Nigeria: Galaxy’s veteran broadcaster Steve Ojo to launch national Free-To-Air channel with China’s Star TV

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The Nigerian broadcasting market is one of the toughest in Africa where there is plenty of competition for tough markets. The pioneer of private broadcasting in Nigeria is Galaxy CEO Steve Ojo who runs a company that encompasses studios and a Nollywood producer and distributor. Russell Southwood spoke to Steve Ojo at DISCOP 3 in Dakar last week.

Q: What’s the range of what your company does?

A: I started with production. I used to support national (Government) stations with production and post-production services. Private broadcasting in Nigeria started 2 years ago and we were the first to go on air. We also helped other stations get on air.

We were also a pioneer of Nollywood and I believe the next level in its development is to find partners for the equivalent of telenovelas. We could develop series like that in Nigeria.

The Government refused to give me radio licences because I criticized them.

Q: How big is the Nigerian TV market?

A: The Federal Government has over 100 TV stations and the State Government have about 36 stations. Each State Government has about 1-2 TV stations. There are 15 private TV stations. Whoever is number one in Lagos is number one in Nigeria. 60% of the advertising revenues are in Lagos.

We will get into national broadcasting through a partnership with Star TV. We will do it as a Free-To-Air channel. Star TV will work with us and we will set up a joint subsidiary with it.

Q: What does Nollywood Worldwide Entertainment do?

A: It is both a producer and distributor. It’s a separate company that also offers crewing, production and post-production. We have 40 non-linear edit suites in Lagos. We produce 50% of our content and also distribute it to other TV stations. We broadcast 18 hours a day and 50% of that content is produced locally.

Q: Where do you sell your content outside Nigeria?

A: We have tried out DISCOP. What we get is requests but these have not yet turned into dollars.

Q: What’s the barrier to selling content more widely internationally?

A: We need to understand what other countries want so that we can do anything from producing for Nigeria to producing for Africa. We’re going to be doing an increased volume of soaps.

Q: Why has Nollywood been so successful across Africa?

A: For the first time, it is Africans working to tell African stories from an African perspective. They know how to tell the stories best.

Q: Who are your big competitors in Nigeria on the TV side?

A: Chief Raymond Dokpesi of AIT/Daar who has the largest private TV broadcast company. There’s also Ben Bruce of Silverbird, who also owns cinemas. We just to Free-To-Air broadcasting.

Q: How did you end up running a TV station?

I started life in (Nigeria and Africa’s first) TV station in Ibadan in 1966. Then I went to America for 10 years to study in 1968. I came back to set up the first production company in Nigeria. For the first five years we were the only company so we used to help empower other companies to grow.

For a report on DISCOP 3, see the Distribution section below.