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THERE are big hopes for KwaZulu-Natal and the rest of the sub-Saharan Africa as a spanking new channel, Zulu TV, is set for launch.
At the launch on Monday, which took place at the KZN Music House, leading arts practitioner Mbongeni Ngema announced that his Committed Artists Foundation would bring a new Zulu TV channel to our screens soon.
The channel has been made possible owing to a new satellite that has been launched into space by Sentech.
The event was attended by a panel of associates closely involved with the new project such as Ngema, Dennis Nkosi, Lungi Mbongwa and Sandy Harrington.
Speaking at the launch, Nkosi elaborated on the need for a new Zulu channel: “We have identified many challenges in this industry. First, there is very little local content coming out of KZN.
“That is a huge concern because there is lots of talent in this province, but they (budding artists) are all flocking out of here to go to Johannesburg and so on.
“We need to be encouraging and building more production houses and we have excellent locations in KZN.
“Another challenge is that there is not much interaction or dialogue with the viewer and the TV channels.
“We want to create that dialogue in terms of content which will influence the marketing strategy.
“We also hope this channel will create sustainable jobs from writers, producers to directors, you name it.”
Why the name Zulu TV?
According to Nkosi, the name Zulu is an internationally recognised brand: “We will not shy away from the fact that we are in the Zulu kingdom, hence Zulu TV. It’s quite a big and powerful name and it’s historic.”
Harrington, who has been involved in programming for 29 years, added that: “There will be a quality that we can show internationally.
“By having a channel here, it will create an industry.
“We have a very rich source to work on.
“We are going on for four months to bring in content of quality for four hours a day. KZN is rich in heritage, culture and stories, and our content is not profiled enough on South African TV screens.”
Although the channel will be called Zulu TV, the content will also feature English programmes.
It will include various genres from TV dramas, sitcoms, music and talk shows to game shows, current affairs and kids’ shows.
According to a press release, Zulu TV aims to screen quality programmes in high definition format, with a strong emphasis on local productions.
The introduction of Zulu TV accords with Ngema’s long-standing objectives of developing a vibrant cultural work environment in KZN.
Speaking at the launch, Ngema said: “This is a new age to what we call free vision, which means it is free to air on TV, unlike DStv where you pay a monthly subscription.
“Here, you just buy a decoder and that’s the only thing you will pay for. Or if you have a DStv decoder, you just plug in a cable which enables Zulu TV. We are targeting internally to be on air in November.
“As a custodian of Zulu culture, we thought we should invite the king as well. King (Goodwill) Zwelithini is our partner with Sentech.
“He has played a pivotal role in shaping our thinking from conceptualisation to date.”
Besides KwaZulu-Natal, Zulu TV will reach communities in Mozambique, Ghana, Malawi, Zimbabwe, Swaziland, Botswana and the rest of sub-Saharan Africa.