Posted by Olaniyi Abodedele on Tuesday, January 28, 2014 Under: Conferences & Events

Johannesburg – South Africa. Mr. Richard Bells CEO, Wananchi Programming Group/Zuku Tv Kenya on the 6th November 2013 at Sandton Convention center opened a 3-part African Rising series at DISCOP Africa conference with an introductory speech highlighting ways to accelerate the development, the production and the Pan-African distribution of television and online content made in Africa.

His presentation was followed by a one-on-one discussion led by Rick Feldman, former President of the US-Based National Association of Television Program Executives, after which the floor was open to participants who came from countries all over the world.

The first question came from Mr. Olaniyi Thevoice Abodedele the Publisher/CEO of The Nigerian Voice Newspaper South Africa who took the advantage to take on Mr. Richards Bell on the comment he made about Nollywood at the East Africa Communication Conference which took place on the 21st and 22nd May 2013 in Kenya “Mr. Richard Bells we can see from your presentation that Zuku TV operates in 3 countries in East Africa and you want to expand into 33 other countries in Africa, and some of your goals are to produce young entrepreneurs and producers on the African continent especially at a time when Africans are saying we have to tell our own stories and not allow other people tell them for us, but reverse back to may 21st and 22nd during a East Africa communication conference in Kenya where you said and I quote “African content should not just be about rubbish Nigerian movie” which is Nollywood. A movie industry which has employed more than 300,000 youths on the continent, a movie industry that generates between 500 to 800 million dollars per annum for Nigeria. With this kind of statement accredited to you, I don’t know whether you have the intention of going into the Nigerian market which of course is the biggest market in Africa in terms of population and in terms of buying power, what do you have to say about all this?

In confusion Mr. Richard Bells answered “The story about content, Nigeria produces a lot of very good content, what I said was misunderstood, no doubt Nigeria produces fantastic contents. African content is really good, let’s take the numbers, today you could buy international content; let’s say this is the market $500 to $1000 you pay for content maybe a bit more sometimes within that price range you can buy in South America and Europe or anywhere else. Producing our own content cost anything between 15,000 to $50,000 per content, so if it is the same platform whether its free to air or pay TV that is buying that content or producing that content and if that’s still the market for that content then it’s not going to work and we going to continue with Europe and North America content which is not local content and it’s not going to grow the industry and frankly it’s not what people want to watch, people want to watch themselves on television, they don’t want to watch Europeans and South Americans. We all get that, so how do we turn around, the answer is that we have to raise our game in terms of quality, we can no longer be producing as sort of historical happening when free to air as run in to the content basis of the industry. The quality frankly wasn’t very good. We have to raise our game to create content which have global appeal which will be taken to the outside community. In terms of our entering the Nigerian market, we will like to enter the Nigerian market but it’s a challenging market, we don’t know a great deal about the Nigerian market, we have intensions to go there in the not too distance feature but we going carefully step by step. We are an East African company with our headquarters in Nairobi, we understand East Africa, we don’t understand Nigeria and would like to learn about Nigeria from you, and then we can build up our confidence to go there. We don’t understand Nigeria, we don’t understand South Africa, and we would get there eventually. It’s certainly on our target. What we would actually like to do is maybe partner up with people from other countries, we don’t think we can do all this all by ourselves, so one of the strategy of proceeding is to go to each country and see who is in the market locally, and who’s got the expertise and who is ready to step up and become partner with us locally”.

In further discuss The Nigerian Voice Newspaper met with Zack Orji, the Nollywood veteran to seek his opinion on Mr. Richard Bells comment; he said “That comment is a comment of ignorance, content is content, what is content? Content provides a medium of entertainment for people to watch and get entertained, that is content, whether for television or whether as a motion picture. When you start talking about technicalities, about the actual production its self then you can talk about quality of production and stuff like that, but content is content, you provide a medium of entertainment for people to sit down and watch and enjoy themselves. I would excuse the man who made that comment because he made it out of ignorance, his own personal ignorance about what content is all about. I think he is an ignorant person for making that comment, no matter his position. I think he is ignorant”.

Mr. Nico Meyer CEO of Multichoice was in disagreement with the comment “Our view is that we believe that the content is brilliant and it’s not my view of that, it’s the consumers view, ask the consumers actually what they want. Why is it then that this content does unbelievably well, why it then that this industry is growing at leaps and bounds if that was true. So my view is that these are contents which are very relevant to the continent, these are content that is not only relevant to Nigeria, many of the Nollyhood content get exported and it has huge attraction across the continent, I do have a very different view and my view is driven through what consumers want, if consumers tell me this works, then it has to be good. We will continue to invest in it and we will continue to expand on it, he stated.

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