All posts by John Winfield

Nigeria, Zimbabwe link to adapt novel

Award-winning Zimbabwean filmmaker and author Tsitsi Dangarembga working on a film based on a Nigerian novel.

Tsitsi Dangarembga

Nnenna is being adapted from Trapped in Oblivion, the book by Nigerian novelist Ifeoma Ezeobi.

Directed by Dangarembga, the movie will begin filming in Nigeria next year. Training is already underway in some African countries of people to work on and act in the film.

Nnenna focuses on on a 14-year-old girl who wishes to explore love and sexual activity with her best friend.

Ifeoma Ezeobi

Dangarembga, who is seeking young Nigerian women to help write the scripts and direct and coproduce the film, said: “The move is an effort to empower women in the filmmaking industry and create a fair environment for female actors.

“Everything is evolving in African culture, so this coproduction will break traditional gender structures in filmmaking and will see women coming out on top in an industry that has never been women-friendly.”

Ezeobi said she was “thrilled” to see her book taken to the movie screen.


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Mo Abudu judges Rolex Awards

Mo Abudu (in yellow) with the other jury members

EbonyLife Media CEO Mo Abudu has been revealed as a juror for this year’s Rolex Awards for Enterprise.

Established in 1976 by the luxury watch company, the Rolex Awards recognise “exceptional individuals who have the courage and conviction to take on major challenges; men and women who have a spirit of enterprise, initiating extraordinary projects that make the world a better place.”

Influential Nigerian media mogul Abudu, who launched EbonyLife in 2006, was one of 10 jurors chosen for their expertise and stature in a wide variety of fields. The jurors have selected 10 finalists for the awards, with the winners set to be revealed next month.

Announcing her involvement via Instagram, Abudu said: “Earlier this year in February, I was invited to join the Jury of the Rolex Awards. I had the privilege of meeting and spending a few days in London with executives from Rolex, my co jury members and we had the opportunity to evaluate the most incredible and diverse set of projects that were presented to us.

“As a 2019 Rolex Awards jury member we had a challenging time selecting the 10 finalists. We are off to Washington DC in June to judge the finals.”

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Okorafor looks to future with prodco

Award-winning Nigerian author Nnedi Okorafor is launching a production company.

Nnedi Okorafor

Announced via social media, Africanfuturism Productions will focus solely on TV shows. “TV series are my focus right now,” Okorafor said. “Film is too restrictive.”

Okorafor has several projects in the works. Alongside actor and producer Viola Davis (How to Get Away With Murder) and Kenyan filmmaker Wanuri Kahi, she is adapting Octavia Butler novel Wild Seed into a television series for global streaming service Amazon.

In addition, Okorafor’s own novel Who Fears Death is being made into a series for US cablenet HBO, with Game of Thrones novelist George RR Martin on board.

The new prodco takes its name from Afrofuturism, a movement in art, literature and music that explores the development of African diaspora culture with technology.

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Nigeria, France link for film distribution

Nigeria’s National Film and Video Censors Board (NFVCB) and French organisation Alliance Francaise have signed an agreement to distribute films via a conference being held later this year.

L-R: Jerome Pasquier, Adedayo Thomas and Arnand Durnon

Content from both countries will be on offer at the French-Nigerian Film Distribution Conference, which will serve as a platform for distributors, producers and investors from both countries to do business with each other.

The news was unveiled at a signing ceremony attended by the French ambassador to Nigeria Jerome Pasquier and his Nigerian counterpart Adedayo Thomas, who is also executive director of the NFVCB, plus Arnand Durnon, director of Alliance Francaise.

Thomas said: “Our Nigerian distributors would be more than happy to collaborate with big-time French distributors such as Pathé, StudioCanal and BAC Films as planned in the coming collaboration conference.

“The French distributors take delight in releasing movies from many different nationalities, whether big or small, as it is their belief that the French moviegoers love movies from around the world. France prides itself as a country of moviegoers with over 5,000 screens, while in Nigeria we are proud to say that we have achieved 200 screens, up from 39 in the last two years.

“France’s film industry is acclaimed to be living ‘la vie en rose’ [life in roses], which its Nigerian counterpart would love to attain.”

Thomas also commented on the growing problem of piracy in the Nigerian film industry since the emergence of digital distribution platforms. “Let me not pretend that all is well with the industry, as we have serious piracy issue in Nigeria, though piracy is not directly within the regulatory purview of the NFVCB,” he said.

“Secondly, with the pervasive nature of ICT, online distribution/exhibition of movies has created regulatory nightmare for us at the NFVCB. France, no doubt, has experience in handling these issues and we therefore solicit technical support from you in tackling these issues.”

Jerome added: “The film industries in France and Nigeria are contributing a lot to their economies, and this agreement will further present opportunities for both countries. This will bring better relationships, not just between the two countries’ governments but between their citizens as well.

“Private investors in both countries will surely benefit from this collaboration, in terms of investment in distribution and marketing of films.”

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GOtv adds channels in Enugu, Aba

Pay TV operator GOtv has added nine channels to its Max and Plus packages for subscribers in Enugu and Aba.

John Ugbe

The selection of top local Nigerian channels comprises Spice TV, MiTV, WAP TV, ITV Benin, BISCON, Liberty TV, Tiwan Tiwan, R2TV and Rave.

John Ugbe, CEO of GOtv parent MultiChoice Nigeria, said of the move: “This brings to six the number of cities that have in one month seen an increase in our local content offering. We are witnessing a growth in the number of local channels in Nigeria that showcase different genres of TV programming and we are ensuring that our GOtv customers are not left out of that experience.”

GOtv has also added more local channels for Max and Plus subscribers in Jos, Kaduna, Asaba and Onitsha.

Ugbe said the additions were evidence of the company’s commitment to giving more Nigerians access to quality local and international programming at an affordable price, while also supporting the federal government’s digital switchover process.

“We continue to invest in up-to-date technology which ensures that our business is at par with global standards while ensuring our customers keep getting the best services available,” he added.

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Nigerian pitch wins at Joburg festival

Moshood Shades Ridwan’s Into the Odd

A project from Nigerian Moshood Shades Ridwan has been selected as one of the winners of the preliminary round of this year’s Animation du Monde pitch competition.

The contest is held annually in Johannesburg as part of the ICON Comic and Gaming Convention. Ridwan’s Into the Odd was one of three creatives announced as winners at this year’s event, its 27th edition.

The other winners were Cate Wood Hunter, for Pixel’s Plan (South Africa), and Sean Steinberg and Sean Braam for Flying Low (South Africa).

Last November, Ridwan’s animation Garbage Boy & Trash Can won the Cartoon Network Africa Creative Lab competition, giving him the opportunity to produce pilots in collaboration with Cartoon Network Studios. The resultant shows will premiere sometime this year.

Big Brother Naija theme revealed

The producers of Big Brother Naija have revealed the theme for the reality show’s upcoming fourth season.

The programme’s new run has been given the tagline ‘Forget Wahala,’ as revealed on the show’s Instagram page. The slogan refers to the title of the previous edition of Big Brother Naija, Double Wahala.

The team behind the show also claim season four  will be “the biggest version of BBNaija” yet.

Filmed in Nigeria, Big Brother Naija is sponsored by Bet9ja and will be hosted by Ebuka Obi-Uchendu for the third season in a row. Its launch date has yet to be revealed.

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Singers sought for Teen Africa TV show

Teen Africa TV, a forthcoming 24-hour channel aimed at teenagers, is preparing a karaoke-focused show for Lagos-based young people who are interested in singing.

Anyone aged between 16 and 20 can apply to take part in this show, regardless of vocal talent, offering a unique opportunity to put their singing skills to the test.

To apply, prospective performers must send a direct message to the @teenafricatv Instagram account. Shortlisted teens will be subsequently be contacted for recording.

Teen Africa TV is due to launch soon.

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Obaseki promises youth TV opportunities

The governor of Edo State has pledged opportunities for young people in the creative industry, with the construction of the Edo Film and Television Village set to begin soon.

Godwin Obaseki

Speaking on April 21 to mark the UN’s annual World Creativity and Innovation Day, Godwin Obaseki said: “The state government is assuring of its commitment to the Edo Film and Television Village, an initiative to exploit the creative energies of our youths and give them the opportunity to create wealth through their talent.”

Obaseki added that structures were being put in place in the state to exploit the economic benefits of Nigeria’s creative industry, and that construction of the village site would commence shortly.

“We have a rich cultural heritage in Edo and our film and TV village will provide opportunity for our youth to tell our stories to the world, helping to preserve our culture and also contributing to our economic diversification plans,” he said.

In addition, talent in film, television and other audiovisual products, the performing arts, new media and publishing will be tapped into to enhance the state’s GDP, Obaseki said.

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BBC, Channels TV get the Gist

BBC and Channels TV have launched a current affairs coproduction called Gist Nigeria.

The weekly half-hour programme will air on Channels TV in Nigeria and on partner stations in Sierra Leone and Liberia. It will focus on telling original stories behind the news and their impact on the audience, and will also feature interviews, studio discussions and in-depth reporting on issues that are important to Nigeria and West Africa.

There will also be stories covered by a selection of the BBC’s African services, plus audience interaction via @GistNigeriaTV on Twitter and Channels TV’s new studio in Lagos.

Segments to be featured each week include Social Story, which will analyse social media trends; *360*, which will look at issues in other countries; and Check Me Out, which will look at successful and inspirational Nigerian diaspora.

Kingsley Uranta, Channels TV’s assistant general manager of operations, said: “We look forward to our viewers enjoying the best of television programme production, crafted in the cherished tradition of Channels TV, which is anchored in truth, balance, fairness and integrity.

“Of equal importance is showcasing the giant strides of our people around the world as well as highlighting those issues that demand attention on our journey to a better society.”

Aiming to bring a new perspective to a younger audience, Gist Nigeria is anchored by Wale Fakile and Ajoke Lijadu-Ulohotse.

Nisha Kapur, BBC commissioning editor for Africa, said: “This partnership between the BBC and Nigeria’s leading TV channel goes beyond news coverage. It will tap into conversations going on in the country and track successful Nigerians living abroad.

“As we report and analyse regional and global news stories, Gist Nigeria wants to be free of clichés often associated with the news coverage of Africa. The programme will deliver BBC journalism in a dynamic and engaging style, based on our long-standing principles of independence, accuracy and unbiased reporting.”

Gist Nigeria airs live on Channels TV in Nigeria at 21.00.

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MultiChoice adds temporary stand-up channel

African pay TV provider MultiChoice has introduced a temporary comedy channel for its GOtv and DStv subscribers for the Easter period.

Launched yesterday, Naija Stand-Up Comedy will run to May 1 and is available to DStv Premium, Compact Plus, Compact and Family subscribers and GOtv Max subscribers.

The channel is showing 100% Nigerian content, comprising original productions, skits and coverage of ticketed stand-up shows. Programming includes Funny Bone Untamed and Comedy Nites with IK.

Martin Mabutho, chief customer officer at MultiChoice Nigeria, said: “This channel will guarantee rib-cracking jokes from some of Nigeria’s finest comedians. Viewers can look forward to being a part of some of the biggest ticketed shows in the country.”

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Momoh to receive Euro-Knowledge award

Channels Media Group chairman John Momoh is to be honoured by the Euro-Knowledge forum at the House of Lords in London later this month.

John Momoh

Momoh will receive an award that acknowledges and celebrates exemplary leaders who have made tremendous impact in their fields and have become role models, innovators or inspirational leaders.

The April 29 event is organised by Euro-Knowledge – an international consultancy and advisor to many leading businesses, as well as governments around the world – and will be attended by policymakers, captains of industry and business magnates.

Euro-Knowledge said in a statement: “The ceremony will begin with a tour of the House of Lords, then a forum on trade, investment and governance, to be followed by a networking reception that will usher the participants to dinner with entertainment during the presentation of the awards.”

Other honourees include OPEC secretary-general Mohammad Barkindo, Aiteo founder Benedict Peters, former trade and investment minister Onikepo Akande, Africa Prudential chair Eniola Fadayomi, and brand strategist and public speaker Afolabi Andu.

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Arcadia Premium TV outlines content

Olamide Yousuph and Akintunde Marinho

Arcadia Premium TV, the forthcoming channel founded by Olamide Yousuph and Akintunde Marinho, is working on unique original titles with international partners.

Speaking with journalists at a roundtable event last week ahead of the channel’s June launch, Arcadia’s founders said the channel would tell engaging African stories by merging the digital and terrestrial worlds in order to create premium entertainment on both mobile and cable TV.

Marinho said: “We are producing 19 original titles that you have not seen anywhere else before and this is something that is very new. We have international content partners like Sony, Universal, HBO that we are in contact with to help with international content. However, the drive is to develop an inventory of original content from Africa, not just Nigeria. We are looking at content from South Africa, Ghana, Uganda and Kenya.”

Yousuph, Arcadia’s chief operating officer, added: “When it comes to collaborations, we are always open to it. There’s always going to be consistency in the quality of shows we air. Although we had to change the names of some of the shows we were airing on our web portal because they didn’t really fit television style, the theme and quality remains.”

Arcadia already has a varied catalogue across genres including fashion and lifestyle, movies, comedy, music and sports. Titles include Serious Banta, Kitchen Dash, My Hustle and Arcadia Live on the Red Carpet. It also aims to secure exclusive rights to internationally popular films.

Arcadia Premium TV will air on StarTimes channel 176.

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HipTV takes Heritage Bank to court

The owner of Nigerian network HipTV has filed a lawsuit against Heritage Bank, accusing it of breaching professional conduct amid a protracted disagreement.

Ayo Animashaun

HipTV is owned by Smooth Promotions, which is run by Ayo Animashaun. By order of the federal high court, the bank recently seized HipTV’s property after it failed to pay back a loan.

However, Smooth Promotions claims the bank fraudulently deducted insurance premiums from HipTV’s account without remitting the money to the insurance company, and charged interest that was not agreed upon, alleging that almost N200m worth of charges were incorrect.

The company is requesting that the court reverse these charges, which were revealed by an independent audit.

“We have gone to the courts and we believe the justice system will intervene to make sure another honest, responsible Nigerian company does not fall prey to a mafia financial institution,” said a spokesperson for the entertainment channel.

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Kidnapped Channels TV reporter freed

Kidnapped Channels TV reporter Friday Okeregbe has been freed and his abductors arrested.

Friday Okeregbe

Okeregbe was abducted on March 22 but was released last week after a police operation that also saw three suspects taken into custody.

According to deputy police commissioner Frank Mba, Okeregbe – who police believe was not the main target of the kidnappers – was taken to a den in Karimo, Abuja, where he was held captive.

The three suspects have been named as Haniel Patrick, Abdulwahab Isah and Salisu Mohammed. They were arrested on April 9, with police also recovering weaponry believed to belong to the men.

The police have said they will do all they can to arrest other members of the gang involved and have urged anyone who can aid the process to come forward with their information.

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Eagle TV to air Nigerian content

US-based satellite TV station Eagle TV is to transmit Nigerian shows to its viewers in more than 70 countries around the world.

The news was revealed by Eagle TV co-chairman Peter Obaseki at a press briefing in Benin City, with the programming set to include both live and pre-recorded content.

Obaseki, who is also general overseer of the Divine Grace of Glory Ministry, said the move was aimed at increasing the popularity of Nigerian content across Europe, the US and sub-Saharan Africa.

“Our programme content goes beyond religious activities,” Obaseki said. “Aside from the broadcast of social programmes, we are beaming to our viewers other activities that are impactful to society.

“Primarily, our aim is to ensure that news about Nigeria, and Edo in particular, especially from the grassroots, is passed to the world.”

Eagle TV’s programming can currently be seen on MYTV, a free-to-air satellite station, and other platforms, while the company also plans to beam its content on MultiChoice-owned pay TV platforms GOTV and DSTV.

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Maxima launches Views Channel

Lagos-based Maxima Media Group has launched a channel aimed at young people in Nigeria on both TV and digital platforms.

Targeting 16- to 35-year-olds, Views Channel is the culmination of a project that first formed 10 years ago.

Launching the new channel, Maxima MD Femi Ogundoro said:  “We want to give young people a channel to express their passion, irrespective of their discipline.

“The only platform we are trying to do now is to bridge the gap between TV and digital such that young people can express themselves. Passion can be anything – music, business, fashion or whatever.

“Our target audience is strictly 16 to 35s, who dominate the population. About 60% of them actually constitute our population, they should be given a voice.”

With a recent YouTube survey showing young people are interested in fashion, politics and other areas, Ogundoro said he felt Views Channel would enable youths to express themselves freely more than traditional TV.

However, he also highlighted the financial challenges the new channel faces in terms of paying TV platforms to air its programmes while also making content. Views Channel is due to start airing on StarTimes but further details have yet to be announced.

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Scoope takes The Doctors to Africa

CBS Studios International and UK firm Scoope Media have agreed a licensing deal that will result in an African version of the US company’s hit format The Doctors.

Dr Dayo Osholowu

Scoope Media will produce the show in Nigeria. Each episode of the hour-long programme will offer practical wellness and lifestyle information from medical practitioners. It will also feature real-life stories and interviews with celebrities.

The deal was struck between Roxanne Pompa, VP of formats for CBS Studios International, and Dr Dayo Osholowu, who will host and exec produce the show. Osholowu has a healthcare company based in Lagos named Kasi Healthcare.

The series is set to premiere in the final quarter of 2019 on the Scoop! SVoD platform as well as on pay and free TV broadcasters across Africa. Rights have already been sold to pay TV operators DStv and StarTimes.

“It’s terrific that CBS Studios International and Dr Osholowu are bringing such a globally recognised format like The Doctors to Africa,” said Pompa.

“This is a show that empowers its viewers with insight and information, and will serve as a public service for the broad and engaged audiences found across the African continent.”

Scoope VP Ibukun Lasisi added: “This is a huge development for healthcare in Africa as we work with CBS to broaden its global reach of The Doctors brand. A pilot has been shot and it looks fantastic.

“We are working closely with the leading doctors, healthcare-focused brands and the leading broadcasters across the market to deliver a show that will do more for healthcare in Africa.”

Osholowu, whose company has spent two years developing a mobile app to allow audiences across Africa to consult with doctors in real time, believes the show can have a great impact on the continent by providing access to quality medical advice.

“I always thought The Doctors would work in the African market and be fuel for change,” he said. “Our goal every week is to make people across Africa laugh, cry and learn something about their health.

“We hope to bring care to many who do not have proper healthcare access and, of course, to become a highly rated show.”

Created by Jay McGraw, The Doctors debuted on CBS in the US in 2008. The show won an Emmy for Outstanding Talk Show/Informative in 2010 and has been nominated in the category six times.

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BBNaija online audition finalists revealed

The producers of Big Brother Naija (BBNaija) have selected 10 finalists from online auditions, with viewers having the final say on who becomes a housemate in the reality show’s fourth season.

The finalists are 32-year-old Charles, Emeka (33), Nkeiru (23), Precious (23), Onyeka(24), Moshood (26), Todum (32), Ifeanyi (23), Oluwasegun (30) and Samson (25).

Viewers will now get the chance to decide which hopeful enters the BBNaija house. MultiChoice, the pay TV company behind the show, said: “Big Brother is giving you, the viewer, the power to select one more housemate to go into the Big Brother house this season. These personalities bring you the choice of more drama, action, love, laughter or entertainment.

“All you have to do is vote for the personality you will like to see in the house, daily, from March 21 to 31 2019. Remember, you must be an active DStv/GOtv subscriber to cast valid votes.”

The start date for the show has not yet been announced.

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Channels TV reporter kidnapped

Channels TV reporter Friday Okeregbe has been kidnapped, with his abductors demanding a ransom of N50million (US$138,600).

Friday Okeregbe

Okeregbe was taken on his way back from a mechanic’s workshop in Games village, Abuja. His whereabouts is unknown and his family have so far been unable to gather the ransom for his release.

Neither the police nor Okeregbe’s family had issued a statement on the kidnapping prior to the publication of this story. Channels TV is a 24-hour Nigerian independent news and media television channel.

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