Issue no. 124 1 March 2012

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  • There are so few new TV sporting opportunities and even fewer football opportunities. Cote Ouest, the largest distributor of TV programmes across the African continent has sealed a new agreement with Brazil's TV Globo allowing African TV broadcasters to relay the most spectacular Brazilian football matches all year round. Rights are available for both Pay TV and Free-To-Air. Sylvain Béletre, Senior Analyst at Balancing Act interviewed Nicolas Lacassagne, Cote Ouest’s new Marketing and Programmes’ Director to find out what the deal is all about.

    ‘The two most impressive championships, Sao Paulo's regional Paulista and the national Brasileirao, have recently been sold to over 190 countries and are now both available for Sub-Saharan Africa via Cote Ouest’ explained Lacassagne.

    ‘These programmes get very high audiences among football fans since Brazilian football is seen as a World reference and is one of the most spectacular and entertaining games on the planet. TV rights are available to broadcasters across all of sub-Saharan Africa with English and very soon with French soundtracks’ Lacassagne commented.

    According to Bernard Azria, CEO of Cote Ouest, "it is becoming more and more difficult for African viewers to get images of football, even of their own competitions, and I am therefore very happy to give them access to the best Brazilian championships, with some of the best teams and players in the world. I am more than convinced that the African audience will soon fall in love with Brazilian football, just as our female audience became very quickly fond of Brazil's series and telenovelas. The African and the Brazilian people have a lot in common, much more than we think".

    Brazil is the current holder of the FIFA Confederations Cup after winning the 2005 and the 2009 edition of the tournament. Brazil is ranked sixth by FIFA and is consistently considered the strongest football nation in the world, and has also been marked as one of the most competitive teams of each decade since the 1960s. Brazil has the only national team to have played in every World Cup finals.

    The 'Paulista' takes place from January to May and the 'Brasileirao' takes place from May to December. Each of these competitions is supplied with two 26' weekly magazines reviewing the previous week.

    Broadcasters can buy either of these competitions (with two magazine programmes included) or the two (with matches and two magazines from January to December). Whoever takes the total package gets Brazilians matches all year long!

    The English version is available immediately and the French version will be available when French-language channels have committed to purchase the package.

    Here are the finer details:

    2 championships:

    - The Campeonato Paulista: a regional championship in Sao Paulo, the oldest and most prestigious Brazilian regional championship, with stars such as Juninho, Neymar, Emerson, Luis Fabiano, Lucas, Adriano Borges ... and clubs having won several times the Brazilian national championship and the Clubs' World Cup (Santos: 8 times champions of Brazil, two times world champions - Sao Paulo: six-time champions of Brazil and three times world champions - Corinthians: four-time champions of Brazil and 1 time World Champions).

    The competition takes place from January to May with 20 teams and matches spread over four phases: elimination phase (all clubs meet and the top 8 in points qualify) / quarterfinals / semifinals / finals.

    - Brasileirao: The Brazilian national championship (equivalent Premier League or League A) brings together all major Brazilian clubs (eight World Cups won by five of them) and all international Brazilian and South American stars operating in Brazil. The Brasileirao includes 20 teams competing over 38 days.

    The competition takes place from May to December. The two participating teams meet twice each and the team with the most points at the end of the season is crowned champion of Brazil.

    The average number of goals per game for the two championships is over three.
     The 2 x 26' magazines are delivered every week in addition to league matches:
    · FootBrazil Highlights: summary of highlights and goals of the week;
    · FootBrazil Magazine Show: football news review of the week, players' interviews and other key personalities of Brazilian football, and preview of next week.
     
    Technical detail:

    - Broadcast in HD;
    - 12 cameras and up to 25 on average for the most important games of the season;
    - Comments in French or English with surround stage sound;
    - Post production with added graphics.

    A common Brazilian quip about football is: "Os ingleses o inventaram, os brasileiros o aperfeiçoaram" which means "The English invented it, the Brazilians perfected it".

    For further details on these new TV programmes, please contact Cote Ouest here  and here .

    To follow the exchanges about this news, you need to be on Twitter. Follow us on @BalancingActAfr

    This week on Balancing Act’s You Tube channel:

    Deon Maas, Meerkat Productions on its latest film, Punk in Africa

    Roukaya Kasenally, Director of Communications, African Media Initiative on its new mobile news apps incubator

    Jeremy Nathan, CEO, DV8 on its new crime series and feature film with Pandora Films

    George Twumasi, CEO, ABN on the future of African broadcasting


    A low-end challenger to Facebook? Nigerian digital entrepreneur Ayo Alli on the rise of social network Eskimi in Nigeria

    Watch the following in French:

    François Thiellet Thema (TV) et l'Afrique

    François Thiellet, Dir. Théma: Les Comores

  • The past few weekends have seen the number one films at the US box office all being shot in South Africa.

    Both Chronicle and Safe House have done extremely well in the US - number one in each of their weekends. Of the top 5 films at the South African box office this weekend 4 were South African productions - Material, Safe House, Chronicle, and Semi-Soet!

    In Material, Riaad Moosa plays the lead character in the film, a young Muslim man who works in his father’s fabric shop in Fordsburg, Johannesburg. In the family tradition Riaad, as the only son, is expected to take over the family business from his father.

    Riaad is a respectful son and has certainly not considered any alternatives; this is his life and his destiny. Until one night, through a series of coincidences, he lands up doing an open mike session at a local comedy club. He discovers a hidden talent for comedy; a passion is sparked within him like nothing previously in his life.

    Safe House stars Denzel Washington and Ryan Reynolds.Washington plays ruthless fugitive Tobin Frost who's being held in a safe house by a young CIA agent played by Reynolds. The movie was filmed in Cape Town, South Africa.

    Chronicle is a 2012 science fiction film directed by Josh Trank and written by Max Landis based on a story by both Trank and Landis. The film stars Dane De Haan, Michael B.Jordan, and Alex Russell. The plot follows Andrew (DeHaan), his cousin Matt (Russell) and their fellow high school student Steve (Jordan), as they form a close bond after receiving telekinetic abilities from an unknown object. The group use their abilities for mischief and personal gain until Andrew begins to use them for darker purposes. The film is visually presented from the perspective of various video recording devices, primarily from a hand-held camcorder used by Andrew to document the events in his life. Chronicle was shot in Cape Town with Film Afrika Worldwide, as well in Vancouver, Canada.

    Semi-Soet! tells the story of workaholic Jaci van Jaarsveld, who will go to any lengths to protect the advertising agency for which she works from being bought and dismantled by a ruthless businessman known as "The Jackal". A huge contract to market a prestigious wine farm internationally will help save the agency, but winning this contract is no simple matter.

    Jaci needs to convince the owner that she believes in family values and commitment. She persuades a drop-dead gorgeous man who she finds standing outside a modelling agency to be her fiancé for the day. But when the client insists that she and her bogus fiancé spend the weekend at the estate to better understand the business and his requirements, things get complicated and her plan starts to unravel with hilarious consequences.

    Semi-Soet is directed by Joshua Rous (City Ses'la) and produced by James and Anel Alexander's Scramble Productions. The film stars Anel Alexander (Discreet, 7de Laan, Binnelanders), Nico Panagio (Die Storie van Susanna van Biljon, Survivor), Diaan Lawrenson (7de Laan, Stander), Paul du Toit (Liefling, Binnelanders), Louw Venter (The Most Amazing Show), and Sandra Vaughn (Getroud Met Rugby). Semi-Soet, has earned more than R1.3million at the box office on its opening weekend, 17 to 19 February.

  • South Africa is quickly becoming a hot spot in the movie world. Now a new project is in development set in the nation and it has just attached its two leads. by Eric Eisenberg Director of Anthony Zimmer and The Burma Conspiracy adapts compatriot Caryl Férey’s crime novel Zulu set in post-Apartheid South Africa.

    French director Jérôme Salle will direct Orlando Bloom and Djimon Hounsou as two South African police officers in his upcoming feature Zulu.

    Richard Grandpierre of Eskwad has confirmed he is producing the feature alongside Pathé as co-producers. Pathé International is handling sales.

    The picture is based on French author Caryl Férey’s award winning crime novel Zulu, set against the backdrop of post-apartheid South Africa.

    Bloom and Hounsou will play two Cape Town police officers with roots on either side of the apartheid divide, working together to fight lawlessness in the city in a post-apartheid era.

    Salle has adapted the novel alongside longtime collaborator Julien Rappeneau, with whom he also co-wrote The Burma Conspiracy and Largo Winch pictures. The film is scheduled to start shooting in South Africa, mainly in Cape Town, in July.

  • The Independent Communications Authority of SA (Icasa) has no right under the country’s constitution to block pay-TV operator TopTV from launching adult channels and the fact that it has done so is setting a “terrible precedent” that will erode the freedoms that South Africans fought for under apartheid.

    That’s the view of TopTV chairman and acting CEO Eddie Mbalo, who tells TechCentral in an exclusive interview that all right-minded South Africans should fight what he sees as a dangerous slide back into the censorship that was prevalent under the National Party government.

    Last month, Icasa said it had refused permission for TopTV to broadcast three sexually explicit channels — Playboy Europe, Private Spice and Adult XXX — promising to furnish its reasons for declining the application later. Icasa has said it will explain its decision before the end of February.

    “I come from a background where I was involved in the struggle in the media to allow South Africans access to information,” Mbalo says. “I will join every campaign to stop Icasa from playing Big Brother on us.”

    He says there is a much bigger issue at play than TopTV simply not being given the right to broadcast the channels. “I’m surprised the media, which is so articulate and very strong around the so-called secrecy bill, has allowed Icasa to determine what South Africans are able to see and not see. It smacks of going back to the past.”

    He adds: “Our struggle was about freedom, it was about choice, it was about South Africans having the right to determine what is good for them or not. It’s going to set a terrible precedent if Icasa is allowed to get away with it.”

    Mbalo says not even the Film & Publications Board is able to censor adult content, but is there simply to classify and determine what sort of material should not be accessible to children of certain ages. “There’s a constitutional matter here. There’s a human rights issue here,” he says. “Whether TopTV pursues a Playboy channel or not is irrelevant. There is a bigger issue here for South Africans to take up — whether one institution of state can play the role of censor and what South Africans have a right to see or not to see.”

    He adds that Playboy TV is a legitimate television channel that is broadcast in countries around the world. “But our regulator feels South Africans are not adult enough to choose, even when they’re told how kids will be protected [using our technology].”

    TopTV, he says, had no plans to offer the channels on a free-to-air basis, and the necessary controls were in place to ensure parents could control their children’s access to the material. “E.tv has been broadcasting this stuff on free-to-air late at night, without controls. We also know DStv broadcasts adult content.”

    Icasa’s decision not to allow TopTV to launch the channels means SA is in danger of “going back to the past, where the state, because of its own beliefs, or the beliefs of individuals in that state, could determine what South Africans could see”.

    “It would be a terrible injustice if it were allowed to happen.”

    Mbalo says he’s not sure yet if TopTV will take Icasa to court as a decision must still be made in consultation with the company’s board of directors and shareholders. But he says he has no doubt the decision by the regulator is unconstitutional. A decision on whether to take the matter further will only be taken once Icasa has furnished the reasons for its decision.

  • The first ever Tunisian Film Festival hosted in Hollywood, California was held from January 10-12, 2012. The festival marks the one year anniversary of the Tunisian uprising.

    Organised by Free Tunisia, a non-profit organisation dedicated to supporting Tunisia's democratic aspirations, the festival aims to promote freedom of expression through creativity and arts.

    Showcasing recent short and feature films by Tunisian artists, such as Mohamed Ali Nahdi, Majdi Msiri, Rafik Omrani, Fathi Saidi, Anis Lassoued, Ibrahim Letaief, and Hazem Birrabeh, the event's program also included roundtable discussions with the directors, visual arts exhibitions, as well as live performances by artists Emel Mathlouthi, Mark Levine, Hamza Malouch, Yasser Jeradi, MC-Rai, and many other entertainers.

    While screenings of the films were held at the Barnsdall Gallery Theater, other events were organised for guests at the American Film and Music Institutes.

    International festivals, and other initiatives similar to the Tunisian Film Festival in Hollywood, represent a valuable opportunity for Tunisian visual art to be showcased to international audiences and significantly enhance artists' networking possibilities.

    In this year alone, Tunisian cinema was received positively at several festivals including the Bobigny Citizen Cinema Festival in France, the 5th Human Rights Festival in Dijon, the Tunisian Film Festival in Paris, and more recently the Dubai International Film Festival.

    For full information on the Tunisian Film Festival in Hollywood, including a complete schedule, click here

  • TV5Monde highlights the results of media audience survey in Mali where the channel reached its record audience and reinforced its position as the first international channel according to TNS Africascope 2011*.

    In Bamako, TV5Monde is watched weekly by 81.6% of the population aged 15 and over (4.1 points). Daily, more than one in two people watch the channel (53.7% or 8.7 points).

    Total awareness of the French-speaking channel in the Malian capital reached 98.1% (0.4 points) among those aged 15 and over and remain at 100% amoung managers and leaders. In Mali, TV5Monde is distributed on MMDS networks of Multichannel and Malivision.

     * Source: TNS Africascope 2011 - face to face survey conducted in Bamako from December 7 to 20, 2011, from a representative sample of the Malian population aged 15 + years (using the quota method). In total, 1,179 people were interrogated by the TNS Sofres Institute, including a sample of 132 managers and executives.

  • Many Zimbabweans are set to lose their access to free-to-air TV channels like SABC 1, 2 and 3 among others, after the High Court in Johannesburg ordered signal carrier Sentech to encrypt its signal within the next three months.

    For several years now viewers in countries like Zimbabwe, Angola, Namibia, Lesotho, Mozambique and Malawi have used a range of decoders like Wiztech, Philibao, Fortec Star and Vivid, to illegally view television channels beamed from South Africa without subscription.

    But last year eBotswana, a subsidiary of South Africa's eTV, took the matter to court demanding that Sentech encrypt its signal to prevent this cross border signal piracy. Sentech was also accused of knowing about the problem and not doing anything about it. Last week the court ruled against Sentech and ordered it to pay the costs of eBotswana’s application.

    With the Zimbabwe Broadcasting Corporation virtually nothing more than a campaign platform for ZANU PF, viewers have switched off, choosing instead to watch foreign stations.

    The court decision now means many in Zimbabwe will lose access to channels as not everyone can afford the subscriptions required. In a country where the state has a broadcasting monopoly it can only mean a set back in terms of the free flow of news and information.

    Meanwhile a potential clash is looming between Transport and Communication Minister Nicholas Goche and Information Communication Technology (ICT) Minister Nelson Chamisa, over plans by Econet Wireless to install a fibre optic cable linking Zimbabwe to the high-speed undersea cables in Mozambique.

    Goche is blocking Econet, claiming the service is already being provided by state-owned TelOne and that its government policy that “service providers must not compete for the provision of infrastructure, but on the provision of services.” Chamisa however contradicted this saying it was not government policy.

    “I am yet to talk to Minister Goche about it. It is government policy to make sure that we have access to the undersea cables, as of yesterday,” Chamisa told the local NewsDay newspaper.

  • The Independent Communications Authority of SA (Icasa) wants to license new pay-TV operators to compete with incumbent MultiChoice, which owns DStv, and recent entrant On Digital Media, with TopTV, despite little interest shown by other players in launching commercial services following the previous round of licensing several years ago.

    The authority has issued invitations to apply for commercial radio and subscription television broadcasting licences. If any of the expected new bidders launch commercial pay-TV services, these will be the first fresh offerings in the market since TopTV was launched in 2009.

    Already, one player — a consortium operating under the name Mobile TV — which had previously applied unsuccessfully for a mobile television broadcasting licence, has said it will submit an application to Icasa to launch pay-TV services as well as digital radio services using digital audio broadcasting (DAB) technology. DAB is a newer competitor technology to analogue FM broadcasts that consumers are more familiar with today.

    Icasa isn’t limiting the number of applications it will entertain, saying instead that the number of licences it will eventually issue for subscription broadcasting services will be determined by the number of applications that comply with the requirements set out in its invitation to apply.

    The authority’s GM for licensing, Sipho Tsotetsi, says that when MultiChoice and e.tv received licences in 2010 to offer mobile television products, some bidders objected that they were not given access.

    Tsotetsi says those wanting access to spectrum had to have a broadcast licence. Unlike before, though, successful new applicants will not be confined to mobile broadcasting, but will have full-service licences, allowing them to compete, if they choose to do so, across the board with existing licensees thanks to a technology neutral approach by the authority.

    Mobile TV founder and chairman Mothobi Mutloatse says the company will submit an application for a licence and is encouraged that Icasa will not restrict the technology platforms successful licensees can use to offer services.

    Mutloatse is a big proponent of a Korean broadcasting technology called digital multimedia broadcasting, or DMB, and of DAB radio. He says Mobile TV plans to offer a radio broadcasting network based on enhancement of the DAB standard, known as DAB+, and will offer access to this network to other SA broadcasters interested in offering their radio stations digitally.

    Mobile TV says it ready to begin offering pay-TV services as it has been trialling the DMB technology, in particular, for a number of years already.

    Consumers will surely welcome new competition in SA’s pay-TV market, which is still dominated by DStv. TopTV was the only one of four companies licensed several years ago to compete with DStv but it appears to have had a hard time gaining critical mass. TopTV founding CEO Vino Govender recently left the company amid talk that it’s struggling to gain traction.

    Other successful licensees — namely Super 5 Media (formerly Telkom Media), eSat (a sister company of e.tv) and Walking on Water Television (WowTV) — failed to launch commercial products for various reasons. WowTV and Super 5 Media still claim to be planning to bring products to market.

    Icasa has said it will soon hold public hearings to decide what to do about licensees that fail to launch commercial offerings. Tsotetsi says it may introduce shorter periods of time during which licensees must either commence broadcasts or have their licences revoked.  –

  • Endemol South Africa, the television and audio-visual entertainment company, will in May 2012 celebrate 10 years of broadcasting reality show, Big Brother, on the continent.

    Pay TV broadcaster M-Net first commissioned Endemol South Africa to produce the South African version of Big Brother in 2001, which was subsequently followed by the second season of Big Brother South Africa in 2002.

    In 2003, Endemol produced Big Brother Africa (BBA), the first ever continental Big Brother in the world, which featured 12 housemates from 12 different African countries. It was during this first season of Big Brother Africa that housemate; Gaetano Kagwa from Uganda swapped places with Big Brother UK contestant Cameron Stout. Gaetano was chosen to join the UK Big Brother after passing a cocktail-making challenge.

    In 2006, Endemol South Africa teamed up with a Nigerian production team to produce Big Brother Nigeria. Big Brother Africa 2 was produced in 2007, and since then Endemol South Africa has produced Big Brother Africa 3, 4, 5 and 6.

    M-Net has again commissioned Endemol to produce the upcoming seventh season of Big Brother Africa, which will premiere to viewers in 47 African countries on 6 May 2012.

    BBA is headline sponsored by Coca-Cola, and the cash prize has been increased to US$300,000. This new season is yet to commence but there are already a few surprises that viewers can look forward to, including the addition of two new countries; Liberia and Sierra Leone to the Big Brother house for the first time ever. This season, Ethiopia bows out of the game and Mozambique will take on a new role that will be announced at a later stage.

    Managing director of Endemol South Africa, Sivan Pillay said, "Big Brother has long proved its blockbuster status as one of the world's leading formats. In Africa, Endemol has found creative ways of continuously engaging the amazing African audience that has grown year by year with more twists, turns, surprises and great reality entertainment. The M-Net Africa team has also been a wonderful broadcaster to partner with and has been a driving force in making the Big Brother platform in Africa stronger than ever."

    Executive producer of BBA, Marie Rosholt says, "The fact that Big Brother is in its 10th season vindicates the popularity and staying power of reality television. Big Brother has remained a ratings winner growing its fan base every season. The success of the Big Brother format lies in its powerful ability to engage and absorb viewers who have a direct involvement in the series through the 24 hour television broadcast as well as the Big Brother social media interactions. This year Big Brother reinvents itself with a brand new treatment taking the series to another level."

    Biola Alabi, M-Net Africa managing director says, "From the very first edition to the most recent one, Big Brother has been consistently popular, widely viewed and extremely well received across the continent. Our audiences enjoy the compelling mix of entertainment, drama and reality viewing that has come to make this series one of the most dynamic in the world. Among the key successes of the format, and one of the most significant features, is the ability for fans to engage and interact with the show across a variety of platforms. M-Net is proud to have commissioned and screened every single Big Brother production created in Africa. Further we congratulate Endemol on their ability to produce fresh, new, must-watch entertainment every season."

  • Just after the competition reached a thrilling conclusion with Zambia triumphing over Ivory Coast, Eurosport has announced that it will continue to show live coverage of the Africa Cup of Nations football tournament. The pan-European sports broadcaster secured the exclusive TV rights for the tournaments in 2013 the 2015, financial details have not been disclosed.

    The agreement covers the broadcast rights in all countries and territories in which Eurosport can be received with the exception of France.

    All 32 games of each tournament will be screened live on Eurosport and Eurosport 2 and in HD quality on Eurosport HD and Eurosport 2 HD. With the Eurosport Player, all games can also be watched live and on-demand on computers and mobile devices

    Eurosport has transmitted all Africa Cup of Nations tournaments live since 1994.

  • CTC Media will see its international channel available to more than 120 million television households across Western and Eastern Europe as well as the Middle East, North Africa and Central Asia after the Russian broadcaster inked a deal with satellite service provider Globecast. The company will have its international network – CTC International – made available on the Hot Bird 8 satellite.

    Boris Podolsky, CTC Media’s acting chief executive officer and chief financial officer, said: “We are pleased with the success of CTC-International, which is actively growing and developing. The channel’s expansion is both the result of signing agreements with new platforms and entering new broadcasting territories, as well as expanding our circle of partners in those areas where CTC-International is already present. This deal will allow Russian speakers in Europe, which is an important area of development for us, to watch some of the holding’s best TV shows in excellent quality”.

  •  BBC Worldwide Channels has acquired Titanic – the lavish new costume drama from the pen of Oscar-winner and Downton Abbey creator Julian Fellowes – to air exclusively on BBC Entertainment in South Africa the same day as the UK version concludes. Created to mark the 100th anniversary of the sinking of the HMS Titanic, the 4 x 60” drama will transmit as double-bills on BBC Entertainment on 15 and 22 April 2012 from 19.30 CAT. The drama features a host of British acting talent including Linus Roache (Law & Order, Batman Begins), Geraldine Somerville (The Harry Potter films, Survivors), Celia Imrie (Bridget Jones’ Diary, After You’ve Gone), Toby Jones (Captain America, W.), Perdita Weeks (The Promise, Four Seasons) and James Wilby (Gosford Park, Clapham Junction).

  • The South Africa-based actor and producer Akin Omotoso talks about his latest film, ‘Man on Ground’, set to be released across Africa this year.

    Akin Omotoso is a chip off the old block. Like his father, he is a bundle of talent combining writing with acting, producing and directing. His acting credits include ‘Blood Diamond’, ‘Shake Hands with the Devil’, ‘Lord of War’ and ‘A Reasonable Man’.

    His latest effort, ‘Man on Ground’, co-produced with ‘Afropack brothers’, Nigerians Fabian Adeoye Lojede and Hakeem Kae-Kazeem and some South Africans, premiered at the Toronto International Film Festival last year. The movie also had its first screening in Africa at the 2011 Africa International Film Festival in Lagos last December where it was well received. Omotoso answered questions about the film focusing on xenophobia from the audience after the screening at Genesis Deluxe Cinemas, The Palms, Oniru, Victoria Island.

    One thing about how we made the film, and I think it is important to say how we did it. We went for crowd funding. I’m saying it here because when we tried to raise money in Nigeria we were not getting much love; perhaps because people here don’t understand the concept of crowd funding. What it is: we wrote emails to friends and family to give us donations for the film. Some Nigerians gave us money but it was a very difficult concept to sell—the idea that you give a little donation for something that is bigger than just a financial return. Everybody was like ‘what do I get?’

    The film was crowd-funded, which is why when you look at the credits there are like 40 people as associate producers. People gave us as little as $100, $500 and we put it together over three months to raise the money that allowed us to make the film. It was really great, more people said no but that way we were able to make the film. Without those people giving us the money and the support, we would not have been able to make the film.

    In three months we raised about $30,000. That was what we got but what you see on the screen is people who committed to doing the film by understanding why we had to make it. So, the actual amount of money we spent, I would say it was more emotional. It is people’s strength that allowed us do the film. We started shooting on the basis that somebody would give us part of their money but like five days into the film we felt we were stuck because those guys weren’t returning our calls. I started phoning a friend of mine trying to get him to give us some money, a Nigerian guy. He invited us to his house, myself, Akeem and Fabian in Johannesburg. He prepared pounded yam and we ate. He told us he would get back to us.

    Then I was phoning another friend of mine who is South African, who has a business with the Nigerian man trying to find out about the Nigerian guy in a roundabout way. He told me ‘Akin, what are you asking?’ I said one of our investors hasn’t put in the money and this is the amount of money we are looking for. He said okay, send me the proposal. I sent it to him and four hours later he said I will give you the money. This is a South African guy who has a business with the Nigerian guy. I’m just trying to say that we need to think about how we fund our films so that we can tell stories in a way that reflects us, like characters we want to see. We want to see ourselves on the screen without any complications. If you go for Western funding they always tell you that you can only say these kinds of things. Or you only get the money if you talk about that. For me crowd funding is a way of breaking through that and telling the story that you want to tell. We did get support from Nigerians just to be clear and some of those who supported the project tremendously are here in the hall. And we do continue to enjoy their support.

    Are the xenophobic feelings still prevalent in South Africa or do you think it is something that is changing?

    I think South Africa is just a place in terms of that is the place. But if we look around, what happened in the world this year was happening everywhere. It’s not about South Africa, it’s about how do we treat each other here at home in Nigeria? What are we doing on the continent? What are the images that we have been bombarded with this year? So for me it is not just about South Africa, it’s really about the bigger picture. There is a problem in the world, never mind South Africa. For me it’s not about just South Africa. It’s about how we treat ourselves as people and how we respond to each other.

    Why don’t we look at the bigger picture? Like what’s happening in Jos? In South Africa I think there is a problem about xenophobia, there is a problem of housing and delivery, which is quite complex. But the issue is, is that why you should chase people away? In South Africa it is particular to them, in our country Nigeria there is ethnic tension that we hardly ever talk about. We need to start talking about those things. Get around a table and drink some Jameson and the other thing and get talking. I don’t know how they would react to the film in South Africa, I have no idea. All I know is that we should try as much as possible to put the topic that is quite close to our hearts in our country that I live in. it’s a beautiful country like any other country that has problems. This film is about that problem.

    I think it starts with the man in the mirror to quote Michael Jackson. For me, my own process of understanding the problem that faces us in the continent that I love is by making a film. I want the film to reach the pinnacle of success that I think it can.

    Man On Ground premiered at the first annual Jozi Film Festival. Written and directed by Akin Omotoso, Man On Ground is a gritty unflinching account of one man’s search for his brother.

    Following political persecution in Nigeria, Femi (Fabian Adeoye Lojede) has fled his homeland for South Africa and goes missing during an outbreak of xenophobic violence in Johannesburg. Man On Ground is the story of his estranged brother Ade’s (Hakeem Kae-Kazim) search for answers.

    The title of the film refers to a photograph that inspired Omotoso to make this film. In May 2008, Mozambican immigrant Ernesto Nhamnuave was burned alive in an informal settlement outside Jo'burg while bystanders watched and laughed.

    The film was shot over 19 days in June last year but took three years, and extensive research into the nature of xenophobic violence, to come to fruition. Fact and fiction blur in this movie - dialogue from real people interviewed by Omotoso's researcher found their way into the screenplay. In one scene, an immigrant shopkeeper tells local heavies who are intimidating him, "Only the president can make me leave this country." A direct quote, says Omotoso who is currently in the US - Man On Ground opened The African Art House Film Festival in Washington last week and will premiere in the US, at the LA Film Festival on the same night as it receives its South African premiere.

    Speaking from Washington about Jozi Film Festival, Omotoso said "It's time Johannesburg had something like this. I'm excited about the festival and hope it grows in the coming years. I love Jo'burg and I feel, as filmmakers, we haven't yet managed to fully capture its essence". Without doubt, Man On Ground makes headway into cinematically epitomizing the City of Gold on film, with moody aerial shots of Jo'burg after dark and picturesque shots of the city's iconic skyline. Omotoso love affair with his adoptive city is obvious - "I love the regeneration I'm seeing" – and it's this energy and creative passion that JFF hopes to promote and foster.

    Next stop on the film festival circuit for Man On Ground will be the Berlin International Film Festival later in the month. Man On Ground had its worldwide premiere at The Toronto International Film Festival last year and has been shown at both the Dubai International Film Festival and The African International Film Festival in Nigeria.

    Next in the pipeline for Omotoso and his creative team is a love story, to be shot later this year. "It's been a heavy few years, dealing with this kind of subject matter. We needed to do something light."

    For more information on the Jozi Film festival as well as the full list of films, venues, screening times and contact persons, please visit Jozi Film Festival

  • The Director General of the Namibian Broadcasting Corporation (NBC) Albertus Aochamub speaks about the life at Cullinan Street, his plans for the broadcaster and why he welcomed with open arms the N$90 000 given to him as performance bonus last year.

    New Era: You inherited an organization hit by financial and other problems. How has the situation been since your takeover?

    AA: "Let's look at the key problems that we had here. If you look at our obligations and mandate, we've had the Pay As You Earn (PAYE) that the institution could not cover. For three years or so, we deducted money from people's accounts and then we didn't pass on to the state.

    "On the operational side, we were N$32 million in the red. We've had serious deficit upon my takeover in August 2010. We didn't have a pleasant situation. We have inherited, in terms of people issues, a whole range of general unhappiness.

    "It was a whole range of issues and therefore industrial peace did not exist. There was serious discontent between the board and management until the current board came in May 2010. What did we do differently to begin to go forward? We had to park egos. This institution is not about the Director-General or the chairperson of the board. It is a public service institution that has to create space for our citizens to be heard and hear themselves and we had completely lost that focus. The new board was united in what they believed must happen.

    "For the first time, the board gave clear instructions to the Director-General on targets to chart out what is due to me as performance target. If I don't reach the targets, there is no question about paying for performance. As we speak, now everybody gets what is prescribed in law as the minimum and then the performance bonus is a function of you achieving the targets or not. That has helped us focus the business on the things that matter and not personal issues and pursuing other people's agendas that have nothing to do with the institution.

    "We have come up with a new strategy that after every board meeting, the chairman briefs staff at a staff meeting on decisions and resolutions taken by the board. Even in the private sector, you do not have such a culture. But we are saying this business is about people that work here. They should not only hear things about NBC in the printing press. We are of course far from perfect, but I think we have started on the right track.

    "We have a cordial relationship with the labour unions and the shop stewards council. The other thing that everybody has written about which, truth be told, I have found to one of those big myths about this place is political interference. It is an overrated and overwritten myth. When a politician calls and expresses his opinion, in the same manner that any citizen will call us about a story that we have covered or not covered, it cannot necessarily constitute interference.

    "By virtue of what we do, people have opinions. Why should parliamentarians who vote the budget of this institution not be allowed to air their views? Why can Cabinet which allocates money to this institution not be allowed to express their views about this institution? Yes, the opposition parties have their views and we listen.

    The ruling party too has its views and we listen. Are those instructions to do this one way or the other? I don't think they are. Are some views stronger than others? Of course they are. Are some people powerful in society by virtue of certain issues? Of course they are. It is how you build relationships with those people that should matter.

    "In short, what I am saying is: yes we had tremendous challenges that we have taken over but we have started to move into the direction that we want. We have so far concluded successfully the appointment of our top managers from nine to five. Our Chief Technology Officer is starting in February and that will mean all our top positions will be filled. This week, we will conclude filling our middle-management positions. After that, we will then all start the real work. All the managers are appointed on a five-year contract and the reasoning for this is simple. Institutions of this nature need to reinvent and regenerate themselves.

    "At the end of the five years, we will evaluate your performance and only reappoint you on merit and not because you've been here for 20 years and now you have become part of the furniture. From top to middle management, there will be no more automatic salary increments. We have implemented performance bonuses for our managers and this will only be paid to those who have hit their stipulated targets."

    NE: Speaking of performance bonuses, you got N$90,000 last year which attracted a lot of media attention. How do you justify that payment?

    AA: "In fact they should have made it N$900,000 (laughing). I missed some targets. What was unfortunate is that nobody dared to ask me. Not one reporter has called me. Those that have asked eventually only did so after the story was already published. I could have gone for the business-as-usual thing where I just get paid whether I perform or not. The contract that I entered with NBC clearly stipulates that there shall be performance targets set at the beginning of the financial year, against which the bonus would be paid and that is all. This is expected in terms of the State-Owned Enterprises Governance Framework that CEOs should not be given huge salaries but they must be rewarded for performance.

    "Now that we have done what is stipulated in that framework, apparently NBC has gone against the law. The argument presented was that the institution was not making money. But what we failed to ask was whether the institution moved against the targets that the board has set. Yes it has. "

    NE: Matthew Gowaseb was credited with much of the transformation seen at the NBC. Would you say his spell here has made your work a bit easier?

    AA: "Matthew, in his own rights, deserves the accolades of his achievements. One should never diminish the value of contributions that people have made. I called Matthew as early as yesterday (Monday) to share ideas on things that he's been thinking and that he could not finish at the time of his departure. Matthew has done a lot and we must all acknowledge his achievements. I can't come here and try to be a star. Instead, I have started off exactly where he left off.

    "The graphics and pictures have gone digital and that's progress. But did it make my work easier? I am not too sure because people got used to the new way of doing things and it is my job to maintain the consistency. If you look at the record of Bob Kandetu on how he did things in some spheres of business, there were a lot of positive things done. We can therefore say we have inherited both the good and the bad."

    NE: You have brought in five new senior managers in your bid to cut these positions from nine to five, yet the nine former general managers are still with the NBC. Is this not adding even more of a financial burden on the corporation than before?

    AA: "There were two choices. Either you ring radical changes and leave everybody behind or you opt for an implemental change and carry people along, slowly. We've chosen the latter. In the coming months you'll see us making announcements around what happens, what people are deployed where as part of restructuring. I don't think it's fair to comment on the status of individuals that are affected by this, except to say that all that we are doing is for the business and not because of hidden agendas or anything personal. Our overriding concern is to leave this organization in a better shape than we found it, whatever and however painful it would be to get there."

    NE: Fairly speaking, the NBC is not a commercial broadcaster but how would you describe the current state of financial affairs of the corporation?

    AA: "Quite frankly, we have always been and still are under-funded. You are right that we are a public broadcaster. Many people are quick to criticize when we are unable to cover some events or accompany government officials on trips. We cannot afford it. You can't say the thing must work when you are carrying the burden of the past, even when you were not responsible for it. Secondly, I can tell you that on all the key indicators, whether it's advertisements or TV licences, we are currently on an upward swing because of the efforts that we have put in. But this will make little sense when the burden of the past is on us. When politicians begin to understand that, I think it will be helpful. It's not that anyone does not understand this.

    "The President is very clear and he understands that if we are providing the service that is critical to all Namibians, this would not come for free. The Prime Minister too understands that. What unfortunately did not happen is transforming this understanding into the budget put forward. I don't think I am breaking any protocol to reveal that some ministries, at least two of them, including the Office of the President have made provisions where our reporters join them on foreign trips at their expense and we only pay for S&T. That helps us to cover stories for the nation. These trips are not taken for pleasure. This is an execution of national duties. We have the obligation to tell their stories. But if we cannot afford to send our reporters on those trips, we are missing out on stories.

    "On the capital expenditure side, we have had the good fortune that government knows we need to have infrastructure in place carrying the message to all Namibians. Now that we have started with the digitalization road, its's not gonna be cheap, but its not a matter where the country has a choice. You either go digital or come 2016, we'll be the only island in the world which will not offer digital TV signals to our citizens. Government understands that and will make money available for this to take off."

    NE: The opposition and local human rights groups have often accused the NBC of being biased towards Swapo.

    AA: "If you saw the last elections, the regional and local authority elections that was the test of whether there was any truth in those allegations. No single political party has written to us formally to launch a complaint of that sort. If they complain and are doing this under trees, there is unfortunately nothing I can do about that. I've been here for a year and a half and during my stay here, I did not receive any request for any audience from any political party or any NGO about this subject. Leading into those elections, we have actually gone at length to request parties to give us their programs of where their campaign activities will be so that we can cover those events. Swapo was better prepared and gave us their program ahead of schedule.

    "The rest would tell us at the last minute and yet we have made every effort to cover those events whenever we could. Are those sentiments therefore well founded? I am very doubtful. With regard to our One-on-One program, we got criticized that we were too kind to Hidipo (Hamutenya). Nobody criticized the fact that we brought him on the show. We were accused of having been 'too nice' to him."

    NE: Some leaders of the local State-owned media houses, including yourself, have been accused of being in 'camps' of some of the aspiring Swapo presidential candidates. What's your reaction to this?

    AA: "When we go to the ballot box, we all have the right to vote as we choose. That is a constitutional provision and that is something that we fought for. Do I therefore come to office and exercise those biases in the execution of my mandate? No. Those that are making these allegations must not just say this in the dark. Be brave and bold and come say that in our face and I'll show you facts to the contrary. What I know, as a card-carrying member of Swapo Party, and this was not the criteria for which I was employed here, is that Swapo has only one camp. We have one president, one central committee and one politburo. Whoever is talking of camps, I am not aware of any. Apparently, I was placed here by one leader or the other leader of this or that camp. It is an insult to the board that appointed me because you are insinuating that it comprises of empty vessels. It also insults the minister who recommended my appointment to Cabinet and it is also an insult to Cabinet, who gave the board the green light. Because with that you are insinuating that there's one strong person out there who controls all these institutions."

  • Over 1000 journalists were in 2011 attacked in Uganda according to the new Human Rights Network for Journalists report (HRNJ). The number is a huge leap compared to 58 journalists who were attacked in 2010 and 38 who were attacked in 2009.

    Entitled "shrinking and sinking", the Press Freedom Index report released on Feb. 7 highlights the suffering, insecurity and difficulties journalists face while executing their duties.

    Speaking at the launch at Grand Imperial Hotel in Kampala, Geofrey Ssebagala, the HRNJ Program Coordinator, said journalists are attacked, injured, and threatened by the institutions that are mandated to guarantee enjoyment of the media freedom of speech and integrity. These include the police, army, and other security agencies. Barely a week before the report was released, Isaac Kasamani, a journalist with Daily Monitor was shot at by a security operative.

    Haruna Kanabi, the Executive Secretary of the Independent Media Council of Uganda, urged the government to look into the findings of the report. "It is the responsibility of the government to enforce the freedom of journalists and that the constitution should stand up for the journalists," he said.

    The chairman of the (HRNJ) Mulindwa Mukasa said attacks on journalists limit freedom of expression and platforms through which Ugandans can convey their views.

  • The Competition Authority is set to launch investigations into the operations of MultiChoice Africa, the owners of DStv, for abuse of market dominance following the collapse of its rivals in Kenya's pay-TV market.

    The newly established authority - charged with promoting fair competition - says its probe will seek to establish whether DStv has unwarranted concentration of economic power that makes it lock the majority of Kenyans into its network, thus new operators fail to break even.

    The probe follows the collapse of Smart TV early this month on low uptake of it service and inadequate funding, making it the second pay-television operator in Kenya to close shop after GTV fell into financial distress in 2009.

    Mr Richard Bell, the Wananchi Group CEO, claims that despite DStv being unable to grow the number of subscribers in the country beyond 120,000 due to high charges, the new entrants were unable to take root because DStv had exclusive rights to the premium content.

    “The current monopolistic tendencies are killing the pay-TV sector in this country, “ he said in an earlier interview.

     Read the full story here:

  • - The global satellite industry repeated its grave concerns over the proposed UNIDROIT Space Assets Protocol. As delegates of UNIDROIT and its member states convened on February 27 in Berlin, Germany, for the Diplomatic Conference on the Draft Space Assets Protocol to the Convention on International Interests in Mobile Equipment, the European Satellite Operators’ Association, the Satellite Industry Association of Washington, D.C., the Space Industry Association of Australia and the Cable and Satellite Broadcasting Association of Asia urged delegates and Member States to defer any consideration of the Protocol due to an absence of support from the global satellite industry.

  • Raystream Inc. a provider of HD video compression services, is expanding its market reach with a new regional office in Johannesburg, South Africa.

    With its HD video compression technology, Raystream significantly reduces bandwidth and data storage costs for HD video content providers, and allows videos to load faster and play more smoothly for online viewers. Raystream's algorithm decreases the size of HD videos by an average of 70 percent - with no significant loss in the crisp, clear images and beautiful colours of HD.

    "We are excited to announce the opening of our regional office in Johannesburg, South Africa. Now, businesses that stream HD video online in that area of the world have easy, full access to Raystream's HD video compression services. We are equally pleased to announce the addition of Xoliswa Kakana as our regional partner. She will drive sales growth, lead our dedicated team in South Africa, and manage our new office," said Brian Petersen, Raystream's CEO. "Our new South African regional office is the second in a series of planned offices that will extend our global reach, and follows the opening of our Paris, France location, announced last November."

    Xoliswa Kakana is Founder and Chairperson of 100% woman-owned company ICT-Works (Pty) Limited and subsidiary ICT Works Telecom (Pty) Limited, providing Information Technology and Telecommunications services. She holds a Masters Degree in Electronics Engineering from F.H. Giessen-Friedberg in Germany; an MBA from Henley College in London, England; a Masters Degree in Technology Management and Innovation from Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and a Masters Degree in Public Administration from Harvard University.

    Raystream Inc. is bringing its video compression services to businesses that stream High Definition (HD) video online. Raystream drastically decreases bandwidth and data storage costs by reducing the file size of HD videos up to 90 percent, with an average of approximately 70 percent -- with no significant loss in HD clarity or quality. Click here to see the future of online video.

  • OSLO, Norway — Nov. 13, 2011 — never.no today announced that Al Jazeera English used never.no's Interactivity Suite (IS) to enable Social TV by taking viewer questions; displaying Twitter, Facebook, and email comments; and conducting on-air polling during live coverage of the 9/11 memorial broadcast. The real-time flow of social commentary and polling input allowed presenters to adjust their questions accordingly during live interviews. never.no's technology allowed viewers to become a social part of the programming, which in turn helped Al Jazeera present content that was most relevant to them.

    With IS, the Al Jazeera production crew could take viewer questions or ask questions by publishing them to Facebook and presenting them on air. Viewers could then vote using Facebook or email. From there, the crew was able to publish the results, change the course of on-air interviews, and push questions back to the audience in real time — a powerful Social TV programming feedback loop that built strong viewership and ratings for Al Jazeera.

    "IS features, such as real-time social media integration, live editorial control, and instant publishing to on-air graphics systems, gave us new ways of interacting with the audience without any complicated issues of ingesting dynamic data into our live production environment," said Sarah Worthington, head of output at Al Jazeera English. "Being able to incorporate the social experience into our live 9/11 memorial coverage enriched the broadcast and brought an irreplaceable personal perspective to our coverage."

    Al Jazeera English used never.no's cloud-based IS service during 9/11 memorial weekend, and it has now extended the IS installation for an even more thorough integration with its broadcast systems, enabling increased control and seamless live Social TV workflows.

    The never.no IS is a tool kit for creating the technical backbone of interactive broadcasts and Social TV experiences. IS supports true Social TV by enabling viewers to influence a broadcast in real time and by allowing them to interact with one another and the rest of the world. With IS, a broadcaster can effortlessly aggregate user-generated content from social media sites such as Twitter and Facebook into programming, and even build synchronized companion apps that enable viewers to interact with their televisions using an iPad® (or tablet), PC, or smartphone.

    "Gradually, major broadcasters such as Al Jazeera English, which is increasingly viewed as the global leader in news coverage, are recognizing the importance of engaging their audiences during such important events as the 9/11 anniversary," said Lars Lauritzsen, never.no CEO. "The Al Jazeera team was very quick to understand the potential of Social TV. We are thrilled to see our Interactivity Suite serving as their tool of choice in this highly dynamic and emerging space."

  • Chiomah Udeh, initiator of "The Africa International Film Festival" (AFRIFF)

    Chioma Udeh is the founder of "The Africa International Film Festival" (AFRIFF), whose second edition was held from November 30 to December 4, 2011 in Lagos.

    Passionate about cinema, Chiomah Udeh has worked extensively in Britain before returning to her country to live her passion. She founded a communications company, and in 2007 a pilot project "Nigerian Film & Video Censors Board" (NFVCB). The following year she produced the AMA Awards ceremony, set up the "AMA Charity Benefit", an annual event that brings together various industry players from nollywood to carry out charity work.

    In 2009 Chioma Udeh deals with Nigerian production of "ION International Film Festival" (IONIFF) in the city of Port Harcourt (Rivers State). Initiated in Hollywood, IONIFF is an international tourist festival whose objective is the promotion of peace through arts, culture and cinema. Through her company, she raises funds for filmmakers and product previews for some great Nollywood productions.

    Here's what she said about the AFRIFF festival...

    AFRIFF is a platform for the world to zoom in on the talent and beauty of Africa through film. The festival is based on unity. It assumes that being African is a link that goes beyond geography, birth or origin, as people of African descent are installed around the world and Africa is also a beloved land for many non-Africans.

    The vision is that AFRIFF reflects a true common African identity and restores Africa as a "house" for all original. Africa was able to capture the attention of the world for its ancient cultural heritage, and as a land of early civilization. With film, you have the power to connect people around the world, creating a common unity.

    During 2011, African American actresses Tichina Arnold and Lynn Whitfield were guests of honour. Alongside them as in the first edition, both local and international filmmakers, actors, directors, film buyers, distributors, artists, journalists, movie fans ... had travelled to the five-day festival.

  • $40,000 grant for African producers?

    Successfully launched in New York last year, the Dialogue of Cultures Festival is very proud to announce its $40,000 grant program for the production of a 30-minute documentary that best captures the festival's theme in a creative and vibrant way.

    Applications can be entered until April 30 by director/producer teams from all over the world. The winner will be announced during the Cannes film festival, with production starting immediately following the announcement. The resulting documentary will premiere at the Oct 20-23 2012 edition in Brussels after which it will also be submitted for screenings at other festivals worldwide.

    Dialogue of Cultures International Film Festival is the world's first festival dedicated to globalization, showcasing features and docs with characters in search of their identity, trying to balance a desire to preserve their own distinctiveness, self-identity while still understanding and respecting other cultures.

    Founded by film producer Boris Cherdabayev (2008 Pusan opener GIFT TO STALIN), Dialogue of Cultures (Oct 20-23 each year) is a nomadic festival, taking place in a different country each year. After its launch in New York in 2011, the next edition is schedule for Brussels (Oct 20-23), where it will reach out to Euro parliamentarians and organizations.

    Click here for grant entries.

    For further information, call +7 777 272 60 15 and ask for Diana Ashimova.

    Opportunity for broadcasters and producers - African Nations Cup finals

    A record number of seven venues could be used by South Africa for the hosting of next year's African Nations Cup finals, as the country seeks to utilise all the stadiums that were built for the World Cup.

    Six venues were used for the 2002 Nations Cup finals in Mali but seven would be a record for the 16-team, three-week tournament.