All posts by John Winfield

DStv adds news network

Pay TV operator MultiChoice Africa has introduced a new channel on its DStv platform across the continent.

Newzroom Afrika, a 24-hour news network, is now available to subscribers to DStv’s Access, Family, Compact, Compact Plus and Premium package.

The channel covers content ranging from breaking news to in-depth analysis, business, sports, expert panel discussions and unique insights into the African continent.

Newzroom Afrika co-founder and co-CEO Thabile Ngwato said: “We believe viewers are hungry for a different perspective that is fully independent and puts their interests first. We made sure, in designing our editorial structure and choosing the members of our editorial board, to hardwire the highest levels of rigour and independence into our newsroom.

“We are excited to be broadcasting into the rest of Africa, as this has been the plan from the very beginning.”

Yolisa Phahle, CEO of general entertainment at MultiChoice, added: “We are proud to bring this news channel to more of our DStv customers across the continent. The addition of Newzroom Afrika will increase the diversity of voices and perspectives in Africa’s news media spaces.”

Newzroom Afrika claims to have unmatched remote broadcasting capabilities, cutting-edge systems and technology that allows for high-definition broadcast and enables journalists roam wherever the news takes them. It can be found on DStv channel 405.

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MultiChoice unveils GOtv mobile app

Pay TV company MultiChoice has launched a mobile app that allows its customers of its digital terrestrial platform, GOtv, to make changes to their accounts.

John Ugbe

MyGOtv is available as a free download via the iOS and Android app stores.

MultiChoice CEO John Ugbe said the app would enable customers to manage their accounts, including the ability to make payments, check balances, change packages and manage viewing preferences.

“The new app will form part of the numerous digital platforms that are innovative and functional to meet the ever-changing needs and demands of our valued customers,” Ugbe said.

“And with the start of season four of reality TV show Big Brother Naija, customers get 100 additional votes to keep their favourite housemate in the competition when they vote via the MyGOtv app.

“By enabling customers to independently manage their accounts, we expect to see a reduction in queries and queues at call centres, thereby freeing up our customer-facing staff to provide improved one-on-one support to those customers who require it. Our goal is to provide an accessible, affordable and efficient platform for self-service to improve overall customer experience when engaging with GOtv.”

Ugbe added that he functionality of the app would be continuously worked on and updated to adapt to technological advancements and improve the user experience.


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Muslim group demands BBNaija ban

A Nigerian Muslim group has urged president Muhammadu Buhari to ban reality show Big Brother Naija, which is currently in its fourth season.

Ishaq Akintola

Muslim Rights Concern (MURIC) has sent a petition to the president outlining its concerns over the show, which it believes is “immoral” and attempts to lure young people to seek wealth through nefarious means.

“We are being forcibly dragged to a world of nudity, shamelessness and open promiscuity,” says MURIC’s petition. “Inmates of BBNaija kiss, romance and engage in sex openly. BBNaija is bohemian, antisocial, crude and immoral. It constitutes a potent danger to every home. BBNaija is satanic. It is unacceptable.

“Where are our norms and values? Is it part of African culture to engage in sex in the open? Where are the authorities? Is the Ministry of Information and Culture sleeping? Is the National Orientation Agency on sabbatical? Who will protect our children from this despicable onslaught? Who did this to Nigeria?”

MURIC director Ishaq Akintola also pleaded with traditional rulers, the Ministry of Information and Culture, the National Orientation Agency, and Christians and Muslims alike to work together to get BBNaija off air.

MURIC describes itself as a human rights organisation that condemns terrorism and all acts of violence. It also promotes and protects the rights of Muslims.

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Pineapple TV launches in Nigeria

Kids’ and family channel Pineapple TV has been launched in Nigeria via StarTimes.

Aimed at children aged four to 16, the African channel makes use of stories and characters to inform, educate and entertain local and diaspora viewers.

Pineapple TV marketing director Yetunde Falade said the launch “ensures the company fulfils another of its mandates, which is generating opportunities for professionals within this sector of the Nigeria Creative Industry, for example, script writers, animators, actors and directors to name a few, thereby contributing positively to the Nigerian economy through job creations and involvement of locally selected talents and content production.”

Ashionye Raccah, Nigerian actor and host of Pineapple TV cooking show Cool Kids Cook, added: “It is vital that the African child is exposed to safe and quality programmes which educate and entertain. The result will manifest in a more informed, educated, aware, open-minded and confident adult.”

Pineapple TV can be found on StarTimes channel 129.

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NBC revises broadcasting code

The National Broadcasting Commission has introduced the sixth edition of the Nigerian broadcasting code in an attempt to counter ‘fake news’ and improve professionalism in the country’s broadcast industry.

Mallam Is’haq Modibbo Kawu

NBC director general Mallam Is’haq Modibbo Kawu said: “The new broadcasting code will reposition Nigeria’s broadcasting landscape and also tackle the issues of hate speech and fake news that characterise the industry.”

Kawu added that the government was pressing ahead with its national digital switchover project despite a shortage of funds, with the process underway in all six geopolitical zones of Nigeria.

Once the national analogue signal is switched off, pay TV operators will no longer broadcast free-to-air channels. A new timetable should be expected once the commission’s board gives approval, Kawu said.

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MultiChoice begins retrenchment process

Pay TV operator MultiChoice has held its first meeting regarding its decision to lay off almost 2, 200 employees.

The cuts will affect those working in the company’s call and walk-in centres. They come as part of a strategic realignment of its customer service delivery model, after customer feedback indicated that MultiChoice subscribers prefer using digital platforms to telephone or walk-in services.

Stakeholders attending the meeting included  representatives from the Communication Workers Union, the Media Workers Association of SA and the Information Communication Technology Union, as well MultiChoice’s own Work Place Forum.

MultiChoice group executive for corporate affairs Joe Heshu said: “We respect the spirit that prevailed in the meeting, which was one of open conversations and candour. As a responsible employer, we are empathetic to the plight of the employees who are being consulted as part of the proposed restructuring process.

“We are encouraged that the relevant labour unions share the same views around ensuring the well-being of our employees as we consult on a very difficult process.”

In an effort to exercise due diligence in ensuring it remains compliant with the letter and the spirit of the Labour Relations Act and in agreement with unions and employee representatives, the company has agreed to offer voluntary severance packages and other benefits to affected staff.

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StarTimes trumpets $220m Nigeria spend

China-based StarTimes has invested more than US$220m into Nigeria since launching in the country in 2010, according to the pay TV operator’s MD.

Speaking at the recent Chinese Film Week in Abuja, David Zhang highlighted StarTimes’ achievements in the Nigerian market to date. “So far, we have invested a total of US$220m in Nigeria, developed a network of nearly 3,000 distributors in the country [and accumulated] around four million subscribers,” he said.

“We are actively involved in corporate social responsibility and have paid a total of US$25m in tax, recruited more than 1,000 local staff, 97% of whom are Nigerians, and indirectly employed tens of thousands of people in various fields such as marketing, technology, accounting, logistics and customer services.

“We have made our due contributions to the popularisation of digital TV and economic development in Nigeria.

Noting the company’s investment in sports content, Zhang added: “We keep strengthening our content platform. We have done huge investment on football content. Millions of Nigerian households enjoyed all 64 matches of the World Cup live broadcasts a few months ago through our DTV platform or OTT platform for only N1,300.”

Zhang also said the company’s plan to provide 10,000 African villages with access to digital television was already being implemented in 1,000 locations, translating to 20,000 Nigerian households.

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NCC names public affairs director

The Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) has named an existing exec as its new director of public affairs.

Henry Chukwudumeme Nkemadu

Dr Henry Chukwudumeme Nkemadu’s appointment comes at a crucial time, with the regulator upping the ante in terms of its oversight of the Nigerian media industry, according to NCC executive vice-chairman Umar Garba Danbatta.

Nkemadu first joined the NCC in 2003 as its principal business development manager, handling proposals on capacity-building initiatives in liaison with international agencies.

He has worked in a variety of roles for the NCC, including a stint as head of special intervention projects. He also holds multiple degrees from universities in Nigeria and the US,.

“Dr Henry has had a rewarding opportunity of traversing the entire telecom regulatory ecosystem, which experience he will find handy as the new spokesman of the commission,” Danbatta said.

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BBNaija Pepper Dem kicks off

The fourth season of hit Nigerian reality show Big Brother Naija, with the suffix Pepper Dem, is underway.

Extended for an extra week, the show’s fourth run has begun with 21 housemates living together in a mansion.

John Ugbe, CEO of broadcaster MultiChoice, which is behind the show, said: “We’re proud of the work everyone has delivered to bring this show to viewers’ television screens and devices.

“Our customers are in for a treat and this season is going to be even bigger and hotter and, more importantly, it’s taking place right here in Nigeria.”

Big Brother Naija season is available via all DStv packages on channel 198 and on GOtv Max and Plus on channel 29.

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MultiChoice ups TV, film production

Showmax and DStv owner MultiChoice is planning to produce 52 local movies and 29 dramas in the next year.

The news was announced alongside the publishing of the South Africa-based pay TV firm’s latest financial results, which revealed it had made a profit of seven billion South African rand from revenue of 50.1 billion rand.

The company has pledged to increase its spend on local general entertainment by 40% in 2022 compared to this year’s outlay.

MultiChoice CEO Calvo Mawela said: “Our growth is exceptionally pleasing, especially in the current economic climate, and a clear indication that our strategy is working.”

In an effort to differentiate itself from Netflix, the company is also planning to offer more sports content on Showmax.

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University association launches channel

The Association of African Universities (AAU) has launched a TV channel providing news and information relating to higher education.

Created last year, the AAU brands itself the “voice of higher education in Africa” and previously shared video content via YouTube, Facebook and on its website.

Now it will broadcast such programming on digital and satellite television via new channel AAU TV.

“AAU TV presents TV viewers with a number of programmes, including AAU Talks, a wide range of programmes that focus on current issues in African higher-education careers, and Daily Higher Education News, a bilingual programme (English and French) on the news of higher education and opportunities,” the AAU said in a statement on its website.

The channel will also include interviews, discussions on general health, agricultural tips, documentaries on African universities and shows about educational issues across Africa.

AAU TV  covers the whole of Africa and beyond. The channel is now planning further content.

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StarTimes breathes Life into Bollywood net

Pay TV company StarTimes has launched a channel offering content from India’s Bollywood industry.

The addition of StarLife to StarTimes’ line-up was announced at a press conference, where the company’s brand and marketing director, Qasim Elegbede, said: “StarLife will showcase only the best family dramas, blockbuster movies, series, celebrity dance shows and more on Channel 500/550.”

StarTimes content marketing manager Bose Adewara added: “All programmes on StarLife are relatable to practical life in Nigeria and are in the English language, which makes it easy for the Nigerian audience to follow.”

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Sudani From Nigeria shopped at SIFF

Indian distributor GoQuest Media Ventures is showcasing critically acclaimed comedy-drama movie Sudani From Nigeria, which stars a Nigerian actor, at the Shanghai International Film Festival (SIFF) this week.

Sudani From Nigeria

Zakariya Mohammed’s award-winning debut is produced by Sameer Thahir and Shyju Khalid from Indian firm Happy Hours Entertainments. It stars Nigeria’s Samuel Abiola Robinson (Desperate Housewives Africa) alongside Soubin Shahir (Parava), Aneesh G Menon, Savithri Sreedharan and Sarasa Balussery.

The film centres on the manager of a local soccer team, played by Shahir, and a Nigerian soccer player (Robinson). It tells a story of love and finding a home in a faraway land.

Vivek Lath, co-founder of GoQuest Media Ventures, said: “We aim to showcase the best of entertainment not just from India, but from across borders to worldwide audiences. There is always an appetite for good content, irrespective of language or regions. It is our endeavour to bring great content to audiences internationally. Sudani From Nigeria is a classic joie-de-vivre story, and good content knows no boundaries.”

GoQuest Media Ventures holds sales rights to the film in China and is offering it to buyers at this year’s SIFF, which is taking place this week and runs until June 24.

Sudani From Nigeria has won accolades including Best Film at the 21st Asianet Film Awards, the Audience Choice Award at Russia’s Hero and Time International Film Festival 2019 and Best Movie at the Asian Vision Movie Awards in Dubai.

The film was also part of the official selection at last year’s Indian Film Festival in Cincinnati and this year’s Jerusalem International Film Festival and Dhaka International Film Festival.

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NBC, Daar settle dispute

The National Broadcasting Commission (NBC) has resolved its dispute with Daar Communications, the owner of Africa Independent Television (AIT) and Ray Power FM.

Daar’s licence suspension has been lifted

The NBC has lifted the suspension of Daar’s broadcast licence, while the media group has withdrawn its court case against the commission.

The dispute was resolved via a meeting attended by Daar founder Raymond Dokpesi and and NBC director-general Ishaq Modibbo-Kawu, as well as Nduka Obaigbena, president of the Newspapers Proprietors’ Association of Nigeria (NPAN); Ismaila Funtua, former president of NPAN; and Sam Amuka, publisher of the Vanguard newspaper.

The NBC had suspended Daar’s licence over breaches of its Nigeria Broadcasting Code. It also accused the company of a lack of editorial balance and said it had failed to pay licence fees.

Daar had countered that its editorial team was free to comment on the issues of the day under section 39 of the Nigerian constitution, which guarantees freedom of expression and freedom to hold opinions and to receive and impart ideas without interference.

To resolve the dispute, Daar agreed to work out a realistic licence payment plan with the NBC and to appoint an ombudsman to ensure balance in its news coverage, especially when it comes to political commentary. It also pledged to take full editorial responsibility for the use of content sourced from social media.

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SuperSport adds Olympic Channel

Pay TV channel SuperSport has added an Olympics-focused network to its digital platforms ahead of next year’s Olympic Games in Toyko.

Gideon Khobane

Olympic Channel, which is operated by the International Olympic Committee, will engage and inform audiences on the Olympics throughout the year, according to SuperSport.

Programming includes documentaries, series, breaking news stories on the road to the Olympics, insights into the next edition of the Youth Olympic Games and sports from across the globe.

Mark Parkman, general manager of Olympic Channel, said: “With Tokyo 2020 only a year away, the Olympic Channel looks forward to further developing its partnership with SuperSport across multiple platforms with the common aim of building excitement for the forthcoming Olympic Games through relevant and local programming that engages the audience.”

SuperSport CEO Gideon Khobane said the channel would complement SuperSport’s linear broadcast offering.

“The countdown has begun for the 2020 Olympic Games and SuperSport is ready to bring the many stories and the exciting build-up to viewers across Africa,” he added.

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Accelerate Filmmaker Project 2019 kicks off

The third edition of Nigerian training scheme the Accelerate Filmmaker Project (AFP) is underway.

The AFP launched this week

The initiative, from Accelerate TV, is geared towards training and harnessing the filmmaking skills of Nigerian youths, while providing them with an opportunity to make their own films.

This year will see 25 participants receive training from Nigeria’s top film industry professionals for a week. Five winners will then be chosen to receive mentoring and funds to make their own short films, which will debut at Nigerian film festival AFRIFF 2019 and will also air on Accelerate TV.

Accelerate TV head Colette Otusheso said: “We are excited to be bringing back a third instalment of our award-winning capacity-building and mentoring project. This year we will be training and empowering more young people and throwing in some big surprises along the way. The AFP is all about training and empowering young people while giving them the skills, tools, access and a stepping stone to realise their dreams and bring their stories to life.”

The AFP is produced by Bolanle Olosunde-Jenrola and award-winning filmmaker Kemi Lala Akindoju.

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Daar licence suspension lifted

The Federal High Court has nullified the suspension of Daar Communications’ broadcast licence ahead of a court hearing next Thursday.

Mallam Is’haq Modibbo Kawu

The suspension imposed on Daar, which owns African Independent Television (AIT) and Raypower FM, was imposed by the National Broadcasting Commission (NBC) yesterday but has now been lifted by the Federal High Court, led by Justice Inyang Ekwo.

At a press briefing in Abuja on Thursday, NBC director-general Mallam Is’haq Modibbo Kawu said the reasons for the indefinite suspension included the airing of a presidential election documentary by the AIT, a matter pending before a tribunal, the inability of the company to pay its fees and the use of “divisive and inciting contents from social media.”

Modibbo said: “In their relationship with the NBC, Daar Communications carries on as if it is beyond the regulatory direction of the commission. They don’t pay their licence fees as and when due and their broadcast is patently partisan and one-sided and deliberately inciting and heating up the polity.

“The management of the company has created the habit of using the channel to fight its personal battles contrary to the statutory requirements of the law.

“Recently, NBC monitoring reports on AIT and Raypower indicate the use of divisive comments accredited to the segment of Kakaaki, tagged Kakaaki Social, where inciting comments like, ‘Nigeria is cursed,’ ‘We declare independent state of Niger Delta’, ‘Nigeria irritates me’, ‘This country is gradually Islamising’ and other similar slogans are used without editorial control in breach of the broadcast code.

“Consequently, after several meetings with the management of Daar Communications Plc and many letters of warning, the NBC took a decision to suspend the licence of Daar Communications Plc for failure to abide by the commission’s directives, the provisions of the NBC Act Cap N11 Laws of the Federation of Nigeria and the Nigeria Broadcasting Code.”

Daar Communications had asked the court to order the commission to reverse its ban, claiming that it had not breached any broadcast code.

Justice Ekwo ordered the NBC, the Federal Ministry of Information and the Attorney General to appear before the court on June 13 to show cause why the motion from Daar Communications should not be granted.

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Lagos Film Academy preps training week

The Lagos Film Academy (LFA) is to hold a training week next month, featuring award-winning filmmaker Chris Ihidero’s StoryStory workshop and the second edition of its TV writing masterclass.

Chris Ihidero

StoryStory will be held on July 8 and 9, while the TV writing masterclass will take place from July 10 to 12.

Ihidero’s collaboration with LFA is aimed at addressing crucial skill gaps in the creative industries.

StoryStory, which has been held as a pro bono workshop for four years, will now merge with the TV writing masterclass for a week to enable aspiring storytellers to learn from experts in the film, advertising and media industries as well as mid-level writers working in the TV, film, and media sectors.

Ihidero has been a professional storyteller for 23 years and has worked as a broadcaster and newspaper columnist. He has directed more than 100 hours of TV drama, including Tempest, Now We Are Married and Fuji House of Commotion. He produced the fourth season of MTV drama Shuga in 2015 and also made short film Big Daddy in 2012.

“I am thrilled to be working with the Lagos Film Academy again to deliver an explosive week of training and learning for the young and mid-career creatives in our midst. Learning from experts and training the next batch of creatives is how an industry grows,” Ihidero said.

On July 13, Ihidero will be joined by other notable filmmakers to conclude the training with a question and answer session.

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StarTimes scores Copa America coverage

Football superstar Lionel Messi playing for Argentina

Pay TV operator StarTimes has acquired exclusive sub-Saharan Africa rights to broadcast this summer’s Copa America football tournament.

The competition, which takes place every four years, kicks off in São Paulo on June 14 and concludes with July 7’s final. The teams taking part this year are: Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Ecuador, Japan, Paraguay, Peru, Qatar, Uruguay and Venezuela.

StarTimes Sport director Shi Maochu said: “South America has some of the best teams in the world. We are happy to give our 25 million users the chance to watch [the likes of Lionel] Messi playing with their national teams.

“Apart from Africa, the continent with the craziest football fans is South America. And this year, the tournament will be held in the best football country, Brazil. It will be intense.”

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Abudu wants African stories to go global

Mo Abudu is interviewed by the BBC in Lagos

Nigerian media mogul Mo Abudu has called on African creatives to tell local stories with global appeal.

The EbonyLife TV founder made the comments in an interview with British broadcaster the BBC in Lagos.

“Africa has remained creatively silent forever, so there’s such an abundant treasure trove of stories that we have to share with the world. Our stories need to be heard globally,” Abudu said.

“Our content is fascinating for anyone to watch; we have a huge amount of history to share.”

Although Nollywood has been in existence for 20 years, Abudu said the next step for the African screen industry was for its stories to have global presence.

She added that this had been her motivation in producing movies, which include top-grossing titles such as Fifty and Chief Daddy.

“I want EbonyLife Film to be the provider of the niche market [of viewers who] want African stories that speak to them. EbonyLife Film has a brand and an audience waiting,” Abudu continued.

She also offered tips on good filmmaking practice, including finding relatable stories and working with great talent, as well as striving for high production values and good sound grading, marketing and post production.

EbonyLife is working hard to invest money and resources in content development, Abudu added.

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