All posts by Gary

StarTimes creates Islamic pop-up channel

Pay TV operator StarTimes has unveiled an Islamic pop-up channel for Ramadan, named Ibādah TV.

During Ramadan, which lasts until May 23, Muslims abstain from food and drink during daylight hours for a month while concentrating on prayer, charity and reading from the Qur’an.

StarTimes said in a statement: “The channel will provide high-quality content such as Muslim prayer, lectures, documentaries and interviews for Muslim subscribers all over Nigeria, while helping them conduct their fast, fulfilling the need for worship among Muslim audiences.”

Ibādah TV will broadcast for one month and will engage subscribers fully with Islam-centric programmes.

Its programmes will include Usiqaa, featuring the latest Islamic music videos from both within and outside Nigeria; Salat, a call-to-prayer show designed to prompt people to pray five times daily; and a vox pop programme engaging people in discussion on the streets and in mosques and also interviewing Islamic dignitaries.

The channel is available on DTT channel 451 and DTH channel 369.

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Elegba unveils Area Daddy

Spoof Animation’s Ayodele Elegba reveals how his new animated series Area Daddy delves into the generation gap in the African family.

Ayodele Elegba

Ayodele Elegba, president of the Association of Comic Makers of Nigeria and MD of Lagos-based Spoof Animation, is launching a new animated series called Area Daddy (10×6’).

The cartoon is produced by Spoof, France’s Lagardère Studios and its Senegal subsidiary Keewu Productions, and is based on a show that won Elegba the first edition of Digital Lab Africa’s transmedia category in 2016.

What inspired you to create Area Daddy?
At Spoof Animation, we are driven by our core values, namely passion, love, excellence, accountability, speed and consistency in delivering quality content. By creating Area Daddy, we are bringing the challenges of the generation gap in the African family setting to the screen using the medium of animation.

What message is the show passing across to its audience?
Area Daddy is the story of a typical African family who have to deal with the modern day technological advancements and moral values. It is the story of a strict retired soldier, General Koko, who is still stuck in the glories of his generation’s past, and manages the day-to-day challenges of running his family in the modern age of social norms and tech advances.

Area Daddy

His wife, Loretta, who doubles as a mother, also tries as much as possible to bridge the gap between the perspective of her children – Vivian, Boniface and Jojo – and her husband’s ancient one.

The series received international funding for its pilot episode but we are currently working on a 10-episode family TV series.

What other shows are you working on?
Our other upcoming animated content includes Hero Corp, which is an animated television series franchise that features a team of fictional superheroes. This is an action-packed TV series featuring Spoof’s comic characters like Vantage, Boxsa and Strikeguard and Jinx, bringing together their hero recruitment effort to defeat the unprecedented threat to earth. We have other episodes lined up which will be produced but we are sourcing for sponsorships.

We emerged winner for the 2016 Digital Lab Africa Competition. Spoof has also been nominated in several animation film festivals and has worked with such brands as Coca-Cola, Heineken and Learn Africa. Our animated 2D short for the Strikeguard comic book adaptation was also globally received in 2017 at the Lagos Comic Convention, among other 2D shorts created.

Ayodele Elegba is the president of the Association of Comic Makers of Nigeria, a body that seeks to promote the interest of Nigerian comic creators all over the globe. He is also founder and MD of Spoof Animation, a leading animation and content producer in Nigeria, which he founded in 2015.

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TV, radio offer classes amid Covid-19

The Federal Ministry of Education and the Federal Radio Corporation of Nigeria (FRCN) are planning to start radio and television broadcasts for pupils as a result of the closure of schools due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Adam Adamu

According to the ministry, the broadcast classes will begin in May if the education ministry, the FRCN, the Nigerian Television Authority and the National Broadcasting Commission are able to finalise plans for  operational licences and the purchase of transmitters.

Classes to be aired would follow a timetable, after which examination may be conducted.

The minister of education, Adamu Adamu, had earlier said that the government will begin basic primary school classes on the national media to enable pupils to learn during the Covid-19 pandemic break.

Ben Goong, the director of press at the ministry, said: “We are taking the next step between Friday and Tuesday. There will be a radio component and a television component. We plan to create a different network on the FRCN so that we don’t break into the established listening schedules.

“The broadcast will run from morning to night, covering all subjects such as mathematics and English. We will segment the programmes into classes. What we plan is to bring the best hands from our schools to take the subjects. We will use the best in specific subjects. The issue of inability to deliver well will not arise.

“Two, the broadcast will be uniform. What is being taught in Jigawa, Sokoto will be watched in Lagos. There will be series of subjects in a day for different classes. There will be nothing like, ‘Our teachers didn’t come to school today.’

“When it is time for exams, you register in the centre nearest to you and you write your exams, class by class. It will be impossible with these broadcasts for children to still be regarded as out-of-school children. We are likely to bring the request letter formally from the ministry in the coming week to FRCN. Due process must be followed.”

He added that this would eradicate the problem of rising out-of-school children, currently put at about 10.2 million, as well as bridge the gap created by the closure of schools during the pandemic.

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StarTimes airs Ricky Kej concert for WHO

Pay TV operator StarTimes is broadcasting online event Ricky Kej LIVE at One Page Spotlight to help support the World Health Organization (WHO)’s Covid-19 response fund.

The concert, marking Earth Day and led by Grammy winner Ricky Kej, will feature about 40 musicians from six countries, including South African flautist Wouter Kellerman; Senegalese singer Baaba Maal; American singers Laura Dickinson and Lonnie Park; Indian instrumentalist Vishwa Mohan Bhatt; and the Mzansi Youth Choir from Soweto.

StarTimes VP Luis Lu said: “The Covid-19 pandemic is a challenge globally and as a media group, it is our responsibility to ensure that African families can safely enjoy Earth Day’s celebrations and express their support for international communities in its efforts to fight the Covid-19 pandemic.

“Since the beginning of the coronavirus outbreak, StarTimes has launched a series of video-based initiatives to raise awareness about the pandemic with promotional materials that will further create awareness based on WHO advice.”

The concert airs today at 15.30 on StarTimes’ free-to-air channel ST Guide and streams on its mobile app StarTimes ON.

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MultiChoice backs SA community TV

MultiChoice Group has revealed plans to invest about US$238 000 to support three of South Africa’s community TV stations.

Reggy Moalusi

Bay TV, Soweto TV and Tshwane TV, whose proposals stood out of from a pool of submissions in 2019, will each receive funding worth US$79,490 for the creation of new content.

Reggy Moalusi, MultiChoice SA’s executive head for corporate affairs, said: “Through our infrastructure, technology and empowerment initiatives, we empower an entertainment supply chain, which, in turn, supports local business and communities touched by our business. For community TV stations, this means more local content which will generate economic opportunities for local communities.

“We are a leading investor in local content production, and we are seeing day by day how our audiences are calling for more local content. For us, it’s about broadening access to African storytelling and creating platforms for local content creators to tell their stories.”

The funding initiative is part of MultiChoice Group’s effort to support the local video entertainment industry as well as other grass-roots development measures to ensure the sustainability of the industry.

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Akinmolayan’s The Set Up joins Netflix

Inkblot Productions’ The Set Up

NEWS BRIEF: Nollywood drama The Set Up, produced by Niyi Akinmolayan, has this week begun streaming on global SVoD service Netflix.

The Set Up follows a woman who is drawn into a web of deceit when she is hired by a socialite to assist with his scheme to marry a wealthy heiress. It features Nollywood actors including Dakore Akande, Adesua Etomi, Jim Iyke, Tina Mba and Joke Silva and is coproduced by Chinaza Onuzo and Isioma Osaje for Inkblot Productions.

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Muslimah Style Guide debuts S3

Muslimah Style Guide, an online weekly show that caters to the unique fashion needs of Muslim women, is set to start its third season.

Hosted by Oyinkansola Momoh, who runs Muslimah Style Guide Ltd, the show is executive produced by W Amolegbe Consulting and Utopia Media Group.

Muslimah Style Guide was launched in 2013 to inspire Muslim women to own and celebrate their identity as well as improve their lives through style.

The 13-week series will debut on the April 25 at 12.30 on Silverbird Television.

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France 24 ups African news coverage

News channel France 24 has increased its coverage of African news and information related to the Covid-19 pandemic.

According to French state-owned company France Médias Monde, which operates France 24, the move aims to help African audiences – specifically French-speaking parts of sub-Saharan Africa – with news and information.

“The programming schedules and digital offers have been adapted to focus on news and interactivity with the multilingual audience on the continent,” said France Médias Monde in a statement.

France 24’s show Eyes on Africa is dedicated to African news and interviews about the pandemic and airs at 23.45 and 00.45 (South African time).

The channel also offers a series of short videos featuring doctors from around the world who talk about their daily lives fighting the disease and the challenges they encounter.

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NCC to build ICT parks around Nigeria

The Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) plans to build six information and communication technology parks in each of the six geo-political zones across the country.

Umar Danbatta

The project involves the construction and equipping of fully functional tier-four digital industrial complexes in four ICT parks, one each in Abeokuta for the south-west; Enugu for the south-east, Maiduguri for the north-east and Kano for the north-west, while the parks for the north-central and south-south regions will be established soon.

Aimed at promoting socio-economic transformation in Nigeria, the ICT parks have been designed to have fast internet services and constant power supplies.

They will provide innovation labs and digital fabrication laboratories for use by ICT innovators and entrepreneurs to turn their ideas into products and prototypes, as well as a commercial hub for ICT capacity building and digital skills, create employment and entrepreneurial activities and facilitate smart city deployment across the complex.

The move will also support the government’s ICT–related policies by facilitating the availability and accessibility of ICT services across the country and promote their usage across all sectors.

Umar Danbatta, the executive vice chairman of NCC, said: “The whole idea of putting these two things – skill acquisition and innovation – at the forefront of this very important initiative is to produce youths that can be self-reliant, generate employment for themselves and for other Nigerians.

“The NCC ICT parks project is another move by the leadership of the commission to boost youth digital skills acquisition, promote innovations, provide jobs for Nigerian youth and ultimately support the overall digital economy agenda of the federal government.

“Going forward, we hope to see software development, incubation and hardware development coming out from the ICT parks. We also hope to see innovative applications that will leverage the broadband network, which the commission is deepening in order to socially and economically transform our communities and societies,” he added.

He urged young people to be prepared to use the initiative in order to be empowered both socially and economically.

“I would like to send out a very important message to our youths, especially those who are currently occupied with various innovative applications, those who have acquired the skills but are looking for where to put the skills to fruitful engagements, by incubating them, commercialising them, or giving publicity to these excellent initiatives, to be ready to leverage this facilities,” he said.

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MultiChoice Talent Factory opens webinars

MultiChoice Talent Factory, in partnership with the Dolby Institute, has launched an online learning channel for content creators in the movie industry.

Femi Odugbemi

From now until June 4, recorded webinar series covering a range of topics will be made available on the MTF Portal every Thursday from 13.00 to 14.00 CAT.

The webinars will help creatives advance in the art of storytelling, whether they’re making a film, mixing the sound for a sporting event, or designing the next-generation music experiences.

Femi Odugbemi, MTF academy director, said: “West Africa is the leading video entertainment provider on the continent and MultiChoice recognises the importance of understanding sound to tell authentic African stories.

“This partnership with Dolby will benefit storytellers across the continent and support the growth of the home-grown entertainment industry.”

Participants can access the portal by clicking here.

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SuperSport lines up sports movies

MultiChoice’s SuperSport channels are set to broadcast an extensive line-up of sports movies.

John Ugbe

Starting this weekend at 19.30 WAT on SuperSport 1, viewers will be able to watch movies including Oscar winner Jerry Maguire, Sylvester Stallone boxing franchise Rocky 1-5, rugby story Invictus, Cinderella Man, Million Dollar Baby, The Waterboy and more.

John Ugbe, chief executive of MultiChoice Nigeria, said: “We’ve negotiated with all the major studios to bring viewers this incredible line-up. There really is something here for everyone, many of them classics with lines and scenes that resonate as strongly as ever.”

Hallelujah launches on DStv, GOtv

Pop-up religious network Hallelujah Channel has been launched on DStv and GOtv and is set to run from now until May 7.

Martin Mabutho

The move follows the restriction of religious gatherings due to the Covid-19 pandemic and is geared towards catering to the spiritual needs of subscribers.

Religious programmes will be available on DStv Premium, Compact Plus, Compact, Confam, Family, Yanga and Access packages, as well as on GOtv Max, Jolli and Plus packages.

DStv and GOtv viewers at home will have the opportunity to experience praise and worship sessions, sermons, choir ministrations, prayers and other family programming from well-known churches in Nigeria including the City of David parish of the Redeemed Christian Church of God, Daystar Christian Centre, Mountain of Fire and Miracles Kingsway International Christian Centre, Harvesters International Christian Centre, The Elevation Church, Diplomats’ Assembly, Kornerstone and Salvation Ministries.

Martin Mabutho, chief customer officer at MultiChoice Nigeria, said: “The global pandemic caused by Covid-19 is not only affecting the way we live and work but has also caused a disruption to the ways religious activities are conducted. We are staying in tune with our customers’ new realities and have expanded our religious programming to cater to the different denominational groups, keeping them connected during these challenging times.”

The channel will be broadcast on DStv channel 198 and GOtv channel 29.

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StarTimes preps pandemic advice videos

Pay TV operator StarTimes has developed a series of videos to raise public awareness about the Covid-19 pandemic as well as help contain the spread of rumours about the virus.

As part of its social responsibility drive, the company has released 30 short videos produced by its African employees who are working remotely.

The company said in a statement: “As a leading media group based in Africa, it is StarTimes’ role to disseminate accurate and scientific information to fulfil its social requirement.

“Recently, a dedicated TV programme, StarTimes Daily Covid-19 Report, was launched in providing viewers with update and data about the pandemic in Africa and the world every weekday.

“The anti-pandemic knowledge videos further support African people with scientific knowledge to protect themselves with the right behaviours against possible infection. The videos are in accordance with guidance from experienced international professional organisations such as the World Health Organisation.”

The videos will be on the ST Guide and 22 self-operated channels and can be viewed in six different languages, including English, French, Portuguese, Swahili, Hausa and Chinese. It will also be available on the StarTimes ON App and the official Facebook page and YouTube account of StarTimes for better exposure to audiences on diverse platforms.

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NBC warns broadcasters over fake news

The National Broadcasting Commission (NBC) has warned all broadcast stations against airing programmes about the Covid-19 pandemic that have no verifiable claims.

The NBC has observed a spike in the spread of fake news and misinformation, which is harming the fight against the virus, and has said it would not hesitate to impose severe sanctions on any channels that carries unverifiable claims.

The NBC highlighted sections of the Nigeria Broadcasting Code, which states that the broadcaster must ensure every programme is accurate and credible; descriptions, claims, testimonials or illustrations in an advertisement relating to verifiable facts should be easily be substantiated; and that the broadcaster must ensure an advertisement is not broadcast if it contains an offer to diagnose or treat conditions by myth or superstitious beliefs and practice.

According to the NBC: “The coronavirus has been declared a global pandemic and no station shall allow its platform to be used to undermine the seriousness of the virus, and all broadcast stations are responsible for all contents that they transmit.”

Ekanem Antia, assistant director of public affairs, said: “In compliance with the directives of the commission for pay TV to decrypt the signals of local channels on their platforms for one month, in the first instance, to enable viewers get adequate information and directives during the Covid-19 pandemic, free TV has announced unrestricted access for customers during the lockdown.”

Alhaji Lai Mohammed, minister for information and culture, said: “If you go by WhatsApp, there are so many myths and cures for Covid-19 today. Some people will tell you it cannot affect Africans or the disease is not even existing at all, while some will say all you need to do is to take garlic or ginger.

“As we speak today, there is no vaccine or medicine for Covid-19. The only weapon to combat the virus is what we call non-pharmaceutical intervention, which largely means sensitisation, advocacy, keeping very good hygiene, social distancing, not shaking hands and not gathering.

“These are the only effective ways to contain the pandemic and that is why governments are declaring total lockdowns. Once it starts spreading, no healthcare in the world can survive it.”

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MultiChoice vows to back industry

Pay TV outfit MultiChoice Group has promised to support the local entertainment industry through this tumultuous time of the coronavirus pandemic.

Calvo Mawela

Calvo Mawela, CEO of MultiChoice, noted that as a result of the challenges faced by partners in the industry as well as challenges brought about by the pandemic with various sectors across the continent trying to adjust and find ways to deal with them, MultiChoice has decided to implement several measures, aimed at safeguarding the incomes of cast, crew, and creatives as well as the sustainability of production houses so as to steer the industry through this pandemic period.

He added that the company had set aside R80m to ensure that current productions are able to pay full salaries of cast, crew and creatives for the months of March and April, so as to keep the industry vibrant.

“We believe this to be critical for the industry and in our view this is simply the right thing to do. Our main concern is to ensure as much as possible that we secure the incomes of creatives, cast and crew over this period. We want to ensure that they and their families are not negatively impacted as work has come to a standstill,” said Mawela.

Furthermore, the group has committed to guarantee the incomes of freelancers in SuperSport productions, who are currently unable to work due to the suspension of sports and the national lockdown.

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StarTimes launches Covid-19 app

Pay TV operator StarTimes has launched a self-assessment app on StarTimes ON to offer African users practical tips on how to protect themselves from Covid-19.

The Covid-19 self-assessment system was co-developed by the Institute for Artificial Intelligence, Tsinghua University and the University’s School of Clinical Medicine and was launched in Africa with the support of Chinese digital TV provider StarTimes Group.

The self-assessment service is in multiple languages including Chinese, French, English, Portuguese, and Swahili and it is available in 45 countries.

Its aim is to help the public know more about the virus and their status by answering questions on their health conditions and recent travel history. Users will get an evaluation result indicating the risk level of infection, determine how to seek further care, relieve anxiety and fear and provide health suggestions.

The system has been reviewed and approved by a panel of international experts and has been used on trial by more than 10 million users in 19 countries. People living in sub-Saharan Africa can access it using the StarTimes ON mobile application.

Amy Pang, the general manager of product operation department in StarTimes, said: “As a company operating in Africa, StarTimes hopes to make full use of its own advantages to contribute to the common anti-pandemic war across the continent. We would like to make the most of our media platforms in sharing effective information and methods against the pandemic to benefit African people.”

Users can access the self-assessment service on the front page of StarTimes ON.

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Netflix cuts bitrates in Africa

Global streaming platform Netflix has decided to reduce streaming bitrates in Nigeria and in other African countries to help mitigate congestion on internet providers and networks.

While several African nations have gone into a lockdown to contain the spread of coronavirus, the streaming giant believes the reduction will provide significant relief to congested networks without significantly affecting streaming quality.

The reduction, which has already been launched in Italy and Spain, will be in effect for the next 30 days.

Netflix’s VP content delivery Ken Florance said: “Given the coronavirus crisis, we’ve developed a way to reduce Netflix’s traffic on telecommunications networks by 25% while also maintaining the quality of our service. So consumers should continue to get the quality that comes with their plan, whether it’s ultra-high, high or standard definition.”

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MultiChoice sets up Easter TV channel

Pay TV operator MultiChoice will launch a special Easter weekend pop-up TV channel on April 9.

This African Easter channel is being organised by TBN Africa and is designed for Christian viewers who subscribe to DStv Premium, Compact Plus, Family and Access.

Its aim is to provide religious content to viewers who cannot attend church services because of the national lockdown caused by the spread of Covid-19 in South Africa and also broadcast content for various Christian denominations who celebrate Easter.

Lucky Mbiko, TBN’s MD, says the channel is “partnering with churches and some of the biggest gospel artists to bring you the best Easter worship experience to as many viewers as possible. Join us on the African Easter channel 343 on DStv for four days during the Easter weekend.”

Calvo Mawela, MultiChoice Group’s CEO, said the pay TV operator will assist millions of South African worshippers who regard Easter as a pivotal period of worship.

“As a responsible broadcaster, we are more than happy to partner with the department of communications and digital technologies as we afford worshippers to observe Easter from the comfort of their homes,” said Mawela.

Stella Ndabeni-Abrahams, South Africa’s minister of communications and digital technologies, said the department appreciates MultiChoice’s move.

The programmes will be aired on channel 343 and will broadcast music programmes, sermons, church services and religious programming until Easter Monday April 13.

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MTF offers free online masterclasses

The MultiChoice Talent Factory (MTF) has begun accepting registrations for its new online masterclass series available on the MTF portal.

Yolisa Phahle

Starting off with a 20-module masterclass series tagged Produce Like a Pro, the masterclass offers exclusive access to practical, expert-led skills workshops that afford film and television professionals the ability to interact and learn from the best in Africa.

According to Yolisa Phahle, CEO of general entertainment, the offering is part of MultiChoice Group’s mission to upskill emerging creatives and seasoned professionals in the Film and TV industry.

The Produce Like a Pro series will compliment recorded masterclasses which address industry concerns such as accessibility, opportunity and quality in local productions and is available to over 25 000 registered users with a profile on the MTF portal.

“What makes the Produce Like a Pro series unique is that it’s been specially designed as an A to Z package for tools and templates to equip new producers with the know-how to operate in this industry. From budgeting to casting, the modules have been created by Marie Rosholt, a highly esteemed pioneer in reality television as executive producer of 12 series of Big Brother, Survivor, Fear Factor, Deal or No Deal and other series,” said Phahle.

“The recorded masterclasses have been filmed and packaged by our MTF students sharing the industry masterclasses hosted by our MTF Academies in Lagos, Nairobi and Lusaka, with leading industry experts including Tunde Kelani, Christian Epps and Steve Gukas.”

The MTF portal is a pan-African, film and television digital marketplace for information sharing on all aspects of Africa’s creative industry. The MTF portal offers open, cost-free access to film creatives across Africa to showcase their talent, access opportunities, stay up to date with industry news and expand their industry network.

To register, click here.

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HFA TV debuts on Airtel TV

African fashion channel HFA TV is now airing via the Airtel TV network.

The 24-hour fashion channel focuses on the continent’s fashion industry, giving viewers an insight into what happens backstage and in the front row at fashion shows, highlighting stylists, designers, models and more.

Its shows include ICYMI: Haute Outside, Haute List: Top Dix and Shop My Closet.

HFA TV CEO Oluwadamilola ‘Wadami’ Amolegbe said: “With over 30 million mobile data subscribers in Nigeria, Airtel is offering its users added value with the introduction of HFA TV and helping us keep to our mission to preserve and promote African fashion.”

HFA TV is available free on the Airtel network as long as you download the Airtel TV app. The channel can also be watched in Nigeria on FreeTV (Channel 821) and PlayTV (Channel 200).

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