Whose story, whose TV? (News Round-Up)

** The following is a sample in a sea of what made news headlines this week. The views do not reflect those of the Input 2008 organisers – but they are meant to stimulate debate! Go ahead – tell us what you think.

American Filmmaker records ‘Voices’ of Rwanda’s Genocide Survivors

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09 April 2008

This year marks the 14th anniversary of the 1994 genocide in Rwanda. In the United States, events have been organized to highlight the progress made by the Rwandan society since then. Among the presenters at a New York event on the occasion is Taylor Krauss, a young American documentary filmmaker who for the past two years has been recording the testimony of Rwandan genocide survivors.

Krauss created an organization named “Voices of Rwanda,” which seeks to preserve the stories of the survivors as an important oral history for education and research about genocide. “Rwandans’ need to share their stories and the value of their histories for all people,“ he says.

Krauss started out as a documentary filmmaker on a visit to Rwanda. He was working on an entirely different project. But he realized that people were always willing to share their stories with him.

The Voices of Rwanda will make the video archives available to educational institutions as “an educational resource for students and researchers,” Krauss says. Filming of the survivors’ stories is a long process that involves translation of the testimony and transcribing it, a task that takes lots of volunteers putting in days of work for a single project.

Krauss reiterates the importance of letting the survivors tell their story without interruption. There is no time limit on how long they can speak. Some interviews take a full day of filming. “We don’t set for them a timeline,” Krauss says, adding, “Some of their stories stretch further than the events of 1994.” Krauss says he has been able to get young people in Rwanda to volunteer to do different tasks for the project. “This is a grassroots initiative.” Some of the survivors have come back to help as volunteers on the project because they understand and appreciate its importance.

The testimony will be used in high schools across the United States and will also be available to museums and other learning institutions around the world. That way, many Rwandan men, women and children will be given not only a voice in history but also an audience to hear it. Krauss says Voices of Rwanda plans to put the operation of the project in the hands of Rwandans and then to continue filming for at least twenty years

This article was sourced from voanews.com. Click here to be directed to the source page.

Simpsons ditched by Venezuelan TV

Wednesday, 9 April 2008

The Simpsons has been dropped from morning TV in Venezuela after being deemed unsuitable for children – and has been replaced by Baywatch.

The popular US cartoon about the yellow dysfunctional family was branded “inappropriate” and pulled by the country’s television authorities.

Caracas TV station Televen has started showing episodes of the beachside show in the same mid-morning slot.

It became famous for its bikini-clad stars, including Pamela Anderson.

Glamorous locations

The country’s TV regulator said the saga of Homer Simpson, wife Marge and their three children flouted regulations that prohibit “messages that go against the whole education of boys, girls and adolescents”.

It said that some unspecified complaints had been received from viewers.

Televen’s manager may decide to show The Simpsons, which has been dubbed into Spanish, at another time of day.

The station is showing episodes of Baywatch Hawaii, a later incarnation of the lifeguard rescue show which started in 1989.

The serial, about a group of beach lifeguards, gained notoriety for its attractive male and female cast members coupled with glamorous locations and slow-motion running sequences.

Venezuelan TV is known for filling its schedules with re-runs of old US series and Latin American soap operas.

But it also includes a talk show hosted by the country’s president, Hugo Chavez.

In an episode of the weekly programme last year, the Venezuelan leader gave a speech which reportedly lasted eight hours.

An abridged version of the show has been broadcast every day since February 2007.

This article was sourced from news.bbc.co.uk. Click here to be directed to the source page.

ICASA will complain to UN

April 09 2008 at 06:33PM

South Africa’s communications watchdog plans to report British-based Free2View to the United Nations (UN) for broadcasting illegally in the country, the telecoms regulator said on Wednesday.

“We will report Free2View to the International Telecommunication Union for broadcasting illegally in South Africa,” Independent Communication Authority of South Africa (Icasa) chairman Paris Mashile said on Wednesday.

The ITU is the UN agency for information and communication technologies.

Free2View, a UK-based free-to-air digital satellite operator, broadcasts across Africa free of charge from France and is available through a digital decoder and a dish.

It plans to launch new six channels by end of April and aims to have up to 36 channels. In South Africa it offers 24-hour news, an entertainment channel and MSNBC.

Malcolm Ramsay, Free2View chief technical officer said: “We are not operating illegally. We haven’t broken any South African law.”

He said the fact that Mashile wants to report Free2View to the ITU shows he realises that the communications regulator has no law to stop them.

Free2View’s satellite footprint stretches across sub-Saharan Africa.

“We can’t trade in South Africa. Our signal is incidentally found in South Africa. We know of about 500 000 people watching us across Africa,” said Ramsay.

This article was sourced from iol.co.za. Click here to be directed to the source page.

Murdoch seeks to make interactive TV his space

by Audrey Stuart  – Friday, April 11, 2008

Media mogul Rupert Murdoch has teamed up with his daughter Elizabeth in a bid to make his online social network MySpace the leader in the hot new interactive TV space.

“The convergence of the TV business with new social media is creating huge possibilities to reach global audiences,” Travis Katz, MySpace managing director international, said at the MIPTV audiovisual trade show here.

Katz spoke shortly after MySpace, the world’s most popular social network which owned by Murdoch’s News International, announced a deal with Shine Group, headed by his daughter Elizabeth, that will enable its content to be distributed to television and traditional media outside of America and on DVD.

“Sites like MySpace are pushing out the boundaries of what media can do,” Katz said, and agreements like the one with Shine “will take us to the next level”.

The deal includes developing local versions of MySpace programmes in the 26 countries where the site operates. It will also enable MySpace to distribute its own TV content — such as shows “Roommates” and “Quarterlife” — as DVDs and to merchandising outlets worldwide.

The accord comes as the networking site is about to launch new TV series including a new coming-of-age drama, “I love Chieftown”, about an up-and-coming band trying to make it big.

The 60 short four- to five-minute episodes, known as “webisodes”, are to launch after the summer, neatly tying in with MySpace’s plans to let unsigned bands sell their music on the site’s new music download service.

Horror movie fans can look forward to “Beyond the Rave”, the first new movie since 1976 from horror veterans Hammer Films and the first to be released solely through MySpace. Complete with gore and vampires, it will be unlike a routine trip to the movies as fans will be encouraged to interact.

“We want to weave users into the story,” Katz said, such as helping shape aspects of the plot or appearing in episodes.

Transforming members into story tellers is something that MySpace’s slightly more female-skewed competitor, Bebo, has already been busy doing for some time.

Bebo President Joanna Shields pointed out here that the site’s 42 million plus members worldwide are more sophisticated today about what they want to watch.

The number one social media site in Britain and New Zealand that has a core audience of 16-24 year-olds, Bebo has pioneered the new wave of online interactive web TV shows.

Its wildly successful “KateModern” series attracts 300,000 views for each of the show’s weekly five episodes, while its new interactive online soap “Sophia’s Diary” has notched up 50 million views since it launched.

Even more innovative from a business point of view is Bebo’s achievement in weaving advertising into its shows, Shields said.

Bebo’s hugely successful entertainment formats and its fast-growing worldwide users were instrumental in AOL’s decision to spend 850 million US dollars to acquire it last month.

User-generated content (UGC) by members though has trailed off significantly, Shields said.

With Bebo having demonstrated that advertising can make money in the social network space, and vice-versa, Shield appealed to the media industry to come and “follow audiences online”.

This article was sourced from france24.com. Click here to be directed to the source page.

Russia’s CTC expands with Disney

by Chris Forrester – 08 April 2008

Walt Disney has just signed a very useful multi-year licensing deal with Russia’s CTC Media, the only Russian media player quoted on the Nasdaq.

“We don’t touch news, or politics,” says Alexander Rodnyansky, CTC’s CEO, by implication suggesting that Russia’s leading independent broadcaster can stay in business without too many complications.

Indeed, CTC is on a roll. Backed by Modern Times Group and Alfa Group, CTC now has two important channels on air over Russia (CTC and female skewing Domashny) and is closing on the purchase of male skewing DTV which it will relaunch later this year once the acquisition closes.

CTC has a nine per cent share (4+ years old), while Domashny has a two per cent share. DTV will further gain at least 1.9% based on 2007 numbers and hopefully more once the CTC programming team get their hands on the station.

But there’s more: CTC owns Channel 31 in Kazakhstan, currently the fourth-largest station in the oil and gas-rich country. Rodnyansky says that he sees Kazakhstan emerging as an extremely important TV market over the next 10 years. CTC bought Channel 31 in March 2008 and is still fine-tuning its output in order to boost its market share beyond its current 7.1%.

Then there’s Uzbekistan where CTC now has a new broadcasting venture, which went live just 10 days ago (March 31), and will from now on transmit a mix of CTC and Domashny material. “27m people, and we believe will be the next success story in our region,” adds Rodnyansky.

And the programming strategy is similar across all of the properties: some imported content, but always top quality; some acquired formats (such as Ugly Betty, which it locally versions as Born Not Pretty, and Are You Smarter Than a 5th Grader?); and plenty of locally produced material for prime-time which have high production values and top local ratings (Cadets). “Domestically produced product always plays well, often when it is in the form of licensed product,” says Rodnyansky.

He also firmly discounts the threat of cable and satellite, saying cable’s current limited infrastructure poses no threat to over-the-air networks, and satellite – despite being around for some 11 years – “still has only 600,000 real subs”. However, he stressed he did believe in the new digital universe, saying that Russia’s new President chaired the nation’s digital committee “but it is going to take seven to eight years to make any real headway. We will play our part in this expanding universe, and see it making sense to be ready for [wider digitisation] when we will launch new digital channels, but when it makes sense.”

Rodnyansky highlighted the sort of genres CTC might get involved in as being kids and animation generally, quizzes and game shows, comedy and sit-coms. “We will stay entertainment focussed,” he told a MIPtv press conference.

This article was sourced from rapidtvnews.com. Click here to be directed to the source page.


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