Multichoice prioritises investment in local film and TV entertainment
The Southern Times (TST) spoke to MultiChoice Namibia general manager, ROGER GERTZE, about the role the cable network plays in promoting local content.
TST: Please give an insight on how Multichoice has moved to encourage local content on some of the channels?
RG: Firmly rooted in Africa, MultiChoice has continuously prioritised its investment in promoting local film and television entertainment. Our flagship channel, M-Net, invested heavily in obtaining the best possible content from around the world and remains committed to producing the best local content in which millions of dollars have been invested with productions such as Big Brother, Idols, Survivor, The Voice, etc. The Africa Magic channels have become the primary provider of movies produced in Africa. In terms of Namibia specifically, the Namibian channels carried include NBC1, NBC2 and One Africa TV alongside eight audio channels, including NBC National Radio, Kosmos, Radio Energy and Channel 7. Afrikaans channels such as kykNET and VIA feature Namibian content filmed on location, including Jan Braai, Groen Namibië, Toks & Tjops, Weg! Agterpaaie as well as Kwêla Dorp Van Die Jaar winner, 2016 (Hentiesbaai). Many international channels feature Namibian landscapes, including National Geographic, Travel Channel and The Weather Channel. Most recently, Namibian drama series, The Third Will premiered on Zambezi Magic (DStv Channel 160) in June 2017 on Zambezi Magic which is viewed throughout Southern African region.
TST: How has the recent featuring of Namibian celebrities on Trace Africa and the Big Brother Reality Show helped in making your brand popular in Namibia?
RG: Over the last 25 years, MultiChoice has taken pride in showcasing Namibian talent on its platforms and one of our key objectives is to ensure that we bring our viewers relevant content that they can connect with. Our platforms offer over eight music channels to cater for everyone’s tastes and we hope to see an increased in Namibian content on these channels to show the continent the best that Namibian has to offer. Since the launch less than a year ago, TRACE Africa has featured videos from Namibian artist The Dogg with his hit, ‘Bye’, Namibian pop queen Sally has also been trending on the channel with the video of her hit single ‘Natural.’
Former Namibian contestants in Big Brother Africa such as Stefan Ludik, Dillish Mathews, Lady May, and Luis Munana have all made great successes of their respective careers that followed the competition.
TST: How has Multichoice positioned itself in terms of dealing with competition in the forthcoming years?
RG: MultiChoice welcomes competition as it believes that it benefits the broadcasting and production industries. Competition may contribute to the diversification of economies, the growth of local production industries and a pluralism of services for consumers. Ultimately, television viewers may benefit through the additional volume and variety of content that will be distributed by the various operators in the market. The DStv and GOtv packages contain the best in digital pay television channels in the world and can be benchmarked against international peers.
The DStv and GOtv packages offer unrivalled home entertainment options for the whole family that incorporate the best children’s programming, news, movies, documentaries and sport. MultiChoice services also give customers flexibility in price and choice without compromising quality or variety. As a video entertainment company, MultiChoice Africa strives to ensure that all customers are exposed to the best television entertainment on offer and are always looking for innovative ways of delivering to customers the best total offering.
Only DStv is able to offer customers in Africa the widest variety of the latest blockbuster movies, latest series and world class documentary channels. With over 100 channels to choose from, DStv will always be the superior choice. In addition, we are a proud supporter and promoter of African TV content through the plethora of African originated channels. Over The Top (OTT) offerings like Netflix are sometimes a substitute and sometimes a complement to FTA (Free to Air) broadcasting. We find that Netflix is complementary because the bulk of linear TV is not consumed by younger viewers. The challenge for OTT in Africa is cost and accessibility – you can’t watch long-play streaming video over a mobile network because of the expense.
TST: You would you please share with us how your company grew, financially, from inception to date?
RG: Our business contributes to socio-economic development through our business and corporate social investment activities. Financials are available on the Naspers website.
TST: Please talk about the journey from the analogue decoders to the current Explora? Considering the fact that pay TV is a luxury and not considered a necessity how was innovation vital to the continued growth of your business?
RG: MultiChoice is a world leader in broadcast technology innovation, continuously improving on control and enjoyment of our customers’ viewing experience. MultiChoice is committed to ensuring that our customers always get the best television experience – this means constant innovation which keeps them at the forefront of digital technology and trends in pay television. With a track record of over 20 years in pay television in Africa, MultiChoice’s commitment to continuous innovation and investment has resulted in our customers always having access to the best television experience possible – On TV, On Mobile or Online. MultiChoice’s next generation Explora takes television to another level providing DStv s with TV on their own terms – introducing new functionality which allows s unprecedented control of their television viewing experience offering a whole lot more content; powerful search functionality and the HD quality picture upscaled to unprecedented levels. Customers are promised new and convenient ways to access DStv entertainment using the Video on Demand functionality called DStv Catch Up. Customers can catch up on the week’s most popular shows and enjoy up to two weeks’ worth of episodes for selected series.
TST: Could you talk about how much you pump into the Namibian economy, in taxes, dividends and the sub sectors?
RG: Through investing in infrastructure, technology and most importantly in people, MultiChoice Namibia has a direct economic impact of some US$11.9 million each year.
TST: Please talk to us about the number of jobs your create, directly and indirectly?
RG: At Multihoice Namibia we employ 140 staff members. Our Namibian footprint has evolved over the last 25 years. It now spans three branches, 13 agents, 120 accredited installers and 70 formal retailers.
TST: Please talk to us about your schools social project?
RG: The MultiChoice Resource Centres (MRCs) are among the most effective ways in which we get closer to, and enrich, our communities, especially the lives and minds of our young people. To date we’ve invested in 300 of these multimedia facilities, giving thousands of learners and teachers access to our education bouquet as well as mind-set Learn and other great content. Currently, we are in the process of upgrading our existing MRCs, and in the 2016/17 financial year we completed improvements to MRCs in Erongo, Hardap, Kavango, Omusati and Omaheke regions. In addition, through the DStv Eutelsat Star Awards, Namibian high-school pupils get to explore the wonders of science and satellite technology and we’ve seen a significant volume of high-quality entries from Namibian students. Each school receives a DStv Explora, satellite dish, flatscreen TV and access to the educational bouquet as well as training and installation of equipment.