Broadcast Issue no. 117 - 8 November 2011

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  • The African diaspora is one of the keys to changing the financial circumstances of both African TV and film. It represents a niche audience that will pay hard currency for content from “back home” and diaspora content often leaks out into the host society. Witness the trajectory of reggae and Bollywood out of diaspora communities. Sylvain Beletre looks at the scale and potential of this opportunity and gets insights from to Pierre Gaillardon, Director of Audience Studies at Qualiquanti in Paris.

    There are two African diasporas; the first one are those Africans who were taken to be slaves at the beginning of the 16th century and second one are those diasporas that have grown since the end of the second world war. The first of these diasporas are now Black Brazilians and Afro-Americans and largely see themselves as citizens of the country they live in. Whilst they often identify with Africa in a general, abstract sense, this rarely translates into a desire for detailed information about a continent most have no direct familiarity with.

    So it is the second diaspora that in many ways is more promising as a market for African TV and film. For example, there are 2.2 million Moroccans living in Europe in 2007 and several hundred thousand Nigerians living in the USA in the same year. No doubt these numbers have increased since these survey estimates were put together. More Cap Verdeans live outside of Cape Verde than in it, including half a million living in the USA. Although ethnicity statistics are prohibited in Germany, the NGO Black People in Germany Initiative estimates that there are 500,000 Black Germans. There are endless definitional questions and not much of the data is very detailed.

    This post second world war diasporas maintain strong links with their homeland. Many travel to and from their homeland a couple of times a year and want to keep in touch with things like news, culture (music and films) and sport. For example, a large part of the continent’s news website traffic is driven by the diaspora and although it is declining as an overall proportion as local internet use grows, it remains a significant element, demonstrating the desire diasporas have to keep up with what is going on back home.

    Perhaps two of the strongest demonstration of this diaspora effect are the success of Thema’s Le Bouquet Africain and the recent releases by Odeon Cinemas of Nollywood movies. Thema’s Le Bouquet Africain is now available with ALL ADSL/cable operators in France with recent signing with Dartybox for the inclusion of the African Bouquet Premium TV in its offer for 9.99 € / month but free until the end of November.

    The thirteen channels available include: CRTV, STV and Canal2, Cameroon; ORTB, Benin; ORTM, Mali; RTB, Burkina Faso; RTI 1, Côte d’Ivoire; RTNC, DRC; RTS and 2STV, Senegal; Télé Congo, Congo Brazzaville; RTG, Guinea; and Africable TV (pan-African but mainly West Africa). Across several operators, the bouquet currently has 115,000 subscribers.

    In its forthcoming African Broadcast and Film Markets report, Balancing Act has identified more than 20 major African TV channels widely available outside of Africa. This number has gone up a great deal with more African TV channels now available live-streamed web TV or as single programmes like news.

    Sylvain Béletre, editor at Balancing Act talked to Pierre Gaillardon, Director of Audience Studies at Qualiquanti in Paris. Gaillardon had a number of insights into diaspora content:

    1) Diasporas are drivers of content: The African diaspora is not only a new audience to be targeted with specialized content, it is also a driver of creative content. For example, the diaspora brings a new point of view to both the European Football Championships and the CAN. Members of the diaspora provide their insights into music and other types of arts in Western media. To some extent, the journalistic and artistic diaspora is a new and rich contributor to media outside of the African continent. It took time in France but for a few years now, journalists from the diaspora at TV5Monde, Africa no. 1, Canal+, France TV, RFI and France O have become a distinctive voice in the host country’s media.

    2) The diasporas are hungry for both news and cultural content:  African diasporas are consuming DVDs, music videos and are willing to subscribe to African TV and radio channel packages with SVOD (via Thema TV) or VOD options. They want to stay in touch with both the politics and culture of their home countries.

    The next step is probably to create content specifically designed for the African diaspora in addition to imported content. At a larger scale, we are starting to witness the emergence of African “diaspora-centric” and not just “roots centric” content. MTA Productions’ comedy sitcom Meet The Adebanjos about a Nigerian family living in London’s “Little Lagos”, Peckham, came out of the host country Britain and is aimed in three directions: diaspora audiences in the UK, the wider UK audience and audiences in Africa.

     3) The shift to buying full programmes from Africa: In the USA, in Canada, in France, in the UK and more recently in Belgium, there has been a recent shift in television from simply including African-related programmes - e.g. sequences of African music clips, special cycles on African movies, chronicles of African news - to importing full television channel signals directly transmitting from Africa. This includes several pan-African TV channels, national TV channels, TV5 Africa, ‘le bouquet Africain’ now present in France and Belgium, and distribution of CAN matches outside the African continent.

    The full section around which this story is based can be found in the second edition of African Broadcast and Film Markets that Balancing Act will publish in January 2012:

    This week on Balancing Act’s You Tube channel:

    Bayo Adebayi, CEO, EStars TV on its joint venture with Star Times in Nigeria

    Shuaib Nda Adama, Executive Director, NTA on the digital broadcast transition in Nigeria

    Lippe Oosterhof, CEO, Livestation on live streaming for African news broadcasters

    Documentary maker Ingrid Martens on her new doc Africa Shafted Under One Roof

    What broadcasters need to know about TV White Spaces
    Henk Kleynhans, Chair of WAPA on TV White Spaces proposals in South Africa

    Steve Song, CEO, Village Telco on the TV White Spaces Workshop

    Watch the interview of the RTS’ representative discussing tomorrow’s radio (in French) here

    Subscribe to our You Tube Channel, BalancingActAfrica.

    Want up-to-the-minute breaking news? Balancing Act's Twitter feed provides a combination of breaking news for broadcast and film in Africa, direct tweets from countries visited and access to the occasional rumours circulating. You can follow us on: @BalancingActAfr

  • A new 13-part television series promoting Brand South Africa's Play Your Part campaign, featuring inspirational stories of ordinary citizens working for the betterment of their communities, starts broadcasting on SABC 1 at 12h30 on Sunday, 23 October 2011.

    Brand SA has travelled the length and breadth of the country asking ordinary South Africans how they are playing their part in their communities, in the process uncovering a range of inspirational stories to share with the nation.

    The first episode profiles "a new generation of pioneers who, despite adversity, are charting new paths and flying the South African flag high," Brand South Africa said in a statement this week.

    These include Nelisiwe Xaba, who explores contemporary issues and provokes dialogue through choreography and dance; David Tlale, who from one sewing machine has built a clothing brand that has graced the fashion capitals of the world; and 20-year-old racing driver Vicki Kemp, who has been on the tracks since she was 10.

    "There are a number of opportunities, big and small, where each and every one of us can make a positive difference in the communities in which we live and operate," Brand South Africa CEO Miller Matola said at the launch of the new show.

    Play Your Part is a social movement created by the Brand South Africa to inspire, empower and celebrate active citizenship. For more information, visit here:

  • Intrigue, suspense, drama and above all pretence rocked the 16 week long reality television programme Ready for Marriage on Zambia's largest privately owned station Muvi TV and its sister channel Africa Unite. But real character was seen on that night that left many disappointed including some contestants who were tipped to walk away with the K45 million cash money and another K45 million in wedding sponsorship.

    Jane Mutale, a favourite for many viewers particularly for her fine looks was highly tipped to win the mega prize with another crowd puller Precious Kawinga, could already visualise themselves dressed in the exquisite wedding attires, as the overall winners. But much to the amazement of most viewers, that was not to be, according to the voters and the judges who both shared a fifty per cent say, on the winners.

    In an interview with the Times, one of the judges, who is a traditional marriage counsellor (Alangizi) Ailesi Phiri said the contestants were without their knowledge under 24 hour surveillance cameras, which were pitched at the hotel where they were accommodated.

    "We saw a lot of pretence from the contestants and we pray that it doesn't go beyond this, because a lot of people will be disappointed with them," she said. One would have wondered why the favourites who were so sure of winning tumbled in the last minute. Let's face reality.

    Jane Mutale a runaway wife is alleged to have only practiced prostitution for less than two months, after she accused the husband of mistreating her. Her excuse to get into prostitution was simple-she needed to provide for her baby. But should this reason, which others may view as valid, guarantee her the final prize? The beauty about reality TV shows is that the viewers have a stake-and they spoke loud, with one voice-the prize was not Janes'.

    Precious Kawinga said she was in a relationship with a clergyman for four months and according to Times Entertainment calculations, that was the same time she had been in the house and on the programme; more is yet to be unveiled on her 'recently found love.' She too, never made it to the top three!

    But Precious Amukusana- winner of the grand prize, her story makes sad reading, and was convincingly the most genuine. The 25- year-old former sex worker grew up with her single mother and had never known her father Amukusana Mubiana until the year 2000 in which he also died. The man had married another woman and after he died, that woman later re-married and relocated to Mwembeshi area west of Lusaka.

    In 2004, her mother died and she was left with the onus of looking after her three younger siblings. That burden was not to be met by her alone as she and the siblings were given hope by an auntie who decided to start staying with them.

    While her auntie could provide food for her and the rest of the family, she could not manage to take Amukusana who had just passed to go to grade 10 at a boarding school in Western Province. Some friends who knew Amukusana's predicament enticed her to join them as they were going to patronise bars in Mongu town so that she can raise funds for her education much to the annoyance of her auntie who later chased her from home because of the vice.

    In 2005, she remembers starting the prostitution business with the 'bad friends' she met. "They (friends) told me I could find money to help my siblings and make ends meet by sleeping with men," narrates the seemingly cool, calm and collected Precious Amukusana.

    She said after six months in the business in 2005, her stepmother, the widow to her biological father, invited Precious to join her in Mwembeshi. The invitation was to help her complete education which she unfortunately could not start in grade 10 but opted to sit for English only at grade 12. When it had looked like everything was going well for her, the husband to her step mother was not comfortable with her staying with the family and asked her to leave.

    After returning to Mongu in 2008, she got a job working in a bar where she was being paid K150, 000 per month. With that little she was earning, meeting the needs for her family proved futile and she eventually started prostituting with some of the clients who showed interest in her-and that was the beginning of the four year journey into sex work.

    "I didn't like what I was doing and I still don't like the prostitution business because of the way ladies are treated by men. I am still being haunted by that foreign Angolan national who used to force me for anal sex," she solemnly narrates her worst moment in prostitution.

    The money that Precious was realising from the illicit sex trade was supplementing the young sisters' efforts. The sister (Victoria Mubiana 20) was working in a hardware shop and the K100, 000, she was getting was equivalent to the rent they were paying. The other two siblings (Saviour and Sandra) were relying on alms from well- wishers earning themselves titles of beggars and street kids.

    In July this year, she heard an advertisement on Ready for Marriage Extraordinary where Muvi TV was looking for sex workers who wanted to transform their lives. Eager to lead a normal and better life she applied and was picked to represent Mongu on the programme. Though she joined late, Precious said she was happy that the producers of the programme assured the ladies of a job once the reality show was over.

    "I was never bothered with winning the prize because I knew I was going to get a job after the end of the show and that itself was a big prize for me," explains Precious.
    But 16 weeks down the line that was not going to be the case. The judges judged, the voters voted and the person who provided consistency in her stories was awarded the grand prize.

    From the time Precious entered the show her story never changed and that changed her ambition too. Apart from being in line for a job, she was crowned overall winner of that exquisite dress. Shocked with the outcome, the other Precious collapsed in disbelief and it took over 10 minutes to resuscitate her for the crowning ceremony.

    "I thank God for the transformation and I also thank him for allowing me to come out HIV negative despite all the risks involved in the prostitution business. I will make sure I don't associate with my old friends and ensure that I use the entrepreneurship skills I learned in the house for my survival," she says.

    Asked on what she will do with the K45 million cash, Amukusana said she would buy a house in Lusaka and bring along with her from Mongu the three siblings and her beloved stepmother who has since divorced with her husband.

    Apart from the K45 million cash prize, she is also to receive K45million wedding sponsorship as soon as she finds a partner. There were 18 contestants in the Ready for Marriage show and six made the finalist cut of which three were the winners.

    Muvi TV will provide education and jobs in different areas for all the 18 finalists according to the mastermind of the show Master Chimbala.

  • Media, Information and Publicity Minister Webster Shamu last week said the country's film sector had the potential to grow if it was properly funded.

    In his address at the launch of a local film "The Gentleman” (shot in Zimbabwe and South Africa), Shamu called on the private sector to invest resources in the local film industry.

    "This will make the industry viable and lucrative. As a country we are ready to stand side by side with any other nations in the world that have proved their worth in the industry," he said.

    Commenting about the film, The Gentleman, Shamu said the film had brilliantly represented local talent. "The film has demonstrated talent within our local actors. Our local actors can exhibit immense talent if given the necessary resources," said Shamu.

    The film that was shot in Harare and Johannesburg stars Phillip Chiyangwa, Munyaradzi Chidzonga and South African actor Presley Cheneyegae among others.

    Note: The movie features one of Zimbabwe’s business tycoons Philip Chiyangwa.
    It was directed and written by Njagu and edited by Charles Mawunga. The star-studded team boasts a cast comprising Precious Makhulumo (Amakorokoza actress), Patrick Mabhena (Izolo Yizolo actor), Willis Wataffi (musician), Charles Muzemba (Estate Blues actor), Tonderai Hakuna (Lobola), Elijah Madzikatire (Neria), Sithandazile Dube (Miss Matofotofo) as well as Amakhosi theatre students Moreblessing Majola and Mthandazo Moyo.

    The movie will also premiere in Bulawayo two weeks after the Harare debut followed by screenings in Malawi, South Africa and United Kingdom.

  • Curious Pictures and General Post were proud to announce the winners of South Africa’s Next Top Filmmaker 2011. Congratulations to Sbu Zuma and Sihle Ngcamu for “What’s In A Name” and Keolebongile Moaisi for “The Intersection”. They will all be awarded a paid internship at Curious Pictures in 2012.

    The winners were announced on Thursday 13 October 2011 at a prestigious event at Maximillien Restaurant in Sandton attended by the who’s who of the South African Film Industry. This is the second year that General Post have run this competition and this year we were very priveleged to partner with Curious Pictures, one of South Africa’s top production companies and the people behind the much anticipated Masterchef South Africa. Say’s JP Potgieter, acting Head Of Production at Curious Pictures, “It’s been a great experience for Curious Pictures to be involved in this initiative. This is the first year that we are involved in the competition and we are very excited about the process and all of the finalists that we had the pleasure of working with. We were so lucky to work with young people that really cared about their stories and would do almost anything to get them told. At Curious Pictures we have always believed in giving young talent a break and a helping hand; and a shoulder when it’s needed.”

    Judging for this competition was done on two levels. We invited three industry judges, Executive Producer Harriet Gavshon, Director/Writer John Trengrove and Creative Director Rolie Nikiwe, each of whom had no inolvement in the production of the films. Judges scored the five films on criteria such as story, creativity and final execution. In an effort to find a well-rounded film maker, we also asked the production team to judge the finalists on criteria like organizational skills, pre-production processes and on set management skills. When the scores were added up we realised that all five films were seperated by very small margin. At that point, Curious Pictures generously decided to award not just one internship prize but two, one for best creative film and one for the best-produced film.

  • Zambia National Broadcasting Corporation (ZNBC) director general, Joe Chilaizya has called for calm among Kabwe residents who this week demanded an explanation from the institution for not receiving the television signal in recent months. Chilaizya said the national broadcaster was committed to ensuring that it improved its services, although that would be done gradually.

    He said the failure by ZNBC to reach out to all Zambians was regrettable but assured that this would soon be addressed. Chilaizya said the national broadcaster was faced with a number of challenges that included lack of modern equipment. He, however, said the new administration, with the help of the Patriotic Front Government, had committed itself to changing the state of affairs.

    On Tuesday, some irate residents in Kabwe demanded to know why they should continue paying the K3,000 levy when they had no access to ZNBC television.
    The residents appealed to President Sata and Information, Broadcasting and Tourism Minister Given Lubinda to study the matter and ensure they received were not disadvantaged in any way.

    Rodger Mulenga, a former miner who spoke on behalf of others, said Kabwe residents had been denied access to the national television and did not know what was going on in the country. Mulenga said the only people with access to ZNBC television were those who were able to afford paying for digital satellite television (DSTV).

  • For a church owned Christian station, one would expect regular preaching and saving of souls to be part of the growth agenda. Not so for Power FM, a Watoto Church owned radio station which has been around since 1999. Since then, it has been growing and spreading inspiration.

    "Growth of the station has been amazing. We attribute this to targeting an urban, English speaking listenership between ages 18 to 40, and so we try to reach them through our programming and Christian music", says Christine Nabutiti, the station Marketing head.

    This unique targeting seems to have led to the growth of a station which has gone on to partner with both businesses and churches to meet its mission. The station partners with different Pentecostal churches like Rubaga and Kansanga miracle centres, St.Francis chapel in Makerere University as well as All saints church to promote their activities. As a result, Ms Nabutiti says Power FM enjoys a reliable and loyal listenership which is good news for the advertisers and partners.

    The station also carries out its Easter in Prison events where they visit, counsel and provide consumables and Easter gifts to prisoners in Luzira and Kigo as part supporting the needy; a key Christian value.

    Besides these visits, Ms Nabutiti says they hold annual Phat- fest gospel music events where top artists perform. This also serves to bring the station in touch to its listenership.

    Last year Power FM participated and was ranked among the Top 100 Small and Medium businesses in Uganda, a unique club of businesses with annual turnover of between Shs 360 million to Shs 25 billion. This recognition, according to Ms Nabutiti has been a good boost.

    "Our staff is proud of the recognition, and I am sure our partners take us more seriously too."

    This should spell more growth, which Ms Nabutiti says is surely likely to come. However, the station has not participated in any of the Club's training or networking activities, something that Ms Nabutiti, being the marketer - is to look most forward to.
    Ms Nabutiti encourages other business to participate in this survey.

    "Participation in the Top 100 business survey portrays you as a serious entity and the recognition is surely one of the ways through which growth can be achieved as clients take you more seriously and give your business that high regard," she said. The Top 100 business survey for 2011 is currently running and small and medium enterprises can participate till close of October.

    "We believe we are offering something unique in our programming and music and we should be able to expand this brand beyond borders in 10 years," she says when asked where she sees the station over the next decade.

    Power FM has already expanded to Gulu and branched into online streaming which has attracted more listeners and partners. The Power FM Facebook page alone has 14000 fans.

    Despite the current economic challenges, Power FM soldiers on and even with a slight drop in advertising revenue, Nabutiti says the station is growing according to their business projections. The station has not had to reduce staff or drastically cut budgets to address economic challenges.

  • Ghanaian TV station, TV Africa won the nod for Best West Africa TV at the 4th annual Zulu Africa Films and Academy Awards (ZAFAA) held at the Troxy Hall in London over the weekend.

    This event is organized to reward outstanding movies in terms of picture, Direction, screenplay, actors, etc in the quest to expose the Africa film Industry. This year’s event, saw many categories and nominations from Ghana including the Best West African TV category which was meritoriously won by Ghana’s TV Africa which was in competition with TV3, GTV, JOY TV, NTA (Nigeria), AIT (Nigeria), Silver Bird TV (Nigeria), Channels TV ( Nigeria),Lagos TV (Nigeria).

    TV Africa is a free to air TV station that has been running for the past eight years. Its primary objective is to project African values, norms, cultures, and image. It is based in Accra with reception in almost all the ten regions in Ghana and also via Ghana on the internet.

    Meanwhile, Emem Isong, Ini Edo, Uduak Isong Oguamanam, Ime 'Bishop' Umoh and the crew at Royal Arts Academy cleared the awards with several wins for 'Okon Lagos', an indegenous comedy written and produced by Uduak Isong Oguamanam.

    It won Best Actor (Comedy -Bishop Imeh Umoh), Best Supporting Actress (Comedy - Vanessa Koko) and a host of other Awards. Another big winner was 'Memories of My Heart' which is produced by Emem Isong and Ini Edo, it won Best Actress Award among others. Full list of winners will be published soon.

  • AB Communications gave oral evidence at a public hearing supporting its application for a free-to-air national radio broadcasting licence. One of the company's directors, Supa Mandiwanzira, said their intention was to run a successful national commercial free-to-air radio station in the interest of Zimbabweans.

    "Our programming will uphold national values and sovereignty and will respect national events, Zimbabwe's security concerns and economic interests," he said. "We will not allow our content to perpetrate hatred or denigrate citizens on grounds of politics, religion and ethnicity. Actually, we will celebrate the role of the people, dead or alive, who liberated the country."

    AB Communications has four shareholders, Mandiwanzira who has 70 percent, Mr Herbert Nkala 15 percent, a South African partner Urban Brew Studios holds 10 percent and Molice Mandinyenya with five percent. It has three directors - Supa Mandiwanzira, Molice Mandinyenya and William Chingombe.

    Zimbabwe Media Commission chairman, Dr Tafataona Mahoso asked what would happen in the event that Mr Mandiwanzira as the biggest shareholder decided for some reason to pull out.

    "If for some reason I am pulling out, I will either sell the shares to fellow Zimbabweans or even donate them to charity," he said. "In fact, I do not see that happening. I have a passion for broadcasting and that is where my life is. I have worked hard to get this far, so I cannot just walk away. I cannot be the bulldozer that clears the way, but does not use it afterwards."

    Mandiwanzira revealed that the shareholders would give 10 percent of their shares to employees as a way of empowering them. AB Communications becomes the fourth company to attend a public hearing after Zimpapers Talk Radio, Hot Media (Kiss FM) and Vox Media Productions (VOP).

    "We will do that as part of our corporate social responsibility before we move to help other Zimbabweans," he said.

    "We shall also assist musicians by supporting local content aggressively, taking them on road shows and helping them get royalties."

    AB Communications would dedicate six hours of its broadcasting daily to the training of youths in broadcasting. It would create employment opportunities for many Zimbabweans, said Mandiwanzira.

    He said his organisation had met the national policy requirements on indigenisation, as it was 90 percent Zimbabwean-owned with only 10 percent held by a South African partner.

    If granted an operating licence, AB Communications will complete the installation of vital broadcasting equipment within seven months. The Broadcasting Authority of Zimbabwe requires the licenced companies to install the equipment in 15 to 18 months of getting the licence. Mandiwanzira said the company will be operating from Newlands in Harare.

  • In Johannesburg, Satellite TV offering, TopTV, launched in May 2010 as a rival to MultiChoice's DStv, has started offering airtime sales on some of its channels for the first time.

    "We are pleased to announce that following a successful testing phase with various stakeholders, TopTV airtime sales is now ready to accept advertising on eight commercial channels," the group said in a statement.

    The channels included Top One, Top Movies, Top Movies +2, Top Movies +24, Top Crime, Top History, Top Explore and Top Gospel. This pool of channels was expected to grow over the next few months as negotiations with third-party channels were concluded, the group said.

    TopTV airtime sales would start off with a manual booking process until the airtime sales system was implemented and officially completed in the first quarter of 2012.
    The company said it had also entered into negotiations with Landmark, an airtime sales system used by other major broadcasters in the country.

    Jean Meyer, vice-president for airtime sales, said: "We are very happy with the positive response from the advertising industry thus far. "There is definite interest in the TopTV Airtime Sales offering and key decision makers at agencies as well as advertisers seem to share our vision of where this business will be in a year."

    TopTV recently received its first 12-month data release on AMPS and was also currently being measured on TAMS. AMPS reported TopTV's past seven day's viewership at 134,000 households and 364,000 viewers. "This figure does not take into account the growth since the study was completed at the end of June," the group said.

  • State controlled Zimbabwe Television Corporation (ZBC) is being shunned by over 60% of the television owning public in the troubled southern African nation, who are instead predominantly watching free to air regional and international channels via satellite.

    New research from the Zimbabwe All Media Products Survey (ZAMPS) published in The Zimbabwean found that locals have increasingly bought small satellite dishes from South Africa and Botswana in reaction to intensified propaganda by Zanu (PF) over the past five years.

    Ellington Kamba, managing director of Research Board International, told ZAMPS that Zimbabwe now has over three million satellite dishes. The decoders receive free to air channels such as South Africa's SABC 1, 2 and 3; Botswana TV; France24 and a multitude of other TV and radio stations.

    "We discovered that indeed there is a proliferation of satellite dishes in the country, maybe owing to the fact that the free to air services are cheaper to maintain," Kamba is quoted as saying in the Zimbabwean.

    The ZAMPS's findings demonstrate that ZBC continues to misinform Zimbabweans, according to Nhalanhla Ngwenya, chapter director, Media Institute of Southern Africa. He told The Zimbabwean: "The findings by ZAMPS should not shock anyone who has been following the Zimbabwean story, particularly those who have been analysing the country's media landscape."

  • IPTV News spoke to Christoph Limmer, senior director for Africa at SES. Issues: “… Looking at pay-TV operators, the biggest challenge is the existing distribution network infrastructure. The number of qualified and trained installers across Africa is very low, leading to poor installation quality and long fulfilment time.“ Independently of new technologies, content providers certainly have to make sure they offer content that is relevant to the consumer. We at SES have discovered in various research projects that African consumers get more selective about their viewing habits and also have a strong skew towards local productions. In Kenya for example, locally produced soaps are among the highest viewing shares; local music channels attract more and more viewership. Moreover, the new services offer additional business models for content providers offering their programmes to consumers anywhere at anytime. Full article here:

  • The International Radio and Television Union (URTI) kept its 63rd general Assembly in Paris, this Friday October 21 2011, at the invitation of ‘France Télévisions’.
    This event gathered 51 international radio broadcasting organizations.
    URTI is the oldest international audiovisual organization and also the only one with a global perspective. The development of the Union allowed to record the membership of radiobroadcasters from 28 different countries these last three years.

    In 2011, URTI strengthened its leading place in international grand prix with the participation of 81 countries in its radio-television Grand Prix, which are awarded US Dollars 15,000.

    The general Assembly renewed its managing authorities by electing:
    o Mr Jean-Luc Hees (Radio France), President
    o Mr Amadou Vamoulke (CRTV, Cameroun), Vice-president for Africa
    o Mrs Fatima Elmoumen (SNRT, Morocco), Vice-president for the Arab World
    o Mr Antonio Ribeiro (RTP, Portugal), Vice-president for Europe
    o Ms Afaf Belhouchet (ENTV, Algeria), Secretary-Treasurer
    o Mr Daniel Brouyere (RTBF, Belgium), President of the Television Commission
    o Mr Dan Santa (ROR, Romania), President of the Radio Commission

    Mr Roland Faure was also re-elected Honorary President of URTI.
    URTI officially launched its new Web ECT cooperation platform on which it directly organizes online the Exchanges, the Coproductions and the Transmissions (private dedicated space to allow each member to ensure for free the in-house transmission of its programmes in radio).

    URTI considerably increased the level of programme exchanges, which allow its members to save important amounts of money.

    On the eve of the general Assembly, URTI members and partners participated in the events organized in the framework of the celebrations for the 30th anniversary of the freedom of FM. Its third conference on ‘The radio of tomorrow” gathered four managers of international radio societies (Algeria, France, Romania, and Senegal) who compared their visions on the future of the media. The award-winners’ list of the 23rd International URTI Radio Grand Prix was then announced, by honouring programmes from Iran, France, Vietnam and Australia.

    Created sixty-two years ago, URTI is the first radiobroadcasters’ organization with a global perspective. This Union gathers 67 international radio-television organizations. It coordinates the exchanges of programmes free of rights between its members, manages creation or training workshops, and organizes the International Radio Grand Prix and the Grand Prix for TV Author’s Documentary.

  • Record numbers of households across the Middle East and Africa are signing up for pay TV, according to new research from Informa Telecoms & Media.

    In 2000 there were just over 2.5 million pay TV subscribers across the MENA region. By the end of last year that total had more than trebled to 9.2 million and Informa’s research shows it is heading for 9.6 million by the end of 2011 and will pass the 10 million mark next year.

    “Until now, pay TV has been very much targeted at affluent demographics, either wealthy locals or well-paid foreign workers” says Adam Thomas, Informa’s Media Research Manager. “But services like Al Jazeera Sport are increasingly putting the cost of pay TV within the grasp of the mass market. If you add to that the Arab Spring movement, with one of its aims being to close the income disparity gap, then you have a situation that is increasingly positive for pay TV.”

    Satellite, both pay and free-to-air, remains the dominant platform in the region (see fig) and there has been only limited cable and IPTV activity although IPTV, in particular, is growing fairly quickly, albeit from a very low base. Some fiber upgrades are being undertaken and there will therefore be pockets of IPTV-positive infrastructure, where the technology will thrive. But, in general, broadband penetration in the region remains low. IPTV is therefore restricted from even greater progress, both by this lack of broadband penetration and also by the fact that where broadband is in place it is not always suitably robust to facilitate IPTV provision.

    There are also other fundamental issues to address, like how to get the sector to be run on a fully commercial basis. Much-needed consolidation amongst the main pay TV platforms has finally taken place, resulting in the creation of OSN. It has added some attractive premium content to its roster, but the most significant omission from its line-up is the most sought after sports content, particularly soccer. According to Thomas: “Most of the top soccer rights have been snapped up by the state-backed operators, who have the financial muscle to outbid OSN, even if the business case for doing so is not there. For them a return on investment is a desirable rather than essential outcome, putting the likes of OSN on the back foot in content auctions.”

  •  Nigeria now is a market of 167 million people. This is what Chairman, National Population Commission, Samu'ila Danko Makama, had last week disclosed that the country's population rose from the 140,431,790 it was five years ago when the last national headcount was taken, to 167,912,561 as at Wednesday. This represents an annual population growth rate of 3.2 percent or 5.6 million people per annum. He said of this figure, 82,098,001 are females, while males account for 85,814,560. He also predicted, given the agency's new projection of the country's population growth rate of 3.2 percent, "the same rate the NPC used in 1991 and 2006," Nigeria's population would hit 221,392,163 by July 1, 2020.

  • Journalist in danger (‘Journaliste en danger’ – JED in French) is disappointed by the news of the eviction of Congo Média Channel Télévision (CMC TV), a station close to the opposition, from its headquarters. The station belongs to Kudura Kasongo, a former spokesman for President Joseph Kabila who has since moved to the opposition to support the candidacy of Vital Kamerhe in the presidential election campaign. Kamerhe is also a former member of the presidential party who switched to the opposition following his forced resignation from the position of National Assembly speaker.

    According to information obtained by JED, CMC TV was evicted from its headquarters on 24 October by police officers of the national police force, who illegally occupied its premises.

    Refusing to allow the journalists to enter or exit the building, the police officers threw the station's belongings on the street on the pretext that they received a request from the landlord to evict all of the building's tenants.

    Contacted by JED, Pascaline Kudura, general director of CMC TV, stated that in fact they were the only tenants to be evicted, despite having a proper lease in good standing. She attributes the move to Kudura Kasongo's critical comments that have upset the authorities and views the station's eviction as a naked attempt to silence opposition voices.

  • The West African Journalists Association (WAJA) has joined its affiliate the Press Union of Liberia(PUL) in condemning the arson attack on Love FM, and the intimidation and threats against journalists. In a press release, WAJA said it stands by the PUL demand for the police to launch an immediate investigation to bring the executors of the arson attack on Love FM and all other elections related violence against the journalists to book. "We condemn the threats against Smith Toby and Patrick Honnah," said WAJA President Mohamed Garba whilst calling for an end to such unnecessary friction and harassment which could further fan the flames of election violence.

    WAJA encouraged PUL to continue to take the lead in resolving these latest negative developments and hails the initiative of the Union in its crisis stakeholder consultations which recently brought together media owners, managers, editors, talk show hosts and former practitioners with the view to collectively respond to the looming political tensions.

    "Journalists and media owners can only work to adequately inform the Liberian public if they operate in an environment free of intimidation and hostilities," WAJA President, Garba said.

    The West African Journalists body, therefore, called on the State Security to act quickly in resolving this latest attacks to end impunity against the media.

    While urging Liberian political leaders to demonstrate leadership by refraining from the use of violent language, WAJA also called on Liberian journalists to remain professional and neutral in the face of the brewing tension to save themselves and their country.

  • We speak to Kasia Kieli, executive vice president and managing director for Discovery Networks Central & Eastern Europe, Middle East & Africa (CEEMEA).

    Q: What major developments have you witnessed in the IPTV industry in the past 12 months?

IPTV has revolutionised the way in which we receive information and we have entered a new era of communications technology.

    Although it is still early days, there has been some interesting progress, and the largest driving factor in the Middle East to date has been the launch of IP-based TV services by the TV manufacturers trying to promote the value proposition of connected TVs.

    The biggest players who have launched such services are LG, Samsung and Sony, and I believe this will lead to a plethora of competing platforms in the future.

    Q: What role do you think IPTV will take in the Pay-TV market within the Middle East and Africa in the coming years?

    A: I believe we will see exciting developments in the Arab region for IPTV. Qatar and the United Arab Emirates are already becoming competitive on a global scale in terms of IPTV deployment, and penetration is increasing throughout the region, depending on the availability of broadband.

    That said, our view is that players are unlikely to win in this market without working with other parts of the value chain, which is where content providers like Discovery are well positioned as valued partners in the emergence of new technologies. Without great content, which is what Discovery prides itself on, all this technology means nothing.

    Q: How much of a threat do you think over-the-top video is becoming to established pay-TV services?

    A: We want our viewers to be able to access our content when and where it's convenient for them, but we need to find the healthiest business model. We are constantly evaluating new entrants based on what they can offer, and how they work with our content while not cannibalising our existing model. But traditional, linear broadcasting is doing very well and growing.

    Audiences still spend the vast majority of their time consuming live television. And the broadcast proposition itself has evolved with the introduction of HD and now 3D. I suspect we’ll see a market where multiple business models co-exist for quite some time to come, some new and some old.

    Q: What do you believe are the major challenges the IPTV industry is still facing?

    A: The biggest challenge for IPTV in the MEA region is bandwidth, which is being addressed and is currently set to grow over the next five years. The Middle East has been a leader in mobile TV developments with licences in the UAE and developments in Qatar.

    I also believe that distributors and content providers need to work together better to ensure the technology, service and content provided to customers are in line with their expectations, and this is an area we are currently spending a great deal of time looking at.

    Q: Do you agree that content security issues are the biggest obstacle to TV Everywhere services?

    A: Discovery has a long-standing position of not giving away its content for free online. Content security is no doubt one issue, but bandwidth in the Middle East and delivery platforms are still being challenged to provide seamless TV Everywhere experience. The TV Everywhere model is still premature in the East in comparison to the US and Western Europe.

    That said, we are optimistic about the potential for TV Everywhere and we look at each market on a case by case basis. Our goal is to enhance the bundle experience through our partners, while ensuring the consumer is able to experience our world-renowned content. This is why we focus so heavily on enhancing our consumer experience through services like HD and VOD. 

    Q: How popular do you think over-the-top video services will become in your market?

OTT platforms enable new and more interactive forms of content to be distributed, allowing for example specific content brands to provide a more engaging service to consumers. As developer apps start to come to the TV, you'll have even more content added every single day, but this will be different brand and content extensions of a show or programme. This will be another way of accessing consumers through various touch points.

How do you think content providers and IPTV operators can work together better?

    A: We provide operators with a great product, which in turn means we continue to develop and deliver great content. Both parties benefit when more content is consumed as on-demand or linear.

    This year Discovery Communications has invested US$ 1bn in content production across the US and its global operations. We are no small player in this business. We believe that the most important thing is to deliver a service that's valuable to the consumer. If we can do this everyone wins.

    It is hard right now, because we're dealing with a lot of unknowns, but again, we see IPTV operators supplementing and building off of the existing TV experiences, not replacing them. 

Our goal is to work with distributors and platform partners to find innovative new ways to take the TV experience to the next level. If we do this right and we do it together, we can take consumer engagement and satisfaction to the next level through first mover advantage.

    Kasia spoke at the IP&TV Forum Middle East & North Africa 2011 event, taking place in Dubai on 1st-2nd November, 2011.

  • Another innovative product is about to be released by DStv Mobile. The Walka Handheld TV is a slim, lightweight device with a 3.5” viewing screen providing digital visual and audio quality. Its introduction gives DStv Mobile subscribers even more ways to access mobile TV on the go, anywhere, anytime.

     “We are proud to introduce South Africans to the Walka device which is designed to further enrich the mobile TV viewing experience” explains Mark Rayner General Manager DStv Mobile, “It’s a must have, mobile TV viewing can begin the moment you switch it on.”

     Previously released devices; the Drifta and the Drifta USB; give access to mobile TV across a wide range of devices such as PCs, laptops, tablets and smartphones. This is done through pairing the viewing device with the Drifta or connecting the Drifta USB. The Walka is a portable TV with no other devices required to view.

     After activating the Walka through the MultiChoice call centre it connects to the DStv Mobile DVB-H broadcast signal, giving access to 16 great DStv channels in the genres of sport, music, news, cartoons and general entertainment. The content line-up includes the two brand new channels that were recently added; magical channel M-Net Mobile and the informative Discovery channel.

     The same great channels are available across all DStv Mobile capable devices for the same subscription of R36 per month. DStv Premium subscribers pay no subscription to access DStv Mobile.

    “Our research has shown that there is interest in a dedicated mobile TV viewing device to ease accessibility and improve usability of the mobile TV service. We anticipate that the Walka will be well received by the market and hope our subscribers find it as another useful way to stay in touch with DStv channels.” said Rayner.

    The Walka will be the third device (after the Drifta and the Drifta USB) to be released by DStv Mobile since commercial launch in November 2010.  The device will be available at MultiChoice centres and select retail outlets from 1 December 2011 at the recommended retail price of R649.

     DStv Mobile coverage is available in the 9 major cities of South Africa. For network coverage, and further information visit here:

  • 75th Birthday Anniversary of Prof Alfred Opubor, first Nigerian professor of Mass Communication

    The Department of Communication and Language Arts, University of Ibadan, Nigeria; the Institute for Media and Society (IMS), Lagos, Nigeria; the African Languages Technology Initiative (ALT-I), Ibadan, Nigeria; and the Nigerian Community Radio Coalition jointly invite you to an international conference to commemorate the 75th Birthday Anniversary of Prof Alfred Opubor, first Nigerian professor of Mass Communication. Theme: ‘if community media is the answer, what is the question?’. Those were the words of the first Nigerian Professor of Mass Communication, Professor Alfred Opubor, and the title of one of his most discussed articles. Though that question was raised in 2000 in a book published by UNESCO, the issues that gave rise to it are still as urgent and improperly understood as they were then. The recent political events in the MENA (Middle East and North Africa) region, the recent historic civilian-to-civilian transition in Zambia, the seemingly unending failure of the big media to significantly bring about participation and access; the recourse to neoliberal policies by African ‘democracies’ and the impact of that on the big media; are some of the issues that necessitate a thorough re-examination of that decade-old witticism. If community media is the answer, what indeed is the question? And how is it being answered? Are there more questions than there were? What are they?
    SUB-THEMES: Paper abstracts and proposals for project demonstrations are welcome on the following subthemes:
    · Community Media and new media technologies
    · Community media, policy and regulation
    · Community media, social media and social protest
    · Community media and empowerment/development: actual stories and potentials
    · Community media and the management of conflict
    · Community media, community/civic engagement and democracy
    · Research approaches in (and to) community media
    · Community media and gender
    · Community media and popular culture
    · Community media and diasporas
    DATE: 27-29 March, 2012
    VENUE: Conference Centre, University of Ibadan, Nigeria
    Deadline for submission of abstracts = Nov 30, 2011
    Notification of writers of successful abstracts = Dec 20, 2011
    Deadline for submission of full paper = Feb 20, 2012
    FEES: heavily subsidised to cover conference materials, lunches and teas.
    Academics: N5,000
    International participants: $50
    Graduate Students: N1,500

    Undergraduate Students: Free
    Abstracts or proposals for project demonstration should not exceed 300 words.

  • South Africa / Hollywood Exchange (Los Angeles)

    South Africa / Hollywood Exchange, in association with Metal Moon will take place on 7 – 11 November 2011, Los Angeles, USA.

    Fall 2011 brings together the Biennale South Africa/MediaXchange program tailor-made to promote South Africa to the entertainment industry in Hollywood. Join us in Los Angeles from 7th – 11th November 2011, alongside the A.F.M.

    The objective is to procure production business for South Africa, its Provinces and Cities, to meet potential co-producing partners and funding, and to update the understanding of foreign markets and the knowledge of global trends.  The schedule will allow you to meet decision makers in their local business environment and experience the core of the industry at work.

    This highly focused Marketing Program specifically targets U.S. companies that are most likely to have interest in South Africa. The meetings are held with Senior Executives in Production, Finance and Acquisition at the Studios, Networks, Cable Broadcasters, and Indie Production Companies. Our Program provides direct interface in the boardrooms of the U.S Host companies where you learn, first-hand, their immediate requirements. Conversely, the SA delegates provide factual information about production expertise, local producer partners, financial instruments, production incentives, and co-production opportunities.

    Previous Exchange hosts have included: Vice President Production & Development, Myriad Pictures; Executive Vice President: Motion Picture Production, MGM/ United Artists; Vice President: Production Series, Current Programming, Comedy Development, ABC Studios; Vice President: Movies, Mini-Series and The Wonderful World of Disney, ABC Entertainment; Senior Vice President: Current Series/Head of Daytime TV, NBC Studios; President: Production, Legendary Pictures; Vice President Production, and COO, Silver Pictures; CEO, COO, Executive Vice President Production & Acquisition, Overture Films; Senior Vice President: Physical Production, 2929 Entertainment; Senior Partners, Raskin, Peter, Rubin & Simon (Entertainment Lawyers); and President of Television, Scott Free Productions.

    To find out more, click here

    Opportunity for SA filmmakers to work with Kevin Spacey:

    Talented film writers and directors from South Africa have the chance to enter the Jameson First Shot, a new short film competition which comes with an incredible prize where one winner from each country will have his or her script made into a short film by Trigger Street Productions, starring Kevin Spacey.
    More here