CNBC Africa reveals Covid challenges

By Content Nigeria reporter
June 4, 2020


Business news channel CNBC Africa is celebrating 13 years on air and has revealed the Covid-19 pandemic has presented it with major challenges.

The pandemic has seriously tested CNBC Africa over the past two months, according to the channel, which is nevertheless on almost every platform on the continent and reaches 16 million homes.

CNBC Africa currently has bureaus in Johannesburg (South Africa), Lagos (Nigeria) and Kigali (Rwanda) and produces roughly eight hours of African business and economic content per day.

It revealed it has seen advertisers and sponsors disappear as a result of the pandemic, while several of its planned broadcast business sessions had to be cancelled.

Sid Wahi, CNBC Africa’s director, said the industry has evolved over the past decade as both content creation and distribution have radically transformed.

“Although we were the first server-based TV station in sub-Sahara Africa, that was not enough, as we had to realign our processes, modernise our equipment, train our staff and consolidate the operation to meet the challenges that we were faced with,” he said.

“CNBC Africa TV channel distribution had to be addressed as well, since it was a major gap in sub-Sahara Africa. After just being available on MultiChoice’s DStv in 2007, CNBC Africa gained further carriage agreements on other platforms, such as China’s StarTimes pay TV platform.”

Roberta Naicker, MD of CNBC Africa’s owner, ABN Group, said: “The journey has been a game-changer in the business news genre as the channel has showcased business and economic news on the continent. We could not have achieved this without the commitment of the executive team and staff at CNBC Africa, who have been the cornerstone of our achievement.”

Speaking about the impact of Covid-19 on the TV business, Zafar Siddiqi, ABN Group’s co-founder and chairperson, said: “The channel has a steady viewership who are interested in business news, so we generally will not lose them. So, I’d say there is uncertainty, but we should be out of the storm in roughly 12 to 18 months.”

In a statement, the news channel said: “Covid-19 has been a major test of the channel’s resolve. On one hand, news media is considered an essential service, but on the other, there is little support in the form of advertising and sponsorships during this pandemic.

“Like all media companies, we have reached out to a lot of our long-time clients to stand by us during this extremely challenging time. The post-Covid-19 era will herald a new operating model as the experience has catalysed transformation of the business, making it more productive and efficient.”

CNBC Africa, which airs on DStv 410 and StarSat 309, is a franchise of the American CNBC brand, which was launched on June 1, 2007. Since then it has become an important voice in business and economic news across sub-Sahara Africa and has helped change the narrative of the African continent, away from the rhetoric of gloom to one of a continent on the rise.

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