Kenya: GTV Hits the Market With Four New Channel

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Pay television channel GTV has released new subscription rates that make it cheaper for subscribers. This came on the back of recent insistence by the company that it would keep its old prices even as it introduced new content. Business Daily spoke to Kabutha Nduati, GTV's general manager on the new offerings.

Q: When you talk of four new channels on GTV, what are they?

There is G Africa that is dedicated exclusively to celebrating African entertainment, from movies and Nollywood cinema to soaps, gripping drama and daily lifestyle and chat shows. G Series is devoted to the world's best-loved comedy, action and drama series, bringing compulsive viewing to entertainment addicts. KidsCo is a safe, cool and fun environment for children, it is a TV adventure playground created especially for kids, packed with cartoons, movies and great family entertainment.

The fourth channel to be announced soon will provide family viewing, offering a window onto fascinating and unusual topics from all over the world. G Africa will have movies and series from every part of Africa. We are currently stocking up. We'll start sending out schedules, highlights and images once the channels are live, and these will be refreshed every month to keep the channels fun and lively for viewers.

Q: Why is GTV launching new channels now?

Attracting a critical mass of subscribers over the past nine months and a fresh injection of investment earlier this year has positioned GTV to respond directly to customer demand for new channels and packages aimed at the broadest subscriber base ever targeted in sub-Saharan Africa.

Q: What informs the decision to go African?

There is a revolution taking place by way of African film. This started in Nigeria and South Africa and is now picking up in Kenya with blockbusters like Tahidi High, Inspector Mwala, Papa Shirandula, Makutano/Junction and Cobra Squad. These have a large and dedicated following. GTV wants to provide a home for the best there is in African entertainment.

African directors and producers should feel free to explore their own ideas as well as create genre unique to Africa. Nollywood's success demonstrates how strong our appetite is. In almost every home you will find someone sitting in front their TV's watching and rewinding Nigerian Movies. We may complain about the quality but the addiction to them is largely because of the plots and stories they carry. It is easy to connect to these stories. We love these stories.

One thing that African producers must do is produce better quality movies, but we definitely should not trade our style (stories, plots, music, etc.) in order to meet anybody else's criteria.

Q: Anything Kenyan in the new offering?

There definitely will be something from every apart of Africa. GTV has been engaged in discussions with a number of producers and movie makers from Kenya and will keep you informed immediately we do have a deal. Kenyan Cinema, like I alluded to, does have a lot of good stuff.

Q: GTV has been talking about creating theatre out of African football. What do you mean and how is it going to be achieved?

Brazil may have the most entertaining football players in the world and Europe the richest, but Africa is the cradle of passion and joy. African players enhance world leagues with raw athletic power, thrilling football and genuine pleasure in the game. Football is a source of entertainment for millions and in Africa it goes even further - from the lead-up to a match until after the final whistle, it is an escape from the problems that bother millions across the continent.

You'll know when an important football match is being played in Africa because the country you are visiting will literally come to a standstill. This is the passion sponsors want to be associated with, and if they can invest a little money to drive that passion then they will.

This approach creates unprecedented opportunity. Due to our viewership and the relationships we have with potential sponsors who are interested in television-based advertising, we can add tremendous value to the leagues and competitions we invest in.

The benefits of investing in football go even further than the direct impact. There is also the potential to build regional and national pride through sports, to promote peace and better relations, and to create new jobs and business opportunities.

Why do we believe so passionately in this vision? Because the success of European football has gone hand-in-hand with the success of pay-television broadcasting.

The reason the best talent plays in England is because the broadcasters have invested heavily in creating visually attractive and exciting football for television. That investment has gone into the clubs, the leagues, and the players and turned football in a major global business.

GTV aims to do the same thing in Africa, investing millions in the coming years to broadcast stage and promote football. That money will go to clubs, to improve their talent and facilities; to leagues, to ensure excellent organisation and management and to televise and promote African football so that everyone across the continent can share in the excitement of watching their heroes play.

Q: The music on G Africa: What's new? Why is it important? Is it Hip hop or is world music? Why the choice?

G Africa is going to showcase the wide variety of musical talent that exists in Africa - it's important because our viewers tell us that their TV must give them a variety of great music created by their favourite local stars and delivered in lively, colourful formats that make great viewing.

Business Daily 13th April 2008