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Wednesday 3rd March, 2021

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tvN, Korea’s Number 1 Entertainment Channel Debuts On DStv March 1

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MultiChoice Group and its counterpart, CJ ENM HK, have announced the launch of Korean entertainment pop up channel tvN Africa on DStv, channel 134 from Monday, 1st March 2021.

This marks the first foray for Korea’s No.1 entertainment brand into the continent. tvN will be available to DStv Premium, Compact Plus and Compact customers.

tvN is a South Korean global general entertainment network established in 2006.

Recognized as the No.1 Content Creator group loved by all ages with novel entertainment shows and well-made dramas, tvN has been Korea’s leading general entertainment channel, as well as in the United States and Asia.

Starting Monday, 1st March, DStv customers will be able to experience the Best Korean Entertainment and world-famous Korean stars, specially curated and packaged in one channel.

The customisation is critical to satisfy fans and attract new audiences. Similar to tvN Asia, the channel will be presented in English and include programs with English subtitles and a dedicated drama slot dubbed in English.

There will be fresh hourly programming every weekday from 5:45 pm.

“We’re thrilled to have a channel with such a unique content offering join our platforms,” says John Ugbe, Chief Executive Officer of MultiChoice Nigeria.

“We are always looking for ways to provide value for our customers and tvN will do just that by giving Nigerian viewers a chance to explore South Korean lifestyle through entertainment.

Through the quality of its rich stories, the channel broadens the already extensive range of viewing options we have on DStv for a variety of audiences”

Commenting also on the launch, Michael Jung, Managing Director of CJ ENM Hong Kong, said: “It is evident Hallyu fever is on the rise in Africa. We are very thrilled to partner with MultiChoice, the leading pay-TV provider in Africa, to be the first Korean entertainment Brand to launch on DStv.

“We will do our best to bring all the premium Korean entertainment to the fans.”

 

 

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MultiChoice Talent Factory Kicks Off The Year With Acting For Camera Virtual Masterclass

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The MultiChoice Talent Factory (MTF) has announced that its very first Acting for Camera Masterclass in partnership with the world-renowned AMDA College and Conservatory of the Performing Arts on March 2, 2021.

AMDA (The American Musical and Dramatic Academy) has been ranked the number one college for performing arts in the United States and will add a game-changing dynamic to the MTF shared-value initiative offering.

Since the introduction of the MTF industry Masterclasses in 2018, MTF has provided some of the most sought-after masterclasses facilitated by film and TV experts including renowned Nigerian filmmaker, Tunde Kelani and veteran Kenyan producer, Appie Matere, with notable global partners including Dolby, CBS Justice Africa and the London Film School to mention a few.

AMDA’s collaboration with MTF seeks to further enrich the knowledge base of emerging creatives and seasoned professionals through technique-driven and performance-based learning.

The virtual Masterclass will delve into crucial elements including basic film theory, the camera focused actor warm-up, on-camera scene work and more. It’s holistically designed to perfect acting for film, TV and new media and will be facilitated by AMDA faculty members Jason Chaet and Ray Virta.

Chaet is an award-winning filmmaker, theatre director and producer and serves as the Supervisor of First Semester Acting, Acting for Camera and Screenwriting at AMDA.

Chaet’s film credits include multiple-award-winning film Putzel and film and TV credits including Remember, Kissing Jessica Stein, Avenues and more recently, Seneca.

Ray Virta has over 40 years of teaching experience at AMDA, New York University and the Playwrights Horizons Theatre School.

His film acting and theatre legacy includes Broadway, all incarnations of the legal drama TV series Law and Order, as well as directing credits in New York for Comedie of Errors, The Way of the World and As You Like It, among others. Virta has been an AMDA faculty member since 2001.

“AMDA College of the Performing Arts is excited and honoured to begin this enriching partnership and collaboration with MultiChoice Talent Factory.

“We see this as an opportunity to connect our world-renowned faculty with individuals who are already rich with storytelling and performance talent throughout Africa.

“This MTF and AMDA collaboration is an example of our commitment to the global endowment of humanity through the arts,” says Blake Babbitt, AMDA Director of Outreach.

Alongside the Acting on Camera Masterclass, AMDA will facilitate additional Masterclasses with MTF throughout 2021 including on-camera acting technique, musical theatre performance, dance and industry tips.

“This partnership with AMDA couldn’t have come at a better time as the continent is experiencing a surge in the demand and consumption of original African content and the exponential growth has resulted in youth seeking careers in the performing arts industry.

“Since the launch of our industry masterclasses, we have been inundated with requests for acting masterclasses. We’re excited to kick-off 2021 with a global partnership that will help us respond to this need and to continue to tell great stories that resonate with diverse audiences and honour Africa’s oral cultures and traditions,” says John Ugbe, CEO: MultiChoice Nigeria.

 

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Nigeria’s Digital Switchover: Fresh Missteps Loom

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By Dominic OMUEDI

Heartwarming, it was for me, to read reports of the press conference addressed on Tuesday by Alhaji Lai Mohammed, Minister of Information and Culture, on the country’s Digital Switchover (DSO) process, which seemed to have been interred under the rubble of poor conception, mismanagement and corruption.

The cheer brought by the government’s announced intention to reboot the process, positive as appears, has shown nothing beyond the fact that the DSO process is not completely forgotten. No more. No less.

At the press conference, Mohammed unveiled a 13-member Ministerial Task Force to take charge of the DSO process which, for years, has proceeded in staccato fashion and left the country trailing many others, including in Africa.

Members of the task force, to be chaired by Mohammed, include Joe Mutah of the Federal Ministry of Information and Culture (Secretary), Dr Armstrong Idachaba, acting Director-General of the National Broadcasting Commission (NBC); Olusegun Yakubu of Pinnacle Communications and Toyin Zubair, promoter of the defunct HiTV and now of Inview.

At the press conference, Mohammed announced that the Federal Executive Council (FEC) has approved outstanding payments to key DSO stakeholders; a development he said will remove all the hindrances to the entire process in the past three years. The funding source for the DSO, broadcast industry experts reckon, is from the N34billion paid by MTN for broadcast frequency.

“With the payment approval by FEC, and with 31 states to cover, we have our work cut out for us. We have no more excuses for not rapidly rolling out the DSO across the country, hence my decision to set up a 13-member Ministerial Task Force, which I will personally chair, to take charge of the rollout,” the minister said excitedly.

He added that the government took a decision last year, on account of the financial difficulties induced by Covid-19, that the DSO process will be private sector-driven, effectively cancelling the plan to provide subsidies for Set-Top-Boxes (STBs) or signal carriage.

What followed, typical of pronouncements on the DSO was a raft of big-sounding and dreamy projections. The DSO, said the minister, will deliver over one million jobs in the next three years, with 50,000 of such coming via local production of 24 million STBs and Smart TVs.

“Not even 20 Set-Top-Box manufacturers can comfortably produce the initial requirements to feed the market.  Furthermore, our position in West Africa, coupled with our size, makes us the definite source of these products for the whole sub-region,” he said.

Television production, he said, will create 200,000 jobs, as digitization will lead to “180 state channels, 30 regional channels and at least 10 national channels”. Digitization, he added, will boost local content propagation and draw many more Nigerians into the business. This, he said will create 400,000 jobs in film production and nudge Nollywood towards subscription Video-On-Demand on STBs and online, thereby providing cheaper distribution means, helping producers to make more money.

The envisaged boom in production, added the minister, will create an additional 200,000 jobs via an increase in foreign demand for fully indigenous content and fetch the country in excess of $100 million.

“I have no doubt in my mind that a successful DSO is not just a job spinner, creating over one million jobs in three years, but also a money-spinner,” said the minister.

Anyone familiar with the country’s DSO journey will not just doubt the minister’s projections, but dismiss them as drunkenly optimistic, especially given how squalidly it has been managed.

Undoubtedly, poor funding has inhibited the process. But more than that, squalid leadership and ill-conceived strategy are greater inhibitors. For instance, despite the pilot project, with the last roll-out three years ago in Osogbo, Osun State, there is no sustainable Digital Terrestrial Television (DTT) coverage even in Plateau, Enugu, Osun, Kwara, and Kaduna states as well as the Federal Capital Territory, which were pilot states. Free Tv signals limited to state capitals.

This implies inhabitants outside state capitals are excluded and shows that the broadcast signal carriers selected for the DSO have the inadequate technical and financial capacity for effective DTT coverage, the first step in the DSO.

The minister’s near-orgasmic projections on STBs, which convert analogue signals to digital, ignore the fact that the country, for strange reasons, chose a process that builds conditional access (CA) on top of the STBs instead of a standard affordable STB process.

This means that the STBs process adopted for Nigeria’s DSO will be out of the financial reach of most Nigerians. The standard STBs for DSO are supposed to receive free-to-air signal and affordable.  Those with conditional access built onto them are similar to pay television STBs and are much pricier. Inview, the company providing the TV system/ conditional access, has already been paid N1billion for running the TV system only in Abuja and Jos.

The company and others involved in the process are understood to have filed invoices for additional sums.

The cancellation of subsidy for STBs, forced on the government by the inclement economic climate, is certain to ensure that the prices of the boxes will stretch users to breaking point. Prior to the devaluation of the naira, for instance, the recommended price STB ranged between N20,000 and N30,000. The boxes used in the roll-out at pilot locations were all imported, with the Federal Government giving the alleged STB manufacturers guarantees to fund the importation to the tune of N5billion.

The inordinately ambitious projection that Nigeria will, within three years, be heaving with locally manufactured STBs is something akin to a boxer’s boast-full of sound and fury.

According to experts, there are only three companies claiming to have STB assembly lines in the country and not a single one is manufacturing. How the few companies, even operating at full capacity, can assemble 24 million STBs over five years has something that has eluded experts, who reckon that it will take a minimum of five years to meet the demand of 24million users- if all the companies function at full capacity. Importantly, not one of those claiming to have assembly/manufacturing capacities is in operation, meaning that they are engaged in no economic activities and employ nobody, thereby bilking the country through government contracts.

But they are not alone and are actually encouraged by the disposition of government officials, who view funding for the DSO process as “serve yourself,” the local parlance for the buffet.

In a 21 March 2019 report published by The Guardian, experts interviewed identified corruption as the main obstacle to the country’s transition from analogue to digital broadcasting. A Director-General of the National Broadcasting Commission (NBC) is on suspension from office and facing prosecution by the Independent and Corrupt Practices Commission (ICPC) over the alleged fraudulent release of N2.5billion to a private company.

The matter, which is before the Federal High Court, Abuja, relates to the 2016 release of N10 billion to the Ministry of Information and Culture for the DSO.

The ICPC is accusing the suspended D-G of using his position to confer a corrupt advantage on his associates in two private companies.

The suspended D-G is alleged to have asked the Information Minister to approve payment of N2.5 billion to Pinnacle Communications Limited, a private signal distribution operator, as a “seed grant” for the DSO for which it was ineligible.

Mohammed, who was listed as a witness in the trial, claimed he approved the payment based on expert advice given by the suspended D-G.  The DSO guidelines, provided by a Federal Government Whitepaper, directed that the process be exclusively managed by companies affiliated to the Federal Government. Based on the guidelines, two companies were nominated for the purpose.

One of these was ITS, an affiliate to the Nigerian Television Authority (NTA), which has no infrastructure of its own and is relying on the one owned by another private operator. It got also go N1.7billion as seed grant.

The assumption that our wonky DSO system will boost local content production because it will serve as a distribution platform is also one without basis, as International Telecommunications Union (ITU) DSO policy is simply transiting free-to-air analogue signals to a digital signal. Thus, Nigeria’s system, with its in-built conditional access system, will rob Nigerians of the constitutionally-guaranteed right to receive information in view of the fact that most free-to-air broadcasters are government-owned.

In effect, 90 million Nigerians already living in poverty will be required to buy STBs, movies online and unlimited internet service to access such.

The claim that Nollywood output will benefit from better distribution is also a ruse. Nigerians are already using smart devices through which they access Nigerian creative content online.

Many have also blamed ministerial interference for the corrugated DSO process, arguing that worldwide, the DSO process is driven by the regulator and the industry.

What I have observed since 2015 is a lot of ministerial interference which, in addition to other factors, will leave the country panting to achieve DTT coverage by the time the rest of the world would have moved on a more modern platform, the OTT.

**Omuedi, a retired broadcast engineer, writes from Ughelli

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Manchester United Partners StarTimes To Offer MUTV In Africa

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Millions of Manchester United fans in Africa will gain access to MUTV under an agreement with StarTimes, one of the continent’s leading digital TV operators.

StarTimes will distribute MUTV to subscribers in over 30 countries across sub-Saharan Africa, representing the biggest agreement of its kind by Manchester United in the region.

Viewers in countries including Nigeria, South Africa, Kenya and Ghana will receive exclusive Manchester United content 24 hours-a-day via StarTimes platforms.

MUTV is the world’s leading football club TV channel, featuring first team and Academy games, live manager’s press conferences, player interviews, award-winning documentaries and news.

StarTimes has 13 million subscribers through its DVB digital TV service and 20 million users of its OTT streaming service, widening access to top-quality digital entertainment throughout sub-Saharan Africa.

Phil Lynch, Chief Executive of Media, Manchester United, said: “We are proud to have hundreds of millions of passionate fans in Africa and this long-term agreement will allow them to get closer to the club through MUTV’s exclusive, round-the-clock content from Old Trafford and the AON Training Complex.

“MUTV is one of our most important channels for engaging with fans around the world, whether through linear or direct-to-consumer streaming platforms, and we are excited to be significantly increasing its reach through our new partner, StarTimes, in Africa.”

Kristen Miao, Sports Deputy Director, StarTimes, said: “Manchester United is one of the most iconic football clubs in the world. We are delighted to share MUTV with football fans across Africa as part of our commitment to enhancing our subscribers’ experience.”

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