By Sylvain Béletre
Published April 10, 2014
A global Swedish broadcaster has launched a free-to-air channel in Tanzania as its launch pad into Africa.
The broadcaster, Modern Times Group AB (MTG), is working on producing local content and on setting up its radio stations across Africa. It says its primary focus in 2014 is on Kenya, Uganda, Nigeria, Tanzania and Mozambique.
MTG’s second African free-TV channel, TV1, has launched on Tanzania’s digital terrestrial network in January 2014 after being granted a licence by the Tanzania Communications Regulatory Authority. It is said to be reaching almost 15 million people or 30% of the 48 million people in the country. TV1 is focused on a broad, slightly female skewed, target audience of 15-49-year olds.
The four largest free-to-air channels in Tanzania—a country whose Gross Domestic Product (GDP) is estimated to have grown by 6.5% in 2012 to US$27.9 billion in 2014 and that International Monetary Fund (IMF) projects as one of the fastest growing economies in the world over the next two years—are ITV, Star TV, EATV, and public broadcaster TBC1.
MTG broadcasts four pay-TV-channels in six countries in Africa with Viasat History, Viasat Nature, Viasat Explorer and Viasat Crime having been launched in Tanzania, Kenya, Uganda, Nigeria and Mozambique through StarTimes DTT/DTH network and Wananchi’s Zuku pay TV networks.
The company started by rolling out the free-to-air Viasat1 TV channel in Ghana in 2008 after its Viasat Broadcasting had been awarded a five-year national terrestrial TV license by the National Communications Authority of Ghana in December 2007. Six years later, Viasat1 TV channel is now the second-ranked channel in the West African country with a 24% commercial share of viewing in the target audience group.
MTG’s first commercial free-to-air entertainment TV channel outside Europe, Viasat Broadcasting–that features locally produced hit shows such as The One Show, Born Starz and Boys Boys–reported its first quarterly profit in 2013.
MTG broadcasts edutainment with a mix of local (30%) and international (70%) content. It has set up three centres in Africa which produce local content for its channels in Africa and abroad. MTG says it also acquires content from independent producers.