Monday, November 05, 2012

Why TV for the citizens doesn't have to mean TV by the citizens

AND SO to the Kampala Serena hotel (where else is there? daaaahling) for the Marketers' Night Out.

I was one of just a handful of muzungu (loosely translated as foreigners) in a crowd of 350, a testament to the vibrant home-grown media and marketing landscape here as opposed to the ex-pat dominated NGOs and international corporations.
The afro-jazz band was good - take it away Milégé - the African buffet delicious and Mitch Egwang is as good an MC you'll find this side of the equator. The big hall thrummed with expectation and buzzed with chat, both business and pleasure, from a crowd who had clearly had a lot of practice at enjoying themselves.
And the main act didn't disappoint either.
Wachira Waruru (right) is the managing director of Royal Media Services and his Citizen TV brand is now the fastest growing TV station in Kenya. He told the crowd how they had "rebelled against the status quo" and defined a new style of TV output that answered the question: "What shall we watch together as a family?"
Mr Waruru explained that an East African audience can't identify with imported shows like Boston Legal and 24. That's a bit harsh on Denny Crane and Jack Bauer but it's easy to see his point
I haven't seen Citizen TV, so I can't vouch for its appeal and as I'm not the target market anyway my opinion is not particularly valid.
But from what I've seen - and hands up here as I haven't been in Uganda that long - African TV veers from a stitch-up of imported shows to home-produced output with low production values and unambitious content.
Mr Waruru admitted that commissioning programmes didn't work and everything is now produced in-house. This issue of 'sustainability of local content' is one that has dogged TV companies the world over and it was refreshing to see such honesty in appreciating that producing TV for the citizens doesn't have to mean TV by the citizens.
I'm already loving the lively media scene here. What I appreciate most is there's lots of it via newspapers, radio, TV and online. Quality may be a bit variable, but the quantity of offerings is a great place to start.

Royal Media say they are looking to bring Citizen TV to Uganda. I'm already looking forward to it, if I'm allowed to watch....


  1. Anonymous6:21 PM

    Yawn, yawn . . are you still allowed to watch how the paper you left 'back home' going? Unfortunately and very sadly, from once a great Essex Chronicle to a now sad looking publication!

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