ImageJulian, is a media & creative strategist since 2004, he is a Business Manager, writer, music & Sound design at Buni Media, and is alsoDeputy Programs Director at Royal Media Services Ltd. It’s post BFMA , but the issues facing the industries are still here, and he gives us some perspective on why for the broadcaster, the money comes first. 
   Do you believe that broadcasters in Kenya are in touch with their audience’s needs? Why so/ why not?

    Some broadcasters are. Ratings will always give you an indication of who is getting it right, the more popular a show the more it connects, however it is important to note that audiences are also not homogenous in nature, different audiences want different things.

    A mature lady may be very happy with a Spanish soap, but at that point the Husband has been left out, but in a few moments there is a soccer game at which point the broadcaster will have connected with the man then left out the woman.

    What we need to see is more contact points for different audiences, that’s the reason competition exists and more channels are coming up every day to fill this gap/need.

    Why do you think there is a sharp divide between what broadcasters want to spend on content and what producers of content demand?

    Actually I tend to imagine more often than not producers being creative, want to make what they think is good without actually testing their product. I see food companies testing their products, I never see producers getting people to watch screenings of their pilots to their intended target. So, if the shows get on TV, its often not authentic to the target audience thus it ‘sucks and tanks’. I think producers should embrace new technologies (YouTube et al) to showcase their work, I think if you can create a buzz online it would be easier to argue your case to content buyer/broadcaster.

    How can producers of content work with broadcasters to ensure both parties benefit? 

    It is simple business, you don’t work together with your butcher to get good meat, and you just pay for whoever sells tender tasty meat. I don’t see it any different, if you don’t make good content, working together will not improve your content. Producers just have to step up, good content does not mean technical quality, it has to be engaging, entertaining or at the very least educative.

    At the end it will come down to making a great show, marketing it until everyone is watching it. I always get the impression that producers feel a sense of entitlement from broadcasters to intervene or go out of their way to assist/build the industry; I can assure you the dynamics are like any other business sector.

    As a program advisor, what makes a program worthy to be aired? Will digitization affect this?

    All I look for is ratings, nothing else. When I have ratings, I can get revenue. So every time we watch a screener/listen to a demo, we ask will people go crazy about this? Will advertisers go crazy about this? Issues of technical matters are actually a bit secondary. When Naija movies came around (actually even now) some are not top notch or up to par from a production perspective. The story however and the performances can be world class and for the average person that’s what they are looking for. To me digitization is a just another name for format, whether you watch World Cup on VHS, DVD, Blue ray, black & White TV, tablet, phone etc. etc. If it’s a good game you remember the score, twists & turns. Later on (for a select few) will talk about the game experience in HD, not the HD experience of the game.

    That being said, digital will make barrier to entry reduced thus more channels which will need more content to fill, thus they will be open to almost anything initially just to try and fill up space. After that the next step will be them forking out more money for content which will entice more players to produce content and the cycle continues until one day when channels will be bidding for top/popular content.

 What advice would you give to people who want to have their programs aired on mainstream media?

    Refer to question 3

 Are broadcasters playing their role effectively in creating a world-class media? How so?

    There is no such thing as ‘world class media’ as this is an amorphous sector, we already have world class journalists, producers, directors, shows, etc. even in the Us where broadcast is probably the most advanced they have the top tier and the bottom rung, it’s the same case here. Like I mentioned earlier, there are no roles to be played everyone is just trying to make a living doing what interests them

What do you hope industry players will take away from the BFMA?

    The options available, BFMA is a short cut to exposure, marketing and networks, a lot of the great producers have only shown their inner circle their content; who probably tell them they are great, but when you expand your circle you’ll begin to see what else is out there.

    The greatest piece of advice I can give producers is; PRODUCE. Don’t market, negotiate etc. Get the relevant specialists, you can’t be a creative and a business person (very few can) one is bound to suffer.

Compiled by Christine Mwai

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