Eddie Okila is the lead consultant and managing director at the House of talent, Uganda . He has wealth of experience in marketing & communication, broadcast, PR, TV show hosting, audio, video and documentary production. He talks to us about the state of the industries in Uganda and the rest of Africa.
What challenges have you faced so far to get where you are?
(1.) Ugandan stations and most of the stations in EA not believing in local production and opting to purchase foreign content was a big challenge. Piracy has been a big challenge, where competing stations buy series and movies from video Libraries and broadcast them without copyright; and even after contacting UCC (Uganda Communication Commission) no action is taken against the stations. As you know viewers will always watch a station that has new/current movies or series.
(2.) When you have non-professionals in the field who get to where they are through nepotism and you have to train them, it becomes taxing trying to be professionals and making them see the bigger picture.
(3) The budget allocated to Programming is very small thus you end up purchasing few or old shows.
2. Are the industries more professional today, than when you first started? How?
Not in Uganda, it’s just copy paste of what the competing stations are doing. When I started producing the first ever energetic magazine show XXL TV SHOW in Uganda, people didn’t think it viable; 9 months down the road, they copied it and this included the same station that was airing it.
3. Do you see Uganda, as having attained world class status in terms of content, production and distribution? And what about the rest of Africa?
No, we still have a long way to go. If you notice, there are no live action and proper educational series for Children and teens that form the bulk of the population, they have been neglected.
The rest of Africa is really advancing although at a snail pace compared to the 1st world. The level of exposure of most content producers in Uganda is still low when compared to Kenya and Tanzania in EA; they always think quick money thus compromising quality of content and originality.
4. The issue of distribution is one that is a challenge for many, what do you think is the way forward?
Produce proper programs that cater for the bigger audiences i.e. use English and subtitles when vernacular is used. Use middle men to distribute your content as you will get a bigger market; this is how the Europeans, the Americans and South Africans have been able to make in short division of roles what is commonly known as “Division of Labor” (DOL).
5. What is your vision for Africa?
Just produce good unique quality shows; programs that you the producer will enjoy watching with African culture being the foundation. Just like the “telenovelas” from Latin America that have now dominated our screens today, they tell their stories in a way that we relate with and attract diverse audiences across other continents.
Africa has and will always have more stories to tell than the rest of the world, but we must embrace what God has given unto us the African people and maximize on this.
6. What do you hope people will take away from the BFMA conference?
Conferences like these are always a God given opportunity to learn a lot, and I have had no doubt that this conference will teach us more of what we don’t know through focused group discussions that will forever present a great opportunity for improvement of the broadcast industries. This will enable to tell the African story without mingling with a poor African statement.
Compiled by Christine Mwai.