After huffing and puffing over the dominance of Nollywood programming on DStv’s Africa Magic channel line-up (leading to the coinage of the term “Naija-cked”), Africa’s premier pay-TV service has heard the cries of East African content producers and viewers.
Starting Monday September 1st, DStv launches Maisha Magic, a new East-African-focused channel tailored to meet subscriber and content-providers’ needs. “M-Net has been building steadily on its investment in the East African market, centralised in Kenya but with outreach across the region. We have recognised that whilst the AfricaMagic brand has come to represent a powerful philosophy about pan-African cohesion, there is definitely great potential for a customised East African television brand”, explains M-Net East Africa Regional Director Michael Ndetei who will be in Kampala for a belated channel launch at an invite-only September 3 party at the Sheraton.
The channel is a result of a detailed project a few years ago to carefully build M-Net’s technical, staffing and content capacity and Maisha Magic is the culmination of all these investments. Ndetei adds that DStv has always believed that East African talent and stories are as vital and as compelling as those found anywhere else in Africa. This is a fact proven by the success of East African content at the first two AfricaMagic Viewers’ Choice Awards.
And now with a fully functioning Nairobi-based studio and the AfricaMagic Original Films Project well underway producing made-for-TV titles, Maisha Magic is ready to take flight taking up residence on channel 161, available to DStv Premium and Compact subscribers. While it will predominantly screen East African content, it will have a sprinkling of Latin American telenovelas. “Our research demonstrated clearly that our audiences want home-grown entertainment, interspersed with very specific kinds of international content, so we’re working on getting that balance right to ensure that this is in fact a channel made in East Africa, for East Africans, to meet East African tastes,” says Ndetei.
However, it may not be long before Ugandans start grumbling over apparent underrepresentation yet again. Only two offerings will be from the Pearl of Africa; a new season of Comedy Club Live in Kampala hosted by Ann Kansiime and Mariam Ndagire’s Tendo Sisters TV series. The bulk of the programming will most likely be gobbled up by Kenyan content thanks mostly to its prolific audio-visual sector. The boon to Uganda will be content producers upping their game and raising the aesthetics of their audio-visual products, what with word that content will now be bought at a premium.
The most notable Ugandan content on DStv’s decade-old Africa Magic brand has been the ‘90s TV series, That’s Live Mwattu and more recently the university-student-themed The Hostel alongside a smattering of lowbrow Ugandan movies. We can’t count on the rebranding of Africa Magic Swahili, which becomes Maisha Magic Swahili on September 24th which will turn it into a Tanzanian Bongowood showcase platform. For now, Ugandans ought to whine less and jostle for more stories of the 60 East African movies DStv hopes to shoot to boost content on Maisha Magic.
Text: MOSES SERUGO