Nbs –Star: Proof that StarTimes Uganda leads in local content provision
Juan Romero | On 05, Nov 2015
Since the switch off of analogue broadcasting by the Uganda Communications Commission in June 2015 to pave way for Signet – the exclusive free to air digital signal distributor in the country as mandated by law – to implement digital migration in central region, the Uganda television industry is buzzing with activity. In just four months, at least 15 new free-to-air privately owned local Tv stations have been licensed and are already broadcasting.
This brings to 30, the total number of privately owned local televisions in Uganda. This shift in dynamics has forced the players to push local content type, quality and quantity on top of their agendas to win over the television audiences. They key license condition also, by the national broadcasting regulator, UCC, is that at least 70% of content by the free-to-air stations must be local.
The pay television industry has not been spared either, with UCC demanding that at least 30% of their content must be local. StarTimes Uganda has led the challenge and taken the fight to win over the local market to heights that are unprecedented in this industry. Since 2015, StarTimes is the only pay television to produce it’s own local channels and allocated them frequencies for a permanent home on it’s digital platform.
Face Tv, Salam Tv and Luganda Bollywood channels were all launched between April and September on the StarTimes digital platform. On October 23rd, 2015 StarTimes Uganda launched nbs-star, a 24 hour entertainment only Luganda channel that targets the mass market.
For the first time in Uganda, cartoon programmes and movies are featured in Luganda dubbing. The Chinese movies, series and soaps are either dubbed or directly translated in Luganda, just like Hollywood and Nollywood movies. There are also local comedies, music concerts, community entertainment news that are also featured in Luganda.
Nbs-star has been produced and packaged by local Ugandans who have been well schooled and trained professionally for this task. The quality of production and professional way the content has been designed is meant to provide direct competition to the leading local free-to-air channel, namely, Bukedde Television. It’s popularity bears roots in the localizing of it’s programming, particularly targeting the Luganda speaking populace which is the largest and most influential in Uganda.
StarTimes Uganda’s idea is that once a customer gets onto it’s platform, they don’t find a reason to switch to the ‘free-to-air’ channels in search of entertaining local content. We also believe that it’s the best way to position locally as the most relevant pay television to the viewing needs of locals in order to get them emotionally connected or attached to our brand.
To fulfill the nbs-star channel dream, StarTimes Uganda partnered with NBS Television – perhaps the most innovative privately owned local television – to identify the relevant programming and material for this channel. The launch of nbs-star is also aimed at endearing StarTimes to the Uganda authorities especially government which is a key stakeholder in promoting nationalism.
In a region where most global and international companies are accused by indigenous people of promoting foreign interests and exploiting unsuspecting locals, StarTimes Uganda felt it strategic to prove our commitment to developing local interests not just in the pricing of our products, but more so in the type of content we give.
On the occasion to mark five years existence in the Ugandan market, StarTimes chose to launch the new nbs-star so that it’s viewed by the public as a milestone. Our story to Ugandans and especially those involved in film production, art and local entertainment is that, we will support the local content making industry by buying the best content produced and getting into partnerships with them to put together attractive packages.
For the past four years Uganda Communication Commission has tried to establish and maintain the Uganda Film Festival and Uganda Movie awards which has turned into an annual event that has made forced many Ugandans to go professional as they write script, produce and promote their movies.
Never the less this has not been enough to promote the Industry. If the industry is to fully prosper there is a lot that needs to be established like institutions that teach about music, dance and Drama, film and acting. This will ensure professionalism in the film industry and also ensure production of good quality local content that can favorably compete on the international market.
Secondly there is need to have a platform for show casing the local content. For a long time different free to air channels have been giving very little airtime to local content.