Archive for the ‘content web’ Category

Benda Bilili is a film and a documentary. Is it your goal to make this kind of films?

Yes, well initially it was not expected to be a movie. Indeed, we make documentary films, this is our third, and, of course, we worked on in post production to adapt it to the screen.
At the beginning, when we met with the staff “Benda Bilili” in 2004, it was primarily intended to make an album, only a few years later, as we filmed everything, we realized by watching those videos that we had a special material about this group who was emerging and who probably would get so far.

How did you meet the staff of the group “Benda Bilili?

In 2004, we were doing a short film about the urban music of Kinshasa, we were hanging out in the streets of Kinshasa with our cameras, and one night we were attracted by the sound of a group who played in a corner of the city at night. We came across the band, and then we began to meet with them, at that time we realized that they had their own repertoire, and played their own music. The songs that they played weren’t covers because they play the “Satongé” and that’s how at one point we proposed them to record an album

This is your third film about the city of Kinshasa and you are producing another one. Why is this fascination by this city?

It is truly a city for which we had a flash the first time we went there, we witnessed that it was a city of artists. Often one says that there is a musician in every household and this is quite true. We know the area very well and we meet many people who tell us great stories that make us want to continue making films there. It is a city of artists for us.

And why not Lagos, Dakar …
Historically, Kinshasa is the capital of African music which has an enormous influence on the rest of the continent. Ten years of war since 1996 have avoided spreading the word about its artistic productions, except of course in Congo. We know other African cities, but certainly, in Kinshasa, there is something quite exceptional. A kind of incredible energy among artists and also among people who live there. It has nothing to do with West Africa, it is truly special. But Congo also has a central location, and Kinshasa is a city where there are immigrants from different backgrounds. This latter has created a kind of energy that we can hear in music.

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As anywhere in the world, local content beats international content in audience terms where it’s available.

Openness to international content has prompted governments, regulators and African channels to increase their local content to protect their country’s cultural heritage and preserve their identity, but also to increase their audience. This local content faces two obstacles:

How to satisfy everybody? The difficulty is that the African zone includes thousands of ethnic groups and around 2000 languages. In addition, English is spoken in 22 countries, French in 21 countries, Arabs in 12 countries including Maghreb, Portuguese in 5 countries and Swahili in 3 countries.

The second difficulty is that local content is expensive and hard to export outside of Africa. Its survival is endangered if it is not organized, financed and distributed properly. And if the audience it gets is not measured, it will not attract advertising and sponsorships.

However, many local producers have been able to fare well in the game.
African music takes centre stage in Africa: Local artists send their videos to TV channels for free in exchange for visibility. There are also locally produced TV series which, even if they some are of low quality, they are finding success in the home. For example, Citizen TV in Kenya has become the number one broadcaster based on showing local comedies like Inspecta Mwala. Locally produced news, magazines and documentaries also take a significant share of overall audience.

Examples of programmes that reach large African audiences are the following:

DSTV’S SuperSport channel has secured the exclusive pay television rights for the 2010 FIFA Soccer World Cup, which is screened live and in its entirety across 42 African countries. «To be able to bring this prestigious event to the whole of Africa is indeed a special privilege and this is a proud moment for SuperSport and for the DStv brand, «said Elizabeth Dziva, PR and publicity manager of MultiChoice Zimbabwe. DStv remains at the forefront of screening major global sporting events and also provided coverage of the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games.

M-Net has confirmed that the 5TH edition of BIG BROTHER AFRICA will begin on July 18 2010 will be screened live 24/7 for 91 days on DStv Channel 198 for DStv Premium and Compact subscribers. Just days after the newest World Cup Champions are crowned, the launch will attract audience with contestants to be drawn from 14 countries and a golden prize of USD 200 000 once again up for grabs.

M-Net Africa Managing Director Biola Alabi said: «With the volume of interaction the show received from fans, it was clear that season 5 was definitely on the cards.”

Produced by Endemol and filmed on location in Johannesburg, it will feature some format changes. One technological change already in place is that this year DStv channel 198 will feature two television feeds so audiences can choose to move from one BIG BROTHER feed to another.

The key characteristics that makes BIG BROTHER AFRICA so popular is the ability for audiences to send their text and web messages direct to DStv channel 198 and see their thoughts and opinions on air. PLUS there’s the fact that ultimate power of who is evicted from the house and who remains is firmly in the hands of the voting public! In addition, by simply pressing the OK button on your DStv remote you can get updated on news and information from the Big Brother house in a matter of minutes and for ardent fan, the website is being designed with updates on the show as it happens, a live forum to chat with other fans, video downloads and much more.

In the francophone countries, according to Monica Mollon, Director of Omedia, TV audience specialist in Francophone Africa in partnership with TNS Sofres, successful programs currently are:

The Champion’s League, World Cup Soccer, and behind it the CAN – African Cup of Nations have beaten all audience records.

AfricaStar, a reality TV show combining song and dance disciplines was attended by candidates from 14 Francophone countries, Cape Verde included. AfricaStar 2008 was seen by 70 million viewers in prime time during 2:30 and reached a peak on June 29, 2010 for the the AfricaStar final. In each issue, international artists (like Cesaria Evora) accompany the young singers. Because it was so successful, a new season will be run in 2011.

Since June 2000, two magazines, BUSINESS INITIATIVE Africa and Africa are distributed on the continent by 45 television partner channels (public and private) in “prime time” or “access prime time”. The programs are also broadcast in Great Britain, Belgium, France and the USA. Totalling over 80 weekly broadcasts across the continent with a rapidly growing audience, both programs have a high retention rate and a strong impact.

On Canal + Horizons’s side, “the game channel” every Sunday night is a box, followed by the “Champions League” and “Top 14” for rugby. For TV5MONDE Africa, the “Top 14” on Saturday afternoon, the “Great African Film” Sunday night, the 38 Ligue 1 matches broadcast on TV5MONDE Africa with a live game each day, and 1 game on Saturday at 19:00 (HP) won the public’s votes.

As for movies broadcast in Africa, the majority come from Hollywood, but there are also 100% Africans movies, or at least shot in Africa. The commercial hit parade comes back to “District 9”. This science fiction film shot Soweto (Jo’burg, South Africa) by South African director Neill Blomkamp costs about USD 30 million. Released in the summer 2009, it garnered a slew of Academy Awards, 205 million dollars (nearly 7 times the initial bet) in 25 countries after just 12 weeks of operations as well as hundreds of thousands of DVD / Blue ray sales, not to mention the illegal market.

Several local audio-visual productions in sub-Saharan Africa come from South Africa, the most organized market, Nigeria (“Nollywood”) and various other countries that have invested in production studios and AV training. The Cannes Film Festival has moreover seen a growing number of African films represented this year.

Nollywood has released thousands of DVDs of its local production throughout Africa and has recently reached the second place worldwide in terms of the number of productions per year. MultiChoice has invested more than N13 billion (US$100 million) in Nigerian content since its entry into the market in 1994.

Another international production made in Africa is “Tinga Tinga Tales”, a superb and soon to be famous cartoon which was produced in Nairobi, Kenya with British support. Its producer, Claudia Lloyd said in an interview that the animation industry in Africa is still burgeoning but promising. Her animation is inspired by traditional stories about animals in Africa with a design derived from the artwork of Tanzanian handicraft.

The local content faces content from abroad trying to find a place in the sunny continent. Foreign distributors sell their programmes at low prices to African channels with the hope that audience is what counts before margins. Hollywood apart, Brazil distributes its telenovelas, China sells its programs to the Chinese Diaspora in Africa and India offers its “Bollywoods'”. The French film and documentary industry continues to breakthrough in Francophone Africa, while English films and Deutsche Welle (Germany) target the Anglophone countries. Italian and Japanese distributors sell kids animations. Finally, on 1st. June 2007, NBC has launched “CNBC Africa”, a TV channel focused on sub-Saharan Africa out of Johannesburg and MTV Networks Africa was founded in 2008 with the popular MTV Africa Music Awards (MAMA’s).

“DISCOP AFRICA” organized by Basic Leads has become the first professionally organised content market on content, specializing in the sale, purchase and co-production of audiovisual content.

Held in different African cities (Dakar, Nairobi, and soon Accra), DISCOP AFRICA is preparing for its 4th edition where it will again bring together over 350 professionals: African and international suppliers of movies, programs, TV formats and channels packaged providers, content broadcasters using terrestrial, satellite, cable, internet and mobile means operating in sub-Saharan Africa. Many TV sponsors, advertising agencies and other funders are also taking part at this exhibition and conference.

Cherise BARSELL, in charge of Discop Africa confirms: ” African channels’ Buyers are looking for the following, in order of importance: TV series, documentaries and Telenovelas. The educational content and movies come immediately after.” International broadcasters are interested in African content, but they find their distribution in their territory often limited in terms of audience.

Alongside DISCOP AFRICA, training programs “MADE IN AFRICA” were held during the three days show. Organized by, among others Canal France International (CFI), these courses are designed to assist Africans producers and distributors of audiovisual content in their efforts to find funding and distributors. “We help the production and circulation of films. But we also have many courses that are aimed at directors, producers, directors of advertising and television journalists, “says Guillaume Pierre, Director for Africa and Indian Ocean CFI.

In second place, there are international investments in film production on the continent: Hollywood looks to South Africa as a location, the European Commission has launched programs to provide financial support for African projects, the French government invests in production, training and distribution while French production companies such as Canal + or Studio 37 (an Orange subsidiary) sometimes hire African filmmakers…
Passionate about Africa, Frédérique Dumas, CEO of Studio 37 has invested in Benda Bilili, a film on handicapped African musicians coming out on Sept. 2010 which was well received at the “Quinzaine des réalisateurs”. “Women are heroes” released on Jan. 2011 and various projects including “La Pirogue” from Moussa Touré about illegal inhabitants, “Les chauves souris” from Eric Névé, and more.

The third initiative concerns the digitization and archiving of content in Africa. Many directors and industry experts have found it essential that programs extend life beyond a festival, the first or second broadcast on African TV channels, and especially before films deteriorate. We can note four major projects in this area: the launch of «Plan Images Archives East Africa”, initiated by the Office of the audiovisual Embassy of France as part of “Plan Images Archives” from the French Ministry Foreign and European Affairs, will the digitization of audiovisual archives of public radio and television in Kenya, Uganda and Tanzania, delegated to CFI.

On 23 September 2009, M-Net launched an African Film Library – the largest electronic library of feature films, shorts and documentaries from 50 years of African film production. Over the past three years, M-Net has been negotiating the rights to almost 600 works in English, French, Arabic and Portuguese and digitizing them. It consists of award-winning works from more than 80 filmmakers including Kwaw Ansah from Ghana, Senegal’s Ousmane Sembene and Djibril Mambety, Yousef Chahine from Egypt, and Haile Gerima from Ethiopia. Films are on offer through its video-on-demand (VOD) service via

M-Net also plans to utilize conventional and new media (digital and internet broadband) distribution approaches to ensure maximum and sustained exposure of African films across the globe.

By accessing the “African Film Library” online, users of the service will be able to search by genre, director or language and pay for and download digitised footage. Similar to a DVD rental service, viewers will have 24 hours access to the content. It is important to note that the content is portable, but the license is not so viewers can download the film on to a disc or flash drive, but will be required to pay again should they wish to watch it on another device or after the 24-hour period has expired.

More recently and following the call for proposals under the EU funded “Africa Caribbean and Pacific” Programme, IDmage launched a web portal that allows any African producer and distributor to earn money by distributing their works on VoD globally without any exclusivity.

The OIF (Organisation Internationale de la Francophonie) has also set up a backup and recovery programme for all of the films that the organization has co-produced. The “Francophone Digital Catalogue – images of the South” is a portal for movies and other documents of memory.

Finally, many websites offer the sale of African films on DVD or streaming / VOD. On the business front, webportals such as Mediapeers also provide the ability for buyers to acquire African content and for African content sellers to provide their products globally.

From a broader perspective, African radios and televisions are developing plans around their archives’ exploitation from a business perspective as well as in terms of preservation of national memory, historic support and cultural education.

Since 2000, the Africa TV has undergone a double through technological change and market liberalisation. Government control has been gradually replaced by an independent regulator. Private channels have flourished and are now entering a consolidation phase. The granting of new licenses including through the launch of DTT will be expensive but should also bring in money to governments which in turn should support new media, local production and improve content quality. But this requires new open and transparent independent regulatory mechanisms which are not yet implemented by all Africans regulators.

Another significant development affecting the content is the media economy.
The media bodies are no longer just political and cultural institutions, but also economic centres. In this regard, the challenge is to ensure that these bodies become successful audio-visual institutions without becoming purely economically driven, without neglecting their educational and cultural role. The very recent explosion of digital media makes the role of regulators more complex, requiring new regulatory frameworks, but diversifying content and uses increasingly hard to control.

It seems that Africa has embarked on the path of diversity of opinion and access to a larger number. At the Convergence with ICT, African governments will encourage the creation of local audio-visual content and try to control a global audiovisual content. Protecting vulnerable public, especially children is at the heart of the debate: violence, pornographic content, or discrimination, excesses of some religions and commercial advertising.

One question remains: when will African programs acquire international visibility? When they are ready for that, and the president of the International Union of Francophone Press (UIPF), Hervé Bourges to conclude by predicting as early as 2005: “The African continent is currently at the cutting edge of music production, it could become the same in the audiovisual creation.”