THE dedicated Kiswahili-language channel that M-Net launched on DStv in July last year has just turned one and is going from strength to strength as viewers across East Africa embrace its popular local language programming.
Speaking on the anniversary, M-Net Africa Managing Director Biola Alabi said the channel's success is a result of a clear vision, solid partnerships with content suppliers, wonderful viewer support, and a vast investment in creating a home for the region's dynamic producers and moviemakers.
"It is one thing to say you're going to create a channel like AfricaMagic Swahili. It is another thing altogether to actually do it. We're pleased that 12 busy months later, we can say that we've learnt some important lessons, taken note of suggested improvements, listened to both our critics and fans; and ultimately grown in experience and understanding," she said.
She said that the Swahili community has been very generous, supportive and patient with them, encouraging and nurturing the channel from the start.
"We want to thank them all - viewers, producers, writers, directors, stars and all those people behind-the-scenes who work so hard to keep this beautiful, powerful language alive and thriving," she said.MultiChoice Tanzania Limited Public Relations Manager, Barbara Kambogi told the 'Daily News' that Tanzania in particular had immensely benefited from the channel where nearly 270 movies had been screened.
Kambogi said that local producers and film makers had given them international exposure and therefore motivation to improve on their productions, revenue earned from licence fees had helped them produce more and the channel had availed them a ready market for their productions.
"The AfricaMagic Swahili has been very well received in the country and should expect a greater variety of content that celebrates Swahili culture and language from different perspectives," she said.
Since launching the AfricaMagic Swahili team has travelled extensively to build the channel. In January this year, they held a vital stakeholder forum in Dar es Salaam during which local film and TV professionals were advised on key aspects of programme acquisition, licensing, and screening. The forum also included discussions on the subjects of contracting, distribution and platform opportunities.
Additionally M-Net invested in a two-day training workshop in Tanzania for producers and other industry personnel to learn new skills and techniques while sharing knowledge and ideas.
AfricaMagic Swahili (DStv channel 127) is screened 24-hours daily. A 6-hour premium programme block, that runs from 17:00 - 23:00 EAT daily, is re-screened three times more, giving viewers the chance to watch programmes they may have missed.
A general entertainment channel, AfricaMagic Swahili includes movies, drama, comedy, talk-shows, series and music.
Programming is in Swahili but is sub-titled in English for non-Swahili speakers. There is also programming available from other markets, which has been dubbed into Swahili to ensure that Swahili audiences are also able to access programming from across the continent.
Applauding the channel MultiChoice East Africa Regional Director Stephen Isaboke is positive about its future. "We know that this channel is one that our subscribers have asked for, enjoy greatly and want to see grow. It's relevant and it's dynamic. We are confident that it will continue to evolve in line with audience expectations and will remain one of the most compelling TV channels in this market," Isaboke said.
The channel is available on the DStv Access, Family, Compact, Compact Plus and Premium bouquets. It is offered in Swahili speaking countries such as Tanzania, Kenya, Uganda, Ethiopia, Rwanda, Burundi, Congo and the DRC.