Saturday, 1 August 2015


By Ben Kangwa
M-Net Africa and DStv recently launched Zambezi Magic Channel 160 to showcase content from the Southern African Development Community countries. The countries include Malawi, Swaziland, South Africa, Namibia, Botswana, Zimbabwe and Zambia.
According to the Marketing Manager at DStv-Zambia, Ndela Sichizya, “the content offering is from M-Net Archive to enable countries in the Southern Africa Development Community (SADC) introduce local content on one broadcasting platform in light of the consumer preference that is gradually shifting from international to local content against a background of Digital Terrestrial Television (DTT).
That said, my colleague Sam Phiri, who is the Sunday Times Television Review columnist, observed that many readers of the column, “raised a concern after closely watching and scrutinising the content of the new Zambezi Magic Channel.” To many viewers, it appears the bulk of the television content on the channel is South African. “Why is it even being called Zambezi if 99 per cent of content is South
African? An angry James Ngoma from Chipata had written.
As an ardent broadcast journalist, I took interest in the matter to find out as to how many Zambian programmes were being broadcast on Zambezi Magic since its launch. Other questions also arose as to what criteria is being used by Multi-Choice to select qualifying programme content or if indeed Zambian film producers and directors were fully aware of the guidelines required to have their content broadcast or could it be that deadlines for submissions were not met or just generally miscommunication of information?
Abdon Yezi
I decided to look up three creative film producers I have known and worked with in my previous engagement as Director of Programmes at the Zambia National Broadcasting Services (ZNBC) who truthfully explained the situation regarding the “Call for Content” for Zambezi Magic.
Though I conducted the line of questioning with each one of them at different places and times, they all had one common answer – that management of information regarding content to film makers and
producers was not handled properly by Multi-Choice Zambia.
For instance, Abdon Yezi, Chief Executive Officer of Yezi Arts Productions and Promotions who said, “Right now, there is no mechanism for communication with producers. As an institution, we submitted our different products, almost three months ago. We have not had any formal acknowledgement or update from Multi-Choice. Even when the launch was taking place, one is left to wonder why we could not be invited yet our contact details are with Multi-Choice.”
Abdon has been involved in the promotion of theatre and media in Zambia since 2000. He has worked as an actor, director, author and producer. He has produced five theatrical movies, three of which won
awards for excellence.
Cathy Phiri
As for Catherine Phiri who serves as Managing Director for Media 365, a communications agency that specialises in generating social change and development through cause related campaigns, her take on the issue at hand is that her organization could not meet the submission deadline, “as the majority of our material is commissioned by funders who ultimately own content. Yes, I could have been more proactive following with them. I was waiting until we have owned content.”
Catherine has a hefty CV, having been Vice President of Social Responsibility for MTV Networks International reporting to MTVNI Social Responsibility Senior Vice President. She has also served as
Executive Producer for Shunga, MTV’s first drama series for Africa that had an HIV storyline funded by PEPFAR, UNICEF and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. She also served as consultant in the
development and implementation of Shunga: Love, Sex and Money which was broadcast globally in February, 2012. She has also been involved in the production of Love Games, a popular weekly series programme that looked at love and relationship among five urban women and Club Risky Business, a fictional TV series that challenged viewers to question and ultimately reduce their overlapping sexual partnerships.
Catherine Kaseketi
Kenny Mumba
On the other hand, the first Zambian female film Director, who in the early 2000s worked on Zambia’s first soap opera, Kabanana, Musola Catherine Kaseketi weighed in as follows, “The little I know about Zambezi Magic is their interest to get content from the SADC region for broadcast. This is good for Zambian film makers as our products will reach a wider market. One of the most important things to understand is the conditions Zambezi Magic Channel will bring to film makers that wish to place their content on the channel.” Catherine Kaseketi has worked on dozens of film projects as a filmmaker, producer, director actor, writer and as a Human Rights activist.
For a start, I am afraid to state that at present only one Zambian programme is being aired on Zambezi Magic 160. The “Kool Roc Show”, a mixed bag programme, whose objective is to empower Africa’s youth with information through music, interviews and thought provoking conversations. The programme is presented by the talented Abel Chungu and produced by Creative Director and Cinematographer Kenny Mumba under the auspices of GroundXero.
As Catherine Kaseketi says, ‘The Zambezi Magic Channel is an opportunity for Zambian film makers to take the industry seriously and produce products with good and professional quality at international platforms. The films or documentaries most of all must have a Zambian identity’.


The Writer is a broadcast journalist/media consultant

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