Tony Award nominated playwright, singer, actor and director, Mbongeni Ngema, has launched a new IsiZulu TV channel. Ngema launched the channel through his company Committed Artists Records and Films, at the KZN Music House to press, radio personalities and some KZN based musicians. The channel will be flighted throughout Sub-Saharan Africa via a new satellite launched by Sentech yesterday.
Speaking at the launch, Ngema said: "“Due to the vast reach of the channel, we will be broadcasting predominantly in English, while we will of course carry a healthy contingent of IsiZulu programmes as well," he said. “We plan to devote a lot of our broadcast material to local content, with a strong focus on material relating to KwaZulu-Natal. Demographically the Province has a rich cultural mix, given its population of Zulu-speakers, Indian communities and whites. To ensure a degree of international coverage, we will also be linking up with Voice of America and other networks.”
“Our core target market will be primarily language and geographically based – that is the whole of South Africa. We are also targeting the entire Southern African region, where a vast number of both Nguni and non Nguni based languages are spoken,” he added. He further said that the founders of the Channel have knowledge of and experience in diverse cultures such languages and therefore there will be programming that will appeal to the whole Sub-Saharan Africa. "English subtitling will be used where necessary to make programmes accessible to all language groups, as well as to open up opportunities for international licensing."
Ngema said that the channel will have music programmes, talk shows, news items and that there are plans for the channel to air locally produced TV dramas. “There is a wealth of material to draw from here, when one looks back on 30 years of working in the theatre. Besides creating new material, there is the strong feasibility of adapting established stage pieces for television.”
According to a statement from Ngema's Committed Artists Records, the channel will screen programmes in HD.
There have been quite a few TV launched in KZN recently. In September, King Goodwill Zwelithini launched his new TV show, Ebukhosini, which will be aired from Monday, 7 October 2013 on 1KZNtv. e.tv also launched four new channels which will be flighted via the new OpenView HD decoder from 15 October.
There is still no word on when South Africa will switch off the analogue feeds and embrace DTT. In June, Sekoetlane Phamodi of the SOS Coalition was quoted by The Media magazine saying that South Africa will not be ready for the big switch, which was supposed to be in 2015. "It took the UK (a smaller country, with higher population density, more money, more expertise, a trusted public broadcaster with a wider and higher quality range of channel offerings to incentivise take-up) 10 years to prepare for and an additional five years to complete the migration process. South Africa is none of those things and wants to complete this migration in less than three years? Unlikely.”