All posts by Gary

EbonyLife TV quits DStv

EbonyLife TV, the fast-growing African broadcast entertainment network founded by Mo Abudu, will no longer air on pay platform DStv from the end of this month.

Mo Abudu

Abudu, CEO of EbonyLife TV, took to her Instagram page to make the announcement, saying: “Remember when we used to wait a whole week to watch our favourite TV shows? Well, those days are gone forever! Now we can binge on the whole series if we want to. Therefore, we have decided that EbonyLife TV will no longer be available on DStv from 31st July 2020.

“Create your own viewing schedule and watch your favourite EbonyLife shows with our app, EbonyLife ON, available from Play Store or App Store for access to our library of over 5000 hours of series, lifestyle and entertainment.”

EbonyLife TV launched on DStv across Africa in July 2013 and debuted on rival service StarTimes in 2018. Later that year, the company launched its own video-on-demand (VoD) service available on iOS platforms and Google.

The channel was still available on Star Times at the time of writing and no announcement has been made about dropping carriage on that Chinese-owned pay TV platform.

EbonyLife TV’s move to drop its linear channels on a third-party platform in favour of the company’s own direct-to-consumer on-demand service mirrors a similar move by The Walt Disney Company (TWDC).

The US-based media giant recently announced plans to close Disney Channel, Disney XD and Disney Junior in the UK, with all content being made exclusively available on recently launched SVoD service Disney+ instead.

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MultiChoice unveils Showmax Pro

Pay TV operator MultiChoice has launched a new sports-themed streaming service called Showmax Pro, aimed at improving its online streaming presence in Africa.

Niclas Ekdahl

MultiChoice’s five-year-old streaming service Showmax offers both VoD entertainment programming and live-streamed sports from MultiChoice-owned sports channel SuperSport as well as music channels and news.

Showmax Pro’s football offering will include all games from the UK’s Premier League, Italy’s Serie A and La Liga, and South Africa’s premier soccer league, and starts streaming today.

According to the pay TV company, the new service will be rolled out in Nigeria and Kenya with additional countries to be added in six to eight weeks, creating coverage across Sub-Saharan Africa. Showmax Pro will cost from US$8 a month in Nigeria and US$10 in Kenya.

In June 2019, MultiChoice’s South African SVoD service Showmax began testing live-streamed sports on its platform, and the new Showmax Pro service is based on the results of the trial.

In a statement, Niclas Ekdahl, CEO of the connected video division at MultiChoice, said: “The live sport test we ran on Showmax in conjunction with SuperSport has been well received, so that’s forming an integral part of our new Showmax Pro service.

“This is the biggest thing we’ve done at Showmax in the five years since we first launched. Africa is an incredibly diverse continent, so offering a single monolithic product may not be the best solution. Our approach is to standardise where we can and tailor where we need to. That’s why you’ll see different local content on Showmax in Nigeria than you will in Kenya, and South Africa’s content is different again.”

The deal will help US companies gain a bigger foothold in Africa, where MultiChoice has nearly 20 million customers in 50 countries, while helping MultiChoice to keep subscribers on its platforms with a variety of content from Netflix and Amazon.

MultiChoice is yet to announce when the service will become available.

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MTV Shuga’s Aladese opens up

Tunde Aladese, the award-winning Nigeria film actress and screenwriter, was behind MTV Shuga Alone Together, a recent programme highlighting the problems of coronavirus with the aim of flattening the Covid-19 curve.

Tunde Aladese

The nightly show was based on the MTV Base series Shuga and backed by the United Nations, MTV Staying Alive Foundation, the World Health Organisation and other bodies. The series is set in Nigeria, South Africa, Kenya and Cote D’Ivoire and the story is told through online conversations between the main characters. The show also went out via YouTube.

Metfilm School graduate Aladese spoke with Content Nigeria about the project, which debuted in April and was extended to 65 episodes, as well as her career to date and her tips on getting into the screen industry.

Do you remember how you fell in love with films and writing? Was there anything from your childhood that pushed you in this particular direction?
This is a difficult one because it’s never really just one thing. It’s the gradual growth of a lifelong romance. My love for writing started with prose, making sorry imitations of any book I enjoyed in order to somehow prolong the experience that the book had given me. Cinemas weren’t much of a thing in Nigeria at the time when I was growing up, but VCR was big business and watching movies was a big family pastime.

It’s hard to pick just one film because the exposure was constant and the genres were varied. It was the 1980s so there was a lot of that B-movie action, also a lot of the glam miniseries content, usually centred around a woman who succeeded against all odds. There was The Sound of Music, which my siblings and I could quote in its entirety. Arthouse came later, as options widened. I didn’t have a proper understanding of how films came to be for quite a while and a couple of appearances on kids’ variety shows were a surreal experience.

I guess the primary school drama club was my first proper sense of trying to create a narrative out of thin air and get other people to help bring it to life. But I can say that I fell in love with the film business, this idea of actors and directors and storytellers on screen after reading biographies of some old Hollywood movie stars between the ages of 10 and 13. That was when I began to understand the process of how all that came to the screen. The possibility of anything like that being a tangible and viable career plan, came much later.

MTV Shuga Alone Together was self-shot by the Shuga stars

When was it you decided that a career in the screen industry was for you?
The timing was fortunate for me. My first job after university led to an introduction between my boss and a producer who was about to make a radio drama series for the BBC in Nigeria. My boss showed him some ideas I had put down and I got invited to be part of a writers’ room – something I’d never heard of. I couldn’t believe someone paid me that much money – not a huge amount but at the time I was making almost nothing – to do something I’d been doing for fun all my life. I figured I could get used to this…

Success was not immediate but over the next couple of years, enough opportunities came my way that when an international cable company became interested in producing Nigerian series, I actually had a little experience under my belt and could pitch myself for some writing opportunities.

Why did you choose Metfilm School? What were you experiences there?
My first degree was in English Literature, from the University of Ibadan in Nigeria. After almost 10 years working professionally as a screenwriter, mostly in television, I wanted new challenges and a wider canvas. I thought learning formally about all aspects of film production would help me with that.

Choosing Metfilm was a combination of timing, location – Berlin had been popping up a lot in my timeline in the months preceding – language, investigating their alumni and the things they had gone on to do since leaving the school. It’s a great way to study the European arthouse film aesthetic, which I was very interested in, without having to take the time to learn a whole new language. And because it’s an English-speaking school in a very European city, you get to study with students from a wide variety of countries from all over the world.

How did the MTV Shuga project come about?
I’m not going to deny that it’s a challenge. I just take it one block at a time, and fortunately I don’t have to do it all on my own. There’s a co-head writer and co-director who alternates blocks with me and of course, the Staying Alive Foundation team. I had worked on two previous seasons of the series, including one season as head writer and had therefore had some contact with some members of the team.

They reached out within the first couple of weeks of lockdown in Germany and told me about this idea they were throwing around, and asked whether it was something I would be interested in coming on board for. I’d been sitting home for two weeks, reading about everything going on all around the world, from news headlines to social media posts sharing people’s emotions, so I knew as soon as they asked that there was potential here. I didn’t imagine at the time that it would be 65 episodes!

What’s the response been like, from the audience and the industry?
To be honest, I don’t know. I usually try to stay away from comments because you get drawn in by the good stuff and then one negative comment and you might spend the rest of the day overthinking. I do understand that reactions and feedback from the first few episodes was quite exciting. It’s been challenging trying to find ways to maintain and increase the momentum and interest. But I did say I was looking for challenges, right?

What are your plans for the future?
I’m almost done with this season of MTV Shuga and there are a couple of things lined up for me to switch over to from next month. But nothing that I am at liberty to talk about right now.

What advice would you give to anyone considering a career in the screen industries?
Read a lot of books, watch a lot of movies. Figure out what you like, what excites and moves you and why. And then try to put it into your own work. Write, write, write. Even when you hate it, keep at it. I had a period of about six years from secondary school into university where, everything I wrote, I hated soon after. But that made me question why I hated it and what I needed to do differently.

The trick is to keep writing so that when an opportunity comes your way, you have something to show of your ability that will make them at least consider you. Don’t wait for someone to find you and make you a writer. And then, of course, seek out those opportunities.

I know this is a bit glib and it won’t work out for everyone, but it will for some. Oh, and I should mention this magic trick. The first time I went to a writers’ workshop, everyone there introduced themselves as a writer except me. I didn’t think I had the right to claim that about my hobby. The people present in the room made me say it, ‘I’m a writer.’ When I returned to my life, I started introducing myself that way. And people remembered. And the calls started coming.

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MultiChoice backs UN Covid campaign

MultiChoice Group has partnered with the United Nations (UN) as an official supporter of its Covid-19 awareness campaign, named Pause.

Imtiaz Patel

The Pause campaign, which is aimed at highlighting the dangers of sharing false information related to Covid -19, launched globally on June 30 with information broadcast across Africa through the DStv and GOtv on-air and digital platforms, SuperSport and M-Net properties and Showmax.

Furthermore, the campaign asks people around the world to pause, think and take care before sharing information that could be inaccurate or a result of misinformation and may have harmful effects.

Robert Skinner, senior advisor for global communications at the UN, said: “We are in a moment of global reckoning as Covid-19 and its social and economic consequences challenge the world in unprecedented ways. Misinformation, hate speech and fake news are fueling and distorting all of these challenges and eroding the truth. We are very excited to have MultiChoice onboard as a supporter giving the launch of our campaign reach across Africa. They are uniquely positioned to deliver this important message to their diverse audiences across the continent.”

MultiChoice executive chairman Imtiaz Patel added: “Reliable information is vital to the fight against Covid -19. The dissemination of credible information has become critical to fighting this epidemic, which continues to impact millions across the globe and our continent. We are, therefore, honoured to be able to utilise the continental reach of our broadcast and digital platforms across Africa to empower people with vital information.”

MultiChoice has supported a number of initiatives in the fight against the spread of the pandemic, which continues to wreak havoc across the globe and is being felt acutely across Africa. It also continues to seek opportunities to use its platforms to combat the spread of Covid-19 while supporting initiatives and airing educational and news-related content aligned with the organisation’s commitment to making an impact in the communities where it operates.

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NCC forms digital economy unit

The Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) has created a digital economy department responsible for implementing digital programmes and the federal government’s policies.

Umar Danbatta
The initiative was approved by the governing board of the NCC and is in line with its strategy to create a team dedicated to promoting the digital economy.

Umar Danbatta, executive vice chairman (EVC) of the NCC, said: “Placing the newly created department under the office of the EVC also underscores the importance the commission places on the need to successfully drive the overall national digital economy strategy of the government through ensuring its effective monitoring and supervision.

“The broadband implementation unit in the commission, as well as the workers in the unit, have been moved to the newly created digital economy department while an assistant director in the special duties department, Babagana Digima, has been moved and designated as the pioneer head of the new department.”

Danbatta said the commission would play a significant role in the implementation of the digital economy policy and strategy and the new department would focus on working with the eight pillars of the National Digital Economy Policy and Strategy (NDEPS), as well as overseeing the implementation of the National Broadband Plan 2020-2025.

The NDEPS is a national policy document unveiled by Nigeria’s president, Muhammadu Buhari, in November 2019 to add impetus to the government’s Economy Recovery and Growth Plan.

“Apart from infusing new dynamism into the existing digital economy function, the creation of the new department amplifies the commission’s regulatory excellence, which is one of the five pillars of its Strategic Management Plan 2020-2024,” he said.

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ViacomCBS ups Monde Twala to BET role

ViacomCBS Networks International (VCNI) has promoted Monde Twala from his current role with ViacomCBS Networks Africa to peer lead at BET International.

Monde Twala

Twala will work with Kerry Taylor, executive VP of VCNI’s entertainment and youth brands, and the larger international division to guide editorial direction and identify opportunities to strengthen and grow the BET brand outside the US.

Twala is currently senior VP of ViacomCBS Networks Africa, editorial and general manager. During his tenure he has played a key role in the creation of ViacomCBS Africa’s major music events, including the Africa Day Benefit Concert at Home, the first virtual benefit event to support children and families in Africa impacted by the Covid-19 pandemic, and the MTV Africa Music Awards.

Additionally, Twala has worked alongside local production teams to create a range of programming including MTV Newsish, BET Breaks, scripted biopics and reality formats.

“As head of BET’s largest international market, Monde has an incredible track record of driving development and growth for all of our ViacomCBS brands across the African continent,” said Taylor.

“He is a passionate champion of the brand and I have no doubt that he will drive it forward in a strong, impactful way while ensuring BET International elevates black culture globally.”

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MTN offers free BBC News Minute

International news organisation the BBC World Service has partnered with MTN Nigeria to deliver BBC News Minute bulletins free of charge to subscribers to the myMTN App in English, Hausa, Igbo, Pidgin and Yoruba.

Oluwatoyosi Ogunseye

The BBC News Minute is the BBC’s 60-second news round-up that keeps audiences up to date with what is trending and shared on social media, as well as the latest local and global news. It also showcases the latest news in sport, tech, entertainment and science.

Oluwatoyosi Ogunseye, head of West African languages at the BBC World Service said: “This partnership with MTN is at the core of the BBC’s commitment to reaching audiences wherever they may be. It is one of the ways in which the BBC is demonstrating its commitment to Nigeria and we are thrilled about this new engagement with young audiences in this country.”

Srinivas Rao, chief digital officer at MTN Nigeria, said: “We are proud of this partnership. It is one of the ways we offer young Nigerians more channels to consume relevant information. In an era where fake news spread easily, especially through social media, credible platforms like this make a lot of difference.”

Kolawole Oyeyemi, MTN Nigeria’s general manager, customer experience, said: “It is also a demonstration of our passion to deliver the best customer experience possible to our customers who use myMTNApp, so they have relevant and authentic news they can use on the go, completely free of charge.”

Mary Lusiba, head of African business development at the BBC World Service, added: “This exciting deal will raise brand and awareness of BBC World Service for young consumers. It will build on the well-established reputation of the BBC for quality news and information and reach out to a new generation of Nigerians. The launch is timely as content will also update audiences on the Covid-19 pandemic in Africa.”

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ST launches Discovery nets in French

US media company Discovery has revealed that it will launch two of its channels, Investigation Discovery (ID) and Discovery Science, in French on pay TV operator StarTimes in Sub-Saharan Africa.

Amanda Turnbull

Shows that will be aired on ID include Web of Lies, Heart of Darkness, Impact of Murder, Someone You Thought You Knew, Reasonable Doubt, People Magazine Investigates, series of stunts such as Summer Nightmares, Throwback Saturdays and ID documentaries.

On Discovery Science, viewers will be able to watch the most recent launch of SpaceX in the documentary Space Launch: America Returns, which takes audiences on the mission to take astronauts Bob Behnken and Doug Hurley to the ISS on a SpaceX Crew Dragon spacecraft.

Other shows include an engineering stunt called Incredible Constructions, which follows the construction of the world’s incredible engineering projects, and Animals Stunt, unpacking the mystery behind remarkable and peculiar animal behaviour

Amanda Turnbull, VP and general manager for Discovery in Africa, the Middle East and Turkey, said: “We are dedicated to creating the highest quality content that informs, inspires and entertains and we are always looking for ways to expand on our offering, making it accessible to new audience

“With these channels, we will be able to meet the growing demands of French-speaking subscribers across the continent, while further deepening our long-standing relationship with StarTimes.”

Lily Meng, head of StarTimes Media Division, added: “We are pleased to take our partnership with Discovery one step further by making these two amazing channels available to Francophone families across Africa. We remain committed to enriching our bouquets with premium content so our subscribers can enjoy the best TV experience with StarTimes.”

Since its launch in 2008, ID has continued to grow in popularity across global audiences with its highest-ever ratings in EMEA for the first quarter of 2020. Discovery Science, which launched in 1996, has been working with StarTimes since 2015 and the current Discovery StarTimes bouquet includes Real Time, Discovery Family and ID in English.

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Sequel to crime drama Domitila lined up

A sequel to 1996 Nollywood crime drama movie Domitila is set to make its debut in cinemas in 2021.

Moses Babatope

The new feature be coproduced by FilmOne Entertainment, Zeb Ejiro Productions and Omoni Oboli’s Dioni Visions.

It will follow the adventures of a young woman, called Domitila, who accidentally witnesses the mysterious death of a politician. With law enforcement on her and her friends’ trail, she decides to go to any lengths to prove her innocence.

Zeb Ejiro, director of the original, said: “When we first made Domitila, it was a story inspired by societal challenges that have, over time, proven to not only be [relevant] to the 1990s but trans-generational. And so, in recognition of its relevance in these times, we have decided to make a sequel to the story, factoring in recent socio-cultural advancements.”

FilmOne Entertainment co-founders Kene Okwuosa and Moses Babatope said: “We are happy to once again bring magic to the big screen by producing this breathtaking movie. In Domitila, we have identified an entertaining and artistic masterpiece that would appeal to different generations of film lovers.”

Oboli, the sequel’s creative director, added: “When I was a teenager, I auditioned for Domitilla but I didn’t get a part; perhaps, I was too tiny. Today, I’m proud to be one of the stars, executive producers, producer and creative director of the sequel. It’s going to be a very exciting ride and I can’t wait.”

The 1996 film starred Anne Njemanze, Sandra Achums, Kate Henshaw and Enebeli Elebuwa. Production of the sequel is set to kick off later this year.

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NBC tightens rules on sporting rights

The National Broadcasting Commission (NBC) has instructed broadcasters and licensees to refrain from acquiring foreign sporting rights that will exclude other broadcasters in Nigeria from sub-licensing them.

Armstrong Idachaba

Armstrong Idachaba, acting director general of the NBC, told a press briefing in Abuja that the decision to amend the NBC code is key to repositioning the broadcasting industry and making it more responsive, to protect it from monopolistic and anti-competitive behavior and stimulate advertising revenue, and by extension, the local creative industry.

Acknowledging the mixed reaction to the release of the amendment, he said the commission would take this into consideration.

“Only recently, on March 27, I announced the release of some amendments to the Nigeria Broadcasting Code (6th Edition). The commission wishes to reiterate the fact that the objectives of the amendments are in our national best interest,” he said.

“We currently have a highly rated and hugely talented creative industry in Nigeria, but the fact remains that content producers are unable to harness the benefits of their creative endowment due largely to monopolistic restrictions and anti-competitive behaviour. There is no doubt that the Nigerian broadcasting industry is facing a series of challenges. These include inability for the broadcasters to generate required funds from advertising and programming.

“Local producers of content are no longer able to create content for television. This has led to an influx of foreign production companies, some of them unregistered and unlicensed by the Nigerian government. These companies have taken over the local content production space and, by extension, the advertising and broadcasting space, relegating local entrepreneurs to oblivion. The commission believes in the broadcasting industry but this must be done with a noble philosophy to promote our own national dreams and vision.’’

Commending all those who have contributed to the debate about the amendment, he added that the change to the code will improve investment in Nigeria and benefit media entrepreneurs and audiences.

“We know that broadcasting is dynamic; so are the challenges to regulation. The commission has noted all the concerns and observations, especially on 9.0.1 and 6.2.8. Section 6.2.8, which clearly points that, ‘Exclusivity shall not be allowed for sporting rights in the Nigerian territory and in furtherance thereof, no broadcaster or licensee shall license or acquire foreign sporting rights in such a manner as to exclude persons, broadcasters or licensees in Nigeria from sub-licensing the same.’

“Similarly, on 9.0.1, the point is that a broadcaster or licensee shall immediately after the coming into force of this amendment be prohibited from effecting informal agreements, written and oral agreements, explicit or implicit understandings or implementing concerted practices either exclusively or between market players that have as their object, intent, effect or purpose the restriction of competition, abuse of a dominant position or of substantial market power or create barriers to entry in the broadcast media industry in Nigeria.”

Armstrong Idachaba

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Kunle Afolayan starts film, TV academy

Nigerian filmmaker and producer Kunle Afolayan is starting a film and TV academy as well as other projects to benefit creatives and content creators.

Kunle Afolayan (Photo: Ameyaw Debrah/CC)

KAP Film & Television Academy will be housed in the KAP Hub and is designed to offer hands-on experience from veteran and great film professionals.

It will also provide those passionate about art, creativity, television, film and new media with exposure to diverse filmmaking tools on movie sets.

According to Afolayan, this was an idea he had years ago after the establishment of his film company Golden Effects Pictures in 2005.

“Initially, Golden Effects Pictures was involved in the production of films, documentaries, television commercials, music videos, film equipment rentals and film consultations. But with my decision to go into other demanding areas in the film industry, I decided to expand Golden Effects Pictures into subsidiary brands offering specialised services under the name KAP Hub.

“KAP Hub will consist of KAP Motion Pictures, a film and television academy, a cinema, Golden Effects Services, a restaurant and bar, live band, art and craft shops and a creative minds hangout.”

The KAP Hub will create an experience that will enable creatives to come together to unwind, eat, drink and interact with one another and be entertained by a live band.

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3D animated movie in the works

Lady Buckit & the Motley Mopsters

A new Nigerian feature-length 3D animated movie is in the works and will soon be on TV screens.

Lady Buckit & the Motley Mopsters follows a clever, mature, self-absorbed little girl who finds herself in wild and unfamiliar territory where she encounters a band of highly unusual characters who change her destiny.

Actors lending their voices to the film include Bimbo Akintola, Kalu Ikeagwu, Jessica Edwards, Patrick Doyle, Caleb Audu, David Edwards, Bola Edwards, Kelechi Udegbe and Awazi Angbalaga.

The film is executive produced by Blessing Amidu and directed by Bisi Adetayo. A release date has yet to be announced.

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MultiChoice to add Netflix, Amazon

Pay TV company MultiChoice is set to add international streaming services Netflix and Amazon Prime Video to its DStv platform.

Calvo Mawela

With its recently released 2019/20 financial results, the pay TV company has shown growth in South Africa and the rest of sub-Saharan Africa, adding roughly 900 000 DStv and GOtv subscribers.

Calvo Mawela, MultiChoice’s CEO, said: “We are pleased with our performance and the resilience we have demonstrated this year. Our healthy balance sheet positions us well to weather uncertainties in our markets going forward.

“We have long been a content aggregator and this is proof of our aggregator model at work, providing simplicity, choice and convenience for our customers. As our industry evolves, we believe that we are well positioned to benefit from both worlds – a large, growing pay TV market in Africa, as well as an emerging over-the-top opportunity, where our own OTT services and aggregation capabilities can drive success.

“MultiChoice has shown a 5% increase in subscriber growth in its 2019/20 financial year, taking its total pay TV subscriber base to 19.5 million households. South Africa still represents MultiChoice’s biggest and most powerful market, with 8.4 million pay TV households, while the rest of Africa combined represents 11.1 million households.”

Besides adding two global streaming services, MultiChoice is also getting ready to roll out its as-yet-unnamed ‘DStv dishless,’ stand-alone DStv streaming service that will mimic its existing direct-to-home  service but without the need for any installation.

With these additions, existing subscribers will have access to further streaming services through DStv, paying their monthly bill in local currency for the add-ons, lessening payment friction and providing one place for subscribers to find and watch content.

The company is also planning two new coproductions, Blood Psalms and Rogue; to launch four new local-content TV channels, including a new action-movie channel; and to further ramp up local content production in 2021.

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DGN sets up sex allegations committee

The Directors Guild of Nigeria (DGN) has set up a five-member committee to address the issues of sexual offences levelled against some of its members and to recommend penalties.

Pat Oghre

Following the recent allegations of sexual harassment, assault, molestation and rape against some producers and directors, the committee has been formed to investigate and decide punitive measures. It will also support industry stakeholder initiatives aimed at curbing such harassment.

“DGN uses this opportunity to vehemently condemn rape in its entirety within and outside of the film industry,” said the guild.

The committee comprises chairman Pat Oghre and secretary Remix Ibinola, plus Tope Oshin, Francis Onwochei and Tony Akposheri.

In a memo issued by the national secretary of DGN, Uche Agbo, a dedicated 24/7 confidential email address has been set up to receive reports, petitions and complaints as well as educate members about the implications of such acts.

The committee further encourages anyone who has information or has ever been harassed sexually by any director in Nollywood to send a report to [email protected] or [email protected]

“Cases will be treated with ultimate confidentiality,” the guild added.

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Danbatta reappointed to NCC

Nigerian president Muhammadu Buhari has reappointed Umar Danbatta as executive vice chairman of the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC).

Umar Danbatta

The appointment was based on the recommendation of the honourable minister of communications and digital economy, Isa Ali Ibrahim Pantami.

Danbatta, who was appointed in 2015, will continue serving as NCC vice chairman and CEO for another five years, in an effort to consolidate the gains made in the telecoms sector in line with the National Digital Economy Policy and Strategy.

In a statement, Danbatta was urged to improve on the overall performance of the commission as well as ensure mechanisms are put in place to allow the implementation of government policies.

“Furthermore, the honourable minister enjoined him to ensure the interest of telecommunication consumers, Nigerians and investors are adequately protected,” the statement reads.

Danbatta obtained his BEng and MSc degrees from the Technical University of Wroclaw in Poland and his PhD from the University of Manchester Institute of Science & Technology in the UK.

He also served as a telecoms lecturer in the department of electrical engineering, faculty of technology at Bayero University in Kano for 28 years. He was Dean of Faculty, head of department, deputy and acting dean of students, and later the director of the centre for information technology.

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Ladima names short-film contest jury

Jury members have been announced for the African Women in the Time of Covid-19 short-film competition, run by Ladima Foundation in partnership with the DW Akademie.

The jury, which will select the final 10 films in genres such as animation, fiction, documentary and interviews, includes journalist and filmmaker Cornélia Glele; researcher and curator of African film Lizelle Bisschoff; award-winning Nigerian actor Nse Ikpe-Etim; research fellow and co-editor of the Journal of African Cinemas Martin Mhando; and filmmaker Philippa Ndisi-Herrmann.

The competition is aimed at African women content creators and filmmakers of any age or experience level currently living in Africa who can share their stories by creating a living document showing the circumstances they currently find themselves in under various degrees of lockdown.

The films, which must be under two minutes long, should focus on themes related to inspiration, education, personal lives or leadership. It can address issues such as domestic violence, women with special needs, life in the pandemic, the impact on work-life, solidarity and female empowerment during the pandemic.

The films will be judged on relevance to the themes, story concept, quality of production, creativity, emotional impact and structure.

The 10 selected will be streamed on the Ladima website along with other partner websites and the winner will receive €500, as well as access to a year’s worth of educational and inspirational webinars on the US’s Women, Make Movies platform valued at about US$500.

The competition is still open and will close at midnight GMT+2 on Sunday June 21. Interested women can register here.

The Ladima Foundation is a pan-African non-profit organisation founded with the aim of contributing to correcting the major imbalances within the film, TV and content industries.

It supports and recognises African women in film, TV and content and is committed to developing training, networking and related opportunities for women professionals who demonstrate their seriousness and commitment to their craft.

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Gov’t pushes for measurement system

Nigeria’s federal government has confirmed it cannot subsidise TV indefinitely and has stressed the need for an effective audience measurement system to allow the industry to grow.

Lai Mohammed

Lai Mohammed, minister of information and culture, was speaking at the virtual inauguration of a task team looking at TV audience measurement, held in Abuja.

The government is already subsidising signal distribution because channels cannot pay for carriage by signal distributors, he pointed out.

“Things cannot continue like this. Government cannot continue to subsidise television forever, hence we must create a sustainable ecosystem,” he added.

The minister said the broadcast industry needs a measurement system that will encourage investment, mainly through increased advertising spend driven by confidence in ratings data.

“Increases in advertising revenue will, in turn, encourage current and prospective channel owners to create additional television channels necessary for the success of digital terrestrial television,” he said.

“We need an objective and scientific audience measurement system that articulates the value of the content to consumers, as well as the value of the audience to advertisers, particularly in the television sector. The absence of a world-class measurement regime has resulted in under-investment in the sector, which is necessary to foster the growth of the industry.

“This is because the advertising community continues to rely on subjective factors when making decisions on the content they want, as opposed to how many viewers the content truly attracts.”

The existing audience measurement model will never enable Nigeria’s creative industry to reach its full potential, he claimed.

“The value of Nigeria’s broadcast advertising market is not proportional to the country’s population, when compared with the top three markets in the sub-Saharan Africa. Despite having a population more than three times that of South Africa, Nigeria’s television advertising revenue in 2016 was US$309m, compared with that of South Africa, which was four times as large at US$1.3bn.

“It is imperative that we urgently put in place an industry framework that will ensure that content producers receive their just due for the value of the content they create. We must also provide objective guarantees to the advertising community on their return on investment on media placements. This will then have the overall effect of guaranteeing greater spend by the advertisers, who are all seeking to grow their market share.”

He called on the committee of industry experts to help solve the audience measurement issue in the country once and for all. With the right policy framework, the Nigerian TV ad market will grow to two to three times its current size and generate up to US$400m more in revenue to the industry, he claimed.

The members of the task team includes Alhaji Garba Kankarofi as chairman, Joe Mutah as secretary, Obi Asika, Hajiya Sa’aa Ibrahim, Mahmoud Ali Balogun, Pauline Ehusani and Tolu Ogunkoya.

They have been given six weeks to identify a best-practice audience measurement system that will support the industry’s sustainable growth and recommend a framework to make the system sustainable, independent of the federal government. They must also recommend a payment and disbursement framework for key stakeholders in the industry.

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CNBC Africa reveals Covid challenges

Business news channel CNBC Africa is celebrating 13 years on air and has revealed the Covid-19 pandemic has presented it with major challenges.

The pandemic has seriously tested CNBC Africa over the past two months, according to the channel, which is nevertheless on almost every platform on the continent and reaches 16 million homes.

CNBC Africa currently has bureaus in Johannesburg (South Africa), Lagos (Nigeria) and Kigali (Rwanda) and produces roughly eight hours of African business and economic content per day.

It revealed it has seen advertisers and sponsors disappear as a result of the pandemic, while several of its planned broadcast business sessions had to be cancelled.

Sid Wahi, CNBC Africa’s director, said the industry has evolved over the past decade as both content creation and distribution have radically transformed.

“Although we were the first server-based TV station in sub-Sahara Africa, that was not enough, as we had to realign our processes, modernise our equipment, train our staff and consolidate the operation to meet the challenges that we were faced with,” he said.

“CNBC Africa TV channel distribution had to be addressed as well, since it was a major gap in sub-Sahara Africa. After just being available on MultiChoice’s DStv in 2007, CNBC Africa gained further carriage agreements on other platforms, such as China’s StarTimes pay TV platform.”

Roberta Naicker, MD of CNBC Africa’s owner, ABN Group, said: “The journey has been a game-changer in the business news genre as the channel has showcased business and economic news on the continent. We could not have achieved this without the commitment of the executive team and staff at CNBC Africa, who have been the cornerstone of our achievement.”

Speaking about the impact of Covid-19 on the TV business, Zafar Siddiqi, ABN Group’s co-founder and chairperson, said: “The channel has a steady viewership who are interested in business news, so we generally will not lose them. So, I’d say there is uncertainty, but we should be out of the storm in roughly 12 to 18 months.”

In a statement, the news channel said: “Covid-19 has been a major test of the channel’s resolve. On one hand, news media is considered an essential service, but on the other, there is little support in the form of advertising and sponsorships during this pandemic.

“Like all media companies, we have reached out to a lot of our long-time clients to stand by us during this extremely challenging time. The post-Covid-19 era will herald a new operating model as the experience has catalysed transformation of the business, making it more productive and efficient.”

CNBC Africa, which airs on DStv 410 and StarSat 309, is a franchise of the American CNBC brand, which was launched on June 1, 2007. Since then it has become an important voice in business and economic news across sub-Sahara Africa and has helped change the narrative of the African continent, away from the rhetoric of gloom to one of a continent on the rise.

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Euronews expands reach in Africa

European pay TV network Euronews has expanded its distribution through carriage deals with operators in four continents, including Africa.

The EBU- and Media Globe Networks-backed channel has inked deals with three major platforms in Canada, one in the US, four in Scandinavia, one in Romania, three in Africa, one in Georgia and another in Ukraine.

Through its distribution deals with partners globally, the expansion has added more than 25 million homes in the past few weeks alone across Africa (where it is branded Africanews), Asia, Europe and North America. The African platforms are DSTV, ZAP and Moobifun.

Maxime Carboni, director of worldwide distribution at Euronews, said: “In the last few months, the Euronews group has put in place a new content strategy allowing us to diversify the way we address our partners and their consumers.

“The diverse array of languages available on our channels has also allowed us to target new markets and audiences. Coupled with the rising interest in recognised impartial and trusted news brands, Euronews and Africanews have both experienced significant growth since the beginning of 2020.”

Eutelsat, Travel Africa Network partner

Eutelsat Communications has sign a multi-year contract with Travel Africa Network to carry its first African travel channel in high definition.

Nicolas Baravalle

Travel Africa Network, which broadcasts 100% African content dedicated to promoting tourism and hospitality on the continent, will leverage Eutelsat’s premier video hotspot at 13° East while the Hotbird satellites broadcasts into more than 135 million homes in Europe, North Africa and the Middle East.

Nicolas Baravalle, regional VP for Sub-Saharan Africa at Eutelsat, said: “We are proud to welcome Travel Africa Network to the Hotbird line-up. Their confidence reflects the unparalleled reach of our 13° East of both installed households and luxury hotels, and we hope it will lead the way for more African channels targeting Europe and MENA.”

Maggie Mutangiri, CEO of Travel Africa Network, added: “We are delighted to launch the first dedicated African travel channel on Hotbird, enabling us to broadcast high-quality content to the widest possible audience to promote African travel experiences and attract more visitors to our beautiful continent. We look forward to a long and fruitful relationship with Eutelsat as we look to expand our offer in the future.”

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