African firms to combat content crisis

African distributor Côte Ouest is working to restore more than 3,000 audiovisual programmes as it looks for ways to combat a “serious content deficit”.

The distributor, which recently announced plans to move into production, is working with the L’Organisation de la Francophonie (OIF) to fully digitise the programmes, retrace the original rights holders in view of taking on international distribution.

Each of the shows were originally backed OIF’s Film Fund and are considered as important to African cultural heritage.

The project, managed by OIF and covering more than 20 territories, begins next year and will run until 2016. Associated partners include Conseil International des Radios et Télévisions  d’Expression Française, France’s Institut National de l’Audiovisuel, Union Economique et Monétaire Ouest-Africaine, Institut Imagine from Burkina Faso and Senegal-based Soon.

Mike Dearham, senior VP, Côte Ouest said: “In the face of a serious African content deficit, the advancement of this project will provide much needed relief to the pan-African audiovisual sector. This project is incredibly important for Africa as it will revitalise and preserve the memories and history of the continent.”

Pierre Barrot, programme specialist in charge of audiovisual at OIF, added: “The supply of hundred of hours of archived content, that will come about as a result of this project, in addition to the current production of African TV series and documentaries will stimulate the demand from TV channels for African content. This will also encourage production.”

The news comes after the DISCOP Africa 2013 market in Johannesburg drew to a close last week with organisers claiming an 18% increase in attendance year-on-year and a string of deals closed.

These included one DIFFA (International Distribution of Films and Fiction from Africa) bagged with South Africa’s M-Net, which will see the first ever Francophone series produced in Africa, the 41x26mins Les rois de Ségou (The Kings of Ségou) from Mali’s Brico Films, broadcasting on an English-speaking network.

During the event’s opening address, South Africa’s arts and culture minister Paul Mashatile told delegates: “DISCOP Africa 2013 takes place at a time when our continent is increasingly being viewed as the continent of hope, the continent of the future and a new growth frontier. We have no doubt, therefore, that emerging out of this gathering will be effective partnerships and programmes aimed at accelerating the growth of film and TV production across the African continent.”

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