Issue no 10 Lions(6 August 2007

  • One of the highlights of the Technology, Entertainment and Design (TED) conference in Arusha in June was seeing the Africa animation work presented by Treelion’s co-producer Patrick Aglae. He showed the trailers for a French TV series Kabongo the Griot. It had all the surface gloss of a Walt Disney animation but could not be anything but African. This was no copy but something that had a distinctive style of its own. Aglae is now seeking to raise money to fund a full-length animation feature, The Invincible Lions, whose opening will be timed to coincide with the World Cup in South Africa in 2010, writes Russell Southwood.

    Although Aglae is fairly secretive publicly about the story-line of The Invincible Lions, he will say that it is “about football” and it will be in English and French. That said, having seen the story outline, it is one that will have wide appeal, particularly in terms of its presentation.

    Treelion’s Aglae is the co-producer for Pictoon Studios based in Dakar, Senegal. Pictoon’s founder is Pierre Sauvalle from Cameroon who was trained at L’Ecole des Gobelins in Paris and cut his teeth professionally working for Disney’s Pixar (on the Shark’s Tale) and for the largest animation studio in France, Saban International. Co-producer Aglae was former worldwide manager of Tippi Degre aka Tippi of Africa, the young girl who speaks with the animals (described by the London Daily Mail as ‘The real-life Mowgli girl’), the subject of a worldwide bestseller book, with accompany video.

    Pictoon was chosen by Unicef in 1999 as among the 70 best animation studios in the world with Disney and Pixar and its story will be aired in May on BBC World in a documentary film called Africa Open for Business by CNN Journalist Carol Pineau (who was also at the TED conference) presenting ten best African entrepreneurs of the 21st century.

    Animation is very young part of the industry in Africa. Places like South Africa have a pool of animation skills but these are currently largely used for commercials. Aglae says that there are also good people who have the right skills in Mali and Tunisia. Even working with computer software, animation remains a labour-intensive business and this is perhaps one area where Africa has distinct cost advantages. Pictoon’s bread-and-butter work is making animated series for French television. It has not made anything longer than a 25-minute television programme but it now has a pool of 150 people that it has trained and wants to make the step up to a feature length film.

    Aglae says:”We have some interest from a range of investors but we are still looking. It will be a feature-length film for TV, DVD and VOD and it will air on television in 2010.”

  • As good as its word, Africa’s new Pay-TV contender GTV signed its first deal with an African football league – the Federation of Uganda Football (FUFA). The US$5 million deal over five years covers both rights and support for the Federation. The signing marks the official launch of GTV’s strategy to invest in football around the continent and underscores FUFA’s commitment to enhancing the sport in Uganda.

    Of the US$1 million a year given to FUFA in the deal, half will be for rights to show games and the other half covers direct support for FUFA’s members. Whereas in most deals of this kind elsewhere, the football body would provide the outside broadcast coverage, GTV will manage this part of the process. As Julian McIntyre, founder and Managing Director of GTV told us:”We will manage the outside broadcast and provide the executive producer and commentator. We will do this using local and foreign talent and equipment. FUFA has to ensure that there is electricity at the stadium.”

    The key question in deals of this kind is how many matches? McIntyre says:”We will build up over time. We will do occasional live broadcasts and some recorded delayed games. We’d like to be doing in excess of one live game a week. You can do the latter with 1-2 cameras as opposed to the 3 cameras required for live games so they’re more cost-effective. We will also do a magazine show with weekly round-ups.”

    Why did GTV start with Uganda? According to McIntyre:”Ugandan football is at an exciting point. Its administration is progressive and forward-thinking. It used to attract large crowds of fans and is going through something of an upsurge. The national team is one match away from qualifying for the African Nations Cup. In our view, the success of football leagues and Pay-TV go hand-in-hand.”

    The ferment GTV is creating in the market is making itself felt in Uganda:”When we launched, we sold out our stock (of set-top boxes) in a day. We replaced them and again sold out in a day. We will have tens of thousands of subscribers in the next few months.”

  • A Catholic peace radio started by the Catholic Bishops of Burundi in 2006 is seeking government permission to broadcast throughout the country. Radio Ijwi Ry'Amahoro, meaning 'Voice of Peace' in Kirundi, was inaugurated by Bishop Jean Ntagwarara, president of the bishops' conference, in April 2006. It covers the capital Bujumbura and the surrounding areas.

    Speaking to Fides news agency during the station's first anniversary, Fr. Emmanuel Muyehe, the station director, said Radio Ijwi Ry'Amahoro intends to be the church's voice for new evangelization and promotion of peace throughout Burundi. He added that the church hopes the station will help promote a culture of peace and reconciliation in Burundi, which still bears the scars of terrible civil strife. The radio, which was started with the help of the Italian Bishops' Conference, broadcasts in the official Kirundi, French and Swahili languages.

    (Catholic Information Service for Africa (Nairobi), 20 July 2007)

  • Shabelle Media Network is launching an English language news broadcasting service. Abdimalik Yusuf,CEO of Shabelle Radio and website based in Mogadishu, the Somali capital, said the independent outlet will reach millions of people across the world.

    The English language news broadcasting will start being broadcast in Somalia on August 8, 2007. Its listeners throughout the world will be able to listen to the Somali news in English at Shabelle English news will be broadcast six days a week at 3 to 3:15pm local time from Saturday to Thursday.

    (Shabelle Media Network (Mogadishu), 3 August 2007)

  • Entertainment channel MTV Base and Kenya’s premiere radio station, Capital FM, have teamed up to re-define how young adults consume media by introducing MTV TRL Radio, a new radio property for the Kenyan young-adult market.

    MTV TRL Radio, a weekly 2-hour radio show makes its debut on Capital FM on 3 August 2007. A unique mix of the hottest hip-hop and R&B tunes, MTV TRL Radio also combines the latest entertainment news with interviews from the biggest stars, leveraging MTV’s global access to A-list musicians and entertainers around the globe. Kenyan radio fans have already had a taste of what’s expected on the show, with regular 1-minute entertainment clips featured daily on Capital FM called MTV TRL All Access.

    Sponsored by Coca-Cola and airing weekly on Capital FM, MTV TRL Radio will broadcast between 19:00pm -21:00 pm every Friday. The show will be hosted by fabulous Capital FM radio presenter Chao with additional clips and inserts from MTV base celebrity guests and presenters Sizwe Dhlomo and Fikile Moeti. The MTV TRL Radio concept will subsequently be rolled out to other markets in sub-Saharan Africa.

  • The South African Cabinet has given the approval for the 2010 FIFA World Cup International Broadcast Centre (IBC) to be located in Johannesburg. The approval was given during Cabinet's regular meeting at the Presidential Guest House last Tuesday.

    This following Cabinet's consideration of the report from the Board of the FIFA Local Organising Committee (LOC), government spokesperson Themba Maseko told reporters after the meeting. The IBC will be the nerve centre for the world cup and media streaming would be organised, packaged and sent out from the facility to over 30 billion viewers worldwide. About 2,000 journalists are expected to descend on the country during the World Cup.

    Gauteng beat the City of Cape Town and Ethekwini, both of which are match host cities, in their bids to host the IBC. Maseko said, the Board of the FIFA LOC "felt that Johannesburg was better suited to host the IBC." The IBC will enhance South Africa's migration into the new model of high definition television and new broadcasting technology, Maseko explained.

    (BuaNews (Tshwane), 24 July 2007)

  • In a bid to increase local content and save foreign exchange in the Nigerian film industry, Hilton Communications Nigeria Limited, an indigenous film production outfit has invested N15million (US$120,000) in a state-of-the-art hi-tech studio in Abuja.

    The studio which handles a wide variety of digital productions, including home movies, documentaries, musicals, drama, advertisement jingles and soundtracks, according to its owners, was a product of many years of research on the film and music industry in Nigeria.

    Executive Director, Business Development, Hilton Digital Audio and Video Studios, Collete Ugbaja condemned the habit of Nigerian film makers and advertising firms who go abroad for productions which they could do locally at even cheaper rates. At the official opening of the facility in Gwarinpa, Federal Capital Territory, Ugbaja disclosed that the studio was meant to bridge the gap that has existed over the years and save Nigerians from the lure of patronizing sub-standard foreign firms and ending up with poor quality films and musicals. He expressed hope that the new facility will revolutionize and transform the Nigerian film industry beyond all imaginations.

    He said that the quality of the home movies currently produced in the country will witness a leap over the next few months if only indigenous film directors could look inwards and appreciate the fact that perfect pictures and perfect sound were not the exclusive preserve of foreign production firms.

    According to Ugbaja, a number of government agencies, banks and other private sector organisation have been the opportunity to benefit from the services of the studio, just as a crop of budding local musical artistes were already on their clientele. He assured that with the state-of-the-art equipment and a highly motivated workforce, Hilton Studios was set to change the face of audio and studio productions not only in Abuja but across the country. He announced a five month promotion programme, during which the company shall offer special discounts to clients, especially on jobs targeted at the forthcoming Abuja Carnivals.

    (This Day (Lagos), 1 August 2007)

  • Reporters Without Borders has condemned the continuing detention of journalists Vincent Hata, Michel Shango and Eugène Risasi Tambwe of the public broadcaster RadioTélévision Nationale Congolaise (RTNC), who were arrested for union activism on 26 and 27 July 2007.

    Reporters Without Borders partner organisation in Democratic Republic of Congo, Journaliste en Danger (JED), said a fourth RTNC journalist, Makolo Tshilumbayi, was arrested at the same time as the other three and for the same reason. JED said the arrests came at the behest of RTNC General Manager Emmanuel Kipolongo, who accused the journalists of "preparing a meeting with a view to destroying the public TV station's installations." The RTNC management and union representatives have been at loggerheads for several months.

    "Illegal arrests are on the increase," RSF said. "The Congolese constitution recognises trade union freedom. It is a key element of labour rights and a corollary of free opinion. The RTNC chief's allegations against [the journalists] do not seem to have any serious basis. Furthermore, we fear that they could be mistreated. They should therefore be released at once."

    A member of the police Directorate for General Intelligence and Special Services (DRGS) told JED that the four unionists were charged with "publicly insulting the president, trying to destabilise RTNC and discrediting the government by launching a strike."

    After initially being held in a Republican Guard military camp, Tshilumbayi, Hata, Shango and Tambwe were transferred on 28 July to the detention centre at the DRGS headquarters known as "Kin Mazière".

    (Reporters sans Frontières (Paris), 30 July 2007)


  • Zimbabwe’s sole broadcaster, state-run ZBC, has given in to public pressure to end a blackout of Premier Soccer League (PSL) matches on radio and television. The derby between Dynamos and Caps United on Sunday will be the first match to be televised live by Zimbabwe Broadcasting Corporation (ZBC) this season. Other league fixtures this weekend will be broadcast on two of ZBC's radio stations.

    PSL chairman Tapiwa Matangaidze had insisted that the cash-strapped ZBC pay reasonable royalties for the top-flight matches it covered live. It could not be established whether or not ZBC and the PSL had agreed on a revenue deal. However, ZBC TV acting general manager Robson Mhandu said the state broadcaster had decided to bring back the live coverage of top-flight football due to public demand.

    "We recognise that soccer is the country's most popular sport and the great demand there is from the viewing and listening public to be able to see and listen to Premier Soccer League have decided that as from this Sunday we will bring our viewers and listeners the most popular sport worldwide and that it is our responsibility as the nation's sole broadcaster to broadcast live coverage of the world's favourite game," Mhandu said.

    In March ZBC botched a Z$1.5 billion deal to broadcast live the ICC Cricket World Cup in West Indies. The state broadcaster could not afford the rights to screen the action from the Caribbean until Zimbabwe Cricket came to the rescue by entering a deal with the SABC. After Zimbabwe Cricket paid SABC Z$1.5 billion, ZTV only had to adjust its satellite to receive the signal. However, ZTV failed to part with Z$1 million for a technician to tune their satellite dish in order to receive the signal from SABC.

    (Zimbabwe Independent (Harare), 20 July 2007)

  • Namfisa CEO Rainer Ritter last week launched Bank Windhoek's Money Matters Television Series, aimed at strengthening the bank's commitment to consumer education and financial literacy. "This consumer education initiative of Bank Windhoek is aimed at empowering consumers with relevant knowledge to enable them to make more informed decisions about their personal finance and lifestyles," said Bank Windhoek Managing Director, James Hill, at the launch.

    The programme also aims to provide helpful tips to clients on how to save on their bank charges, amongst other things. A statement released by the bank said Money Matters supports industry initiatives such as the annual Bank Week organised by the Bank of Namibia in partnership with commercial banks

    From the end of July 2007, clients and stakeholders will be able to view the Bank Windhoek Money Matters television series on both One Africa Television and the Namibian Broadcasting Corporation (NBC). The Money Matters television series will run over a period of 26 weeks.

    Bank Windhoek said it understood that the provision and access to adequate information about banking and properly advising their clients on banking solutions were necessary to strengthen their relationship with them.

    Bank Windhoek said the weekly Money Matters newspaper column will continue to be published and will not be replaced by the television series. To ensure that clients and stakeholders can always refer back to previous editions of Money Matters, the bank will publish all editions of Money Matters on the Bank Windhoek website.

    (New Era (Windhoek), 25 July 2007)

  • Easy FM is the most popular radio station among Kenyan listeners, says a leading research firm. The station's ratings among the listeners increased from 14 per cent in the first quarter to 16 per cent in the second quarter of 2007, show the ratings by Consumer Insight. The researcher places Easy FM's nearest competitor at 12 per cent, giving the Nation Media Group-owned radio station a leadership margin of four per cent.

    The station's ratings were some of the highlights contained in the media group's half-year results released by the chief executive officer, Linus Gitahi, during an investor briefing at the Serena Hotel last week. In the results for the half-year ending June 30, 2007, NMG recorded a 31 per cent increase in pre-tax profit compared to the same period last year. The half-year pre-tax profits grew to Sh679 million, up from Sh520 million. Turnover increased by 16 per cent to stand at Sh3.5 billion. "The increase in turnover was largely driven by volumes because we have not increased our prices in the last six years," said Gitahi.

    Earnings per share increased by 28 per cent over the same period. The newspaper division returned a 26 per cent increase in advertising revenue over the same period in 2006, while circulation revenue increased by six per cent, with the newly launched Business Daily newspaper showing a promising start. "We have additional revenue streams from contract printing and digital initiatives," said Gitahi. Revenue in the broadcasting division went up by 24 per cent with both Consumer Insight and Steadman Group rating NTV as the most viewed TV station in the country.

    Portfolio restructuring to move Nation Marketing and Publishing to the next level is under way, said Gitahi. NMG's Uganda operations were improving, with The Monitor Publications' advertising revenue increasing by 23 per cent over the same period in 2006, while maintaining the 2005 election year circulation figures. The business turnaround of Mwananchi Communications in Tanzania was under way with its management strengthened recently.

    (The Nation (Nairobi), 28 July 2007)


  • The battle over local soccer broadcast rights -- which was characterised by angry threats from SABC CEO Dali Mpofu -- was settled last week as the public broadcaster backed down and agreed to buy 143 games a season from rivals SuperSport, as was initially offered. But last week, the SABC's statement was a whimper compared with the fire and brimstone utterances which have characterised Mpofu's broadsides.

    "The SABC shall retain the right to pursue the pending arbitration hearings, but has filed a notice of withdrawal of the urgent interdict which was supposed to be heard on July 31," said the statement.

    A joint statement issued yesterday with the Premier Soccer League (PSL) stated that the parties were "delighted that it has become possible to provide football to the majority of South African citizens".

    The new deal gives the SABC exclusive rights to 110 matches of 143 games a season, with the remaining 33 to be shared between the two broadcasters. According to the SABC, the matches included major derbies, knock-out competitions, semifinals and finals . PSL chairman Irvin Khoza said the league had ensured that more than double the number of matches that were previously broadcast would now be shown on television.

    The SABC only broadcast 60 games last season, despite the fact that it had sole rights to all PSL games. It was unclear how much the public broadcaster would pay its rival. When SuperSport bought the rights to the PSL's 480 games a season for R1bn over five years last month, almost tripling the R350m (US$49.6 million) the SABC had been paying for years, Mpofu challenged the deal, demanding to negotiate control over the games with the PSL, without having to buy a sub-license from SuperSport.

    (Business Day (Johannesburg), 27 July 2007)


  • Despite a law passed in 2002 guaranteeing media independence by formally forbidding censorship in Rwanda, in practice the media is still tightly controlled by the government, a US media watch dog has said. In an annual survey 'Freedom of the Press 2007; A Global Survey of Media Independence', Freedom House says the government's attitude toward the press in 2006 continued to be one of suspicion and control. The watchdog also says government has been using it financial muscle to control content of newspapers.

    Nonetheless, Freedom House concurs that all newspapers operating in Rwanda, including the state-owned papers, face financial constraints that make it impossible for them to publish on a daily basis and most independent publications only do so twice a month.

    "In addition, the government has the potential to influence print publication content through its purchase of advertising space, upon which many newspapers are financially dependent, as well as its operation of the sole domestic printing press available to non-religious media", the watchdog notes in the 362-page study. It was released Wednesday.

    However, according to the Washington based body, although the government continued its "confrontational approach" to relations with the media in 2006, many independent print publications "refused" to censor themselves and published articles "critical of government behaviour".

    Despite the liberalisation of the broadcast airwaves, Freedom House says the authorities maintain "tight control" over the radio and most of the independent stations "stay away from political content and focus instead on music".

    It notes that although Internet access appears to be unrestricted the fact that it is only available to "less than 1 percent" of the population is an issue to be reckoned with. On the media bill currently before Parliament, Freedom House says the new press law that could provide "marginal improvements" to the 2002 law.

    Case in point, the watchdog singles out articles in the 2002 law that prescribe criminal responsibility for newspaper printers and vendors as part of the chain of those that could be probed by court in case of offence by a newspaper.

    The new bill however entails protecting newspaper printers and vendors from criminal libel prosecutions and removing a judge's obligation to impose the maximum sentence on journalists convicted of certain criminal offences.

    Freedom House said sub-Saharan Africa has experienced notable increases in freedom over the past generation, although more setbacks than gains were seen in 2006.

    "Sub-Saharan Africa in 2007 presents at the same time some of the most promising examples of new democracies in the world-places where leaders who came to power through fair elections provide real opportunities for their citizens to live in freedom-as well as some of the most disheartening examples of political stagnation, democratic backsliding, and state failure," said Thomas O. Melia, deputy executive director of Freedom House.

    He added: "One of the least reported, least appreciated stories in recent years may well be the ongoing advance of freedom across the African continent, notwithstanding the setbacks that receive much more attention".

    The analysis on Africa; "Freedom in Sub-Saharan Africa 2007" notes that, among the 48 countries of sub-Saharan Africa, 11 were rated Free for their performance in 2006, 22 were rated Partly Free and 15 were rated Not Free. Rwanda is rated not free. The analysis is part of the whole survey.

    From a scale of 94, Cape Verde Ghana and Mauritius come out on top with Eritrea, Zimbabwe, Equatorial Guinea, Somalia and Rwanda lagging behind at the bottom in political rights and civil liberties.

    A recent drawback with regards the new Weekly Post that was given a licence that was later withdraws could further affect how media watchdog view developments in Rwanda.

    RNA can also reveal that editors with the Weekly Post registered to attend the Presidential press briefing Tuesday but were told a day before that they were not welcome because they are "not registered".

    During the briefing, Information Minister Prof Nkusi Laurent was asked to by President Paul Kagame to shed light on the matter. He said the licence of the paper was withdrawn after "circumspect investigations" revealed information contrary to what the paper's managers had provided.

    The High Press Council has since written to the Minister asking him to "explain" to the Weekly Post manager why their licence was held.

    (Rwanda News Agency/Agence Rwandaise d'Information (Kigali), 20 July 2007)

  • MTN Nigeria Communications, last week hosted students, stakeholders and of subscribers of its newly re-launched lifestyle and music entertainment brand tagged MTN Xtra Cool Loaded Music, to an evening of fun and jamz at the University of Lagos.

    The show had hundreds of students of the university and other students from neighbouring higher institutions who were thrilled to melodious music from Nigeria leading hip hop artistes Tu Face Idibia, Konga and the king of rap, Ruggedman.

    As one of its value added bundles, MTN introduced the Xtra Cool package on September 2006, a market segmentation initiative designed to meet the needs of its diverse market population. With the new development, MTN is set to take entertainment to a new level.

    Speaking on this during the July 4 media launch at the Sheraton Hotel Lagos, the chief marketing officer, Bola Akingbade explained that the re-launch of the Xtra Cool package was about showing what MTN Nigeria is capable of delivering in terms of added value in areas that are in tune with people's lifestyle, culture and aspiration; using music entertainment as a platform.

    According to the marketing officer, "what we mean by that is that we are telling Nigerians how we are going to delight them and link them to what they are passionate about, particularly on the music platform."

    The telecommunication company promised to deliver unlimited enjoyment of music through exclusive access to top rate Nigerian and international music via live concerts and content downloads on the phone and the PC from the MTN Loaded portal.

    The concert which is pan Nigeria , will take them to various states and campuses across the country. Those on the Xtra Cool platform will apart from music download be able to access short clips of the various concerts. The package also provides the benefit of accessing yet to be released albums of global music divas.

    (Daily Champion (Lagos), 20 July 2007)

  • MTech, a leading African mobile content provider, and sports marketing company OSMi announced last week that it had won the rights to power mobile Premier League highlights and news service across Africa (excluding South Africa). However, these broadcasts exclude South Africa.

    The new offering will provide near-live coverage of all 380 Premiership matches in the 2007/2008 season, individual match and weekend 'round-up' highlights packages as well as SMS competitions and other mobile content. MTech will go live with the service in Nigeria and across sub-Saharan Africa when the Barclays Premier League begins on 11 August 2007, with operator partnerships to be announced shortly beforehand.

    "The popularity of the Barclays Premier League is at fever pitch across the continent. African newspapers devote huge space to match reports and radio talk shows feature heated debates between rival supporters," said Chika Nwobi, MD of MTech. "Combine this popularity with the potential that mobile content is showing in Africa and you have a winning proposition."

    "During the 2006/2007 season we received over 5 million subscribers to our Premiership-related SMS News service," added Chika Nwobi. "This was a significant achievement and we are confident that the new service, which includes near-live video and pictures, will easily surpass that figure in 2007/2008."

    "We believe MTech has the right platform on which to further raise the profile of the Premier League in a region which has shown great appetite for football," said Premier League chief spokesman Dan Johnson. "We look forward to working with them to bring all the very best of the Premier League action to mobiles across the continent."

    (Biz-Community (Cape Town), 20 July 2007)

  • Knowledge Management Africa (KMA) has launched the Knowledge Hub at its second biennial conference in Nairobi, Kenya. This Knowledge Hub, according to information from the Development Bank of Southern Africa (DBSA), will serve as a central point of access to all information and knowledge management, services and products and all development related topics in Africa. It is intended to be a central depository of Knowledge and Information on all development related topics in Africa.

    Speaking at the conference, Paul Baloyi, DBSA Chief Executive Officer said, "The hub will provide users throughout the African continent with access to reliable and efficient information. Our intention with the hub is to encourage users to use knowledge-based information in their decision-making on issues related to, amongst others, health, education, tourism, poverty and communication".

    KMA initiative is intended to promote knowledge as an enabler for African development. It facilitates the harnessing of knowledge to improve development outcomes in Africa in the socio-economic spheres. KMA also encapsulates an undertaking to support relevant research from institutions based in Africa.

    The conference forms an integral part of these initiatives by bringing together key partners from around the continent to share their best practices.

    "We encourage academics and researchers to not only use the hub to access information, but to register their case studies so that users can have access to valuable information", said Snowy Khoza, DBSA Executive Manager and Chairperson of KMA.

    The KMA plans to work with various other development agencies to promote the development of infrastructure, as well as play a role in addressing the challenges of endemic diseases such as HIV and Aids, Malaria and Tuberculosis.

    "We need to emphasise the need to develop Africa, eradicate poverty and reverse dependency. DBSA is making efforts to address these challenges including the development of human capacity and developing innovative technologies that are sustainable and suitable for Africa," concluded Baloyi.

    The KMA conference took place in Nairobi, Kenya from 17th to 19th July 2007.

    (The Voice (Francistown), 24 July 2007)

    § Africa Broadcasting and Media Congress 2007 (29 October – 2 November 2007 – Johannesburg, South Africa)

    The Africa Broadcasting and Media Congress 2007, (29 October – 2 November 2007) is committed to improving technology, service and ROI in this rapidly evolving African market. Bringing together leading companies with senior decision makers and helping to drive African broadcasting and media into the 21st century and beyond.

    By popular demand the Africa Media and Broadcasting Congress 2007 is proud to add an extra IPTV masterclass to the event. This separately bookable day will provide you with some essential insight into IPTV as well as its potential for the African continent.

    (t) +27 11 516 4016

    (f) +27 11 707 8342


    § People to People – Documentary Conference event (13th-15th September, Atlas Studios, Johannesburg, South Africa)

    An exciting new initiative in the Southern African documentary film industry is to be inaugurated in September this year, the PEOPLE to PEOPLE International Documentary Conference. Scheduled for the 13, 14 and 15 September at Atlas Studios in the precinct of Stanley Avenue in Johannesburg, PEOPLE to PEOPLE is South Africa’s first full scale, dedicated documentary conference event.

    “This is a pioneering event for the industry,” says Rehad Desai of the 3 Continents Film Festival, one of the organisations behind the conference. “It is a timely indication of the growth and development of the local industry”.

    The high profile and well established festivals, the 3 Continents Film Festival and the Encounters South African International Documentary Festival, together with the Southern Africa Communications for Development (Sacod), a long standing network of industry practitioners from 11 southern African countries, are the joint initiators of the conference. “To be able to host an international documentary conference presupposes a certain level of national industry development,” Desai says, “including in financing, production, creativity, exhibition, global industry interaction and social engagement”.

    “The conference takes forward the work of our respective organisations to fulfill the critical role of documentary film in the South”.

    Filmmaker Feizel Mamdoo, appointed as the director of the inaugural conference, says that international experience has shown the documentary conference “as an event to uniquely support the development of the genre and its role in engaging the interests and concerns of society”.

    “PEOPLE to PEOPLE aims to do so even more pointedly,” he says, “driven by the pressing concerns of the South and its lived consequence for documentary filmmakers of the South”.

    A central tenet of the conference is to promote relationships and resulting opportunities between filmmakers across the world, in particular between the resource deficient countries of the South.

    Conditions in the South, the organizers say, “for democracy, development and a more equitable word order”, and conditions globally “to stem the demonization of and polarization between peoples,” compel an ever-important role by documentary film. The conference aims to build fraternal relations “between the peoples of the world on the basis of a critical consciousness”.

    A stimulating conference programme will see delegates engage the financial, organisational, infrastructural, craft and subject concerns of the genre. While participants are still being confirmed, leading personalities are billed to participate in a feast of panel discussions, debates and master classes.

    Programme highlights include:

    - A keynote address to coincide with the 30th anniversary of the death in detention of Steve Biko on the value of his thinking for self-referential documentary filmmaking in the South;

    - instructive sessions, including master classes, across the full spectrum of the production value chain;

    - an interrogation of the ground-breaking National Indigenous Television Channel (NITV) launched recently in Australia;

    - a roundtable on South Africa’s national debate, crime, with reference to Mick Davies’ thought provoking “The Choir”;

    - consideration of Chavez, Venezuela and the shutting down of the county’s most popular TV network;

    - testimonies of repressive social, political and legislative conditions under which documentary is produced, particularly in the South;

    -a devil’s advocate provocation on the validity of the 1960s “Africa Addio” representation of Africa following decolonisation;

    - promotion of the negotiation between SA industry organisations and the SABC on Intellectual Property;

    - an exploration of filmmaking as a spiritual experience;

    In concept and design the conference seeks consciously to promote public access and interaction between peoples. Strategies for this include the dynamic setting and use of conference space at Atlas Studios, which is in the precinct of the new city regenerative developments at Stanley Avenue, and the offer of accommodation to visiting guests in the homes of local filmmakers and community members.

    The conference, to be held every two years, is timed to coincide alternately with the 3 Continents Film Festival in September and, Encounters South African International Documentary Festival in June.

    To register contact:

    Lavinia Jonasi

    Conference Administrator

    Cell: +27 (0)76 909 6555

    Tel: +27 (0)11 403 8416 / 8471 / 8472

    Fax: +27 (0)11 403 8474

    § 9th annual PAMRO Meeting and All Africa Media Research Conference (Club Makokola in Malawi on August 19)

  • The future of ZTV’s Arthur Marime -- better known as Mr Riimz -- hangs in the balance after he fell out with authorities over what they felt was misrepresentation on the Hola Africa project. Hola Africa is a reality show organised by the African Broadcast Media Partnership Against HIV/Aids in which Zimbabwe Broadcasting Holdings' finance and corporate services general manager Semukeliso Gono is the local spokesperson.

    Last week, Gono issued a statement to the effect that Riimz was not part of Hola Africa and that he had only been invited to conduct interviews. Riimz had been quoted in various newspapers as a spokesman.

    "At the moment Marime is not part of the Hola Africa team. We only requested his services, that were to conduct interviews for us at the point when he was still presenting He did the interviews for us and the programme will be screened soon on ZTV. That was his only part at Hola Africa," she said.

    In what might be a mere coincidence, Riimz has not presented the last two Sisonke Mix programmes, -- a popular ZTV musical show on Saturday nights -- amid rumours that he had been fired. The official position at ZTV, where Riimz is a part-time employee, is that the dreadlocked presenter has taken time off.

    "Marime is still a Sisonke Mix presenter, he was only given some days off. You must know that he is not here as a full-time employee. Like all other presenters he is just a part-time worker," said ZBH's television production manager, Lawrence Maphosa, this week.

    Riimz would neither deny nor confirm his dismissal when contacted by Instead he referred all questions to ZBH officials. "I was told that I should not comment on any issues involving Hola Africa and I think the best people to talk to are Caroline Hungwe or Emma Shamuyarira," he said.

    (The Herald (Harare), 28 July 2007)

  • The Standard Group has announced key managerial changes at KTN in its continued consolidation of its leadership in broadcast business.

    The Group created two senior positions which are meant to strengthen its editing and product development processes. Katua Nzile retains his position of Managing Editor, News, while Dancun Kizito remains Deputy Managing Editor. Farida Karoney was appointed to the new position of Head of Editorial, KTN, and Linus Kaikai was named Managing Editor in charge of Quality and Product Development.

    Kaikai returns after an eight-year stint with the South African Broadcasting Corporation (SABC) while Karoney makes a comeback after a brief spell as a media consultant and a freelance producer for Al-Jazeera International.

    Karoney, 38, has extensive experience in the management of television news operations. The renowned journalist, who left the Standard Group last year, holds a post-graduate Diploma in Mass Communication and a Bachelor of Education (Science) from Kenyatta University. She is currently studying for a Masters in Business Administration (MBA) specialising in Strategy at the University of Nairobi.

    On the other hand, Kaikai - a two-time CNN African Journalist of the Year Award winner - left KTN in June 1999 to join SABC as a correspondent, rising through the ranks to become Bureau Chief. Kaikai, 33, who scooped the continental media honours in TV journalism in 1998 and the Environmental Journalist of the Year the following year, is credited with setting up the organisation's newsgathering operation in Nairobi.

    He returns to KTN with vast experience of both local and international news coverage gathered from major assignments such as civil wars in Somalia, Congo and Darfur in Sudan and the transformation of the Organisation of African Unity to the African Union. Kaikai holds a Master's Degree in International Journalism, from the University of Westminster, in London, UK.

    (East African Standard (Nairobi), 31 July 2007)

  • I am writing from Birds Eye View Film Festival in London. Birds Eye View is a creative platform for women filmmakers, running an annual film festival in leading film venues across London. Launched in 2005, our next festival will be in March of 2008. The Festival has a programme of features, documentaries and short films from around the world.

    We are dedicating a strand of the festival to films made by women from developing countries and are looking for a variety of material to represent a global perspective. We are interested in filmmakers who are established in their careers across to students and those just starting out. If you could pass this on to filmmakers who would be interested in submitting their films, that would be fantastic. Also, would it be possible for you to recommend any female directors and women-made films?

    If you would like more information about Birds Eye View and the upcoming festival please don't hesitate to get in touch: Jahlia Osha, Programme Team, Birds Eye View Film Festival

  • Journal of African Cinemas is a new peer-reviewed journal. We are accepting submissions for the first issue scheduled for 2009. The theme for this inaugural issue is African cinema and verbal culture.

    We are looking for submissions for theoretical essays, reviews, and comparative analyses regarding African cinema through its historical and contemporary legacies. We concentrate on the growing African cinematic society, as it interrogates African ontologies with regard to the African filmmaker's conceptualization of space, time and identity.

    What is/are Africa/s and what is/are African cinema/s, might offer pertinent starting points.

    We recognize the shifting paradigms that have defined and continue to define African cinemas and are looking for papers that will expound on the identity/ies of Africa and how that perception is interrogated within African film languages. We therefore wish to explore the interactions of visual and verbal narrativisation in African films.

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