Executives from the BBC, WarnerMedia and Amazon have outlined their diversity strategies after a year in which the ethnic and gender imbalances in the media industry have come under fresh scrutiny.
In a session titled Tribune for Heads of Diversity and Inclusion at the digital version of the MipTV event, WarnerMedia chief enterprise inclusion officer Christy Haubegger outlined the steps needed to increase diversity.
“If you want to win once, set a goal. If you want to win, create a system,” Haubegger said. “We’ve been looking at inclusion not just in our workforce but in our storytelling, making our showrunners and creative leaders really understand. This year we launched an eight-hour programme to do just that and we’re looking forward to doing more of that.”
Similarly, BBC head of creative diversity Miranda Wayland described how the UK pubcaster has taken steps to change the way it looks at inclusion. “We created a creative allies toolkit for our commissioning teams to show individuals how they can support minorities,” she said. “We’ve also been trying to get better embedded with our programme makers so they can see the benefits.”
Latasha is head of global diversity, equity and inclusion at Amazon Studios, the production and distribution subsidiary of the US retail giant. Like the others, she believes diversity is a company-wide issue that starts with the hiring process.
“If you’re not getting enough diversity at the interview stage, you need to be asking yourself if the process is too homogenous,” Gillespie said. “Your interviewees should never be the same race or gender.”
The BBC World Service has partnered with GhanaWeb’s parent company AfricaWeb to offer audiences in Ghana and Cameroon digital content ranging from BBC News text, podcasts, audio and video in English, Pidgin, Hausa and French.
The agreement will make The Comb, a weekly news and current affairs podcast targeting younger audiences around the continent, available for the first time via news portals Ghanaweb.com and Camerounweb.com.
Oluwatoyosi , BBC World Service head of West Africa languages, said: “This partnership offers a chance to broaden our digital reach in Ghana and Cameroon simultaneously to a combined audience of six million online visitors to both sites. We’re thrilled to be working with AfricaWeb, and we’re looking forward to bringing our service to a wider online audience.”
AfricaWeb editor-in-chief Ismail Akwei added: “GhanaWeb and CamerounWeb have been providing Ghanaians and Cameroonians with quality news and independent journalism that has kept readers updated while safeguarding their right to freedom of expression. Our partnership with the BBC is part of AfricaWeb’s vision of forging pan-African collaborative partnerships that will have a greater positive effect on the continent.”
BritBox, the joint-venture streaming service from BBC Studios and UK commercial broadcaster ITV, will launch in South Africa in the second half of 2021.
The territory will be the ad-free SVoD service’s fifth worldwide, following launches in the US, Canada, UK and Australia.
Last year BritBox announced a global roll-out that would take the service into 25 new territories, bringing audiences a collection of UK shows and box sets, drama premieres and live events, as well as original commissions.
Both ITV and the BBC have an existing relationship with TV audiences in South Africa, where they used to operate linear channels ITV Choice and BBC First respectively. The launch of BritBox will enable consumers to retain access to UK content following the recent closure of both TV channels.
BritBox debuted in North America in March 2017 and announced it had surpassed 1.5 million subscribers in October 2020. It launched in the UK in November 2019, followed by Australia in November 2020.
BritBox operates as a 50/50 JV between BBC Studios, the commercial arm of the UK pubcaster, and ITV.
Martin Goswami, group strategic partnership and distribution director at ITV, said: “The launch of BritBox in South Africa is yet another step in the platform’s trajectory towards international expansion. We’re delighted to bring the service to a brand new territory and continue towards establishing BritBox as a premium VoD brand across the world.”
Paul Dempsey, president of global distribution at BBC Studios, said, “We know that South African audiences have a real connection to British television and we can’t wait to bring them even more great shows, on demand, that we know they will love.”
Nigerian writer and actor Gbemisola Ikumelo is finalising a deal to star in Abbi Jacobson’s series adaptation of the film A League of their Own for Amazon.
Written and produced by Jacobson, Will Graham and Sony Pictures TV, the movie was originally set up at Amazon last year as a half-hour comedy. It centres on a US women’s professional baseball league during the Second World War.
Ikumelo will play a character named Clance while Jacobson, creator of Comedy Central’s Broad City, will play Carson, a farm girl who runs away from home and tries out for the league. The show will also star D’Arcy Carden.
Ikumelo is currently a performer and writer on the hit BBC comedy series Famalam and stars in BBC short comedy Brain In Gear and Shola Amoo’s film The Last Tree.
Ikumelo is represented by Paradigm in the US and the Curtis Brown Group in the UK.
The premiere date for A League of their Own has not yet been set.
BBC and Channels TV have launched a current affairs coproduction called Gist Nigeria.
The weekly half-hour programme will air on Channels TV in Nigeria and on partner stations in Sierra Leone and Liberia. It will focus on telling original stories behind the news and their impact on the audience, and will also feature interviews, studio discussions and in-depth reporting on issues that are important to Nigeria and West Africa.
There will also be stories covered by a selection of the BBC’s African services, plus audience interaction via @GistNigeriaTV on Twitter and Channels TV’s new studio in Lagos.
Segments to be featured each week include Social Story, which will analyse social media trends; *360*, which will look at issues in other countries; and Check Me Out, which will look at successful and inspirational Nigerian diaspora.
Kingsley Uranta, Channels TV’s assistant general manager of operations, said: “We look forward to our viewers enjoying the best of television programme production, crafted in the cherished tradition of Channels TV, which is anchored in truth, balance, fairness and integrity.
“Of equal importance is showcasing the giant strides of our people around the world as well as highlighting those issues that demand attention on our journey to a better society.”
Aiming to bring a new perspective to a younger audience, Gist Nigeria is anchored by Wale Fakile and Ajoke Lijadu-Ulohotse.
Nisha Kapur, BBC commissioning editor for Africa, said: “This partnership between the BBC and Nigeria’s leading TV channel goes beyond news coverage. It will tap into conversations going on in the country and track successful Nigerians living abroad.
“As we report and analyse regional and global news stories, Gist Nigeria wants to be free of clichés often associated with the news coverage of Africa. The programme will deliver BBC journalism in a dynamic and engaging style, based on our long-standing principles of independence, accuracy and unbiased reporting.”
Gist Nigeria airs live on Channels TV in Nigeria at 21.00.
Several influential TV executives of Nigerian heritage have been included in a recently published list of the most powerful black Britons.
The selection was based on how influential they are among their immediate sphere of expertise and how far that influence reaches into the wider world.
The Powerlist has been compiled every year since 2007 by London-based Powerful Media, with support from JP Morgan, Ernst & Young, Linklaters and the Executive Leadership Council.
Among the 100 people in the 2019 list are Mo Abudu, CEO and executive chair of Nigerian broadcaster EbonyLifeTV; Tunde Ogungbesan, the BBC’s head of diversity and inclusion; David Olusoga, historian, filmmaker and joint creative director of London production company Uplands Television; and BBC TV presenter and actor Ade Adepitan.
The Powerlist 2019 was unveiled at a gala dinner held on October 23 in London. The list showcases and celebrates African and Afro-Caribbean men and women who are making an impact on people’s lives and their environment.
According to Abudu: “The Powerlist is the most authoritative recognition of black influence in the UK; therefore I am honoured and humbled to be included. It’s nice to know that those of us who return home to make our contributions are not being overlooked.
“This publication is sent to schools and universities all over the UK, so I hope that my story can influence even one child to follow their dreams,” she added.
Now in in its 12th year, the Powerlist has succeeded in creating a network of influencers and also elevating ordinary people to a state of prominence.
A new pan-African female-focused discussion programme, titled The She Word, has been launched by the BBC.
The new show aims to focus specifically on the experiences that women in Africa go through. It will portray real stories in an unbiased manner and also try to answer difficult questions that bother African women.
It will also provide answers to questions related to gender stereotypes and what makes an African woman unique, and also explore how successful female entrepreneurs are in today’s world.
These stories will be heard via live broadcasts, discussions with the panelists and also through films.
The panelists on the show include Adesuwa Onyenokwe, editor-in-chief of TW Magazine; BBC journalist Adesuwa Onyenokwe; business reporters Sharon Machira and Ingrid Nantege; columnist Valentine Njoroge; and Ethiopian poet Christine Yohannes.
Nisha Kapur, BBC commissioning editor, said: “For the first time an international broadcaster is offering a pan-African discussion programme targeted specifically at African women.
“Each edition will be hosted by a number of contributors across Africa – key influencers within their community and business. The common thread that links them is their fascinating stories and observations about life which everyone – women and men – can relate to.”
In Nigeria, The She Word airs on Sundays on TVC at 15.00 and on Fridays on ABS Anambra at 16.30. It is also broadcast by channels in Kenya, Liberia, Malawi, Namibia, Sierra Leone, Uganda and Zambia.
UK pubcaster the BBC has published its annual report for 2017/18, revealing details of its operations and spending around the world.
The release comes soon after that of its Global Audience Measure, in which the BBC disclosed that Nigeria was its largest market outside the UK.
According to the new report, content accounted for 94% of the BBC’s expenditure in 2017/18, with the remaining 6% spent on organisational operations.
The report also detailed the growth of the BBC’s World Service, with 12 local-language versions, including Yoruba and Igbo services, launching during the period. The year also saw the opening of the World Service’s Lagos bureau, which serves as the headquarters of its West African operation.
Addressing the issue of the gender pay gap, the report stressed that the BBC was doing everything in its power to ensure it leads the way on gender pay and equality.
“We have committed to closing the gender pay gap by the end of 2020 and recently published figures showing the median gap has fallen from 9.3% to 7.6% following concerted action,” the pubcaster said.
“Today’s publication of money paid to those who earned more than £150,000 (US$197,000) from the licence fee shows further progress towards gender equality, with the latest figures showing a 60:40 male to female split in our highest-earning presenters in 2018/19 – a significant improvement from 75:25 – and we are committed to further rapid progress.
“Around 20% of those on the list in 2018/19 are also projected to be from black and minority ethnic backgrounds.”
In April this year, BBC commercial arm BBC Worldwide (BBCWW) and production division BBC Studios merged to form a single company, bringing together production, sales and distribution under the BBC Studios banner.
The report revealed that, before the merger, BBCWW had headline earnings of £1.04bn for the year to April 2018, down 2% on the previous year. However, it returned more than £200m to the BBC for a fourth year running, with a contribution of £209.9m for 2017/18.
BBC World Service has launched channels for Igbo and Yoruba speakers in Nigeria and West and Central Africa.
The Igbo and Yoruba channels went live online yesterday, coming 60 years after the launch of the BBC’s Hausa feed and one year after the debut of its Pidgin service.
The channels will feature original content on various issues that resonate with viewers, including politics, technology, entrepreneurship, culture and female affairs. They will also feature BBC Minute, a 60-second global news round-up.
Speaking about the new services, BBC head of West Africa Oluwatoyosi Ogunseye said: “Delivering content and engaging with the Igbo and Yoruba audiences in their mother tongues is authentic, exciting and refreshing. The BBC is passionate about original journalism that adds value and this is what we want to achieve with these services. These platforms will deliver independent, objective and original news to meet the needs of our audiences in Nigeria and West Africa.”
The channels are mainly targeting viewers using mobile phones. They can be viewed at bbc.com/yoruba and bbc.com/igbo as well as via Facebook and Instagram.
BBC military drama series Our Girl is back for a third season and will feature storylines set in Nigeria.
Our Girl, created and written by Tony Grounds, will be partly set in Nigeria as lead character Corporal Georgie Lane encounters challenges during a rescue mission in the north of the country, an area prone to Boko Haram attacks.
Corporal Lane, played by Michelle Keegan (Coronation Street), is still grieving the death of her fiancé, who was killed during a tour of duty in Nepal, which makes her susceptible to impulsive behaviour.
The third season consists of 12 episodes, divided into three blocks. The current episodes are the second block. Two episodes will include storylines set in Nigeria. Some of the previous episodes of the series were shot in African countries including Kenya and South Africa.
Our Girl will air every Tuesday at 21.00 on BBC First on MultiChoice’s DSTV pay TV platform. The series airs in the UK on BBC1, produced by BBC Studios. It is distributed internationally by RLJ Entertainment.
Lagos-based broadcasting company TVC Communications has announced a collaboration with the BBC World Service, bringing UK news content to the Nigerian channel.
The partnership will see TVC and its 24/7 news channel TVC News airing 368 hours of Africa-themed content from the BBC’s news and current affairs teams over the next two years.
Programmes covered by the deal include BBC Sports Africa and the recently launched Africa Eye. The TVC channels will also broadcast other BBC content such as health programmes, children’s content and business analysis.
Andrew Hanlon, CEO and MD of TVC, said: “I am delighted to announce this landmark deal with BBC News, which forms part of a major ongoing investment in our TV and radio business with the aim of dramatically enhancing services to audiences and advertisers alike.
“TVC Communications is undergoing substantial, positive change, which is now delivering benefits to all stakeholders. This collaboration, with one of the world’s most respected content producers, provides further proof of that change.”
Jamie Angus, director of the BBC World Service, added: “We are pleased to be partnering with TVC Communications. This deal will see more people in Nigeria getting access to brilliant BBC News content. The World Service delivers accurate, impartial and independent journalism to all countries. We spot the stories, see the patterns and make sense of the world.”
BBC World Service delivers content to an audience of over 36 million. It recently added two Nigerian-language services, Yoruba and Igbo, to its World Service in addition to the existing Hausa and Pidgin services.
Victor Okhai, veteran journalist, producer and filmmaker, has confirmed he will be standing in Nigeria’s 2019 presidential elections.
Okhai will be contesting the 2019 presidential elections as a candidate of the Youth Democratic Party, with the motto Enough is Enough.
Okhai has been in the broadcast industry for more than three decades. He is a freelance journalist for TV networks including the BBC, Aljazeera, CNN, TVC and STV and is also co-founder of the Directors’ Guild of Nigeria and director of the International Film & Broadcast Academy in Lagos.
He graduated from the University of Nigeria, Nsukka, where he gained a degree in mass communications and a master’s degree in PR. He later went on to study in several other tertiary institutions, obtaining certificates from the School of Media & Communication, Pan-Atlantic University; National Film & Television Institute; University of Lagos; and Goethe Institut, among others.
He has been a partner at the Goethe Institut, Lagos since 1988 and has worked with the institute to host the International Short Film Festival in Nigeria, the first in the country and sub-Saharan Africa.
The 51-year-old has been very passionate about the role of politics and the creative industry in Nigeria, which led to him addressing these issues in several presentations.
In 2007, he delivered a speech titled The Role of Art, Film and Politics in Nigeria at the German embassy. In 2008, he presented a paper titled Emerging Talents – Nollywood and the New Wave African Cinema.
The British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) officially opened its Lagos bureau office yesterday.
The move follows the recent launch of the BBC’s local-language services in Yoruba and Igbo. The Lagos bureau will be home to these plus its other language service, BBC Pidgin.
The opening of the Lagos office makes this the biggest expansion of the BBC World Service since its first language service, Hausa, was established 60 years ago. According to the corporation, the Lagos bureau will be the headquarters of its West African service.
Speaking at the launch, Jamie Angus, director of the BBC World Service Group, said: “It is wonderful to be here to open this bureau, which will be the headquarters for our operations across West Africa. It will be a beacon for journalism and as such I am delighted to announce our mentorship and internship scheme for up-and-coming journalists.
“Meanwhile, our Hausa service continues to deliver with an audience of over 36 million. We have vision to ensure the World Service generates accurate, impartial and independent news to all countries. We spot the stories, see the patterns and make sense of your world. Our mission is to remain your most trusted source of news in the years to come.”
Furthermore, he said the mentorship and internship programme is part of the BBC’s contribution to the growth of media practice and professionalism in Nigeria, and helps aid the fight against fake news.
Oluwatoyosi Ogunseye, BBC’s head of West Africa, said: “It’s a great honour to be part of this expansion, and I’m so proud to be leading the teams in Nigeria.
“We will be big on original journalism that impacts the lives of Nigerians at home and abroad. We are expanding our editorial offer to cover politics, culture, business, health and investigations, among others. We will focus more on young people and women, ensuring we cover Nigeria and the whole of West Africa like never before. We’ll remain true to our ideals and values of objectivity, truth and impartiality.”
With over 200 people working at the bureau, the BBC West African headquarters has two radio stations and a TV station, with state-of-the-art equipment.
Chimezie UcheAgbo, broadcast journalist at BBC Igbo, explained to Content Nigeria why the three local-language services – Yoruba, Igbo and Pidgin – are launching 60 years after BBC Hausa.
“Getting a licence for a foreign terrestrial radio or TV station is a bit difficult. BBC Hausa is on the AM radio frequency; it doesn’t have a Nigerian frequency,” said UcheAgbo.
“However, the BBC is collaborating with TV stations like Channels TV to get its TV content out there. We work with partner stations, so we produce content and give to them to broadcast. Some of these stations include Odenigbo FM, Bliss FM and ASPS.”
The BBC is partnering with Channels Television to launch Connect Africa, a new weekly half-hour programme, later this year. Connect Africa is a current affairs series that will focus on the stories behind the news and the public reactions.
The BBC also plans to launch more TV programmes in Africa in English, Hausa, French and Swahili. According to the corporation, some of the TV teams will join the Lagos bureau to create content.
The guests at the event included John Momoh, Garba Shehu, Wole Soyinka, Okey Bakkasi, Don Jazzy, Tosyn Bucknor, Bolanle Olukanni, Adesuwa Onyenokwe, Steve Babaeko, Frank Donga and Julius Agwu.
UK public broadcaster the BBC has said Nigeria is the biggest market for its World Service (BBCWS) offering.
According to the recently released Global Audience Measure (GAM), the corporation reaches a weekly audience of 376 million, up three million since last year, across all its services outside the UK.
The BBCWS has seen its weekly non-UK audience rise 10 million to 279 million since 2017, while the weekly non-UK audience for BBC News rose a million to 347 million over the same period.
The report shows how many adults the BBC’s international services have reached in the first half of 2018 compared with 2017. It also said that with the growing number of cheaper smartphones, the BBC has been able to expand viewership via its digital platforms, as a total of 27 million people opt for the BBCWS English service via the internet.
Nigeria was revealed to be the largest market for the BBC’s international news services, consuming the most of the BBC’s content with an audience of 41 million. The US comes a close second with 33 million users. After that is India (30 million), Bangladesh (16 million), Egypt (16 million), Iran (13 million), Afghanistan (12 million), Tanzania (10 million), Pakistan (nine million) and Indonesia (eight million). BBCWS’s audience is aged between 15 and 24.
GAM statistics also revealed that just under 40% of the adult population of Nigeria consumes BBC News in some way.
Jamie Angus, director of the BBCWS Group, said: “This has been an exciting year for the BBC World Service, with the launch of 12 new services, new programming and the opening of new and expanded bureaux across the world. So it is great to see international audiences continuing to turn to the BBC for independent and impartial news.
“The figures highlight not only the successes of our global news operation, but the challenges that lie ahead for us. We still need to grow the share of women engaging with our news services globally, and we need to ensure we have the right services to continue to attract young audiences.
“At a time when Britain is forging a new relationship with nations around the world, the BBC’s global news services are more important than ever.”