All posts by Gary

Nnedi Okorafor’s Binti adapted for Hulu

Nnedi Okorafor and her novella Binti

Award-winning Nigerian-American author Nnedi Okorafor’s science fiction book Binti is being adapted into a TV series and for US streaming service Hulu.

The three-part futuristic science fiction novella will be adapted for the screen by studio Media Res, with Okorafor co-writing the script alongside Stacy Osei-Kuffour (Watchmen).

Set in a technologically and socially advanced future, Binti follows a rebellious young woman destined to lead her community in Africa but who chooses to enter a prestigious intergalactic university.

The book won the 2016 Hugo Award for Best Novella and a Nebula Award in 2015.

No release date has yet been announced.

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NBC urged to revamp broadcasting

The National Broadcasting Commission has been instructed by Nigeria’s minister of information and culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, to roll out measures to reposition the broadcasting industry.

Alhaji Lai Mohammed

The minister issued a directive in Abuja last week calling on broadcasters to use Nigerian independent producers to fulfil the regulatory requirement to offer 70% local content. The move is intended to promote local content, boost the advertising industry, create jobs and ensure the industry is up to speed with global best practices.

“This directive covers the provision for the regulation of the web and online TV/radio; regulation of international broadcasters beaming signals into Nigeria; hate speech; human resource and staff welfare; funding for the reforms implementation; monitoring; independence of the regulator and ease of issuing licences, as well as competition and monopoly issues,” he said.

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Edo uncovers young filmmaking talent

Beneficiaries of the Edo filmmaking competition

Ten young filmmakers have been declared winners in the ‘pitch, win and shoot’ competition organised by the Edo Creative Hub.

The initiative was established last year by the Edo State Skills Development Agency in collaboration with MADE, the market development programme in the Niger Delta. The hub aims to exploit the creative energies of young people and give them the opportunity to create wealth through their talent.

Ojeaga Charlotte, Onohi John, Okhomina Joseph, Osaigbovo Eriamiantoe, Okao Aimalohi Ihinosen, Blessed Omoregie, Eriyo Michael, Billy Kings and Edwin Irabor will benefit from a distribution deal with IrokoTV and Kada cinemas organised by the state government and MADE.

Dorcas Idehen, representative of the Edo state governor and permanent secretary, ministry of arts, culture, tourism and diaspora affairs, emphasised the commitment of the state government to open up investment opportunities in the sector as well as harness the potential in the creative industry.

“The state government is leveraging on the potential of the state as a cultural hub to create job opportunities for youths in the state, which resulted in the brokering of the distribution and exhibition deals with IrokoTV and Kada Cinemas,” she said.

Praising the state government, film director Lancelot Oduwa Imaseun said he would assist the young filmmakers and also ensure their movies are aired on Africa Magic and IrokoTV.

“This is a means to engage citizens in productive activities and create jobs in the state. The purpose of the project is to engage youths to discourage illegal migration and human trafficking,” he added.

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Government targets MultiChoice monopoly

The Nigerian government has moved to end pay TV group MultiChoice’s monopoly on broadcasting sporting events in the country.

Alhaji Lai Mohammed

Alhaji Lai Mohammed, the country’s minister of information and culture, has issued a directive to end the group’s exclusive right to air high-profile sports events and also urged the National Broadcasting Commission (NBC) to re-position the broadcasting industry.

In line with a report approved by president Muhammadu Buhari, the minister has instructed broadcasters and exclusive licensees to share previously exclusive rights with other broadcasters.

“This regulation prevents the misuse of monopoly, market power or anti-competitive and unfair practices by a foreign or local broadcaster to suppress other local broadcaster in the television and radio markets,” he said.

The move has “removed exclusivity from all content in Nigeria and mandated the sharing of all content upon the payment of commercially viable fees,” Mohammed added.

The breaking up of the monopoly will boost reach, maximise the utilisation by all broadcasters of premium content and grow their platforms and investment in other content, he said.

“Monopolies stunt growth, kill talents and discourage creativity. 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,” said Mohammed.

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Government spends N3.4bn on NigComSat

The federal government of Nigeria has declared that over US$9.3m (N3.4bn) will be spent on satellite company Nigerian Communications Satellite (NigComSat).

Samson Osagie

Despite the multi-million-dollar investments, NigComSat 1-R, the country’s primary satellite that is managed by NigComSat, has been under-used.

About 76% of the approved budget for 2020 will be used for recurrent expenditure, while the remainder will be spent on capital projects throughout the year. Most organisations that are supposed to do business with the company have been relying on foreign satellites instead.

Stakeholders in the industry have expressed concern over increased spending on NigComSat by the government. They have claimed that between 2011 and 2016, NigComSat spent more than US$60m of taxpayers’ money on recurring expenditure such as salaries, conferences, training, hotel and accommodation.

According to Samson Osagie, NigComSat’s executive director of marketing and business development, efforts are being made to reposition Nigeria’s satellite for optimum use.

He said: “While the global space economy hit US$348bn in 2017, Nigeria’s share of the market remains insignificant despite possessing a satellite with full capacity.

“NigComSat is in talks with all stakeholders to form partnerships that will boost the patronage of Nigeria’s satellite.”

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Africa Magic unveils reality series

MultiChoice-owned movie channel Africa Magic is launching four new TV reality shows aimed at creating platforms for sharing Africa’s stories as well as investing in the development of local content and talent.

Date My Family, Confessions and Unmarried began airing on January 5, 6 and 8 respectively, while Dr Laser will debut on January 10.

Date my Family is a 45-minute dating show that features a suitor who has to choose a winning date based on his experience with three different families of three potential dates. It will air until April 26.

Confessions is a 30-minute show that enables viewers to witness real-life confessions between siblings, friends and love interests.

Unmarried is a drama series that follows the lives of three friends who encounter challenges in their relationships, careers and dating lives.

Dr Laser is a medical reality show that showcases people undergoing plastic surgery in Nigeria. It reveals what inspires human decisions to undergo such procedures and the aftermath of their decisions. It will show until April 3.

Channel director Wangi Mba-Uzoukwu said: “Reality TV shows are extremely popular because they showcase real people experiencing real-life circumstances and situations, thus connecting with viewers and fans on a more personal and relatable level. Following the success of Big Brother Naija, Date My Family, Dr Laser, Confessions and Unmarried have been curated to address and confront real-life issues from the African perspective.”
The shows are aired on Africa Magic Showcase (channel 151).

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Sub-Saharan Africa tipped for pay TV surge

The number of pay TV subscribers in sub-Saharan Africa will have increased by 74% between 2017 and 2023 to reach 40.89 million, according to Digital TV Research.

Simon Murray

Seventeen million pay TV subscriptions will be added in that time period, with Nigeria tipped to overtake South Africa in 2021 and have the most pay TV subscribers on the continent by 2023, according to the research firm.

However, the company also forecasts that subscriber growth will outstrip revenue progress in Africa. Pay TV revenues are expected to climb by 41% to US$6.64bn by 2023, up by US$2bn on 2017.

Simon Murray, principal analyst at Digital TV Research, said: “Pay TV competition in sub-Saharan Africa is becoming more and more intense, especially given the launch of Kwesé TV in 14 countries during 2017.

“Pay TV operators in most countries have lowered subscription fees and/or subsidised/given away equipment as competition intensifies. By no means are all of the existing pay TV platforms expected to survive in the long run. Having said that, several pay TV operators are booming.”

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MTF alumni attend NYFA workshop

Three MultiChoice Talent Factory (MTF) alumni have travelled to the US to attend the New York Film Academy (NYFA) workshop.

Mainala Silondwa (Zambia), Gilbert Bassey (Nigeria) and Hillary ‘Hillax’ Lanogwa (Kenya) emerged from the MTF’s three campuses in west, east and southern Africa and were selected as top of their classes for the prestigious full-tuition scholarship award.

Silondwa and Lanogwa, who are part of the inaugural MTF cohort, have been given a lifetime’s opportunity to participate in the NYFA eight-week filmmaking workshop whilst Gilbert will start the programme at a later date.

Silondwa, director and screenwriter, co-wrote the screenplay for student film The Painting, cinematographer Lanogwa was the camera operator on student films Ensulo and Promises, while Bassey, a producer, director and editor, was the assistant director on student film Dreamchaser.

Expanding on MTF’s mission to empower emerging filmmakers through training, skills and creative development, they will be trained on the craft of filmmaking in an intensive environment and also challenged to produce five films within two months.

Each student will write, direct and edit a final film, which will be showcased at a screening in New York, and a NYFA certificate and digital master copy of their projects will be given to students who complete the workshop.

Jim Miller, VP at NYFA, said: “All of us at the Academy are extremely proud to have MTF Academy’s special award alumni Mainala Silondwa, Hillary Lanogwa and Gilbert Bassey join us for their eight-week filmmaking workshops at NYFA’s New York City campus. These astonishingly talented filmmakers – who each have the passion and commitment to become creative professionals – will certainly excel in our programmes, which will immerse them in NYFA’s philosophy of hands-on intensive learning.”

Reatile Tekateka, executive head of corporate affairs at MultiChoice Africa, said: “Through strategic partnerships with widely acclaimed institutions such as the NYFA, Africa’s creative industries are enriched through skills sharing and exposure to global best practice. We’re excited for our alumni and we hope that this opportunity will empower them to tell authentic African stories to a global audience.”

Bassey said: “It’s the first time that I will travelling out of Nigeria, and it is to do something that I love. I look forward to what this will bring to my career – it’s undoubtedly a big step on the path to mastery. Being a part of MTF was a solid experience, so this, I believe, will build on that. I’m looking forward to learning more about production and the business of filmmaking, such as using the little that we have to push us forward.”

The NYFA, which currently partners with MultiChoice Africa, has supported African content creators across the continent by hosting workshops with the intention of continuing its efforts to fortify film development internationally.

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Oyenekan testifies about The Justice Court

Judge Funmi Asaolu fronts The Justice Court

Neil Oyenekan, MD of Lagos-based Lighthouse Television and Filmworks, tells Content Nigeria about his new reality show The Justice Court and how he came to create the project.

Oyenekan, who had been developing and making TV programmes for over 10 years, says he was approached by a client who was concerned about the justice system, which led to him developing dispute resolution show The Justice Court, where real people present real cases in front of a judge.

Oyenekan says he realised it was an original idea as he could find no country in Africa with its own factual courtroom TV show.

Neil Oyenekan

“The further we looked into the grass roots situation, the more we began to understand such a show is needed, not just for TV but also for people in the community,” he says. “It is a brilliant entertainment show with an educational element that can be used to teach the mainstream about justice and also help the judiciary deal with cases they are probably overwhelmed by.”

He decided that, socially, a factual courtroom show would be “useful beyond entertainment.”

Oyenekan was keen to create a series directed at the primary market while maintaining the human element of the drama, and was aware the Nigerian audience had to warm to the concept.

The first 26-episode season is produced by Lighthouse and Avonix Nigeria and was shot at Hotsports Studios in Lagos. Fronted by Nigerian judge Funmi Asaolu, it launches tomorrow and will air on NTA2 on Saturdays at 6.30pm and Superscreen TV on Sundays at 8.30pm.

In selecting a suitable network, one of the things Oyenekan was concerned about was finding one that understood the show and could give them the best time slots.

As to why he created the format rather than purchasing one from the international market, he says: “It’s all down to budget. We realised that occasionally you have to develop it from the bottom up, and if you cannot afford to buy a format then making yours is the way out.

“If formats from China can do well globally, what does Africa have that is still in hiding? Africa has a huge diaspora which is beginning to constitute a huge base of income. Some things are unique to Africa that are of interest to the rest of the world. We need to dig in more to see what’s there that is fascinating.”

Elaborating on what makes this show different, he says: “We identified that unless there is some kind of value for the viewer, it will just be entertainment. We created a format where the lawyer [Judge Funmi Asaolu] is a mediator who settles issues in society.

“If the viewer can see the court come in to its neighbourhood, then it makes it more relatable and closer to them. It is a show that means well.”

The show will also be tested in other African countries including Senegal and South Africa.

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StarTimes brings satellite to rural Kenyans

StarTimes’ Access to Satellite TV completion ceremony

Chinese pay TV firm StarTimes’ digital project Access to Satellite TV has benefitted more than 1,600 Kenyan households in 47 countries.

The initiative was aimed at helping rural African families access information about the world and improve agriculture and knowledge about science and sanitation, thereby reducing poverty.

During the official completion ceremony, Hesbon Mwalei, Kenya’s ICT director, said the Kenyan government was committed to fully exploiting opportunities offered by digital broadcasting to enable young people to unleash their talents through creative arts.

He said: “The noble initiative enabled households and institutions that had been left out without access to television after the digital migration process to now benefit from digital television.

“The availability of a balanced mix of local and international channels through this project will increase access to information, which will go a long way to bridge the urban/rural digital divide.”

China’s ambassador to Kenya, Wu Peng, added that the implementation of the project was an important part of the China-Africa Cultural Exchange Cooperation Program.

StarTimes Group, a multi-national media company and content provider working in the African broadcasting industry, was tasked with rolling out the programme.

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Sports ministry to partner MultiChoice

Nigeria’s minister for youth and sports development, Sunday Dare, has revealed plans to partner with MultiChoice Nigeria in an effort to revolutionise the country’s sports sector.

Sunday Dare

The initiative was announced in Abuja when the CEO of MultiChoice Nigeria, John Ugbe, visited the minister.

According to Dare, MultiChoice is well positioned to assist with a reset of the sports sector, which include a revamp of infrastructure, talent development initiatives and a drive for corporate sector involvement to accelerate financial growth in the sector.

Ugbe said: “MultiChoice’s commitment to sports development, which began decades ago, will remain unwavering. The company is the biggest investor in Nigerian sports as well as pre-eminent supporter of Nigerian boxing through Gotv’s boxing night, NextGen search and the recently introduced GOtv boxing night mini, each of which have rescued the sport from the wretched state into which it fell for over two decades.”

He added that MultiChoice is the broadcaster for the Nigerian Professional Football League and live-broadcasts the matches of the Super Eagles, Flying Eagles and Golden Eaglets in addition to games from the prestigious European football leagues and other major global sporting events.

In addition, MultiChoice has funded a training programme in conjunction with the University of Nigeria Nsukka and South Africa’s Wits University to raise sports administration standards.

Dare said: “The desired partnership has the potential to bring about the much-needed renaissance in the sector. The move will be led by Maria Wophill, a deputy director, who will work with MultiChoice to bring the partnership to life.”

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DStv launches new WWE channel

African sports broadcaster SuperSport and WWE have extended their partnership to include a dedicated WWE channel on DStv offering a live weekly broadcast in more than 50 countries in sub-Saharan Africa.

Gideon Khobane

The new 24/7 channel will launch on January 1, 2020 and will feature shows including Raw, SmackDown, NXT and premium WWE programming such as 205 Live, Ride Along, WWE Chronicle and Table for 3.

Gideon Khobane, chief executive of SuperSport, said: “The fans of the WWE universe asked for it and we are delighted to deliver. WWE programming has proven to be compelling content with riveting storylines and insane action, which our viewers absolutely love. This is a big step and a great start to the new year.”

Stefan Kastenmüller, WWE’s senior VP and group general manager, EMEA, added: “SuperSport is a valued partner who shares our approach to engaging and entertaining our fans. We are thrilled to expand our partnership with a new 24/7 WWE channel which will super-serve our passionate fans in the region.”

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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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