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Issue no 193 - 5 December 2014

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  • Mama Marikana initially began as Aliki Saragas’s Documentary Arts masters project at the University of Cape Town, but soon progressed into a developing feature film with the support of talented filmmakers. The project now has a crowd-funding campaign on Thundafund where members of the public can contribute to its completion.

    The documentary explores the narrative of the women of Marikana: the widows, mothers, sisters and community members who were left to pick up the pieces after miners were gunned down by the South African Police Service at Lonmin mine in 2012. The documentary follows five Marikana women and a community who is attempting to move from a state of oppression to empowerment. The five featured women are: Primrose Nokulunga Sonti and Thumeka Magwangqana, leaders in Sikhala Sonke the Marikana Women’s group; Evelyn Seipati Mmeka a religious mother in the community; and Zameka Nungu, widow of the murdered Jackson “Ace” Lehopa.

    Sonti commented, “We are still crying because there is no solution. There is no change; we are still crying and we will cry.”

    According to the campaign posted on Thundafund those working on the production commented, “For the team, this film not only represents an opportunity for us to give voice to the women of Marikana, but also gives us hope that we may have the opportunity to change their lives through our film. To say that Mama Marikana is a passion project is an understatement.”

    The crew working on the film includes: director and producer Aliki Saragas; producer Tessa Scott; DOP Andreas Georghiou; sound recordist Ying-poi De Lacy and additional cameraman Jared Hoskyn Paisley.

    Saragas can be contacted at aliki.saragas@gmail.com and Scott at tessa.k.scott@gmail.com.

    Visit the Mama Marikana website for more information.

    Source: Screen Africa 26 November 2014

  • The newly launched Nigerian pay-TV platform, African Cable TV (ACTV), has included eight networks of FOX International Channels (FIC) which includes FOX, FOX Crime, FX, National Geographic Gold, FOX Movies, FOX Sports, FOX Sports 2 and kids channel, Baby TV.

    “The West African market is growing rapidly, and is full of possibilities for our brands and business strategy,” said Hannelie Bekker, managing director at FOX International Channels Africa. “ACTV’s Direct to Home premium package provides content to low- and middle-income subscribers, and allows us to offer our brands to even more subscribers, who will be able to enjoy our high-quality, premium content.”

    With this partnership, FIC’s reach in Africa has crossed over 17.3 million subscribers with up to 18,000 new subscribers added in Nigeria.

    Source: NexTV.com 3 December 2014

  • She dazzled with a dauntingly elaborate chocolate dessert, then captivated with a tricky polenta lasagne with fried mushrooms and mussels. Now Siphokazi Mdlankomo is just two rounds away from winning the South African version of Masterchef and has viewers rooting for her, not only because of how she cooks.

    Mdlankomo is a domestic worker, a section of society that rarely features in the limelight but, like miners and farm labourers, are still a crucial part of the post-apartheid economy. An estimated one in six working women in South Africa is a housekeeper or nanny, the majority of them black and working for a white employer, although the number of black employers is growing.

    Mdlankomo, who grew up in a small rural village in Eastern Cape province with her mother, grandmother and three brothers, has been credited with raising the profile of this forgotten army of more than a million workers through her success on national television. She will take on a former advertising executive, train-driving assistant and life skills lecturer in the penultimate episode of Masterchef SA on Thursday.

    The 39-year-old says she has never felt different from her mostly middle class competitors on the show. “I didn’t [feel different] because my job doesn’t make me who I am, and I am totally supported by the family I work for,” she said on Tuesday. “We all love cooking so besides us sharing that passion we all treat each other equally.”

    Many domestic workers rise before dawn to commute in minibus taxis to the affluent suburbs of Johannesburg, Cape Town and other cities. They often clean the toilets, iron the clothes and help raise the children of the middle class. On Monday the minimum wage for domestic workers in cities rose to 2,065.47 rand (£119) per month.

    Mdlankomo hopes others domestic workers see her as an inspiration. “Being a domestic worker is just like any other job, which you should be proud of doing. It is a profession from which you earn your income. There are many domestic workers out there, who like me, have hidden secrets, talents and passion. No job should prevent you from following your dream.”
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    She has been with her employer, Liz Andreasen, in a well-off suburb of Cape Town for nine years and they often cook together. Last weekend, they served lunch for 12 family members and friends, including a hot caprese salad with buffalo mozzarella and homemade pesto, parma ham and melon followed by pot roast chicken with seasonal hot vegetables and crispy roast potatoes.

    Asked if domestic workers are too often ignored and under-represented, Mdlankomo replied: “They used to be but I don’t think so anymore. My experience in the family that I work for has been incredible and I will never stop being in contact with them and Liz and I may even do something together in the future.”

    Andreasen agreed: “I think that historically that could have been the case. However the mindset of South Africans is changing daily with the advent of cooking programmes, social media and the like. If we look at the situation in our household, Siphokazi is treated in a professional manner as in the case of any other employee who works for us.”

    A glance at social media reveals how Mdlankomo’s run also has many viewers willing to her win. Ingrid Engelbrecht, a spokeswoman for Masterchef SA, now in its third year on the M-Net channel, said: “People have loved her from the start. It’s an inspirational story.

    “Many people have domestic workers who are considered part of the family, but domestic workers have never been showcased on television. Siphokazi’s story is the same as millions in South Africa who are raising a family and cooking for a family along with their own. Many people have been thrilled to see her on TV and doing so well.”

    But Eusebius McKaiser, an author, broadcaster and political commentator, warned against complacency. “One reason why we shouldn’t be over-excited is you can get swept up supporting from your couch in Sandton [a wealthy suburb] but it doesn’t mean your relationship with domestic workers is being interrogated,” he said.

    Female members of South Africa’s third biggest political party, the Economic Freedom Fighters, have worn the typical domestic worker uniform of knee-length dresses with aprons to parliament in a symbolic gesture for labour rights. Male members of the party have worn mineworkers’ helmets.

    McKaiser added: “Domestic workers are right up there with farm workers as the most visible part of the labour relations that speak to the worst part of our past. They are badly treated and often underpaid.

    “The fundamental structure of them being treated with indignity and their labour rights not being respected hasn’t changed. Many of the ’madams’ now are black but, if you ask the domestic workers, their opinions are the same.”

    Source: The Guardian 2 December 2014

broadcast

  • The All Africa Music Awards (AFRIMA) and the African Union Commission are set to bring 2014 to a close with a show-stopping awards ceremony scheduled to hold on Saturday, December 27, at the prestigious Grand Ballroom, Oriental Hotel, Victoria Island, Lagos.


    In partnership with the African Union Commission, AUC, AFRIMA will be rewarding excellence in the continental music and media industry at the main awards ceremony.

    Preceding the ceremony will be the African Music Summit themed “Reviving the Business of Music in Africa” slated for the morning of Saturday, December 27, at the Oriental Hotel.

    The Summit is a platform for African and global music industry stakeholders to network and deliberate on how the music industry can be nurtured and structured to be a major contributor to national and continental economies.

    For the 2014 edition, the award project opened entry submission in 31 categories on May 15 and closed the submission of entries on July 21 in the process receiving a staggering total of 2,025 works for assessment submitted by African music industry artistes, professionals and journalists.

    The AFRIMA nominees list unveiling occurred in Lagos, Nigeria on Tuesday, September 23 amidst world media fanfare, with popular African music names jostling alongside emerging music forces for space on the list.

    The Public and AFRIMA Academy voting began on the AFRIMA www.afrima.org on September 30 and expected to end on November 4. However, public voting was further extended by three weeks only ending on Tuesday, November 25, thereby allowing African music fans and followers more time to vote for their favourite artistes.

    In the course of the invite-only award ceremony night, more than 30 of AFRIMA’s 23.9-carat gold-plated trophies will be received by music acts or groups in their respective categories.

    The trophy recipients will also include an AFRIMA Legend Awardee and the African Entertainment/Music Journalist of the year. To spice up the proceedings will be sizzling performances from some of Africa’s top performing artistes and bands.

    “There is so much excitement in store for guests who attend the both the Africa Music Summit and AFRIMA main award ceremony. The Summit provides ample opportunity for robust and strategic deliberations on developing the African music industry to compete with the better developed industries around the globe”, stresses Delani Makhalima, AFRIMA Juror from Zimbabwe.

    Mr. Makhalima also states: “When we are done with the vital intellectual aspect of the event calendar, all attention turns to the glamourous, star-studded, cultural concept award ceremony for a fitting finale to the last weekend in 2014.

    AFRIMA is eager to welcome our African music stars from within and outside the continent, officials of the African Union Commission, members of the International Committee of AFRIMA and special guests”.

    Although committed to delivering a world-class 2014 award event, the International Committee of AFRIMA reveals that part of the ceremony’s programme will pay tribute to lives affected by the scourge of Ebola Virus Disease (EVD) in some West African states and terrorist insurgency in Northern Nigeria, Somalia and part of Kenya - both disturbing trends had necessitated the rescheduling of the award ceremony.

    Source: GhanaWeb 3 December 2014

  • Public education campaign emphasizes vital role of healthcare workers and features new Ebola prevention communications for West Africa, including ‘We’ve Got Your Back’ PSA

    At the Official Draw for the 2015 OrangeTM Africa Cup of Nations today, the Confederation of African Football (CAF) joined football stars, celebrities, international health organizations and corporations to announce the launch of Africa United, a global health communications campaign aimed at preventing the spread of Ebola in West Africa. The campaign, which is supported by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Foundation and driven creatively by actor Idris Elba, is designed to recognize the vital role of frontline healthcare workers, as well as to provide critical education and resources for the people of West Africa. Educational messages will be delivered on local and national radio and TV, billboards and by SMS to audiences in Liberia, Guinea, Sierra Leone and neighboring countries.

    Watch the video "We’ve Got Your Back"

    In a new TV spot titled “We’ve Got Your Back,”  Elba and a group of football players committed to the fight against Ebola in West Africa, including Yaya Touré, Carlton Cole, Kei Kamara, Patrick Vieira, Fabrice Muamba and Andros Townsend, are voicing their solidarity with the healthcare workers who are risking their lives every day to fight Ebola. In the video, the players acknowledge that, although fans regard them as heroes, healthcare workers tackling Ebola are the true heroes. Each player wears the name of a healthcare worker on his back as a symbol of respect for “the world’s most important team.”

    “For me the battle against Ebola is a personal one. To see those amazing countries in West Africa where my father grew up and my parents married being ravaged by this disease is painful and horrific,” said Idris Elba, actor and the creative force behind the development of the campaign public service announcements. “Imagine having to sit down and tell your family that you were going to fight this disease. That conversation is happening across West Africa and around the world every day. I am in awe of the bravery of these health workers, who put their lives at risk day in and out to stop the spread of this terrible disease. My hope is that, in some small way, through the development of these PSAs and the creation of the Africa United campaign, we can ensure that these workers get the support they need and that health messages are delivered to people on the ground to help them in their fight. #wevegotyourback. We will support you.”

    In another campaign video titled “West Africa vs. Ebola,”  Elba stars as a soccer coach giving a rousing and educational team talk to West Africa in preparation for its “life or death” game against Ebola. Elba explains the symptoms of Ebola and tactics for how to beat the virus, which includes spreading the word and working as a team.

    "I wanted to support this campaign for so many reasons. I could not sit back without doing something to help fight Ebola. It is important we don't treat this as something we just discuss with work colleagues or simply follow on the news for updates - instead our focus should be to do something,” said Yaya Touré, Ivorian professional football (soccer) player. "I also wanted to get involved with this campaign as it pays tribute to the many, many African heroes who are in the villages, towns and cities using their skills, resourcefulness and intelligence to battle Ebola. Those people on the front line are often forgotten. African mothers, fathers, brothers and sisters are doing everything they can to fight Ebola - we have to support them. #WeveGotYourBack"

    The video spots and other multimedia educational materials—including video and radio messages, billboards and posters—will be available on the campaign website, www.WeAreAfricaUnited.org, in English, French, Krio and additional local languages. The educational materials are designed to be adapted and distributed by Africa United partners such as ministries of health, health clinics, government and non-governmental organizations, media and sports organizations. These include the CDC Foundation and current partners Africa 24, SuperSport, ONE, UNICEF and Voice of America. CDC staff working in the affected countries contributed to the development and distribution of the health messages, and Africa United will continue to develop and provide messages to CDC and partners in real time based on changing needs in country.

    To further leverage the power of football to reach Africans, Africa United also will distribute FIFA and CAF’s ‘11 Against Ebola’ messages through Africa United partners.

    The 2014 Ebola epidemic is the largest in history, infecting nearly 16,000 people with more than 5,600 deaths to date. While the spread of Ebola is a threat to people, health systems and economies around the globe, West African communities in particular are being crippled by the disease as a result of already-strained healthcare systems, mistrust of healthcare workers and fear and stigmatization of those infected.

    Visit www.WeAreAfricaUnited.org to join the campaign.

    Source: Distributed by APO (African Press Organization) on behalf of Africa United.

  • After what it claims was a very successful DISCOP, Prime Entertainment Group has another success in the area, this time with the renewal of its leading series with Universal Networks in the Pan African region.

    The broadcaster has acquired another 52 episodes of Prime's Hollywood On Set 52x26'/year which it will broadcast in high definition. This is the third year in a row that the series, offering a backstage glimpse of Tinsel Town, will be broadcast on the leading movie channel of the region across 52 territories. The programme also airs on channels such as HBO Asia, HBO Netherlands, HBO Central Europe and Chello Latin America.

    "It's a true pleasure to reinforce our presence in the African territories and see our cinema-related series do so well on big studio's movie channels like Universal," commented Prime managing director, David Freydt. "Universal has been a great partner these last years and we keep strengthening our relationship by placing more and more of our programmes on the their networks all over the globe. This is a great satisfaction for our work team, and a reward for our efforts on delivering the best products."

    Source: Rapid Tv News 20 November 2014

  • On Wednesday 3 December AfricAvenir Windhoek screens South African documentary A Country for My Daughter as part of the worldwide 16 day activism campaign against gender violence held from 25 November to 10 December every year. The screening takes place at the Franco Namibian Cultural Centre.

    Directed by Lucilla Blankenberg and produced by Janine Tilley, A Country for My Daughter follows human rights activist Nonkosi Khumalo, who is chairperson of the Treatment Action Campaign and a mother who doesn’t want her daughter to grow up surrounded by violence. After Khumalo attempts to report abuse which has been done to her, it is passed off as a common assault by the justice system. She then travels around South Africa investigating the stories of other brave women whose court cases have transformed the law in the country for the better. Featured cases range from rape within a family to cases where police were involved in violence against women. Through these stories, she learns of the laws available to protect South African women and how they can be used.
    Entrance to the screening: N$20

    Visit the AfricAvenir website for more information.

    Watch the trailer for A Country for My Daughter

    Source: Screen Africa 27 November 2014

  • South African all-female western-adventure film, "Flatland," directed by Jenna Bass, set in the country's semi-desert region called the Karoo, has been selected to receive production funding from the World Cinema Fund (WCF). It will join the ranks of Oliver Hermanus’ "Shirley Adams" (South Africa) and Donald Mugisha’s "The Boda Boda Thieves" (Uganda/South Africa) as the only South African films to have received support in the fund’s history.

    "Flatland" is a contemporary-set, all-female western-adventure that tells the story of a lonely policewoman longing to reunite with her fugitive boyfriend; while simultaneously tasked with a murder investigation that has a newly-married former housekeeper and a heavily-pregnant teen as prime suspects. Helped and hindered along the way by an ensemble of wayward denizens, the unlikely trio soon become embroiled in a cross-country chase as they navigate the Karoo semi-desert in freezing winter, at times on horseback, all the while in search of a new life and fresh start. This journey of self-discovery, for these three different but equally desperate women, paints a vivid and unique portrait of femininity against a harsh frontier-land and questions what it means to be a woman in contemporary South Africa and the world at large.

    If Bass' name is familiar, it's because her short film, "The Tunnel," was a Focus Features Africa First selection, during the program's inaugural year.

    Regarded as one of the most sought after and respected film institutions worldwide, World Cinema Fund is an initiative of the German Federal Cultural Foundation and the Berlin International Film Festival, in cooperation with the Federal Foreign Office and the Goethe-Institut. Since its establishment in October 2004, the WCF has awarded production and distribution funding to a total of 119 projects, chosen from 2,261 submissions from Africa, Latin America, the Middle East, Central and Southeast Asia, and the Caucasus.

    All WCF-funded films produced to-date have screened in cinemas and/or the programs of renowned international film festivals, and are evidence of the initiative’s worldwide success.

    WCF works to develop and support cinema in regions with a weak film infrastructure, while fostering cultural diversity in German cinemas. It supports films that stand out with an unconventional aesthetic approach, that tell powerful stories and transmit an authentic image of their cultural roots.

    Penned and to be directed by Jenna Bass, Flatland was first introduced to the market at the Durban FilmMart in 2012, where it scooped multiple development awards, including the Worldview New Genres Award for "most promising feature project." Producer David Horler later went on to participate in a variety of forums throughout Europe in 2013, and at the 67th Cannes Film Festival; concluded a co-production deal between Horler’s Proper Film and Germany’s Flying Moon Film production, headed by Roshanak Behesht Nedjad and Helge Albers.

    Together, Proper Film and Flying Moon commenced financing of the film in July 2014. That same month, Bass’s debut feature, romantic-mystery "Love The One You Love" walked away with awards for Best South African Film, best South African Director and Best Leading Actress at the 35th Durban International Film Festival.

    "Flatland" has been developed with the support of the National Film & Video Foundation of South Africa and the Commonwealth Broadcasting Association’s Worldview Fund.

    Source: indiwire 1 December 2014

distribution

  • SA mobile operator, MTN says that its video-on-demand (VOD) service is weeks away from completion. The group announced in October that it would launch a subscription based VOD service, partnering with Discover Digital, a South African digital entertainment business.

    Larry Annetts, chief marketing officer (CMO) told BusinessTech on a conference call on Thursday (23 October) that MTN has piloted the service offline, and “is looking to launch at the end of November”.

    Annetts told BusinessTech this week that the process is taking a little longer than anticipated.

    “MTN is currently running tests on its systems and communications equipment, which will soon be followed by the launch of video-on-demand, this process should take weeks to complete,” he said.

    The monthly service will enable customers to download movies, as a transactional video on demand (T-VOD) play.

    MTN said it will structure data bundles to download this content at subsidized prices.

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

    In August, MTN moved a step closer to offering a meaningful streaming video service on its network following a successful live trial of a Transport Software-Defined Networking (SDN) and 2.4Tbps wavelength-division multiplexing (WDM) system.

    The trial, in conjunction with Huawei, was the fastest and most intelligent optical network to date in the industry, MTN said.

    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.

    Vodacom meanwhile, said it aims to launch a 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 recently.

    Joosub however, would not be drawn on an exact launch time frame.

    Source: Filmcontact 3 December 2014


  • In an exclusive deal with MultiChoice, Telkom will offer a new Internet-connected DStv Explora decoder for free as part of a 24-month subscription to Telkom customers that upgrade to a 10Mbps or faster Telkom ADSL line.

    Telkom will bundle the new DStv Explora decoder with its SmartHome Premium package for R899 on a 24 month contract. The offer will be available from 22 November 2014 to new and existing Telkom customers.

    Telkom will also make the DStv Explora decoder and DStv WiFi Connector available at Telkom stores, where customers can get the DStv Explora for R1 999 and the DStv WiFi Connector for R399.

    DStv customers will need to link their DStv Explora to their existing internet router, either by Ethernet cable or using the DStv WiFi Connector to enable these new services. With Telkom’s superfast broadband offer customers will be able to take full advantage of the DStv connected services. Customers get an additional 300 titles of the latest and greatest series, movies and other exclusive content on DStv Catch Up Plus through the internet enabled DStv Explora decoder. Remote recording enables customers to record their favourite programmes from a remote location.

     “Access to entertainment content is one of the many possibilities that superfast broadband can enable. We are excited to offer customers access to seamless connectivity at superfast speeds that will ultimately amplify their entertainment experience. Going forward we continue to explore opportunities in which we connect our customers to even more content avenues,” says Telkom Group CEO, Mr Sipho Maseko.

    Imtiaz Patel, Group CEO for MultiChoice South Africa says, “Our connected services give our DStv Premium customers access to an even bigger world of entertainment on DStv Catch Up Plus. Thanks to remote recording, our customers won’t miss any of their favourite shows. Our partnership with Telkom enables our customers to unlock these innovative services.”

    Source: Press Release

investment

  • At the Afpro Connect Conference held in November 2014 at the Maboneng Precinct, MICT Seta and the Academy of Television and Screen Arts (ATV) announced the results of the 2014 Cape Film Commission (CFC)-MICT-ATV bursary programme.

    MICT Seta learning programme manager Ernest Nemugavhini said that the organisation was proud to be working with the Cape Film Commission in bringing this year’s increased number of bursaries to the industry. The ATV is a respected provider of training and through the MICT-funded CFC-sponsored programme, it has increased its bursary quota for previously disadvantaged Higher Certificate students to 25 - from a base of eight a year ago.

    ATV’s academic manager Mocke Jansen van Veuren and co-founder Michael Lee who hosted the event, pointed out that the bursaries have enabled students to take time away from the workplace in order to acquire the necessary skills to function as entry-level professionals. “This is the first step towards a fulfilling career in the industry,” said Jansen van Veuren.

    Bursary recipient Mandisa Gumbi (33), one of the oldest of the bursary students said that her journey has not only been about academics. “My world has expanded and I have gained enough confidence to market my skills to the industry,” she said.

    Nirvana Nokwe-Mseleku (18) the youngest of the bursary students said that she hoped the Seta will continue to expand its bursary programme to include more previously disadvantaged students. “It has advanced my career in ways I can’t measure,” she said.

    Academy of Television and Screen Arts, a division of Academy of Sound Engineering offers a one-year Higher Certificate and a three-year Diploma qualification in Television and Screen Media.

    For more information visit the ATV website.

    Source: Screen Africa 1 December 2014

  • Unilever has announced that directors Femi Odugbemi, Akin Omotoso and Jahmil X. T. Qubeka are among the experienced African filmmakers joining lead tutors Beathur Mgoza Baker and Neville Josie, to develop filmmaking expertise and give students the opportunity to work on live Unilever briefs.

    The Academy for African Filmmakers (AAF) is a new initiative by Unilever and MOFILM to help young African talent to develop their storytelling and pitching skills while working on real, live, Unilever briefs with the possibility of having their work broadcast.

    Marc Matthieu, SVP Global Marketing, launched AAF during the Durban Film Festival in August 2014. The Academy will take the form of three workshops, each lasting three days and taking place in Lagos, Nairobi and Cape Town in early December. Applications for the 90 available spaces closed at the end of October.

    The two lead tutors of AAF, Beathur Mgoza Baker, a dynamic South African filmmaker, visual artist and media entrepreneur; and Neville Josie, executive producer, director, writer and trainer at Jungle Works, a television and film production company, are both highly experienced in delivering educational programmes for filmmakers and very passionate about promoting young African creative talent.

    The lead team will be supported by a group of guest tutors who will bring their experience from each country’s film industry.

    The support tutor team will include enterprising and award-winning Nigerian filmmaker, writer and photographer - Femi Odugbemi; an award-winning director and writer from South Africa - Jahmil X. T. Qubeka; director of Kenya’s most successful film, Nairobi Half Life - David ‘Tosh’ Gitonga; and an award-winning South African actor, writer and director - Akin Omotoso, as well as other luminaries from film and TV industries of each country.

    Matthieu said, “We were delighted both with the number and the quality of the hundreds of applications that we received from all over Africa. We are now looking forward to the seminars taking place in December and to our experienced tutor group sharing their thoughts and skills with the future African Filmmakers.”

    Chairperson of Unilever South Africa, Peter Cowan said: “Our vision is to create a Brighter Future for all South Africans through developing livelihoods in communities where we operate. We are proud to have such experienced filmmakers on board to nurture and develop the upcoming talent at the academy.”

    Cowan added that the candidates will also have access to Unilever’s marketing, branding and creative expertise to further hone their filmmaking skills.

    For more information about the Academy for African Filmmakers, visit here.

    Source: Filmcontact 27 November 2014

regulation & policy

  • Kenya: Wananchi Group Kenya has lost a bid to stop the Kenya Revenue Authority ( KRA) from recovering Sh124.87 million unremitted Value Added Tax ( VAT). The group, had moved to the Court of Appeal following the High Court's decision in February last year which dismissed a case challenging the tax man demands of Sh124,866,992.80.

    It wanted Court of Appeal to temporarily stop KRA from recovering the unremitted tax pending appeal of the High Court decision. In 2012, KRA's Commissioner of Enforcement had demanded Sh124,866,992.80 after a compliance audit discovered that the Group had not paid VAT for imported set top boxes and decoders. However, Wananchi Group which is also proprietor of pay TV Zuku argued that it had applied for tax remission from Minister of Finance between June 2007 and December 2011 for imported hardware and equipment.

    The remission issued by the Minister of Finance did not include spares and accessories. Set top boxes Wananchi had contended that decoders and set top boxes were not spares and accessories hence qualified for remission of VAT granted by the Minister of Finance. According to KRA, decoders and set top boxes are not spares and accessories.

    While seeking to stop KRA from demanding the unpaid VAT pending appeal, the group argued KRA had acted illegally and in excess of its jurisdiction. Peter Gachuhi on behalf of Wananchi Group added that the Minister of Finance had granted tax remission under the VAT Act and added that KRA had no power to challenge the decision by the minister.

    Source: Standard Media 27 November 2014

  • DTT in Africa:

    The local media in Kenya now have the go ahead to start distributing their own digital television signals, now that the country’s they have issued them their licenses.

    With this licenses the media in Kenya will now start planning and building infrastructure in 10 key locations, including Nairobi, in preparation for the digital migration.

    The Communications Authority of Kenya (CAK) awarded the license to Nation Media Group, Royal Media Services and Standard Group through a consortium, bringing to an end a dispute that has for years delayed the migration.

    This will make them the third digital signal distributors after Signet and Chinese firm Pan African Network Group, which previously held the exclusive distribution rights despite their small market share in the Kenyan television industry.

    “For strategic and business reasons, and to protect press freedom, it is imperative that we carry our own signals and content straight to our consumers. I want to sincerely thank the CAK,” said Nation Media Group Chairman Wilfred Kiboro.

    The media owners now want the regulator to allow them more time to set up and get their infrastructure ready before implementing the switch-over.

    “We have requested reasonable time to set up our infrastructure. We will be facilitated to have simulcast (analogue and digital) transmissions to test our signals and market our set-top boxes,” said Kiboro.

    He said the three media companies controlled close to 90 percent of the country’s television viewership and have the capacity and ability to carry their own signals in all the 47 counties.

    “We are engaging CAK and the government to get more frequencies to cover all the designated digital transmission sites to enable all the citizens of this great country in the 47 counties to watch their popular TV channels,” he said.

    In awarding the license, the regulator was complying with the September 29 ruling of the Supreme Court, which ordered the government to open dialogue with media houses and agree on new switch-over dates as well as possible award of a signal distribution license.

    Source: Tecjmoran 1 December 2014

technology & convergence

  • The Uganda Communications Commission (UCC) said that the current price war among pay-TV companies was caused by new players in the decoder importation business, the Monitor reported. Currently, most pay-TV companies have cut their decoder prices in what is assumed to be a stock clearing move. Fred Otunnu, the UCC corporate communications manager, said government opened up the decoder importation market because it is not planning to import set top boxes (decoders) and there are now mechanisms for the private sector to import the decoders and compete with other pay-TV service providers. Otunnu said the government divested Uganda Broadcasting Corporation and created a new company, Signet, to distribute signals to level the ground for the pay-TV market. Currently, decoders which carry all the free-to-air channels are available in the open market at UGX 150, 000.

    According to Uvcfg mar Lwasa Namansa, the chairperson Uganda Pay TV Association, most of the pay-TV companies operating in Uganda have been taking advantage of the ignorance of Ugandans to charge them monthly subscription fees. Most of the channels they claim to pay for are available through satellite but just require decoders. He said with such decoders, there would be no need to buy internet bundles from mobile phone companies, adding that even a country such as Sudan, uses such technology and the audiences are not paying monthly subscription fees.

    Source: Telecompaper 3 December 2014

  • SkyRoomLive (SRL) – supported by Virgin Mobile South Africa - is a local online music portal, which is setting the live streaming world on fire. SRL gives music fans the opportunity to watch top South African music events via their computers and connected devices.

    On an international level, live streaming is rising fast as a form of entertainment with heavy-weight YouTube providing more than six billion hours of streamed video content every month to viewers.

    For the past three years, American music festival Coachella has been broadcasting its three-day event, featuring over 60 artists, live on YouTube. In its first year it attracted nearly four million views. Apple does something similar with the iTunes Festival, which live streams to iPhone, iPad and Apple TV users. South by South West (SXSW) and Live Aid are but two of many more events using live streaming to grab large audiences.

    According to streaming service provider Ooyala, users watch more live streaming content in a single sitting than video-on-demand (VOD). While the average archived video played on a mobile phone or tablet takes up two to four minutes of a user’s time, live streaming averages three to seven minutes. On a PC or connected television the gap is even bigger with an average of five minutes for VOD, but over forty minutes for live streaming. An interesting finding, as current perceptions are that viewers of online video content prefer snack size consumption.

    With the popularity of live streaming platforms growing internationally, it seemed only fitting that the trend would find its way into the South African music lovers market. SkyRoomLive was launched in 2012 and in two short years has perfected itself as a platform for both new and established artists to offer live performances, which are filmed and broadcast in HD and 3D, onto social networks and via the SRL website.

    In addition, these clips are made available for on-demand viewing. The site hosts local and international artists like hip hop star Reason, rockers The Parlotones, Mi Casa, Mos Def, Hip Hop Pantsula and more.

    Earlier this year, Virgin Mobile South Africa teamed up with SkyRoomLive with the aim of supporting this pioneering technology platform that showcases local musical talent through their Urban Sessions music events. These events are also streamed live across the globe in addition to highlights of the show, which are broadcast on SABC 1.

    According to Vanda Harries, Virgin Mobile South Africa’s Head of Brand and Communications, “The rising trend towards live streaming via innovative technology based platforms such as SkyRoomLive, provided an ideal opportunity to be part of a driving force in this revolution.  The SRL platform also taps into some of the key imperatives for Virgin Mobile by supporting and foster young home grown talent.”

    In the last year, SRL has enjoyed a 1000 percent growth and serves over 60,000 users a month - a massive number for a South African site and impressive even by global standards. With the average user consuming over 28 minutes of content per sitting, it’s clear to see that the demand for such a platform is present. Though local streaming statistics are hard to come by, a 2012 expose into local streaming radio audience figures places SkyRoomLive’s local peers far behind its own numbers.

    Eban Olivier founder of SkyRoomLive and Managing Director of Mushroom Broadcast says, “If you think about it, video is an amazingly visceral medium and music is one of our most universal creative outlets. Combining the two has always been powerful - just look at MTV. Today’s technology makes it simple to stream a live experience to fans via laptops, smartphones and tablets. We had high hopes when launching SRL, but even those couldn’t compete with the amazing uptake.”

    Karl Rogers of iRocke, a major international live streaming curation hub says, “The music world has noticed this massive new pipeline to fans, especially when it comes to streaming live performances. It’s a very democratic platform. These days it doesn’t cost that much money to produce a live audio feed. Video feeds are also much more economical for everyone involved. Any artists can have access to it, which is wonderful.”

    Rogers also points out that several major international artists have adopted the concept, including Justin Timberlake and Prince. Jack White of White Stripes fame’s Third Man Records offers live chats and concert streams to platinum subscribers.

    All of the above has spawned an industry of live streaming hubs for concerts, including iRocke, the invite-only Boiler Room, German juggernaut AMPYA and the media-savvy Red Bull Studios. Although South Africa has recently experienced a rise in live audio streaming, such as Gareth Cliff’s Cliff Central and the sports-focused Ballz Radio, SkyRoomLive stands out among its local peers with its live and archived concert videos and large global footprint driven by the passion of its founders for music and the live experience.
     
    “With live shows you never know what is going to happen, so the unexpected is a big factor,” says Rogers. “There is also the immediacy. You can’t pause a live show and come back to it later. If you get a link to a live stream, you can check it out next week. I think artists are beginning to understand that they need to start entertaining the online audience as opposed to just the crowd.”

    Source: Company Press Release, Dec. 2014.


     

  • NETIA has announced that Moroccan radio group Atlantic FM, part of the Eco-Medias Group, has upgraded to version 8.2 of NETIA's Radio-Assist™ digital audio software suite. Bringing Atlantic FM to the forefront of audio technology, the installation provides the foundation for a complete shift to digital broadcasting while enabling operators to take advantage of the familiar functionality and interfaces they know from the initial Radio-Assist system deployed in 2006.

    "Radio-Assist offers an extensive range of features critical to the operation of a modern broadcast station," said Rachid Mounaouar, technical director at Atlantic FM. "Given this robust functionality and the familiarity of our operators with the NETIA software, the upgrade to version 8.2 was an easy and logical decision. Also, as we move forward with our migration to digital operations, the NETIA software will support a fluid transition."

    Founded in 2006, Atlantic FM today is the Moroccan economic news leader. To keep its number-one position, the radio station needs a robust and reliable system such as NETIA's radio automation solution. The software is a complete solution that covers the entire distribution channel from ingest to distribution, and Atlantic FM relies on the software in areas including news, commercials, and music scheduling.

    The new Radio-Assist 8.2 installation at Atlantic FM's Casablanca facilities comprises more than 32 workstations for editing, planning, and recording. Operators use NETIA's broadcast module for production and distribution. New features introduced in Radio-Assist 8.2 include cloud-based management, giving users the ability to access the system database from any network-connected workstation.

    More information about NETIA and its product portfolio is available at www.netia.com.

    Source: Company Press Release

  • Pay-TV operator, MultiChoice, has unveiled its HD single view decoder in Kenya and Nigeria. The DStv HD decoder, which will replace the existing standard definition single view decoder, delivers HD signals and Dolby Digital 5.1 surround sound accessible to DStv subscribers.

    “The launch bears testament to our continued investment in technology to ensure DStv delivers the best TV experience in Africa. The DStv HD decoder will ensure that more subscribers will have access to DStv’s HD channel offering,” said John Ugbe, managing director, MultiChoice Nigeria.

    The DStv HD decoder in Nigeria will cost NGN 13,500 (USD 73.35) and in Kenya for KES 4,800 (USD 53.19) for the decoder minus dish and installation cost.

    Source: NextVAme.com 2 December 2014

  • Kenyan on-demand wireless streaming service provider Able Wireless has shut its network down and announced that it will focus on content delivery network, adding that it has learnt lessons from the initial test phase. According to ITWeb, the provider has recalled all black box equipment that was distributed to individuals as part of a test phase.

    CEO Kahenya Kamunyu said the company was quietly running test services for a few early adopters to try and better understand how customers interact with service and how well Kenyan infrastructure works. Able Wireless is looking to disrupt the movie and film industry in Kenya by providing a digital rental service for movies and television series, similar to Netflix in the US.

    The roll out has been hampered by government restrictions that have seen the company wait for months for licences and approvals. The company subsequently received its official license in October of this year. Able Wireless said by the end of October, it had received 40,000 customer requests for the service. It is still unclear when the company will roll out its product.

    To see an interview with the founder of Able Wireless Kahenya Kamunyu, click on the link here:

    Source: Telecompaper  27 November 2014

  • Samsung Electronics East Africa is predicting an increase in the uptake of connected televisions in the country, propelled by a growing middle class.

    According to Robert Ngeru, Vice President and COO, Samsung Electronics in East and Central Africa, the global electronics manufacturer is projecting growth in the year 2015 for its high-end televisions. Currently Samsung tops the televisions market with over 40 percent market share.

    Smart TVs are defined as sets that come integrated with internet capability. Apart from offering traditional broadcast content, smart TVs also enable the user access Internet TV, on-demand streaming media and home networking access.

    The latest Communications Authority quarterly report shows that the country’s number of internet users is estimated to be 22.3 million. This is largely driven by increase access to internet due to the laying of fibre optic and use of mobile devices. The fixed fibre optic internet subscriptions have grown by 19.2 percent compared to a previous period last year.

    “We have already started encouraging more Kenyans to take-up smart TVs through partnerships with telecommunications service providers. For instance, we are giving away free Safaricom 3G dongles with every purchase of a smart TV,” added Ngeru

    Ngeru was speaking during the awarding ceremony for the winner of the second edition of the Samsung Blogger Monthly Challenge. Magunga Williams of magunga.com battled it out with three other bloggers taking top honours in the October/November challenge where they were required to generate content after using a smart TV.

    The contest is part of the multinational’s effort to support the growth of local online content. Over the four week period, the contestants were tested on four challenges; Get your Game On!; App Grade Your TV; Sharing is Caring; and Smart is the new Sexy.

    The overall winner walked away with two smart televisions, one for their stellar efforts and the other to give to their online community.

    Source: Techmoran 21 November 2014

  • South Africa’s Department of Communications (DOC) has officially been given the mandate over the country’s digital terrestrial television migration; the responsibility was earlier held by the Department of Telecommunications and Postal Services. Read the full story here

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  • 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.

  • Steve Kazanjian named president and CEO of PromaxBDA

    Fortune 500 brand marketing executive and former vice president of Global Creative for MeadWestvaco Corporation (MWV) Steve Kazanjian, will use his entertainment brand expertise and years of industry experience in launching top-tier network packages, to lead as the new president and CEO of PromaxBDA.

    PromaxBDA is an association representing more than 10,000 companies and individuals from major media organisations, marketing and advertising agencies, research companies, strategic and creative vendors, and technology providers around the globe. Its purpose is to lead and celebrate achievements within the global community engaged in the marketing of television and video content on all platforms.

    Joe Earley, co-chairmen of the PromaxBDA board of directors and chief operating officer for the Fox Television Group remarked, “As our media landscape rapidly evolves, disruption becomes opportunity. Marketers are at the forefront of assessing and impacting consumer behaviour, which is why the support, services and leadership provided by PromaxBDA are more essential than ever. Steve is an incredibly talented marketing executive who has been passionately involved with the organisation for many years. We are fortunate to have the opportunity to work with him and look forward to utilising his expertise.”

    Scot Chastain, co-chair of PromaxBDA and senior vice president affiliate marketing and development at NBC Television Network added, “We are thrilled to have someone of Steve’s unmatched knowledge and leadership in this role. We are confident that the PromaxBDA board and, most importantly, our members will continue to thrive under his leadership as our association capitalises on the incredible momentum we have built.”

    Having worked with many celebrated international brands, Kazanjian has established influential consumer engagement strategies by combining top consumer insights techniques and strong market analytics with award-winning creative excellence. Prior to joining MWV, a leading global packaging and chemicals company, he spent over 15 years in entertainment branding, marketing, and promotions.

    Source: Screen Africa 3 December 2014

  • MIFA 2015 call for project submissions

    South Africans with short films, feature films, TV series and transmedia projects in concept stage can now apply for two opportunities to pitch their projects at the MIFA animation market, which takes place at the Annecy International Animation Festival from 17 to 19 June 2015.

    The first opportunity applies to anyone with a concept in development, who would like to take part in the MIFA Pitch Sessions. Projects must be original, in their first stages of development and looking for producers, distributors and funding. Selected projects will be presented to attending international partners, with prizes awarded to winners. The deadline for entries is 13 February 2015.

    In addition, Animation SA has announced the launch of a specially created MIFA opportunity for South African projects, which are to be pitched to a special panel in an initiative to find projects that could be produced in collaboration with France. The initiative is a result of discussions between IFAS, MIFA, Wesgro and Animation SA in an effort to develop a relationship with France to help South African studios get a short film or pilot to market.

    The deadline and selection dates for the Special SA Pitch Session are not yet confirmed.

    If a project is selected the participant receives:

    - Free Mifa accreditation

    - Support and professional expertise

    - A 10-minute pitch slot in front of an audience of animation professionals

    How to apply

    Visit the online application page
    Choose the category of your project.
    Complete the information requested in the four steps of the online registration process.
    Print out the final summary, date and sign it.
    Send in the paper summary along with the other material (paperwork, DVD).

    Interested participants are able to enter into both calls and there is no entry fee required.

    Source: Screen Africa 3 December 2014 

    NFVF to conduct workshops at the KwaZulu-Natal African Film Festival

    The National Film and Video Foundation (NFVF) is once again proud to support the KwaZulu-Natal African Film Festival taking place in KwaMashu from the 5 to 14 December 2014.

    As part of its commitment to industry transformation and developing individuals from previously disadvantaged communities, the NFVF will host a series of workshops at the festival. These workshops are aimed at empowering the youth and aspiring filmmakers with skills and information required to build their careers in the film industry.

    The NFVF workshops will take place from 8 to 10 December at the Ekhaya Multi-Arts Centre and will include training on directing, scriptwriting and producing. The training will be provided by industry professionals: Mr B Bonginhlanhla Ncube, John Volmink and Loyiso Maqoma.

    The NFVF supported film, Hard to Get, will screen on Monday, 8 December at 18h00. Directed by Zee Ntuli, and produced by Junaid Ahmed and Helena Spring, Hard to Get is the first of a slate of films commissioned by the NFVF.

    For full programme details click the link below:
    KwaZulu-Natal African Film Festival workshop programme

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