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A NEW TV channel, Zulu TV, offering a strong focus on material relating to KwaZulu-Natal, will be launched soon by theatre and music personality Mbongeni Ngema.
He has been working on the project for five years.
Ngema, who is presenting the channel with his company, Committed Artists Records and Films, said Zulu TV would be flighted throughout sub-Saharan Africa via signal distributor Sentech’s direct-to-home satellite platform, expected to be launched by next month.
This new platform, which will also carry SABC1, SABC2, SABC3 and SABC News channels, will require a set-top box to allow access to free-to-air channels. These would include Zulu TV from early November, Ngema told The Mercury.
Primarily an entertainment channel, Zulu TV aims to screen high-quality programmes in high definition, with a strong emphasis on local productions.
Content will include coverage of heritage, tourism, arts and culture and lifestyle. The channel will also offer magazine programmes, musical theatre, drama, sitcoms, movies, short films and documentaries, religion and current affairs. It will have an internet link-up through social networks.
“Due to the vast reach of the channel, we will be broadcasting predominantly in English, but we will, of course, carry a healthy contingent of Zulu programmes as well,” said Ngema.
“To ensure a degree of international coverage, we will also be linking up with Voice of America and other networks.
“There is a wealth of material to draw from here, when one looks back on 30 years of working in the theatre. Besides creating new material, there is the strong feasibility of adapting established stage pieces for television.
“We are in touch with leading South African theatre companies and plan to engage with as many young actors, directors, scriptwriters and technicians as possible. Our core target market will be primarily language and geographically based – that is the whole of South Africa. We are also targeting the entire southern African region, where a vast number of Nguni and non-Nguni-based languages are spoken,” added Ngema.
He said English subtitling would be used where necessary to make programmes accessible to all language groups, as well as to open up opportunities for international licensing.
Apart from that being a commercial project, the new channel would also provide an opportunity to communicate government programmes and activities, he said.
“Discussions are afoot with the KZN provincial government, who are keen to buy space on the channel for their service delivery programmes, communication and adverts.
“Other important priorities will be to provide opportunities for the video and film industry in KwaZulu-Natal to contribute with programming, and to nurture emerging video and film-makers in the province.”
Ngema invited people with ideas for content for the new channel to attend its launch at the Durban-based KZN Music House in Greyville at 2pm on September 30. For further information, phone Thandekile Mqadi at 031 309 6164. - The Mercury