All posts by Gary

GRB shows head to Africa

Broadcasters in Africa have acquired scripted and factual programming from US-based producer and distributor GRB Studios.

Sarah Coursey

Pan-African broadcaster MNet has picked up shows including scripted comedy Love That Girl, originally produced for TV One, and a package of holiday films such as A Christmas Blessing, You Can’t Fight Christmas and The Christmas Swap.

Elsewhere, A+E Networks has taken several seasons of On the Case for its channels in Africa, while Canal+ has taken celebrity-focused Stalker Files for French-speaking Africa. The latter tells the chilling tales behind celebrity stalking cases involving Madonna, Gwyneth Paltrow, Steven Spielberg and others.

Other channels in Africa to have acquired programming from GRB Studios, in deals brokered by sales consultant Liz Levenson, include CBS Chello Zone, Blackstar TV and My Channel. Levenson will be speaking at DISCOP Johannesburg, which runs from November 20 to 22, and will be representing GRB at the event.

“GRB Studios has enjoyed a strong presence in Africa for many years and these deals represent some of our reach,” said Sarah Coursey, senior VP of international at GRB Studios. “The region is very important to GRB as we see major growth potential here.”

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MultiChoice unveils new packages

Pay TV company MultiChoice Group has introduced five new bouquet packages on its DStv and GOtv platforms to help strengthen its family offering In preparation for the festive season.

The new bouquets include DStv Confam, which has over 120 channels, DStv Yanga (94 channels), DStv Padi (51 channels), GOtv Jolli (68 channels) and GOtv Jinja (47 channels).

Starting from December 1, customers will have the option to choose from any of the bouquet packages that have been exclusively and specially curated for the Nigerian market.

John Ugbe, CEO of MultiChoice Nigeria, said: “The introduction of the new packages is highly customised for Nigerians to unlock new levels of entertainment and value.

“We are constantly driven to ensure that customers are satisfied with the overall quality of our services. The new packages are exclusively curated from Naija and for Nigerians, driven by great programming and affordable prices. With improved package options available to our valued customers, they can choose a subscription plan that best fits their needs and budget.”

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MultiChoice launches holiday specials

Pay TV service provider MultiChoice Nigeria has devised a brand campaign for its customers on the DStv and GOtv platforms to enable them to enjoy more curated contents this festive season.

The campaigns are themed Happier with DStv and Make Time for Family with Gotv. Customers will be able to watch Nigeria festivals such as AFRIMA 2019, Unusual Praise, The Experience, Calabar Carnival, Akwa Ibom Christmas Concert, Miss Africa and Greater Lagos on both DStv 198 & GOtv 29.

Martin Mabutho, chief customer officer at MultiChoice Nigeria, said: “We continue to put our customers at the heart of everything we do. That’s why customers on DStv and GOtv will experience specially curated content, surprise pop-up channels and other top-notch value-added services.

“DStv and GOtv customers will be spoilt for choice with the hottest content and a happier holiday season. Customers can also look forward to Africa’s premier boxing Fiesta, GOtv Boxing Night, which is coming up on December 28 on SuperSport. Also, all Premier League, El Classico and more live sports with expert commentary and analysis on SuperSport this festive.

“In addition, much-loved kids’ pop up channel Animania opens on December 4 and will be the perfect companion for DStv kids this season, with the best animated movies all day and every day. Animania is exclusive to M-Net Smile (channel 105) on DStv Premium.”

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SuperSport to cease airing CAF matches

MultiChoice Group’s SuperSport has revealed it will stop broadcasting Confederation of African Football (CAF) content until further notice.

The pay TV channel will not be able to air the AFCON under-23 championship and qualifiers, which are meant to kick off this weekend, after the agreement between the CAF and France-based media group Lagardère Sports was terminated.

Joe Heshu, MultiChoice’s executive for corporate affairs, said: “SuperSport is in a difficult position where it cannot broadcast the CAF games without a firm contract in place. SuperSport had previously bought these broadcast rights from Lagardère.”

CAF scrapped a US$1bn TV and marketing rights deal with Lagardère Sports after a Cairo court ruled that the agreement violated Egyptian competition rules because Lagardère was chosen as CAF’s exclusive agent for rights for an uninterrupted 20-year period without an open tender.

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MNet scraps 2019 award shows

African pay TV group MultiChoice’s flagship channel MNet has announced it will not be televising two of its own award shows this year.

The Africa Magic Viewers’ Choice Awards (AMVCAs) and DStv Mzansi Viewers’ Choice Awards (DMVCAs) will not be aired due to the inability to find sponsors to share the production costs that come with mounting the shows.

The AMVCAs, which started in 2013 to promote and recognise African TV and film productions from across West, East and Southern Africa, had its sixth edition in September 2018 in Lagos. The DMVCAs, which began in 2017 to promote and recognise South Africa’s entertainment industry, had its second edition in November 2018.

According to MultiChoice Africa, the AMVCAs might return in the future while the DMVCAs will take place some time in 2020.

“The AMVCAs requires huge funding to make happen, as well as an alignment between the production, competition and commercial teams, as well as staging it in Nigeria, where there are limited venues capable of a production of this scale,” MultiChoice said.

 

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Patel takes MultiChoice non-exec role

Imtiaz Patel, executive chair of African pay TV group MultiChoice, will be switching to a non-executive role in October 2020.

Imtiaz Patel

The announcement was made shortly after MultiChoice revealed it had added 1.2 million active subscribers in the first half of 2019 and had also upped its operating profit to R4.9bn (US$328m) from R4.1bn in the previous period.

MultiChoice said Calvo Mawela, the group’s current CEO, will assume “full executive responsibility” after Patel’s move.

Patel joined MultiChoice subsidiary SuperSport in 1999 and in March 2005 was appointed CEO.

He was named group CEO of MultiChoice South Africa in 2010. In October 2015, he became CEO of video entertainment for parent company Naspers and then MultiChoice executive chairman early this year.

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Ikumelo tries out for Amazon’s League

Nigerian writer and actor Gbemisola Ikumelo is finalising a deal to star in Abbi Jacobson’s series adaptation of the film A League of their Own for Amazon.

Gbemisola Ikumelo

Written and produced by Jacobson, Will Graham and Sony Pictures TV, the movie was originally set up at Amazon last year as a half-hour comedy. It centres on a US women’s professional baseball league during the Second World War.

Ikumelo will play a character named Clance while Jacobson, creator of Comedy Central’s Broad City, will play Carson, a farm girl who runs away from home and tries out for the league. The show will also star D’Arcy Carden.

Ikumelo is currently a performer and writer on the hit BBC comedy series Famalam and stars in BBC short comedy Brain In Gear and Shola Amoo’s film The Last Tree.

Ikumelo is represented by Paradigm in the US and the Curtis Brown Group in the UK.

The premiere date for A League of their Own has not yet been set.

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DStv retains A+E Networks channels

MultiChoice Group’s pay TV operator DStv has announced it will no longer remove two A+E Networks EMEA channels from its platform.

Yolisa Phahle

The History and Lifetime channels will remain but Crime + Investigation has been cut off.

MultiChoice CEO Mark Rayner revealed the group has signed a new multi-year contract. “We’ve reached an agreement with A+E Networks for terms that we think are acceptable to our DStv subscribers for both History and Lifetime, but Crime + Investigation is still ending,” he said.

“Two further channels from another provider will be announced before the middle of November as a replacement for Crime + Investigation, as well as another factual documentary channel. We’re just finalising technical launch plans so that we can be clear on a launch date.”

Yolisa Phahle, MultiChoice Group CEO for general entertainment, added: “We are excited to have reached this agreement as it allows us to ensure we meet our commitment to get the best programming for our customers, based on commercial terms that make sense and provide a value for money offering to customers. We are pleased that Lifetime will also now be available to our Compact package customers.

“We appreciate our customers’ patience and feedback and have their best interests in mind as we continue to work hard to improve our entertainment offering.”

“We are pleased to have agreed a long-term renewal of our flagship brands, History and Lifetime, in Africa with our partner DStv. As part of this renewal, the new distribution of Lifetime in Compact presents an exciting opportunity to reach millions of new viewers with our unique programming offering”, said Dean Possenniskie, MD of A+E Networks EMEA.

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MultiChoice partners Joburg Film Festival

MultiChoice Group has partnered with the third edition of the annual Joburg Film Festival, which is set to take place from November 19 to 24.

Joe Heshu

Aimed at showcasing the finest films from Africa and the world, the six-day film programme will have a line-up of local and international films that will be judged on elements such as storyline, direction, creativity, cinematography, relevance, execution and technical application.

The judges will be industry-leading experts such as renowned storyteller and South African novelist Zakes Mda, award-winning actress CCH Pounder and Femi Odugbemi, West Africa MultiChoice Talent Factory’s academy director.

Joburg Film Festival executive director Tim Mangwedi said: “We couldn’t have asked for a better partner than the MultiChoice Group, an organisation that is passionate about African storytelling, as we believe our stories are our gold.

“We see the film festival as a critical catalyst for social cohesion, showcasing a special collection of films that celebrate Africa’s beauty, people and creativity and reflecting the continent’s bold spirit and talent. We are confident that, in collaboration with the MultiChoice Group, we can build a world-class annual film festival that becomes entrenched on the international film circuit and positions Johannesburg as a prime destination for local and international filmmakers.”

Joe Heshu, MultiChoice’s executive group corporate affairs, said: “As Africa’s leading storyteller, our partnership with the Joburg Film Festival makes perfect sense. Our collaborative effort to bring African stories to the world and to provide a platform for local talent to shine will be an extremely positive boost for the film industry on the continent.”

The festival will allow industry professionals from the continent and elsewhere to participate in a series of masterclasses and panel discussions covering aspects of the filmmaking craft. It will also foster strong links between people and the growing film, TV and new digital media industries on the continent.

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Reality show seeks aspiring bakers

The Apprentice Baker Reality Show, aimed at training individuals with little or no baking experience, has begun looking for contestants.

The show aims to empower individuals who are passionate about baking, giving them the required skills and tools for job creation and to be more self-sufficient.

Participants will be trained in entrepreneurial skills and business ethics using the reality show format to boost their marketability.

The participants will be accommodated in a house for five weeks where they will learn skills and be assigned tasks.

The first prize winner will be awarded a car, N250,000-a-month training abroad and 11 months training in Nigeria. The second prize winner will be awarded a cake oven, N700,000, six months training in Nigeria and various gifts. The third prize winner will receive N500,000, a month’s training in Nigeria and a cake mixer.

Registrations end on December 31. Click here to apply.

The show will be aired live on local cable television stations weekly and streamed live on social media every day.

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Naija Stand-Up returns to TV

Nigerian pop-up comedy channel Naija Stand-Up is returning to TV screens.

The 12-hour block will offer a variety of skits and other comedy events from comedians such as Ali Baba, Basketmouth, Bovi and AY on the DStv and GOtv platforms from today until Saturday December 7.

The shows will aired include Ali Baba’s Spontaneity show, Lord of the Ribs (from 2018), AY Live Shows (2016, 2017, 2018), Funny Bone Untamed (2017, 2018), Elvis Poko (2019), MC Shaggy, Acapella and a host of others.

According to Martin Mabutho, chief customer officer at MultiChoice Nigeria, the pop-up channel will get customers ready for more exciting content lined up for the upcoming festive season.

“We received a lot of great reviews when the channel made its debut in April. For the second season, we’ve curated some of the biggest comedy shows out of Naija and packaged them into a 12-hour binge fest for the viewing pleasure of our customers, at no extra cost,” he said.

The shows will be aired on DStv channel 197 and GOtv channel 29 and it will be available on all packages on DStv and select packages on GOtv.

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Cartoon Network, TNT join GOtv

MultiChoice’s digital terrestrial platform GOtv is adding WarnerMedia channels Cartoon Network and TNT to its line-up.

Guillaume Coffin

From November 12, the channels will offer subscribers across English-speaking sub-Saharan Africa children’s entertainment as well as Hollywood blockbusters.

The titles will include Ben 10, Craig of the Creek, Teen Titans Go, The Amazing World of Gumball, an exclusive original production of Victor & Valentino and films such as Tim Burton’s Beetlejuice, Spy Kids and Jumanji.

Guillaume Coffin, WarnerMedia’s VP commercial and head of business development for France and Africa, said: “We are thrilled to bring Cartoon Network and TNT to a wider African audience and to extend our partnership with MultiChoice through GOtv. The quality of our channels, combined with MultiChoice’s excellence in marketing, will contribute to bringing our premium quality American features and innovative kids’ content to an even wider audience on the African continent.

“We are convinced that our existing fans will be as excited about this new entertainment experience as we are, and we look forward to welcoming our new GOtv fans to join in on the fun just in time for the festive season.”

Yolisa Phahle, CEO of general entertainment at the MultiChoice Group, added: “As the home of African television, it’s always a win for us to be able to deliver on making great entertainment accessible to more customers with top family entertainment. This new partnership with WarnerMedia is an example of that.

“We look forward to continuing to deliver more choice and value to our customers as Africa’s most loved storyteller.”

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Government renames ministry

The Federal Ministry of Communications has been renamed the Federal Ministry of Communications and Digital Economy.

Isa Pantami

Minister of communications Isa Pantami made the announcement while briefing state house correspondents after a Federal Executive Council meeting presided over by vice president Yemi Osinbajo at the presidential villa in Abuja.

Pantami said the digital economy had become a global trend and was contributing immensely to Nigeria’s gross domestic product.

“I am here to convey the message to Nigerians that the Federal Ministry of Communications which I supervise, has been renamed and re-designated as the Federal Ministry of Communications and Digital Economy, so that the amendment is that digital economy should be added to the name,” he said.

“We came up with the proposal knowing that digital economy today is about to dominate the world and even in Nigeria, if you look at it critically, the contribution of ICT to gross domestic product is increasing by the day.

“If you look at the second quarter of 2019, you will find out that oil and gas contributed 8.82% to our GDP while the non-oil sector collectively contributed 91.18% and ICT contributed 13.85% to our GDP.”

He stressed the need to have a ministry that can supervise the development and implementation of the digital economy in Nigeria with regards to its economic recovery and growth plan.

He said that many nations were creating ministries for the digital economy and the move had to be made to align with the global best practice.

“In Nigeria, looking at the contributions of ICT and, secondly, at how our population, most importantly youths, are addicted to ICT, I feel it is very important. No one will argue with me that if you look at the richest people today in the world, they come from that aspect of the digital economy,” said Pantami.

“For example, Jeff Bezos, the founder of Amazon, came up with that idea of Amazon in 1994. Up to 2003, he couldn’t get any profit. By 2004, he got his first profit and he became the richest person in the world.

He added that Nigeria was blessed in terms of its population and resources and should harness digital to improve its economy.

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Adewale shares story behind Farming

Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje talks to Accelerate TV

Nigerian-British actor and writer Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje has discussed his directorial debut, Farming, in an interview with Accelerate TV.

Having worked on the movie for over 15 years, Adewale shared how the journey to writing and directing the film, saying it was a therapeutic one for him and a major part of discovering self-love.

Adewale, who was brought up by a white family at six weeks’ old, already experienced ‘farming’ from a tender age and so the movie is a reflection of the emotional, physical and mental trauma he went through being a black man in a foreign environment.

The drama centres on Enitan, a child whose Yorubá parents give him to a white working-class family in London in the 1960s, and who grows up to join a white skinhead gang led by a white supremacists.

Along with Adewale, the cast includes Nigeria’s Genevieve Nnaji plus Kate Beckinsale (Underworld), John Dagleish, Gugu Mbatha-Raw (Black Mirror) and Jaime Winstone.

According to him, the movie is a deep and personal one that gives him an identity as a filmmaker. “It speaks to the core of who I am as a human being,” he said.

To him, the term ‘farming’ was used by British social workers to describe the practice of Nigerians coming over to Britain in the 60s, 70s, 80s and 90s, whereby they fostered or farmed the children off to working-class families.

He grew up hating his black skin and having a negative impression of who he really was because the society he lived in always reminded him he did not belong there.

Self-realisation began when his Nigerian parents took him to Nigeria at age eight and he started seeing things differently.

This practice of farming by Nigerian parents made him wonder if “what they were searching for was worth what they were giving up. Was it ambition, education, strata over love?” Adewale asked.

Adewale also uses the movie to honour those people who have experienced forms of farming in their life time.

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MultiChoice academy unveils student films

Two films produced by the first intake of the MultiChoice Talent Factory (MTF) academy are airing on television this month.

Esther Beukes, Roger Gertze, Toivo Ashivudhi, Stanley Simataa and Sally Jason

The Painting was broadcast on October 18 at 21.00 and Savannah Skies will air on October 25 at 21.00 on DStv’s Zambezi Magic channel 162.

The 20 students of the class of 2018 underwent a grueling interview process and hail from seven countries within southern Africa: Angola, Botswana, Mozambique, Namibia, Malawi, Zimbabwe and Zambia.

Stanley Simataa, minister of Information and communication technology in Namibia, where three of the students come from, said: “The interest exhibited by MultiChoice in developing Africa’s creative industry and the willingness the business shows is a key endeavour that will harness the potential for growth within the Namibian film industry, whilst showing positive economic contribution through job creation, cultural transformation and social development.”

Roger Gertze, MD of MultiChoice Namibia, said: “It was rewarding for me to see how determined and aspirational our Namibians were when they shared their experiences with our 2019 intake and we are proud of Esther Beukes, Toivo Ashivudhi and Sally Jason for the wonderful stories they were able to tell through the two showcased films.”

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Edutainment to shop Nigerian toon

Bino & Fino is aimed at two- to six-year-olds

UK-based distributor Edutainment Licensing has secured global sales rights to a children’s 2D animated series from Nigerian production company EVCL.

Bino & Fino follows the adventures of a brother and sister from Nigeria as they learn about African food, animals, countries, languages, instruments, geography and folk tales.

The series aims to educate and entertain children aged between two and six, and is available in English, French, Portuguese, German and Dutch as well as African languages including Yoruba, Swahili, Igbo, Hausa and Twi.

Ibrahim Waziri, head of business development at EVCL, said: “Digital distribution has opened up a world of educational children’s shows that you wouldn’t typically find on a larger global children’s network but there is demand for. We are looking forward to working with Edutainment licensing to bring Bino & Fino to more children around the world.”

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Mohammed vows to end TV monopolies

Nigeria’s minister of information and culture, Lai Mohammed, has revealed the government intends to put a stop to the country’s broadcasting monopolies because of the effect they have on the TV industry’s potential.

Lai Mohammed

He made the announcement at a recent a meeting with online publishers in Lagos, adding that he had implemented reforms and inaugurated the National Broadcasting Commission reform implementation committee to impose stiffer penalties on those who violate broadcast regulations.

“A situation where a few people corner a chunk of the industry to the detriment of others, especially our teeming and talented youths, is totally unacceptable and untenable,” Mohammed said.

“Monopolies stunt growth, kill talent and discourage creativity. The clearest example of the creative energy that can be unleashed when monopoly is totally broken can be seen in the telecommunications industry.”

As part of the shake-up, MultiChoice’s current monopoly over the live airing of important sporting events will end.

“In the case of Nigeria, it’s the monopoly of content that breeds anti-competition practices. You cannot use your financial or whatever power to corner and hold on tight to a chunk of the market, preventing others from having access. Such monopolies are crumbling everywhere in the world and Nigeria cannot be left out,” Mohammed added.

Although DStv has the monopoly on the live broadcasting of the UEFA Champions League and English Premier League in Nigeria, a source within the ministry suggested the new era of liberalisation is expected to allow sporting events to be accessed by other pay TV and free-to-air platforms.

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BBC Lifestyle to air Harry & Meghan doc

BBC Lifestyle will this month air the documentary Harry & Meghan: An African Journey about the Duke and Duchess of Sussex’s recent visit to southern Africa.

The documentary, produced by ITN Productions and ITV News, provides an insight into the lives of Prince Harry and Meghan Markle and how they are able to balance their public duties with family life.

It also examines the causes and issues they care about most and explores some of the pressures and challenges they face living as a young family in the glare of the world’s media.

ITV journalist Tom Bradby said: “This is the third documentary I’ve made with Prince Harry in Africa. I expected it to be an interesting journey but this ended up being a fascinating insight, taking in their passion for their work, their private happiness and the challenge and pressure of balancing their public duties and family life.”

Prince Harry said: “Ever since I came to this continent as a young boy, trying to cope with something I can never possibly describe, Africa has held me in an embrace that I will never forget.”

The documentary airs on BBC Lifestyle, DStv channel 174, on October 24 at 20.00.

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‘N45bn needed’ for digital swithcover

The head of Gospell Digital Technology, Godfrey Ohuabunwa, has revealed that over N45bn will be required to allow digital broadcasting to take off in Nigeria.

Godfrey Ohuabunwa

Ohuabunwa, CEO and group MD, whose company makes set-top boxes in the Calabar Free Trade Zone, made the claim recently after his facilities were inspected by members of the National Broadcasting Commission (NBC) board.

He said the federal government is yet to release the previously approved N15bn to the NBC to facilitate the switchover from analogue to digital.

He claimed the delay in switching over could cost his company about US$50m, which has already been invested in human and material resources.

“If this digital switchover fails to take place, more than US$50m will be lost on our own side, not to mention by other people. On the job alone, we are going to lose about 5,000 to 6,000 direct jobs. This is why it’s a huge problem.

“We are worried that the delay in the NBC announcing its timetable is beginning to negatively impact on our production. We know how much resources, in terms of capital and human resources, we have put in for our dream to be realised.”

He urged the NBC to release a comprehensive timetable that will guide the digital switchover.

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Nigeria adopts The Voice Kids

Nigeria will become the 40th country to air a local version of talent format The Voice Kids after a deal between local broadcaster Fame TV and distributor Talpa Global.

The UK adaptation of The Voice Kids

Fame TV has licensed both the adult and junior versions of the singing series, which will be produced by prodco UN1TY.

Both formats will air on multiple platforms, including NTA network, Ait, Startimes, Fame TV and Teen Africa TV, ensuring viewers can tune in across free-to-air and pay TV outlets.

The deal marks the first time The Voice Kids will air in Nigeria, while in another first, both shows will be taped in the country. Earlier versions of The Voice were filmed in Johannesburg.

The third season of The Voice is expected to air this spring, followed by the first season of The Voice Kids in fall 2020.

Akin Salami, CEO of UN1TY, said: “These are exciting times at many levels for the creative industry in Nigeria and so, we are thrilled about the partnership opportunity with Talpa to present The Voice and The Voice Kids Nigeria to the world from a truly Nigerian perspective. We are looking forward to the long-term engagement opportunities for all our sponsors and we believe this is the start of even greater things to come.”

Meanwhile, TVP in Poland has secured rights to the entire The Voice franchise, confirming three new seasons of each format: The Voice, The Voice Kids and The Voice Senior. All shows are produced by Rochstar.

Poland becomes the 11th country to air a Senior version, while a 10th season of The Voice will air this fall. A third run of Kids is scheduled for January 2020.

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