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Broadcast, Film and Convergence in Africa Issue no 2030 28 January 2016

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  • Nathan Rice, a student at AFDA Durban, said he was extremely humbled that he was shortlisted for a nomination. Nathan Rice's film, Homeless, has been shortlisted for a nomination for the Student Academy of Motion Picture Awards in the best short foreign student film category.

    Rice's film, which was shot in the Greenwood Park and Springfield Park areas, was the the highest-scoring of over 60 short films, based on the audience and critics' scores at the recent AFDA graduate festival held at Ster-Kinekor's Cinema Nouveau and Suncoast Cinecentre.

    I am extremely humbled that I was shortlisted for a nomination for the student Oscars, and a little speechless, said the excited 26-year-old.

    Just being considered is an honour, it means that the film has resonance and that people have acknowledged that the themes in the film are relevant in South African and today's society.

    The film will also be AFDA's nomination for the CILECT prize, the largest and most prestigious international association of film and television schools.

    Rice shot most of his 13-minute film in the Greenwood Park and Springfield Park areas. The former Kranskop resident said the film represented not just a physical homelessness, but also a homelessness of the soul.

    The film, starring Cebo Zikhali, tells the story of a young man and his younger brother, who have been forcefully evicted from their shack at the Kennedy Road Informal Settlement. Left with nothing but a few meagre possessions and the older boy's precious trumpet, they set out along Durban's railway tracks in search of a new home and a better life.

    The film took a year from its conceptualisation to the writing. My production team and I scouted several areas around Durban and we felt the railway line around Greenwood Park and Springfield Park were perfect spots.

    I wanted to highlight a very visceral reality for the disadvantaged communities around South Africa. Music plays a massive role in the film with the trumpet, and in a way the metaphor was that he lost his home when he was evicted. But he also finds his home in the music, he said.
    Source: NFVF 25 January 2016

  • RTL Group's new entertainment channel aimed at German speakers and ex-pats around the world has been launched in Southern Africa, namely in South Africa, Namibia, Botswana, Mozambique, Zimbabwe, Nigeria, Kenya, Togo, Ghana and Seychelles.

    The new channel features genres such as live news, magazines soaps and series. RTL International, a pay channel, is available via satellite, cable, IP and over-the-top platforms.

    The company announced that as of March, the channel will also be available online and as an app. The platform partners are Deukom for South Africa, Namibia, Botswana, Mozambique and Zimbabwe and Satelio for Nigeria, Kenya, Togo, Ghana and Seychelles. 
    Source: African Business Community 21 January 2016

  • (Ecofin Fides) -. The Minister of Communication and Media of Congo, Thierry Lézin Moungala, has announced the introduction of a new TV channel called Télé Congo Youth.

    Tele Congo Youth will be the second public national channel and will complement Congo TV, launched in 1962. Congo TV was the first TV channel broadcasting in sub-Saharan Africa. Currently, Télé Congo is experiencing a slowdown accentuated not only by the lack of financial and material resources, but also stiff competition from local media and international networks now in Congo.

    The Minister Moungala announced that Tele Congo Youth would begin its first broadcasts in June 2016. The project is being arranged in collaboration with the French group Lagardère, specialized in the production and distribution of content.

    Lagardère operates in nearly 40 countries worldwide. The French group is increasingly investing in Africa. In 2015, it launched a radio station in Côte d’Ivoire, after the launch of its first channel in Senegal in 2014. Last year, Lagardère acquired a majority stake in the Diffa company, a distribution platform for African films and audiovisual works.

    In addition, the company recently opened an office in Abidjan, and two more will be opened in Nairobi and Johannesburg.
    Source: Agency Ecofin 21 January 2016

  • Some dreams are universal. Who hasn’t looked up at the night sky and wondered what it would be like to be up there, seeing the Earth rise above the horizon and watching the stars shine like diamonds, almost close enough to touch? Who among us hasn’t wondered what’s out there, and when we’ll find it?

    At the same time, some fears stop all hearts. When we look up, we’re reminded that we might not have that much time left on the planet that’s always been our home. Humanity has stripped Earth’s natural resources, and we’re in a race against our own destructiveness. Now, you can live the dream, and escape the fear.

    Atmos is a tale of humanity’s desperate flight from a dying earth, using Google Cardboard enabled VR to put an out-of- this world experience right in your pocket. Stand on the shores of another world, discover other life, and explore an alien environment in a depth that will take your breath away, all from your phone.

    Atmos transports you into the outer reaches of the galaxy to a New World, in a striking blend of local landscapes and exquisite CGI. In striking black and white, the cinematic visuals and full 3D binaural score immerses you as you walk in the shoes of the protagonists.

    Shot in 4K, see a 360 panorama of the unspoilt rural Wild Coast of the Eastern Cape, seamlessly stitched with expert CGI and VFX. The end result is at once familiar and deeply alien, creating a compelling experience.

    Rose Lovell has used her decades of experience and engagement in South African film to put together a dream team of cutting-edge talent, headed by Durban-based director Matthew Nefdt. With this 2-minute short film, Nefdt has claimed a deserving place as South Africa’s leading VR talent, Africard and Nefdt Films has become our first homegrown VR studio.
    Source: Press Release

  • AJ+ – an online news and current events channel by Al Jazeera Media Network (AJMN) – has launched a new digital experience on Apple TV. This marks its first step in making content available through an app on the big screen, as it has been focused solely on native mobile and social distribution of content to date.

    The new tvOS app allows users to consume and engage with AJ+ content and features an ‘emoji reactions’ feature which replaces the classic star rating system used by many publishers. This not only allows users to express themselves more emotively but is also channelled back to the newsroom to allow producers to gauge how the content is performing with the audience.

    The AJ+ team will be curating content specifically for Apple TV audiences.

    Dima Khatib, managing director of AJ+, said: “Key pillars of our strategy have always been innovative storytelling and reporting about stories that matter, in formats that appeal to our audience, as well as distributing this content natively to our audience.”
    Source: Screen Africa 25 January 2015

  • BET says it will air a miniseries about Nelson Mandela next year, with actor Laurence Fishburne portraying the late South African leader.

    Stephen Hill, the network’s chief programming executive, said Wednesday the six-hour “Madiba” series is being made with the cooperation of Mandela’s family.

    BET moved into miniseries last year with “The Book of Negroes,” about a girl who grew up in Africa who was sold into slavery in America.

  • The Kenyan company Nahoo LLC, officially launched its Ethiopian channel Nahoo Satellite TV at the Golden Tulip Hotel on January 14, 2016. The TV channel, operating on its Kenyan network will be piloted until February, said Kidus Dagnachew, CEO of Nahoo TV.

    The agreement with its Ethiopian partner, Tuba Multimedia, was signed on November 15, after each did its own feasibility study.

    This new Ethiopian channel has been developed based on Tuba's interest in exploiting its potential for journalism.

    "For three and half years, we had studied the feasibility of operating a private frequency on satellite. However, when this opportunity presented itself, we took it. The private frequency, is now a long term project," the CEO told Fortune.

    At this time the channel is working on 12 programmes with different structure and content. The programmes include psychology, law, music and drama.

    Although Kidus and his colleagues have different educational and career backgrounds, this is not their first foray into the media.
    Source: All Africa 18 January 2016


  • January 19, 2016 – Building upon AREWA24’s unprecedented growth in distribution and popularity in Northern Nigeria, the channel and its production studio is launching an ambitious new slate of original Hausa Language programming for 2016. AREWA24's focus on original Hausa language entertainment programming that reflects local values, lifestyles and cultures has been the cornerstone of its mission since the channel's launch in June 2014.  The network successfully premiered its first original Hausa language drama series, "Dadin Kowa" in February, 2015. Dadin Kowa has become a breakout hit with viewers and has set a new standard for original, scripted Hausa language television series in Northern Nigeria.

    Dadin Kowa aired its milestone 50th episode on 9 January 2016.  AREWA24 marked the occasion with a one-hour special edition of its Kundin Kannywood series, which goes behind-the-scenes to interview cast, crew, writers, producers and fans of the popular drama.

    AREWA24 has a groundbreaking slate of new programming in development and production for 2016, including several new weekly series and formats. Capitalizing on its success in scripted content with the one hour, weekly serial, Dadin Kowa, the network is developing a dramatic miniseries about crime and corruption, as well as its first situation comedy.

    “The unparalleled success we’ve experienced with Dadin Kowa has given us the production expertise and the confidence to develop and produce even more ambitious scripted series,” says AREWA24’s Content Manager, Rakiya Usman. “Dadin Kowa has set a high bar for quality, writing and talent. Audiences simply love the show. With the new formats we’re developing, we expect to continue to lead the way in creating original Hausa language content that rivals anything being produced for television anywhere in Africa, in any language.”

    The first of AREWA24's new 2016 program launches is a new weekly business show, "Magna Naira," which will feature both in-studio elements and documentary segments showcasing a variety of business sectors, from innovative start-ups to the service sectors and weekly banking tips designed to help consumers gain a better understanding of how to manage their money.

    Other new series slated to be launched in 2016 include an unplugged concert series, a fashion and lifestyle show and a new youth oriented series, (“Our Leaders of Tomorrow”), focused on issues relevant to young Northern Nigerians.

    AREWA24's production studios in Kano currently produce 13 original series, including the Breakfast Show, Kundin Kannywood, Role Models and Matassa@360; plus two music oriented series hosted by popular musician and presenter Nomiis Gee, H Hip Hop and Top Ten. Other series include, Taka Leda, the channel’s leading sports format and Alawar Yara, its children's show.
    Source: Company Press Release

  •  “Ar Don Go” music video.

    Sierra Leonean technologist, inventor and afrobeat rapper Moinina David Sengeh and American sculptor Joey Foster Ellis have teamed up to create a fascinating stop-motion, GIF and meme-inspired music video.

    The four-minute “Ar Don Go” visuals intersperse images of figures such as Malcolm X, MLK and Gandhi with a flurry of pop cultural references, from Ryan Gosling and China’s Tiananmen Square to a factually incorrect depiction of Jesus as white and Antoine Dodson relaying his now infamous warning. Composed of objects and texts derived from Arabic, Hindi, Chinese, Turkish, Spanish, English and Sierra Leonean Krio, the video touches on themes of multiracial identity, immigration and ex-pat culture.

    According to a press release, the part-autobiographical song expresses Sengeh’s desire to bring back his outside experiences and knowledge to help influence his native Sierra Leone. The objects and texts featured in the video were collected over a ten-year period from numerous places Ellis has lived, worked and studied.

    Accra-based musician Brainy Beatz produced the original beat while the lyrics and vocals came from Sengeh (recording under the name Moi) and his wife, Kate Krontiris (aka K2). Ellis produced the video in a myriad of locations, including Juarez, Doha, Istanbul, Delhi, Kathmandu and Jingdezhen.

    “I have loved this piece because of what it represents to how I imagine the world to be—a collaborative ecosystem with respect for everyone’s culture,” Sengeh says of the project. “It’s about youth, vibrant colors, taking action, online/digital culture, and inclusiveness.”
    Source: Okaya Africa 27 January 2016

  • Award-winning film producer, Obi Emenloye, is in partnership with Africa Magic for a new film titled Oxford Gardens.

    The producer of The Last Flight to Abuja, among other works, says in spite of the successes recorded by films with boxing themes, such as Cinderella Man and The Rocky series, Nollywood does not seem interested in the area.

    This, according to him, motivated him to go on location in London to shoot Oxford Gardens, now in cinemas in Nigeria.

    He says in a statement, “Nigeria has produced great boxers, old and new. However, for some reason, Nollywood has ignored stories around boxing, in spite of boxing’s gritty nature that would lend itself easily to cinematography. Boxing films over the years have been hugely successful globally because they stir potent emotions in audiences. In Oxford Gardens, I have attempted to tell a moving love story wrapped in boxing gloves. ”

    In order to realise this, Emelonye notes, he made contacts with Ngoli Okafor, a two-time Golden Gloves Boxing champion in United States, who played the lead role in the movie, which also stars Ngozi Igwebike, Savanah Roy, D’Richy Emelonye and Priness Abiye.

    The new work, which tells the story of a cancer patient who escapes from the hospital to Oxford Gardens where she meets a frustrated retired boxer, where both of them decide to make the best of her last moment on earth, is one of the works being facilitated under the Africa Magic Original Films initiative.

    Talking about this partnership, Emelonye says, “AMOF is aimed at supporting the industry in a period of dwindling returns on investment because of the demise of the DVD and stunted development of the cinema sector. Africa Magic would provide budget for film projects and share the ensuing rights with the producers and directors. This kept filmmakers and artistes in work and devised a more sustainable, but frankly speaking, more expensive means of content acquisition for Africa Magic.”
    Source: Punch 21 January 2016


  • Football fans in the country will be treated to free Serie A action league matches thanks to Mediamax Network Limited through its television broadcast channel K24 and Pay Television Company StarTimes Media who have entered into a media rights agreement to broadcast selected matches from the Italian league.

    StarTimes has extended the exclusive right for the matches by free-to air transmission which will see K24 broadcast 38 LIVE Serie A matches on weekends and midweek occasionally, as well as 38 ‘Serie A’ previews and supporting shows for the 2015/2016 season.

    Speaking during the signing ceremony, Mediamax CEO Ian Fernandes lauded the move noting that it will enable majority of Kenyans access the premium European soccer content that previously was out of reach largely due to the high subscription costs but the same will now be available for free on K24.

    “Indeed this is a positive step not just in providing entertainment content for our viewers but also in growing access to programming that provide exposure and that can possibly contribute to the development of our homegrown talents through the public viewership of the best practices that is the Italian Serie A,” noted Fernandes.

    The Pay Television Company has acquired exclusive broadcast rights for The Italian Serie A for the next three seasons (2015-2018) with the league being among the most watched in the world and often depicted as the most tactical national league. StarTimes Vice President Mr.

    Mark Lisboa noted that the partnership with Mediamax Network Limited will enable majority of households enjoy the premium content in digital quality noting that the company’s digital television signal now covers over 70% of the Kenyan population with the recent launch of the Machakos, Naivasha, Embu and Kapenguria signals.

    “With K24 broadcasting the Serie A, we are sure over 70% of Kenyans have access to this premium sport having recently added to our reach with the roll out of our Machakos, Naivasha, Embu and Kapenguria digital television signals. It is in the same spirit of growing access to sports content that we are currently rewarding subscribers with free sports bouquets for each subscription renewal made,” said Lisboa.

    Among top feted teams in the Italian league that football enthusiast will get the rare opportunity to view from the comfort of their homes includes current champions Juventus, AC Milan, Inter Milan, AC Roma, Napoli, Fiorentina among other with highly decorated players. The deal makes K24 becomes the only local broadcast channel in the county that air live European football that is highly celebrated by fans locally.
    Source: Media Max Network 14 January 2016

  • Qwilt, a leading provider of online video delivery and open video caching solutions, today announced a technology partnership with three6five, a leading IP networking service integrator in South Africa, to improve over-the-top (OTT) streaming video strategies for service providers in Africa.

    The partnership will enable three6five to offer service providers in the region with Qwilt's award-winning open cache solution as a leading a strategy to address current challenges resulting from the growing demand for OTT.

    The recent launch of new video streaming services throughout Africa is dramatically increasing traffic on operator networks, as more subscribers start free trials and sign up for a monthly subscription, which often includes unlimited access to stream from the vast content libraries offered by these new content providers. This rapid growth of streaming video can create massive bandwidth demands for service providers, which must find new ways to cost-effectively and rapidly scale their networks to meet demand without sacrificing quality of experience (QOE).
    "The availability of new streaming services in Africa means that in order to remain competitive, network operators must redesign their network architecture to better support streaming video," said three6five CEO Tyrone Carroll. "A conventional approach to solving this problem means buying more routers, switches, links to upgrade networks and upgrading transit gateways and capacity. However, we believe and support Qwilt's open caching approach to solving next-gen streaming video delivery challenges. No one knows streaming video and caching like Qwilt, and with over 100 open caching deployments worldwide, we're excited to partner with the company to bring the benefits of network cost savings and improved quality of experience to network operators of all sizes in Africa."

    Three6five works with network operators across the continent to build and upgrade networks to cope with constantly evolving market demands led by the current advancements in streaming video technology. In doing so, there are unique constraints in Africa that must be taken into consideration, such as high transit, peering and network infrastructure costs. Additionally, with much of the OTT video content being served outside of the continent, maintaining the quality of subscriber experience and serving content at the highest available definition is a growing challenge. Taking a rigorous approach to IP services implementation to satisfy business needs, the company fields a range of best-in-breed products combined with technical expertise to deliver technology recommendations based on real-world experience and a rigorous, practical approach to enable reliable networks.

    "It won't take long before streaming traffic in Africa accounts for 60% or more of a service provider's downstream network traffic at peak, as we see now in Europe and the USA," said Dave Matthews, vice-president of EMEA for Qwilt.

    "With open caching, operators can offload 50% or more of streaming video traffic to a local cache on the network, reducing the cost of transit bandwidth and the cost of internal network capacity required to keep up with streaming demand. Qwilt is already working with a number of operators in South/East Africa, where we serve over 50% of their video traffic locally. We have seen over 400% growth in streaming video in the last few weeks – where we are offloading online video content with greater than 70% cache efficiency in some deployments, and also improving QOE in terms of average bit rate by 300%. Our partnership with three6five will help operators prepare their networks to handle the rapid growth in streaming traffic from all types of content providers."

    Qwilt's open cache solution is engineered specifically for high performance and scalable video delivery in the demanding environment of high capacity operator networks. Qwilt's solution is delivered as a fully managed service to speed deployment and streamline ongoing operation.

    The broader operator organisation – including network planning, engineering and operations teams –benefit from comprehensive media analytics, which offer insights into growth trends, content sources and consumer preferences. By relying on open caching for online video delivery at the network edge, operators can substantially reduce network capital and operational costs – a typical open cache deployment yields a return on investment in less than 12 months.
    Source: ITNews Africa

  • Felix Buteera, the head of programming at Flash TV, said the new television station will be family-focused to contribute to household development.

    “Flash TV will be a family TV as our content will appeal to members of households our comprehensive programmes are targeting the family. Through entertainment and education we will be able to disseminate information touching all aspects of life,” he said.

    With the digital migration, Rwanda has seen more private-owned television stations coming on board. However, the new stations have always been accused of lacking enough local content.

    However, Buteera said local content will be at the heart of Flash TV programmes.

    “Eighty per cent of our programmes will be aired in Kinyarwanda as it is the language understood by most of Rwandans. We will start with one news bulletin per day at 8pm. I hope we will be able to deliver quality, focused and informative content in our bulletins since we won’t rely much on events. We will rather focus on what touches the daily needs of our people. We will later introduce an English bulletin so that we can satisfy our viewers who do not understand Kinyarwanda,” Buteera said.

    According to Buteera, Flash TV will go on air this week.

    “Installation process was completed, all the set up have been designed; what we are waiting for is to receive a channel from Star Times,” he said.
    Source: New Times 18 January 2016

  • With the International Telecommunications Union (ITU) setting down 2015 to be the deadline for digitalization, it was a year of great significance and importance.

    For StarTimes, the focus was on delivering on its mission of providing every African with affordable digital TV and excellent content.

    The year kicked off with Pang Xinxing, Chairman of StarTimes Media Group having a very fruitful meeting with Zambian president, Edgar C. Lungu on 31 March 2015. The Chairman shared information on StarTimes operations and investment in Zambia, to which President Lungu commented “You are the company that we would like to assist Zambia with rolling out Digital Migration.”
    (Mr. Pang Xinxing, Chairman of StarTimes and Mr. Edgar C. Lungu, President of Zambia.)
    Digital Migration continued to be the topic of discussion, on 28th April 2015, Ugandan President Yoweri Kaguta Museveni, the Honourable Jim Muhwezi Katugugu, Minister of Information and State Guidance, and other sectors met with Chairman Pang in Entebbe. The meeting discussed StarTimes’ Public-Private-Partnership proposal with the Uganda government to rollout Digital Migration.

    President Museveni expressed the importance of Digital Migration for the entire country and urged administrators to enter into further discussions with StarTimes.

    5th African Digital TV Development Seminar
    Over 119 delegates attended the 5th African Digital TV Development Seminar, hosted by StarTimes in Tianjin, China on 9th June 2015. Leaders from Broadcasting & TV Administrations, heads of national TV stations from 29 countries i.e. Nigeria, Tanzania, Guinea, Kenya etc. leaders from the Ministry of Culture, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Ministry of Commerce, State Administration of Radio Film and Television, Beijing Municipality, Beijing Economic and Technological Development Zone and Beijing Cultural Bureau attended the seminar. It also included leaders from financial institutions like the Export-Import Bank of China, China-Africa Development Fund,

    China Export & Credit Insurance Corporation, as well as the media from China and Africa, senior experts from Europe and America in the broadcasting & TV industry

    Chairman Pang, delivered a speech “Digital TV Promotes Social Development”. He said that the 15th June 2015 is the Digital Migration deadline set down by the International Telecommunications Union and confirmed that digitalization can bring about a better user experience, with higher clarity and richer content.
    The StarTimes Group will help Africa build an entirely new TV industry in the digitalization of programme sources, controlling and broadcasting systems, transmission network and user terminals. Considering the robust technological strength and rich experience, the StarTimes Group is confident that co-operation can promote the prosperity of the African TV industry and further economic development.

    In the afternoon of June 9th, Chairman Pang Xinxing and Jörg Daubitzer, Managing Director of DFL Sports Enterprises, signed a contract for the exclusive broadcasting rights of Bundesliga for the next successive five years - from 2015 to 2020. Subscribers of StarTimes will be able to view brilliant Bundesliga matches from 36 teams, including Super Bowl and up and downgrading matches. Three hundred matches will be played each season.

    If one contract signing was not enough, on the same day, Chairman Pang signed a contract with American Discovery Communications, allowing StarTimes subscribers access to high quality programmes such as Discovery Science, an education and entertainment channel of superior quality and Eurosports News.

    In the middle of June, Star Media Tanzania Limited received a certificate of appreciation, “For invaluable contribution to the success of migration from analogue to digital television broadcasting in Tanzania,” from the Minister of Communications Science and Technology and Chairman of National Steering Committee on Digital Broadcasting of Tanzania.

    Tanzania’s Digital Migration Journey started in 2006 when it amended its broadcasting laws to accommodate digital broadcasting. The process then started the switch from analogue to Digital Terrestrial Television (DTT). A joint venture - Star Media Tanzania limited was formed in May 2009, between StarTimes and the Tanzania Public Service Broadcaster to roll out Digital Migration. Currently Star Media Digital Television Broadcasting delivers to all former analogue serviced areas, including major commercial and capital cities of Tanzania. The government of Tanzania, through the Tanzania Communication Regulator has allowed the introduction of DTH to complement the DTT services.
    During the Digital Migration process, the Tanzanian government provided tax relief and other incentives for importation of set-top-boxes (STB). Nearly one million set top boxes (STBs) have been sold to citizens and Tanzania currently enjoys about 51 digital channels, highly unattainable during the analogue period.
    Commenting on the successful Digital Migration, Tanzania’s Minister of Information, Culture, Youth and Sports, Dr. Fenella Mukangara said, “We merged with StarTimes to create a company specifically for the roll out of Digital Migration. This was by no means an easy task, but through fierce determination, we managed to become digitized. I would like to thank StarTimes for their excellent work during this process.”

    “My government will continue to support the digitization process as well as content development,” added Minister Mukangara
    The Minister concluded that Tanzania had made good progress since 2006, when the decision was made by the International Television Union (ITU) to migrate from analogue to digital.

    August saw StarTimes signing with MP&Silva Limited for the exclusive rights of the Italian Cup in Sub-Saharan Africa, for three consecutive seasons( 2015/2016, 2016/2017 and 2017/2018) and the Italian Supercup for Year 2016 and Year 2017. In addition, Ligue 1 also arrives at StarTimes for three seasons: 2015/2016, 2016/2017 and 2017/2018.

    Republic of Congo
    Towards the end of August, the focus moved to the Republic of Congo, where StarTimes signed an agreement and together with the Republic of Congo, will roll out digital television across the country.
    Gu Xun, Vice President of StarTimes Group (Left) and Jean Jacques Bouya, Minister for Spatial Planning and Delegate-General for Major Projects, Republic of Congo, exchange the contract.

    The project, worth $161 million will establish digital TV transmitters in 38 cities across the country and will comprise of the digitalization of programme sources, broadcasting system, transmission system, and user terminal. Digitalization will enrich the cultural life of the citizens, but also restore transmission and communication of information- ushering in the Information Age.
    The project aims to meet the requirements of the International Telecommunications Union (ITU) that all the member countries should realize the Digital Migration by 2015.

    China’s role in Africa
    Commenting on China’s role in Africa, Mr. Chishimba Kambwili, Minister of News Department in Zambia, said that China plays a leading role in telecommunications, Internet, digital TV, education, culture, health care, etc. The co - operation between China and Africa brings a highly valued win – win situation. The Minister said that Digital Migration in Zambia is being rolled out in cities as well as the rural areas. A co- operation contract has been signed between the Zambia government and StarTimes.

    On the 12th September 2015, there was a very welcome visit to StarTimes Group head office, Beijing by Secretary of the ITU, Zhao Houlin. Guo Ziqi, Vice President of StarTimes Group, hosted Mr Houlin who was impressed by StarTimes’ independent research of multiple terminal products and the modernized Control Centre. He also welcomed further participation of StarTimes in ITU’s careers and assistance with completing Digital Migration in Africa.
    During the visit, Ms. Guo Ziqi, VP of StarTimes, also gave feedback on the company’s operational business and Digital Migration in African countries, the multiple transmission networks of DTT and DTH and the transmission and broadcasting of TV series.

    Word Quality Commitment Award
    In October 2015, Liao Lanfang, CEO of Star Media Tanzania Limited, received the Word Quality Commitment (WQC) from Business Initiative Directions (B.I.D.) at an awards ceremony held in Paris.
    ITU Telecommunications Summit
    Chairman Pang received an invitation to attend the Telecommunications Summit held on 19th October 2015 in Kigali, organized by ITU and hosted by Rwanda government. More than 2500 delegates attended the Summit and guests included Zhao Houlin, Secretary of ITU, Anastase Murekezi, Premier of Rwanda and leaders from the World

    Bank and African Union.
    Officials attending the Telecommunications Summit
    The Summit aimed to promote digital innovation for a digital Africa. It called for co-operation and communication in digital networks, digital cities, digital products, digital factories and digital services etc.

    L to R Mr. Pang Xinxing, President of StarTimes, (Mr. Zhao Houlin, Secretary of ITU (middle), and Dr. Pang Yi, Managing Director of R&D

    Video Compression
    Dr. Pang Yi, Managing Director of R&D, says what distinguishes StarTimes from its competitors is innovation and new ideas. She introduced StarTimes’ R&D patented technology, video compression - H.265, or HEVC. It is the next generation of the compression technology. With H.265, half of the bandwidth of the video transmission can be saved, without compromising video quality. This enables StarTimes to not only provide online videos, but also online videos in a 3G network as well as EDGE (2.75G network) technology.

    China-Africa Media Summit

    On 1st December 2015, the company co – hosted the China-Africa Media Summit together with Naspers. The event held in Cape Town South Africa at the International Conference Centre. It was organized by the State Council Information Office of the

    People’s Republic of China (PRC), undertaken by China National Publications Import & Export (Group) Corporation. More than 200 people attended the Summit including Jiang Jianguo, Director of the State Council Information Office of PRC, Jeff Radebe, South African Minister in the Presidential Office, the Consular General of China in Cape Town and the key media leaders from Africa and China.

    Media representatives at the China-Africa Media Summit
    At the Summit, Minister Radebe said that the media plays an important role in society and that communication would ensure that the friendship between China and Africa is solidified. He continued saying Africa has got abundant resources and unique cultural diversity and it is the media’s duty to write articles and stories that create a positive image of Africa - That the true story of Africa is told to the rest of the world. He maintained that the media are an important resource for the public to source information and create development opportunities.
    South Africa is implementing a national development plan similar to China to alleviate poverty, injustice, and unemployment. The media plays a critical role in this process and he hoped that the Summit could open up a new area of co-operation between Africa and China that would encourage communication and ideas for common development.

    China-Africa Equipment Manufacturing Industry Exhibition.
    The StarTimes team then travelled to Johannesburg where on the 4th December 2015, Chinese President Xi Jinping, South Africa President Jacob Zuma and Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe, opened the China-Africa Equipment Manufacturing Industry Exhibition.

    Many African country leaders, such as Filipe Jacinto Nyusi (President of Mozambique), Sassou-Nguesso (President of Republic of the Congo), Faure Essozimna (President of Togo), visited the StarTimes stand themed “The culture exchange bridge between China and Africa.”

    Commenting on the exhibition, Chairman Pang said “This exhibition offers an excellent opportunity for African countries to see the strength of Chinese companies. StarTimes expects great opportunities on the African continent and we are making a huge effort to promote the development of digital television.”

    Uganda Consumers Preference Awards
    On 14th December 2015, StarTimes DTV (Uganda) Co. Ltd. was awarded the Best Digital & Pay TV operator at the Uganda Consumers Preference Awards (CPA).
    Certificate of Consumer Preference Award for Best Digital & Pay TV

    Broadcast licenses
    StarTimes currently has licenses and registered companies in 30 African nations, 16 of which use StarTimes’ broadcasting networks, including Burundi, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Guinea, Kenya, Madagascar, Malawi, Mozambique, Nigeria, Rwanda, Republic of Central Africa, Republic of the Congo, South Africa, Tanzania and Uganda.

    With high quality products, affordable prices and a high standard of service, StarTimes will continue to strive to deliver on its promise of digitalization of Africa.

    An overview of the StarTimes Group
    StarTimes is the leading digital-TV operator in Africa, covering 80% of the continent's population with a massive distribution network of 200 brand halls, 3,000 convenience stores and 5,000 distributors. StarTimes owns a featured content platform, with 440 authorized channels consisting of news, movies, series, sports, entertainment, children's programs, fashion, religion etc. The company's vision is "To enable every African family to afford and enjoy digital TV" StarTimes achieves this by combining satellite and terrestrial DTV systems to provide an open and secure digital wireless platform. The company provides a robust signal transmission service for public and private broadcasters, offers consumers outstanding pay-tv programs, mobile multimedia and wireless Internet connectivity.
    Source: Company Press Release

  • The National Broadcasting Commission (NBC) says it licensed only 13 Set-Top Box Manufacturers in Nigeria and not 18, as earlier reported.

    The Commission in a statement signed by its Director, Public Affairs, Awwalu Salihu said it was an error for the Director General to have said 18 licenses in his new year message and urged the public to ignore the earlier information.

    Salihu explained that only 13 Set-Top Box manufacturers have been so far licensed to produce locally in Nigeria and not 18 as mistakenly published in the new year message.

    ‘‘Our attention has been drawn to an error in the number of licensed Set-Top Box manufacturers as contained in the New Year 2016 Message from the Director-General, National Broadcasting Commission, Mr. Emeka Mba.

    ‘‘We want to state clearly that only 13 Set-Top Box manufacturers have been licensed to produce locally in Nigeria and NOT 18 as mistakenly published in the New Year Message.

    ‘‘The mix-up is highly regretted and we apologize for any inconvenience the error might have caused.

    In his new year message, the Director General had said that the Commission was already working with 18 Nigerian companies, which are at various stages of starting local production of set top boxes.

    The companies are estimated to provide the needed equipment and create thousands of jobs for Nigerians.

    Recall that Nigeria could not meet the ITU’s June 17, 2015 deadline for the switchover from analogue to digital broadcasting, which was largely blamed on lack of funding.

    With a new DSO deadline of June 20, 2017, other ECOWAS nations are still looking up to Nigeria for leadership and partnership to meet the new target.
    NBC said it is working hard to cover more than 80 per cent of Nigerians that depend on free-to-air television services with adequate coverage before the final switchover. We cannot afford to leave anyone behind. Indeed, we are not leaving anyone behind.

    The pilot state, Plateau State is said to now has full digital signal coverage.

    Under the digital regime, television subscribers will need set top boxes to enable them enjoy the digital experience, whether on digital television sets, nor subscribing to pay platforms.
    Source: Vanguard 13 january 2016


  • Egyptian satellite company NileSat will extend its operations throughout Africa to tap into digital migration in Tanzania, Uganda, Rwanda, South Sudan, South Africa, Angola and Nigeria. Marketing manager Mohamed El-Sawy said NileSat will increase its investment budget by about USD 50 million in the near future. Average user fees for satellite services are estimated at USD 250,000 per year, a price deemed too high, The EastAfrican Weekly reported.

    El-Sawy said it is now pursuing new licences from the International Telecommunications Union (ITU) that are essential to roll out satellite locations in new markets. NileSat operates three satellites and has two more planned for launch in 2017 and 2019. It offers satellite hosting services for television and radio stations, internet connections and satellite navigation services deployed for security surveillance activities and weather forecasting.
    Source: Telecompaper 20 January 2016

  • African mobile entertainment and internet TV pioneer, iROKO, has signed multiple deals totalling $19m, both in content development and in capital funding. French media giant CANAL+, together with existing investor Kinnevik AB, are investing in addition to iROKO’s own cash flow to give the leading African tech and entertainment company the platform to scale its operations and expand aggressively across the continent.

    iROKO will channel the investment into local content financing and production, as well as its product and engineering teams in Lagos and New York. The ambition is to produce at least 300 hours of original content in 2016, with the expectation of doubling that by 2018. This will enable the company to build on its already extensive catalogue, making it arguably one of the largest libraries of local African content. The announcement also sees Jacques du Puy, president of Canal+ Overseas, join the iROKO board.

    Jason Njoku, CEO and co-founder of iROKO says: “With millions more Africans poised to come online via mobile in the coming years, our mission is to lead viewers to content they'll love. This is something the vast majority of the continent struggles with today. We hope to bridge that divide, and this additional investment supports such a plan. For us, there is no version of reality where the marriage between Africa’s most powerful communication tool [mobile] and the most prolific and loved entertainment provider [Nollywood] won’t be a joyous union.”

    Mobile phone subscriptions in Africa are almost at 1 billion and by 2019, it is predicted that smartphone handsets, with which viewers can watch content, will make up 73% of the continent’s devices.

    Njoku adds: “The challenges surrounding mobile TV in Africa are mighty, but not insurmountable. It’s human to be entertained and connect over community and we are obsessed with creating Africa's largest community around local content. We have always been crazily bold in our ambitions to bring the content closer to viewers and build a truly frictionless and inclusive entertainment experience. Today’s news improves those odds.”

    Fabrice Faux, CFO of Canal+ Overseas says: “We congratulate Jason and all the iROKO team and investors for their outstanding achievement so far and we are proud to partner for the scale-up in French-speaking Africa, with clear ambitions and the means to reach them.”
    Source: Screen Africa 26 January 2016

  • Nigeria is negotiating with China on possible new satellites for Nigeria Communication Satellite (NIGCOMSAT) and support for its ground station improvement, The Guardian reported. Minister of Communications Adebayo Shittu led a delegation to China. The Nigerian satellite communication company operates NigComSat-1R under the supervision of the ministry.

    The visit coincided with the launch of Belintersat-1 satellite by the China Great Wall Industry Corporation (CGWIC), for which NigComSat will be providing In-orbit Testing Services (IoT), and Spectrum Management Services (SMS). The Belintersat-1 Satellite was successfully launched on 16 January.
    Source: Telecompaper 22 January 2016

regulation & policy

  • THE Tanzania Communications Regulatory Authority (TCRA) has banned 11 television and radio stations which did not fulfil the watchdog’s conditions, including paying license fees and other dues.

    The TV and radio stations that are banned from broadcasting are Breeze FM in Tanga, Country FM Radio; Iringa, Generation FM Radio; Mbeya, Hot FM Radio; Mbeya, Impact FM; Dodoma, Kifimbo FM Radio; Dodoma, Rock FM Radio; Mbeya, Iringa Municipal TV, Sumbawanga Municipal TV, Tanga City TV and Mbeya City Municipal TV.

    A statement from the TCRA to the media, signed by the Director General, Dr Ally Simba, noted that the banned TV and radio stations will only be allowed to broadcast once they have met all conditions.

    The statement noted that after three months from 19th January this year, the banned TV and radio stations that would have not paid their dues, will be taken to task under Section 22 (a) of the Electronic and Postal Communications Act of 2010, which include revoking the broadcasting station's licence.

    Until January 18, twelve (12) out of 20 radio stations and one television station out of six had paid the required dues, with some remaining with minimal balances.

    "For those who have not paid all their dues, TCRA will enter into special agreements with them to ensure the payments are made on time, or else the watchdog will take other steps," the statement further noted.

    The banned TV and Radio stations were to start to serve the restrain order from January 18, but pleaded to the watchdog for more time to make the payments.

    TCRA had banned more than 20 radio stations for three months for various reasons, including failure to pay licence fees and fulfil other conditions set by the communications watchdog.

    It has also banned six television stations due to the same reasons. Since July 2015, TCRA had issued a letter to more than 40 service providers, reminding them about paying for their licences.

    TCRA Head of Corporate Communications Innocent Mungy pointed out that in September, last year; the operators were given a warning to pay their fees before December 31, 2015.

    Up to January 2016, only 11 service providers among those who received the letters fulfilled the requirements outlined in the note sent to them. “Section 22 of the Electronic and Postal Communications Act of 2010 give power to the authority to suspend or cancel a licence if a service provider fails to pay the fees as directed,” said Mr Mungy.

    Mr Mungy mentioned some of the banned radio stations as Kiss FM, Radio Free Africa, Sibuka FM, Uhuru FM, Radio Five, Breeze FM, Country FM, Ebony FM, Generation FM, Kili FM, Kitulo FM, Huruma Radio, Rock FM, Standard FM, Top Radio, Ulanga FM, Hot FM, Impact FM, Kifimbo FM and Pride FM.

    The television stations are Star TV, Sumbawanga Municipal TV, Tanga City TV, Iringa TV, Musa Television Network and Mbeya City TV. Expounding further, he said if the providers will not be able to pay for their licences after the three months, stern measures will be taken against them.
    Source: Daily News 21 January 2016

technology & convergence

  • People accessing ShowMax from Android devices have been able to download content for offline viewing since December last year. Now their iOS-using counterparts can join in on the fun.

    The Naspers-owned video-on-demand (VoD) service on Tuesday announced downloads for its iPhone and iPad apps, aiming to both address the cost of internet connectivity in South Africa and to help people use the service while on the move.

    “The internet connection is the challenge for many South Africans” said ShowMax South Africa General Manager, John Kotsaftis.

    “Not everyone has fast internet access throughout the day or can afford to stream using a mobile connection. The beauty of this new download feature is that as long as you’re connected at some point, perhaps using a public WiFi hotspot, at work, or a night-time mobile data bundle, then you can still use ShowMax to get shows and movies,” added Kotsaftis.

    As with the Android offering, Showmax users on iOS can download a combined total of up to 25 shows and movies onto their device.

    Content stored on these devices is available for up to 30 days, and once viewing of a particular show or movie has started, the user has a 48 hour window to finish watching. Content can be downloaded more than once.

    Speaking about why ShowMax decided to tailor its service for South Africa, Kotsaftis said:

    “We don’t subscribe to the one-size-fits-all mentality. South Africa isn’t a carbon copy of the rest of the world – we don’t have the same connectivity options as other countries and we don’t necessarily want exactly the same content.

    “We’ve gone out of our way to add features making ShowMax accessible to as many South Africans as possible. We introduced vouchers at major retailers so you don’t need a credit card, and we’ve added downloads so you can still use ShowMax even if you don’t have the best internet connection. It’s all about giving local consumers what they need.”

    In order to access the new download functionality, iPhone and iPad users need to update their ShowMax app via the app store.
    Source: Memburn 26 January 2016

  • RR Media, a provider of global digital media services to the broadcast and media industries, announces today that it has been selected to support Eutelsat's African satellite broadband initiative. RR Media's Middle East Media Center will host an important hub to connect and deliver new-generation broadband services to Sub-Saharan Africa. This initiative will leverage satellite technologies to increase the number of African Internet users through innovative, reliable and affordable solutions. The project started in December 2015, with Internet connectivity to be available to African users towards the end of 2016 through the AMOS-6 satellite.

    RR Media's Media Center will contribute by providing the highest quality satellite broadband capabilities that meet standards for a wide variety of online and digital media applications.

    Laurent Grimaldi, CEO of the new Eutelsat affiliate set up to manage this initiative, said: "We are putting in place the best technologies and solutions to deliver a high-quality and affordable Internet solution across Sub-Saharan Africa. RR Media's facilities will form an integral part of this new ecosystem. Its innovative solutions, accessibility and proven track record will support our ambition to deliver an enhanced online experience to Internet users on the African continent."

    Avi Cohen, RR Media's CEO, comments: "This is really an exciting project for us. Our Middle East Media Center's location allows us to play an important role, serving as the hub in connecting people where traditional Internet infrastructure is virtually non-existent. Through better broadband and digital media solutions, we are able to play our part in facilitating better access to the Internet, social media and communications with the wider world."
    Source: Yahoo Finance 26 January 2016


  • Call for Nominations: 10th SAFTA Lifetime Achievers

    The National Film and Video Foundation (NFVF), an agency of the Department of Arts and Culture, extends a call to the industry to send in their nominations for the Lifetime Achievement Award for the 10th South African Film and Television Awards (SAFTAs).

    By awarding and recognising the best in the film and television industry, the SAFTAs seek to enhance the talent that exists, celebrate creativity and honour excellence.

    The SAFTAs committee presents the Lifetime Achievement Award to individuals who have been instrumental in giving insight into different areas of the South African film and television sectors. These are people whose life experiences have in various ways shaped what ordinary South Africans have come to know as excellent acting, filmmaking, producing, directing and entrepreneurship.

    Submissions should include a profile of the person being nominated as well as their CV. All submissions are to be sent to the NFVF by Wednesday 17 February 2016 at 16h00. All information should be forwarded to

    Hot Docs-Blue Ice Group Documentary Fund calls for entries

    The Hot Docs-Blue Ice Group Documentary Fund helps enable more African documentary filmmakers to tell their own stories and contribute to a new generation of the African documentary community. In 2016, the Fund was renewed with an additional $1.25 million CAD, bringing the total investment to $2.35 million.

    The Fund provides development grants of up to $10,000 CAD and production grants of up to $40,000 CAD are awarded to approximately four to 10 projects annually.

    In addition to financing, the Fund provides a peer-to-peer mentorship program where grantees may team up with international production partners to bring their projects to international markets, festivals, broadcast and online audiences. Additionally, grantees will have travel, accommodation and accreditation support to attend Hot Docs Canadian International Documentary Festival and the Hot Docs-Blue Ice Group Filmmakers Lab.

    To date, the Hot Docs-Blue Ice Group Documentary Fund has awarded 40 projects from 15 countries
    Reach the South African Film Industry

    "This program contributes effectively to the development of the cultural industry in Africa… and directly supports those in need."

    How to Apply

    Applications are open to professional filmmakers who are citizens and residents of continental Africa and are also living and working in the region.

    Apply here:
    Source: Filmcontact 27 January 2016

  • NFVF training manager under investigation

    According to a report by Sunday World, the National Film and Video Foundation (NFVF) is investigating a case of fraud following the resignation of former training manager Pretty Mthiyane.

    The investigation follows a complaint by NFVF bursary recipient Teddy Mattera, who claims that a R250 000 bursary for which he had been approved, was actually paid to someone else – a certain Halick Moosa. Sunday World reported that as a result the organisation “had their report about bursaries to the Parliamentary portfolio committee on arts and culture kicked out because Moosa's name appeared on the documents instead of Mattera's.” Mthiyane is also allegedly under investigation following a series of suspicious transactions which were made to and from Accolade Events, an events and promotions company owned by Mthiyane’s domestic worker.

    An anonymous agency official stated: "We have seen that there have been a number of transactions in which money is flowing from the Accolade account and into the personal account of Mrs Mthiyane. These amounts range from R5000 to R35 000.

    "We have also seen that Mrs Mthiyane paid Halick Moosa a range of small amounts from time to time. For someone who earned a take-home of just over R22 000, her lifestyle was very expensive."
    Source: Sunday World


    31 March to 2 June 2016
    Discop Afrique Abidjan 2016

    Sofitel Hotel Ivoire , Abidjan , Ivory Coast
    TV Programs Market: The largest market in Francophone Africa , and creative forum for television programs, TV channels , broadcast technologies and other audiovisual subjects - more than 500 delegates expected , conferences , debates, round tables, floor trade stands and much more ... not to be missed !

    June 2016
    Nollywood Week Film Festival

    Paris, France.

    October 2016

    The world's entertainment content market
    Palais des Festivals, Cannes, France

    See more here:

    November 2016

    SANDTON CONVENTION CENTRE - 161 Maude St, Sandton 2196. Johannesburg, South Africa.
    TV Programs Market: The largest market in Francophone Africa , and creative forum for television programs, TV channels , broadcast technologies and other audiovisual subjects - more than 500 delegates expected , conferences , debates, round tables, floor trade stands and much more ... not to be missed !

    November 2016
    AfricaCom / AfricaCast / TV Connect Africa 2016

    AfricaCom and TV Connect Africa , two essential events for the digital economy in Africa. Approximately 8,000 participants in 2014.
    Ideal for promoting innovation, sell solutions and seal partnerships with telcos content .
    See more here:

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