Sunday, July 23, 2017

China's StarTimes looking to dramatically expand in Africa; wants to build TV factory making a million TV sets and boost content production, dubbing capacity.

StarTimes that now has nearly 10 million pay-TV subscribers, says it has big expansion plans for the African continent where it wants to challenge the market dominance of MultiChoice's 11.9 million DStv and GOtv subscribers by ramping up local TV content production, increasing dubbing capacity of Chinese shows and even building a TV factory to churn out 1 million TV sets by 2021.

China StarTimes pay-TV service in Africa, now operating in 30 African countries - including in South Africa with its StarSat subsidiary - says it has grown rapidly since its launch in 2002 across Africa and now employs 4 300 Africans in the 30 countries.

Pang Xinxing, group president of StarTimes, visited Africa this past week as a guest at the 1st Youth Connekt summit in Kigali, Rwanda, held at the Kigali Convention Centre.

Rwanda in May got a $7 million loan from the Chinese government - done through StarTimes - to set up a film and TV production studio in the country.

StarTimes also paid $75 000 (R968 655) in sponsorship to the Youth Connekt summit to sponsor Thursday evening's "Opportunity Raising Gala dinner"on 20 July at the summit, billed as a "by invitation only" event - that explains Pang Xinxing's invitation and presence at the Youth Connekt summit.

Pang Xinxing said that StarTimes plans to build a TV set manufacturing plant in Africa that will make 1 million TV sets in 5 years.

In an interview on CNBC Africa (DStv 410) with the business TV news channel that opened a second bureau in Rwanda a few months ago - this one inside the Kigali Convention Centre, Pang Xinxing said that StarTimes will " focus more on content transmission and production to reach more different language countries" in Africa.

StarTimes already dubs a bunch of Chinese shows into African vernacular for its set of StarTimes packaged channels beamed into Africa and plans to increase its dubbing capacity, as well as the number of African languages shows are dubbed in.

In 2016 for instance, StarTimes held the first Star TV Drama Dubbing Contest in Tanzania with 10 contestants that were flown to Beijing for the chance to work at StarTimes's headquarters and got professional dubbing training.

In a statement from StarTimes that wasn't released beyond Rwanda, Pang Xinxing said StarTimes will establish and roll out several TV production and dubbing centres across Africa to help train more voice artists to translate Chinese shows for African audiences.

At the Youth Connekt summit, Pang Xinxing said StarTimes has undertaken the 10 000 African Villages Satellite TV Project as part of the Chinese president Xi Jinping's announcement at the Forum on China-Africa Cooperation meeting in the 2015 Johannesburg Summit.

Through this, StarTimes helped to bring satellite TV to 10 000 African villages to give young Africans living in rural areas access to television and information.