - You may submit more than one film, but each submission must be a entry accompanied by its entry fee.

    - Please do NOT send stills or press kits. If your film is selected we will ask you to email us a still.

    - If your film is selected, you will be asked to provide: video trailer of '30 seconds in length and a poster A1 in size.

    - All films selected for the festival grant IMSFF the rights to use press materials from the film for promotional purposes.

    - All films selected for the festival grant IMSFF the rights to upload the submitted video trailer of 1 minutes in length on their YouTube Channel online for promotional purposes.

    Submissions are accepted until June 5th, 2015. Visit our website

    For more information, contact us via email:

    Call for Entries to Encounters Documentary Producers Lab 2015

    Encounters, with the support of the National Lotteries Distribution Trust Fund (NLDTF), will host a Producers Lab to support teams from 7 documentary companies to gain skills and tools necessary to operate optimally on the international scene. Deadline has been extended to the 5th of March.

    The Producers Workshop is an intensive 4-day programme, a unique opportunity to accelerate your project and benefit from the experience of acclaimed multiple-award winning Syrian documentary producer Orwa Nyrabia (Return to Homs) .

    The teams will participate in a project-focused development process, led by Nyrabia, including valuable one-on-one consultations. Other top industry professionals will also tutor in their field of expertise: the role of the producer, creative producing, co-production, raising local and international finance, navigating film festivals, distribution and international sales.

    The support will also include two skype sessions, one before the Lab and one after, with Nyrabia.

    The targeted process will support producers in advancing their projects, gaining critical knowledge and skills thereby growing their company's capacity.

    About Orwa Nyrabia

    OrwaNyrabia is a Syrian documentary producer, co-founder of PROACTION FILM and DOX BOX Doc Film Festival in Syria and currently the CEO of PROACTION FILM GmbHin Germany. He continues to produce documentary films from Syria and the region, most recently the award-wining documentary films Silvered Water (Cannes and Toronto 2014)andReturn to Homs (Opening Film IDFA 2013, Winner Grand Jury Prize, Sundance 2014).

    Orwa graduated from the Higher Institute of Dramatic Arts Damascus in 1999 and went on to study Audiovisual Financing & International Co-production at the Sorbonne (2006).


    The course is designed for small, micro and medium-sized production companies, and is specifically for individuals from previously disadvantaged individuals (including women and disabled people).

    Companies must have produced at least one documentary.

    Each company can apply for a maximum of two participants, as the programme is open to producers, directors and writers.

    Applicants must be available for the whole duration of the 4-day programme, including individual skype meetings with the Facilitator.

    The workshop will take place from the 23 - 26 March 2015 in Cape Town.

    Encounters and the NLDTF will cover the full costs of the programme, which includes:

    -travel and accommodation
    -course materials
    -all meals

    The selection committee will comprise of appointed representatives from the Industry and Encounters.
    Applicants will be notified by email within 2 weeks of the submission deadline.

    Applicants must submit:

    -Project Proposal, treatment and synopsis
    -Project materials: trailers, scene selects or rough cuts via a link, we transfer or dropbox
    -Company profile
    -CV of Producer (s) and other Project Applicants.
    -Contact co-ordinates
    -DVD copies or links to other film(s) made

    Nazeer Ahmed
    Tel: (021) 465-4686

    Physical Address:
    Encounters South African International Documentary Festival
    33 Francis Street, Woodstock, Cape Town, 8001

    The 17th Encounters South African International Documentary Festival 2015
    4-14 June 2015
    Cape Town & Johannesburg

  • Cannes 2015: Abderrahmane Sissako Named President of the Cinefondation and Short Films Jury (A First!)

    A year after his internationally acclaimed Timbuktu premiered at the Cannes Film Festival, where it was met with much praise and acclaim, Mauritanian director Abderrahmane Sissako returns for the 68th Festival (May 13-24), to serve as President of the Cinefondation sidebar and Short Films Jury, marking a first for the director (heading a Cannes jury), and also the first time that a director of African descent has been asked to preside over a Cannes jury.

    Born in Mauritania but brought up in Mali and trained in filmmaking in the Soviet Union - at the Moscow VGIK - Abderrahmane Sissako crosses cultures and continents. His work, imbued with humanism and social consciousness, typically explores the complex relations within, wrestling with the fate of a much-beleaguered continental Africa.

    Sissako has a history at Cannes that includes "The Game,” directed during his final year at Film School, which was presented at La Semaine de la Critique in 1991, followed 2 years later by the medium-length "Octobre,” at Un Certain Regard. "Life on Earth” and "Waiting for Happiness,” both featured in the Directors' Fortnight in 1998 and Un Certain Regard in 2002, helping to firmly establish the director on the international scene.

    "Bamako,” a political parable, was screened Out of Competition in 2006,. It was followed, last year, by "Timbuktu,” which screened in Competition in 2014. The latter, a vibrant fictional protest against religious fundamentalism, was the first Mauritanian work to be nominated for Best Foreign Film at the Oscars.

    "I would never want to make a film that somebody else could make, and I want to see films that I would never make. What's important to me is the cinema of anonymity - addressing the conflicts but above all the suffering endured by anonymous people - empowering them and making them visible, testifying to their courage and their beauty,” Sissako says.

    2 weeks ago, in France, at the 20th annual Lumières awards - essentially the French equivalent of the Golden Globes - Abderrahmane Sissako's "Timbuktu” was a big winner, taking trophies in the Best Film of the Year and Best Director categories.

    For those in the USA, you should know that Cohen Media Group released the film theatrically, starting late last month, on January 28. Check your local listings to find out if it's playing at a theater near you currently. Although its release is a limited one, so it won't be available to most of you - that is until its home video release on all the various platforms.

    "Timbuktu” was inspired by the real-life story of the 2012 stoning of a young unmarried couple, by Islamists, in a Northern Mali town called Aguelhok. Their crime? They weren't officially married, and thus, in the eyes of their executioners, were committing a crime against divine law. That summer, the couple was brought to the center of the town, placed in holes in the ground, and stoned to death in front of hundreds of watchers - a horribly tragic incident that drew international media attention, and motivated at least one filmmaker to address on film.

    The President of the Cinefondation and Short Films Jury, and the still-to-be announced 4 figures from the arts world who will accompany him on the jury, will award 3 prizes to films submitted by Film Schools to the Cinefondation Selection, as well as the Short Film Palme d'or - to be presented during the Festival's closing ceremony, on Sunday, May 24, 2015.

    Source: Indi Wire 19 February 2015

  • 28 Feb - 4 March 2015

    Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso
    One of the largest African film festivals - see website.

    17 au 22 March 2015
    Le Festival de films africains de Luxor (LAFF)


    24-25 March 2015
    Digital Broadcasting Industry Summit in West Africa

    Abudja, Nigeria - The Sheraton Hotel & Towers in Abuja
    Organiser : Mr Olusegun Olaleye, Executive Director, Broadcasting Organisations of Nigeria (BON)

    26 au 28 March 2015
    Africa TV Market - 1st Edition

    Abidjan - Côte d’Ivoire
    TV market (TBC)
    Source: OSD Communications

    13 - 16 April 2015

    Cannes, France

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

    Cannes, France

    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.

    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

    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...

    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.

    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. 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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