Africa: Media Brokerage Africa Gives Special Interest Channels a Voice On the Continent - Launching Ethiopian OTT Platform in May

London — If you're not a large broadcast organization, Sub-Saharan Africa - with over 50 different markets - can be a bewildering and expensive place to do business in. Russell Southwood spoke to Colman Murray about Media Brokerage Africa and representing different channels and content with its boutique distribution service.

Colman Murray is no stranger to the continent's media markets, having worked for companies like WarnerMedia, Fox Networks Group and Yahoo!, finding business on the continent:"Africans don't understand the first world's approach to business and vice-versa. Those in California think that what works there, should work here but Africa is over 50 markets and they are all very different." He observes that often the 'majors" come into the continent and then pull out like Discovery, which now runs the continent out of the Middle East.

Media Brokerage Africa provides a boutique distribution service:"I sensed there was a gap. There were hundreds of special interest channels and they didn't have a voice in the market." For these clients, it can act as a commercial arm:"We can negotiate a channel deal with DStv and once it's signed, we can do the advertising, licensing and merchandise."The company operates across all broadcasting platforms including, free-to-air (FTA), pay-TV, Digital Switch Over (DSO), mobile and over-the-top (OTT).

Launched in July 2020, he has 12 clients in his roster. Currently he has the following plans in development, some of which will go live shortly:"Africans are super-interested in niche content.":

- In May, an Ethiopian IPTV platform provider will launch:"Potentially the platform has the potential for hundreds of thousands of subscribers. It will also offer a platform for different broadcasters."

- It is representing a Christian entertainment channel, ENLIVEtv out of the USA that should pick up on two of the continent's strongest interests.

- He is putting together several genre channels: Westerns Classics Africa, Cartoons Classics Africa and Screenfest Africa. The latter will be a channel with thrillers and horror movies.

- He represents the Global Fashion Channel and wants to feed in local fashion shows to their content.

- It has a partnership with digital marketing agency, IMMediate, based out of Singapore but with an increasingly global reach.

Other deals include: Dutch childrens content maker StoryZoo, The Dancehall Channel and Swig Media LLC.

So how does he work with clients?:"I'm flexible. In some cases, we take commission but with others I'm on a retainer. It's down to the client." Having worked for global majors, he stresses the advantages of being a small company:"We can make decisions super-quickly. We can slice-and-dice as much as clients want."

In Brief

Namibia - Trouble ahead: The Namibia Public Workers Union (NAPWU) members at the Namibian Broadcasting Corporation (NBC) are to go on strike. Responding to the decision, NBC Board Chairperson Lazarus Jacobs rejected the idea of industrial action, saying that the decision to strike will not positively affect any parties involved. He highlighted the financial impact of the strike, which will lead to the organisation being in a worse financial position, leading to the organisation not being able to pay for salaries.

Ghana: Telecoms regulator, NCC, has closed down 49 unlicensed TV stations. Following this decision, the Ghana Independent Broadcaster Association has called on the Government to shift radio and TV spectrum allocation to the National Media Commission (NMC). It believes NMC make a better job of managing the airwaves and distributing spectrum.

Showmax mobile subscribers across Africa will pay on average 20% less for access to the full Showmax catalogue on a single mobile device since April 19. MultiChoice Group CEO for Connected Video, Yolisa Phahle, said, "We know that consumers are under pressure at the moment and we believe this change will be appreciated by our mobile customers as will the decision not to increase any of our other prices. We have our most exciting slate of Showmax Originals this year and look forward to more of our subscribers enjoying our proudly African stories."

Nigeria and DTT: The acting Director-General of the National Broadcasting Commission (NBC) had shared an update Nigeria's Digital Switch Over (DSO) plans and said it will be completed by 2022. However, according to a Nigerian-based broadcast expert, said there is an N2.5 billion (US$ 6 561 679) money laundering scandal that has led to the suspension of the Director-General of NBC, which may hinder the process as the matter has yet to be resolved. Another industry expert noted companies that had received payment in the first phase of the programme have since failed to account for the disbursed monies. The inadequacy of critical infrastructure may delay the projected completion period, said Omuedi. Furthermore, there has been very little done in infrastructure since the programme was halted back in 2018. At this stage of the programme, sustainable Digital Terrestrial Television (DTT) coverage in places where the DSO pilot took place is problematic, and pilot locations have partial coverage. (Source: Broadcast Media Africa)

The Zimbabwe Broadcasting Corporation (ZBC), a state-controlled broadcaster in Zimbabwe, has applied for the National Commercial Digital Terrestrial (NCDT) license in order to supply more channels. Critics have unwelcomed this request as unfair due to private stations being allocated limited terrestrial space.

'This Is Not A Burial, It's A Resurrection', starring the late South African screen legend Mary Twala Mhlongo, opens in cinemas across South Africa on 21 May. It is the first film from Lesotho, made by a Mosotho filmmaker, to screen at an international festival. Directed by Lemohang Jeremiah Mosese, the film was viewed by critics as one of the best at this year's Sundance Film Festival, where it premiered in January. It was also Lesotho's first-ever submission to the Oscars and the Golden Globes. The film has won a string of international awards and gained widespread acclaim around the world, particularly for its star Mary Twala. It won the Best Interpretation Award for Mary Twala Mhlongo at the Festival du Nouveau Cinema, Montreal, Canada; Firebird Award for Best Actress, Firebird Award for Best Film and FIPRESCI Prize for Young Talent at the Hong Kong International Film Festival, Carmel Competition Winner for Best International Film at the Haifa International Film Festival, Israel; Grand Prize for Best International New Talent at the Taipei Film Festival; as well as a host of other awards at major international festivals.

The Snail and the Whale, directed by Max Lang and South Africa's Daniel Snaddon, has won the Annie Award for Best Special Production. The Annie Awards have been presented by the Los Angeles branch of the International Animated Film Association, ASIFA-Hollywood, each year since 1972 to recognise excellence in animation. This year's awards were held as a virtual ceremony on Friday, 16 April.

Animated in Cape Town by Triggerfish and produced by Magic Light Pictures, The Snail and the Whale follows the amazing journey of a tiny snail who longs to see the world and hitches a ride on the tail of a huge humpback whale. The 27-minute short film is a joyous, empowering story about the natural wonders of the world and discovering that, no matter how small you are, you really can make a difference.

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