TV Digitalisation: Three men in search of great content

Professor Segun Ojewuyi, (l) and Nollywood star, Zack Orji
Professor Segun Ojewuyi, (l) and Nollywood star, Zack Orji
Listen to article

AS the country sets the 2012 target for all TV stations in Nigeria to go digital and conform with the rest of the world, three men reacted separately in Los Angeles penultimate week all looking for better ways to making greater content for Nigerian TV stations and improve the content quality of Nigerian movies.

With a single TV channel being able to multiply to six when digitalisation takes place, content is seen as a primary determining factor for the survival of the television stations. Content will become an issue and broadcast experts are asking broadcasters to plan ahead or they might find themselves being squeezed into one single channel to create space for those who are ready to do business.

But speaking at the Nollywood Foundation Conference in Los Angeles, Prof Segun Ojewuyi, Head of Drama at the University of Illinois, Mr. Emeka Mba of the Nigerian Film and Video Censors Board, and Mr. Zack Orji, a frontline Nollywood actor suggested ways for those who do TV or movies to increase the quality of their content and therefore be in a position to tell the Nigerian story more positively..

Periscoping the position of the Nigerian Television Authority, NTA, in the face of digitalisation, Prof Ojewuyi who spoke to Vanguard at Sofitel Hotel on Beverly Boulevard, recommended for the station to be turned into an essential news channel while leaving entertainment to the independent operators.

Feeling very strongly about his position, Ojewuyi said that NTA has not done well in the area of entertainment in the sense that it has not demonstrated enough will power to support Nigerian content makers while also stuffing prime time belts with Mexican soaps. He feels pained that NTA being a monopoly until recently when AIT was given a network license, was actually the first TV station to introduce cheap Mexican soaps to Nigerian TV.

Said Ojewuyi: “TV as voice of government is a dead model in most parts of the world. Let the government divest NTA of the business of producing drama but instead generate News and Current Affairs. This I think will revitalise the broadcast sector and encourage private operators.”

However, the reaction of Mba and Orji are of a different kind. While organizing a roadshow for Nollywood in London last year, in which an international pitch was organized for Nigerian movie makers, Mba as the DG of the Censors Board had promised to support the winner with the sum of $5, 000 to enable the person develop the script to an international standard.

The pitch was won by Orji whose story spans three continents with very serious co-production possibilities. It was a lovely story which the international community thought could be done immediately but usually money always becomes an issue. The story however must be told in a proper and very professional manner, which is the reason the promise was redeemed to Orji in Los Angeles with Senator Ayogu Eze doing the presentation.

Overcome with emotions, Orji said with such support coming from the Censors, an organ of the Federal Government, he would try his best to make the country proud with the outcome of the film. The star actor who told Vanguard that he wanted to do a major work the country will be proud to take to international festivals, has already taken the initial step by giving the document to Mr. Michael Ajakwe, a Nigerian double Emmy winner, who has become a very visible force in Hollywood. Sessions held between the two of them in Hollywood penultimate week were very fruitful.

Speaking to Vanguard, Orji explained that much has been said about the quality of Nollywood products, adding that his new effort will enable him contribute in a very practical way what ought to be done.

But for Mba whose organisation has to contend with looking at all the works before releasing them to the public, he has also been concerned with the quality of works and had always thought that one way to contribute is to encourage those who are involved in the production process.

“We are ready to contribute to any process that will encourage quality production in Nollywood. We are prepared to partner with any organisation that can help in the process. We are committed to Zack Orji in this project and we will ensure the script gets the best treatment.