Fu­ture of SA’s TV en­ter­tain­ment lies with our cre­atives

CityPress - - Voices - Yolisa Phahle voices@city­press.co.za

Sto­ries are fun­da­men­tal to our hu­man ex­pe­ri­ence. It is through telling sto­ries that we are able to get to know each other at a deeper level, to con­nect and com­mu­ni­cate. M-Net has fo­cused its ef­forts on shar­ing pow­er­ful sto­ries for Africans, by Africans, be­cause we un­der­stand the im­por­tance of unique, home-grown con­tent. Our vi­sion is to cre­ate the best tele­vi­sion en­ter­tain­ment in Africa and beyond. This starts in our own back yard, where we are de­vel­op­ing ta­lent to help us shape ac­ces­si­ble con­tent that speaks to our African her­itage.

As we cel­e­brate M-Net’s 30th birth­day, we can look back proudly on our en­ter­tain­ment his­tory as Africa’s pay TV pioneers.

But now our in­dus­try is at a cross­roads. Video-on-de­mand ser­vices such as Netflix, Ama­zon and other con­tent providers are mak­ing their pres­ence felt here and glob­ally. Our view­ers have more choice than ever be­fore, not only in what TV pro­grammes they con­sume, but even in whether they choose to watch th­ese pro­grammes on TV. This as com­puter gam­ing draws in ever more play­ers, and smart de­vices – such as set-top boxes, in­ter­neten­abled TVs and dig­i­tal me­dia de­vices – make it eas­ier for view­ers to stream the con­tent they pre­fer watch­ing.

It must be said that the providers of new set-top box con­tent are find­ing it dif­fi­cult to at­tract cus­tomers with­out spend­ing a sig­nif­i­cant amount of money on con­tent. This paves the way for TV and video en­ter­tain­ment to un­dergo a rad­i­cal change.

While the in­dus­try is burst­ing at the seams with new and un­ex­pected com­peti­tors, M-Net is con­fi­dent of its abil­ity to main­tain its po­si­tion as the mar­ket leader in Africa. We know what en­ter­tains peo­ple, and we are coura­geous and cre­ative enough to try new things. We take the road less trav­elled to tell new sto­ries and un­earth new ways to de­liver the best con­tent – and we will use cut­ting-edge tech­nol­ogy to en­ter­tain our cus­tomers wher­ever they are.

On a trip to Kenya, I switched on the TV in my ho­tel room and was con­fused to see that prime-time pro­gram­ming con­sisted of badly dubbed Mex­i­can and Brazil­ian te­len­ov­e­las. They were not Kenyan, nor were they African, yet this genre had taken the coun­try by storm. So, we tried the te­len­ov­ela for­mat in South Africa and Nige­ria, and found it to be im­mensely pop­u­lar as te­len­ov­e­las rein­ter­pret univer­sal themes we can all iden­tify with.

The key to cre­at­ing time­less con­tent is think­ing about the fu­ture. Ac­cord­ingly, we have put a few ini­tia­tives in place to de­velop au­then­tic lo­cal con­tent. One of th­ese is the M-Net Magic in Mo­tion Academy, which started in 2014. It serves as a plat­form to de­velop lo­cal sto­ries and ex­pose grad­u­ates to the range of ca­reer op­por­tu­ni­ties within the in­dus­try.

The academy is de­signed to bridge the gap be­tween the­ory and prac­ti­cal im­ple­men­ta­tion to en­sure that in­terns go on to be­come highly em­ploy­able pro­fes­sion­als. Of the first class of grad­u­ates, Vuy­isile Mark Madai is now work­ing at Carte Blanche; Skye Mgudu is with Shark Tank; and Mbal­izethu Zulu joined Isi­baya.

Over 30 years, we have shared many mem­o­rable mo­ments with our view­ers, no­tably the 1995 rugby World Cup fi­nal, where our first demo­crat­i­cally elected pres­i­dent, Nel­son Man­dela, took bold steps to unify a frac­tured coun­try through sport. There was the day KTV hit the screen and fi­nally gave par­ents a chance to sleep in on Satur­day morn­ings. And, there have been count­less oc­ca­sions when our tena­cious Carte Blanche in­ves­tiga­tive team cracked open some of the most im­por­tant sto­ries of our time.

Ul­ti­mately, we are in the busi­ness of sto­ry­telling. We em­ploy peo­ple with vivid imag­i­na­tions to cre­ate sto­ries that make us laugh, cry or rage – this is how we feel alive and con­nected to one an­other. As we con­tinue to in­vest sub­stan­tially in de­vel­op­ing African con­tent, we will per­se­vere to put our cus­tomers at the fore­front of our in­no­va­tions for the next 30 years and beyond.

Phahle is chief ex­ec­u­tive of­fi­cer of M-Net Isi­baya's Mam­pho Bres­cia on why she adopted life­style of the rich and fa­Mous BO­NANG & AKA E POWER

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