France's CanalPlus to Launch Pan-African Entertainment Channel


French pay TV giant CanalPlus hopes to make the grade with the Friday launch of A+, a new pan-African entertainment channel.

The Vivendi unit called the channel’s programming lineup “vast and varied, like the continent of Africa,” and said the channel will be “made by Africans, for Africans.” It will be available in 20 countries across West and Central Africa starting Oct. 24.

“A+ is committed to supporting the development of African cultural industry,” said CanalPlus Overseas president Jacques de Puy.

Framing itself as aspirational and “decidedly optimistic,” the channel will focus on programming from soap operas to magazine shows, reality, game shows, comedies and films. It will particularly look to reach female viewers and the 15-25 youth demographic. Viacom and other U.S. entertainment companies have looked to expand in Africa amid a growing middle-class and demand for entertainment offerings.

Chris Rock’s Everybody Hates Chris and Brandy’s 1990s sitcom Moesha will be among the programs. The American comedies will air alongside French-language ex-con drama Tundu Wundu and Pango & Wally, about a couple grappling with modernization, and English-language casino drama High Rollers and Adams Apples, about the daughters of a diplomat. An English-language Sex and The City- style dramady from Ghana, An African City, is in the works for 2015.

Locally-produced reality offerings will include the Universal Music co-produced Idol-esque Island Africa Talent with contestants from 12 French-speaking countries competing for a record deal, the continent’s first kitchen competition show Star Chef and style makeover show Blackamorphose.

The channel will also support and contribute to local productions and feature shows in French, English, Portuguese and Wolof and bring in shows from Angola, Gabon, Ivory Coast, Senegal, South African and Ghana.

It will also air locally-produced films, including 2009’s Burkina Faso production Une Femme pas Comme les Autres (A Woman Like No Other) and 2004 French-Canadian-Senegalese co-production Madame Brouette (Mrs. Wheelbarrow), romantic drama hits from Nigeria’s prolific “Nollywood” including Passion Devorante (Consuming Passion) and Sacre Liaison (Sacred Liason) as well as Hollywood films with African-American stars including Will Smith’s Hitch.

CanalPlus has had a presence on the continent for 20 years and is now available in 30 countries with 1.1 million subscribers. A+ will be available as part of the Canalsat Access pay-TV package.

Source: The Hollywood Reporter 22 October 2014