Nigerian filmmaker Kunle Afolayan is working on a script based on the shooting of protestors who were campaigning as part of the End SARS movement in Lekki, Lagos.
Afolayan revealed on social media that he is working on a project about the events of October 20 that have become known as the Lekki Massacre, when Nigerian armed forces fired on peaceful End SARS protesters.
The End SARS movement is a series of protests against police brutality in Nigeria that is calling for the disbandment of the police unit known as the Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS).
In response to a question asked on Twitter about whether there would be a sequel to his 2014 psychological thriller October 1, Afolayan wrote: “It is a ‘must [be] told’ story. Script development in progress. #GodSaveNigeria.”
Afolayan added that filmmakers have a “social and human responsibility to also use our craft to consciously tell stories that will help create positive awareness politically, culturally and to also document history for ourselves and generations to come.”
Afolayan is also behind forthcoming Netflix movie Citation, based on sexual harassment in educational institutions in Nigeria. It stars actors including Temi Otedola, Joke Silva, Adjetey Anang, Jimmy Jean Louis, Gabriel Afolayan and Ini Edo.
The National Broadcasting Commission (NBC) has sanctioned three major Nigerian broadcasters for using unverifiable video footage from social media to cover the End SARS protests being held in the country.
Fines between N2m (US$5,260) and N3m have been imposed on African Independent Television (AIT), Channels TV and Arise TV.
The End SARS movement is a series of protests against police brutality in Nigeria that is calling for the disbandment of the police unit known as the Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS).
The NBC had warned last week that broadcasters must perform the role of peace agent by adhering to the principles of responsibility, accuracy and neutrality in reporting the protests.
Armstrong Idachaba, acting director-general of the NBC, warned that further sanctions would be harsher.
Non-profit legal and advocacy organisation SERAP has condemned the fines imposed by the NBC and is demanding that it withdraw them or face legal action.
A post on the SERAP Twitter page said: “We condemn the illegal fines of N9m reportedly imposed by the National Broadcasting Commission on Channels TV, AIT and Arise TV (3m each) over their coverage of the End SARS protest. We’ll sue the NBC if the unconstitutional fines are not rescinded within 48 hours.”
BREAKING: We condemn the illegal fines of N9m reportedly imposed by the National Broadcasting Commission on Channels TV, AIT and Arise TV [N3m each] over their coverage of the #EndSARS protests.
We'll sue the NBC if the unconstitutional fines are not rescinded within 48 hours.
US-based streaming service HBO Max has scrapped its plans for a TV adaptation of an award-winning novel from a Nigerian author.
A 10-episode limited series, Americanah was ordered by the WarnerMedia-owned streaming service last year. The project was based on Nigerian author Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie’s book of the same name.
The show was set to star Lupita Nyong’o (12 Years a Slave) as the lead character but she withdrew because of scheduling conflicts and the production delays caused by the coronavirus-enforced shutdown, leading to the cancellation of the series.
Other stars who were lined up to be part of the cast included Nyong’o’s Black Panther co-star Danai Gurira, who wrote the pilot and was to serve as showrunner, Uzo Aduba (Mrs America) and Corey Hawkins (Straight Outta Compton).
Americanah tells the epic story of Ifemelu, a young woman raised in Nigeria who falls in love with her classmate as a teenager. Living in a military-ruled country, they both depart for the US, with Ifemelu forced to grapple for the first time with what it means to be black.
The novel has won several awards, including the National Book Critics Circle Award for Fiction in 2013.
MultiChoice-owned movie channel Africa Magic has launched two locally produced telenovelas, Riona and Enakhe.
Riona is set in pre-colonial Nigeria and tells the story of a wicked king and a village under siege. Its cast includes Elvina Ibru, Najite Dede, Frank Konwea and Thelma Nwosu.
Enakhe, set in modern-day Benin City, tells the story of a rebellious daughter who, after the sudden death of her father, is forced to become the leader of her family’s criminal empire. It stars actors including Alex Usifo, Ivie Okujaye, Lancelot Oduwa Imaseun and Lota Chukwu.
The new shows are “a demonstration of MultiChoice Nigeria and Africa Magic’s commitment to investing in the Nigerian creative industry and local talents while telling stories that will resonate with customers,” according to MultiChoice.
Africa Magic channel director Wangi Mba-Uzoukwu said: “Right on the back of Big Brother Naija, we’re very excited to be introducing Riona and Enakhe, two series we’re very confident our viewers will love – so confident that we are dedicating one whole hour on primetime TV to them.
“We went hyperlocal with these, just like Ajoche and all the other fan favourites from past years. Africa Magic is very committed to telling the African story and we can’t wait to show you what we have been cooking.
The shows are airing on Africa Magic Showcase and via MultiChoice streaming platform Showmax.
ViacomCBS Networks International (VCNI) is expanding its ‘No Diversity, No Commission’ policy in the UK to make it a company-wide initiative in more than 180 countries.
ViacomCBS Networks UK revealed a series of measures to strengthen its diversity and inclusion efforts, including the diverse content policy, in July.
In future, all new international productions will have to be made by a diverse team, with the policy applying to VCNI’s business across five continents and more than 180 countries.
VCNI includes brands such as Network 10 in Australia, Channel 5 in the UK, Telefe in Argentina, Viacom 18 in India, ViacomCBS International Studios, Nickelodeon, MTV, Comedy Central, BET, Paramount Network and Pluto TV.
The policy will require production companies to adhere to diversity guidelines before budgets are signed off and productions are approved to begin.
When budgets are agreed, the commissioner or project lead will check for appropriate diversity and recommend improvements as needed.
Additionally, the policy will increase representation behind the camera to ensure that a variety of balanced, diverse voices are involved in all areas of production.
“Expanding No Diversity, No Commission to our entire international organisation is an important strategic move for VCNI,” said David Lynn, CEO and president VCNI.
“ViacomCBS Networks International creates and distributes content to audiences all over the world. This approach will ensure that we are both reflecting our audience, as well as elevating new diverse creative voices.
“Change requires thorough research, careful planning, and immense care, and we’re looking forward to creating impactful, sustainable change through the power of our networks, partnerships, platforms and brands.”
VCNI has also committed to a number of initiatives to increase authentic on-screen representation and inclusive storytelling.
The company will identify global, scripted content that elevates underrepresented cultures, across both youth and entertainment and kids and family brands.
In Latin America, 25% of ViacomCBS International Studios’ budget will be allocated to the education and development of projects by BIPOC (Black Indigenous People of Colour) creators.
In addition, VCNI’s Europe, Middle East, Africa and Asian division has committed to dedicating 30% of its budget in 2021 to produce stories focused on or related to underrepresented groups and issues.
“Audiences around the world, particularly younger generations and kids, are becoming more and more diverse in composition, outlook and perspectives, and it’s our responsibility to ensure that our content reflects the world in which our audiences live,” said Jules Borkent, executive VP at VCNI Kids & Family.
“Our research tells us very clearly that kids want to see themselves reflected on-screen. By launching No Diversity, No Commission across our international brands, we are able to ensure that the shows and characters we create continue to reflect kids today and tomorrow.”
“Diversity, inclusion and equity need to be at the heart of everything we do within our brands and our business,” added Kerry Taylor, executive VP at VCNI Youth & Entertainment.
“We are committed to doing better, to making progress in this area and using our platforms to shine a light on the talent, voices and stories that need to be seen and heard. No diversity, No Commission is an important step on our journey.”
The international launch of this policy and the company’s upcoming initiatives follow ViacomCBS’s Global Inclusion Week, which included more than 100 virtual sessions featuring diversity, equity and inclusion experts, talent, thought leaders, creators and executives focused on promoting diversity, inclusion, equity and belonging.
MultiChoice Studios has signed a deal with TV content marketplace Mena TV to extend its global network and reach potential buyers in the Middle East.
With this partnership, MultiChoice Studios will list its content on Mena TV, thereby giving programme buyers in the Middle East a glimpse of its library and new contents.
The listed titles include International Emmy-nominated telenovela The River, plus Brethren, Gomora, Unbroken and Safta-winning telenovela Isibaya.
Nick Grande, CEO of Mena TV, said: “Mena TV already showcases premium content from major producers in North and South America, Europe, South-East Asia and, of course, the MENA region.
“Through our partnership with MultiChoice Studios, the 700 buyers using Mena TV will now finally be introduced to the best of the best of African TV. I’m excited to see the deal opportunities that will open up.”
South African telecommunications company Telkom will launch a streaming platform called TelkomONE next month.
The service will host a variety of South African content, from music and education titles to TV series. Customers will be able to choose from daily, weekly and monthly subscription packages.
Wanda Mkhize of Telkom’s smart home and content division said: “TelkomONE is a proudly local and South African service and naturally we want to host and showcase outstanding content by producers from our very own shores, including filmmakers, videographers, writers and directors.”
Mkhize added that the telco was looking for fresh creators to contribute content in the following genres: comedy, lifestyle and ‘mobivela’ – telenovelas for mobile.
“We have created a competition under the hashtag #OpenUpTheIndustry where such content producers wishing to be noticed can enter for an amazing opportunity to not only win cash prizes to assist them with their content production, but to also have their final body of work featured on our platform for viewing by our audience.
“#OpenUpTheIndustry is open to both amateur and professional content producers. The submissions will be available on TelkomONE after curation for South Africans to view.”
French broadcasting giant Canal+ Group has increased its stake in African pay TV company MultiChoice to 6.5%.
Shares in the South Africa-based company, which is listed on the Johannesburg Stock Exchange (JSE), spiked upon the news during Monday morning trading and were reportedly up 8.2% at R110.84 apiece at 10.39 today.
MultiChoice said: “Groupe Canal+ became shareholders in MultiChoice Group in April this year. We received notification that their shareholding has now increased to 6.5%, thereby exceeding the 5% threshold that requires us to inform our shareholders through the JSE, as well as the takeover regulation panel.
“We remain committed to acting in the best interests of all our shareholders and to create sustainable long-term value for them. As a publicly held company, MultiChoice regularly engages with its strategic partners and maintains an open dialogue with the investment community. The group’s policy is not to comment on its individual shareholders nor on its interactions with them.”
Canal+ Group is owned and controlled by French conglomerate Vivendi. As well as producing film and TV content, it has a significant pay television business and a film library of more than 5,000 titles. It is headquartered in Issy-les-Moulineaux, outside Paris.
MultiChoice is backed by African internet company Naspers. The pay TV firm already partners with Canal+ on programming initiatives, such as the recently announced 10-episode South African drama series Blood Psalms.
Bundesliga International has partnered with sports rights agency Sportfive to market free-to-air TV rights to German top-flight football within sub-Saharan Africa for the next three seasons.
The dedicated package for sub-Saharan African free-to-air broadcasters contains one high-profile Bundesliga game per match day as well as a weekly preview show and a highlights show.
Bundesliga International said the partnership underlined its overall strategy to create localised content for each market, develop close relationships with each broadcaster and showcase German football in a relevant and engaging way.
“Partnering with broadcasters in multiple countries across the regions of sub-Saharan Africa and Latin America allows us to deliver the Bundesliga in a way that is relevant, engaging and tailored specifically to local fans,” said Bundesliga International CEO Robert Klein.
“This remains an integral part of our strategy and we are already seeing the fruits of this approach.”
Among other countries and partners, deals have already been agreed with Ghanaian public broadcaster GBC and Nigerian free-TV satellite provider OurTV.
South African lifestyle network The Home Channel is set to debut a new show hosted by entrepreneur, TV personality and model Ayanda Thabethe.
Launching on October 21, Africa Modern will focus on fashion, design, technology, trends and the arts, talking to the visionaries and thought leaders who are at the forefront of African creativity.
Thabethe’s list of accolades, passion for social impact and style embody a modern Africa, the show’s producers said.
“After successfully hosting the first ever lifestyle magazine show on BET Africa, she won the coveted role of TV host for the longest-running South African magazine show, Top Billing,” said The Home Channel.
“Recognised nationally for her talents, style, radiant confidence and charming personality, she freely moves between her role as a TV host and that of being a spokeswoman for international brands, while running her marketing agency, Buzzworthy Productions.”
MultiChoice Talent Factory (MTF), a multi-tiered training programme designed by pay TV group MultiChoice Africa, is launching a new series hosted by South Africa-based film and TV veteran Ken Kaplan.
The MTF in Focus Masterclass series will see producer, director, and creative executive Kaplan in virtual conversation with creative technical professionals from across Africa’s film and TV industry.
These include Kenyan producer Appie Matere, South African editor and director Vuyani Sondlo, Nigerian director, writer and producer Akin Omotoso, South African documentary filmmaker Michael Cross and cinematographer Kabelo ‘KB’ Thathe.
Reatile Tekateka, group executive head of corporate affairs at MultiChoice Africa, said: “Investing in the next generation of storytellers on a technical and creative level is something that has been at the heart of the MTF initiative. We’re excited to launch MTF in Focus, a series of in-depth virtual conversations with leading filmmakers from across the continent.”
The MTF Masterclasses have been held in various African countries in line with MultiChoice Africa’s strategy of technical and creative knowledge-sharing as a means of empowering emerging and professional creatives. They run alongside the MTF Academies, 12-month regionally funded training programmes aimed at upskilling the next generation of young film creatives.
MultiChoice has tailored its academy curriculum alongside its partner Mnet channels as well as curriculum-support partners including the Henley Business School Africa, Pan-Atlantic University in Lagos, Kenyatta University in Nairobi, and the University of Zambia in Lusaka.
The sequel to 2015 Nollywood action film A Soldier’s Story is set to premiere in December.
A Soldier’s Story II: Return From the Dead is directed by Frankie Ogar and produced by Martin Gbados. Set in Nigeria and the fictional Watz Republic, it highlights themes of love in uncertain circumstances, war, terrorism, insurgency, conspiracy, women’s rights and emigration.
It features star-studded cast both from Hollywood and Nollywood, including Eric Roberts, John J Vogel Jr, Alex Usifo, Akin Lewis, Segun Arinze, Linda Ejiofor, Somkele Iyamah Idhalama, Michelle Dede, Daniel K Daniel, Tope Tedela, Baaj Adebule, Samabasa Nzeribe, Chris Attoh, Olumide Oworu, Chiko Aligwekwe and Brutus Richard.
The production companies behind the film are Frankie Ogar Films, Mekdoss Productions and 3PR. Post-production came via Revolve Agency LA, Moving Picture Company Asia and Crater Studios in Serbia.
The exact date for the theatrical premiere has yet to be announced, while the film is also expected to be distributed via Netflix and DStv.
Interactive children’s nature broadcaster ZooMoo has today launched on African pay TV operator DStv.
The channel, which is aiming to expand its reach in Africa, provides over 450 hours of children’s and preschool content focusing on nature, conservation and education.
It will be available in English via DStv’s Premium, Compact Plus and Compact packages across Africa.
Content includes live-action series Kooki’s Crafty Show, which empowers young children to unleash their creativity through crafting; Lost, a puppet-based series that follows a wildlife photographer who takes viewers on a global adventure; and Jelly Jamm, which celebrates music, fun and friendship.
Ward Platt, CEO of kids and global networks at ZooMoo owner Blue Ant Media, said: “Our partnership with DStv is a significant milestone for the ZooMoo brand as it brings our beloved children’s programming to a new and engaged audience across sub-Saharan Africa.
“Children and parents can expect content that offers spectacular wildlife footage with puppetry, animations and narration, which will surely delight children of all ages and parents who seek programming they can trust.”
Hassan Saleh, MultiChoice Uganda MD, added: “We are excited to add more content for our younger audiences on our platform and this partnership with Kids & Global Network demonstrates our commitment to providing engaging and educational content for all our viewers.
“Educational children’s content is an important part of learning and development and this channel brings just that.”
TAC Studios, the production arm of The Africa Channel, has inked content deals with global broadcast and digital networks for several of its lifestyle shows .
The latest companies to have licensed TAC content are OSN and Discovery Networks in the Middle East, Tastemade (US), SBS Food (Australia), Radio Television Brunei, SABC (South Africa) and distributor Fred Media, which is part of the WTFN group.
Thirteen-part series Minjiba Entertains has been picked up by Discovery Networks, SBS Food and Tastemade; 26-parter Africa on a Plate has been acquired by SBS Food; 13-episode cooking series May’s Kitchen has been taken by SBS Food, Radio Television Brunei and OSN; and Amah Knows Best has been picked up by SABC.
Brendan Gabriel, VP of production at TAC Studios, said: “We are delighted by the reception our shows are receiving by leading global networks as the demand for African content continues to increase with international audiences. These licensing deals continue to support our mission to develop and produce content, both scripted and unscripted, that bring Africa, its stories and heritage to global audiences.”
Roger Vanderspikken, chief operating officer at Fred Media, added: “As a leading content licensing company, we are happy to facilitate the distribution of TAC Studios content to global audiences. With an increasing relevance and demand for premium African and multicultural content, TAC Studios is a great partner in enabling us to fulfil this demand.”
TAC has previously struck content agreements with US-based Urban Movie Channel and Emirates Airlines.
Nigerian-American Uzo Aduba has won the Emmy for outstanding supporting actress in a limited series for her role in Mrs America, the miniseries that originally aired on US pay network FX.
The nine-part historical drama centres on the political movement to pass the Equal Rights Amendment in 1970s America. Aduba plays real-life politician Shirley Chisholm, who battled against discrimination on the grounds of both sex and race.
Accepting her award, Aduba paid homage to Chisholm, who became the first black candidate to receive a presidential nomination from a major party in 1968.
“I want to say thank you for Shirley Chisholm for her championship work for all the people who have been forgotten and marginalised who she represented. Winning means a lot, particularly for the character that I was able to play. It feels especially touching to bring her story to light, and the stories of those who have not been heard,” Aduba said.
Aduba is also known for starring in Netflix prison series Orange is the New Black, for which won an Emmy for outstanding guest actress in a comedy series in 2014, an Emmy for outstanding supporting actress in a drama series in 2015 and two Screen Actors Guild awards for outstanding performance by a female actor in a comedy series in 2014 and 2015.
Nigerian production and distribution company FilmOne Entertainment has signed a content distribution deal with American entertainment conglomerate Disney.
The agreement reaffirms Disney’s commitment to the West African cinema market and covers titles from all Disney studio divisions, including Pixar, Marvel Studios, Walt Disney Pictures, Blue Sky Pictures, Walt Disney Animation Studios, Lucasfilm, 20th Century Studios and Searchlight Pictures.
It also makes FilmOne Entertainment the sole distributor of Disney-owned films in Nigeria, Ghana and Liberia, giving it titles including Mulan, The New Mutants, The King’s Man, Death on the Nile, Black Widow, Soul, Free Guy, The Last Duel and Eternals.
Moses Babatope, co-founder of FilmOne, said: “It is a major career highlight that we’re able to get the world’s biggest movie studio as a partner. What the deal means is that we are exclusive marketers and distributors of Disney titles in the English-speaking West African countries that have studio-licensed cinemas. We will distribute the films to all those cinemas in the territory.
Christine Camerer, senior VP and country manager for Africa at Disney, added: “With their in-depth knowledge of the region and expertise in bringing theatrical releases to fans, we are thrilled to welcome FilmOne as our distribution partner for this territory.”
Babatope said the partnership could lead to future collaborations involving largely African content.
“It’s true that a lot of the content we will be distributing is from other parts of the world, but if we are able to demonstrate that we are accountable and transparent, there will be room to attract future investments involving content from this region.”
In 2019, FilmOne Entertainment signed a deal with Chinese media giant Huahua to co-produce the first major Chinese-Nigerian film, 30 days in China. The firm has also distributed and produced Nigerian box-office hits such as The Wedding Party and New Money.
The TV adaptation of financial self-help book Smart Money Woman has launched on Africa Magic Showcase.
The Smart Money Woman premiered on September 23, highlighting the experiences, sacrifices, struggles and vigour of African women as they carry out their day-to-day activities despite gender inequality.
Arese Ugwu, who wrote the book and exec produces via Smart Tribe Media, said: “The Smart Money Woman is a love letter to every modern and upwardly mobile African woman who is exploring life opportunities and experiences to find that right balance in their day-to-day activities, especially in their career, friendships, relationships and, of course, families.”
The 13×30’ series is directed by Bunmi Ajakaiye and coproduced by Kemi Lala Akindoju, Akin Marinho and Arcadia TV Africa. Its cast includes Osas Ighodaro, Toni Tones, Ini Dima-Okojie, Eby Eno, Eso Okolocha, Timini Egbuson, Karibi Fubara, Tope Tedela, Seun Ajayi and Temisan Emmanuel.
African pay TV operator Azam TV has migrated its video platform from the Eutelsat 7B satellite to Eutelsat 7C, alongside agreeing a multi-year extension of its existing contract and entering an incremental capacity commitment.
Azam TV will utilise Eutelsat 7C to distribute some 120 channels in a mix of standard and high definition across its footprint covering Tanzania, Uganda, Malawi, Kenya and Rwanda.
Patrice Paquot, Eutelsat’s deputy regional VP of sub-Saharan Africa, said: “We are honoured to continue to partner with Azam, one of our anchor customers at the 7° East position, as it successfully expands its broadcast offer. 7° East has become a new DTH hotspot for Sub-Saharan Africa and a key pay-TV neighbourhood for Eastern Africa with some of the fastest growth rates in the region.”
Jacob Joseph, deputy CEO of Azam, added: “Every Azam TV household will have the opportunity to enjoy a wide variety of local and international programmes with excellent signal quality. We are delighted to rely on Eutelsat to leverage the unparalleled reach of its 7° East position.”
DTH pay TV operator TStv Africa is preparing to launch and operate its pan-African TV channels and data centres in Nigeria and other African countries.
Telecom Satellite, the media and technology company that owns TStv Africa, has been expanding from Abuja to other parts of Nigeria. It has developed five network operations centres, has satellites covering 232 cities in 35 African countries, and has invested in 98 HD premium channels.
TStv Africa founder and CEO Bright Echefu said: “[In] the first half of 2020, we have undergone tremendous changes, commissioning a state-of-the-art data centre in Nigeria, building a satellite teleport that hosts hundreds of high-definition television channels and launching the TStv product offering across Africa.
“We have also expanded the TStv-owned and managed television and radio channels to 52 while hosting over 180 multiview televison channels on the TStv pay TV platform, broadcasting across Africa with premium content.
“My dream is that an entire generation will grow with the daily sight of telecom satellites products. Our investments are in 10 key interests which include video and radio entertainment, content aggregation, dubbing services, linear and non-linear content distribution, pay TV operation and eCommerce.”
In related news, TStv Africa has reportedly acquired rights to broadcast English Football League Championship matches live in Nigeria.
Umar Garba Danbatta, the executive vice-chairman and CEO of the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC), has been awarded a National Service Excellence Award.
National Association of State Assembly Legislators (NASAL) honoured Danbatta with the award in recognition of his transformational leadership in deepening access to telecommunications services across Nigeria in the last five years.
NASAL director general Uchechukwu Chukwuma, who led a five-member delegation to the commission to present the award in Abuja, said the award also recognised Danbatta’s role as a change agent, a catalyst for national development and a great Nigerian patriot.
“Danbatta’s efforts have manifested in enhanced access to the internet by our people, which has given them the opportunity to participate and ventilate their views constructively,” Chukwuma said.
“As you know, citizens’ participation in political activities is one of the attributes of an ideal democracy, and Professor Danbatta has helped to promote this ideal.
“The NASAL’s award to Danbatta is justified by the statistics from the commission, which showed that when Danbatta came on board five years ago, 217 access gap clusters were identified in the country, with 40 million Nigerians excluded from access to telecoms services. Five years after, however, the access gaps have reduced to 114 clusters, with additional 15 million Nigerians now connected.”
NCC director of public affairs Ikechukwu Adinde, who accepted the award on behalf of Danbatta, said: “It is heartwarming that NASAL has found our EVC and CEO deserving of this award. The award is an acknowledgement that his accomplishments have not gone unnoticed. We at the NCC value this gesture, which writes the history of Professor Danbatta’s achievements in a very distinctive and enduring way.
“From the recent industry statistics and other relevant macro indicators, the telecoms sector, under Danbatta, has recorded positive growth in terms of active voice subscriptions, internet subscriptions, teledensity, broadband penetration and contribution to the gross domestic product.”