All posts by Gary

AIFF suspends SA entries over attacks

Organisers of the Abuja International Film Festival have suspended all South African film entries to its 16th edition in protest at “xenophobic” attacks against African migrants in South Africa.

Fidelis Duker

In a statement, organisers of the event, scheduled for October 22 to 25, said: “We as an international film festival condemn unequivocally the reoccurring xenophobic attacks against African migrants, including Nigerians, in South Africa.

“We have observed the global outcry, especially by Nigerians all over the world, who have called on their compatriots to boycott South African products and services in Nigeria in retaliation at the violence against their countrymen in South Africa.”

According to the founder of the festival, Fidelis Duker, the event was created to promote mutual harmony and respect for the dignity of life, which contrasts with the actions of the South Africans responsible for the attacks.

He said the organisers “strongly condemn hate, prejudice and xenophobia actions of some South African nationals and reiterate our unequivocal condemnation of all violence in any form. We therefore, as a matter of necessity, call on the South African government to address the issue of xenophobic attacks with utmost seriousness where the perpetrators are brought to book.”

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REDTV unveils chatshow

Lifestyle channel REDTV has launched its own chatshow, titled Red Hot Topics.

Red Hot Topics

Produced on set in the new studios of REDTV, the show follows the success of drama series The Men’s Club and will feature a panel of 12 young people who openly discuss hot topics that affect everyday life including relationships, business, infidelity, human choices and more.

Bola Atta, executive producer of the show, said: “Red Hot Topics is a chatshow that will change how people think and act in a positive way. The conversations of the vibrant youths are as essential as they are interesting and engaging. The cast is fun, honest and fresh, all speaking straight from the heart, with no holds barred.”

The show can be watched on REDTV’s YouTube channel.

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DStv’s TNT celebrates Batman at 80

WarnerMedia Africa channel TNT has launched a festival of Batman movies to mark the 80th anniversary of the creation of the superhero.

Guillermo Farré, head of general entertainment channels at WarnerMedia Africa, said: “With TNT’s programming being built on an action-driven, pulse-raising slate, we are proud to be part of this emblematic occasion where our African fans can immerse themselves in the epic Batman blockbusters as they celebrate the 80th anniversary of the greatest superhero of all time.”

On Saturdays in September, African fans will be offered Tim Burton’s iconic Batman film from 1989, its 1992 sequel Batman Returns, Batman Forever from 1995, Batman & Robin from 1997 and The Dark Knight Trilogy from 2005.

TNT is available on DStv 137.

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AMC Series relaunches on StarTimes

International pay TV operator StarTimes and UK-based broadcaster African Movie Channel (AMC) have signed a deal that will bring back African Movie Channel Series (AMC Series) to the StarTimes DTT and DTH African platforms.

The agreement marks AMC Series’ return to StarTimes after it was removed last year. As the second premium channel from AMC, it complements the flagship AMC network, which has been on StarTimes DTT and DTH since 2012.

AMC Series is a premium 24-hour African entertainment channel featuring soaps, comedy, drama, Nollywood and African TV programming for the family.

Anona Langa, AMC’s head of productions and channel manager for AMC Series, said: “AMC Series has always satisfied the growing appetite for African TV serial and short content, and with its new look, including the injection of some exciting exclusive content from our very own production hub, AMCOP, we are sure to thrill current viewers.”

In addition, StarTimes subscribers will be offered action series such as Oghenekome, AMC in-house productions like AMC Movie Talk, The Hangout, AMC Music Lounge and Nollywood 360, as well as future programming including sitcoms, comedies and entertainment shows.

Yinka Mayungbo, founding director of AMC, said of the network’s return: “The relaunch of AMC Series on StarTimes comes with a promise to our StarTimes audience that the channel is back to stay. We heard the outcry that ensued following AMC Series’ departure in August last year. We are thoroughly delighted to be back, and this time for good.”

Lily Meng, deputy general manager of StarTimes Media Division, said: “StarTimes welcome all old friends like AMC to create better cooperation together in response to the expectation and requirement from our audiences. As an Africa-oriented media company, we trust that the joint effort put into local content will further facilitate the development of African culture.”

An Africa-wide broadcaster, with its services playing out of the UK and with offices in London and Lagos, AMC operates three 24-hour linear channels, the third being Nolly Africa, all offered on various TV platforms across Africa.

AMC Series is available on StarTimes DTT channel 017, and DTH channel 184.

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NBC warns broadcasters over standards

The National Broadcasting Commission (NBC) has warned it will sanction television stations that violate the nation’s broadcasting code.

NBC chairman Ikra Bilbis and director-general Modibbo Kawu made the announcement during the commission’s fifth annual lecture series, held in Abuja.

Kawu said: “The duty of regulating broadcasting becomes ever more challenging as the number of stations being licensed to operate increases by the day.The NBC has to keep up with the growing number of licences, amongst whom are those who believe they should not be regulated, or who regularly air content that leaves much to be desired from the perspective of the Nigeria Broadcasting Code.”

According to Bilbis, the commission is focusing on a number of initiatives to ensure broadcasting in Nigeria is on a par with the rest of the world.

“We must again ponder at the power of the broadcast media which can affect people’s thinking and behaviour for good or evil. Such a medium with monumental influence on society cannot be unregulated. As you are all aware, the NBC was established some 27 years ago. Its primary mandate was to initiate and promote private ownership of broadcasting in Nigeria, after close to 60 years of government sole ownership of the industry,” he added.

Lai Mohammed, minister of information and culture, said that he would ensure the broadcast industry and information sector moves to the next level of prosperity.

“Let me reiterate that president Muhammadu Buhari’s administration has great respect for the media and still continues to work with them as partners,” he said. “In recent times, our information space has been flooded with content that tests the unity and peace of the country. This content circulates within the social media like Facebook, WhatsApp, Twitter, Instagram and many other social media platforms.

“Some of this content, which is mostly unverifiable, finds ways into the mainstream media in the form of fake news. I will enjoin the broadcast media to constructively make use of social media content with a great sense of patriotism for peace and unity in Nigeria.”

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TV, radio licensing stirs mixed feelings

The recent move by Nigerian president Muhammadu Buhari to license radio and television stations has sparked a mixed reaction.

Lai Mohammed

While some commentators support the development, saying it will sanitise the online space and stop incendiary web-broadcast sites from fanning the embers of hate and division, others feel the move is inherently wrong.

Lai Mohammed, minister of information and culture, defended the move, which is part of wide-ranging reforms of the broadcasting industry. “Web TVs and radio stations, including foreign broadcasters beaming signals into Nigeria, will be licensed because we must bring sanity into this industry,” he said.

Online radio and television stations, known as over-the-top (OTT) services, are accessed by most internet users today. The Nigerian Communications Commission is under pressure about how and when to regulate OTT players, which have been described as a serious threat to traditional telecoms operators.

Although the NCC has repeatedly claimed that it will not regulate technology, stakeholders have called on the organisation to look for ways to curb the growing influence of OTT players such as Facebook, WhatsApp, Google, Wechat, Telegram, Viber, Skype and Imo.

Umar Danbatta, the NCC’s executive vice chairman and CEO, has urged mobile operators to restructure their business models to increase revenue in the face of challenges raised by OTT services.

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BBCS creates new BBC Lifestyle feed

BBC Studios (BBCS) has announced plans to create a separate BBC Lifestyle commercial channel that will be broadcast across Sub-Saharan Africa, in countries including Nigeria, Ghana, Uganda, Tanzania, Kenya and Ethiopia.

Sarah-Jane Harling

From September 1, advertisers in those countries will be able to reach modern female audiences through the channel feed, which is available across sub-Saharan Africa on MultiChoice’s pay TV service for DStv Premium, DStv Compact Plus and DStv Compact subscribers.

Sales for the BBC Lifestyle feed will be managed by MultiChoice’s DStv media sales arm on behalf of BBCS and advertisers targeting South African and SADC audiences will be able to reach those upmarket audiences on the current BBC Lifestyle feed.

“This will enable advertisers to target client needs through a combination of traditional advertising spots and tailored creative solutions,” said BBCS in a statement.

Cookery, entertainment series and aspirational design shows on BBC Lifestyle will include Come Dine With Me South Africa, Dinner Dates, Bake Off: The Professionals and the newly commissioned First Dates South Africa, which are watched by Kenyan and Nigerian audiences.

Sarah-Jane Harling, advertising account director for Africa at BBCS, said: “This is a significant step to offer brands the opportunity to align with BBC Lifestyle’s premium global and local content and extensive reach across Sub-Saharan Africa.

“With its unique mix of entertaining programming, the channel now offers dedicated ad breaks for South Africa and Africa, and remains a very attractive environment for advertisers operating on the continent.

“It enables BBC Lifestyle to assist brands wanting to specifically reach aspirational households in South Africa as well as consumers in Sub-Saharan Africa separately.”

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MultiChoice Africa cuts DStv fees

Pay TV operator MultiChoice Africa is set to reduce its DStv subscription fees across East Africa.

The monthly fees paid by DStv subscribers in Kenya, Uganda, Mozambique and Tanzania will fall from September 1.

According to a MultiChoice representative, the reduction in fees will differ between countries due to the different cost structures, which are influenced by local factors such as content costs, inflation, local taxes, foreign exchange rates and overheads.

MultiChoice Kenya said in a statement: “The subscription price reductions are aimed at making entertaining TV viewing accessible to more subscribers in Kenya and grant more customers access to the entire world of exciting channels at a lower fee.”

The broadcaster has not yet revealed if it will be reducing subs in other parts of Africa.

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ICTU calls strike over MultiChoice job cuts

MultiChoice workers are making plans to stage a nationwide strike to protest at job cuts at the company.

The move comes weeks after MultiChoice revealed its intention to retrench more than 2,000 employees in its call centres and walk-in customer service centres.

According to the Information Communication Technology Union (ICTU), the underpaid workers of MultiChoice SA have decided to stand up for their rights even though the strike will affect all of MultiChoice’s 7.7 million DStv customers in South Africa who have made payment or service queries.

“This strike comes at the time when MultiChoice has deployed new integrated billing system on August 21 and it is experiencing its own failures,” the ICTU said.

“It is expected that the strike action will be adding fuel to the fire and ICTU will not stand on the sidelines and allow workers to be retrenched for fictitious reasons.

“What irritates workers most is that MultiChoice has secretly entered into a third-party agreement to service clients to perform current functions yet they claim technological usage is the reason to retrench.”

Joe Heshu, MultiChoice’s executive for corporate affairs, expressed disappointment at the strike call and said that the group would continue consulting with labour on the proposed restructure in the customer care division.

“This would be under the guidance of the commissioner appointed by the Commission for Conciliation, Mediation and Arbitration, in line with the Labour Relations Act,” said Heshu.

“The threatened strike action is not only unprotected, it is also illegal. We call on all parties to act in a manner that will ensure the best outcome for impacted employees.”

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Government blasts BBNaija sex content

The Nigerian government has complained about the sexual content of reality show Big Brother Naija and has said it is planning a ‘state-owned’ version of the format with the show’s broadcaster.

Segun Runsewe

The government lodged a complaint with the National Broadcasting Commission over the overt sexual content of the show and has said it and pay TV operator StarTimes will launch a new Big Brother Naija that will be a true reflection of Nigerian culture.

Segun Runsewe, director general of the National Council for Arts and Culture will present a nudity bill to punish sexual acts displayed on Big Brother Naija will be presented by the agency.

Speaking during a visit by the president of the National Council of Women Societies, Gloria Shoda, Runsewe said: “We are going to represent that bill. You can’t fight a battle without a legal framework; we are definitely going to be conscious of that.

“I will take up the issue of Big Brother Naija. I have spoken with officials of the National Broadcasting Commission because what is going on now is terrible. Having love affairs on the screen is not part of our own culture at all.

“Let me use this forum to tell Nigerians that a new Big Brother Naija is on its way and we are working with StarTimes. We are doing a Big Brother Naija that will reflect the true Nigerian culture. We are already working on it. All that will be eaten there will be Nigerian food, the dresses will be Nigerian dresses.”

Although Shoda claimed she had nothing against the show she said: “Having live sex on stage is the thing affecting my sensibility and it is impacting negatively on young children. Does it mean that they can’t abstain from sex for three months?.”

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Kwesé TV’s Cloete joins BBC Studios

BBC Studios (BBCS) has appointed the former MD of general entertainment pan-African pay TV business Kwesé TV to a commercial director role across South Africa and Sub-Saharan Africa.

Pierre Cloete

Pierre Cloete has been named commercial director for branded services for Sub-Saharan Africa, reporting to Louise La Grange, senior VP of branded services.

Cloete joins BBCS from Kwesé where he was serving as entertainment MD when the company went into administration last month. He will start the new role on September 1 from his base in Johannesburg.

During his time at Kwesé he also served as head of Sports Digital Content and acting CEO for Kwesé Sports. Prior to that he worked as head of TV and media for Ericsson in Sub-Saharan Africa.

“The appointment of a commercial director for Sub-Saharan Africa signals our ongoing commitment to the market and a continued local presence on the ground,” said La Grange in a statement.

“Pierre has a proven track record in the African television industry and I am confident that his experience and local knowledge will put BBCS in the best position to achieve our ambitions for growth.”

Cloete said: “I am delighted to join BBCS as commercial director for branded services across sub-Saharan Africa.

“The quality of the BBC channels and its content is first class, and it is an honour to join the BBC Studios team.

“Africa is filled with amazing people that enjoy great stories and love quality content. The potential is ever increasing in Africa as more stories are being told and consumed, and I look forward to adding value to the BBCS team.”

His appointment comes shortly after BBCS restructured its Central Europe, Middle East and Africa region and also after the sudden exit of Joel Churcher, the BBC’s Africa boss, in July.

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The Next Titan S6 begins auditions

Entrepreneurial reality show The Next Titan is set to begin auditions in preparation for its sixth season.

Auditions will be held in Abuja, Port Harcourt, Enugu and Lagos on August 21, 23 and 30 and September 5 respectively, after which the top 50 qualifiers will participate in a boot camp and 16 finalists will be selected to compete for the grand prize.

Aimed at empowering new and existing businesses, the show offers prizes of N7m and a new Ford car.

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University moves into TV broadcasting

The University of Ilorin is to set up its own community television station.

Professor Sulyman Abdulkareem

Vice chauncellor Professor Sulyman Abdulkareem announced the plan at the 10th anniversary celebrations for the institution’s radio station and the launching of the book UNILORIN 89.3 FM @ 10 – a Decade of Broadcasting Excellence

Abdulkareem said the move would be unprecedented in the history of community broadcasting in Nigeria and was possible as a result of the success of the radio station.

“We can again be a trailblazer in campus television broadcasting, thereby adding extra value to the social, cultural and educational experiences of our students and that of the people in communities around us,” he said.

Adding that the radio station had met the objectives for which it was established, Abdulkareem acknowledged that it had also helped in the training of students across various departments at the university.

“I must say, proudly, that the steadfastness, purposefulness and professionalism with which our campus radio set pace in campus radio broadcasting is worthy of celebration today,” he said. “It has produced new talents through the opportunities it has been consistently providing for students to learn, in practical terms, radio broadcasting.”

Ishaq Modibo-Kawu, director general of the National Broadcasting Commission, who was also at the event, noted that broadcasting had vital roles to play in assisting in the achievement of sustainable development programmes.

He recalled that when the first television service in Africa was established in 1959 the vision of Chief Obafemi Awolowo was to use it as an avenue for assisting the free education programme in the region.

“It was a very important victory for all of us in broadcasting that Nigeria opened up the aperture of campus broadcasting, first from the University of Lagos and, subsequently, all over Nigeria,” he said.

“If we understand that concept in the context defined by the United Nations system, or as domesticated within our own realities, our national struggle against underdevelopment must be apprehended within the framework of the effort to attain sustainable development.”

The radio station was set up on August 13, 2009 and trains and prepares students for careers in the media as well as for community development purposes.

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Kwesé TV wins SA broadcasting licence

Kwesé Free TV has been granted a commercial free-to-air TV licence by South Africa’s media and communications regulator, despite the pan-African satellite TV service having gone into administration.

The Independent Communications Authority of South Africa (ICASA) has concluded that Kwesé Free TV complies with the relevant South African laws and is capable of receiving the broadcasting licence, which also includes a radio frequency spectrum licence of 55% at MUX 3 frequencies.

ICASA added that there is a market demand for Econet Media-owned Kwesé Free TV, which has the expertise and experience necessary to run a broadcasting business.

The regulator received five applications for the third multiplex frequencies, namely Kwesé, Laedza TV, Tshwaranang Media, Infinity Media Networks and Free To Air TV.

Local public broadcaster SABC opposed the move, claiming the award of additional third-multiplex capacity could hamper a seamless digital migration, but ICASA maintained that licensing an additional individual FTA commercial broadcaster would add to the variety of TV services available to the country’s citizens.

The proposed service “will stimulate competition and increase the variety of television broadcasting services available to South Africans,” it ruled.

With this licence, Kwesé TV will be able to offer a bouquet of channels including sport and general entertainment content. The five channels to be launched are Kwesé Free Sports HD, Kwesé Brave, Kwesé Focus, Kwesé Vibes and Kwesé Drama.

Kwesé Free TV is 20%-owned by Econet South Africa, with Royal Bafoteng Metix owning a 45% stake and Mosong Equities 35%.

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MultiChoice airs Championship games

MultiChoice’s Supersport channel has acquired the rights to broadcast live games from the Sky Bet Championship and Carabao Cup during the 2019/20 football season.

The Sky Bet Championship, which is second highest division in English soccer after the Premier League, will be broadcast on all DStv packages and available to GOtv Max and GOtv Plus customers.

The teams featuring in the league’s 2019/20 season include Leeds United, Derby County, Cardiff City, Queens Park Rangers, West Bromwich Albion and Stoke City.

The Carabao Cup is an annual knockout competition and includes all 92 clubs within the top four levels of English football. Fixtures for round two of the competition take place on August 27 and 28 and comprise Queens Park Rangers versus Portsmouth, Fulham versus Southampton and Nottingham Forest versus Derby County.

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StarTimes rewards subscribers in promo

Startimes hands over a cheque to winners of its kids’ promo

Pay TV operator StarTimes has awarded 25 subscribers in its weekly children’s promotion money to help with back-to-school shopping when they renew their subscriptions for two months.

Winners in the weekly draws, which began on August 1, included Okoh Linu from Enugu, and Alaba Aliyu, from Abuja, who said she was surprised as she had never picked up a prize in any promotion before.

Public relations manager Kunmi Balogun said: “The promo was still on and 25 more winners will be announced this week. All you need to do as a subscriber is to pay a minimum of two months’ subscription on our Basic, Classic or Super Bouquet to qualify.”

The promo ends on August 31.

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UK cop under fire for BBNaija appearance

Khafi Kareem has appeared in recruitment campaigns for the Met police in London

Nigerian-born British police officer Khafi Kareem is being investigated for taking part in Nigerian reality TV show Big Brother Naija without permission.

According to the Metropolitan Police in London, Kareem was granted unpaid leave for an unrelated reason but was not granted permission to be on the show.

It said in a statement: “The Met is aware that the officer has since appeared on the show without authority. The Met does not support the officer’s appearance nor does she represent the Met whilst appearing on the show.”

Kareem is now the subject of an inquiry by the force’s Directorate of Professional Standards. “Any officer found to have breached police standards of professional behaviour could face misconduct proceedings,” the force added.

Her romantic relationship with fellow contestant Ekpata Gedoni in the Big Brother house has raised eyebrows.

Television channel Africa Magic said: “Police officer Khafi Kareem believes that you can have it all if you believe in yourself.

“She is not only hoping to win the prize money but she wants the exposure that being in Big Brother Naija House brings so that she can do societal good.

“What people don’t know about her is that she is secretly talented in spoken word, singing and dancing. She is an Ekiti native who resides in London.”

Kareem has previously appeared as a poster girl for the Met alongside commissioner Cressida Dick to encourage black and female recruitment and celebrate 100 years of women in the force.

A Met source said: “She’s a serving British police officer – it’s outrageous. She asked permission to go on the show but, when her request was refused, she went anyway. Her out-of-office email reply blatantly says that she is away from work, yet no one does anything.

“Other officers working with her are furious that she can just disobey orders then swan off Africa and tarnish the reputation of the force.”

Kareem started as a PC in the London borough of Lambeth in 2015 after four years as a part-time special constable.

Another Met spokesman said: “All officers have a duty to behave with professionalism and in a manner that does not bring the Met into disrepute whether on or off duty.”

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Nickelodeon preps NickFest Nigeria

Children’s network Nickelodeon Africa is set to hold the third edition of NickFest Nigeria in Lagos in September.

The annual family festival takes place on September 28 and 29 at the Balmoral Convention Centre, Federal Palace, Victoria Island in Lagos

Organised by the African arm of Nickelodeon parent Viacom International Media Networks (VIMN), in partnership with drinks brand Maltina, the event is expected to see more than 6,000 children and families attend.

Alex Okosi, executive VP and MD at VIMN Africa and BET International, said: “NickFest Nigeria 2019 provides an amazing opportunity to bring children and families together for an awesome festival filled with their favourite Nickelodeon characters, superstar musicians and other engaging entertainment. It is through our continued partnership with Maltina that we are able to bring this memorable experience again to Nigeria.”

Emmanuel Oriakhi, marketing director of Maltina owner Nigerian Breweries, added: “We are very proud to partner with Nickelodeon to bring all the excitement of Nickfest Nigeria to the whole family. Nickfest is one of those events that the whole family can enjoy and it’s an event that nourishes those precious family moments.”

According to the beverage firm: “This year’s NickFest Nigeria 2019 will involve plenty of singing and dancing and will feature superstar characters from Nickelodeon such as SpongeBob SquarePants, Paw Patrol, The Rise of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles and Shimmer & Shine.

“The two-day event will also feature The Celebrity Slime Challenge, where popular personalities are ‘slimed’ green in an effort to raise both awareness and funds for children’s support through NGO projects in Nigeria,” the company added.

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SPI/FilmBox, Discover Digital expand

Global media company SPI/FilmBox and South Africa’s Discover Digital have expanded their content offering to include seven new channels across sub-Saharan Africa.

Stephen Watson

The additional channels are FilmBox Africa, FilmBox Arthouse, Fast&FunBox HD, DocuBox HD, 360 TuneBox, Gametoon HD and FashionBox HD. They are part of SPI’s channel portfolio on the digital entertainment on demand (DEOD) platform.

The channels will offer subscribers content including Hollywood movies, series, documentaries, fashion trends, lifestyle programmes, music, sport and live events, such as KOK World Series, RXF MMA Championship and MFC Makowski Fighting Championship,.

“Building on the great response to FightBox HD amongst the DEOD subscribers who enjoy a live event every week, and together with our long-term partner Discover Digital, I am pleased to announce we have expanded our agreement to bring seven more channels to their platform. Now DEOD subscribers have access to a richer variety of great HD-quality channels from SPI/FilmBox,” said Georgina Twiss, MD of Western Europe and Africa at SPI International.

Stephen Watson, director of Discover Digital International, said: “We are very excited to add such a broad mix of quality content and extend our distribution partnership with SPI International.

“Not only do the additional FilmBox channels continue to provide our audiences with an excellent selection of broad entertainment, but they also continue to grow and diversify our formidable movie offering by introducing documentaries and arthouse titles. This deal provides additional value for our broadcast and telco operator partners, who offer the DEOD service to their customers in multiple countries on the continent.”

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StarTimes ON film contest kicks off

More than 350,000 votes have been cast in StarTimes ON’s quarterly Pan African Online Film Festival (PAOFF).

The StarTimes ON mobile platform allows users to vote for their favourite content, with the aim of rewarding local content production in Nigeria and across Africa.

More than 200 entries have been received from producers and directors in the movie and music industries who are in the running to win a grand prize of $1,500 and an opportunity for a joint movie production deal with StarTimes.

According to StarTimes’ PR manager, Kunmi Balogun: “The current voting stage will last until the end of August, before winners are selected in the three main categories, which are movies, short films and music videos.

“We are quite impressed at the level of participation among producers and are passionate about helping to improve and develop the movie industry in Nigeria.”

In April, StarTimes launched the contest, the first online film festival in Africa, allowing producers to enter their content via StarTimes ON, a free mobile app offering more than 1,000 free Nollywood and Bollywood movies, videos and music and other entertainment content, including live TV.

PAOFF was established to promote local films and culture rather than foreign films.

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