All posts by John Winfield

StarTimes cuts prices for new subscribers

African pay TV operator StarTimes has reduced its decoder and antenna prices for new subscribers who sign up before March 31.

The prices have been cut from N10,500 (US$29) to N7,500 for its DTT antenna and from N9,500 to N6,500 for its SD decoder. The HD decoder is now N7,500, and the HD decoder and antenna together cost N8,900.

“StarTimes is the top destination for news coverage during this season. We now have a lot more news channels. We recently added PlusTV Africa to our news channels, while the existing ones, such as TVC, Channels and NTA News 24, remain,” said the company.

“We place great priority on the quality of our content as we continue to evolve, adding more local channels that our subscribers have found engaging and all-round entertaining and irresistible over time.”

Chinese-owned StarTimes has a strong presence in Africa, offering digital terrestrial television and satellite TV services. It also owns a featured content platform, with 440 authorised channels.

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StarTimes launches DTV in Kpaduma

Chinese-owned pay TV platform StarTimes has launched a digital satellite TV service in Kpaduma, an underdeveloped rural community in Abuja.

Lai Mohammed

The move gives the residents of Kpaduma the opportunity to watch programmes on satellite in the town for the first time.

The project was undertaken by StarTimes as part of an effort to provide 1,000 Nigerian villages with access to digital television under an aid programme that came out of the China-Africa summit in 2015.

Each village is to receive a 32-inch TV and two sets of solar-powered projectors, allowing villagers to watch  local and international digital TV shows.

Yusuf Dio, the prince of Kpaduma, said: “”We are very happy to have this [digital television service] in our household. It has brought so much joy and pleasure to my family.”

Lai Mohammed, Nigeria’s minister of information and culture, said: “The implementation complements the efforts of the Nigerian government to democratise access to information and entertainment through the digital switchover for television, which has now been rolled out in several states and the federal capital territory.”

Mohammed added that this would strengthen the relationship between China and Nigeria and urged StarTimes to hasten the installation of the TV satellite system in other parts of the country.

StarTimes – in partnership with Nigeria’s public TV company NTA – has made digital TV available to many Nigerians since 2010.

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BBNaija to begin online auditions

Online auditions are underway to find the final housemate for the forthcoming fourth season of reality show Big Brother Naija (BBN).

The show’s producers are looking for Nigerians aged at least 21 and with a valid international passport. Candidates must also be subscribers to pay TV platforms DStv or GOtv. Auditions require them to submit a two-minute video of themselves explaining why they should be selected.

Live auditions have already been conducted across eight different states in Nigeria.

John Ugbe, CEO of MultiChoice Nigeria, said: “We are giving more Nigerians one more chance to be a part of the biggest reality TV show on the continent by introducing an additional online audition process.

“We’ve seen how much the show continues to resonate with Nigerians and it’s our desire to create more success stories from the BBNaija platform.

“We are excited about this new twist and ask that more Nigerians take advantage of this novel opportunity to actualise their dreams of getting into the BBNaija house.”

Big Brother Naija 2019 is sponsored by online betting platform Bet9ja. It is based on the Big Brother reality format owned by Endemol Shine Group.

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TVC unveils Lagos studio

The new studio was unveiled at an event last week

TVC News, a subsidiary of TVC Communications, has launched a new studio at its Lagos headquarters.

The studio was unveiled at a press event held last week in Nigeria’s largest city.

TVC Communications CEO Andrew Hanlon said: “Behind this state-of-the-art studio in Lagos lies the real engine of our news operation: a substantial team of journalists, producers, and the latest mobile satellite technology, spread throughout Nigeria, providing us with the ability to broadcast live anywhere, anytime.

“This will be put to the test this election weekend as over 80 million Nigerians go to the polls to cast their votes.

“We must be capable of mobilising correspondents and technical teams anywhere, anytime in this vast country, to cover stories within a very short space of time to get the story on air first.”

The new studio is part of plans to ensure the TVC group of companies turns into one of the leading media organisations in the country, according to Hanlon.

Stella Din-Jacob, director of news at TVC News, added: “We are incredibly fortunate to have some of the best people and broadcast facilities in continental Africa, which will enable us to bring the highest-quality news service to our viewers right across Nigeria, Africa and Europe.”

TVC was awarded the NBC Prize for the Best TV Station of the Year at the most recent Nigerian Media Merit Awards.

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StarTimes adds PlusTV Africa

African pay TV firm StarTimes has added a 24-hour news channel to its platform.

Kayode Akintemi

PlusTV Africa provides news relating to sports, entertainment, politics, business and more.

StarTimes brand and marketing director Qasim Elegbede said: “PlusTV Africa is proof of our effort in meeting the demand of our subscribers seeking more news and entertainment channels.

“As a listening organisation fulfilling its promise to customers, we have over time provided the best access to great, educative, informative and entertainment content on our platform. The yearnings of our customers have led to the launch of PlusTV Africa.”

Kayode Akintemi, MD and editor-in-chief of PlusTV Africa, added: “Our mission is to change the narrative of news reportage in Nigeria and across Africa by providing 24-hour objective, fair and balanced stories with incisive and robust analysis that create in-depth understanding through programmes that are informative, engaging and empowering with a view to challenging leadership and proffering solutions for political and economic growth.

“Consumer brand advertisers and their agencies can now easily reach their target audiences through PlusTV Africa, which is now distributed across all packages on the StarTimes platform.”

PlusTV Africa is on channel 308 on digital terrestrial television and in all StarTimes bouquets.

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Onunkwo celebrates states in reality series

Mega Solo Movies Academy and the Johnbosco Onunkwo Foundation are preparing a new reality show celebrating Nigeria’s different states.

Johnbosco Onunkwo

Project Strongest States in Nigeria (Project SSN) will see 72 contestants from all over the country in one location for three months as they attempt to have their state recognised.

The programme will showcase the states’ varying cultures and celebrate the country’s diversity.

Johnbosco Onunkwo, chairman of the Johnbosco Onunkwo Foundation, said: “This reality series is designed as a platform to help the public understand that diversity fuels the strength of Naija.

“As a foundation that has passionately helped Nigerians express their ambitions and creativity, Johnbosco Onunkwo Foundation has yet again decided to unite Nigerians and project Nigerian content through this show.”

Project SSN will be broadcast daily on public broadcaster NTA, Wazobia Max TV, Arewa 24 TV and other channels.

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Jenifa’s Diary gets 15th entry

Popular Nigerian comedy series Jenifa’s Diary has been renewed for a 15th season.

Funke Akindele

Created by and starring Nigerian actress Funke Akindele, the show centres on a village girl who relocates to the city of Lagos as she attempts to achieve success.

The new run will hit screens soon, with production already concluded. It will air on DStv channel 253, IrokoTV, Sceneone TV, GOtv channel 92/192 and StarTimes channel 109.

Jenifa’s Diary also stars Falz as Segun, Omotunde Adebowale as Adaku, Tobi Makinde as Timini, Ugwu Jacinta as Kiki and Joy Nice as Pelumi.

 

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Hymnodia picks 14 participants

The finale of Hymnodia will take place this April

Fourteen contestants have been chosen to take part in reality singing show Hymnodia.

The LTV competition series puts participants’ hymn-singing skills to the test, offering them the chance to win N5m (US$13,775), a car and a specially designed award known as the prize of the Asaph.

Referred to as ‘hymntestants,’ the participants were selected from among 1,500 hopefuls by a panel of judges. These included singer, vocal coach and songwriter Dupe Ige Kachi, who said: “I have heard voices that do classical and contemporary rendition of hymns, and it would be fun to see how these voices come together to play out in the Hymnstitute.”

Fellow judge Seun Owoaje, a pianist and composer, added: “I see potential in the contestants and l commend the initiator for taking the bull by the horn to nurture talent.”

On air now, the 13-week programme is being broadcast for one hour every Sunday on LTV on channel 256 on DStv, channel 90 on GOtv and channel 118 on Startimes from 12.30. It is also streamed live on the LTV app.

Hymnodia’s grand finale will take place in April.

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Reality show to crown Queen Varsity Afrika

A reality show focusing on female students in Nigeria is set to hit screens next week.

Queen Varsity Afrika will debut on February 11 and is aimed at African female undergraduates and recent graduates. It will follow a group of students as they compete to be crowned the titular queen.

The producers have described the series as a “non-bikini reality show” that “provides the right platform for beautiful and intelligent young ladies, who are delegates from various higher institutions of learning in Africa, to unlock their innate potential and talent as they compete for the internationally recognised Queen Varsity Afrika crown.”

Sixteen women from various Nigerian universities, plus one student from Benin, are taking part in the ongoing boot camp being held at the Federal University of Agriculture, Abeokuta. This group will be voted down to 10 women, who will move to the final stage.

They are being mentored by notable Nigerians including former president Chief Olusegun Obasanjo, with the show set to run for 13 episodes.

Queen Varsity Afrika will run on NTA 2 Lagos and Jive TV on StarTimes, as well as various online portals. The show is a Pillar & Pride of Afrika production in partnership with the Federal University of Agriculture.

Jasmine Ofoegbu, MD and CEO of Pillar & Pride of Afrika and an exec producer on the show, said: “It is an empowerment programme that will avail the contestants the opportunity for self-realisation and self-actualisation, as well as boost their self-esteem.

“We are also ready to partner with agencies, brands and organisations that are ready to join in empowering the African girl child using the platform of our educative and entertaining Queen Varsity Afrika reality TV project, in this edition and in subsequent ones.”

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X2D shoots to StarTimes

Gospel news and music channel Xclusive2Divinity (X2D) is to launch on the StarTimes Lagos network in April.

Deji Irawo (right) with a StarTimes rep

The news was announced by X2D CEO Deji Irawo, who said: “Our goal is to make [the channel] pan-Nigeria and Africa before the end of the year and we are positive that, with God, all things are possible.”

X2D was created to disseminate Christian entertainment and creativity and to provide a platform for gospel artists.

The 24-hour network is claimed to be “Africa’s first channel completely dedicated to high-quality urban gospel and lifestyle content from across Africa and the diaspora.”

Its programming includes gospel and inspirational music videos, concerts, artist profiles, red-carpet events, interviews, talkshows and lifestyle content targeted at a youth and family audience.

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StarTimes names CEO

African pay TV operator StarTimes has named its Kenya boss as its new CEO.

David Zhang

David Zhang, who worked in management roles at Chinese-owned StarTimes in Nigeria between 2011 and 2014 before heading its business in the East African nation, has taken over from Justin Zhang.

A StarTimes representative said: “David brings over two decades of experience in B2B and B2C capacity in both China and Africa, with a special interest in consumer- and revenue-growth management.”

Justin Zhang’s tenure saw a rise in subscribers to StarTimes as well as new innovations in African pay TV.

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BBNaija holds season four auditions

Auditions have been held for the fourth edition of reality show Big Brother Naija (BBNaija), based on the pioneering format owned by Endemol Shine Group.

On February 1 and 2, hopefuls auditioned in eight locations across Nigeria: Lagos (DPodium Events Centre, Lekki), Abuja (MultiChoice Office, Maitama), Port Harcourt (Hotel Presidential), Calabar (Venetian Arena), Warri (Deluxe Garden Suites), Ibadan (Mauve 21 events center), Benin (Uyo Grand Event Centre) and Enugu (Oakland Hotel and Park).

More than 6,000 people took part in Lagos, while a total of 13,000 participants were counted across all eight cities.

This year’s show will take place after Nigeria’s general election later this month and will be hosted by media personality and fashion influencer Ebuka Obi-Uchendu, who has fronted the show previously. The winner of BBNaija 2019 will go home with N45m (US$124,000) as well as other prizes.

This year’s edition of the show is notable in that it is being produced in Nigeria, as revealed by John Ugbe, CEO of pay TV broadcaster MultiChoice Nigeria, the company behind the programme, at a media briefing last month. Previous editions of BBNaija were produced in South Africa.

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NBC issues hate speech sanctions

The director general of Nigeria’s National Broadcasting Commission (NBC) has sanctioned four major TV stations for airing politicians’ speeches deemed hateful or dangerous.

Mallam Is’haq Modibbo Kawu

Mallam Is’haq Modibbo Kawu announced the news at the NBC’s headquarters in Abuja last week during a press conference about Nigeria’s 2019 general election.

The offending broadcasters are the Nigerian Television Authority (NTA), African Independent Television (AIT), Channels TV and Television Continental (TVC).

Kawu said all four had violated the NBC’s code, which states that political broadcasts shall be in decent language and that live coverage shall be truthful, decent and fair.

The sanctions relate to speeches made by politicians from both the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) and the main opposition, the People’s Democratic Party (PDP).

“Broadcasters have huge responsibility of protecting and guiding our democracy, and we have a huge responsibility of ensuring we don’t promote violence or anything that can lead to it,” said Kawu, adding that radio stations were also being sanctioned.

“We have discovered that, despite our repeated warnings, some broadcast stations still allow politicians to let out hate speeches which are capable of throwing this country into crisis. We have prepared sanctions and the letters to this effect will be delivered to them soonest.”

Sub-Saharan OTT revenues ‘to top $1bn’

OTT revenues in Sub-Saharan Africa have been tipped to exceed US$1bn by 2024, compared with US$223m last year.

That’s according to the Forecasts Report for Sub-Saharan Africa OTT TV and Video, which added that even with the predicted increase, there is still room for growth in Africa in the long run.

Only 15 countries out of the 35 covered will bring in more than $10m of OTT revenues by 2024, the report said. Countries with the highest OTT revenue will be South Africa (40%) and Nigeria (22%).

By 2024, SVoD, which is the main revenue driver for OTT TV and video, is expected to generate US$782m in the region.

The report also anticipates SVoD subscriptions will increase from 3.03 million in 2018 to 10.21 million by 2024.

It expects South Africa to have the highest number of subscriptions, with 3.46 million, while Nigeria is tipped for second place, with 2.56 million.

South Africa and Nigeria together are predicted to account for 59% of all SVoD customers in Sub-Saharan Africa by 2024, down from their 71% market share last year.

Momoh resigns as BON chairman

Channels TV chairman and CEO John Momoh has stepped down from his position as chairman of the Broadcasting Organisations of Nigeria (BON).

John Momoh

The news was revealed by Godfrey Ohuabunwa during the presidential debate organised by the BON and the Nigeria Elections Debate Group on January 19. Ohuabunwa is currently the organisation’s acting chairman.

“I want to let you know that John Momoh has just left as the chairman of BON and I am the newest chairman of BON,” Ohuabunwa said.

Momoh, an alumnus of University of Lagos, Lagos Business School and Harvard Business School, founded Channels TV in 1995. He was elected BON chairman in 2016.

In June 2013 he received the Lagos Business School’s Distinguished Alumni Award.

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Stardom Nigeria TV show reveals finalists

The 24 finalists of new talent show Stardom Nigeria have been revealed.

The contestants were announced at an event in Lagos, where they talked about their experiences so far and discussed their expectations for the next stage of the show.

“Stardom Nigeria is one competition that will produce three winners who stand to win prizes worth $30, 000 and record a hit track with a mystery top selling artist,” said a spokesman for the show, which airs on EbonyLife DSTV channel 165 and StarTimes channel 189.

The spokesman added: “A first of its kind, Stardom Nigeria is a TV show that celebrates the art of musicianship by spotlighting the essential skill sets required to make a hit song. It takes a huge step beyond the cookie-cutter ‘singer hugging the limelight’ routine.

“There are currently a lot of TV show formats but this unique, homegrown approach brings a whole new dynamic to the industry, bearing primarily the African viewer in mind yet retaining enough originality and international appeal to comfortably stand side by side with other popular formats.”

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Silverbird lines up AfriDocs migration films

Nigeria’s Silverbird TV is to air a series of migration- and immigration-focused films that were originally launched by free documentary streamer AfriDocs.

Afridocs

When Paul Came Over the Sea, My Escape, Days of Hope, Revenir, Those Who Jump and Aji Bi, Under the Clock Tower will all air on Silverbird over the next two weekends.

AfriDocs has made the films available with support from the German Foreign Office in order to reach out to migrants and all those interested in migration so that they can be well informed and make better decisions.

Told from an African perspective, the docs have already aired across the continent,  opening up debate around the traditional narrative surrounding migration.

When Paul Came Over the Sea will air tomorrow. It follows a man named Paul’s attempt to cross the Mediterranean and enter Germany, highlighting the obstacles he faces along the way. It also sees filmmaker Jakob Preuss having to choose between his duties as a documentarian and helping Paul achieve his goal.

Elke Sasse’s My Escape will also air tomorrow. The film focuses on how refugees use mobile phones to aid their journey. It also features footage showing of refugees from Syria, Afghanistan and Eritrea trying to escape in a broken boat, leading to their rescue by another boat.

Days of Hope, from Dittte Haarlov Johnsen, will air on Sunday. The doc brings together the stories of three immigrants travelling from Africa to Europe.

The other three films will air next weekend. Playing on Saturday January 26 will be Revenir (Return). The doc is a joint effort between filmmaker David Fedele and Ivory Coast-born political refugee Kumut Imesh, who lives in France. It sees Imesh retrace his journey to Europe, 10 years after he originally completed it.

Those Who Jump, by Moritz Sebert, will air on the same Saturday. This film tells the story of African migrants hoping to get into Spain from Morocco.

Aji Bi, Under the Clock Tower, from Raja Saddiki, will play next Sunday. It follows a small community of Senegalese women who live and work in Casablanca, showing their struggle to survive in Morocco and their attempts to cross to Europe.

All these films can already be streamed on AfriDocs, which is touted as the only free streaming platform in Africa that offers documentaries focused on the African voice.

Viewers are encouraged to share any experience they may have regarding migration via social media, using the hashtag #MigrantStories.

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Unilag TV hits screens in Lagos

The University of Lagos’s television station has begun broadcasting local, national and international news in Lagos State.

Unilag TV has pledged to deliver factual, credible and impartial news reporting and to become one of the most trusted news sources in Nigeria.

At a conference marking the launch of the channel, university vice-chancellor Professor Oluwatoyin Ogundipe said the institution had longed to have a television station ever since it pioneered campus radio broadcasting in 2004. It was issued a television operational licence by the News Agency of Nigeria in 2017.

“Today, we are elated to see this great dream come to full manifestation while trailing the blaze not only in Nigeria but in the whole of West Africa,” Ogundipe said.

“Our team of world-class professionals are all set to inject fresh ideas and energies that will take broadcasting to the next level in Nigeria. The channel will also serve as a reference point in sports reporting, documentaries and quality entertainment, and as an instrument of educational advancement,.”

Aside from airing news, Unilag TV will also serve as an instructional facility for the university’s distance-learning programme.

Professor Olumuyiwa Falaiye, chairman of the Unilag Multimedia Venture board,  said the channel would transmit only within Lagos State for now as more staff undergo training.

“With all of our state-of-the art equipment in our studio, we are set to become an active player in the media industry,” he added.

Unilag TV is available via StarTimes channel 184.

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MultiChoice rules out PPV system

Pay TV company MultiChoice has ruled out offering a pay-as-you-view system in Nigeria despite consumer demand for the option.

Martin Mabutho

Martin Mabutho, the company’s chief customer officer, said in an interview held in Lagos: “We are not going to introduce a pay-as-you-view system. Our contract with our suppliers is on a month-to-month basis.

“The channels do not belong to MultiChoice. What we do is slash our prices in half to make our customers enjoy our services.”

Mabutho added that MultiChoice would continue giving its customers incentives like loyalty and acquisition promotions every quarter since they pay monthly for the company’s services regardless of whether they watch the channels.

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BBNaija moves to Nigeria

The forthcoming fourth season of African reality show Big Brother Naija will take place in Nigeria.

The news was revealed by John Ugbe, CEO of MultiChoice Nigeria, the company behind the programme, at a media briefing.

Auditions for this year’s instalment of the show will take place in eight locations across Nigeria on February 1 and 2: Lagos, Abuja, Port Harcourt, Calabar, Warri, Ibadan, Benin and Enugu.

Ugbe said: “This fourth season promises to be even bigger than previous editions and underscores MultiChoice’s position as the biggest investor and driver of entertainment content on the continent.

“The show is known to bring excitement and entertainment to fans and viewers across the continent. It will house strangers over a period of three months who will contest against each other in a battle of wits for the ultimate prize.”

Since debuting in 2006, the show – the African version of the globally successful Big Brother format – has launched the careers of celebrities and influencers such as Ebuka Obi-Uchendu, Gideon Okeke, Katung Aduwak, Bisola Aiyeola, Efe Ejeba and Uriel Oputa.

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