Wednesday, April 20, 2016

Yet another pan-African TV news channel, africanews, launches across Africa; euronews' new African sister channel now streaming live for free online.

Yet another pan-African TV news channel, africanews, launched across the African continent today at 17:00 with africanews that can be watched not only on TV in some African countries (South Africa excluded) but is also streaming for free in SD or HD on its website.

Africanews, broadcasting its TV news channel in English and French and anchored in its Pointe Noire studios in Congo-Brazzaville, is an offshoot of the European euronews that MultiChoice carried on DStv and then dumped in late 2014 after 6 years.

With Sabido and eMedia Investments' eNCA (DStv 403) channel that gave up on self sourced, on the ground reporting in Africa in 2015, and with the Nigerian-based Arise TV news channel that abruptly imploded and went off the air in January, true pan-African channels like africanews are looking to find audiences who want to see and hear first-hand reporting on what is really happening in various African countries.

africanews will primarily be competition for China's CCTV News (DStv 409 / StarSat 266), as well as for the Lagos anchored TVC News (also streamed live on its website) available on StarSat channel 270 and on DStv in some countries.

Interestingly MultiChoice doesn't currently provide any true pan-African TV news channel for DStv subscribers in South Africa like TVC News or africanews.

Funnily enough, africanews in its look and on-screen presence (OSP) blatantly copies TVC News' look and colours of yellow and black.

Also not stated but very obvious is how africanews is hilariously using South Africa for the heavy lifting in its glossy africanews promo video.

It's South African places, cityscapes, buildings, people and news events that show up most prominently and takes up the most space in its glossy promo video to sell africanews' coverage of the continent and to give Africa a "progressive Western" type look, especially as far as infrastructure is concerned.

africanews kicked off with a staff of 85, representing 15 nationalities, doing rolling live news coverage and will be doing news magazine shows like Football Planet, The Global Conversation, Timeout Africa and daily focused segments on entertainment and culture and business news.

News blocks will also be segmented, for instance The Morning Call between 06:00 and 10:30 with Hannane Ferdjani and Robert K'Odingo, The Network and Business Africa.

Veronica Narkwor Kwabla is africanews deputy editor.

africanews, funded through a mix of distribution and carriage agreement income, advertising and production revenues, looks to expand its language offering in future but is launching across Africa with English and French.

"It all began with the recognition that the rising African continent is an incredible source of news and that there is a great pool of talent that lacks a quality media environment," said Michael Peters, CEO of euronews and africanews.

"The question was simple," said Michael Peters in a "press conference" launch that was broadcast today on the channel and on africanews' online video feed.

"Was it like about doing like everyone else, meaning launching euronews Africa, or whether its about doing something totally different - africanews."

"africanews is the biggest bet no-one has ever done in the industry and the only stupid guy who decided to launch a new brand which is nuts - euronews. Can you imagine the amount of money, of time, of attention that you need to build a brand like euronews."

"And my decision is to say, I won't use the euronews brand like all the others are doing. I'm creating a new brand that will become the sister brand of euronews. This is a bet that no-one has done in the industry," said Michael Peters.

"We want to implement a media organisation called africanews that will be the voice of the African continent in Africa, and the rest of the world."

"africanews is here to give an African perspective about news, whether its African news or world news. This is another bet. What is a pan-African perspective? We have the same problem in Europe.What is a pan-Europe perspective?"

"You have a lot of African media who are pan-regional, rather than pan-continental. So you have a lot of pan-regional media who are extremely strong in the Francophone side of Africa, or strong in the Anglophone side of Africa, or the West of Africa, or the East of Africa."

"But until now there is no one real pan-continental brand that is able to speak to people in at least French and English and I hope soon in other languages. So we try to offer to the viewers, the consumer, a real pan-African view," said Michael Peters.

"This [africanews] is not the project of European people trying to impose any European views on the market."

"africanews will have to make money. The business plan is to be break even in 5 years time. For the launch of today we already have advertisers who trusted us.