Tag Archives: DSTV

PremiumFree TV reaches South Africa

Free-to-air satellite television service PremiumFree TV from international channels operator AfricaXP will launch in South Africa on May 1.

Craig Kelly

The new service will feature a bouquet of 18 TV channels, including BongoTV (focusing on Swahili movies), True African Channel (African blockbusters), Fresh (reality shows), Limelight (family and action movies), Romanza+ Africa (telenovelas) and LOL Africa (comedy).

Also in the bouquet are Sports Connect, Kiddiwinks, Pulse, Riverwood (Kenyan movies), RPM (motor sports channel), LifeTV (crime and investigation), DIVA (entertainment), Gospellife, Fight Night (martial arts and boxing) and Synapse (e-gaming).

Viewers can access the channels through Openview decoders, MultiChoice’s DStv decoders and universal free-to-air set-top decoders using a satellite dish.

In late 2018, AfricaXP launched PremiumFree TV in Nigeria and Ghana in West Africa with 13 TV channels as a freely available satellite TV offering. The company is bringing its multichannel bouquet to sub-Saharan Africa two-and-a-half years later after acquiring space on Intelsat’s IS20 satellite.

AfricaXP CEO Craig Kelly told SA blog TV With Thinus: “Broadcasting unencrypted not only means that the service can be offered free of charge, it also means that the channels can be instantly received on dishes and decoders already owned, installed and connected. It’s all about instant reach for us and with no extra equipment or cost for the viewer.

“After years of stagnation in the African TV market, characterised by the regular failure of new pay TV initiatives, Intelsat’s decision to seek out AfricaXP as a partner and allocate one of the few available transponders on IS20 to PremiumFree TV is a clear vote of confidence in the PremiumFree TV project. Intelsat has a clear conviction that multichannel free-to-air TV delivered over satellite has a big role to play in the future of the African TV market.”

Intelsat senior account director Christelle Meyer added: “Many countries dealing with economic disparity or smaller populations struggle with making fibre and mobile broadband work as a universal media distribution technology. Satellite will play a vital role in delivering rich media content to all corners of the continent well into the future.”

Meyer said that since January 7 PremiumFree TV has been transmitting a pilot channel on the IS20 transponder with at least 18 TV channels in a bouquet that will be tested from April and PremiumFree TV will officially launch on May 1.

“It’s exciting to be able to offer a compelling multichannel bouquet to such a large and underserved market. Free-to-air TV is critical in stimulating the market by offering value to a segment that can’t afford to pay regularly for premium content, if at all,” Meyer added.

“A strong media industry is symbiotic for the whole ecosystem. Strong free-to-air drives penetration of TV sets, stimulate content development and grows viewing habits which in turn attracts advertisers. We hope to make our contribution to stimulating activity to the benefit for all players.”

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MNet acquires Harry & Meghan interview

The Duke and Duchess of Sussex

Pay TV channel MNet has bagged the African broadcasting rights to the Duke and Duchess of Sussex, Harry and Meghan’s exclusive interview with Oprah Winfrey.

The two-hour interview, titled CBS Presents Oprah With Meghan & Harry, will air in Africa on March 8 on Mnet, DStv channel 101, at 19.30, according to South African blog TV With Thinus.

In the show, Oscar winner Winfrey discusses a range of topics with Meghan including life as a royal, philanthropic work, marriage and handling pressure. Harry will also speak about their move to the US, future plans and dreams.

CBS Presents Oprah with Meghan & Harry is produced by Harpo Productions, executive produced by Terry Wood and Tara Montgomery as well as Brian Piotrowicz, co-executive producer.

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DStv to offer pop-up Korean net tvN Africa

tvN Africa will feature a range of Korean programmes

MultiChoice-owned African pay TV operator DStv is gearing up to debut a new pop-up Korean channel called tvN Africa.

The new channel will air on DStv 134 from March 1 for four months with new programming every weekday at 18.45. It will feature music variety shows like I-Land, Korean dramas including Encounter, romantic series and action dramas such as Signal.

Michael Jung, MD of tvN owner CJ ENM Hong Kong, said: “It is evident Hallyu fever is on the rise in Africa. We are thrilled to partner with MultiChoice, the leading pay TV provider in Africa, to be the first Korean entertainment brand to launch on DStv. We will do our best to bring all premium Korean entertainment to the fans.”

Yolisa Phahle, Multichoice Group’s CEO of general entertainment and connected video, said: “Delivering the tvN channel to millions of viewers on our continent is part of DStv’s commitment to bring the best of the world home.

“DStv customers can now explore South Korean lifestyle through tvN’s dynamic entertainment offering. Through the quality of its rich stories the channel broadens the already extensive range of viewing options we have on DStv for a variety of audiences.”

The new channel will be available to DStv Premium, Compact and Compact Plus customers.

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Streamers are ‘existential threat’ to DStv

International OTT services like Netflix and Disney+ pose an “existential competitive threat” to DStv, according to the pay TV service’s operator, MultiChoice.

The warning came during MultiChoice’s presentation at the Independent Communications Authority of South Africa (ICASA)’s recent inquiry into the subscription TV broadcasting services market in South Africa.

Noting that international OTT operators are its biggest competitors, the pay TV company said: “Currently, competition is fierce and will continue to grow rapidly and in a disruptive way. We consider providers like Netflix, YouTube, Disney+, HBO Now and Peacock to be an existential competitive threat.”

MultiChoice also debunked the idea suggested by ICASA that the company is somewhat protected from these streaming platforms because many South Africans still suffer from a considerable broadband deficit and would not be able to access such platforms, and thus still rely mostly on DStv services.

Commenting on ICASA’s draft findings, MultiChoice said the assertion that good-quality broadband access is limited and expensive in South Africa is not true. It argued that broadband access is already sufficiently widespread for DStv viewers to switch to OTT on a massive scale.

The Naspers-owned company backed up its claim by highlighting that three-quarters of DStv subscribers already watch TV on other devices, which means they have sufficient broadband for streaming.

“OTT entrants follow a powerful and competitive business model that is reshaping the competitive landscape and we are directly affected by growing competition from Netflix, YouTube and other streaming services,” MultiChoice said.

“This is seen in the sharp decline in premium subscriptions. The four largest DStv bouquets across all levels have seen significant falls in real prices in the last three years. Strangling MultiChoice does not guarantee access to rights and will impact other licencees, jeopardise jobs, erode the tax base and cause harm, with no benefits to the country.”

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DStv to offer taste of Honey

MultiChoice-owned pay TV operator DStv will carry a pan-African lifestyle channel named Honey from February 12.

John Ugbe

The launch of the new TV channel is part of MultiChoice’s efforts to offer content that celebrates and explores African lives by focusing on lifestyle, fashion, food, weddings, dating and reality.

The channel will be broadcast in all key African markets including Nigeria, Ghana, Kenya, Uganda, Namibia, Botswana, Malawi, Zambia, Angola, Mozambique, Tanzania, DRC, Cameroon and South Africa.

The channel is operated by South African print media company Media24’s television unit, which is also responsible for Afrikaans lifestyle channel VIA. Like MultiChoice, Media24 is backed by South African internet group Naspers. Honey will air on DStv channel 173.

MultiChoice Nigeria’s CEO John Ugbe said: “DStv is thrilled to launch Honey. The channel is part of our commitment to keep bringing fresh, authentic, and local content to our Nigerian subscribers. For many years, we’ve seen lifestyle is a popular genre in the country; and now our subscribers will see their own talent, food, celebrations and their families as the well-deserved hero.”

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Africa on course for 51m TV subscribers

Pay TV subscriptions in Africa will rise to 51 million in the next five years, according to a report by UK-based analysis firm Digital TV Research.

The report, titled Africa Pay TV Forecasts, predicts that nearly 17 million pay TV subscribers will be added in Africa between 2020 and 2026.

Of the total, Nigeria will account for close to 11 million, with South Africa bringing in nine million.

South Africa-based MultiChoice, which operates sub-Saharan African satellite TV service DStv and smaller pay TV service GOtv, had 15.5 million subscribers across both platforms at the end of 2020.

Simon Murray, Digital TV Research’s principal analyst, expects this figure to rise to 19.7 million by 2026 “with a marked slowdown of satellite TV growth.”

China-based StarTimes and StarSat will experience the most impressive growth, with combined subscriptions in Africa increasing from 10.1 million at the year end to 16.9 million by 2026.

France’s Vivendi, which had 5.4 million subscribers to its Canal + satellite TV platform and EasyTV in Africa by the year end, will see this figure rise to 7.9 million by 2026.

Meanwhile, other pay TV providers in Africa combined will go from three million subscribers at the end of 2020 to 6.3 million by 2026.

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DStv to debut Honey in 2021

MultiChoice-owned African pay TV operator DStv is set to launch a pan-African lifestyle channel called Honey next year.

Aletta Alberts

The channel is operated by South African print media company Media24’s television unit, which is also responsible for Afrikaans lifestyle channel VIA. Launching on February 12, it will be available on DStv channel 173 for Compact, Compact Plus and Premium subscribers.

Unscripted channel Honey’s content will be focused on lifestyle, fashion, food, weddings, dating and reality.

The channel will be broadcast in all key African regions. Like MultiChoice, Media24 is backed by South African internet group Naspers.

Yolisa Phahle, MultiChoice CEO of general entertainment, said: “DStv is thrilled to launch Honey. The channel is part of our commitment to keep bringing fresh, authentic and local content to our African subscribers. For many years, we’ve seen lifestyle is a popular genre on the continent, and now our subscribers will see their own talent, food, celebrations and their families as the well-deserved hero.”

Aletta Alberts, head of content at MultiChoice, added: “Africa’s dynamism and way of life is the perfect ingredient for this exciting channel. Honey is going to add a sweet and sticky flavour to our subscriber offering. Lifestyle content is the ideal vehicle to reflect the continent’s diversity and sameness. Everyone curious about food, style and weddings is in for a treat.”

Izelle Venter, Honey’s channel head, said: “Media24 is delighted to collaborate with MultiChoice on this new adventure. The goal is to combine both companies’ best qualities, experience and knowledge to serve DStv subscribers with a new channel that is familiar, unique and entertaining.”

Zinzi Velelo, Honey’s head of content, added: “We are working with producers across the continent to ensure the lifestyle stories we tell are real and relevant. Our goal is to showcase the characters, talent and dynamics of everyday African life as never before.”

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Brainstorm’s Chitate launches streamer

Zimbabwean-born producer, writer and director Eddie Chitate has launched a streaming platform through his production company Brainstorm Entertainment.

Eddie Chitate

NoFTV focuses on urban youth culture across the African continent and aims to provide a platform that brings together east, west, north and southern African entertainment and current affairs on one platform as well as being the one-stop-shop for everything cool and hip about Africa.

Chitate said the new service fills a gap in the market. “NoFTV allows creatives and entrepreneurs to maximise their potential and ideas as well as giving them ownership,” he said.

“No more being at the mercy of the traditional broadcasters. It’s an all-encompassing entertainment platform and on it we will have TV shows, films, news, politics, documentaries, merchandise, music – pretty much everything important to the youth of Africa. We will partner with young creatives to give them a platform to showcase their talent.

“African entertainment is showing some growth and especially West African entertainers have managed to crack the code and be relevant across the globe. We need to produce more documentaries that tell our [black African] stories from our point of view, not what we’ve been fed by our past colonisers for the last few decades.”

Chitate launched Brainstorm Entertainment in South Africa and has produced film and television shows for both local and international markets. The first feature film he produced was Killing of Wendy (titled Divas in the US).

Through his leadership at Brainstorm, he has negotiated a licence deal with Vibe Media for sub-Saharan Africa and with NBCUniversal to be the first African producer to create original African shows for E! channel 124 on DStv

Chitate produced E! VIP, Africa’s version of E! True Hollywood Story, and collaborated with Forbes Africa to compile the first entertainment Who’s Who list, and was also the creator and executive producer of Diamond In The Ruff, a modelling reality series for Mzansi Magic.

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Love Island lands in South Africa

South African pay TV broadcaster M-Net has commissioned a local version of ITV Studios’ hit relationship format Love Island.

South Africa’s Love Island will start airing in February

Local production company Rapid Blue will work on the South African adaptation, the 20th local version of the format commissioned around the world.

The first season will be recorded in the country’s Western Cape and will launch in late February on M-Net 101 on DStv.

Maarten Meijs, president of global entertainment at ITV Studios, adds: “The multi-channel phenomenon is having a fantastic year, travelling the world at a rapid pace. This is the second version on the African continent, following the Nigerian acquisition earlier this year, and we can’t wait to see how this local adaptation will find its way to the South African viewers.”

Love Island features a group of singletons who come together in a stunning villa to embark on a summer of friendships and relationships. Every few days, the Islanders must couple up and those who fail to find a partner risk being evicted.

The format is owned by ITV Studios and Motion Content Group and is distributed internationally by ITV Studios.

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MultiChoice to carry SPI/FilmBox network

International Emmy nominee Black Money Love

Global media company SPI/FilmBox has partnered with MultiChoice Group to launch its Turkish drama network Timeless Dizi Channel (TDC) on DStv in sub-Saharan Africa.

The channel will be available to DStv subscribers from November 2 on DStv Premium, Compact Plus, Compact and Family packages in South Africa and Lesotho, and on DStv Premium, Compact Plus and Compact across all other sub-Saharan territories.

It will offer DStv viewers hundreds of hours of Turkish dramas including International Emmy nominee Black Money Love and other series such as Karadayi, Kurt Seyit & Shura, The End, Red Scarf, Moms & Mothers, Wings of Love, The 8th Day and Kuzgun.

Georgina Twiss, MD for western Europe and Africa at SPI International, said: “We are very excited about launching on DStv as a leading video entertainment platform in Africa. This brings the Timeless Dizi Channel to a wider audience across the region. SPI and MultiChoice are both committed to bringing phenomenal content that’s built on compelling stories capable of capturing the hearts and minds across generations and geographies.

“That’s why we believe TDC is the perfect addition to DStv’s channel offering with its well-curated selection of dramas, a unique genre of high-budget series from Turkish producers that focus on relatable and engaging stories of family, relationships, morality and love.”

Yolisa Phahle, MultiChoice Group’s CEO of general entertainment and connected video, added: “This Turkish pop-up channel is such an exciting opportunity for us to offer a new and unique genre of content to our customers as part of our commitment to bring the best of the world back home.

“As Africa’s most-loved storyteller, we will continue to invest in both local and international content that excites our customers, both young and old, and offers the best entertainment at a great value.”

TDC has reached over five million households worldwide within the first year of its launch and continues to increase its footprint across the globe, with recent distribution deals in Switzerland, Nepal and the Middle East, according to SPI/FilmBox.

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Celestial Tiger Kix off in Africa

Kix will feature classic Bruce Lee movies such as The Way of the Dragon

Asian TV operator Celestial Tiger Entertainment (CTE)’s action entertainment channel Kix is set to launch on MultiChoice’s DStv in Africa.

Kix’s launch on DStv across Africa on October 1 will mark CTE’s first foray into the continent.

The channel features a mix of martial arts, action and thriller movies from the East and West, spanning 1960s to the present day, aired in English.

John Ugbe

These include kung fu classics from the Shaw Brothers library, action comedies, adventure and fantasy action franchises and action thrillers. The movies features the likes of Jackie Chan, Jet Li, Donnie Yen and Bruce Lee, as well as other Asian action stars.

John Ugbe, MultiChoice Nigeria’s MD, said the channel will expand its slate, offering viewers more variety.

In addition to DStv, Kix will also be made available on MultiChoice’s Showmax streaming service from October 2, with 30 titles being offered on demand every month.

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Next Titan online auditions kick off

Entrepreneurial reality show The Next Titan has begun online auditions for its seventh season.

Kyari Bukar

Themed as The Unstoppable, the new season is on the look-out for business ideas that are immune to any pandemic, innovations that break boundaries and technologies that can survive any lockdown.

Production company Bravopoints International is seeking ambitious Nigerian entrepreneurs aged between 22 and 40 who can demonstrate their entrepreneurial acumen with unbeatable business ideas, commercial insights and business savvy. You can register by clicking here.

The top 50 contestants from the online auditions will be selected to take part in a two-week online bootcamp where they will use ‘dashboards’ to connect with one another and the bootcamp administrators and judges.

Then 25 of the 50 will be invited to Lagos for another two-week online bootcamp. The group also will be isolated in a resort or hotel and tested for Covid-19 by the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control.

After their isolation, the 25 will have another physical bootcamp for both entertainment and final auditions before the top 16 are certified with a clean bill of health and moved to the Titan House for the main show.

They will live together for 10 weeks while facing a number of tough business tasks and avoiding eviction, with hopes of winning the cash prize of N10m and a new car to support their business idea.

The judges are top Nigerian business leaders and include board members Lilian Olubi, Chris Parkes, Tonye Cole and lead judge Kyari Bukar.

The show will air on Sundays on DStv Africa Magic channel 154/GoTV Channel 25 and on Saturdays on TVC and DStv channel 418. Previous winners were skincare entrepreneur Ogechukwu Alexis Obah and Amifeoluwa Yakubu.

The Next Titan is sponsored by Heritage Bank and its Lagos-based prodco Bravopoints is also behind other business-themed TV programmes such as The Proteges Nigeria, The Mavericks and Conversations With the Colossus.

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The Voice Nigeria S3 opens for auditions

The Voice Nigeria

Musical talent show The Voice Nigeria has begun online auditions for season three.

This year’s show, which aims to uncover the brightest of Nigerian musical talent for the global stage, will be fully produced in Nigeria. It will be presented by multi-award-winning TV host and actress Nancy Isime and co-hosted by radio personality and vlogger Toke Makinwa.

Nigerian musicians who will serve as coaches to help the participants find their hidden talents will include Dare Art Alade, Falz The Bahd Guy, Waje and Yemi Alade.

Those interested in competing can register by clicking here before September 19.

The executive producer of the show, Akin Salami, said: “We are excited to kick off The Voice S3 especially at a time like this when there is a growing appreciation for African music. This is an amazing opportunity to provide a learning platform for exceptional Nigerian talents and to show the world the quality of entertainment we are capable of showcasing.”

The winner of the show, which has launched the careers of talent including Johnny Drille, Chike, A’rese and Nonso, will receive a cash prize, a new car and an international recording contract.

Isime, who auditioned in 2016 but didn’t make the shortlist, said: “I am so excited to be the first female to host The Voice Nigeria. It’s time for S3 and I’m gonna be rocking with the one and only baby girl for life, Toke Makinwa.”

The show is slated to air on DStv channel (Africa Magic), StarTimes, terrestrial TV channel AIT and other stations abroad.

The Voice S3 is produced in partnership with UK broadcaster ITV and international record label Universal Music UK, in conjunction with YouTube, FirstBank Nigeria and gaming company Baba Ijebu.

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Umwe Africa Covid series set for DStv

A new educational series about coronavirus titled Pandemic: Covid-19 in Africa is set to debut on DStv this month.

Bryan Nakambonde

The four-part documentary is produced by social enterprise Umwe Africa in a bid to spread awareness on the social effects brought by the outbreak of the coronavirus.

The docuseries examines the virus, the effects of its arrival in Africa and efforts to tackle it.

The first 30-minute episode will look at the impact the global pandemic has had on different parts of the continent in a way intended to appeal to young people.

The series will cover topics such as police brutality, lockdown measures, healthcare systems and the impact on education.

The co-founder of Umwe Africa, Bryan Nakambonde, said the project had involved working with more than 20 students in 17 African countries since early May to capture the unique experiences in each place.

Nakambonde said: “We are working to produce an educational experience for 75% of Africa’s population – the youth. Umwe is dedicated to engaging African youth with matters that are shaping the future and changing the narrative that news is only for older people. Our aim is to unpack African headlines using language and content that appeal to the youth on social media.

“I spoke to people from all walks of life and there seems to be a strong desire to change the continent for the better. There’s a huge perception that no one in power has a genuine interest in helping the continent and this series is going to expose these people. Instead of only focusing on the negatives like case numbers going up, countries who are doing good will also be highlighted.”

Pandemic: Covid-19 in Africa will debut on August 28 at 15.30 CAT on DStv channel 319.

Umwe Africa is a social enterprise founded in 2018 by Nakambonde and his partner Jörg Walter, with their focus being on producing African news for young people solely on social media. Their team is made up of contributors from multiple African countries.

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SuperSport rejigs channels

SuperSport covers a broad range of sports

Sub-Saharan African pay TV broadcaster SuperSport has announced plans to rejig and rename most of its channels at the start of next month.

The broadcaster is dropping the numbering system it has used for its channels on pay TV platform DStv for the past two decades, replacing it with a thematic offering around individual sports aimed at making it easier for viewers to find what they are looking for.

This includes dedicated channels for leagues and sports such as Premier League and La Liga football, rugby, cricket, golf, tennis and motorsport. The new line-up will also feature magazine shows and highlights.

Among the new channels is SuperSport Grandstand, a flagship network that will host the best of any live curated sport available to DStv Premium customers at any one time. During weekends, its content will be hosted live from a studio. The channel will be positioned immediately after fellow SuperSports net Blitz at the beginning of the new line-up.

For Premium DStv subscribers, the line-up that currently comprises (in order) Blitz, SS1, SS2, SS3, SS4, SS5, SS6, SS7, SS8, SS9, SS10, SS11, SS12, SS13 (pop up), ESPN 1, ESPN 2, WWE will switch to Blitz, SuperSport Grandstand, Football Plus, the Premier League channel, the La Liga channel, the Football channel, Variety 1, Variety 2, Variety 3, Variety 4, Action, Rugby, Cricket, Golf, Tennis, Motorsport, ESPN 1, ESPN 2 and the WWE channel.

For Compact Plus subscribers, the current line-up of Blitz, SS3, SS4, SS5, SS6, SS7, SS8, SS9, SS10, ESPN 1, ESPN 2 and WWE will change to Blitz, Football Plus, the Premier League channel, the La Liga channel, the Football channel, Variety 1, Variety 2, Variety 3, Variety 4, Action, ESPN 1, ESPN 2 and the WWE channel.

Supersport CEO Gideon Khobane said: “This is a landmark decision in SuperSport’s history and one we’re convinced will add a fresh and invigorating dimension to our broadcasts. The changes will mean additional SuperSport channels of local and international sporting content will be added to the DStv package.

“Genre channelling will no doubt increase awareness of a broader range of content, which may have always been on the platform but wasn’t necessarily easy to discover. This signals a radical change designed to make content discovery more seamless.”

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Sauti Sol to star in reality show

Sauti Sol formed in 2005 (photo: Navisco via CC)

Kenyan afro-pop band Sauti Sol are set to launch a reality show on DStv channel Maisha Magic Plus this weekend.

Premiering on Sunday, Sol Family will explore the lives of the four vocalists who formed the band – Bien-Aimé Baraza, Willis Chimano, Savara Mudigi and Polycarp Otieno – as well as other stars signed to record label Sol Generation, such as Nviiri and Bensoul, and the band’s management team.

The show will document the work that goes into making Sauti Sol’s music, delving deep into the musical process and uncovering aspects of their personal lives that make them tick.

Margaret Mathore, channel head at Maisha Magic Plus, said: “We are excited to be launching Sol Family on the channel this August. The series will give viewers a front-row seat to the lives of the band and work that goes behind the production, from scripting to ideating themes, and a touch of drama.

Sauti Sol has worked with African musicians including Burna Boy, Sho Madjozi, Patoranking, Tiwa Savage, Vanessa Mdee, Yemi Alade, Khaligraph Jones, Nyashinski, Bebe Cool, Mi Casa, Toofan and the American singer-songwriter India Arie.

The band has also embarked on several tours in Africa and Europe, topped the Kenyan charts and gained international attention with shows in Europe and the US. The band’s 13-part reality show will air every Sunday at 19.30 on Maisha Magic Plus via MultiChoice-owned pay TV platform DStv.

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Beyoncé’s Black is King rolls out

Beyoncé’s ‘visual album’ Black is King

New ‘visual album’ Black is King from US singer Beyoncé is set to roll out from July 31 on pay TV platforms across Africa.

They include MultiChoice’s DStv service, Canal+ Afrique, the new Disney+ video streaming service and also M-Net, flagship channel of MultiChoice. This is made possible due to the distribution deal Disney signed with MultiChoice’s M-Net and Canal+ Afrique.

The film was produced in a year and is based on the music of The Lion King: The Gift, the studio album Beyoncé released alongside Disney’s 2019 CGI remake of The Lion King.

It reimagines the lessons from the new version of The Lion King for children and features an impressive list of diverse voices on its creative team, including directors Emmanuel Adjei, Blitz Bazawule, Pierre Debusschere, Jenn Nkiru, Ibra Ake, Dikayl Rimmasch and Jake Nava, as well as co-director and long-time collaborator of Beyoncé Kwasi Fordjour.

Other cast members include international African models like Aweng Ade-Chuol and Adut Akech, supermodel Naomi Campbell, Tina Knowles-Lawson, actress Lupita Nyong’o, singer Kelly Rowland, Pharrell Williams and Jay-Z, among others.

Additional co-directors and second unit directors add to the crew’s global representation, including Dafe Oboro, Julian Klincewicz, Derek Milton, Meji Alabi, Joshua Kissi, Alexandre Moors and Deon Van Zyl.

According to Beyoncé, the Black is King film was a labour of love and was researched, filmed and edited in the past year.

“It was originally filmed as a companion piece to The Lion King: The Gift soundtrack and meant to celebrate the breadth and beauty of Black ancestry,” she said.

“The events of 2020 have made the film’s vision and message even more relevant, as people across the world embark on a historic journey. I believe that when Black people tell our own stories, we can shift the axis of the world and tell our real history of generational wealth and richness of soul that are not told in our history books.

“With this visual album, I wanted to present elements of Black history and African tradition, with a modern twist and a universal message, and what it truly means to find your self-identity and build a legacy. My only goal is that you watch it with your family and that it gives you pride.”

Filmed in various locations, the film’s cinematography captures beautiful people and landscapes across continents, starting in New York, then Los Angeles, South Africa, West Africa, London and Belgium. It will be viewed by audiences in Africa including South Africa, Nigeria, Ghana, Ethiopia, Namibia, Cameroon, Liberia, Burundi, Senegal, Togo, Somalia, Benin, Congo, Kenya, Ivory Coast, Zimbabwe, Malawi, Gabon, Cape Verde and other countries.

Although an official trailer for the film has been released by Disney, the screening dates and times on the African pay platforms have yet to be announced.

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MultiChoice boss told to take Covid test

Nigeria’s House of Representatives has ordered that MultiChoice Nigeria CEO John Ugbe be tested for Covid-19 after he failed to turn up to answer a House committee’s questions.

John Ugbe

An ad hoc House committee is currently investigating the non-implementation of the pay-as-you-go tariff plan by Nigerian satellite broadcasters and the subscription increase for MultiChoice’s DStv service.

It has now instructed Chikwe Ihekweazu, director general of the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC), to find and test Ugbe after his non-appearance.

Ugbe twice failed to appear before the committee and in the second of two letters said his absence resulted from an illness he had contracted after arriving in Abuja on Tuesday for the hearing.

The letter was signed by Gozie Onumonu, MultiChoice’s head of regulatory affairs, on his behalf and addressed to the chairman of the committee, Unyime Idem. The letter appealed to the committee to again reschedule the meeting until Ugbe regains his health and is cleared by his doctor.

The letter reads: “We regret to inform the committee that we would be unable to appear before it today due to a sudden illness of our chief executive officer, after arriving in Abuja yesterday for this meeting. Because of the abundance of caution needed to be taken in line with the current pandemic, we believe it is necessary that the meeting be deferred until he has regained his health and is cleared by his medical doctor.

“In the meantime, we will submit written submissions to the committee to assist the committee in its investigations. We sincerely apologise for any inconvenience caused to the committee and please be assured of our best efforts at all times.”

A motion was moved by a member of the committee, Julius Pondi, directing the NCDC to locate Ugbe, test him for Covid-19 and report back to the house within four days.

Another member of the committee, Prestige Ossy, added: “This person is taking the committee for a ride. If he had written us or the doctor where he is hospitalised, then we will talk about it. But where he is in his house and we are all here seated waiting for him to come and he didn’t send any representative, this is the very height of neglect of parliamentary invitation and necessary sanctions should be invoked to make him appear as quickly as possible.”

Ossy added that the NCDC should also trace other passengers who were onboard the plane with him or had any contact with him at the airport.

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CEO Ekdahl quits MultiChoice

Niclas Ekdahl, CEO of connected video at African pay TV group MultiChoice, has left the company less than two years after taking the job.

Niclas Ekdahl

Ekdahl who has more than 19 years of executive leadership experience in the audiovisual services industry, was appointed in 2018 to handle several projects.

These included redesigning the DStv Now interface, the launch of OTT service Showmax’s mobile-only plan, and Showmax’s field tests performance for its standalone streaming service, which will offer DStv content over the internet without requiring an installed dish or decoder.

Yolisa Phahle, currently CEO of general entertainment at MultiChoice, will add Ekdahl’s role to her’s for the time being.

Joe Heshu, MultiChoice Group executive for corporate affairs, said: “Ekdahl decided to leave MultiChoice to pursue personal interests. We are grateful for his contribution in which he oversaw the growth of the Showmax and DStv Now platforms.

“Yolisa Phahle will take over Ekdahl’s position, in addition to running the general entertainment division. However, the work of our connected video business unit continues.”

MultiChoice’s video streaming service Showmax recently launched a new sports-themed streaming service called Showmax Pro. In addition, it intends launching a new service called DStv Explora that will carry SVOD platforms like Netflix and Amazon Prime Video.

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EbonyLife TV quits DStv

EbonyLife TV, the fast-growing African broadcast entertainment network founded by Mo Abudu, will no longer air on pay platform DStv from the end of this month.

Mo Abudu

Abudu, CEO of EbonyLife TV, took to her Instagram page to make the announcement, saying: “Remember when we used to wait a whole week to watch our favourite TV shows? Well, those days are gone forever! Now we can binge on the whole series if we want to. Therefore, we have decided that EbonyLife TV will no longer be available on DStv from 31st July 2020.

“Create your own viewing schedule and watch your favourite EbonyLife shows with our app, EbonyLife ON, available from Play Store or App Store for access to our library of over 5000 hours of series, lifestyle and entertainment.”

EbonyLife TV launched on DStv across Africa in July 2013 and debuted on rival service StarTimes in 2018. Later that year, the company launched its own video-on-demand (VoD) service available on iOS platforms and Google.

The channel was still available on Star Times at the time of writing and no announcement has been made about dropping carriage on that Chinese-owned pay TV platform.

EbonyLife TV’s move to drop its linear channels on a third-party platform in favour of the company’s own direct-to-consumer on-demand service mirrors a similar move by The Walt Disney Company (TWDC).

The US-based media giant recently announced plans to close Disney Channel, Disney XD and Disney Junior in the UK, with all content being made exclusively available on recently launched SVoD service Disney+ instead.

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