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Newsletter Broadcast in Africa - Issue no 187 - 12 September 2014

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  • You are in South Africa and there is nothing to watch on TV tonight?

    Check out VIDI, a video-on-demand (VoD) service launched on 10th. September 2014 by Times Media Group (TMG), a major South African media company. VIDI offers online VoD to South African viewers. 

    Just 48 hours after the launch, Balancing Act’s Sylvain Béletre spoke with the VIDI team in Johannesburg including Taryn Uhlmann, Marketing Manager (VOD Platforms, Broadcast and Content) at TIMES MEDIA FILMS to find out more.

    Internet users in South Africa for year-end 2012 was estimated at 22 million for a population of 54 million inhabitants according to the ITU; 15 million used Broadband internet access either via fixed or mobile networks.

    TMG owns a growing bouquet of television channels and has recently invested in television and radio platforms in Ghana and Kenya, with plans to extend to other countries. The company has 13 radio stations and a few TV channels (9 in Africa) in its assets today. With content delivery shifting from analog and print to digital, TMG went through a corporate restructuring transaction, changes in senior management and cost reduction initiatives in 2013. TMG executives see opportunities to invest in local TV and film production and are tracking the digital boom.

    Andrew Bonamour, CEO for TMG, says: “VIDI represents a significant step in Times Media’s evolution to a multi-platform media and entertainment company. It reflects a new entrepreneurial and innovative mindset for the group that we believe will bring long term growth and sustainability.” “It builds on the recent diversification of the company into a range of high growth broadcast and content assets in South Africa and in West and East Africa.”

    Q. How long did it take to build VIDI and how much has TMG invested in this service?
    Did you build the platform yourself or have you purchased a platform or commission to a third party? How much does it take TMG to support the service per month?

    A. We are not disclosing investment or operating numbers but we built the platform ourselves in South Africa and the project began about 18 months ago.  

    Q. What is unique to VIDI vs. other services?

    A. VIDI is the first South African user-friendly streaming service to offer both a monthly subscription option and/or an instant rental option across one platform. There is no programme scheduling but rather instant access to thousands of hours of entertainment.
    Viewers have two options: Unlimited Subscription to a library of movies and award-winning TV series for only R149 (10.50 Euros, USD 13.60) per month.  Sign up is easy with the first month on subscription offered as a trial period. Viewers don’t require a dish or a decoder and they can cancel their subscription anytime as there are no contracts.  Viewers also have the option to instantly rent the latest releases just off the circuit for R27 (USD 2.50) and a selection of premier library titles from as little as R15 (USD 1.40).

    Q. Is the service geo-blocked to South African viewers only or is it available globally? If only in South Africa, do you plan to extend the service to other countries, and if so in which ones?

    A. For content rights’ reasons, VIDI’s website only supports IP addresses located in South Africa, but we will look at expanding into Africa in the future.

    Q. What is the model for content owners supplying films to VIDI? (exclusivity? minimum revenue limits, etc.?)

    A. The content model varies and is confidential per contractual agreements.

    Q. Are you still looking for films, series etc. and if so which genres? (e.g. Africa made content?) Who is the right person to talk to for content acquisition at VIDI?

    A. Yes we are, we are constantly updating our content catalogue.  The contact for content acquisition at VIDI is Keshnie Moodley – KeshnieM(at) African productions – South African or Nigerian for example – will be a key focus for us. We are exploring various genres and niches: films, series, documentaries, magazine, sports etc.

    Q. What are the technology apps used to run VIDI? (player, billing, etc.)

    A. Microsoft Silverlight mainly.

    Q. Where do you host the VIDI app and the catalogue? Do you use any local commercial data centre(s)? which one(s)?

    A. We host the majority of the service on Amazon.

    Q. Is VIDI a multi-screen service? How many devices can you connect with one account? Which web browsers do you need to run the service?

    A. It is available across multi devices: PC, tablets and smartphones (Apple iOS soon and basic Android player currently), connected TV sets or video projector via an HDMI plug.  Contractually, we are allowed 4 devices linked to a single account and 2 concurrent streams.  Web browsers are Microsoft Internet Explorer 9 or later, Google Chrome, Apple Safari, Mozilla Firefox Version 2 or later, Microsoft Silverlight Player Plug-in.

    Q. At some point, do you plan on providing the system via satellite as well? (push VoD)

    A. Not at this stage.

    Q. Do you plan on providing a VIDI mobile app?

    A. Yes our app is imminent on Apple and a basic player is already available on Android

    Q. Do you plan on partnering with national telcos, TV set and mobile terminal manufacturers  to better distribute the service?

    A. TMG is developing an application for smart TVs, which should be ready by December 2014. This will allow Internet-connected TVs to stream content directly without the need to connect another screen/internet device and we are in discussions with various players in the market.

    Q. Who are you targeting with VIDI? How many transaction do you plan on generating per month in 2014-2015?  Do you provide parental control features for content not suited to children?

    A. VIDI’s content is catering for all ages and tastes. At launch we believe take-up will be mostly in urban areas and are targeting connected households. We provide a parental guidance option to set age restrictions which is password protected.  We have a large selection of kids content and a specific ‘Kids Playzone’ with content targeting 2-10 year olds.  We do not have any porn.

    Q. What is your catalogue made of exactly? What about ‘made in Africa’ content?

    A. We have a broad international and growing local content offering and are looking to expand both, including African content.

    The R149 a month subscription offer allows for unlimited viewing of a library of more than 1000 hours of television series and over 100 movies and is constantly growing. VIDI also has a 'Kids Playzone', with a large selection of children's content from TV series to the latest movie releases.

    The Instant Rental Service offers a mix of 72 of the latest blockbusters just off the cinema circuit as well as select library titles, with new titles being added every month, ranging from R15 - R27 a title.

    Adds Andrew Gill, MD of Broadcast and Content at TMG, ”We have secured some of the very best available content from the biggest names in the industry. We will be constantly refreshing our offering with new and exciting films and series”

    Highlights include all seasons of this year’s top Emmy-winner Breaking Bad, an ABC branded block including popular titles such as Greys Anatomy, Cougar Town, Brothers and Sisters and Missing, as well as the all-seasons 10th Anniversary special of Lost, which premiered in the US 10 years ago this September. VIDI will also be celebrating the 20th Anniversary of the classic series « Friends » in November.

    Other TV titles include the popular and most viewed online series ‘Supernatural’ and the teen drama mystery-thriller ‘Pretty Little Liars’.  Movie fare over the following months includes the Oscar-winning drama’s ‘Twelve Years a Slave’ and ‘American Hustle’, the highly acclaimed ‘Gravity’, blockbusters ‘Divergent’ and ‘Need For Speed’ and the recent ‘Maleficent’ and ‘The Lego Movie’.  We also have local South African Film, Die Windpomp available for Instant Rental.

    Picture above: picture of Tom Cruise in 'Edge of Tomorrow' available on VIDI.

    Q. What is VIDI’s business model? Does VIDI provide free videos such as trailers, film news and interviews?

    A. VIDI is a paid only service: it is an advert-free platform but we also provide free content descriptions and trailers.

    Q. Can you access VIDI with a low bandwidth internet access and what is the minimum speed required?

    A. VIDI is adaptive to internet speeds and can work from slow or fast internet connections. It adapts to your internet connection to optimise viewing experience. A minimum of a 1MB speed is required to avoid any buffering issues, but the higher your speed is, the better the experience. We highly recommend 2 to 4 Mb/sec.

    Q. Which VoD services do you consider as competing with VIDI?

     A. There are very few competitors in this market in SA.  There are some illegal services also operating.  We have differentiators in pricing options, features, support, technology and content.

    Q. How many transactions/subscriptions did VIDI get just 48 hours after the launch?

    A. More than we expected
    Q. How to use VIDI and how long does it take to set up an account?

    A. Go to to register, which will take less than 5 minutes. You will need a credit card to sign up. Certain current account/debit cards are accepted, depending on your bank.

    Once you have signed up, watch instantly on your PC, Mac, Laptop, Apple and Android Tablets and Smartphones.  You can also connect your device to your television via a HDMI cable for immediate big screen entertainment. 

    “How to Guides” are available on the VIDI website to help with this process. All you need is to be connected to the internet with at least a 1MB/second download internet speed.

    Q. Do you provide client support? (via email/phone?)

    A. Yes, we have How to Guides and a Vidi Wizard on the site and a call centre +27 11 507 47 51.

    To celebrate its arrival, VIDI is offering a 30-day trial membership so that South Africans can experience the service.





    Digital Content Africa: Balancing Act's web TV channel Smart Monkey TV has launched a new e-letter called Digital Content Africa. On a fortnightly basis, it covers online film, music, publishing and services and applications. We have already produced 21 issues and these can be viewed on this link: Essential reading for those in broadcast or film. If you would like to subscribe, just send an email to with Digital Content Africa in the title line.

    Here are some examples of past issues below:

    You Tube provides a platform for piloting new TV series: An African City and Al Bernameg light the way

    Licensing delays stall Kenya’s “i-Tunes” content platform on a Raspberry Pi but end may be in sight

    The Mobile Deal that is keeping Africans from having more music, film and TV on their mobiles

    Online film, music and TV content in Africa – In search of the elusive business model

    Video clip interviews this week:

    Director Abey Esho on the trials and tribulations of shooting the iROKO TV web/tv series Festac Town

    Ulrich Stark on how broadcasters can make money on social media platform Wezwa

    Man on Ground Akin Omotoso on his latest film a rom-com called Tell Me Sweet Something

    Director of Dr Bello, Tony Abulu on his next film Superstar slated for release in March 2015

    Evert van der Veer, Head of Comedy Central, Africa on the South African comedy scene and programmes they make

    Three competition winners talk about the film they'll make for Afrinolly's Cinema4Change

    Mandy Roger on exclusive African content coming on Pana TV inc a Basketmouth series

    Jason Njoku, iROKO on launching its production arm ROK Studios to test film and TV series

    Egyptian TV satirist Bassem Youssef on fear as Govt's favorite weapon and satire as antidote

    Prince Ade Bamiro on the twisted tale of Close Enemies, 1st Nollywood film shot in Hollywood

    Tinsel director Tope Oshin Ogun on her film Journey To Self and her next TV series

    Jeremy Nathan on a film about Nelson Mandela as the "Black Pimpernel" - Mandela's Gun

    "Balancing Act" is looking for sponsors to produce a free monthly e-letter in French on the ‘audiovisual sector in Africa’.

    To date, there has been not a single source of information in French on this market segment.
    The format of this newsletter would be similar to that produced in English, with possible minor modifications. The newsletter would then be posted on our site like on this link

    Our information portal contains a powerful search engine that allows anybody to find items by keywords and dates easily.
    Sponsors of the newsletter will be able to help shape the newsletter topics to serve its employees awareness, and would get advertising and moderated editorial spaces in our media.
    If this proposal interests your company, please contact me on: with French Broadcast in the title


  • Local documentary filmmaker Tarryn Crossman (Fatherland) won the award for Best Documentary Short at the California International Shorts Festival (CISF), which is set to take place from 13 to 14 September, for her short documentary, Hyena Boys.

    Shot in Nigeria, Hyena Boys examines a group of men, women and children who practice the ancient art of taming beasts – which include snakes, baboons and hyenas. The 10 minute film follows the subjects as they travel across Nigeria entertaining crowds with their entourage of performing animals. They also sell mixtures of herbs and plants that they believe protect them from being harmed by the animals.

    The CISF is a platform for independent filmmakers from around the world to showcase their work. Awards are offered in nine categories, including: Narrative Shorts, Animated Shorts, Documentary Shorts, Experimental Shorts, Student Shorts, Foreign Short, Music Videos, Commercials and Short Scripts.

    Source: Screen Africa  8 September 2014 

  • Where The Road Runs Out, directed by Raindance nominee Rudolf Butendach, has been chosen as an official selection for the 2014 San Diego Film Festival, which runs from 24 to 28 September. This will also serve as the world premier for the first feature partly shot in Equatorial Guinea. Other filming locations included Durban in South Africa and in Rotterdam in the Netherlands.

    Starring Isaach De Bankole, Juliet Landau, and South African natives Stelio Savante and Sizo Motsoko, the film follows George Mensa (Isaach De Bankolé), an outstanding science professor in Europe who finds himself back in Africa after an old friend dies unexpectedly. As a result he inherits a field station in the jungle.

    One day local boy and orphan Jimmy shows up at George’s doorstep. George grows fond of him and Jimmy in turn plays matchmaker between George and Corina (Juliet Landau) head of the local orphanage. But the arrival of Martin (Stelio Savante) jeopardises everything.

    Source: Screen Africa 10 September 2014 

  • The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon is officially set to begin airing in Africa on MTV, who, according to Hollywood Reporter, has secured exclusive African TV broadcast rights to the program. The Tonight Show With Jay Leno previously aired on the continent on CNBC Africa until Leno’s departure–but this the first African TV deal for Fallon’s version.

    Says Dillon Khan, channel director for MTV and VH1 South Africa, “We are delighted that Jimmy will be joining our line-up as star of The Tonight Show, and thrilled to be introducing this entertainment phenomenon to new audiences in Africa. We expect The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon to form a staple part of our audience’s daily viewing, with each show driving conversations among fans from the swings in the playground to the water cooler at work and everywhere in between.”

    Starting Wednesday, September 24th, The Tonight Show will air on weekdays at 18:00 CAT, along with an omnibus edition to air from 17:00 to 19:00 CAT on Saturdays and Sundays. MTV is currently available on the continent in Ghana, Kenya, Nigeria, South Africa, and Tanzania.

    The move is expected to boost Viacom’s presence in Africa. As Hollywood Reporter points out, the parent company of MTV international channels has made a recent effort to begin expanding on the continent, perhaps beginning with the return of the MTV Africa Music Awards (MAMAs) back in June.

    Source: Okay Africa  5 September 2014

  • The African Film Commission has announced the winners and finalists of the 3rd Annual Screenwriting Competition. Please visit our website's blog.


    IBC 2014 (11 to 16 Sept. 2014): To be set up in the context of DISCOP Africa 2014, Africa's #1 films, television content, broadcast and digital media technology market, to take place from 5 to 7 November in Johannesburg, THE INNOVATION VILLAGE will give you an opportunity to meet over 2000 broadcasting professionals representing major content producers and distributors, public and private broadcasters, providers of worldwide broadcast and transmission services (Eutelsat, SES, Globcast, RRSat, Amos Spacecom, Viewsat) established and emerging Pay-TV platforms (DStv, Buni, Afrostream, iROKO, Zuku, StarSat, goTV, My TV, Wabona, Canal+ Overseas, Mauritius Telecom, Parabole Mauritius, Blue Line and others), broadband and mobile networks operators (Vodacom, MTN, Cell C), all of them driving Africa's rapidly growing television and content distribution market. More here.




  • The DA on Friday accused the SABC of imposing a “blackout” on a news report involving one of the broadcaster’s senior officials.

    “An analysis of media reports indicates an SABC news blackout on the issue of SABC chief operations officer Hlaudi Motsoeneng’s salary,” Democratic Alliance MP Gavin Davis said in statement.

    In a separate statement on Tuesday this week, the DA said a reply it received to a parliamentary question had revealed that Motsoeneng’s annual salary rose from R334,167.72 in 2010 to R2.8 million last year.

    On Friday, Davis said an analysis of news reports over the past two days, following the party’s earlier statement, showed the story had been covered by 30 radio stations, one television channel and 11 newspapers, but not by the SABC.

    “The story did not feature on any of the SABC’s 20 radio stations and various TV news bulletins. The ‘radio silence’ from the SABC on Hlaudi Motsoeneng’s inflated salary is deafening,” he said.

    SABC communications head Kaizer Kganyako was not immediately available on Friday to comment on the matter.

    Davis said he had written to the broadcaster’s head of news, Jimi Matthews, asking him to confirm the SABC had not covered the story.

    “[And] if so, explain the SABC’s decision not to run the story despite its obvious newsworthiness, [and] explain who at the SABC took the decision not to cover [it].”

    Davis said that if a story was in the public interest, the SABC was expected to cover it.

    In February this year, Public Protector Thuli Madonsela released a damming report on Motsoeneng’s conduct, including that he had misrepresented his qualifications — he claimed he had a matric — when applying for his current position.

    Madonsela also found Motsoeneng had irregularly upped his own salary three times in one year.

    “His salary progression as the acting COO concomitantly rose irregularly from R122,961 to R211,172 in 12 months, and was in violation of the SABC personnel regulations and constitutes improper conduct and maladministration,” Madonsela said at the time.

    Source: MyBroadband  8 Septmeber 2014 

  • A press release by the organizers of the Big Brother Africa indicates that a search has been launched to find a new location to house the show as Tuesday’s fire has completely damaged the show’s original house in Johannesburg, South Africa.

    The organizers of the show M-Net and Endemol said they are urgently searching for a different Big Brother house to ensure that this year’s edition of the show takes place.

    “At this stage M-Net and Endemol are urgently looking for an alternative Big Brother house in which to film the production, however as this production has highly technical infrastructure, camera and edit requirements an alternative is not immediately available. Every effort will be made to find a solution as quickly as possible to ensure that Africa’s biggest reality show will continue.” the organizers said

    The cause of the fire is unknown and South African authorities have launched an investigation.

    The Big Brother Africa house located at the Sasani Studios in Johannesburg has been the show’s house where housemates stay since 2003 when the reality TV show which has since become the biggest in Africa hit the screens.

    The 9th edition of the show titled: Big Bother Africa – Hot Shots was scheduled to start on Sunday September 7th but now had to be postponed due to the fire.

    Source: The Vibe Ghana  3 September 2014 

  • It's official! Gabonese Pan African and private channel Kanal 7 has been broadcasting since 7 September 2014 from Libreville on UHF channel 40, with frequency 623, 25MHZ. Officials indicate that the new channel "for its second launch phase will broadcast on satellite in three months."
    The new schedule has been designed to help share knowledge. Among other programs are  « 7 enquêtes », « 7 santé », « 7 Génies » concocted to interest viewers in Gabon and other Africans. Full story here:

    The Wananchi Group and Eutelsat partner to accelerate access to digital channels in Kenya and East Africa. ISAT company Wananchi Group, is launching a bouquet without subscription for Kenya on the satellite EUTELSAT 70B. More in 2 weeks time.


  • EbonyLife TV will be launching to DStv customers in Southern Africa (including South Africa) on 10 September 2014.  The channel is currently available to DStv customers in 44 countries in West, East and Central Africa. Since its launch in July 2013, EbonyLife TV has gained prominence as Africa’s first global black entertainment and lifestyle channel, delivering a fresh energy and a new perspective to audiences across Africa.

    EbonyLife TV is aimed at youth aged 18 to 34, and offers over 1000 hours of original and inspiring content that cuts across different genres – from Reality to Talk, Drama, Entertainment, Food, Lifestyle, Teleshopping, News, Magazine, Music, Politics, Religion and Comedy.

    Executive Chairman and CEO of EbonyLife TV, Mo Abudu said: “We’re extremely excited about EbonyLife TV’s extension into the Southern African and South African markets,barely a year after our launch. This expansion is due to our success in the rest of Africa. We’re proud of the fact that we are a 90% homegrown, with the very best of exciting international global black content.”

    Aletta Alberts, GM for Content for MultiChoice commented: “EbonyLife TV is the perfect example of how entertaining local content can travel across the continent. I’m sure our DStv Compact, Extra and Premium customers will enjoy the wide variety of entertainment on this channel – there really is something for every member of the family. This is Africa at its best.”

    The new countries we will be broadcasting to include South Africa, Zimbabwe, Zambia, Namibia, Botswana, Malawi & Swaziland, thus making it another celebratory milestone to be the first Global black, Pan African entertainment channel ’made in Nigeria’ to be syndicated to South Africa.

    Recently launched on UK TalkTalk’s Africa Boost Package, EPG 478, EbonyLife TV will be available on DStv channel 165 to DStv Compact, Extra and Premium customers on 10 September 2014.

    Source: Ebony Live  2 September 2014 

  • Chinese pay-TV provider, StarTimes, has unveiled digital Direct to Home (DTH) service in Kenya. The service which comes as a competition to DTH providers, MultiChoice and Zuku, will be broadcast via satellite, SES 5, at 5° East.

    The new DTH service, StarSat, will offer 98 local and international channels and will cost KES 5,600 (USD 63) for HD set-top box plus satellite dish along with a month’s free access to the Super Bouquet worth KES 2,500 (USD 28).

    The company’s existing DTT service, which was launched in Kenya two years ago has over 272,594 subscribers, according to data from the Communications Authority of Kenya. StarTimes had also recently announced its plans to invest KES 6.9 million (USD 78.8 million) in Nairobi, to build its Africa headquarters.

    Source: Nex TV  1 September 2014.

  • According to the latest South African Box Office Report published by the National Film and Video Foundation, revenue generated by locally-made films increased 43% to R33 million in the first half of 2014, from R23 million in the same period in 2013.

    The report showed that 12 of 111 films released during the reporting period were produced locally, up 20% from 10 titles in 2013. A large share of the 111 titles were distributed by Ster Kinekor (47), and Times Media (39).

    The Amazing Spider Man 2 took top honours as the country’s biggest earner, with R21.8-million, followed by Rio 2 at R21.1-million, and and X-Men: Days of Future Past, with R16.9-million.

    To put the figures into perspective, according to the Amazing Spider-Man 2 grossed a total $202.8 million (R2.16 billion) in the USA alone – with a world-wide haul of $708.2 million (R7.5 billion).

    This means South Africa’s take accounts for less than 0.3% of the total taking for the title.

    Local releases

    Pad Na Jou Hart topped the list for South African film, grossing more than R11-million.

    Overall gross revenue at South Africa’s cinema’s however, declined by 6%, to R382 million, between the first half of 2013 and the first half of 2014.

    In the first half of 2014,local productions accounted for 9% of total gross revenue, up from 5% in the prior reporting period.

    South Africa generated revenues of more than R879 million in 2013 for the 204 films shown at box office.

    Locally produced films increased from 19 in 2012 to 25 in 2013 generating revenues of more than R98 million putting SA’s box office share at 11%.

    In terms of earnings by genre, Animation was the highest grossing genre with R72 million.

    Titles that contributed to this upsurge was RIO 2, The Lego Movie and Mr. Peabody & Sherman.

    Action/Adventure grossed R70 million; and Drama took the third place with R59 million.

    Source: Business Tech Africa  14 August 2014

  • Tuluntulu, one of South Africa's top 10 startup companies this year, has recently launched ten channels that are available 24/7 on mobile. The content ranges from international news, African documentaries to fashion and music channels. The app is available on Apple iOS and Google Android App Store.


  • Trade and Industry Minister Rob Davies announced that he will lower the domestic film expenditure threshold required for producers to benefit from government incentives. Mr Davies is keen on promoting the expansion of the local film industry.

    The threshold has been slashed from R10m to R500,000, allowing small productions to benefit from the rebate scheme from October this year when it takes effect.

    Between 20% and 25% of qualifying film expenditure in the country benefits from the rebate. Of the R8bn spent domestically on film production, government had paid out R2bn under the rebate scheme.

    Mr Davies used his recent trip to the US for President Barack Obama’s Africa Leaders Summit to visit senior executives of major film producers in Hollywood to discuss South Africa as a location for US film production.

    He met decision makers from 20th Century Fox, Sony, Marvel, NBC, Universal and Disney.

    Increase in projects

    While they were positive about South African facilities and technical expertise, the executives highlighted the high demand for limited production facilities such as studios in Cape Town, which indicated the need for expansion.

    Mr Davies stressed the importance of the film incentive for South Africa to remain competitive in attracting foreign film productions.

    The scheme had seen film projects increase from 49 in 2004 to 398 in 2012, of which 256 were local productions, 77 co-productions and 65 foreign productions.

    A study in 2013 showed that in 2012 the industry employed 25,000 direct and indirect employees compared to 4,000 in 1995. It contributed R3.5bn to gross domestic product and R670m in tax.

    "This is a niche industry where we are making significant headway and where the work of our department has contributed to this development," Mr Davies said.

    Bollywood and Nollywood

    The Indian film industry — so-called Bollywood — was also showing interest in South Africa as a location. Smaller producers were working with counterparts in Nigeria’s "Nollywood".

    He would propose that his department and the Department of Arts and Culture send a mission to Hollywood to showcase the abilities of the South African industry.

    The minister was upbeat about the response by members of the US administration and Congress to the extension of the Africa Growth and Opportunity Act when it expires in September next year, and about South Africa's continued inclusion after his engagements with them while in Washington for the summit.

    The US administration had suggested that the parameters of the act be broadened to allow greater access for products from the continent.

    Source: BDLive  13 August 2014 

  • Hollywood is synonymous with movie making. During the Golden Age of Cinema, a majority of the films that were produced for the big screen were shot at studios in this glamorous Southern California city. Over the past couple decades, movie company purse strings have gotten tighter, and location scouts have been looking beyond sunny and sprawling L.A for budget-friendly places to film the latest would-be blockbusters. 

    Above: Cape Town, the beach. Picture credit: Sylvain Béletre @2014.

    Vancouver, Canada became one of the first post-Hollywood film hubs. Places like Eastern Europe, Portugal and New Zealand have also seen a rise in film crew traffic.

    One of the world's newest filming hot spots is Cape Town, South Africa. Reasonably priced labor, unique settings, experienced film crews and support staff, and a diverse population have made this southernmost African metropolis a major destination for film and television production companies of all sizes.

    The downtown area of Cape Town is in especially high demand thanks to its chameleon-like buildings, which are fitting stand-ins for buildings in many major cities on Earth. Star-seeking tourists have a good chance of running into a film set if they stroll the downtown streets.

    Cape Town's profile is still on the rise in the movie world. Its impressive statistics (more than 11,500 location sites were booked and 7,372 filming permits issued in the past 12 months) are mainly due to domestic films and shows as well as music video and commercial shoots.

    Well-known productions have been getting into the mix as well. The award-winning series "Homeland" is being shot in Cape Town, and the 2012 Denzel Washington-headed thriller "Safe House" was set and filmed in the city.

    Several blockbusters were largely responsible for first bringing so much attention to Cape Town. Large parts of Leonardo DiCaprio's "Blood Diamonds" and the action flick “District 9” were shot here, while “Dredd” and "Invictus" also gave a lot of screen time to the city. Now there are rumors that a large part of the next James Bond film will be set in and filmed in Cape Town.

    Cape Town's growing reputation as a filming destination is bringing much more than glamor and status. In fact, the push to lure films here has little to do with catching some sort of a silver screen buzz and everything to do with economics and industry development.

    The earning potential for Cape Town goes well beyond the fees collected for filming permits. Major productions give their foreign crews a per diem, which is money that is spent at local restaurants and shops. Cape Town locals, from camera operators and set designers to extras and personal assistants, are regularly hired for projects large and small. People with experience in these niches are getting a steady stream of lucrative work.

    One of the biggest beneficiaries of the film boom are caterers, who are hired to provide three square meals a day for cast and crew. Of course, hotels and car rental companies are also reaping the benefits of increased business.

    Even if the buzz dies down and some other city takes over the title of hottest new filming destination, Cape Town will still enjoy some lasting benefits from its time in the spotlight. Many major productions provide training for local crew members prior to filming, and Cape Town film workers who participate in these projects are left with a great deal of experience and knowledge that can be used on their own domestic work in the future. South African-made movies like "Lucky Man" have been generating buzz around the world. So in the future, Cape Town will be known not as a destination for foreign productions, but for the films made by local artists and local production studios.

    Source: Filmcontact  1 September 2014 - By: Josh Lew.

  • Anant Singh, Chief Executive of Videovision Entertainment has announced the establishment of a new division that will focus on modestly budgeted action films made in South Africa by local filmmakers. The new division has been formed to nurture young filmmakers and create a profile for them, both locally and abroad.

    The new division will consider projects that meet the following criteria:

    · Budgets of R10 million or less

    · Filmmakers must have produced a film

    · Has a locked script which has commercial prospects

    · Has a director and key talent attached

    · Has at least 50% of the funding secured

    Projects will benefit from the expertise of the Videovision Entertainment team in the following key areas:

    · Funding of up to 40% of the production budget

    · Distribution in South Africa and in international markets

    · Provide strategic direction on the marketing and distribution of the film

    · P&A Funding based on a percentage of the production budget for the release of the film in South Africa

    Anant Singh said, “We believe that we have a wealth of talent in our industry, especially young filmmakers, who have great ideas for movies that will resonate with local audiences. Our proposed new production division is designed to provide a platform for these filmmakers. It is part of our strategy to unlock value in the South African film industry and develop an appreciation of South African cinema by local audiences, the ultimate goal of which is to ensure that our industry is sustainable in the long term.”

    Source: Filmcontact  21 July 2014 

regulation & policy

  • As the deadline for the introduction of the new visa requirements looms, the film industry has arranged a meeting with the Department of Home Affairs to discuss its concerns. There are fears that the new regulations, which take effect on October 1, will affect the burgeoning film and allied industries, which use foreign workers.

    Writing in the Cape Film Commission's latest newsletter, CEO Denis Lillie said that representatives of the commission are to meet the Deputy Minister of Home Affairs in two weeks' time.

    "We need to understand the full reasoning for the changes to the legislation and see how we can work with the changes, or influence a review to ensure that the best solutions are implemented for the security of the country and to ensure that the economic growth of the [film] industry, together with sustainable job creation, is not compromised," Lillie said in the newsletter.

    From next month, visa applications will have to be made in person at a South African mission abroad. This is problematic for producers of films that require large crews travelling to this country from different parts of the world.

    Another problem is that a visa can be extended or altered only outside South Africa.

    The Western Cape department of economic development and tourism launched a petition to request a year-long postponement of the implementation of the new visa regulations.

    The petition cites independent research that "found that the regulations will cost South Africa R10-billion in tourism income alone and a loss of 21000 jobs".

    Efforts to get comment from the Department of Home Affairs were unsuccessful.

    Source: Times Live  8 September 2014 

technology & convergence

  • The Innovation and Research group at Al Jazeera Media Network has kicked off its first major community initiative with an online Innovation Challenge. This is an open competition aiming to surface new ideas about storytelling in mobile and web applications.

    The Innovation Challenge competition offers substantial rewards, including the possibility of future incubation of winning ideas, invitations to large innovation events in the future, and $25,000 in cash prizes.

    Morad Rayyan from Al Jazeera Innovation and Research invited software designers, technologists, and developers from around the world to participate:

    "The topic of exploration for this first Challenge will be 'nonlinear narratives'.

    "Typically, the stories and content we create and consume are linear, and follow a logical, cause and effect structure. Yet our minds and memories work in a nonlinear way, and this offers an opportunity for new types of storytelling, and new methods of media consumption.

    "The applications and software put together for the Innovation Challenge should provide new, flexible, and reusable methods of creating or consuming such nonlinear narratives."

    Al Jazeera is looking for participants from its global audience with a variety of expertise, ranging from idea conception, through design/prototyping, and all the way to development. Full eligibility requirements are available at the Challenge website.

    Early registration is encouraged so participants can start drafting their submissions, or browse existing submissions as they begin appearing.

    Challenge participants can also team up through the platform with others who are looking for assistance with their ideas — which will be helpful considering the time period for submissions is limited.

    Participants can go to the website  and register. The submission period will be open until September 30, 2014, 14:00 GMT.

    For more information, contact @aljazeerair on Twitter or e-mail

  • This year's IBC will see FRANSAT and NEOTION unveil the FRANSAT CI+ CAM module associated with an HbbTV Connected TV as a solution for enhancing the user experience for satellite TV viewers.

    On top of broadcast linear content, FRANSAT, the French free DTT satellite platform belonging to Eutelsat, is offering users interactive services such as an advanced EPG, catch up and VOD streaming services through its FRANSAT Connect portal which is based on HBBTV version 1.5 and OIPF specifications.

    With the NEOTION CI Plus 1.3 Conditional Access Module (CAM) associated with an IP-connected TV, FRANSAT is now able to provide access to its IP-based services straight to the television via a secure and managed communication between the module and FRANSAT HbbTV portal.

    By using the Specific Application Support (SAS) resource, FRANSAT can retrieve information from the CI Plus 1.3 CAM and FRANSAT smart card in order to propose additional added-value services to users, including direct Pay-Tv subscriptions on the TV, VOD services, etc.

    By expanding access to the FRANSAT Connect portal to users with connected TVs, FRANSAT is integrating TV viewing and on-demand services from both broadcast and broadband networks using a unique remote control and offering an attractive user interface.

    With the NEOTION CI Plus 1.3 CAM, FRANSAT is also ready to support the delivery of protected HEVC Ultra HD content on compatible devices.

    Through this technology advance, FRANSAT is continuing to prioritise ease of use and convenience for its audience, while delivering the best TV user experience through hybrid satellite and IP-based services.

    Source: Company Press Release  11 September 2014.



  • Spacecom (Tel Aviv Stock Exchange: SCC), the operator of the AMOS satellite fleet, today announced that the AMOS-5 satellite has won a long-term contract from Senegal's EXCAF Telecom for satellite capacity to digitize the country's broadcast services.  Located at the 17°E prime orbital position, AMOS-5's peak satellite signal over Senegal enables EXCAF Telecom to create West Africa's first digital terrestrial network.
    EXCAF Telecom, the provider of the largest TV bouquet in Senegal, will download its broadcast signals from the AMOS-5 Ku-beam to multiple points of distribution. From these head-ends, EXCAF will send the signals over a terrestrial network throughout the country. EXCAF's signal will originate from Dakar, the capital.
    EXCAF Telecom's Owner and CEO Sidy Diagne, commented, "The project to digitize broadcast in Senegal is of national importance. We selected AMOS-5 due its beam's signal strength, the support provided and the satellite's capacity to expand our network. Bringing DTT to Senegal is highly important in positioning Senegal as a leading country in the broadcast field and bringing television to the Senegalese population."
    "Spacecom is excited to be a prime mover behind Senegal's broadcast digitization project alongside EXCAF Telecom. AMOS-5 is spreading digital broadcast throughout Africa with an emphasis on French-speaking countries, and the addition of this new business in Senegal strengthens AMOS’ position on the continent," stated Sharon Weissman, Spacecom's vice president of sales for French-Speaking Africa. "Senegal is an integral part of French-speaking Africa and working with EXCAF further strengthens AMOS-5’s role from its 17°E orbital position as a regional hot-spot."

    Source: Company Press Release, Sept 2014.

  • Global satellite company, SES, in cooperation with Computer Warehouse Group Plc (CWG), a leading pan-African ICT company, launched a new digital television platform, on SES's ASTRA 2F satellite, at 28.2 degrees East that would provide access to a greater number of stations to households in Nigeria and across West Africa, at a relatively low cost.

    The Launching, which took place alongside the Broadcast Summit, 2014 recently in Lagos, witnessed the attendance of broadcasters, IT professionals, advertisers and administrators from different parts of the country.

    In his opening remark, the chief technology officer, CWG Plc, James Agada, disclosed that true to her vision, "CWG Plc is evolving away from the traditional IT Company in the Nigerian context to becoming a utility enabler, under the CWG 2.0 initiative.

    According to him, "The brand new digital 'Direct To Home' (DTH) free-to-air platform is ultimately designed to help accelerate and alleviate the challenges broadcasters and content owners face in the digital migration process. The platform is packaged as an innovative approach in order to address the challenges of the cost of migration, operation, operational and support challenges, platform agility and flexibility and platform neutrality".

    The digital TV platform is a product of a collaborative effort of SES and CWG. SES will provide the space segment and specific ground services, while CWG will manage the teleport services required to project the signals to users, using high operational standards.

    Agada said, "SES shares a partnership history with CWG that spans about ten years and CWG has proven to be a dependable teleport partner for this project".

    The SES Television platform will be the country's first free-to-air (FTA) DTH digital TV platform.

    According to Theodore Asampong, SES sales Director, Africa, "All that the subscriber is required to pay for is the cost of acquiring a decoder and installing a dish to receive broadcast signals. After this, they will have access to all channels available on the platform, without subscription fees".

    In addition, the new digital TV platform will afford broadcasters the opportunity of reaching a broader audience; millions of satellite homes in West Africa that receive broadcast signals with their dishes facing 28.2 degrees East.

    This will in-turn extend their frontiers of influence and enhance their bargaining chances with prospects advertisers.

    Speaking on the importance of the project, Austin Okere, founder and chief executive officer of CWG Plc, said, "For years, the majority of households in West Africa has been shut out of the digital broadcasting experience. Together with SES, we are excited to enable broadcasters to deliver their content cost-effectively, and in excellent technical quality to millions of households across the region."

    "With the technology and platform that SES is bringing to Nigeria and West Africa, content can be made available to millions of household and with this system we will have over 400 channels available from the existing hundred and ten" , he said.

    Ferdinand Kayser, chief commercial officer of SES, said, "Broadcasting via satellite provides High Definition (HD) picture quality and a100 percent coverage of even the most remote areas and regions. The long-term partnership with CWG will open up new possibilities for local and international broadcasters and allow them to drive digitalisation and reach their audiences across West Africa quickly and cost-effectively."

    The platform offers end-to-end contribution, ground and space services to local, regional, national and international TV broadcasters across West Africa at cheap rates. It will also afford broadcasters the privilege to migrate from analogue to digital TV to meet the digital migration deadline of June 2015.

    Moreover, the inception of the SES TV platform will have broader social impact on the region.

    According to Andy Anderson, Marketing head for Africa, SES, the project is also aimed at providing employment for unemployed youths who will be trained to install the dish needed for signal reception, for free.

    According to him, "being able to perform physical activities and communicate effectively at a minimal level is all an individual require to qualify for the training".

    The Arab countries are part of the GE06 plan, and are therefore heading towards the transition from analogue to digital terrestrial broadcasting. The plan for the digital broadcasting transition in the region is shown in the table below. Some countries are well advanced in the process, while others are still at the beginning or have not yet started. For example, Jordan has arranged for the digital transition in two stages. The first stage, covering the main television broadcasting stations (11 cities), started at the beginning of 2012 and is expected to be completed by the end of the year. The second stage, covering rural and remote areas, will be implemented in 2013-2015. After the first stage, there will be a one-year overlap between digital and analogue broadcasting to allow end users to upgrade their receivers. Jordan Radio and Television is responsible for the transition, and a budget has been allocated for 2012 and 2013.

    Digital broadcasting transition plan, twelve countries in the Arab region have deployed, or have transition plans for deploying digital terrestrial television broadcasting. Most of these countries have frequency plans, and have chosen to deploy the digital video broadcasting -- terrestrial (DVB‑T) standard. However, only a few indicated that a legal and regulatory framework is in place. The duration of the transition ranges from 18 to 91 months. With the exception of Morocco and Saudi Arabia, most of these countries have a limited number of DVB‑T transmitters on air. In contrast, direct-to-home (DTH) satellite broadcasting is available in all countries in the Arab region.

    Country status in the transition in Algeria, the end of analogue television and full transition to digital transmission is scheduled to take place in 2014. Télédiffusion d'Algérie (TDA) announced that it has begun implementing the first phase of its three-phase action plan. Digital terrestrial television broadcasting is expected to be operational by the end of the first quarter of 2012. Internet protocol television (IPTV) has been operational in the Algerian market since February 2010, the service being provided by the Algérie Télécom Group.

    Digital terrestrial television is not operational in Bahrain but Nuetel launched IPTV services in February 2007, and by September 2011 these services were being provided to Reef Island and Amwaj Island. At around the same time in September 2011 Batelco, the incumbent operator, launched its IPTV services to two newly developed areas of Reed Island. Mobile television services in Bahrain are provided by Viva.

    Egypt has the largest number of direct-to-home (DTH) satellite channels in the Arab region. With regard to digital television, the National Telecom Regulatory Authority (NTRA) is now considering the spectrum band 790-862 MHz as part of the digital dividend and will also consider the band 698-790 MHz as a future extension. Mobile operators are offering mobile television. The Egyptian Advanced Multimedia Systems (EAMS) will be the provider of satellite-based IPTV services, when they become commercially available. Mobile television services are provided by Mobinil and Etisalat Misr.

    Source: The Guardian Lagos  13 August 2014


  • Announcement by PAMRO

    The conference due to be held in Ghana in August 2014 is now to be re-schedued to August 2015 due to the health concerns and restriction in travel in West Africa. For further information please visit the website here:

    Important events in the African broadcast, film and TV sector

    Sept 25 - Oct 1 2014
    Lights, Camera, Africa! Film Festival 
    The Lights, Camera, Africa! Film Festival, created by arts and culture centre The Life House, takes place at multiple venues in Lagos, Nigeria from 25 September to 1 October. The theme for the 2014 edition will be Legacy, and will highlight perspectives of the diverse tradition of filmmaking in Africa. By partnering with the New York-based African Film Festival, the British Council, Alliance Francaise, the Goethe-Institut and The Ford Foundation as well as developing relationships with industry experts such as Nadia Denton, Peace Anyiam-Osigwe, Tunde Kelani, Femi Odugbemi and Chika Anadu, the festival aims to offer attendees a diverse and valuable showcase of African cinema.
    Email The Life House,, for more information.

    Oct 2014 (dates tba)
    11th. African Film Festival of Cordoba – FCAT

    Venue: Cordoba, Spain
    The main African film fest in Spain.

    5 to 7 Nov 2014

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

    11th-13th November 2014

    Venue: Cape Town Convention Centre (picture below), South Africa
    AfricaCast will continue to bring together the growing number of Sub-Saharan Africa’s major broadcasters, content owners, telcos, investors, cable companies and pay TV providers. AfricaCom is the largest telecoms and IT event in Africa.

    exact dates tba, Novembre 2014

    Film Africa 2014

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

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

    15 to 17 July 2015
    Mediatech Africa 2013

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




  • Moses Babatope, CEO Talking Drum Entertainment is to be a judge on a panel of top UK film industry executives for Screen International’s fifth annual Awards, celebrating excellence in film distribution, marketing, advertising and exhibition.  Moses (who is also Executive Director of Filmhouse Cinemas and FilmOne Distribution Nigeria) will sit on the jury along side co-judges from Working Title, The Weinstein Company, The Chief Film Critic of the Times Newspapers and other major players in the UK film industry. The awards will take place in London on the 23rd October 2014.

  • NFVF calls for Best Foreign Language Oscar submissions

    The National Film and Video Foundation (NFVF) invites South African filmmakers to submit feature films for consideration for the Best Foreign Language Film at the 87th Annual Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences Awards. The closing date for submissions is 15 September 2014. The South African Selection Academy Committee will select the film chosen to represent South Africa.


    A foreign language film is defined as a feature-length movie produced outside of the US with a predominantly non-English dialogue track. Accurate English subtitles are required.

    Films must have been released in South Africa for a period of at least seven consecutive days beginning no earlier than 1 October 2013 and no later than 30 September 2014.

    A film must be advertised and exploited during its eligibility run in a manner considered normal and customary to the industry, and need not have been released in the US.

    Films which, in any version, receive a nontheatrical public exhibition or distribution before their first qualifying theatrical release will not be eligible for Academy Award consideration.

    Nontheatrical public exhibition or distribution includes but is not limited to:
    • Broadcast and cable television
    • PPV/VOD
    • DVD distribution
    • Internet transmission
    The Academy will make the final determination in all questions of eligibility.


    The Academy uses the following guidelines to determine a film's eligibility in the Foreign Language Award category:

    1. Citizens or permanent residents of the submitting country should be represented in at least two of these categories: a. Producer(s) b. Director(s) c. Writer(s)
    2. Citizens or permanent residents of the submitting country should be represented in the majority in these categories: a. Cinematographer b. Editor c. Art Director or Production Designer (whichever title designates the senior designer) d. Costume Designer e. Music Composer f. Sound Mixer
    3. Citizens or permanent residents of the submitting country should be significantly represented among the major roles in the cast.

    Entries should be hand delivered to the NFVF no later than the 15 September 2014 at 16h00 for attention:
    The South African Academy Awards Selection Committee c/o Tumi Rabanye
    National Film and Video Foundation
    87 Central Street Houghton 2198

    Visit the NFVF website for more information on applications and guidelines.

    Luxor African Film Festival call for submissions and workshop applications

    The Luxor African Film Festival (LAFF) which takes place from 17 to 23 March 2015 in Egypt, is accepting film submissions until 30 November 2014. LAFF is also accepting applications until 25 December 2014 for the filmmaking workshop, which will be presented by Ethiopian filmmaker Haile Gerima. The festival is organised by the non-profit Independent Shabab Foundation (ISF).

    LAFF’s workshop will examine production of low budget films in an aim to equip emerging filmmakers with the skill and talent needed to produce low budget, high quality productions. Finished films produced in the workshop will screen at the closing ceremony. The festival will cover travel, accommodation and transport for the accepted applications and will sign contracts to hold the rights of the festival in the films produced during the workshops.

    Workshop applicants will need to meet the following requirements in order to be considered:
    • African nationality
    • Should be a recognised film school or film institute graduate or
    • A professional independent script writer or film director with experience working on no less than two films prior to LAFF in March 2015 (Narrative or Documentary, Short or Long)
    • Should not surpass thirty years of age in January 2015
    • Must send past film work with the application

    Burkina Faso will be highlighted at the fourth edition due to its valuable contributions to the African film industry. The Pan African Film and Television Festival of Ouagadougou (FESPACO) will also be a focus, in support of its initiative to build cinematic and cultural relations between African countries.

    Feature and short films produced in African countries, which are made by African filmmakers or which feature African subjects will screen at the festival. LAFF features the following competition categories: Long Narratives, Long Documentaries, Short Films (Narratives and Documentaries), The International Competition of Freedom Films as well as other special sections. The ISF will also grant the Radwan El-Kashef Prize for Best Film reflecting African issues, providing filmmakers with an opportunity to win $1000 and The Golden Mask of Tutankhamun.

    In 2014 LAFF hosted US actor, film director and political activist Danny Glover and screened 110 films from 41 African countries.

    The festival selection committee will announce participating films on 1 January, 2015.

    Terms of subscription and registration and application forms are available to download in Arabic, English and French from the festival website. 

    International Digital Emmy® Awards @MipTV

    The Eleventh International Digital Emmy® Awards will take place April 2015 at MipTV in Cannes, France. Competition will open September 2014, and will close November 2014.

    Please contact the for more information.


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