Issue No. 120 5 January 2012

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  • Two events at the end of last year highlighted that Africa has now reached a crossroads in terms of how its broadcast sectors operate. 35% of countries in Africa now have TV stations other than a sole Government broadcaster: others are joining this list but far too slowly. A report for the African Telecommunications Union which was presented at an event in Nairobi just before Christmas identified that with the exception of a dozen states, almost all other African countries have considerable spectrum resources to expand their TV markets. Russell Southwood looks at how Africa can make 2012 a year for investment and growth in TV broadcasting.

    The most recent example of a country liberalising its broadcast sector is Mauritania that announced its liberalisation policy at the end of November, giving two new television channels and five new radio stations government permission to operate.

    The High Authority for Press and Broadcasting (HAPA) of Mauritania authorized new channels Mauri-Vision and Wataniya Television, and gave the green light to broadcast for new radio stations Sahara FM, Radio Cobenni-MAPUCO, Mauritanides FM, Radio Tenwir and Radio-Nouakchott.

    As everywhere on the continent, demand for new licences is high when they are offered. The government received 27 applications when it announced its intention to grant licenses to broadcast media in Mauritania for private operators. In newly liberalised countries like Tunisia, new and more diverse stations have begun to take shape. An Islamic TV channel, "Al Kalam" (The Pen) will be created by a group of Imams from Sfax, in Southern Tunisia.

    In terms of broadcasting, the African continent is at a crossroads. It can either dig in and stick with the closed, one voice TV broadcasting systems or it can follow the lead of the existing liberalisers and reap the benefits of opening up the means of expression into a wider set of hands. In case the benefits are not obvious, it is worth repeating them. A wider range of media allows more people (and groups of people) to express themselves. Local content allows people to see themselves through their own mirror rather than through a mirror presented by others.

    On an economic level, it allows the creation of jobs through the setting up of stations and the creation and expansion of advertising agencies to handle broadcast advertising. If local content is encouraged, it creates opportunities for programme and film-makers. The whole process encourages the development of a range of skills that allow countries to engage with the global discussion and the global economy.

    Africa is in a uniquely fortunate position. Whereas in developed countries, spectrum is in short supply, most African countries have more spectrum than they know what to do with. Africa’s digital transition in broadcasting may be proceeding slowly but it will again offer more spectrum as broadcast signals are compressed. Countries that have only got a state television broadcaster have plenty of spectrum to give away to new television broadcasters. Africa’s TV broadcasters need to get into dialogue with the telecoms industry that has its eye on this “digital dividend”.

    In most countries, there is more than enough spectrum to go round. The only issue is where the spectrum has been for in some countries for in some countries, historic spectrum allocations have left what has been described as “old mens’ teeth”: scattered broadcast allocations that make it hard for both broadcasters and telcos to get what they need for the future.

    Africa’s digital broadcast transition will be a long and expensive process but will produce a number of benefits. In all but the countries with developed broadcast sectors, it will shrink the amount of spectrum required by broadcasters even if 2-3 channels are given to each broadcaster. But what about HD and 3D channels for the future?

    The key question is: what will future demand for African broadcast look like? African broadcasters have no collective, continent-wide body through which it can express its views on this question. Existing bodies like the African Union of Broadcasters need to take up this responsibility or give way to some new grouping that can more adequately represent private broadcasters.

    But open broadcasting is not just about extending the number of TV and radio stations, it’s also about allowing international and regional ownership of these stations. Most African countries have restrictive investment legislation that keeps out international investors: the largest broadcast market in Sub-Saharan Africa – South Africa – has kept out international investors out of terrestrial broadcasting. But without international investment, the media sector cannot grow with the kind of speed experienced by the Africa’s mobile industry. South Africa’s own media owners suffer these restrictions when they look at expanding into terrestrial broadcasting on the continent.

    There are understandable fears about loss of control and the dilution of national identity. But there are policy responses that can be used to protect against these kinds of outcomes. Licences can be issued with clauses that specify levels of national news coverage required. Local content quotas can help develop local production capacity and the skills that go with that capacity. Because on the positive side, investment brings professionalism and can bring an end to “crony” media ownership (the TV station owned by shadowy political investors) used to advance the political interests of individuals.

    Finally, even in countries where broadcast has been liberalised, Africa’s political class has to get used to behaving differently. The news story in the Regulatory and Policy section below is a case in point. What possessed Uganda’s State Minister for Disaster Preparedness, Musa Ecweru to storm into a radio panel and start making threats top the panellists and presenter? In every issue there are stories of this kind and the best we can say about this one is that no-one got killed as many involve the loss of life by the journalists who produce the output of these stations.

    So its straight choice in 2012: either you have a closed broadcasting sector where the voice of Mr President TV dominates like some aging patriarch or you unleash the creativity of Africa’s new broadcasters.

    Top Ten broadcast and film highlights from Balancing Act’s You Tube Channel in 2011:

    1. Wachira Waruru, CEO, Royal Media on using local content to become No 1

    2. Obi Asika, CEO, Storm360 on music TV, TV formats and mobile download potential

    3. Kenneth Ashigbey, COO, Ghana's Multimedia Group on MultiTV's FTA service on DTH satellite

    4. Richard Bell CEO of Wananchi Group on its Zuku pay TV brand and its triple play offer

    5. Jason Njoku, CEO, Iroku Partners on distributing Nollywood and Nigerian Music using You Tube

    6. Teju Babyface, CEO, Class Act Entertainment on his new comedy and variety show

    7. Steve Ojo, CEO, Galaxy Entertainment on Africa's first telenovela Echoes

    8. Dayo Ogunyemi, CEO, Cinemart on the launch of a new mass market cinema chain

    9. On 'Adam’s Apples, Ghana's film industry and Nollywood - Shirley Frimpong Manso

    10. Kenya's Wanuri Kahiu, maker of Pumzi, talks about her new film project Who Fears Death

    If you want to receive notification of new videos on Balancing Act’s You Tube channel, click on this link  and then press the yellow Subscribe button in the top left-hand corner.

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

  • South African pay-TV broadcaster SuperSport has acquired the television rights for the London Olympics in 2012. Coverage from Naspers-owned SuperSport will be spread across a number of channels, broadcasting in high definition and for 24 hours a day. Each channel will transmit up to 14 hours of live sport, using the live feed produced by the International Olympic Committee.

    Africa's leading sports network, SuperSport is carried on the DStv satellite pay-TV platform in South Africa and across sub-Saharan Africa, as well as having feeds on M-Net, CSN, and M-Net HD.

    SuperSport has committed to have four news crews in London for the duration of the Summer Olympics, following South Africa, Kenya, Nigeria and other African teams, preparing both live and daily highlights packages.

    The broadcaster says it will also produce an Olympics weekend show called 'London Calling', complete with athletes and special guests. SuperSport's Olympic build-up will start on 16 December with legacy programming, building up to the opening ceremony on 27 July 2012. The London Games runs until 12 August 2012.

  • Dispelling the stereotypes of Africa, filmmaker Junaid Ahmed is to film a co-production with Sweden with a story line that straddles both Africa and Europe. The film is a co-production between Sweden and South Africa, and a bulging budget of R24m.

    Ahmed spoke about the film and the challenges facing African filmmakers in making it internationally. Stockholm, Zululand is about the Swedish auditors who unexpectedly visit the small town of Stockholm, Zululand, to see how their development aid is being spent.

    The townsfolk decide to create a facade of clichéd African poverty. The dangerous bluff is tested to breaking point when roguish local slacker Moses falls for Swedish Klara, but love and Stockholm win out in the end. The film will be shot in February (2012). In this interview he speaks to The New Age about the state of the film industry in the country and where it is headed.

    Madala Thepa (MT): If I heard you right the other day at the NFVF offices, you alluded to the fact that there is no international interest for African stories unless they are tied with a “foreign” slant or unless there is an explicit international orientation to it – why do you think that is?

    Junaid Ahmed (JA): No, I was not saying there is no international interest in African stories. Rather what I was saying is that my visits to various international film forums and platforms (like film festivals or film finance markets) have revealed that there continue to be stereotypes and racist perceptions of Africa – that the continent is the begging bowl of the world, mired in poverty, misery and violence.

    So these perceptions impact on how international film producers, financiers and other film role-players respond to working with or participating in film projects in Africa.

    And if they get involved, it is on their terms, money being king. They want to exert their own influence in terms of all aspects of the filmmaking process and especially regarding the narrative.

    Therefore we note that the narratives of the few films that have been produced by international studios or producers are shaped and informed by colonial, racist and stereotype perceptions of Africa.

    I was advocating that a greater responsibility lies with African producers and directors, that when they have the opportunity to attend international film festivals, conferences and finance markets, they actively engage with key international film role players in addressing these myopic views of the continent. But that is not enough.

    MT: So do you think perhaps that a narrow definition of “local content” has restricted South Africa’s ability to engage with international partners?

    JA: As African filmmakers we have to also explore and develop new strategies as to how to engage with this international film fraternity. Through experience I know it’s difficult to convert some of the “old hands” – the die-hard veterans of the international film industry, especially senior studio representatives, producers and financiers.

    So my approach has been, how do we get these people interested in Africa, in African stories and convince them that working and filming in Africa is a good thing, that it is mutually beneficial to all concerned?

    One of my strategies is to develop stories that straddle, or are set, in two continents. So in the present feature film that I am developing, called Stockholm, Zululand, the story deals with the issue of funding for African projects and while it addresses some serious social and political issues, I chose to do it as a romantic comedy set in Sweden and South Africa.

    This is also based on my own experiences as a social activist trying to raise funding for African NGO projects, especially from Scandinavian countries.

    What I found was that international filmmakers were then really interested in working with me. They saw my project as a fresh take on the romantic comedy genre and also a fresh narrative within the comedy genre.

    What also interested them was how this project will be a true co-production, using all the best that both the Scandinavian and South African worlds could offer, including cast and crew, and the impact of both these countries’ culture in the narrative and filmmaking process.

    So what I was alluding to is not that there is no interest internationally for African stories, rather racist perceptions of Africa have shaped and informed how the international film community relates to African filmmakers and how these perceptions therefore do not make them seriously engage with us.

    Now my strategy is to develop stories from Africa that include some international aspect in order to draw international interest. I find also that the best way to engage with racist and colonial perceptions about Africa is by working with people in order to educate them.

    MT: About co-productions, do you ever see the tensions between cultural and economic objectives? Are there cultural benefits or it is just a pooling of financial resources?

    JA: It has become difficult to get financing for African films. There is almost no private equity interest.

    There is limited state funding, especially in other parts of Africa. So the lack of financing hinders the progress of African film. And often when we make films our standards are compromised due to the lack of funds. This is the perennial problem that has beset the African filmmaker.

    So, I find that by engaging with the international community of filmmakers there is great value in co-production work. Everybody is feeling the impact of the international economic downturn and film has suffered severely. This is evidenced by disastrous box office returns and the downscaling of investor interest in film.

    The benefits of co-production as in my experience of working with a Swedish co-producer with my present project are as follows: the ability to pool financial resources from both countries, access to my Swedish co-producer’s government’s incentives and subsidies, my international co-producer is able to access reputable international sales agents and distributors for the project – something that has stifled growth in African films internationally.

    Another important aspect is that through the co-production I am also able to access Scandinavian markets and audiences. Also because of my co-producer’s work in other European countries – especially in Germany and France – my project now has access to third markets. There are incredible cultural and educational benefits in working on co-productions.

    For African filmmakers, co-productions also extend the possibilities of future work with your international co-producer in the international arena. This allows you to get recognition in the international community and therefore substantially increases the opportunity of accessing interest (finance and otherwise) for future solo project without an international co-producer.

  • Kenya’s judicial system is riddled with corruption, according to this week's episode of the groundbreaking Al Jazeera English series, Africa Investigates, which shows that a disturbing number of key players in the legal system can be bribed or bought.

    Premiering on 14 December 2011, Kenya: Justice For Sale shows that poor Kenyans are being priced out of the justice system in a country where bribery has become the norm. According to a recent report by Transparency International, nearly ten per cent of all bribes find their way to the judiciary.

    In 2003 a radical shakeup of the judiciary saw 23 judges and 82 magistrates sacked over high-profile corruption allegations.  More reforms are promised but, as this final episode in the current series of Africa Investigates will reveal, so far little has changed within the Kenyan judiciary’s culture of corruption.

    Kenya: Justice For Sale screens daily from Wednesday, 14 December 2011, at the following times GMT:  Wednesday: 22:30; Thursday: 09:30; Friday: 03:30; Saturday: 16:30; Sunday: 22:30; Monday: 09:30; Tuesday: 03:30; Wednesday: 16:30. 

    Africa Investigates is a groundbreaking new series that puts flesh on Al Jazeera’s ambition to give voice to the voiceless. To be an African investigative journalist can mean to face the risk of arrest, intimidation and even death. 23 journalists have been killed in Africa in 2011, according to The International News Safety Institute, so Al Jazeera English implemented strict security protocols on the series, often running to more than 40 pages per film.

    Executive producer Ron McCullagh says investigative journalists across Africa live with “a level of fear few journalists in the West would endure - the constant threat of arrest on jumped up charges, intimidation, death threats, the real threat of death itself; all part of the business of minding other people's business in the interest of the public good… No reporter in the West faces such challenges. The work of these journalists represents the very best of our trade.”

    For more information, visit here:

    You can watch and embed the series' promo from here:

  • Now that the curtains have closed on the 6th edition of the Africa in Motion Film Festival (Scotland) - which focussed on Children and Youth in Africa – organisers would like to thank participants. Here is the wrap up:

    ‘Throughout the 5 days of the festival, we welcomed almost one and a half thousand people to Africa in Motion, registered high attendance levels in our screenings, and had numerous sold-out events. This year, AiM received some of the best media coverage our festival has had; obtained a very positive response to the quality, diversity and contents of the films we programmed, and our film introductions and post-screening discussions were described as inspiring and poignant. In addition, guests/collaborators such as Nigerian filmmaker Obi Emelonye, French/Burkinabe journalist Claire Diao, Professor Jolyon Mitchell from the School of Divinity (Ed. Uni), or scholar Gerhard Anders from the Centre for African Studies (Ed. Uni) assured our festival continued to provide a platform for African films to not only be seen but also contextualized, questioned, discussed and reflected upon. 

    Amongst the outstanding highlights of this year's festival were the (now legendary) AiM launch party, our guest filmmaker Nigerian director/producer Obi Emelonye, the AiM annual short film competition, a boisterous and eventful Children's Day, numerous compelling discussions, and a glorious closing party.

    We kicked off the festival with a stunning (and sold-out) screening of Tunisian film, Bab'Aziz: The Prince Who Contemplated His Soul (Nacer Khemir: 2005) and a roaring party to signal the beginning of another wonderful festival. This included a menu of tantalising Kenyan canapés, South African wine and an outstanding performance by Zimbabwean jazz singer, Cynthia Gentle and her band, The True Tones. Commenting on the opening event, dancer Jennifer Ba stated:  "The AiM festival is well known   in Edinburgh and the opening nights are renowned for providing excellent entertainment - it was a great experience!"

    The following day, we were delighted to be joined by Nigerian filmmaker Obi Emelonye. During his time with the festival he engaged in an insightful seminar that discussed the production and distribution of Nollywood films. This was one of many opportunities to discuss the film programme with leading practitioners and academics of African cinema. Throughout the duration of the festival, post-screening discussions highlighted and explored many of the poignant issues within the programmed films. These discussions covered topics of disability and domestic abuse and children's issues.

    This year we presented the 4th edition of the Africa in Motion Short Film Competition and once again, the quality of the films has raised to a truly outstanding level. On Friday evening we screened the 7 shortlisted films and later announced Umkhungo (dir. Matthew Jankes, South Africa) as the deserving winner of the competition.

    Another highlight of the festival and an undoubtable success was our Children's Day Programme. The day started with a hugely successful Storytelling session led by Mara Menzies, from Toto Tales. To a cinema full of half-pint sized 2-legged animals, Mara told fantastical tales of 4-legged and winged animals, weaving the engaged audience into the stories themselves. This was followed by sold-out screening of children's films: a stellar selection of short, colourful films aimed at the youth. Demanding more energy still (as only children would be able to provide), the day ended with a fantastic set of drumming and dancing workshops where children were able to learn the basic rhythms on the Djembe drums and accompanied dance moves. A wonderfully vibrant finale to the day!

    The festival was brought to a close in exquisite style with the screening of a FESPACO award winning film 'Un pas en avant, les dessous de la corruption; (One Step Forward: The Inside of Corruption) followed by a mesmerising performance by Sengalese kora player, Soriba Kanout. Soriba provided us all with a much needed sense of calm and reassurance at the end of a wonderfully exciting and relentless festival. We were cordially transported to serenity via Senegal, where we will remain until the chaos recommences next year. We would like to thank all our partners and sponsors who contributed an incredible amount to the shape and execution of the festival. We look forward to working with you again in the future, and similarly, we hope to see all of our audience members again next year!’

    "The sheer variety of films shown at AiM reminds us that there is no single 'African' cinema, but a whole world to explore within a continent of diverse cultures and histories... I cant wait to see what else AiM has in store in the future. I'll certainly be returning to find out"
    Kieran Hanson, MA Granada Centre for Visual Anthropology, University of Manchester

  • The future - at least, the communication end of it - could be in the palm of our hands. That's my reading of recent statistics from the Nielsen Mobile Insights study into the South African cellphone market.  The researchers' message is clear. Text and SMS are absolutely vital if you wish to reach the cellphone generation - which I define as anyone between the ages of eight and 88.

    According to the latest numbers, more Africans have access to cellphones than to clean drinking water. That's a staggering insight. The cellphone is much more than a means of communication. It's a fashion accessory that spells status, social interaction and a sense of community. How else can you explain the growth of the handheld chatterbox?

    In South Africa between 2000 and 2010, cellphone usage rocketed from 17% to 76% of adults. More consumers use cellphones than listen to radio (29 million versus 28 million) or watch TV (27 million).

    Computer usage lags massively. Only six million South Africans use PCs. This is still higher than the usage of landline phones. At the last count, only five million of us still communicated via strands of copper wire down a phone-line.

    In contrast, SMS texting has taken off as the country's fastest growing method of getting a message across. Apparently, texting is nearly 4.2 times more prevalent than email messaging while 69% of consumers prefer sending a text to making a call on their cellphones - presumably because it's cheaper.It's also so cool, though I'm told the preferred spelling among the in-crowd is kewl. (The comparative, says the Wiktionary, is kewler while the superlative is kewlest.)

    Which brings us to a key point. Today, mobility is more than a medium. It's bcum (become in sms language) a language as well. Txt-spk is now so complex and so pervasive among the young that US parents are going online to learn how to transl8 the lingo so they can find out what their kids are up to.

    There's a contradiction here - the medium is so ubiquitous that many users look for ways of shutting the masses out by creating a private language for their own private space. So, the numbers may indicate the size of the communication opportunity, but they don't tell us how to get on the same wave-length as these media consumers.

    This communication platform reaches a mass audience in a personal way, but to really make it work for us we still need creative hooks. At the end of the day (or @TEOTD if you prefer), you need a great idea for a great connection.

  • USA’s BET Networks recognizes phenomenal individuals legendary in African-American Culture for Music, Literature, Entertainment, Media, Service and Education Achievements in the Fifth Annual BET Honors

    Maya Angelou, Stevie Wonder, Mariah Carey, Spike Lee, The Tuskegee Airmen and Beverly Kearney will be honoured for their achievements on Saturday, January 14, in Washington, D.C.
    In its fifth consecutive year, BET Networks presents BET Honors, a memorable night celebrating the outstanding achievements of seven extraordinary legends in music, literature, entertainment, media, service and education. Hosted by talented actress Gabrielle Union at the historic Warner Theater in Washington, D.C., BET Honors celebrates the lifetime contributions and exceptional service of certain individuals to African-American culture in music, literature, entertainment, media, service and education. The star-studded, unforgettable special will premiere during 1st quarter 2012 on BET.

    The 2012 honored recipients include renowned poet/author Maya Angelou (Literary Arts), internationally acclaimed musician Stevie Wonder (Musical Arts), Grammy-Award winning songstress Mariah Carey (Entertainer), influential filmmaker Spike Lee (Media), the heroic Tuskegee Airmen (Service) and inspirational coach and mentor Beverly Kearney (Education).

    BET Honors has become a staple in BET history by celebrating extraordinary African-American shining stars including Cicely Tyson, Jamie Foxx, Iman, Herbie Hancock, Whitney Houston, Queen Latifah, Sean "Diddy" Combs with unforgettable past performances by Trey Songz, Ne-yo, Yolanda Adams, Keyshia Cole, Jennifer Hudson, Mary J. Blige, Patti LaBelle, among many others.

    Stephen Hill, President of Music Programming and Specials, BET Networks, and Lynne Harris Taylor, Vice President of Specials, BET Networks are executive producers, along with Cossette Productions.

    For more information on THE BET Honors, visit Viewers can also find series updates on Facebook by liking the fan pages. Also, join the conversation about the special on Twitter by using hashtags: #BETHonors; follow the show for all updates & special surprises  @BETHonors. For more information about this special visit here:

  • Spacecom, operator of the Amos satellite fleet, has announced the successful launch of its Amos-5satellite from Baikonur, Kazakhstan.

    Amos-5 launched aboard a Proton Breeze-M launcher has successfully made it to its 17° East orbital position. In the coming weeks, Amos-5 will undergo a sequence of in-orbit tests, after which its manufacturer, ISS Reshetnev, will officially handover control of the satellite to Spacecom. Commercial operation of the satellite’s pan-African C-band and Ku-band payload is scheduled to commence in early 2012.

    “Amos-5’s launch further transforms Spacecom into a leading multi-regional satellite operator is truly a landmark event for us as we prepare to bringour reliable high-quality services to Africa,” said Spacecom president and CEO David Pollack. “The satellite will offer excellent coverage and ready capacity to a rapidly growing region. Spacecom is excited and looks forward to providing comprehensive and quality communications solutions to Africa.”

  • Kiss Television, a subsidiary of Radio Africa Group Limited, is set to go nationwide.

    The station launched two years ago was only airing in Nairobi. It has also successfully concluded an agreement with the world's biggest Christian broadcaster, God TV. This is part of the station's re-branding which will see an expected relaunch of Kiss TV by January 2012.

    Kiss TV has increased its transmission capacity to span a power output from 5 to 15 kilowatts and invested heavily in transmitters which have been installed in Nyanza, Rift Valley, Coast and Western provinces. "Next year, Kenyans will be given something new. Kiss TV news is set to change and we will have Kenyan made films. Riverwood will premier on Kiss TV and also the best of Nollywood," said Radio Africa's CEO Patrick Quarcoo.

    Also as part of its strategy to give its viewers the best content, the station has partnered with God TV - an international Christian television station broadcasting from Jerusalem in Israel. "God TV is the best Christian station in the world. It has world class preachers like Benny Hinn. We have come to an agreement with Kiss TV to broadcast only the best content from God TV. Kiss viewers will watch God TV between 5-9 am every morning," Quarcoo said.

    The programming package includes youth programmes that will showcase live concerts from some of the world's biggest bands. This has won the channel various awards like Best Youth Programming and Best Live Event. "Kiss radio has discussed things that could not be discussed. We have been loved and loathed in equal measure. Its momentous because God is coming to Kiss TV," he said.

    Quarcoo added that the station will reward its viewers over the Christmas holidays by giving them the best flat screens in the market. The station has also been airing the Champions League and it will soon air the Europa League, Bundesliga and bring live highlights from the Spanish La Liga.

  • SES has announced that the United Arab Emirates company YahLive, in which SES is a shareholder, closed a long-term agreement with the Dubai-based free-to-air satellite broadcaster MBC Group to broadcast its large portfolio of High Definition (HD) channels. With this strategic partnership, which was announced in Dubai today, viewers of YahLive can watch seven top rated MBC Group channels in HD across the Middle East and North Africa: MBC 1, MBC 2, MBC 4, MBC Action, MBC Drama, MBC MAX and Al Arabiya News Channel.

    MBC Group is a leading private free-to-air satellite broadcasting company for the Arab World. YahLive is a partnership of SES with Yahsat, the United Arab Emirates-based satellite communications company, a wholly-owned subsidiary of Mubadala Development company. YahLive broadcasts from the orbital position 52.5 degrees East. Viewers in the Middle East and in North Africa seeking to receive MBC Group`s HD bouquet from this position need to point their satellite dish to it.

    Sam Barnett, CEO of MBC Group, said: “We are pleased to announce this partnership with YahLive. YahLive is building a proposition based on High Definition (HD) television and aims to attract audiences from across the region. Our channels are ‘required viewing’ for many in the Middle East and the ability to watch them in HD is becoming increasingly attractive. This deal should therefore create a strong partnership.”

    Mohamed Youssif, CEO of YahLive, said: “Our partnership with MBC Group is another key milestone in the evolution of YahLive and an excellent example of our strategic vision to become the HD hotspot for the region and beyond. Ensuring that our customers have access to the number one channels and programmes is of highest importance to us, and it is clear that MBC Group`s offering is amongst the most popular in the region.”

    SES is a leader in HD internationally, with a total of more than 1,000 HD channels on its satellites worldwide and with a specific know-how in the segment, for instance through its affiliate HD PLUS which operates a technical platform for commercial broadcasters offering HD channels in Germany.

  • The 2012–15 UEFA Champions League and UEFA Europa League French-language media rights in sub-Saharan Africa have been awarded to pay operator Canal+ Afrique.
    Pay operator Canal+ Afrique will offer comprehensive coverage of the UEFA Champions League in the French language with two live matches as well as a highlights programme being broadcast each match night.

    Francophone football fans in Africa will also be able to watch at least two UEFA Europa League live games per match week throughout the early stages of the competition and at least one game per match week from the quarter-finals onwards. In addition, a highlights programme will be available every matchweek.

    The live games will also be shown via the partner website and on mobile.

  • The chairman of the Administration Council of the State-run Angola News Agency (Angop), Manuel da Conceição, on Friday here said that one of the challenges for 2012 is to transform the firm into a true multimedia agency operating with five communications platforms, Angop has learnt.

    Speaking after the year end greeting ceremony to the members of his staff, journalists and other workers, Manuel da Conceição said that the firm will continue operating in five communication platforms namely texts, photo, audio, video and infography.

    According to him, in the coming year the firm will work to assume the paradigms of working and behaviour, in an activity of a more and more performance, meant to achieve the outlined goals.

    "We also intend to increase the effectiveness and efficiency in the firm management. Therefore we count on greater engagement, dedication and spirit of responsibility, as the efforts will be doubled", said Manuel da Conceição.

  • The African Media Initiative (AMI), the continent's largest association of media owners and operators, has announced a $1 million fund to spur innovation in the news industry.

    The new African News Innovation Challenge (ANIC) is designed to encourage experimentation in digital technologies and support the best innovations that strengthen African news organizations.

    AMI Chief Executive, Amadou Mahtar Ba, first announced the fund at the 4th African Media Leaders Forum in Tunisia on November 10. This week, Ba confirmed that Omidyar Network, Google, the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, Konrad-Adenauer-Stiftung and the U.S. Department of State have all pledged either funding or technical support for the initiative.

    The World Association of Newspapers and News Publishers has also committed expert business mentorship and marketing support for ANIC winners.

    "Traditional media are still growing in Africa, but media organizations know that they need to go digital and mobile to prepare for the future. Many, however, don't have the resources to experiment or take risks, especially in this economic climate," said Ba. "This competition is our way of saying: 'We're here to help. If you come up with an innovative idea to improve the African media landscape, we'll help make it happen.'"

    Winners in the annual contest will get seed grants ranging from $12,500 to a maximum of $100,000 for more ambitious projects. To build robust business models, the grantees will also receive technical advice and start-up support, as well as one-on-one mentoring from some of the world's leading media experts.

    "We're trying to nurture a culture of innovation in African media," said AMI's digital strategist and ANIC project manager Justin Arenstein. "We want the winners to get their products to the market quickly, and we want to remove as much risk as possible. These pioneers will have access to experts that most media simply do not have."

    Arenstein is working with AMI as part of a Knight International Journalism Fellowship administered by the International Center for Journalists (ICFJ), with funds from the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.

    The contest will target solutions to technology challenges facing African media, including ways to strengthen data-based investigative journalism, audience engagement, mobile news distribution, data visualization, revenue streams and workflow systems.

    "We're casting the net as wide as possible," said Arenstein. "As long as the solution is scalable and appropriate to local market conditions, we're happy to consider it."

    The competition is modeled after Knight Foundation's highly successful Knight News Challenge, which has seeded news media innovation across the globe over the past five years. "We will work closely with Knight Foundation to incorporate the best practices and technology for a digital news contest designed to solve problems and stimulate new thinking," said Joyce Barnathan, president of the International Center for Journalists.

    AMI will launch the contest website in December 2011. In the first phase, African journalists and publishers will be asked to identify the most pressing challenges facing the industry. Once these have been identified, AMI will issue a call for applications targeting these issues in February 2012.

    Winners will be chosen through a rigorous two-phase judging process, consisting of public voting and a review of finalists by a panel of experts. The top contenders will receive a combination of cash and technical support.

    Winners will then test their innovations in AMI member-newsrooms and showcase projects at international media gatherings.

    The African innovation contest is part of AMI's broader initiative to build digital entrepreneurship within traditional media. AMI is also supporting a new network of chapters across Africa that will bring technologists together with journalists to help pilot projects in digital media. The chapters will run workshops and help incubate ideas for the African News Innovation Challenge.

    The African Media Initiative is the continent's primary umbrella association of African media owners, top executives, and other industry stakeholders. AMI represents media across all traditional platforms plus newer digital formats. AMI's mandate is to serve as a catalyst for strengthening African media, by building the tools, knowledge resources, and technical capacity for African media to overcome key constraints so that they can play an effective public interest role in society. This mandate includes assisting with the development of professional standards, financial sustainability, technological adaptability, and civic engagement. AMI seeks to achieve its mandate through partnerships, advocacy and strategic projects.

    The International Center for Journalists (ICFJ), a non-profit, professional organization, promotes quality journalism worldwide in the belief that independent, vigorous media are crucial in improving the human condition. Over 27 years, ICFJ has worked with more than 70,000 journalists - both professional and citizen - and media managers from 180 countries.

  • Drama ensued on Saturday after the State Minister for Disaster Preparedness, Musa Ecweru, reportedly stormed a community radio station in Soroti and allegedly ordered the arrest of talk show panelists, accusing them of defaming him.

    Ecweru reportedly abruptly appeared in the Kyoga Veritas FM studios after Julius Ocen, the former Amuria LC5 chief and a panelist, accused the minister of using underhand methods to sack his wife from her job.

    An audibly incensed Ecweru reportedly said: "Kyoga Veritas, what is wrong with you? Why host such crap to talk against me and the government? I am a national figure."

    He allegedly added: "Ocen has been accusing me of trying to kill him and now trying to influence the sacking of his wife. Sincerely I am not of that class, who come to discuss petty issues on radio. I have bigger fora than this." Efforts by the programme moderator, Stanley Okello to calm him down, failed as Ecweru allegedly insisted that the panelists had a case to answer and that they report to the police.

    But Serere Woman MP Alice Alaso, who was among the panelists, reportedly insisted no one was going to the police. "Nobody is going to go to police and the station did its part to invite you for this talk show but you chose not to come," Alaso is reported to have said.

    Ocen, who is also UPC national mobiliser, allegedly said: "I am an adult who is not going to succumb to Ecweru's intimidation. He has no right whatsoever to order my arrest." Efforts to speak to all the politicians were futile as their known mobile phones were switched off.

  • Radio Lisanga Télévision (RLTV), the Kinshasa-based main opposition television station, which has been the subject of numerous attacks by authorities during the recent electoral campaign, has once again been silenced by authorities in Kasai-Oriental province, in the west of the country, and by the media regulator, the CSAC (Conseil Supérieur de l'Audiovisuel et la Communication), in Kinshasa.

    According to JED sources, RLTV's station in Mbuji-Mayi was besieged by a heavily-armed police unit on 5 December and remained occupied as of 8 December. Everyone in the building at the time was evacuated while police forces assumed control of the premises, barring entry to all journalists.

    The official reason for the siege has not been given either by police or by provincial authorities, while CSAC officials remain tight-lipped about the incident. Both Mbuji-Mayi and Kinshasa are strongholds of main opposition candidate Etienne Tshisekedi.

    RLTV's Mbuji-Mayi station director Floribert Mole told JED that the station doors were locked by police but that no reason was given for the raid. "A few days before the raid on our station we received a number of threats, including one from the provincial governor via his own television station, who said during a programme that he wanted to "put an end to RLTV" and accused opposition MP Roger Lumbala of fleeing to Kinshasa after stirring up trouble in Mbuji-Mayi."

    Following the threats and police raid on the station, Mole claims he reported the attack to the CSAC but received no response.

    Meanwhile in Kinshasa RLTV's signal was cut on 3 December at around midnight for seven hours after the CSAC accused the station of reporting election results that were not the official results released by the electoral commission.

    JED denounces these relentless attacks on RLTV and calls on authorities in Kasai-Oriental province to order the immediate departure of police forces from RLTV studios. JED profoundly opposes the discriminatory decision to suspend RLTV and deprive opposition candidates and their supporters a vehicle of expression.

    Journaliste en danger (JED) is gravely concerned for the safety of Eliezer Thambwe, a journalist with the Kinshasa-based pro-opposition TV station Radio Lisanga Télévision (RLTV). JED has learned that since 2 December 2011, Thambwe has received a series of anonymous death threats by phone.

  • In December 2011, a Dutch journalist and her South African cameraman were arrested by soldiers in the Democratic Republic of Congo on Saturday and released a few hours later. Anneke Verbraeken and the cameraman were detained in a hospital in the capital Kinshasa where they were filming the bodies of people killed during Friday's election disturbances. The situation was very tense, according to the Dutch journalist's lawyer, Jan Hofdijk. He says other foreigners were arrested, too. Ms. Verbraken works for several Dutch media, including Radio Netherlands Worldwide.

  • The South African Advertising Research Foundation (Saarf) is to introduce a TV metric that combines existing live audience data with time-shifted data collected from personal video recorders (PVR).

    The new currency will contain the traditional live figures, as well as data from “viewing on same day as live” (VOSDAL) through PVRs. Nielsen Media Research, which carries out TV audience measurement in the country on behalf of Saarf, will incorporate the PVR data into existing live results later this month.

    On top of this, a new weekly viewing database that pinpoints audience trends after a programme has been aired will be launched at the end of the year. Chris Eyre, the ratings firm’s managing director, told industry stakeholders: “It’s going to be a bit of a ride, but I think we’ll enjoy it.”

  • The battle for control of Kenya's Pay- TV market is set to intensify as DStv unveiled another low-cost product, highlighting the importance of the bottom end segment for growth.

    The firm on Friday released a hand-held device that will enable subscribers to watch free-to-air stations like NTV, KTN, KISS TV, and K24 and access selected entertainment channels on its pay-per-view channels.

    The product, dubbed 'Walka', will have a minimum charge of Sh385 a month to access 11 channels or Sh990 to access 15 channels. It comes months after the company launched two low-end products in the race to defend and grow market share from recharged rivals.

    The first product comes with a monthly charge of Sh440 to access services through a mobile gadget and the other dubbed GoTv will cost Sh585 per month for news, documentaries, sports and movies.

    Stephen Isaboke, General Manager MultiChoice Kenya said the company -- which has targeted Kenya's middle class -- is going mass market with the roll-out of cheap packages.

    "Growth comes faster by getting into the bottom of pyramid and this segment is our main focus now," said Isaboke, adding that the high cost of access devices remains a challenge. The Walka access kit is retailing at Sh9, 999.

    DStv is looking to use pricing as its arsenal to gain marketshare from its main rival Wananchi that has threatened to shake its dominance of Kenya's pay TV market with a low cost model.

    Wananchi's product costs between Sh999 and Sh2, 999, but the company has applied to the industry regulator Communications Commission of Kenya (CCK) to allow it to offer its services through hand-held devices. This will give it room to introduce cheaper products and broaden its offerings, said CEO Richard Bell.

  • 23-25 Jan. 2012       
    NATPE Conference & Exhibition

    Venue: Fontainbleau resort, Miami Beach, USA
    The main US content market.
    For more information click here:

    28 Jan. 1 Feb. 2012       

    Venue: Cannes, France
    Midem and MidemNet bring together the music industry’s influencers and decision makers from across the globe.

    9-19 Feb 2012
    62th. Berlin International Film Festival

    Venue: Berlin
    For more information click here:

    3-8 March 2012
    Second edition of « Journées cinématographiques de la femme africaine de l’image » (JCFA)

    Venue: Ouagadougou and Dédougou, B.F.
    African women in Cinema forum, supported by FESPACO organisers.
    For more information click here:

    1-4 Apr. 2012       

    Venue: Cannes, France
    MipTV bring together TV decision makers from across the globe.
    For more information click here:   

    21 - 24 May 2012
    The TV Show Africa 2012
    Venue: Sandton Convention Centre, Johannesburg, South Africa.
    For more information click here:

    21 - 24 May 2012
    SatCom Africa 2012

    Venue: Sandton Convention Centre, Johannesburg, South Africa.
    Africa’s main satellite communication conference and exhibition.
    For more information click here:

    23 - 25 May 2012
    eLearning Africa 2012 (eLA)

    Venue: Palais des Congres, Cotonou, Benin
    Meeting the networking needs of the pan-African eLearning and distance education sector (including the broadcast-TV/Radio segment), the annual eLearning Africa conference is the key networking venue for practitioners and professionals from Africa and all over the world.
    For more information click here:

    7 - 15 July, 2012
    Zanzibar International Film Festival (ZIFF)

    Venue: Zanzibar
    15th Festival of the Dhow Countries - East Africa’s largest film and arts festival, showcasing a broad spectrum of African and International creative works on the theme When Global Images Meet in Zanzibar.
    For more information click here:

    19 - 29 JULY
    33rd DIFF 2012

    venue: Durban, South AfricaS.A.'s longest-running film festival, the Durban International Film Festival runs across 12 days.
    For more information click here:

    8-11 October 2012

    The world's entertainment content market
    Venue: Cannes, France
    For more information click here:

    30th & 31st October 2012
    IP&TV ME and North Africa 2012

    The IP&TV Forum MENA 2012 is the main IPTV event in the region.
    Venue: Jumeirah Beach Hotel, Dubai
    For more information click here:

    27 - 28 November, 2012

    Venue: Dubai Int’l Convention and Exhibition Centre
    The event will be held Under the Patronage of H.H. Sheikh Majid Bin Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Chairman of Dubai Culture & Arts Authority, and is the leading international entertainment content show in the Middle East & North Africa region.
    For more information click here:

  • - Sophie Vartan, Founder, CEO, Managing Director and Executive producer of NHU Africa has announced that she will be leaving at the end of December 2011 to move back into freelance production. The position of Head of NHU Africa will be filled internally by Donfrey Meyer effective from 1 January 2012. Donfrey has been with for ten years. He was a producer in the Creative Services Department before setting up the Values Campaign Unit three years ago. He is currently completing an MBA at the University of Cape Town.

    - M-Net has announced the expansion of its senior sales team with the appointment of former BBC Worldwide executive, Mandy Roger as Sales and Business Development Manager. Working closely with Head of Sales and Library, Mike Dearham, she will be responsible for sales across all platforms as well as pushing new business development and strategy in new ventures including formats and channel sales.

    There has been a shake-up in the top echelons of the Gambia Radio and Television Services (GRTS) that saw the replacement of the deputy director-general and the appointment of a new director of Programmes. The move saw Malik Jones, a principal producer at GRTS Radio, take over from Alhaji Momodou Joof as deputy director-general, whilst Lamin Manga, a TV presenter is appointed new director.

  • CNN African Journalist of the Year Competition 2012

    Who can enter?

    You must be an African National, working on the continent for African owned, or headquartered, media organisations. Your work must have appeared in printed publications or electronic media that is primarily targeted at and received by an African audience.

    What the judges are looking for?

    Our panel of independent, highly respected and experienced judges are in pursuit of excellence. They will be looking for entries which:

    Tell the story in a balanced, comprehensive and objective manner
    Demonstrate journalistic integrity and resourcefulness
    Communicate the story in a way that makes the topic accessible and relevant to their audience
    Display well organised research and insight
    Was broadcast or published, in English, French or Portuguese only, between January and December 2011 with proof supplied
    Entries must be received at the collection points by JANUARY 26th 2012, no exceptions will be made. Entries received after this date may be disqualified.

    The Prizes

    The journalists selected by our panel of judges will enjoy an all expenses paid finalists' programme of networking activities and workshops, culminating in the Gala Awards Ceremony. Each finalist will receive a cash prize, with each category winner also receiving a laptop computer and printer.

    The CNN MultiChoice African Journalist 2012 Award winner will be selected from the category winners and will receive an additional cash prize and will have the opportunity to participate in the CNN Journalism Fellowship at CNN Headquarters in Atlanta.

    How to enter ?

    You can only enter a maximum of 2 stories across all categories. Please carefully review your work of 2011 and enter your best story/stories in the most suitable category. You may enter a maximum of 2 stories, either both into a single category or 1 each into different categories. Please send your entry/entries in one envelope.
    Fill in all the details requested on the form (copies accepted), please print clearly and provide all requested information.
    Ensure you include a copy of your up-to-date Curriculum Vitae and any background information on your entry/entries, that you feel relevant.
    Send 2 copies of your work - Print journalists & cartoonists send the original article and a clean, legible photocopy of the entry; Online please send full URL details (No print outs will be accepted); TV & Radio - please send 2 disks/tapes (DVD/VHS or CD); Photojournalist - please send original photo(s) and CD containing your picture(s).
    Get your entry to the collection point nearest to you by January 26th 2012 latest. No extension will be made to this date.

    UMapper: an easy mapping tool for journalists on deadline

    This ‘freemium app’ allows you to create customizable Flash maps and embed them in your website or on social networks, useful for journalists and broadcasters.

    UMapper, founded in 2007, uses maps from sources including Bing Maps, Google, OpenStreetMap and Yahoo, among others. The markers are customizable and you can also add audio clips and your own photos to your map.

    Thanks to predefined templates, you can create quick weather maps or display Twitter searches geographically. (Watch the YouTube tutorial before trying this feature. Because you can only see Twitter data in the map editor when you save and preview the map, it can be confusing.)

    With a free UMapper account, you can create an unlimited number of public and private maps for personal use and access usage statistics. An upgrade is required for custom maps or commercial use.

    UMapper, currently in beta, is a Flash-based application but that may change. Rachel Greenberg, a UMapper project manager, said via email that as Flash becomes more and more unsupported in the mapping space, the company is "looking at numerous alternatives including HTML5."

    A number of news organizations use it, here are a few examples of their work:

    •National Geographic’s Expedition Blue Planet Map
    •the Sacramento Bee’s map of children on welfare
    •MTV’s Lil Wayne Breaking News ‘Tracker’

    Senior Programme Manager for Media Reform, Rwand Institute for War & Peace Reporting, an international NGO based in London, is currently accepting applications from senior professionals. Click here  - for more info.

    Call for entries - LA FABRIQUE DES CINEMAS DU MONDE - 2012 EDITION

    “LA FABRIQUE DES CINEMAS DU MONDE” will be composed by talented young filmmakers who are working on their first or second feature film, or who have finished a feature film with support from the Finds Sud Cinéma or the Fonds Francophone de Production Audiovisuelle de Sud. The ten selected directors and their producers will be invited to take part in the programme during the Cannes Film Festival.

    The Call for Entries only applies to films in development. For more info on how to apply, click here

    1st Edition of Luxor African Film Festival - February 2012

    This Festival is run by  Shabab Independent Foundation (I-Shabab), an Egyptian non governmental, and non-profit organization.
    The festival has given itself the mission to support and encourage African film productions and partnerships between the countries of the continent through strengthening the humanitarian and political ties between the people of Africa in general and African artists and filmmakers in particular.
    For more info, please contact Azza El Hosseiny (Executive Director of Luxor African Film Festival) on Azza.elhosseiny(@)  or independentshabab(@)

    Hot Docs is North America's largest documentary film festival
    , and next year it runs in Toronto from 26 April to 6. 10 DFA members will be selected and their travel and accommodation will be covered by the Department of Trade and Industry's EMIA scheme.

    The Africa Movie Academy Awards (AMAA)
    is calling for feature, short and documentary entries for its 2012 edition, to be held in April in Nigeria, home to the world’s third largest film industry. The deadline for submissions is 30 December 2011.

    Filmmakers across South Africa are invited to enter the DStv Film Talent Celebration competition, launched on 2 December 2011 with a closing date of 29 February 2012. The competition focuses on celebrating the talent of very short-filmmaking in South Africa. A very short film is considered to be between three and ten minutes long.
    The competition will be focusing attention on the ability of South African filmmakers to tell wonderful authentic stories through very short films. The competition will be challenging specifically those filmmakers who overcame the limits of time and continued to display their craft as talented story tellers.
    For more information click here: