Magazine article Variety

Market Surveys Tube Landscape

Magazine article Variety

Market Surveys Tube Landscape

Article excerpt

Africa's only event dedicated to smallscreen content unfolds at a time of immense change

As content producers and broadcasters try to keep pace with a rapidly changing TV landscape across Africa, industry stakeholders will gather Oct. 31 in South Africa for the continent's lone event dedicated exclusively to the production and distribution of TV content.

For three days, Discop Africa's seventh edition will bring together more than 1,000 delegates from 85 countries, representing some of the world's biggest producers, broadcasters and distributors.

The highlights will be a film and TV market, a co-production forum, a format pitching competition, and a wide-ranging program of panels and discussions designed to help African industryites to connect with key players in both regional and international markets.

"For the last few years we've seen great changes taking place across Africa in terms of television content distribution," says Patrick Zuchowicki, general manager of business event organizer Basic Lead, which is hosting Discop. "What we've seen is not only an influx of foreign content being brought into Africa, but ... a very dynamic production community that has been experiencing difficulties doing business across borders inside Africa."

The goal of the annual event, he says, is to foster "regional, cross-border business within Africa."

The importance of achieving that goal has increased in recent years, as the emergence of new distribution channels -such as mobile devices and a host of new pay TV operators - have given more African viewers access to more content than ever before. The continent's upcoming digital migration will only increase the platforms and opportunities for stakeholders.

"The paths on which African content travels within the continent . . . are being expanded enormously," says Hannelie Bekker, managing director of Kenya's Wananchi Prograrruning, which includes the pay TV platform Zuku. "Television consumers are getting real choice. And it's a massive market, and it's growing, because there's amazing economic growth and social mobility."

That rapid growth has mostly outpaced the ability of local industries to keep up. Across Africa, formal financing and legal frameworks still struggle to provide adequate support for the creation and distribution of content.

Mike Dearham, senior VP of Cote Ouest, one of Africa's leading distribs, says that's beginning to change, with such countries as South Africa, Morocco, Kenya and Nigeria taking the lead to shore up wobbly production and distribution infrastructures.

The support, he says, will come in the form of formal investment mechanisms to lock in financing; more sophisticated research into audience viewing habits; and content creation strategies, such as co-production agreements and government funding.

"Once you have these anchor countries ... doing these things," says Dearham, "you'll see . …

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