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Issue no 192 - 20 November 2014

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  • Last week, the Human Rights Watch had their annual film festival. It showcased five films that highlighted various issues from different parts of the world.

    In Born this Way, the lives of members of LGBTI community in Cameroon is put under the microscope. The film starts off with the narrator asking Gertrude and her partner if they can kiss in public, to which she says no for fear of being persecuted and sentenced to three to five years in jail. The film moves on to Cedric preparing himself to go for a night out with his friends.

    One of the things highlighted in the film is the constant fear that Cedric, Gertrude and others have to face everyday. Cedric is attacked by unknown assailants as he was coming home one evening and he was forced to move away to a different and safer place. To them, this is a cycle of survival they have to go through because once they are in a new place it is only a matter of time before someone attacks them for their sexuality. Gertrude and two of her friends were attacked by homophobes who raped them. One of her friends died, the other was paralysed and she woke up in hospital five days after the incident.

    For Gertrude, reconciling the fact that she is a Christian and a homosexual is hard, even though she gets support from her friends and other members of the LGBTI community at the Alternative Cameroon, a gay rights centre for HIV.

    For most homosexual people, coming out is also a struggle. In the film, Gertrude travels to her village to come out to her mother superior at the convent to come out to her. The nun understands and accepts her as she is. Things are different for Cedric, who vows to never come out to her siblings or mother because it will break her.

    One of the heroes in the film is Alice Nkom, a gay-rights lawyer who works hard to not only offer legal aid to her clients but also look for places of safety for them to stay. She adds that her work is quite tasking as many people do not understand LGBTI community. But even with all the threats and prosecution coming their way, they opt to stay in Cameroon to fight for their rights.

    The other films shown during the festival included Big Men and Watchers of the Sky. Big Men followed the process that followed the oil discovery in the coast of Ghana. It looks at the impact of oil discovery on the community and explores the complexity of life brought about by greed, self interest and conflict.

    In Watchers of the Sky, the life of Raphael Lemkin, who coined the name genocide and who promoted human rights is highlighted. The viewer gets to see the effort of the man through the eyes of different human rights activists such as Samantha Power and former ICC Chief Prosecutor Luis Moreno-Ocampo and UN Refugee Agency's Emmanuel Uwurukundo who had to deal with the plight of refugees in camps.

    The selection of the films this year was timely and relevant as it looks at the different matters that are close to home- from the discovery of oil in Turkana to the discussion of domestic violence.

    Source: The Star  19 November 2014

  • AfriDocs presents two highly acclaimed documentaries, Blood in the Mobile and Gulabi Gang, as well as the hugely well-received short series – Congo in Four Acts over the next two weeks.

    Congo is particularly in the spotlight this month with Blood in the Mobile as well as Congo in Four Acts screening on November 18th and showcasing some of the human rights issues seriously affecting the people of Congo.

    With November 25th being the United Nation’s official International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women, it is only fitting to screen this uplifting story of the Indian women of the Gulabi Gang.

    These brave women have just recently been features in an Al Jazeera ad campaign, celebrating the achievements of ordinary people who are often overlooked by mainstream media. See their story here:

    AfriDocs continues to present internationally celebrated films that  provoke meaningful discussion and debate – television at its best.

    The films screen during AfriDiocs at 8pm (GMT + 2) on DStv channel 190 and GOtv channel 65 on the only weekly primetime documentary stream broadcast across sub-Saharan Africa.

    November 18th: Blood in the Mobile; Frank Piasecki Poulsen, DRC, 2010,

    You may never look at your cell phone in the same way again as this film sheds light on the dark side of our cell phones.

    The Documentary Blood in the Mobile shows the connection between our phones and the civil war in the Congo. Director Frank Poulsen travels to DR Congo to see the illegal mine industry with his own eyes. He gets access to Congo’s largest tin-mine, which is being controlled by different armed groups, and where children work for days in narrow mine tunnels to dig out the minerals that end up in our phones.

    The fact is that no company can say for sure that they didn't buy conflict minerals from the Congo to produce your cell phone.

    The film is also part of a larger on-line campaign to draw awareness to this issue and more information can be found here:

    The film won the Cinema for Peace Justice Award in Berlin on February 14th 2011.

    Screened with

    Congo in Four Acts:

    After the Mine; Kiripi Katembo Siku,  DRC. English, French with English subtitles

    Kipushi is a mining town, one of thousands keeping Congo’s elite in extreme wealth. But for those who live in the shadow of its toxic fallout, it is a very different life.

    Congo in Four Acts:

    Symphony Kinshasa; Kiripi Katembo Siku, DRC, English, French w/ English subtitles

    Take a hard-hitting tour through Congo’s capitol city and discover the consequences of graft, neglect and poverty.

    Screened with

    Congo in Four Acts:

    Ladies in Waiting; Dieudo Hamadi & Divita wa Lusala, DRC, English, French w/ English subtitles

    In a run-down maternity hospital, a ward of women who recently had their babies wait to be allowed to leave. The problem? They cannot pay their hospital fees.

    For the full programme schedule and synopses of the films, please go to the website or the  Facebook page

    Source: Press Release

  • For many years old boxers stayed away from the National Stadium in Lagos, following the death of boxing in Nigerian. But there is hope for Boxers in Nigeria as boxing is set to regain its leadership position following the decision of Pay TV, GOtv, to sponsor a boxing championship in Lagos.

    The competition will feature 12 of the best boxers in the country in various weight categories. Martin Maputo, GOtv’s managing director, told reporters in a press briefing in Lagos that the championship tagged “GOtv Boxing Night” which has been endorsed by the Nigerian Boxing Board of Control (NBB of C) will hold on November 23 at the Indoor Sports Hall of the National Stadium, Lagos.

    According to Maputo, the six-bout encounter which will feature a national featherweight title was supported by Custodian Life Insurance Limited for N2m insurance cover for the boxers while about 50 GOtv decoders will be distributed to lucky winners as plaques would also be presented to veteran boxers for their contributions.

    GOtv has also promised to beam a live telecast of the fights to the rest of the world.

    The “GOtv Boxing Night” will feature the national featherweight title fight between Dare “Fighting Machine” Oyewole against Waidi “Skoro” Usman as the main bout. While Oyewole will be aiming to put smiles on the faces of his people (Sango Otta), Usman will be targeting victory for his supporters from Ajegunle (AJ City).

    The supporting bouts include a light welterweight contest between Stanley “Edo Boy” Johnson from Benin City and Saheed ‘Happy Boy’ Olayiwola from Festac, Lagos.

    In another non-title fight, Adewale “Tiger” Abbey, also from Sango Otta, will trade punches with Tope “Young” Ogunshakin of Lagos Island, just as Chijoke “Painless” Ngigi (Surulere) will face Sunday “Capo” Olalekan (Orile) in the heavyweight class.

    The light middleweight contest will be between Dele “Lagelu” Adeleke of AJ City and Rasheed “Afonja Warrior” Abolaji of Oyingbo, just as David “Lucky Boy” Ekpeyoung (Yaba) will do battle with Muhammed “Fearless” Tijani (Lagos Island) in the featherweight class.

    Source: Business Day 14 November 2014

  • It was another night of glamour and panache as this year's edition of the prestigious Africa International Film Festival, AFRIFF, came to a glittering end Saturday in Calabar, the Cross River State capital. The grand finale of the festival, which kicked off amid gaiety on Sunday, November 9, held at the Cultural Centre, Calabar, with top Nollywood stars, producers, directors and stakeholders from Africa, Europe, America and other parts of the world in attendance.

    Leading Nollywood stars at the event were Genevieve Nnaji, and Omotola Jalade-Ekeinde and they dazzled the red carpet with everything they had to showcase.

    Others include Kate Henshaw, Rita Dominic, Segun Arinze, Ramsey Nouah, Kalu Ikeagwu, Fred Amata, and Uru Eke, who was co-anchor with Gideon Okeke.

    Also, in attendance at what was arguably the most memorable event of the year as far as the calendar of Nollywood is concerned, were Kunle Afolayan, Andy Amenechi, Emem Isong, Nobert Ajaegbu, Tunde Kelani, Teco Benson, Mahmood Ali-Balogun, Charles Novia, amongst others. Governor Liyel Imoke of Cross River State and his wife, Obioma, were among the dignitaries that graced the event.

    Chioma Ude, the founder and CEO of what is now known as the biggest film festival in Africa, set the tone for the night when she presented a passionate welcome address to the audience.

    She expressed satisfaction that the objective of the festival was achieved this year as great films were screened, while young and emerging talents were trained and empowered during the week-long festival.

    Ude commended this year's AFRIFF ambassadors, including Rita Dominic and the South African actress, Xolile Tshabalala, for their contributions towards the success of the festival, as she invited them on stage.

    The high point of the event, however, was the special recognition of five Nollywood stars, including Genevieve Nnaji, Omotola Jalade-Ekeinde, Ramsey Nouah, Kate Henshaw and Rita Dominic as outstanding stars of the industry by the organizers.

    The organizers also honoured 10 students who participated in the training scholarships to further their training in filmmaking in the United States of America.

    Meanwhile, with three diadems, including the Best Feature Film award, Kunle Afolayan's psychological thriller, October 1 proved the 'alpha male' among the over 75 films in competition at the just-concluded festival. For an interview with the director. Click on the link here:

    Although described as the poster boy of Nollywood, Afolayan's feat took Africa by storm, having defeated strong contenders in the continent. The ovation was loudest as he returned to the stage a second time for the Best Feature Film award, having previously received the Best Actor prize on behalf of Sadiq Daba, who played Inspector Waziri in the film - In Between, Tunde Babalola, the writer of the October 1 script, had also clinched the Best Screenplay plaque.

    Known for his business-mindedness, Afolayan, who held the plush plaque high up, asked if monetary prizes were attached to the awards, received the yes nod from the AFRIFF founder, Ms. Chioma Ude from the crowd. The filmmaker then narrated briefly, his usual 'sweat and blood' story to describe how the movie gulped N200 million of loans.

    This was the first competitive award the film has won since its historic release in the cinemas on October 1st. It could be said that the film came with great promises, as, prior to its release, its trailer won the Best Fiction Film Trailer at the International Movie Trailers Festival in 2013, while Afolayan himself received two awards- the 'Creative Entrepreneur in Filmmaking' and 'Overall Creative Entrepreneur' by the British Council in Nigeria, early in the year.

    Other awardees on the night are Andrew Dosunmu, Best Director for Mother of George; Bola Agbaje and Destiny Ekaragha, Viewers' Choice Award for Gone Too Far; CJ Fiery Obasi, Best Nigerian Film for Ojuju; Thishiwe Ziqubu, Best Actress for South African film Hard To Get; Joanna Lipper, Best Documentary for The Supreme Price, a film on the late MKO Abiola; South Africa's Samantha Nell, Best Short Film for Stiff; Naji Ismail, Special Jury Prize for the Egyptian film, Om Amira and Iquo Essien, Best Student Short Film for Aissa's Story.

    Source: Leadership 18 November 2014 

  • Teza by Haile Gerima tells the story of the trials and tribulations of one individual during military rule. This film, which has won many international awards, narrates the story of the revolution and re-visioning of a better Ethiopia by using elements of mythology.

    It is not only the story that won awards but also the film score, which was done by Jorga Mesfin and Vijay Iyer. Taking the spectators on a unique journey, the music attentively captures and takes you into the story of what Haile Gerima called the hope of the new generation; the children of the dragon, the start of the new world order.

    Blending the sounds of the washint, kirar, and begena gives the film a unique element of what Ethiopian music entails. At the premier of the film a couple of years ago, Haile Gerima mentioned his appreciation of the film score and said "Jorga has an ancient soul".

    Haile Gerima, who is part of the concept known as "third cinema", is one Ethiopian filmmaker who has his own way of telling a story. Many of the Ethiopian films are criticized for story-telling technique, picture quality and sounds.

    The Ethiopian film industry, started fifty years ago with a 35 mm film, Hirut Abatwa Manew? Later on films such as Guma, Aster and Behiwot Zuria have been appreciated for having good cinema technique, storytelling and beautiful shots. Coming to the contemporary, video films many are highly criticized for lacking basic film components. One of the film components which filmmakers mention is film's score (film music). Many of the films in Ethiopia do not have an original music score, they are filled with western popular songs without considering copyright infringement.

    Studying film in America, Yonas Berhane Mewa only included original scores for the three films he has made, namely Hermela, Yemoriam Medir and Eton. For his other films, existing songs have been included, which he thinks are synchronized in the film.

    According to Yonas, even though, compared to the number of released films, which is more than 100 a year, the film scores that are done are not a lot in number he believes there is a good beginning.

    In many cases the way the film score is done is that the arrangers are told the genre of the film and they proceed to do the score without seeing the film or understanding the story, which, according to Yonas, leads to the music usually not going with the film.

    Because the music is not done in synchronization with the film, Yonas says that the music should flow with that without any disruption.

    "The music should not be inseparable from the film, rather it should give the sense, emotion, and value of the film," Yonas says.

    With his film Eton, a musician name Enqu Girma did the film score in a way that was unique and, apart from western influences, he also added sistrum, drum which, according to Yonas, expresses the film's essence.

    With his other films he did not do original film scores but existing jazz and blues music. He did not hide the fact that many films are giving focus to film scoring, which he thinks is only done for one scene, something that confuses the whole film.

    Many filmmakers say film scoring is the decisive part of the film and, according to Sertse Feresebhat, a music critic and music instructor, in the film the score sets the mood, paints the feelings and also gives interpretations for audiences.

    Sertse says that with the film score different sounds interpret the director's storytelling. Apart from setting the mood, Sertse says that film scores also helps to identify the characters better.

    It is not only characters but also the orchestration that tells the different classes of the society and this has been depicted in different films. Sertse says that the score of the film determines the setting and taking people through different times.

    Within that he says the popular tunes also decide the timing of the film, like, jazz music tells the story of the 1920s and 1930s, rock music the 1960s and 1970s. And even though there are different usages of film scoring, Serte puts it into two categories, one is underscoring, which is film score composition that represents (expresses) the film, history, characters, setting and also the feeling.

    The other type is source music, which is using the music from the scene and is someting heard by the characters. For example, if the character plays a radio or if someone goes in a club and music is played on those occasions.

    Coming into the Ethiopian experience, Sertse says that with regard to the first film, Hirut Abatwa Manew?, even though there is no original score there was music from azmaris, the scenes of the night club were featured by music, and also a collection of music that can give a picture of that time were collectively used as source music.

    On the other hand, though films such as Aster and Guma, did not use original scoring fully for the film Getachew Gesi composed music.

    With the coming of video films and digitalization, Sertse says that they employed instrumentally arranged music used in radio narration. For Sertse a film based on the legendary Haile Gebreselassie's life entitled 'Endurance' has a successful film score. The film scorer is Jean Paul, and Tizita was orchestrated into this score.

    There are individual contributions and Sertse mentions Enku Girma's Yemoriam Medir, Paulos Regassa's Ashenge, Elias Melka's Comoros, Tadelle Feleke's Amran, Abirham Tesfaye's Lomi Sheta, Beruk Assefa's Rebuni. Within this he gives a special place for Jorga Mesfin's work in Teza and Daniel's score Albo for following the discipline and setting such a standard.

    He says that film scoring like film making is in its infancy where there are no such musicians who have studied it as a discipline.

    Within that he says the absence of an orchestra, lack of sophisticated studio and no sound engineer, the ones who are trying to make the score should be appreciated.

    There are different ways of doing scores for films, sometimes the composer comes at the end of the session when it is edited; sometimes they are given scripts and storyboards and make the film score without seeing the film itself. Usually, film directors talk to the composers and discuss the message it is going to convey. There are also times where the director follows the music to direct their films.

    One of the few film score arrangers in Ethiopia is Sultan Nuri, a.k.a Soffi. A musician who did film scores for more than 20 films such as Pendulum, Yemecherashawa Kemis, Belidete Ken, Abiro Abed, Semina Work, Yebirhan Firma, Bilatena, City Boy and Fekren Yayachihu, he talks about the misconception many have where they use soundtracks interchangeably with the music. A film score is part of the soundtrack as well as the dialogue and encompasses other elements.

    Starting his film score making with the film entitled Abay vs Vegas, he says that there are promising initiatives where filmmakers come to music arrangers. He says that with the music style it is easy to grasp what kind of film it is. In the past he used to arrange the music after reading the script but nowadays he started to sit with the editor and go step by step.

    He says that the most important thing is to understand the concept of the film and after that the music follows. The way he does the music score is first he sits with the director to get to know what kind of concept the director wants to convey and after understanding it he begins arranging.

    Source: The Reporter 15 November 2014

  • The 36th Cairo International Film Festival is scheduled to conclude on Tuesday night in a closing ceremony at the Giza Pyramids' Sound and Light Show area.
    The festival, ongoing since November 9, hosted a large number of Egyptian, Arab and international actors and artists. It was also attended by Egypt's Culture Minister Gaber Asfour and Tourism Minister Hisham Zaazou. The festival will conclude with announcing the results of the International Award. Sixteen films are competing for the award, representing 14 countries. Egypt is represented by the film "Bab al-Wadaa" (The Farewell Door), a silent feature film directed by Karim Hanafi. The festival was not held twice since the January 2011 uprising which toppled former President Hosni Mubarak. It was cancelled in 2011 and 2013 due to political instability. Source: Aswat Masriya 19 November 2014

    TRACE has announced that its entertainment TV channel for sport and celebrity lovers, TRACE Sport Stars DStv channel 188, is available to new fans across Africa as it moved from Premium to the DStv Compact Plus, Compact & Family packages. With this new deal, TRACE Sport Stars increased its reach in the African market, underlining its point of reference for the young and the young-at-heart, while broadening its appeal to advertisers and brands.

broadcast

  • Pride, distributed by Videovision Entertainment in South Africa, opened the 21st edition of the Out In Africa Gay & Lesbian Film Festival which took place from 13 to 16 November 2014 in Rosebank, Johannesburg. This hilarious and inspirational comedy-drama, directed by Matthew Warchus, features a popular British cast including Bill Nighy, Imelda Staunton and Paddy Considine.


    Set in 1984 during Margaret Thatcher's hard rule over Britain which prompted much political action in response. Pride tells the story of what is perhaps the most amazing response of all which occurred when Welsh coal miners and London gays and lesbians found a common cause – an unlikely alliance; it was never obvious, but which ended up being a lot of fun.

    United International Pictures’ marketing manager, Stefan Rheeder, attended the opening night event and commented after the screening, “I knew that Pride was always going to have people cackling and laughing out loud as it did with the audience last night. They were hooked into story and the hilarious subplots. They loved it!”

    Sanjeev Singh, Videovision Entertainment’s director of distribution and acquisition said, “We are delighted with the response to Pride at the opening of the Out in Africa Film Festival. Pride is a feel good film which we believe has great potential among the mainstream commercial South African audience, as it provides much needed comic relief.”

    Pride will open on South African screens on 16 January 2015.

    Source: Screen Africa 18 November 2014

  • NollyLand Direct Ltd, a start-up based in the US and Nigeria, has launched NollyLand - a new Video Streaming Platform with plans to be biggest Nollywood movie streaming service in Nigeria and Africa at large.

    Launching in a very competitive market with the likes of iROKOtv, Afrinolly, Aflix, Sabona among others, NollyLand says its  Africa’s first world-class platform for streaming Nigerian and African movies to mobile phones, tablets, TVs, media players, and computers.

    “African Movies are not cat videos – something that you watch free on YouTube, and where the quality of the viewing experience doesn’t matter. NollyLand is more than a website, it is a comprehensive movie platform that provides the quality, world-class features, and Apps that the world’s second largest film industry deserves.” says Dr. Ngozi Uti, NollyLand’s Founder, CEO, and resident tech goddess.

    Uti  says NollyLand will give users adaptive video streaming on 3G, 4G, LTE, Broadband, VSAT, Fiber, among others on major devices. This service also allows for automatic bookmarking (to stop and resume watching at the same point later, even on another device), free five minute previews, personalized watch lists, time-line thumbnails, advanced search features, and promises to be ad free.

    At the moment, the service is available for iPhone, iPad, Android, Google TV, Blackberry, Roku, and supports Airplay for Apple TV.

    Source: Techmoran 18 November 2014 

  • The NFVF is proud to present six (6) short films by Emerging South African women under the theme Negotiating Spaces. The project was introduced earlier in the year and female filmmakers invited to apply for an opportunity to be considered for the project.

    The Female Only Filmmaker Project was launched as a valuable intervention by the NFVF to provide female entrants into the industry, particularly those from historically disadvantaged backgrounds, with an opportunity to make a film in collaboration with other women. Successful applicants were guided in the development of their stories into a 24-27minute script over a period of 5 months.

    The series of six 24-minute films explore themes that look at the values and expectations of modern African women today. How do women negotiate their position as mothers, wives, daughters, career women and professionals, girls – in an ever-changing society? The pressures and expectation imposed by society on women requires them to continuously negotiate and navigate their place and position within their own personal desires. Themes such as Family (responsibility and expectation); Taboos (cross cultural); Love (dating across the colour bar/); Life lessons (lived experiences and how they mold us); the heroine inside and outside the family etc. - are just some of the themes explored. Told from a female perspective, the films promise to resonate with audiences today with the audiences recognizing both themselves and their friends in.

    Evelyn and Tapiwa

    Evelyn is an old domestic worker whose strength is failing. She lives in the servant’s quarters in Darla’s house where she cleans and looks after the family. Her life is comprised of this work, trying to raise her grandchildren from afar, her devotion to God and hopes to set up a goat farming business back home. One day Evelyn causes a terrible accident that forces Darla to dismiss her. Even though she is aware of her advanced age and the waning of her strength, Evelyn needs this job to make a living and take care of her family. For Darla, the choice is a difficult one, but must be made – Evelyn can no longer take care of her children. Evelyn is tasked with showing her replacement, a young girl named Tapiwa, the ropes. As Tapiwa settles into this household, Evelyn gathers up pieces of her life and prepares to leave. As she spends the day with Tapiwa, Evelyn’s resentment slowly grows to kindness as she realises that Tapiwa is at the beginning of a journey she’s travelled. Slowly Evelyn begins to empathize with Tapiwa and gain acceptance of the fact that her time to move on has come. The story chronicles ends and beginnings and is a window into the lives of the women occupying this house. Written by Tiny Mungwe and Directed by Samantha Nell

    Panic Button

    From the moment Tshepo, the security guard, breaks through her multi-locked door to save her, Jenny, feels as if she has been swept off her feet. But as she imagines herself falling in love with him, we can see an unhealthy, delusional obsession taking shape. She uses any excuse to see Tshepo, even going to the extent of destroying the alarm system that her security relies on. She has never been happier, or more inspired. But the gap between what is real and what is fantasy is widening, until Jenny can no longer tell the difference. Ultimately she discovers that Tshepo delivers the same service to her as he does to all the houses in the development. With her dream of romance in tatters, she confronts him, and in a moment of madness does what she has always feared someone would do to her. Finally she stands over his seemingly lifeless body, and presses her panic button. As the alarm sounds we know that fresh security are minutes away. Panic Button is written and directed by Libby Dougherty.

    The Fall of Ganesh

    The Fall of Ganesh is a short film that centers on the desire of a young Indian woman Amira, to host a Diwali dinner in order to mark a turning point in her life and announce her engagement to her friends and family. For an Indian woman, hosting a Diwali function is a kind of rite of passage signifying womanhood and Amira wants to demonstrate that she truly has turned a new leaf. The dinner invariably leads to a host of unexpected conflicts whereby Amira discovers that her father does not approve of their union. She is left constantly negotiating new and unexpected spaces to make it through the evening that culminates with a violent confrontation with her neighbors over a fireworks display. Sheetal Megan is the writer and director of The Fall of Ganesh

    A Cup of Sugar

    A few months after moving into a new community, Dipuo Motloung gets a knock on her door, from her neighbour, who borrows a cup of sugar. Martha Madumo is divorced, and for a former housewife, it’s not easy to adapt. Her husband was abusive, and when she finally got the courage to leave him, he ensures she’s left in the gutter. Her 14-year-old daughter, Malefu Madumo (14) is adding to her mom’s stress, as she’s dating a married man. Dipuo, who’s a social worker, helps Martha open a statutory rape case. That way this abusive man can be arrested. It’s when her husband, Tshepo Motloung (43) comes back after a long trip, is arrested that the culprit molesting Malefu is revealed. Can she be supportive of the neighbour now that her own marriage has been turned upside down? Nomcebo Ngema is the Writer and Xolile Tshabalala the Director

    The Initiate

    When Rethabile, a young ambitious girl, finds out days before her traditional coming of age Sotho ceremony that she is pregnant, a series of disastrous and hilarious events unfold as she tries to keep the secret from her controlling father. The ceremony is one that will transform this young girl into a woman, but the risk of partaking in the ceremony will shame her father and her family. Will she keep the child, or will she keep the secret long enough to realize what it takes to be a woman. Keitumetsi Qhali is the Writer and Director of The Initiate.

    Nomalanga and the Witch

    UNomalanga and her husband move into a small neighbourhood and begin to settle in. UNomalanga’s neighbours pique her curiousity when they gossip about the strange woman who lives across the street, who has recently been widowed and whom everyone suspects of using her dark powers to kill her husband. Being an outsider herself, UNomalanga goes to extend a hand of friendship to the widow, but soon finds herself drawn to the mysterious woman. A friendship develops between them, which UNomalanga tries to keep secret from her husband and from her new community of friends. She spends hours with Salome, who passes the time by plaiting her hair into tendrils, branches and strange constructions that UNomalanga then takes down when she gets back home. Soon, their easy exchanges turn towards deeper held secrets and their friendship slips quietly into a love affair. Now, turbulent currents of desire, fear, guilt and an unknown joy threaten to overcome UNomalanga’s otherwise still-water world. She cannot reconcile her new appetites with the carefully guarded virtues of a good, pious woman – a woman of God – and finds her new interest in Salome beset by questions and rumors and the serious possibility of being discovered for what it really is. In uNokulunga, two very different women are bound together by love and desire and must address the serious implication of their connection in a world that will not readily forgive their transgressions. Nomalanga and the Witch is written and directed by Palesa Shongwe.

    Source: Filmcontact 17 November 2014

distribution

  • Abuja — THE National Broadcasting Commission has issued a new licence to Chaptersdtv to operate a Direct-To-Home (DTH) television service in Nigeria.

    Chaptersdtv, a subsidiary of Chapters Digital Nigeria Limited is a solely owned Nigeria Company that has operated in the highly competitive broadband segment of the British economy for about two decades.

    Speaking at the presentation of the license to Chaptersdtv in Abuja, the Director General of the National Broadcasting Commission (NBC) Emeka Mba said that the commission at the moment want to ensure that Nigeria successfully transit from analogue to digital terrestrial broadcasting.

    He noted that NBC has the responsibility of sectoral regulation of broadcasting adding that the digital future demands that Nigerians should have access to quality broadcasting.

    He commended the management of Chapterdtv for demonstration faith in Nigeria

    Earlier, the Chairman of the company, Dr. Gary Akpobire, said ChaptersDtv would bring revolution into the country broadcast landscape and give Nigerians access to the international arena .

    He said: "Chaptersdtv is coming into the Nigerian broadcasting space to revolutionalise and broaden the scope of the sector. We are coming to refresh and change the TV broadcasting in the country. We want to give Nigerian homes access to international arena and we will try to abide by laws of Nigeria."

    He said the PayTv company is prepared to compete in the competitive market as it would bring her wealth of experience to bear in the Nigerian environment.

    Also speaking said the Managing Director of Chaptersdtv, Elvis Agbonifo-Obaseki that the DHT market in Nigeria has not been fully explored adding that with over 170 million population, less than 4.1 million Nigerians have access to satellite television.

    Source: The Guardian  19 November 2014 

  • The second season of Al Jazeera’s award-winning Africa Investigates kicks off on Wednesday, 12 November 2014, asking whether the Liberian government is making the Ebola crisis worse.

    “This groundbreaking series gives some of Africa’s best journalists the opportunity to pursue high-level investigative targets across the continent - using their unique perspective and local knowledge to put corruption, exploitation and abuse under the spotlight,”says Al Jazeera English’s executive producer Diarmuid Jeffreys, who adds that the first season’s Spell of The Albino won a One World Media Award and was nominated for a Royal Television Society Award.

    In the first episode of the second season, Liberia: Living with Ebola, Sierra Leone’s Emmy, BAFTA and Peabody winner Sorious Samura teams up with Liberian investigative journalist Mae Azango, a winner of International Press Freedom Awards from both The Committee to Protect Journalists and Canadian Journalists for Free Expression. Working together, the pair explores the reality of living through the world’s deadliest Ebola epidemic, which has killed nearly 5 000 people in eight nations.

    Sorious and Mae film with a Red Cross body collection team who risk their lives traveling around Monrovia picking up the dangerously contagious corpses of the deceased. They also spend time in an Ebola treatment unit run by Medecins Sans Frontieres and follow emergency response teams working in the Red Light slum, one of Monrovia’s poorest and most densely populated districts.

    Some of these Red Cross workers are unpaid volunteers, like Robert. “I’m doing this to have this particular sickness alleviated from my country,” he says. “I love my people.”

    But Sorious and Mae also encounter deep anger among Liberian health workers. Most receive $280 a month for jobs that bring them into daily, dangerous contact with Ebola victims. Many are suspicious that government corruption is preventing the distribution of money donated by the international community.

    As in 2011, Africa Investigates is produced in collaboration with the Emmy-winning investigative team at Insight TWI: The World Investigates. Liberia: Living With Ebola is directed by Clive Patterson and features original music composed by Grammy Award winner Daniel Platzman.

    Liberia: Living with Ebola premieres on Wednesday, 12 November 2014 at 22:30 GMT in Liberia and at 23:30 CAT, with repeats on 13 November at 10:30, 14 November at 04:30, 15 November at 17:30, and 16 November at 06:30 CAT.

    For more information, visit The Africa Investigates website  or the Al Jazeera Website or follow #ajafrica on Twitter.

    Source: Filmcontact 11 November 2014

  • New pay-television provider Siyaya TV, owners of the television and radio rights to broadcast all national football team fixtures including Bafana Bafana, has been issued with a broadcasting licence.

    Spokesman for the Independent Communications Authority of South Africa (Icasa) Paseka Maleka told Business Day on Sunday that the authority on Friday "resolved to have Siyaya TV issued with a commercial subscription broadcasting licence following their submission of additional information (that had been) requested".

    Siyaya TV’s R1bn six-year deal with the South African Football Association (Safa) kicks off in May next year. The company has committed to making matches accessible to broader audiences — working with established broadcasters, including the South African Broadcasting Corporation and e.tv — to avoid a political backlash. The fear is that moving the coverage of a national asset like football to a pay-television platform would prejudice most viewers.

    In April Icasa granted Siyaya TV a conditional licence pending submission of additional information including financial guarantees, research and a corporate structure. The arrival of a new pay-television provider, as well as at least four others with provisional licences, is expected to trigger competition in the lucrative pay-TV market dominated by MultiChoice’s DStv and M-Net’s analogue subscription TV service.

    Last week Communications Minister Faith Muthambi announced the establishment of a working group comprised of industry representatives to assist the department with finalising SA’s plans to switch from analogue to digital broadcasting. It is expected to open space for more television channels.

    Siyaya TV intended to offer a package of 15-20 channels, including sports and entertainment, at a minimum cost of R70 a month. The company’s target market’s living standards measures 4-8, which consisted of about 7.1-million people without a pay-TV subscription, according to information submitted to Icasa. Siyaya TV expected that at least 1.6-million people in its target band can afford its subscription.

    Source: Business Day Live 16 November 2014

  • Turner Broadcasting System has installed the head office of its African operations in Paris, Les Echos reports. Pierre Branco, the managing director for France and Portugal, was put in charge of Turner for all of Africa this autumn. He is responsible for entertainment channels such as TCM and Cartoon Network, as well as distribution of news channel CNN International. "The development of Turner Africa thus passes through Paris. Things were going well for francophone Africa and our role was extended to English- and Portuguese-speaking Africa," Branco said. Turner's customer base in French-speaking Africa has grown by 42 percent in a year, much higher than the more stagnant context in markets like France. Branco added that Turner hopes to launch TNT in France in 2015. In the US TNT carries TV series, films and basketball games. Source: Telecompaper 19 November 2014

    Looking to set up TVoD and SVoD in Africa: Dropping your content online (eg.on Youtube) is easy, but is it profitable? Striim.in Ltd is specialized in film and video streaming technology based in Helsinki, Finland. Its goal is to find the long-term solutions for clients in digital distribution. Mass audiences are moving online but can they find your content easily? Striim.in is offering African producers and TV broadcasters a VoD product lineup that is cost-effective, fully customizable and packed with two High-end VoD solutions: a White Label Platform (for your catalogue) and e-Cinema ( for a single movie). Read the full story here.

    VoD for Telcos in Africa: ipidi TV, Liquid Telecom’s IPTV/OTT solution, is an on-demand internet streaming service bringing the best of Hollywood to your doorstep, at any time and on any device. Designed for ISP's, Telco's and broadcasters, with the ability to tailor the ipidi TV service to your specific operator needs. For an affordable monthly subscription fee or one-off rentals, your customers can watch a range of blockbuster movies, TV series, kids shows and documentaries.

investment

  • Microsoft should be commercialising a handful of TV white space projects in Africa in the upcoming months, according to Frank McCosker, general manager of affordable access for Microsoft’s Africa initiatives.

    New white space technology could potentially cut broadband access costs by over 50%, says Frank McCosker, general manager of affordable access for Microsoft’s Africa initiatives.

    White spaces are the unused TV broadcasting frequencies in the wireless spectrum that can be used to deliver broadband internet. The wireless waves can travel 10kms in radius, making it ideal for targeting remote areas.

    But, more importantly, the new technology provides a more affordable means of accessing the internet. Speaking to How we made it in Africa on the sidelines of last week’s AfricaCom event in Cape Town, McCosker said white space technology could potentially cut broadband access costs by over 50%.

    Microsoft has launched a number of pilot projects in Africa, in collaboration with governments and industry partners. The goal has been to assess the commercial feasibility of delivering low-cost access using TV white space technology and demonstrate to regulators that broadband can be offered without interfering with the TV content of licensed spectrum holders.

    In February last year, Microsoft deployed solar-powered TV white space technology to provide low-cost wireless broadband to locations in Kenya that were underserviced and off-the-grid.

    Two months later it launched another project in Dar es Salaam in Tanzania, this time specifically focused on urban deployment and targeting universities. Similar projects were also introduced in rural Limpopo of South Africa, and in Koforidua, Ghana.

    Most recently, Microsoft announced it had launched the world’s biggest TV white spaces pilot project in northern Namibia, consisting of a network deployed over a 62km x 152km (9,424 km²) area.

    McCosker noted the projects have proven the new technology can be commercialised for both rural and urban centres at low-cost. However, while he is not at liberty to say which projects will be commercialised in the next 2-3 months, he explained the objective is to gain commercial licences for all of them.

    “They have been experimental… But the intention is to go commercial on all of them. We have done it with commercial intent. We have told the regulators this, and they have said we have 12 months to prove to them that it doesn’t interfere with certain things.”

    For the technology to be commercialised, there needs to be a deregulation of the white space spectrum and steps have already been taken by the US, UK, Singapore and New Zealand. McCosker hopes that as certain African economies see the benefits of introducing the technology, others will be encouraged to do the same.

    “It’s quite interesting because there is some intra-African competition,” he noted. “But there are some people who want to be first-movers and there are others who like to watch and see first, and that’s true all over the world.”

    Source: How we made it in Africa 18 November 2014

  • Strong sales of the 'Frozen' soundtrack and releases from Ariana Grande and 5 Seconds of Summer helped subsidiary Universal Music Group

    StudioCanal and Universal Music Group parent company Vivendi nearly doubled its income in the third quarter, to $494.7 million (€395 million), despite a less than one percent dip in revenues, in results released late Friday. The boost was due to the sale of telecom assets, as the company led by CEO Jean-Francois Dubos, repositions itself as a media and content leader.

    In the third quarter, CanalPlus accounted for two thirds of the company’s EBITA, with the pay-TV company’s sales climbing 3.4 percent to $1.6 billion (€1.3 billion), while Universal Music Group revenues slowed 5.9 percent to $1.4 billion (€1.09 billion).

    Disney’s Frozen soundtrack, and best-selling releases from Sam Smith, Ariana Grande and 5 Seconds Of Summer, as well as carryover sales from Katy Perry and Lorde’s last releases, boosted the bottom line at UMG.

    Though the company cited the continued strength of UMG, revenues were down 5.8 percent to $3.88 billion (€3.1 billion), with adjusted operating profit up 11.3 percent to $343 million (€274 million). The company said revenues were down “due to the rapid transformation of the recorded music industry” and attributed the growth to a restructuring and savings plan.

    It said that digital music sales were flat compared to the first nine months of 2013, as significant growth in subscription and streaming revenues offset the decline in digital download sales, and that there is a continuing decline in physical music sales.

    CanalPlus Group posted $4.97 billion (€3.97 billion) in earnings, and revenues were up 2.8 percent over the first nine months of 2013. For the third quarter, CanalPlus group sales climbed 3.4 percent, to $1.62 billion (€1.3 billion).

    Though its adjusted operating profit was down because of increased taxes in France, that was offset by growth abroad, including subscriptions to its pay-TV packages in Africa and Vietnam. CanalPlus now boasts 14.8 million subscribers worldwide.

    StudioCanal’s revenues also grew significantly, notably due to strong theatrical releases with long tails, leading to TV and SVOD sales. The integration of UK TV production company Red was also a growth area for the entertainment studio.

    Vivendi also cited growth in CanalPlus’ French SVOD Netflix competitor CanalPlay, which has grown to 520,000 subscribers since its launch in 2011.

    The company is continuing to invest in overseas operations, including the launch of the pan-African channel A+  on Oct. 24, and the acquisition of a majority stake in African specialty distributor Thema.

    The group’s net income jumped to $1.05 billion (€839 million) in the third quarter, against $470.74 million (€376 million) the same period last year, mostly because of the sale of assets.

    The company, which has been repositioning itself as a media and content group, is finally offloading its last telecom holdings in its bit to become a media giant.

    The completion of Maroc Telecom’s sale was finalized in May. The sale of SFR to Altice/Numericable Group should be finalized on Nov. 27, after receiving approval from the French competition authority in late October. The sale of its Brazilian phone and cable provider GVT to Telefonica is expected to finalize in the second quarter of 2015.

    Source: The Hollywood Reporter 14 November 2014

regulation & policy

  • The Kenyan government says it will complete the migration from analogue to digital broadcasting in March 2015. Communications Authority Director-General Francis Wangusi said the regulator and industry players have ironed out policy and legislative bottlenecks to facilitate the migration.

    Wangusi regretted that Kenya has lagged behind its east African neighbours in switching from analogue broadcasting. Wangusi said the government will not backtrack in the push for a nationwide adoption of digital broadcasting platforms. He revealed that the deadline for complete digital migration in Nairobi County will be 31 December.

    Source: Telecompaper 18 November 2014

technology & convergence

  • South Africa's state-owned broadcast signal distributor, Sentech, in partnership with Enensys, has launched the OneBeam transmission service. Enensys designs and manufactures digital TV transmission technologies, while Sentech provides signal distribution services for most of the country's broadcasters, as well as the infrastructure behind its DTT deployment and DTH-S platform, ITWeb reported.

    The first phase of the project, says Sentech, has seen a utilisation of its DVB-T2 and OneBeam service to the DVB-T2 digital terrestrial TV network and the DTH service. Sentech says OneBeam, which comprises multiple technologies, allows Sentech to use the same satellite capacity to feed the service's DTH subscribers and DTT transmission sites.

    While the DTT network reaches just over 80 percent of the population, Sentech's DTH-S platform as a DTT gap filler and a commercial broadcast transmission platform service reaches the South African population beyond the DTT footprint to receive the same service, delivered via satellite.

    Sentech says OneBeam works in single frequency DTT networks and overcomes the complex technical challenges in using the same service for DTT and DTH. Sentech CEO Setumo Mohapi says OneBeam is very flexible in terms of regionalisation.

    Source Telecompaper  14 November 2014

  • When CBS, the second-biggest television network in the world, announced in October that it would offer nearly all of its broadcast content over the Internet, it was tacit acknowledgment by a key player that the Web-ification of TV is at a tipping point.

    TV over the Internet has gathered momentum much faster than expected, and is now the biggest disrupter in global media content creation, broadcast and distribution. The market is evolving so rapidly that content producers, broadcasters and advertisers are struggling to keep pace — rules are being rewritten so fast, the rule book itself is becoming redundant.

    In Africa, with no cable TV or legacy infrastructure to phase out, the changes could be even more far-reaching. Media players stuck in the old broadcast mind-set will find themselves outmanoeuvred by digitally literate competitors.

    Online TV will transform viewing habits and exposure to advertising. With far more precise ways to measure audiences, there are profound consequences for advertising expenditure, consumer behaviour and even public governance.
     
    How ready will SA broadcasters be to meet this challenge? It’s unlikely the country will meet the International Telecommunications Union’s June 2015 deadline for the switchover from the current analogue signal to digital terrestrial television (DTT). DTT means that every TV will need a set-top box (STB) for viewing.

    Live sport and live news will continue to find large viewer numbers on terrestrial broadcast in the near future, but as DTT takes effect, replacing the bunny ears with a set-top box will place increasing competitive pressure on broadcasters, particularly with content like movies, drama and comedy series, sit-coms, soapies and documentaries.

    The two key technology media for distributing TV over the Internet are Internet protocol television (IPTV) and over the top technology (OTT).

    Both deliver content using the Internet instead of terrestrial or satellite broadcasts. The key difference is that IPTV is delivered over the service provider’s own infrastructure, while OTT comes at you over the public Internet.

    Zuku in Kenya is a good example of an IPTV network (though it is also moving into OTT). Active in Kenya, Tanzania, Uganda, Malawi and Zambia, Zuku is a "triple play" service offering voice, media and data as a direct-to-home (DTH) service on a dedicated network.

    Customers can view premium TV shows via a Zuku decoder, surf the Internet at a blistering 10Mb/s and make phone calls, all on one proprietary package.

    If IPTV is the clean-cut college jock of Internet TV, OTT is the new disruptive emo kid on the block.

    OTT is not just video over Internet — it occurs in four key forms: messaging, voice, media and cloud.

    Facebook Chat, WeChat and Mxit are all messaging OTT apps used extensively in SA, but WhatsApp is the enfant terrible . When Facebook paid US$19bn to buy WhatsApp in February this year, many analysts questioned the price tag, given that Google had paid "only" $1,6bn to buy YouTube. However, research company Ovum recently calculated that mobile phone companies globally lost $32,5bn in texting revenues in 2013 to messaging apps , and that figure is projected to reach $54bn by 2016.

    Voice OTT apps are video and voice-over-Internet-Protocol apps (VOIP) such as Skype, Viber, Google Talk, Google Hangouts and recently WhatsApp’s addition of voice to its messaging services. WhatsApp VOIP has led to appeals to telecoms regulator Icasa by Vodacom, MTN and Telkom.

    "They are moving into services that are traditionally the services of voice operators," said Vodacom executive Jannie van Zyl.

    But it is video OTT apps that are the most exciting in this field. Not only does video OTT fuel the data traffic explosion, but consumer mindshare and future telecom relevance are at stake.

    This battle will be fought on many fronts and among adversaries that include telecoms, media companies, OTT players, device and equipment manufacturers, and even artists.

    YouTube is a key disrupter in this area. With over 100 hours of video being uploaded each minute, 1bn unique monthly users and 6bn hours of video watched each month, YouTube now dwarfs national radio and TV broadcast stations.

    YouTube’s content model replaces the traditional Hollywood system with rag-tag teams of homebrew producers using basic consumer-level equipment.

    Video-on-demand supplier Netflix is another key player in this field. Netflix is an American provider of on-demand Internet streaming media (tech-speak for an online video rental outlet), with over 50m subscribers in North and South America, the Caribbean and parts of Europe.

    Apple TV was one of the first entrants into the field of cloud OTT apps and hardware, quickly followed by Amazon (Fire TV) and Google (Chromecast). All offer a Web-based subscription service that pulls content from the cloud, for viewing on your TV, computer or smartphone. Recently at the Mipcom international TV market in Cannes, France, major TV brands like ESPN, HBO, CBS and Freecasts’ Rabbit TV announced their entry into TV-via-the-Internet, providing subscribers access to prime live-to-air content, plus thousands of current and past shows as video-on-demand.

    The move signals a watershed moment for Web-delivered television, where viewers have more options to pay only for the content they want to watch — and to decide how, when and where to watch it.

    "Everybody is talking about it," said Leslie Moonves, CEO of CBS Corp, speaking at Mipcom. "It is an important part of our future. Our job is to do the best content we can and let people enjoy it in whatever way they want. The world is heading in that direction."

    The push into Web-based offerings by a giant like CBS, which has enjoyed billions of dollars in profit from the traditional broadcast model, highlights how rapidly the TV landscape is shifting.

    What impact will this digital revolution in media have in sub-Saharan Africa?

    Firstly, in SA, missing the DTT June 2015 deadline will delay access to bandwidth. However, delays notwithstanding, DDT will happen, probably as a "soft" switchover — a phased process running through the latter half of 2015. That being the case, what changes can local broadcasters, advertisers and content creators expect? Other countries in Africa offer useful case studies, particularly Kenya.

    Kenya completed the switchover from analogue TV to DTT in June 2014, meaning that analogue signals were switched off after June. Without a set-top box, your analogue TV might as well be used as a doorstop. There are now over 30 new Kenyan channel operators, in addition to existing broadcasters planning their own new channels. By March 2014, combined sales of pay-TV and free-to-air boxes had reached 738312, with 687806 of those being pay-TV boxes — but many of these will have been converted to free-to-air.

    In Nigeria and Ghana, OTT broadcaster iROKOtv has a catalogue of over 5000 movies and 500000 subscribers and is watched by the wider diaspora in 178 countries. This global reach is what differentiates Internet TV from terrestrial TV, which is bound to fixed territories.

    African Broadcast Network (ABN) is another player in the Nigeria/Ghana area, looking to consolidate its online subscription-based content offering and expand across more territories.

    In SA, there’s a battle royal developing between Altech’s Node and Times Media’s Vidi. Node uses 3G, LAN or Wi-Fi to unlock movies, which are then downloaded via satellite — a clever way around the bandwidth issue in Africa. Like Zuku, it also allows subscribers to access the Internet.

    Vidi is a competing offering that is very similar to the Netflix model. Vidi is totally platform independent so it will run on virtually any screen, fixed or mobile, and while it offers more value than Node upfront, you could end up spending more on data.

    But at R139/month, Vidi is competitively priced and allows viewers a wide range of content options, and may just tempt users to switch off DStv.

    Terrestrial broadcaster e.tv has chosen a different road. It is delivering television via satellite on its digital bouquet, OpenView HD (OVHD), with one key difference: OVHD’s content is free. No subscription, ever. Presumably the channels will generate revenues from ad sales.

    "You pay once for the dish and the box. After that, everything’s free," says Maxwell Nonge, MD of Platco Digital, the company that operates OVHD.

    The availability of cheap or free content by independents will also have considerable social impact in a continent where state control of media has often led to restrictions on freedom of information. As the new digital channels grow, so too will access to information that’s not controlled by the state.

    Already, commercial OTT networks in Africa are developing and acquiring content that will inform and educate as well as entertain. ABN, for example, claims it will air content that will "restore hope, rebuild civic responsibility, and equip citizens with appropriate life skills".

    It remains to be seen how readily this kind of content will be consumed, but if it works, it’s a tantalising promise of an Africa in which cheap, pervasive access to a wide range of independent content could be the tipping point in driving transformation in democracy, governance and education.

    One thing is certain — television as we know it will never be the same again. And in Africa, that could change everything.

    Source: Financial Mail 13 November 2014

  • Kenyans on StarTimes will not have to worry about paying for their local channels as the pay TV company will see their subscribers have unlimited access to KTN, NTV, Citizen TV, K24, KBC and QTV while equally giving subscribers the option to subscribe to either of their favorite bouquets at will.

    StarTimes customers will also be able to acquire a HD Decoder, but this stands only for potential them with existing dish kits, at just Ksh 4,500 which will be bundled with two months Super bouquet worth Ksh 5,000 for free giving access to over 100 local and international premium television channels. Existing dish kits will just need to be repositioned to access the StarTimes satellite television service.

    The full kit for the StarTimes Free to View satellite television service will be retailing at Ksh 7,999 inclusive of the dish, LNB, cable, HD Decoder, Installation and two months access to the Super bouquet worth Ksh 5,000 for free. Upon expiry of the subscription service, subscribers will have free access to the 6 local channels for good.

    StarTimes Vice President for Marketing Mark Lisboa noted that the company is leading the way in enabling Kenyans access affordable digital television service with the free to view satellite television service being a perfect fit for Kenyans both in urban and rural areas given its 100% signal coverage.

    StarTimes is seeking to drive digital television uptake beyond the current 70% coverage of the terrestrial signal, through the satellite service while equally making it possible for Kenyans with existing dish kits to conveniently acquire the HD decoder and continue accessing premium content.

    The company’s Pay Television and Free To Air set top boxes on the digital terrestrial platform will be retailing at Ksh. 2,999 and 4,999 respectively with access to one month Unique bouquet for free worth Ksh. 1,499 with subscribers who renew their subscription before 31st January 2015 enjoying a 50% discount for the subsequent month.

    Source: Techmoran 13 November 2014

  • Vodacom intends rolling out high-speed fibre-optic broadband to 250,000 end points within the next three years. This will include connecting 150,000 homes and 100,000 businesses, the telecommunications operator’s CEO, Shameel Joosub, has told TechCentral.

    Joosub says Vodacom has taken a cautious approach so far to building fibre access networks, but plans to ramp up its investment from next year, when it has budgeted to spend between R400m and R500m on the project.

    Joosub says Vodacom’s acquisition of Neotel — if it’s allowed by regulators to proceed — will give the company a big leg-up as it expands its fixed-line offerings. He says it will allow Vodacom to build fibre access networks much quicker. The acquisition is, however, likely to encounter stiff opposition from some of its rivals.

    MTN, meanwhile, is also believed to be gearing up for a big roll-out of fibre to the home nationwide, though it’s not yet known how many end points it’s targeting.

    The entry of Vodacom and MTN into the space will present the first large and direct challenge to Telkom’s last remaining area of monopoly control — fixed lines into homes and small businesses.

    Telkom itself is rolling out fibre, with plans to offer access to 100Mbit/s connections in 22 suburbs in Johannesburg, Durban, Cape Town and Pretoria by the end of the year.

    Stellenbosch-based start-up Vumatel is also deploying home fibre, starting with a project to wire up the Johannesburg suburb of Parkhurst. Dark Fibre Africa, which has traditionally played in the metropolitan and national fibre backhaul markets, is also getting in on the action, having won a contract last week from Parkview residents to build a home fibre network in the leafy Johannesburg suburb. 

    Source: Techcentral 10 November 2014

  • Vodacom says it aims to launch a video-on-demand (VOD) service in South Africa in 2015, with its strategy closely aligned to its parent company, Vodafone.

    “We get revenues out from the data growth, as well as from the content itself. I think the margins in VOD is not big, but the knock-on effect it can have in data growth is very large, and I think that’s where the opportunity lies for us,” Vodacom CEO, Shameel Joosub told BusinessTech.

    Joosub would not be drawn on an exact time frame, but did point to Vodafone subsidiaries in Europe including Ono in Spain, as doing ‘very well’. Vodafone Deutschland last week began offering subscription VOD service, Netflix.

    CEO of consultancy and research company, Balancing Act, Russell Southwood noted that “a big” content producer who is in “dialogue” with MTN and Vodacom said that both firms would launch a VoD content play shortly.

    He added that “it would not contain enough content to compete with DStv and they would be doing nothing about data prices to help the market”.

    “Another person again confirmed that ‘a big mobile operator’ would be launching imminently. It had bought content on minimum guarantees and management was pressuring the team to make use of what they’d bought because of the amount invested,” Southwood said.

    MTN SA told BusinessTech in October that it will launch a VOD service this month (November), partnering with Discover Digital, a South African digital entertainment business.

    Larry Annetts, chief marketing officer (CMO) said that MTN has piloted the service offline, and “is looking to launch at the end of November”.

    Annetts said that the new service would be subscription based and would provide customers with access to “good content”.

    He added that the monthly service would also enable customers to download movies, as a transactional video on demand (T-VOD) play.

    MTN would structure data bundles to download this content at subsidized prices, the marketing lead said.

    Annetts said that MTN would provide pricing details closer to launch.

    South Africa has seen the launch of several VOD services in recent months including Altech Node, a subscription “push” service and home automation system, and Vidi, an online VOD service from Times Media Group.

    Telkom has expressed its interest to offer VOD by extending an invitation to industry to bid for the provisioning of VOD in February.

    Source: Business Tech 17 November 2014

  • DStv operator MultiChoice has debuted “remote recording”, allowing its subscribers to go online to set recordings on their personal video recorder (PVR) set-top boxes remotely.

    At the same time, the broadcaster, which is owned by JSE-listed media group Naspers, has launched an Internet-enhanced version of its Catch Up service and announced plans for a DStv Now app for smart devices.

    According to MultiChoice, the remote recording feature will allow subscribers to set recordings while stuck in traffic, while at the office or from anywhere they have an Internet connection. “Remote recording lets you set recordings from DStv.com via your laptop, smartphone or tablet when you’re away from home,” it says.

    The new Catch Up service, called DStv Catch Up Plus, will be launched this weekend, allowing owners of its top-end Explora PVR, when it’s connected to the Internet, to get an additional 300 titles of the latest series, movies and other content. Catch Up viewers already have access to 300 titles, delivered on a “push” basis over satellite to their PVRs.

    Customers can choose up to 25 titles from the DStv Catch Up Plus library to download to their Explora, to watch when it suits them, MultiChoice says in a statement. Content is recorded into users’ own recording space on their PVRs. “Customers need to plan their viewing a little bit ahead of time as broadband speeds are not yet fast enough for instant downloads or streaming.”

    Streaming will be introduced in the first half of 2015. Titles will first be buffered sufficiently, based on the speed of a viewer’s Internet connection, to ensure smooth playback.

    The 300 titles of Catch Up Plus will be doubled over the next few months, MultiChoice says.

    Any DStv Explora customer can use remote recording, but Catch Up Plus is available only to subscribers to DStv’s Premium bouquet.

    Meanwhile, the new DStv Now app will be introduced in December. Meant for Premium customers with PVRs, it will allow people to set remote recordings, watch Catch Up content and access 12 channels. It will be available for Android and iOS.

    To access any of these connected services, customers will need to link their Explora to the Internet, either directly using an Ethernet cable or via a Wi-Fi device, called the DStv WiFi Connector, which will connect to the Explora’s Ethernet port.

    Source: Techcentral 12 November 2014

  • Gilat Satcom has announced that it is now using Novelsat NS3 to increase capacity from its newly launched POP in Maryland on the east coast of the USA.
    The new POP was established to answer Africa’s growing demand for international broadband connectivity.

    NovelSat NS3 is a high-end efficiency satellite transmission software package that runs on the NovelSat NS3000 satellite modems in the POP. NovelSat NS3 typically increases spectral efficiency by up to 30% compared with the DVB-S2 satellite industry standard. This enables the Africa-US satellite link to carry more data. 

    Using NovelSat NS3, Gilat Satcom has also been able to achieve modulation levels of 64APSK compared to industry averages of 16APSK to 32APSK.

    Source: Company Press Release

  • Tuluntulu has recently released an app available for iOS and Android that gives mobile users access to online video. Ranging from international news to African documentaries, the app delivers ten 24/7 channels including Al Jazeera, ANN7, AfriDocs and Fleur TV. Apart from the content, what’s meant to be Tuluntulu’s hook is the fact that the content is cheap, fast and easy to access. The app is available for free and Tuluntulu hopes that content creators as well as advertisers will jump on board in order to reach a potential audience of millions of people across the African continent. Tuluntulu overcomes this problem in a number of ways. The technology is rate-adaptive, which means that the rate at which the video streams to a phone adapts to the available bandwidth (which can be as low as 50 kbps). The technology automatically adjusts picture quality to ensure that video does not have to buffer or break. Users can increase video quality with a simple volume-like button, controlling their data costs themselves. Watching video content can cost as little as R5 per hour depending on the data service provider’s rates.
    Read the full story here:

    This year, there has been no shortage of local players looking to board the video-on-demand (VOD) bandwagon – including Times Media Group, Altech, MobileTV and even Project Isizwe – and now French telecoms giant Orange is next in line. Orange Horizons MD Sébastien Crozier spent much of this week negotiating with local producers at Discop, Africa's annual content development, production and distribution gathering, with a view to growing its base of content providers for Dailymotion. Read the full story here:

    AfricaCast: MTN and Vodacom told us that both would launch a VoD content play shortly: it would not contain enough content to compete with DStv and they would be doing nothing about data prices to help the market. Read the full story here:

    Angola/Mozambique: ZAP, a television service provider in sub-Saharan Africa, has chosen the APEX3000 from ARRIS Group, Inc. (NASDAQ: ARRS) to enable delivery of network DVR (nDVR) and video on demand (VOD) services.
    The solution was deployed by ARRIS Select Value Added Reseller (VAR) Satcab, a Portuguese based company focused on the design and the delivery of professional, digital media projects. Read the full story here:

more

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

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

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

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

    15 to 17 July 2015
    Mediatech Africa 2013

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

    4 to 6 July 2015

     DISCOP AFRICA 2014
    Venue: Johannesburg, RSA 

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

     

  • SA actress Bubu Mazibuko picked to judge Emmy Awards

    South African actress Bubu Mazibuko has been chosen to sit on the judging panel at the 42nd International Emmy Awards taking place on 24 December 2014 in New York.

    According to the Sowetan Live website, the Soweto-born actress, who is judging the drama category commented, "I received an invite because I was part of the judging panel. But I will also be representing South Africa in that regard."

    "I view this as a huge honour and achievement. I am proud of it because I judge international shows. It is one of the achievements that will force the world to take me and my art seriously. Being selected also means the local industry trusts me enough and has faith in what I do," she said.

    Mazibuko has appeared in films such as Long Walk to Freedom alongside Idris Elba and Naomie Harris. She also acted in Jerusalema, Catch a Fire, A Place Called Home, and Hopeville among others.

    Source: Sowetan Live 15 November 2014

  • Africa: AMAA Launches Voices Africa

    Having made a huge success of its reward and training platforms, Africa Film Academy, the owners of the prestigious AMAA brand, has introduced Voices Africa, a platform that will use short movies to change the narrative about Africa. Voices Africa will be a monthly story challenge for upcoming film makers across Africa most especially trainees through AMAA mobile film training project (film in a Box).

    The best story from the challenge will be developed and produced into a short film according to Ms. Peace Anyiam-Osigwe, President of Africa Film Academy, who announced the initiative at the ongoing American Film Market in Santa Monica, Los Angeles, United States of America.

    She said, "We hope to produce tens of short movies every year. We have decided to sponsor only the stories that project the light in Africa. We shall use these stories to explore the beautiful cultures and traditions that Africa is known for. Also, we our stories will explore the challenges of Africans and draw attentions to critical issues often lost in the news.

    "Over the next couple of months on our website, we shall be seeking stories through our monthly story challenge. For a month, Africa would share with us the sparks that keep her lights on. We would love to hear to story of our daily heroes and inspirations," she added. "The best five stories would win a $500 prize and they would be produced during our Film in Box training. These short films would also be showcased during the 2015 AMA Awards with the objective of using it to transform the hearts of many and show the possibility of Africa"

    "We are looking for film new crop of film professionals to help us liberate the visual misery of Africa and create the reality of Africa with truth and light at the end of the tunnel," she said at the American Film Market, which had major players in the business of motion picture around the world in attendance.

    Source: The Day 16 November 2014 http://allafrica.com/stories/201411170624.html

    M-net Magic in Motion Academy launches! Sensational opportunity for film & TV graduates – enter before December 5th

    With its newly established M-Net Magic in Motion Academy, M-Net is progressing its commitment to nurturing new talent by offering previously disadvantaged 3rd year film and TV graduates, the chance to apply for one of 12 coveted internships.

    Having spent close to three decades keeping South Africans entertained, television giant M-Net has a polished legacy of investing in skills development to grow the country’s influential film and TV industry.

     A work readiness programme which aims to accelerate the success of graduates entering into this competitive industry by bridging the gap between theoretical knowledge and practical implementation, the M-Net Magic in Motion Academy will launch in March 2015 and run for 12 months.

    Entries are open for the Academy and time is running out as the December 5th deadline rapidly approaches.

    During the entry process, M-Net is working with accredited tertiary institutions across the country that offer a three year qualification in Film and TV studies,  to identify the best possible candidates for the Academy. Students should pass with at least a B aggregate in their final year of study. All entries must be forwarded by the individual’s tertiary institution. Based on the entries received, institutions will shortlist the best candidates and forward those applications to the Academy selection team.

    “This is an incredible opportunity and as such, there is a detailed selection process to ensure that we are choosing the best possible talent. These individuals will have the opportunity to engage with leading industry professionals, to create their very first piece of commissioned work, to attend specialist development seminars and get vital ‘hands-on’ experience,” said Kershnee Govender, M-Net’s Director of Corporate Affairs.

    She added, “This is a highly structured internship, based in a specifically designed core-hours curriculum, where in addition to receiving a monthly salary from M-Net, interns will be continuously exposed to all aspects of production and broadcasting and will be rigorously competency tested. In effect, these 12 individuals will gain several years of experience in a period of just 12 months which should make them highly employable when they enter the job market.”

    Interns will receive intensive practical training, encompassing, production commissioning, concept creation, script writing, producing, directing,cinematography, sound, art direction (décor, wardrobe, make-up), editing, post-production and broadcasting.

    Further, interns will access these disciplines across various programming genres such as: movies, soaps, dramas, comedies, live shows, music, sport, magazine, documentary, actuality and reality. In addition, interns will be exposed to studio and location shoots as well as the creation of promotion material and graphics.

    Importantly, interns will have the opportunity to collaborate with 11 like-minded individuals, to engage with numerous industry leaders and showcase their talent to the country’s top production houses who have generously partnered with M-Net to make the Academy a reality. So what are you waiting for? If you meet the criteria or if you know someone who does, make sure that they apply immediately!

    For more info on the Academy, its entry requirements and its objectives, simply log on to www.mnetmagicinmotion.com.  You can also email magicinmotion@mnet.co.za if you have questions, plus follow @MnetMM on Twitter and M-Net Magic in Motion Facebook to get updates.


    Call for Scripts for Huisgenoot / Kyknet competition

    Huisgenoot has teamed up with kykNET to make a movie and your love story could be turned into a romcom. They're looking for a moving story with all the ingredients of a winning script, laughter, tears and nail-biting moments.

    With this movie, they'll be celebrating the most important milestone in the history of the oldest and biggest Afrikaans magazine in the country.

    Your story must of course have a happy ending – the hero and heroine must end up living happily ever after but like in all relationships there must be ups and downs. In the latest Huisgenoot there are detailed guidelines for writing a typical romantic comedy script.

    The closing date for the Huisgenoot love story competition is 14 February 2015. Entries will be judged by a panel from kykNET and Huisgenoot.

    Besides standing a chance to have your story turned into a movie, there are also Olympus digital cameras and cash prizes up for grabs.

    Don’t miss the latest Huisgenoot – it’s on sale from Friday 7 November.

    Read the guidelines, write your story in 3 000 words and e-mail it to HG100fliek@huisgenoot.com by 14 February 2015.

    Visit the website for more information

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