Mediaworks’ entertainment channel Yanga! takes aim at the African diaspora in the UK

6 April 2018

Top Story

Ex-TVC Acting CEO Lindsey Oliver has an ambitious plan to create an exciting channel to reach the African diaspora in the UK. Russell Southwood spoke to her about: what content it will carry; who it’s aimed at; and the business model.

Q: How did the idea for Yanga! Come about?

A: I spent 2016 and part of 2017 as acting CEO of TVC in Lagos for their group of TV channels. There were three TV channels and radio stations. I was focused on revenue generation and commercial stuff.

I came back to London with a degree of excitement about Africa. I like doing new things rather than working for something established. I asked myself: could I do something for the Africa community here? There’s already a huge bridge between the UK and Nigeria. There’s a lot of interaction going on there.

I was thinking about the more contemporary TV in Nigeria and wondered how that would go down with the diaspora in the UK? I developed a plan and organized funding.

Q: So this is when you launched Africamediaworks?

A: Yes, Yanga! is the first of one but we will do more channels but the aim of the company is to nurture celebrate African media projects.

Q: So why’s the channel called Yanga!?

A: When I started it, I asked for a load of pidgin and English words. I wanted to capture the excitement and celebration of Nigerian culture. It almost means “in your face” – This is who I am.

Q: What sort of content does the channel carry?

A: A broad range of content from Africa, Nigeria or produced by the African diaspora in the UK. It delivers a wide range of programming genres from lifestyle, comedy, music and drama to kids, current affairs and news bulletins.

Q: Who is the channel targeted at?

A: There are three target audiences: West Africans and their children in the UK; the huge African diaspora; and in the outer band anyone who has an interest in Africa. It’s all about music, comedy, fashion and serious issues in these communities.

It’s rather ambitious and we’re looking at different interests and age groups. We’re still playing with the schedule. For people at home during the day, there will be drama and childrens’ programming specifically made for African kids in the UK. We’ll have a childrens’ brand called Fizzi that will let kids see themselves on TV and learn about African customs.

There will be a late night show called Turn Up aimed at a younger audience with Afrobeats, grime and comedy with issues they want to discuss and news from Lagos and Africa. It will look at the blooming of artists like Wizkid and Davido and their impact on home-grown talent. There will also be a late night comedy programme called Number 6 with a blend of Nigerian and Jamaican comedians.

I want to showcase Nollywood because it’s not know for its quality but there is a new generation of Nollywood movies.

Q: How is the channel being distributed?

A: We’re on Sky 293 and Freesat 171.

Q: What’s the business model?

A: Advertising and sponsorship. No-one launches like this to make money fast. We’re able to do this because of the larger business plan of Africa Mediaworks as it will help fund Yanga! It owns Chiswick Park Studios where we’re creating our factual content and hiring it out to other companies. Plus we’re developing training sessions for the targeted communities.

Q: What are you telling advertisers about your audience?

A: That everything is new and fresh and that it’s an entirely new advertising demographic. It’s people of African descent who are young, cool and on the cutting edge of music, comedy and fashion.

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