Nigeria’s Senate has uncovered an alleged multibillion-naira fraud in the joint venture between the Nigerian Television Authority (NTA) and Chinese satellite pay TV company StarTimes.
The allegation was made by the Joint Committee on Finance and National Planning after the NTA’s expenses were scrutinised during discussions about the 2021-2023 Medium Term Expenditure Framework and Fiscal Strategy Paper.
It found that the documents submitted by the director-general of the NTA, Mohammed Yakubu, did not mention the deal with StarTimes and nor did they refer to remitted revenues into the federation account.
The affair came to light when committee chairman Solomon Olamilekan asked why the NTA was blocking StarTimes from being registered with the National Broadcasting Commission (NBC).
Yakubu denied the claim, saying: “The Nigerian Television Authority could not have blocked StarTimes from registering with the NBC as it is currently in a joint-venture agreement with the company.”
The NTA entered the JV with StarTimes in 2010 with a 70/30 sharing ratio in favour of the Beijing-based company.
When Yakubu was unable to convince the panel how much the NTA had earned from its venture with StarTimes over the years, it demanded to see records showing what the NTA generates from production, advertising and documentaries.
It also asked that the NTA return with its debt profile containing the names of its debtors, dates, amount incurred and the name of the official that authorised it for publication.
The Senate ordered that all revenue-generating agencies of government should fron now on remit all their earnings into the consolidated revenue funds out of which their cost of collection will be given to them. The panel claimed the arrangement will shore up revenue for the government as well as prevent wastage in the system.
The Nigerian Television Authority (NTA) and pay TV operator StarTimes are preparing a reality show in which participants will receive agricultural training.
Naija Farmer Reality TV Show is being produced in partnership with the Radio, Television, Theatre & Arts Workers Union of Nigeria (RATTAWU) and industry leaders in the Federal Ministry of Agriculture & Rural Development (FMARD), alongside other federal ministries and agencies, the Bank of Agriculture (BOA), the Progressive Governors Forum and the World Bank’s Appeals Project.
In the programme, participants will get training, mentorship and funding, with the aim of creating agricultural business owners – aka ‘agripreneurs.’
Those behind the show, themed ‘Hope4Naija,’ said it would also offer first-class family entertainment and promote African cultural heritage and good moral standards.
Men and women aged between 18 and 35 and with a minimum of an ordinary national diploma can apply via auditions held across the country. A total of 190 people – comprising 80 housemates, 10 non-resident existing farm owners and 100 non-resident trainees – will participate in the show.
Hopefuls can register online or at any branch of BOA, EcoBank or NTA-Star/StarTimes offices nationwide from May 31. To register online, click here.
There will also be guest appearances by music, comedy and Nollywood stars, as well as political and business leaders.
Chigbo Okoli, CEO of the project, said: “The theme of this maiden edition is Hope4Naija, while the second edition will be Joy4Naija, and the project intends to start by spreading a message of hope and returning opportunity back to the streets of Nigeria for the ordinary Nigerian who knows nobody. By the second edition, we shall be celebrating joy in the newfound Nigeria where prosperity thrives.
“A 24-hour dedicated TV channel for the show will soon open on StarTimes.”
RATTWAU national president Kabir Garba-Tsanni added: “All Nigerian youths across the six geopolitical zones of Nigeria should embrace this project and take advantage of this opportunity to reclaim the years the locust has eaten and also to recover from the negative effect of Covid-19 on our economy.
“Do not be discouraged by the millions of youths that will be registering for the project, because it is designed to accommodate large numbers. There will be a slight delay for some people, but ultimately everybody who registers will benefit.”
The federal government is seeking a US$500m loan in order to digitise Nigerian Television Authority (NTA) stations in the country.
According to Lai Mohammed, minister of information and culture, the fund will be used to improve the creative industry in Nigeria as well as create 100,000 jobs for young people.
“The fund will aid in the establishment of a media and cultural training centre which will help train Nigerian broadcasters and filmmakers and also generate revenue for the nation. The International Telecommunication Union has given a dateline for nations to migrate from analogue to digital television broadcast,” he said.
He added that the digitalisation of all NTA stations would help to improve the quality of the nation’s television programmes.
Talent series The Dream Football Reality Show is holding auditions in various Nigerian cities for aspiring young footballers who wish to appear in the second season.
Aimed at helping young male players aged from 13 to 18 across Africa to chase a career in the professional game, the new season will air on NTA and TVC.
The first player screening event will take place in Warri on July 6, the second in Enugu on July 7 and the third in Port Harcourt on July 9.
A statement on the show’s Instagram page stated: “If we can touch one life it makes all the difference. And if we can give this opportunity to as many kids as possible then it makes all the difference. We will continue to put our best foot forward in developing grassroots football.”
The Dream Football Reality Show was created by professional photographer and filmmaker Abu Salami, whose dream to pursue a career in football was never acheived due to the lack of opportunities.
The Nigerian Television Authority (NTA) has had its international channel removed from Europe’s largest digital satellite TV service, Sky, and barred from airing on channel 794 via the platform.
The move was confirmed by a message on Sky’s website which reads: “NTA International is currently temporarily removed from the EPG (Electronic Programme Guide).”
A Sky customer service official in the UK said that Sky had no control over NTA International since its rights are controlled by London-based minority channel distributor Ben TV.
However, according to sources, the news of NTA’s suspension broke shortly after the NBC and AIT dispute, in which Nigeria’s media regulator locked horns with Daar Communications, owner of independent broadcaster AIT.
That issue saw NBC suspend Daar’s broadcasting licence over alleged breaches of the Nigeria Broadcasting Code in its political coverage, but the matter was resolved earlier this week.
The move has not impacted Ben TV’s own channel on the Sky platform, which broadcasts into the UK, Ireland, Italy and German-speaking Europe. Sky is owned by US cable giant Comcast, also parent of NBCUniversal.
Nigerian pay TV operator TStv Africa, which was unveiled in October last year but was put on hiatus, has resumed full operations and will this month start to sell decoders nationwide.
The company said decoder sales will begin on November 28 and the platform will have more than 72 television channels. These include TVC News, BBC World News, TravelXP, A1 Kids and Grande Bolly. Other include AIT, Aljazeera, NTA, CGTN and Wap TV
TStv Africa in a statement said: “Dear Nigerians, we wish to immensely thank you for standing by us all through our trying times and wish to confirm to you that TStv Africa is now stable in operation.
“Sequel to this, nationwide sales of decoder and accessories will effectively commence from 28th November, 2018 with access to over 72 TV channels. Please feel free to walk into any nearby TStv Africa retail outlet to pick up your decoders and accessories. We appreciate you for standing by us.”
As well as channels in the genres of music, news, religion, lifestyle, fashion, health and kids, TStv offers complimentary internet services, video calls and other features 9n a bouquet that is intended to be affordable to Nigerians.
Boys Can Cook executive producer Stanley Aneto tells Gabriella Opara about the origins of the culinary series and discusses his plans for the future.
Producer and artist Stanley Aneto is a graduate of CityVarsity, Cape Town, where he studied filmmaking. In 2011, he received a Nigeria Music Video Award for Oh Water, which won the Best Indigenous Concept category.
Last year he launched culinary show Boys Can Cook, which debuted on NTA in November.
Aneto, who is also creative director at Divcon Multimedia and co-founder of Formex Studios, is passionate about improving the environment and is an anti-drug abuse advocate.
What inspired Boys Can Cook?
I have always enjoyed cooking. I think I can call myself a good cook, but sometimes my cooking goes wrong and I wonder how many other men share this fate. Boys Can Cook was born as a result of that.
Naturally, ladies believe the kitchen is their place and scorn boys who try to prove them wrong. What I do in the kitchen would seem funny to ladies because I violate every known culinary procedure to achieve what can be eaten. After all, the proof is in the pudding. I believe I speak for a lot of guys. Consequently, I created Boys Can Cook to entertain, not to teach how to cook.
What is its niche?
I would best describe it as a reality TV kitchen comedy show. Boys Can Cook is designed to give male celebrities an opportunity to cook for their fans. This effort is often challenged by the hosts, who apply every possible means to make them fail. The cooking usually ends up a disaster as a result.
What is the target audience?
The nature of the show makes it difficult to define its target audience. However, if I must, Boys Can Cook appeals to families but also possesses a unique power to entertain a wide spectrum of viewers.
The show features a lot of comedians – is this deliberate?
The genre of the show is primarily comedy but we feature celebrities besides comedians. In our first season, we have comedians, Nollywood actors and artists.
We hope to widen this in the coming season. We plan to launch a special edition where we feature public figures including politicians.
What has it been like producing the show?
It’s a huge opportunity for me, despite the challenges. The show is new, in idea and time. Every eye is on me to chart a meaningful course for it. I am always on my toes to see that the production quality is top-notch and, believe me, this is almost on a 24-hour basis.
I am certain things will ease off as soon as we are able to recruit more capable hands. But until then, the experience remains challenging but exciting.
What can you tell us about the show’s launch?
We filmed our first episode in July 2017 and incidentally came online in that same period on Instagram. The first TV broadcast was made in November 2017. So we are still pretty young. Our YouTube channel launched in January. The show is anchored by Noela Nwankwo and Lynda Abiaziem.
What new content do you have planned for the show?
Boys Can Cook promises to evolve over time. A special is currently in the works. We have shot some episodes already with veteran photographer Uche Iroha and painter Mufu Onifada as our first guests. We are also considering going live soon, with an audience present on set. We have begun the process of exporting the content to other African countries using the uniqueness of their own settings.
I am excited about the future and trust God for more open doors.
What other content are you producing?
In South Africa, I started the production of a comedy TV show, Mr. Davidson the Alien, which reveals the funny side of surviving abroad as a Nigerian – the truth we do not want those at home to know. Unfortunately, this show has yet to be concluded.
Presently, I am working on my first feature film, a comedy.
What projects have you worked on recently?
After my training in film production, Divcon Multimedia [where Aneto is creative director] was created in 2015 because it was necessary to create a platform that offers a wide range of quality media services to both corporate and entertainment clients.
Formex Studios, which I co-founded, was created to provide access to high-end media production that is usually unaffordable to low-income earners. In Cape Town, we observed that lots of Nigerians who love the beautiful landscape of South Africa find it difficult to make their dreams come true as a result of cost. So we – mostly Nigerians – came together to create a team of skilled people who have functioned in different media houses. The idea was basically to make media services affordable to all without compromising quality.
Catch Boys Can Cook every Saturday on NTA at 09.30 and on YouTube.
A new Nigerian-set TV series funded by the US Agency for International Development (USAID) has begun airing.
In Love & Ashes is broadcast weekly on EbonyLife TV, DSTV channel 165 and NTA. It began broadcasting on April 4.
Set in Maiduguri, Borno State, the show addresses the issues of war and terrorism and how it has affected people’s lives, showing us a glimpse of the Nigerian spirit.
The eight-part series is written and produced by Watershed Entertainment.
At the launch event at the end of March, the US ambassador to Nigeria, Stuart Symington, said: “This dramatic and entertaining series reminds us why so many Nigerians take pride in being Nigerians. It celebrates Nigerians’ diversity, resilience, dynamism, creativity, tolerance and warmth. Those are the forces and the qualities that unite Nigerians and Nigeria.”
Nigerian artist 2Baba recorded the soundtrack to the series and performed it at the launch event. The cast includes Patience Ozokwor, Charles Etubiebi, Nafisat Abdullahi, Sani Danja, Tijjani Usman Faraga, Anita Pam and Meg Otanwa.
Lagos-based Ultima Studios has announced it will be producing the Nigerian adaption of TV gameshow Dragons’ Den, through a deal with Sony Pictures Television (SPT).
The Nigerian version will be called Lions’ Den. The format originated in Japan as Money Tigers before going on to be produced in 30 other countries, with names including Dragons’ Den, Shark Tank and Lions’ Den.
Contestants on the show pitch their business ideas to five entrepreneurial judges – called the Lions in the Nigerian version – who decide if their idea is profitable and worth investing in or not.
The pact continues Ultima’s relationship with SPT, as the two are already behind the Nigerian version of gameshow Who Wants to be a Millionaire? for the NTA network.
Ultima CEO Femi Ayeni told the press: “Ultima’s choice of Lions’ Den as its next venture is a celebration of the entrepreneurial spirit of Nigerians.
“The programme will not only provide exciting viewing for viewers at home but will also provide an opportunity for serious entrepreneurs to attract much-needed investment.
“Furthermore, as has been the case in all other countries where the show is running, it is not just the entrepreneurs but also the viewers at home that will benefit from the comments made by the Lions.”
Mark Young, SPT’s senior VP of distribution for the UK, Iberia and Africa, said: “Sony Pictures Television already has a fantastic and longstanding relationship with Ultima and we are thrilled to be working alongside them once more to bring Lions’ Den to Nigeria.
Digital TV operator StarTimes has launched a new brand, StarTimes ON, for its OTT business.
StarTimes ON claims to be Africa’s top online video streaming service, with more than 150 channels in at least 10 languages. It covers movies, series, news, music, sports, documentaries and kids’ content.
The launch has led to the upgrade of the original StarTimes app to StarTimes ON. “More excellent international and local channels will be put online, and diverse and rich contents will always be the core of StarTimes ON service,” said Ariel Lin, operation director at StarTimes ON.
Some of the top international channels available on the service include Fox News, BBC World News, France 24, Bloomberg, AMC Movies, Fox Life, Passions TV, Baby TV and NGC. StarTimes ON has also imported local content from TV stations like NTA, ZNBC, TVM, TBC, KTN, RTI and RTs.
Users can access ST Novela Plus, ST Nollywood Plus, ST Dadin Kowa, ST World Football and ST Sport Premium, plus sport including Fifa World Cup, UEFA Europa, boxing, Bundesliga and Ligue 1 matches.
A bill to amend Nigeria’s National Broadcasting Commission (NBC) Act that would make the airing of educational programmes compulsory on all TV channels has passed through a second reading in the country’s House of Representatives.
The bill is co-sponsored by the Honourable Odebunmi Olusegun (APC, Oyo) and James Abiodun Faleke (APC, Lagos) and is an attempt to promote the teaching of courses or subjects in accordance with the curriculum in schools and also to help young children master electronic learning.
Others who supported or contributed to the bill include Reps Mohammed Monguno (APC), Borno; China Adamu (APC), Niger; Ehiozuwa Johnson Agbinayinma (APC), Edo; and Chris Azubuogu (PDP), Anambra.
Faleke said: “It is an effort to tackle and salvage the falling standard of education which is currently a national concern and embarrassment.
“If amended, all television/radio service providers such as MultiChoice (DSTV), StarTimes, NTA and others will be legally compelled to dedicate one or more channels to educational programmes.”
President Muhammadu Buhari’s media team has announced a weekly programme that will focus on the policies of the current administration, reports Gabriella Opara.
Weeks after the release of a documentary titled The Human Side of President Buhari, Abiola Olusola, deputy director of media in the office of the vice-president, has revealed that the show is set to launch on a number of TV networks in the country.
According to Olusola, the programme will promote the policies and steps taken by Buhari to attempt to ensure the growth of Nigeria.
The show, whose name and release date have yet to be revealed, will air on Channels TV on Mondays at 16.30, NTA on Thursdays at 18.30, Core TV News on Saturdays at 12.30 and Liberty TV on Sundays at 16.30.
Nigeria’s minister of information and culture has called on the country’s corporate sector to support reality show The Labour Room during a visit to see its contestants.
At the mansion where the participant stay, Alhaji Lai Mohammed appealed to companies and brands in Nigeria to back the show.
“We need this initiative a lot. It is not just to entertain but to build values and morals. This is what we need mostly now in Nigeria,” he said.
“It’s a mind-blowing experience for me to realise that 37 young Nigerians have been in this labour room for the past 60 days and all they have been doing is bonding, preaching unity and dreaming of a new Nigeria.”
The Labour Room airs on public broadcaster NTA and other local and international TV channels, with more than 200 million viewers around the world.
The series, described as a ‘national development reality TV show, is the first of its kind, according to its producers. As the name suggests, it is about birthing and activating innovative ideas and realising potential in Nigeria.
With 37 contestants from various ethnic and religious background across the country, the show is claimed to be thought-provoking as well as entertaining. Each contestant will spend 60 days analysing and discussing the numerous issues that Nigeria faces and thinking up solutions.
Heads of states, thought leaders and industry experts across the board will visit the mansion where the contestants live to discuss the path ahead for Nigeria.
Each contestant will be retained or dismissed based on the solutions they come up with to daily challenges and the votes they accrue from the audience. At the end of the competition, four finalists will be selected to share the prize money – N200m (US$550,000) – which they will use to begin and expand companies to help develop the country.
The reality show is an initiative from The Nigerian Rebirth Foundation, which has as patrons Her Excellency Aisha Buhari, wife of the President of Nigeria; Alhaji Ibrahim Coomassie, Nigeria’s former and longest-serving inspector general of police, also chairman of its governing board; and the Ooni of Ife as its Royal Father.