Saturday July 5 2014

Meeting TV content programmers

Meeting TV content programmers

Artistes Davido (L) and Tiwa Savage (R) perform at the dinner launch of MultiChoice Africa’s Content showcase Extravaganza in Mauritius. PHOTOs by Boaz Shani 

By Flora Aduk

With teen years spent hunting down almost every Nancy Drew, Hardy Boys or Famous five novel, and adult life spent uncovering the mysteries of human life through stories and staying up late watching mystery series, the invite theme, “Murder Mystery on the Beach” was thrilling. But not half as much as playing Sherlock Holmes, mask over mouth and nose, dusting a CD case for finger prints and trying to match them to a suspect, as former London Metropolitan detective Steven Gaskin gave instructions.

Gladly, there was no real murder, but rather, this was a content showcase by A+E Network’s Crime and Investigation (CI) Channel as part of MultiChoice Africa’s Content showcase Extravaganza held at Trou Aux Biches Resort and Spa in Mauritius. The week-long event from June 24-28, running under the theme, “Only The Best”, took the media, from more than 10 African countries, behind the scenes of some of the pay TV’s local and international content in Africa.

At the star-studded affair on June 24, that launched the week as well as MultiChoice’s Africa Rising campaign that is aimed at uniting Africans to address the social and economic needs currently facing the continent, MultiChoice Africa CEO Nico Meyer pledged the pay TV’s commitment to providing world class news and entertainment on its DStv and GOtv platforms.

Like the scene above from CI, throughout the week, the media got into action, participating in activities led by the television personalities. If the live cooking session with Celebrity Chef Ed Baines (Britain’s Best Dish, Lunch With Ed Baines and Ed Baines Entertains) didn’t whet your appetite enough, there was always a chance to lighten up as one was opened to the world of channels like BBC Lifestyle, BBC Entertainment, E! Entertainment, Style, Cartoon Network, Boomerang, Telemundo, Comedy Central, MTV Base, Nickelodeon, History Channel, Crime and Investigation, Africa Magic, Ebony Life TV, Channel O and SuperSport. Interaction with celebrities such as Nollywood stars Chinedu Ikedieze aka Aki (Africa Magic), Kristina Rihanoff and Robin Windsor (Strictly Come Dancing) and others from the channels, created a perfect opportunity for enlightenment on their roles and well, star-struck moments.

There were themes like “Alive with Ideas” (BBC Entertainment), “Entertainment is Universal “(NBC), “Glamour”, and “Comedy Night” (Comedy Central) where home boy Patrick “Salvador” Idringi impressed across borders. MTV Base put its name down in “history” by throwing a hot party to conclude the event on Friday night.
The big deal though was in the content offering; what is coming up and how to tailor this to suit the African audience.

Turner Broadcasting System vice President Southern Europe and Africa, Pierre Branco said: “We look for unique and surprising stories that have great characters which feel authentic to kids and this is more apparent than ever with our upcoming slate.”

A+E Networks’s History channel previewed its up coming documentarties like Nelson Mandela Redrawn and programmes like Pawn Stars SA. Other partners like Via Com (MTVbase), NBC (Telemundo, E, Style) also spoke on their offerings.

Improving African-sourced content was the highlight of the event. Channels, Africa Magic, Ebony Life, Comedy Central, MTV Base are some of the platforms being looked at to enhance this. On Monday, Mnet filmed a comedy show dubbed “Comedy Club Live Kampala Season Two” featuring local comedians. “We are proud of our ability to tailor our offerings to suit local needs while maintaining the highest levels of service and product quality,” stated Multichoice Africa CEO Nico Meyer in the broadcaster’s publication.

However, while DStv seeks to widen its African appeal, issues surrounding its focus on Nigeria and South Africa, especially on platforms like Africa Magic and Ebony Life, continue to cast a shadow with the media at the extravaganza arguing that this is not representative enough of Africa. Admitting the journey as a work in progress, the team argued that Nigeria, being a fast growing economy and with a large population and with the advantage of having available content, was only a start. Uganda, like most of the other African countries, will be keeping a keen eye on the broadcaster’s efforts to incorporate their local content into its programming.