For years South African television executives and broadcasters have been going to the premier international content markets MIPTV and MIPCOM in Cannes, France. Today marks the start of a specifically African-focused market taking place in Johannesburg, at the Sandton Convention Centre.
DISCOP AFRICA is devoted to the production and distribution of multiscreen television content. This 2012 edition, organised by Los Angeles based French company Basic Lead, is the first to be held in South Africa, having previously taken place in Ghana, Kenya and Senegal.
Another first for DISCOP AFRICA is that this edition includes a co-production element with pitching sessions devoted to non-scripted formats.
There has not been any kind of television market in South Africa since the days of the long defunct Sithengi Film and Television Market. The problem with Sithengi from a content sales point of view was that local independent producers had precious little television programming to sell as all the rights to their shows were owned by the broadcasters in 100% commissions.
Since those days budgets, and in some cases commissions, have been reduced, leading to an increased number of sponsored shows or advertiser funded programmes. Only producers who have come up with innovative ways to finance their programmes, so that they can license their products to broadcasters, retain any sort of rights to them. All other local content is owned by the broadcasters and a few independent distributors.
There is bound to be lots of business done at DISCOP AFRICA as sellers of international content into Africa are likely to have a field day. Conversely, according to the DISCOP AFRICA organisers, the demand for programming emanating from Africa is increasing all the time, which bodes well for the sale of local content.
It should be an interesting few days.