9 March 2018

Cote d'Ivoire: Minister Says It Will Be Ready for Digital Transition Well Before Its June 2020 Deadline and Liberalization Leads to More Channels

London — Bruno Nabagné Koné, Minister of Communications, Digital Economy and Post has announced that Cote d'Ivoire will have completed its digital transition by its new deadline, the end of June 2020. It will also liberalize its airwaves to allow private broadcasters to compete in the market. Russell Southwood put his ear to the ground to see what's happening there and in other francophone countries making the transition.

The original ITU deadline was June 2016 but according to the Minister the deadline was missed because the call for tenders launched by the National Committee for Migration to DTT (CNM-TNT) for the selection of a technical operator to finance, install and operate the DTT broadcast network was unsuccessful. This has forced the Government to take the lead on this issue in 2017 and to take the decision to finance the migration process itself, which is currently ongoing.

The Minister recently assured the media that:"Côte d'Ivoire will be ready, well before its migration deadline set for June 2020."Date established by the ITU for all the countries that like the Côte d 'Ivoire, already broadcast in VHF".

"I also recall that after a successful first pilot phase, the area of Greater Abidjan, or about 25% of the population, has been covered since June 2015". The transition to digital is also part of a long awaited process of the liberalization of the Ivorian broadcast market.

"This digitization of the audiovisual space is implemented at the same time as the long-awaited liberalization of this sector, liberalization having been initiated in 2017 with operating licenses being granted to 4 new television channels. To which are added three additional operators of satellite packages, as well as two operators of DTT packages".

Including the existing Government channel that will make 10 channels in all. The President of the broadcast regulator HACA Ibrahim Sy Savane has always emphasized that the process of digitalization will only be successful if there is good content to watch. It has also stressed the importance of a local content quote to encourage the production of Ivorian content.

In December last year French TV broadcaster M6 Group announced that it was participating in the creation of the Life TV channel in Cote d'Ivoire through the acquisition of a 33% stake in the share capital of the Ivorian company of the same name. This company will operate the DTT channel Life TV, which will be launched this year as part of the opening of the Ivorian TV market to new broadcasters.

Life TV is a general-interest channel aimed at all viewers, with a varied programme schedule (entertainment, news, films, talk-shows, etc.) filled with both local content, mainly produced in-house thanks to a new production studio, the largest in the Ivory Coast with a surface area of 1,000m², as well as programmes from the M6 Group library.

In this project, M6 will be collaborating with Fabrice Sawegnon, CEO of Voodoo Group, the country's leading communications group, which will specifically bring its expertise in Africa's French-speaking advertising market, while M6 will provide its savoir-faire in the development of free-to-air TV channels. Vincent Broussard, who has led several television channels in France, including Teva, TF6 and serieclub, will be CEO of the new channel.

By joining forces with Fabrice Sawegnon, founder of Voodoo Group, with this equity investment the Group is entering Africa via an Ivorian market poised for significant growth and confirms its position as a major player in French-speaking TV.

Meanwhile elsewhere in francophone Africa, in Senegal the digitilization process has been handed over by Excaf to a new state agency called Telediffusion de Senegal which may in part be managed by the state broadcaster RTS.

Cote d'Ivoire

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