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Zuku TV’s Richard Bell invest in fresh African content

The regional pay television players have turned focus on local content as a way of attaining considerable competitive edge.

The players have over the years entered into partnerships with free-to air broadcasters, symbiotic relationship that has enabled Pay Tv to attract more local viewers while the free to air broadcasters benefit by enhancing signal strength and widening visibility.

Zuku, a regional pay television firm under Wananchi Group has initiated a subscriber mobilisation strategy anchored on broadcasting local content that has a direct bearing and impact on East African viewers.

The firm plans to tie up more productions or co-productions with regional private people involved in producing innovative content from which more viewers can derive value in terms of entertainment and education.

The new initiatives include a partnership with Steps Entertainment in Tanzania to develop Zuku Swahili movies, talk shows, travel and cooking shows hosted by popular chefs.

"As a local brand it makes absolute sense for us to invest in fresh, relevant and highly entertaining programming for the East African region; broadcasting local content will boost and sell East Africa to the rest of the world," said Richard Bell, the Group chief executive officer during the launching event held in Nairobi last week.

The broadcaster is also seeking to make its presence visible through the sponsorship of Nite of a Thousand Laughs, featuring leading comedians in East Africa and Zuku Slamfest, an ambitious regional basketball tournament, to be held at Kasarani in July, with African teams competing for $100,000.

Zuku launched in Nairobi (on its cable network) in 2009 and countrywide in Kenya and Uganda in late 2011 and Tanzania in 2012. Up to 400,000 people are now able to watch its channels.

"We project that by the end of 2012 we will have doubled our subscriber base as we plan to continuously enrich our product offering through accessible, affordable and relevant content" said Bell.

Commenting on the general broadcasting industry, the Wananchi Group managing director Hannelie Bekker pointed out that it was necessary for the governments to consider subsidising the costs of technology broadcasters will use in the process of migrating from analogue to digital transmission.

Digital migration is mandatory and consonant with the 2006 Geneva Regional Radio Conference under the International Communications Union requiring all countries globally to have migrated to digital broadcasting before June 2015

"Subsidies would ensure a cheaper process of migration and it would enable broadcasters to offer affordable services to the people," she told reporters during a special interview.

Source: Uganda: Pay TVs Target Local Content, David Ssempijja – The New Vision in Nairobi, 1 May 2012.

South African born actress Vanessa Zachos plays in ‘Rush’

South African born actress Vanessa Zachos has joined director Ron Howard's new movie Rush, acting opposite 'Thor' and 'Avengers' star Chris Hemsworth.

The Peter Morgan penned screenplay, recounts the 1976 rivalry between British Formula 1 driver James Hunt (Chris Hemsworth) and Austrian champion Niki Lauda played by Daniel Bruhl (Inglourious Basterds) just weeks after the crash that almost claimed Niki's life. The film is shooting on location in the UK, Germany and Austria.

Produced by Brian Grazer, Ron Howard, Cross Creek's Brian Oliver and Working Title's Tim Bevan and Eric Fellner. Also starring Olivia Wilde (TRON: Legacy) and Alexandra Maria Lara (The Reader).

Zachos is a South African born actress who moved to the UK to study acting. She recently starred in an independent British art house film.

Rush comes to theatres early next year.