Monday, February 20, 2017

FACT CHECK. The real facts about MultiChoice's Big Brother Naija after Nigeria's The Guardian newspaper unleases a torrent of filmmakers' fake claims.

Nigeria's The Guardian newspaper, in an apparently sugar-high from drinking the fake-news Kool-Aid, published a loving hit-piece slamming MultiChoice for the ongoing controversy over Big Brother Naija being produced in South Africa instead of Nigeria.

The trash-piece published deserves comment, since journalists Omiko Awa and Margaret Mwantok and The Guardian editors apparently couldn't be bothered to actually fact check the various claims as the newspaper unleashed the mistake-filled criticism that reads more like a Donald Trump rant.

Nigeria's The Guardian newspaper couldn't bother to actually seek and include comment from MultiChoice Africa, nor the actual producers in South Africa.

The biased article is filled with numerous inaccuracies, outright lies and some eye-rolling quotes from ill-informed and clearly clueless Nigerian filmmakers.

Since The Guardian isn't going to correct the record after this fountain of fake (and is probably not even capable of doing so), let me:

■ "seasoned professionals in film making and show business, noted that the job could perfectly have been handled in Nigeria."

FACT: No, as MultiChoice Africa stated, you need an uninterrupted electricity supply 24/7, people who don't come and switch off generators, and actual infrastructure, like studios, with a house that already exists and has been used for all of the other Big Brother Africa and other countries' versions.

■ Nigerian Broadcasting Commission, who granted the permission"

FACT: Nobody "granted permission" for a second season of Big Brother Naija, least of all Nigeria's broadcasting commission. The closest to "granting permission" anything, was M-Net and M-Net West Africa commissioning editors greenlighting the show.

■ "apart from being a rip-off on the economy."

FACT: Ironically all of the Nigerian DStv subscribers and GOtv subscribers paying to watch Big Brother Naija are collectively contributing more to Nigeria's economy through their monthly subscription fees than the single limited-run production's operating budget.

■ Ralph Nwadike, president of Nigeria's Association of Movie Producers: "South Africa, in terms of production qualities and values, can never match up to Nigeria's standard".

FACT: South Africa has the most advanced film and TV production sector on the African continent with the best equipment and production industry, including post-production.

In terms of content volume output (what is made), it would be correct to say that Nigeria has the world's second largest film industry after India. Keep in mind though that quantity doesn't equate to quality.

■ Ralph Nwadike, president of AMP: "They have the money to throw around because their banks believe in them".

FACTThis is an unsubstantiated lie.

Also, South African TV and film producers struggle as much to secure funding for productions and projects.

South Africa has better laws for direct foreign investment making it easier for productions wanting to film in South Africa - where Nigeria is driving companies and investors away (several multinationals from retail to airlines have been and are divesting from Nigeria).

South Africa has several regional film commissions, the National Film and Video Foundation (NFVF) and others actively trying to lure and help overseas and local producers to complete projects.

Ralph Nwadike, president of AMP: "Nigerian producers are the best in the world. We are not among the best, but the best".

FACT: A false claim. Empirically American, British and European producers are the best and have been doing it for the longest. Other parts of the world are making strides, are not competing in a level playing field, but no developing country can make such a claim.

Ralph Nwadike, president of AMP: "some years back, a 30-minute soap opera in South Africa was worth $1 million".

FACT: More Donald Trump-ish inauguration crowd size verbosity. If true, everybody would be working in, or making television.

Ralph Nwadike, president president of AMP: "insolence from MultiChoice".

FACTInsolence is more apt to describe the massive intellectual property theft and content piracy that's rife in Nigeria and not just hampering Nigeria's own film and TV industry but also scaring off prospective overseas producers.

■ Filmmaker, Chief Eddie Ugbomah: "described South Africans as ‘cunning and complex people’. He said the Big Brother show generates N5 million daily".

FACT: Generalisations are bad. Donald Trump for instance called Mexicans killers and rapists. That is not true and neither are a claim that South Africans are "cunning and complex people". South Africa isn't one type of people.

It's furthermore a lie that Big Brother Naija "generates N5 million daily. In fact, Big Brother Naija costs money. Money is spent to make something.

FACT: Big Brother Naija is actually more what would be called a (big word) "loss leader". A big part of Big Brother Naija reason for existence, as with Big Brother Africa previously, is not to make money as a show, but to drive DStv uptake, in other words, DStv subscriber growth.

The show has a bigger purpose that yields dividends over a longer term than just the short lifespan of the 11 week show. It also has a bigger scope than just Nigeria, it targets pan-Africa.

DStv and GOtv subscribers (in Nigeria, and in other countries) sign up to watch a daily show like Big Brother Naija and the TV show cultivates the habit (classic conditioning as described by Pavlov) of repeated viewing.

The show actually tries to change and influence viewing behaviour by forming a new habit. When Big Brother Naija ends, subscribers don't cancel but remain subscribers and now keep watching and migrate to other TV fare as part of this learned behaviour.

That is how MultiChoice Africa eventually really benefits and in a sense "makes" money; not in effect so much from a single season of Big Brother Naija.

■ Filmmaker, Chief Eddie Ugbomah: "Nigerian items, even food items, are not being patronised due to the dominance of South African products. I wish someone from the media would take this up. Unless the industry goes to see President Buhari and make him see reason to ban such productions, South Africans will always dominate."

FACTNigeria's president Muhammadu Buhari has been on an unexplained, extended overseas "holiday" for weeks. The film industry can't see him. And wherever he is, he's definitely not himself buying and eating Nigerian food.

Dr Don-Pedro Obaseki, filmmaker: "It is a total disgrace, considering Nigeria being DStv's biggest market".

FACTNigeria only has about 1.5 million DStv subscribers out of the 11 million pay-TV subscribers MultiChoice had by the end of September 2016.

At over 6 million subscribers, South Africa as DStv's biggest market has more DStv subscribers, and more than half, than the rest of Africa (including Nigeria) combined.

Dr Don-Pedro Obaseki, filmmaker: " It would boost their economy while exploiting Nigerians."

FACTThe only real "exploitation" happening is not in economic terms but of the contestants who forever lose their right to privacy, and to a lesser sense personal reputation - but all through their own choice.

Forster Ojehonmon, AMP secretary-general: "Production that is meant for Nigerians, about Nigeria and for Nigeria should not be shot elsewhere."

FACT: A large number of Nigerian music videos and Nigerian TV commercials the past two years right up until the end of 2016 have been done in South Africa, especially Cape Town. Should that all be stopped too?

Imagine American TV shows, from Sense8 to Black Sails and Preachers - because the primary audience is Americans - said they won't shoot in Kenya, South Africa and African countries because "production is meant for Americans".

M-Net and M-Net West Africa's Africa Magic Viewers Choice Awards 2017 (AMVCA 2017) will take place in March, once again in Lagos, Nigeria as it has been for several years now.

By the same twisted logic, the AMVCAs - an African awards show and not a Nigerian awards show should then not be staged in Nigeria since it's not meant for Nigerians alone.

Forster Ojehonmon, AMP secretary-general: "Entertainment is the second or third largest revenue earner of any country."

FACTAnother lie and fake-out generalisation to bolster perceived self-importance.

Although growing, entertainment isn't by far one of the biggest, nor second or third revenue earner of any country.

It is not the case in Nigeria, where the entertainment industry is not the second or third biggest contributor to GDP by sector, and also not in South Africa.