Multichoice Chief Urges African Media to Take Advantage of Digitalisation

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Bolaji Adebiyi in Dubai

African media industry must utilise the enormous opportunities that digitalisation offers to tell their stories to the global audience, the Chief Executive Officer of General Entertainment of Multichoice, Ms. Yolisa Pahleh,  said wednesday at the fifth edition of Digital Dialogue Conference holding in Dubai, United Arab Emirates.

Opening discussions at the dialogue, a thought-leadership platform established in 2012 and facilitated by MultiChoice to address various issues facing the video entertainment industry on the continent and share industry best-practice, she said African entertainment industry players had a collective responsibility in ensuring that the continent reaped from the abundant benefits of emerging opportunities of digitalisation.

 “Digital disruption will change how people consume our products, and as people who are interested and committed to the future of Africa, it is our collective responsibility to play an active role in making sure our continent benefits from this opportunity,” Pahleh said.

Setting the tone for the conference on its positive outlook into the future directions of video entertainment and how the industry is responding to the rapid change in technology with respect to content delivery, she said Africa needed to leverage on technology to reshape global perspectives on her peoples’ experiences and realities.

She told her audience that in the midst of the ongoing digital revolution, African content developers had the opportunity not only to tell stories that educate and inform the continent’s audiences, but also to export Africa’s prevailing cultural experiences to the world as well as create a global market for its creative works.

According to her, “By using the internet and leveraging technology, we have the ability to reach audiences at a global level, and the success of companies like Iroko TV, artists like Davido, actresses like Lupita Nyong’o and the movie Black Panther are confirmation that the world is ready to consume African stories, celebrate African culture and embrace African languages.”

But the MultiChoice executive said achieving this goal would take incredible focus, adding that as the future of news and the media increasingly becomes of more concern to the global community, content, technology and customer, would become more essential for any news or media organisation that wants to survive and grow in the future.

She explained that any media that would survive in the digital world would, therefore, have to find new ways of engaging more effectively because there would be more choices and contents than ever for their customers, who she said, would become more and more accustomed to receiving personalised content that talks to their specific requirements often seemingly for free.

Pahleh said:, “Nowadays, no-one can say with absolute certainty what the future holds for any business in the news or media industry. What we do know, however, is that people today consume more news and entertainment than ever and I believe this trend will continue.  The delivery mechanisms will change, and in many ways digital is just another route to market, but the producers of the most relevant and resonant content will survive.”

She said Multichoice had taken the lead in the digitalisation process, and explained that it was the reason the company launched GOTV in spite of the massive reach of its DSTV channels, adding that MultiChoice Africa was established by people who were creating a media company not for the present, but one for the future.

She said, “We produce over 16 local content channels across the continent showcasing local storytellers and created the Africa Magic Viewers’ Choice Awards that celebrate African film making, we work with local broadcasters so that East Africans can see what is happening in West and Southern Africa. As a company, we are looking forward to investing even more in telling local stories, documenting our history and providing a platform for Africans to share African stories.”

Pahleh said MultiChoice would soon start the production of some epic African stories and use new digital platforms to create a stage for Africa to shine on while continuing to work with the best African talent to tell Africa’s stories to deliver the incredible economic benefits to Africa’s creative industries.

“Let’s undertake to bring this kind of prosperity to our continent and aim to use digital technology to entertain and inform the world,” she said.

The 2018 Digital Dialogue Conference is aimed at fostering a better understanding of the future direction of the video entertainment industry in Africa.

Lead presenters at conference being attended by leading print and broadcast journalists across Africa, include Founder of Intelligencr, Paul Papadimitriou; Professor of Creative Industries, Ulster University, Anthony Lilley; CEO of Zuri24 Media Limited, Nigeria, Femi Odugbemi; and CEO, Wonderland Studios, David Abraham.

Others are Afro futurist and Founder of AfroCyberPunck, Jonathan Dotse; General Manager, Digital 3 & 4, ITV, Greg Bensberg; Radio Communication Engineer, International Telecommunication Union, Michele Coat; Chair, CM-WiB, Digital Video Broadcast, Peter Barnet; and Deputy Chairperson, Southern African Digital Broadcasting Association, Gerhard Petrick.