MultiChoice Africa, the owners of DStv, has recently launched a Sh1 billion film studio in Nairobi, putting the Kenyan capital at par with South Africa and Nigeria where it runs similar studios.
MultiChoice subsidiaries, SuperSport and M-Net Africa, will use the facility to generate content that is relevant to the company’s East African audience.
The move follows a recent announcement by the government that it intends to increase local content quotient for broadcasters to 60 per cent from the current 40 per cent.
This, together with the planned transition to digital broadcasting later this year, means broadcasters must invest heavily in local production infrastructure to remain in business.
Migration to digital TV will see the entry of more players in the broadcasting scene, increasing demand for local content and opening a new competitive front. Besides producing for own subsidiaries, the Nairobi facility also hopes to help independent broadcasters meet the statutory requirements.
MultiChoice East Africa regional director Stephen Isaboke talked to the Business Daily on the significance of the studio to Kenya’s broadcasting scene and how it might shape the future of the industry. Here are excerpts from the interview.
This is a multi-million shilling investment that must have taken a good amount of planning before execution. Who are you targeting with this facility?
We are targeting local content producers, primarily sports and general entertainment, with a focus on serving the East African market. East Africa has a great appetite for high-quality local productions and we intend to deliver “so much more” which is what DStv is known for.
MultiChoice has developed and trained people who will manage the facilities to the highest level and the equipment is of the highest technical standards. This reaffirms our confidence and commitment in the region and its people.
You bought this facility while it was not in good shape, what kind of revamp has it received and what is the amount of investment involved?
These high-end studios rank among the most advanced production facilities on the continent. We have so far invested more than Sh1 billion to create world-class local sport content and general entertainment shows for East Africa.
The new SuperSport/MNet studios confirm the brand’s technological excellence and enormous investment in the region. The world class equipment we have here ensures that Nairobi now ranks among the most advanced in terms of film production on the continent.
The four studios are supported by two control rooms, nine post-production suites, two quality control suites and ICR Central Distribution. MCR and uplink facilities are currently being designed, taking the East African facility into a new age.
SuperSport has also invested additional millions of shillings in state-of-the-art OB vans (1 Standard Definition and 1 High Definition).
What is driving MultiChoice’s recent heavy investment in local content?
Our guiding principle has always been that the subscribers deserve the best — in this case Kenyans.
As a pioneer of digital pay television in Africa, we have an unmatched track record of over two decades of investment on the continent with Kenya as one of our key focuses.
Having evolved into a multi-platform pay media company that provides entertainment on different technology platforms and devices, investing in a state-of-the art studio such as this is merely an extension of our commitment to ensuring that we continue delivering the very best in television programming.
Will the new studio be solely used to generate content for MultiChoice?
The studios are also available to independent content generators. In fact, we are already housing various film industry suppliers within the complex at a heavily subsidised fee.
Through our premium channels SuperSport and M-Net, we nurture local talent with purposeful intent because we believe that a nation that is able to tell its own stories is a nation that is proud to embrace its identity.
We are excited about the contribution our studios will make to the advancement of quality television programming, not only on the continent but also throughout the world.
What arrangement do you have for independent local programme or film makers who intend to use the facility?
The studios are open to all subject to availability and fulfilment of the pre-existing conditions for use. We hope facilities will be a platform for quality programming in Kenya and the region.
How will the new studio boost regional television content or film?
Besides, the facilities, SuperSport and MNet are hoping to transfer knowledge to local film makers by association and integration. We have raised the local content bar and we are excited about the contribution our studios will make to the advancement of quality television programming in Africa and the world.
Are we likely to see the cost and time it takes to produce television series or films drop with this new facility?
We have recently launched Kona, a local telenovela series using local expertise ensuring it took a lesser time to finalise the entire production and piece it together.
Other than investing in the studio how else is MultiChoice promoting the development of local content?
We provide truly converged multimedia services to our customers. Our dynamic multi-platform businesses are built on a foundation of compelling premium news, sport and entertainment offers a platform for a varied selection of channels.
We are currently putting all our energy and resources behind our brands DStv and GOtv. GOtv which uses the latest generation digital video broadcast (DVB-T2) technology, is the most advanced technology standard available in worldwide.
New cutting edge technology is part of our DNA which is why we continually launch new products and platforms such as the Personal Video Recorder (PVR) decoder, Mobile television and soon to launch DStv Online.