Ghana’s VTT Satellite’s Make Me A Success completes production and looks for broadcast partners

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Africa has taken global programme formats and morphed them into new shapes. One of the latest formats to arrive is VTT Satellite Ghana’s Make Me a Success and its CEO Fathia Ansah-Plonge believes she has got something that is more than simply a copy. Russell Southwood interviewed her about what she hopes to achieve with the new format.

Make Me a Success is a 1 hour reality programme with 13 episodes. Its focus, according to Ansah-Plonge, is on “empowering women from poor communities and villages”. The women selected all want to become enterprising women and put through various challenges before one wins a US$10,000 prize. The production was shot in Ghana but post-production was done in the UK.

Contestants were selected on the basis that they could speak English, read and write and be ambitious. Ansah-Plange says it was “important they wanted to do something with their life.” Although from poor backgrounds, many were already running their own small businesses: for example one was a hairdresser and three were dressmakers. Many traded on the side of roads into Accra.

Another was unemployed but had strong ideas about eliminating malaria. “The idea was to use entertainment to educate the youth.” She established her own company Big Dreams and managed to get a job on a radio station in Accra:”She realised she had talent.” Another opened a small boutique in the city, yet another wants to set up a dress-making school and another wants to become a caterer.

The production was pre-financed by VTV as it found it hard to attract advertising and sponsorship for a new format. “They didn’t want to take the risk”, says Ansah-Plonge. She is optimistic that a variety of sponsors are likely to come in on the second series.

However, at the DISCOP media market in February in Dakar, Ansah-Plonge sold the programme to a range of African TV stations including: Nigerian Pay-TV channel Hi-TV (for showing in both Nigeria and the UK), Lesotho Broadcasting, Mali’s Africable, Zimbabwe TV and Citizen TV. SABC is interested in the format rather than the series itself.

The deals vary considerably but VTT usually got US$150 per episode but will also look to text revenue from viewers voting on the different challengers plus a 30% share in advertising revenue. Nevertheless, she came across obstacles in her own home country: a leading broadcaster was interested in the programme but insisted that VTT pay for airtime. Nevertheless, the programme will be seen there.

In its home country it will compete with a series of “lookey-likey” reality formats including Mentor (in the Pop Idol, X Factor mould) and GTV’s Stars In Their Eyes. But perhaps the sheer novelty of seeing ordinary women seeking to succeed will help this new African format show stand out.