The Kenya government will let the market forces determine how broadcasters’ share airtime between local and international content. The Kenya Film Commission CEO told the opening session of this year’s BFMA Conference that given the choice between intervention by government and market forces, his commission would choose the latter. “We believe the 40 percent local content requirement for local broadcasters is sufficient for now. In fact, we have seen from evidence and viewer ratings that broadcasters with the heaviest local contents have the biggest viewership in Kenya,” said Peter Mutie.
Instead, Mutie said the producers have to develop content of high quality to get the airtime they need. He said some of the content in the market were of inferior quality and could therefore not compete effectively.
Mutie was speaking during the opening session of the Broadcast, Film and Music Africa Conference organized by AITEC Africa, where the government has been challenged to block prime time slots in local broadcasters for local content. The conference brought together broadcasters, music producers, content developers, technology suppliers, financiers and regulators to reflect on the future of Africa electronic media and creative content industries.
Issuing the challenge, Gregory Odutayo, CEO of Royal Roots Communications in Nigeria, said a similar move to allocate all prime time slots in Nigerian media had been responsible for the production boom in Nigeria’s movie Industry.
“We have to deal with the challenge posed by the Mexican soaps on our TVs. Part of the reasons the Mexican soaps have flooded our screens is because they are acquired cheaply. Some of the series will be accessed at a price of 100 dollars per episode. In Nigeria, because of advocacy by producers we had the government setting aside all prime time slots for local content. This move forced the Nigerian broadcasters to move the soaps to earlier slots in their programming,” said Odutayo.
He warned that the business of independent TV and radio production faces very serious challenges. “One of the causes of these challenges is the fact that most broadcasters do not want to invest in quality production. As an independent producer, you have to raise funds for production, seek advertising and then buy airtime from broadcasters through revenue sharing agreements,” said the producer. Odutayo also said that African producers also have to contend with reality TV productions such as Project Fame and Idol which have sucked up most commercial sponsorship.
“Commercial sponsorship for drama and movie production have virtually dried up. In such a scenario, movie and drama production is largely endangered,” he said.
Royal Roots Communications produced the award winning drama series “Edge of Paradise” for MNet.
Speaking at the same event, Ann Overbergh from Balancing Act Africa said broadcasting was changing very rapidly in Africa and challenged players to be dynamic in order to survive. “The audiences are being fragmented into the various channels of distributions of content. This is a serious challenge and an opportunity as well. A challenge because it is very difficult to monetize some of the audiences and an opportunity because the producer can target specific audiences,” she said. She added that producers and broadcasters could reap benefits if they broadcasted on multi-platforms and also adopted multimedia approaches.