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Nigeria looks to the future at CNS 2018

Gabriella Opara offers a round-up of the first day of the Creative Nigeria Summit (CNS), which began in Lagos yesterday.

Delegates pack out a session at the Creative Nigeria Summit

The second edition of the CNS has seen more than 1,000 TV industry professionals and media entrepreneurs converging to discuss the future of Nigerian TV in the digital age.

Media figureheads from several countries are at the summit, including EbonyLife TV CEO Mo Abudu, Sony’s Kunle Falodun, Anahita Kheder from FremantleMedia, Lindsay Oliver from African Medi Works, MediaGuru chief Sanjay Salil, UK producer Emma Smithwick and Lighthouse TV & Filmworks CEO Neil Oyenakan.

The event began with a welcome address from Nigeria minister of information and culture Alhaji Lai Mohammed, who discussed several initiatives that have been put in place since last year’s CNS. These include anti-piracy policies, the creation of interest-friendly loans, the development of better infrastructure and the setting up of audience rating and measurement systems.

Speakers and panellists addressed various topics targeted at the television and film industry in the country and how to further develop it.

Mo Abudu

The first panel discussion featured Kheder, Oliver and Falodun, as well as US producer Jeff Kallegheri and C21Media founding partner and commercial director Odiri Iwuji. With the panel focusing on how Nigerian producers can crack the international market, delegates heard of the need to create high-quality content that appeals to local and international audiences and the importance of finding the right partners.

“Relationships are an important thing in the industry,” said Kallegheri, CEO of Waterstone Entertainment. “Connect with people wherever you get the chance. Also, take time to develop your content – ensure it’s up to par before thinking of marketing it.”

In a later panel session focused on drama, Abudu, Iwuji, Smithwick, Sahil and Kallegheri all stressed the importance of creating relatable content, as this defines “the power of drama.”

Abudu explained: “One of the most important elements of drama is to create content everyone can relate to, within your target audience. This is one of the things we had in mind when we created dramas such as Sons of Caliphate and Castle & Castle on Ebonylife TV.”

Kallegheri added: “Timing is everything. Just because a show doesn’t have much viewership now doesn’t [mean it won’t] have a great audience in years to come.”

Elsewhere, Digital Play executive chairman Toyin Subair touched on some of the issues relating to telcos and content providers in Nigeria. “Nigeria is the biggest market for telecommunication companies and TV platforms. It is the first country to start with TV in sub-Saharan Africa and also one of the leading data-consuming markets in Africa. Yet the biggest telcos and TV platforms in the country are owned and controlled by foreign companies,” he said.

Meanwhile, Smithwick offered this advice to content creators during a masterclass on pitching: “Pitching ideas requires time-consciousness, brand awareness and a thematic approach. Before pitching, ask yourself these question: what’s the core narrative? What’s the theme? And what’s my approach? These will help guide how you pitch, since there is no one way to pitch.”

In a separate masterclass, Tolu Ajayi, CEO of Insight Communications, advised attendees about creating original scripts: “Nothing is really original because we are always inspired by something, so what we are doing is recycling. So the question is, how do you recycle with a fresh take? Well, mix ideas, brainstorm, disrupt, smooth them out, do something old with a new approach. Ideas stem from anywhere – you just need to make yourself accessible to it.”

The first day of the CNS concluded with a keynote address from a representative of the Federal Inland Revenue Service, who spoke about the benefits of taxation to the creative industry in the country.

Content Nigeria will continue to provide news and insight relating to this year’s CNS. For live updates on #CNS2018 day two, follow us on Twitter.

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