All posts by Gary

CBS renews Bob Hearts Abishola

US broadcast network CBS has ordered a fourth season of TV comedy series Bob Hearts Abishola, which stars Nigerian actress Folake Olowofoyeku (Westworld, Modern Family).

Folake Olowofoyeku

The series is about a small business owner, played by Billy Gardell (Mike & Molly), who winds up in hospital after a heart attack and becomes smitten with his nurse, played by Olowofoyeku, a Nigerian who had migrated to the US.

The Monday night show also stars Christine Ebersole, Matt Jones, Maribeth Monroe, Vernee Watson, Shola Adewusi and Barry Shabaka Henley.

“So enormously proud to announce we’ve been renewed for season four!! Thank you beautiful people for watching our lovely Bob Hearts Abishola”, said Olowofoyeku on her Instagram page.

Kelly Kahl, president at CBS Entertainment, said the show “continues to deftly blend belly laughs with relatable and culturally relevant storylines, thanks to these exceptionally talented actors and outstanding creative teams.”

The half-hour sitcom is written by Emmy winner Chuck Lorre (The Big Bang Theory, Two & a Half Men) and produced by Chuck Lorre Productions in association with Warner Bros Television. It debuted on CBS in September 2019 and is distributed worldwide by Warner Bros Television Distribution.

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Ugandan regulator probes TV stations

The Uganda Communications Commission (UCC) has placed 23 television stations under investigation for allegedly airing content that violates the East African country’s copyright laws.

Susan Wegoye

The TV stations include UBC Star TV, NBS TV, U24TV, Magic1 HD TV, Excel TV, GMTV, Fresh TV, Nyce TV, HGTV, GTV, Top TV, Ndejje TV, BBS TV, Kingdom TV, UBC TV, Baba TV, BTM TV, Tagy TV, Family TV, KS TV, See TV, Spirit TV and STV.

The commission had written to the stations demanding they immediately cease broadcasting programmes or content for which they have not acquired the necessary authorisation or rights.

A letter to the stations signed by acting UCC executive director Susan Wegoye reads: “Please note that Section 46 of the Copyrights & Neighbouring Rights Act of 2006 strictly prohibits broadcasters from exhibiting copyrighted material to the public for commercial purposes by way of broadcast, public performance or otherwise without a valid transfer, licence, assignment or authorisation.”

According to the Uganda Communications Act of 2013, all broadcast programmes must comply with relevant laws and regulations, including the Uganda Communications (Content) Regulations 2019, which requires all broadcasters to comply with the Copyrights & Neighbouring Rights Act of 2006 and the Industrial Property Act of 2014.

Wegoye went on to say that adherence to the law is further stipulated in the licence agreement that was signed between the 23 stations and the UCC, which requires every station to maintain records of rights obtained for programming that they broadcast.

The UCC added that 84 programmes previously aired by the TV stations had been reported for alleged copyright infringement – most of them foreign movies – and the stations have been directed to respond to the complaints in writing as well as provide proof and evidence of acquisition of copyrights and broadcasting rights to the content.

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LAFF supports female directors in Africa

The Luxor African Film Festival (LAFF) in Egypt is set to debut a project called Factory to support female directors from Africa and the Middle East.

Azza Elhosseiny

The initiative will take place at the 11th edition of the festival from March 4 to 10 and will highlight female directors’ roles in creating films in the region – especially documentaries – where they face many challenges finalising their first or second films.

Between seven and nine longform films will be supported at the event as well as the development and training of young female directors, who will be taught by experts from Africa, Europe and America through workshops specially prepared for the project.

LAFF director and project founder Azza Elhosseiny said: “The new edition will invite a group of leading women directors in documentary cinema to host discussions, along with film screenings directed by leading female documentary filmmakers in Africa. Those participating in Factory projects will be selected by the festival management and Factory director Kawthar Younis, an Egyptian director who studied filmmaking at the Cairo Higher Film Institute.”

LAFF is organised by the Independent Shabab Foundation under the auspices of the Egyptian Ministries of Culture, Tourism and Foreign Affairs, together with the National Bank of Egypt and other partners.

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Nigeria’s Vortex signs pact with Emagine

The Zodiac

Nigerian creative content and entertainment company Vortex Corp has signed a production deal with Los Angeles-based production outfit Emagine Content.

Under the deal, Emagine Content will adapt Vortex’s catalogue of African superhero comics for film and TV.

Vortex’s titles are rooted in traditional African culture, mythology and spiritual heritage. They include Land of Gods, the fantasy story about a student who journeys into a mysterious land, and The Zodiac, about the Dogon tribe of Mali who discover the sacred scroll of Timbuktu which gifts children mystical powers.

Other African titles include Black Hole, following a curious 12-year-old who accidentally launches himself into space with his dad, and Local Champions, the story of goofy fun-loving heroes who go about their daily routines and wacky adventures.

Announcing the Emagine deal on Instagram, the Lagos-based firm said: “We are excited to be developing some of our comic titles for TV in partnership with Emagine Content. It’s really inspiring taking these pages and panels from the comic into moving pictures.”

The Vortex agreement comes soon after Emagine signed a pact last June with Nigeria’s Comic Republic, Africa’s largest publisher of independent comic books, and US-based JackieBoy Entertainment to turn Comic Republic title Ireti into a feature film.

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Trace appoints Endemol veteran CEO

Former Endemol Shine Africa CEO Sivan Pillay has been appointed boss of the newly formed Trace Studios in South Africa.

Sivan Pillay

Trace Studios is the result of the acquisition by Trace of Cape Town-based Okuhle Media Studios, which has been merged with Trace’s content production and distribution operations.

Pillay has been tasked with establishing Trace Studios as a premium creator, producer and distributor of TV and film content for Africa and the world.

The company produces a range of content, including branded content, unscripted programming and scripted drama series.

Pillay joined Endemol South Africa in 2000 after beginning his career in the music industry, becoming managing director in 2008. He was later named CEO of Endemol Shine Africa after the merger between Endemol and Shine.

He worked on a slate that included Big Brother Africa, Isidingo, Survivor South Africa, Fear Factor and Deal or No Deal and has served as executive producer on over 125 TV shows and commercial partnerships in Africa.

After his Endemol years and until the end of 2021, Pillay was the founder and CEO of 360 Degrees South and Zero Gravity TV & Media, where he developed over 40 TV formats that will be part of the Trace Studios format catalogue.

Olivier Laouchez, Trace Group’s executive chairman, said: “Content is about talent. Having a talent like Sivan is a major step to realise one of Trace’s key objectives to be a leader in independent audiovisual production.”

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Ndani Real Talk returns for fifth run

Ndani TV’s talkshow Ndani Real Talk is coming back for a fifth season, with the new episodes debuting on the Nigerian webcaster’s YouTube channel this week.

Bisola Aiyeola

The show, hosted by Nigerian actor Bisola Aiyeola, features real people sharing their opinions on social issues. It also addresses the everyday lives of Africans living on the continent and further afield.

“Ndani Real Talk is coming back for a fifth season and the amazing Bisola Aiyeola is your host,” stated the channel on Instagram.

The show will premiere on January 20 and new episodes will go live on the channel every Thursday at noon.

Ndani TV is owned by Lagos-based multinational financial services group GTBank and showcases the best of African art, fashion, film, business and sports. It was launched in 2012 and has so far clocked up more than 100 million views and has over 440,000 subscribers.

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MasterChef SA’s new judges revealed

Justine Drake, Zola Nene and Gregory Czarnecki front the new MasterChef SA

MultiChoice-owned African pay TV network M-Net has revealed the new judges for returning cooking competition reality series MasterChef South Africa, which set for a fourth season after five years off-air.

The new judges are chefs Zola Nene and Gregory Czarnecki and food editor Justine Drake. The trio will be the culinary masters whose palates and expertise will guide 20 contestants to the ultimate R1m (US$66,000) prize and the coveted title of MasterChef.

According to M-Net, the judges, with their varied experience and viewpoints, will inject freshness into the new season of MasterChef SA, with Czarnecki bringing the perspective of an international chef and Nene and Drake the local experts.

Yolisa Phahle, CEO of general entertainment and connected video for MultiChoice, said: “We’re very excited to have one of our most-loved shows – and toughest of reality competitions – returning to our screen after some time away. We have always had a rich crop of home chefs to choose from, but the pandemic has certainly created more, and this is the perfect time for MasterChef South Africa to make a comeback.”

Commenting on having two women on the MasterChef SA panel, Dave De Bie, format consultant at Banijay, the company that owns the format, said: “We are focused on improving the gender balance in MasterChef judges worldwide. Over the last couple of years, we have increased the number of female judges and this is something we are continuing to improve upon.

“Out of 37 active markets, 26 now have female judges. We are delighted that MasterChef SA joins the likes of Israel, Norway, and Brazil with two female experts on their panel.”

The 20-episode series is produced by Cape Town-based production company Homebrew while the MasterChef format and programmes are represented internationally by Banijay Rights.

MasterChef South Africa S4 premieres on February 28 on M-Net (DStv Channel 101) at 18.00 and the finale will air on March 31.

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African TV subs set to rise to 57 million

The number of pay TV subscriptions in Africa is set to climb from 39 million in 2021 to 57 million by 2027, according to newly released projections from UK analysis firm Digital TV Research.

However, while the number of subscribers is predicted to grow by 46%, the revenues derived from those subscriptions will rise by only 35%, due to the fact Africa’s three dominant pay TV providers – Multichoice, StarTimes and Canal+ – will reduce their prices as they tussle for supremacy in the region.

According to Digital TV Research, pay TV revenues in Africa will climb to US$6.46bn in 2027, up from US$4.78bn in 2021.

By 2027, South African broadcaster and pay TV provider Multichoice will have 20.8 million subscribers across its DStv and GOtv platforms, said the research firm. Meanwhile, Chinese media company StarTimes, which has a significant presence across sub-Saharan Africa, will grow to 18.4 million, and Vivendi-owned French company Canal+ will climb to 11.2 million subs.

“Few new players are expected. Instead, the three protagonists will battle for supremacy – often by cutting prices,” said Simon Murray, principal analyst at Digital TV Research.

While the pay TV sector in Africa is set to grow significantly over the next five years, data from Digital TV Research indicates that OTT will grow at a much faster rate. A report released last year suggested revenue from movies and TV series on OTT platforms in Africa will reach US$1.7bn by 2026, compared with US$392m in 2020. Around US$1.5bn will come from SVoD platforms, said Digital TV Research.

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UNESCO hails Africa’s $20bn potential

The film and audiovisual industry in Africa has the potential to create over 20 million jobs and generate US$20bn in revenues per year, a new report claims.

The report, by the United Nations Educational, Scientific & Cultural Organisation (UNESCO), was conducted between November 2020 and May 2021. It forms part of UNESCO’s commitment to the diversity of cultural expression and to help develop dynamic cultural and creative industries (CCIs) on the continent.

Titled The African Film Industry: Trends, Challenges and Opportunities for Growth, the report maps the film and audiovisual industry in the 54 states of the African continent, analyses their strengths and weaknesses and offers recommendations for action at the continental, regional and national levels.

The report states: “The economic potential of the film and audiovisual sectors remains largely untapped and is historically and structurally underfunded, underdeveloped and undervalued, generating only US$5bn in annual revenue out of a potential US$20bn, according to the Pan African Federation of Filmmakers.”

Even though cinemas closed as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic, from an infrastructure perspective, the distribution sector underwent profound changes.

“Before the pandemic, new French investments in francophone West Africa, Morocco and Tunisia were expected to triple the number of screens in the region by 2024. Most impressively, Nigeria emerged as a true success story, showing a 200% increase in cinema locations between 2015 and 2020, with the total number of Digital Cinema Initiative-compliant screens reaching 237 in 2020. Home-grown Nollywood films now rival Hollywood blockbusters at the box office.”

Thanks to digital technologies, production has been growing rapidly in Africa in recent years. The broadcast industry is now almost fully liberalised, with over 1,000 private television channels operating across the continent.

This follows the opening up of some of the last markets, such as Ethiopia, Zimbabwe and Côte d’Ivoire, and the gradual transitioning process from analogue broadcasting to digital terrestrial television.

There is now growth in pay TV, dominated by South Africa’s MultiChoice (with 20.1 million subscribers), China’s StarTimes (7.8 million) and France’s Canal+ (six million).

Technology has given rise to affordable digital film equipment and the ability to distribute and monetise content directly to consumers via online platforms, ranging from YouTube, other social media and Netflix to local mobile video services. This has led to a new economy for African content creators which bypasses traditional gatekeepers.

The report states there are positive signs that countries across the continent are waking up to the potential of their creative industries, and more specifically of film and television.

Moreover, in this tumultuous period, it is becoming increasingly urgent for African governments to establish strong national, regional and continental strategies to take control of their fast-growing creative sectors.

The report highlights four potential blueprints for growth, namely the Nollywood model, the Auteur model, the Service model and the Festival model.

“Particular attention must be paid to addressing current industry trends and challenges in an informed and collective manner. Only in this way can states ensure that their past, present and future creative products are protected, preserved and developed, and that their cultural and commercial value benefits Africa and contributes to its global outreach,” it adds.

The African VoD sector is also growing rapidly, with subscriptions poised to balloon from 3.9 million in 2020 to 13 million in 2025, according to UK-based analyst Digital TV Research.

“Netflix now has about two million subscribers across the continent, while the South African Showmax has some 688,000 direct subscribers. In North Africa (and the Middle East), StarzPlay is another strong contender, with 1.8 million subscribers across the Arab region,” says the UNESCO report.

“In Côte d’Ivoire, VoD services have developed spectacularly recently thanks to the deployment of more than 5,000 kilometers of optical fibre in the territory. Most local operators, such as RTI and mobile operators Orange, MTN and Moov Africa, have also launched their own VoD services.”

It adds that the Nigerian film industry employs over a million people directly or indirectly, having produced some 2,599 films in 2020, according to the National Bureau of Statistics, making it the world’s second largest film industry in terms of output after Bollywood and ahead of Hollywood.

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M-Net meets Strangers You Know S2

African pay TV channel M-Net is gearing up to debut a second season of crime documentary series Strangers You Know.

Chwayitisa Futshane

The series, produced by Combined Artistic Productions, gives insights into murders committed in South Africa, including people involved in the case and the families affected.

The new season uncovers details about an additional four cases of South Africa’s most shocking murders and examines the deceit and betrayal that led to these that gripped the nation.

It includes insightful and emotional interviews with the friends and families at the heart of the stories and analysis from the lead investigators, forensic pathologists and prosecutors involved.

Chwayitisa Futshane, executive producer of the docuseries, said: “In a country such as ours, where violence, especially against women, is so rife, these are some of the stories that need to be told. In season two, the series really gets to grips with some of these crimes and, if nothing else, our viewers will be reminded that sometimes the most brutal killers are the strangers we know.”

Strangers You Know airs on M-Net (DStv Channel 101) on January 9 at 20.00.

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Nollywood channels head to Guyana

E-Networks, a cable and satellite television provider based in Georgetown, Guyana, has added two Nollywood channels to its pay TV line-up.

The new additions are African Movie Channel (AMC) HD and AMC Series, which will offer E-Networks subscribers access to movies and series from Nigeria and the rest of Africa.

Nadia Bulkan, chief operating officer at E-Networks, said: “We’re thrilled to be adding AMC Movies and AMC Series to E-Networks’ channel line-up. Our viewers have been requesting African and Nollywood content and we are proud to provide exceptional entertainment to suit every subscriber. We have no doubt that these channels will deliver the best of Nollywood content to our customers.”

AMC’s founding director and CEO Yinka Mayungbo added: “We are delighted to partner with E-Networks, Guyana’s leading TV network, to bring our channels showcasing premium Nollywood and African content, and positive narratives of Africa, to Guyana.

“We already know from our VoD days that a significant audience for our beautiful Nollywood and African stories exist in Guyana, and we hope to further bridge the gap between cultures with this partnership.”

AMC Movies and AMC Series can be watched on E-Networks services DreamTV Wireless (channels 206 & 192), DreamTV Satellite (76 & 69), and DreamTV Fiber and DreamTV Mobile (554 & 555).

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Sky Sports to air AFCON games

Africa Cup of Nations

UK-based sports channel Sky Sports has revealed plans to air all 52 matches from the Africa Cup of Nations tournament live.

The tournament, which was meant to be played in June and July 2021, will now be played in Cameroon between January 9 and February 6, 2022.

Sky Sports director of football Gary Hughes said: “This is excellent news for football fans, who love to watch the best players in the world, including Mohammed Salah, Sadio Mane and Riyad Mahrez.

“We’re delighted to be adding this fantastic competition to our ever-expanding football offering in the UK and Ireland, which already includes Premier League, EFL, Scottish Premiership and FA Women’s Super League, as well as international action in the form of World Cup Qualifiers, placing Sky Sports as the home of live football.”

Veron Mosengo-Omba, general secretary of the Egypt-based Confederation of African Football (CAF), added: “It is important for CAF to ensure that the TotalEnergies Africa Cup of Nations, being the single-biggest sporting event on African soil, and prime content, is accessible all over the world.

“This event is consumed not only by Africans but enjoys a global audience. In Cameroon next year, we are planning an event bigger and better product that will attract millions of viewers.”

Sky Sports is part of the European pay TV group Sky, which is in turn owned by US cable group Comcast Communications.

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Basement, British Council offer training

Nigerian cartoon studio Basement Animation has partnered with the British Council to deliver the Creative Enterprise Support Programme (Animation) for 2021.

The company has issued an open call for creative and artistic Nigerians aged between 18 and 35 who are passionate about telling stories or interested in learning the business of animation and distribution of animated content.

The training programme runs from January to July 2022, in association with Nigeria’s Creative Enterprise Support Programme (CESP) and the deadline for applications is December 17. To apply, click here.

The CESP provides relations between the UK and Nigerian creative sectors that support organisations to deliver training, mentoring and business development to young, emerging entrepreneurs in Nigeria while connecting them to their peers in the UK.

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Netflix lines up Nollywood movie duo

A Naija Christmas

Global streaming service Netflix has lined up two more Nollywood films this festive season.

A Naija Christmas, which will debut on December 16, is the story of three brothers who scramble to find wives they can bring home by Christmas. Meanwhile, their mom sets out to host the most beautiful Christmas celebration ever. The movie stars Rachel Oniga, Kunle Remi and Segilola Ogidan.

Chief Daddy 2: Going for Broke, which is available from January 1, is the sequel to 2018 Nollywood comedy Chief Daddy, made by Mo Abudu’s EbonyLife Films.

Chief Daddy 2: Going for Broke

Directed by Niyi Akinmolayan, it stars Funke Akindele-Bello, Shaffy Bello, Kate Henshaw, Joke Silva, Rachael Oniga, Ini Edo, Patience Ozokwo, Nkem Owoh, Beverly Osu and Beverly Naya.

Abudu took to Instagram to announce the news, saying: “Come January 1, 2022, the Beecrofts are returning with more family drama, more secrets, more laughs and even more fun and entertainment.”

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MultiChoice links up with Udemy platform

Pay TV company MultiChoice has collaborated with online learning platform Udemy to offer its DStv and GOtv customers across Africa skills advancement and development opportunities.

Fhulufhelo Badugela

According to South Africa-based MultiChoice, over the years its customers have been able to access educational content on Discovery, Nat Geo Wild, History Channel, DaVinci Kids, BBC and other channels.

They will therefore have access to some of the best online learning opportunities available as well as thousands of courses to aid them in their personal and professional development.

Fhulufhelo Badugela, CEO of MultiChoice Africa, said: “We’re very excited to partner with an innovative and purposeful platform like Udemy, especially as the world shifts to an online learning future.

“We are constantly seeking ways to enrich and progress the lives of our valued customers and tapping into learning and development is a natural next step. Investing in the future of our continent is a top priority and we are proud to be able to collaborate with another platform that values the accessible advancement of our customers as much as we do.”

Llibert Argerich, senior VP of marketing at Udemy, added: “As a global learning platform, our mission is to provide access and create new opportunities for learners around the world, across a wide range of content areas and at all levels of expertise. MultiChoice has a long history of prioritising learning, and we’re proud to be working with them to unlock new possibilities for learners across the continent.”

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SPI/FilmBox, Axian agree carriage deal

Global media company SPI/FilmBox has entered into a distribution deal with pan-African group Axian to offer four of its TV channels in Madagascar, Comoros and Togo.

FilmBox Africa, FilmBox Arthouse, FightBox and DocuBox will be made available in those countries via the Telma TV and Togocom TV platforms.

FilmBox Africa offers more than 300 premiere titles every year and features Hollywood blockbusters, while FilmBox Arthouse features world cinema classics from iconic directors such as Hitchcock, Kurosawa and Fellini.

DocuBox delivers a collection of award-winning documentaries about different cultures and wonders of the world, while FightBox broadcasts combat sports, live events and multi-discipline mixed martial arts coverage.

Georgina Twiss, MD for western Europe and Africa at SPI International, said: “We are pleased to provide additional windows of curated content for Telma TV and Togocom TV subscribers through our partnership with Axian Group, a prominent player in the African market.

“This deal not only brings two exciting movie channels with content ranging from Hollywood blockbusters to arthouse movies, but also two unique thematic channels geared towards viewers who enjoy documentaries and MMA programming.”

“This partnership further demonstrates Axian Group’s commitment to continuously enlarging its catalogue and offering the best available entertainment content to its clients, because we want our subscribers in Comoros, Madagascar and Togo to enjoy access to globally acclaimed films and TV programmes,” added Matthieu Mertian, head of digital content at Axian Group.

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BBC Studios, EbonyLife strike partnership

BBC Studios Drama Productions has struck a development partnership with Mo Abudu, founder and CEO of Nigerian entertainment company EbonyLife Media.

Mo Abudu

Under the deal, which was brokered by US talent agency Creative Artists Agency, BBC Studios Drama Productions and EbonyLife Media will develop a new action-adventure series called Reclaim.

The six-part heist thriller is written by Bafta Breakthrough Brit Rowan Athale (The Rise, Strange But True, Little America). It is based on an original idea by Abudu, Heidi Uys and Bode Asiyanbi and tells the story of a team of art thieves looking to return artworks stolen 125 years ago by the British Empire to their rightful home in Nigeria.

“Reclaim is our first big-budget, global series, set partly in the UK. It is a dream come true for two reasons – first, it is a partnership with BBC Studios; second, the project will debut under EbonyLife Productions UK,” said Abudu, who is a former winner of MipTV’s Médailles d’Honneur and is speaking this week at Content London.

“We set up EbonyLife in London because our global strategy includes expansion to the UK and the US. As Nigerians and Africans, we should see ourselves as world citizens and our storytelling, locations and networks should extend to every corner of the globe. I am delighted with this opportunity to extend our reach into the UK with a great story and a formidable partner.”

BBC Studios head of drama Priscilla Paris added: “Reclaim’s breathtaking action-adventure is underpinned by thoughtful and timely themes and declares our shared intention to create stories which have both local and international resonance. Rowan Athale is the perfect writer to bring this story to life, having written both commercial hits and arthouse breakouts.”

The BBC Studios deal comes after EbonyLife and Sony Pictures Television unveiled a first-look deal in February this year as well as plans to set up a new African writers’ initiative called Àló in September.

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Silverbird, AAA agree $50m partnership

Nigerian media and entertainment company Silverbird Group and Lagos-based AAA Entertainment have signed a US$50m deal to develop and produce a slate of cinematic African feature films on the continent.

Mayenzeke Baza

The agreement took place at the Intra African Trade Fair (IATF) held at Durban South Africa from November 15 to 21. The deal will draw on the African Export Import Bank (Afreximbank)’s US$500m Creative Industry Programme for financing.

AAA will bring to the partnership an experienced film development, financing and production team, facilities and partnership network. Silverbird Group brings its cinema exhibition and distribution infrastructure and experience in West Africa and the rest of the continent, as well as its studio facilities and network in Los Angeles.

Mayenzeke Baza, AAA’s head of distribution and financing, said: “We are excited about this partnership as it provides an opportunity to create great content between the two biggest markets on the continent, namely Nigeria and South Africa, and allows us to access pan-African private equity and state funding.”

Ben Murray-Bruce, founder of Silverbird Group, said: “Silverbird has a long history in the Nigerian media and entertainment sector. We began our journey as a live entertainment events company and expanded that into a network of television and radio station properties.

“We have successfully built the premiere West African film distribution and exhibition company and now it is with excitement that we pivot into the feature film production sphere by announcing our partnership with AAA Entertainment.”

Ben Murray-Bruce

According to Afreximbank, the partnership will be working exclusively with African and African American talent, looking to bridge the two markets and talent communities.

The first talent collaboration initiated by the Silverbird Group is with Vincent Berry II, the Grammy-winning producer, songwriter and board member of the Creative African Advisory Group, who was present at the signing of the partnership at the Afreximbank stand at the IATF.

Berry said: “I am so grateful to be partnering with AAA Entertainment and the Silverbird Group to produce music for the films that will showcase African talent and serve as bridge between talent across the diaspora and the continent.”

AAA has distributed and exec produced some of the biggest South African box office hits and is looking to expand that success to the rest of the continent.

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ROK picks up Ihidero sitcom Man Pikin

Man Pikin

A new Nigerian sitcom from Chris Ihidero, director of sitcom Fuji House of Commotion, is set to debut on the ROK channel.

Man Pikin was created by Ihidero, produced by his Nigerian prodco Pinpoint Media and follows the story of a man’s daily struggles with raising his kids after his wife’s death. It will premiere on ROK on December 12

“Excited to announce that our 26-episode first season of Man Pikin, a family sitcom, debuts on ROK, DSTV channel 168 at 8.30pm CAT on the December 12. It’s taken longer than we planned but we are finally here,” said Ihidero on Instagram.

The series has a cast that includes Uche Odoputa, Olakunle Abounce Fawole, Ogechi Aniegboka, Nonso Ibiakwuma, as well as Amanda Iriekpen and King David Akpakwu.

Man Pikin will also air on DStv 168 and GOtv Max channel 17.

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Mmabatho Kau takes Rapid Blue role

BBC Studios-backed South African prodco Rapid Blue has appointed experienced TV exec Mmabatho Kau as its new head of scripted.

Mmabatho Kau

The newly created role will see Kau develop and drive Rapid Blue’s ambitions in scripted content and sourcing new business opportunities.

Kau has over 20 years’ experience as a producer, development executive and broadcaster. She has produced a variety of shows in South Africa, including a 26-part South African educational drama Soul City 12 for SABC.

She has also worked as a script consultant on films such as Happiness Ever After (the sequel to Happiness is a Four Letter Word) Kalushi: The Solomon Mahlangu Story and Beyond The River.

Kau has also managed an entertainment TV channel and led the original content department for pan-African satellite TV network KWESE.

Ziyanda Ngcaba, MD at Rapid Blue, said: “Following more than 30 years of producing award-winning unscripted content for African audiences, Mmabatho is an important hire to fulfil our ambition for growth in scripted.

“Rapid Blue has already seen success in scripted production, having produced two seasons of Is’thunzi for Mzansi Magic, with Thuso Mbedu, who received two iEmmy nominations for Best Actress. I am confident that with Mmabatho’s varied experiences and ability to craft and produce African stories that resonate globally, she will carve a new path for Rapid Blue.”

Rapid Blue is behind Come Dine with Me South Africa, now in its seventh season, and local versions of Celebrity Game Night and The Bachelorette, amongst many others. It is also producing a local version of Family Feud with the show’s US host, Steve Harvey.

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