DSTV Unveils New Channel for East African Filmmakers

MultiChoice, a South African company that operates DStv satellite television service, has unveiled a new channel tailored and dedicated to the East African market.

Maisha Magic, as it’s called, will focus on the East African viewers, giving them what suits them, but most importantly, airing locally produced content. This finally silences MultiChoice’s critics, who claim the company had neglected the region and instead focused more on the West African market -given the big amounts of West African entertainment on all the Africa Magic channels.

In 2008, DStv had attempted to address this issue by introducing Africa Magic Plus, which was majorly for airing content from east and southern Africa: Zambia, Malawi, Tanzania, Kenya and Uganda. However, East Africa still felt like it didn’t have a fair share of this channel, with some people claiming it was merely a shadow of the already famous “Nigerian magic”.

That perhaps explains why MultiChoice has chosen to introduce a channel specifically for the region. While unveiling it at the Sheraton Kampala hotel, Maisha Magic Channel Head, Stella Ndirangu, noted that they started the channel because they felt East Africa needed entertainment they can freely relate to.

“We have beautiful cultures and it’s time we share them,” Ndirangu told The Observer.

As a result, on September 24, Africa Magic Swahili will officially rebrand to Maisha Magic Swahili. Similarly, Africa Magic Original Films initiative, which produced 56 movies in East Africa recently, will transform into Maisha Magic Original Films initiative under whose banner 60 more films will be produced before the end of this year. Ndirangu said that with this platform, it is up to the different filmmakers and producers to exploit it.

“We are an entertainment TV and thus have an audience to please. We are not going to show poor films because they are from Uganda or Kenya,” she said.

Much as the channel is destined to provide entertainment from the region, it should be noted that one of their flagship shows at the moment is a Mexican soap, A Love To Remember. To this, Ndirangu said that East Africans love “telenovelas” and that can’t be taken away from them.

“Look at all the East African TVs, from Citizen to Bukedde, there’s a telenovela on each of [them],” she said.

MultiChoice Uganda General Manager Charles Hamya gly affirmed that the future of African television lies in localizing the content to be relevant to the masses.

“We have to identify and develop local talent in front and behind the camera,” he noted.

Uganda Communications Commission (UCC) Executive Director Godfrey Mutabazi, who was the guest of honour, congratulated DStv for the commitment towards expanding local content on their platforms.

“As we draw closer towards digital migration, the importance and relevance of investing in the creative and production industries can’t be overstated,” he said.

Maisha magic is currently a platform for all the six East African countries – though much of the content at the moment is from Kenya and a few from Uganda such as Deceptions, Tendo Sisters and Ann Kansiime’s Comedy Club Uganda. Filmmakers such as Jyant Maru (The Route), Mariam Ndagire (Tendo Sisters) and Joseph Ssebaggala (Reform), among others, are optimistic with this platform, projecting that their work will reach a wider audience.

“At least now I am assured my work will be viewed in five different countries,” said Mariam Ndagire, adding that the biggest problem Ugandan filmmakers have is not valuing quality.

Source : The Observer

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