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Feature: The Craziness of doing TV in Ghana

I am no prophet of doom, I am a realist. My predictions are based on current trends of television viewers, their viewing habits and their taste for fine quality programs. Like many in my generation and before, we all grew up knowing just one Television Station, Ghana Broadcasting Corporation (GBC), as it was known then. […]

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I am no prophet of doom, I am a realist. My predictions are based on current trends of television viewers, their viewing habits and their taste for fine quality programs. Like many in my generation and before, we all grew up knowing just one Television Station, Ghana Broadcasting Corporation (GBC), as it was known then.

The Craziness of doing TV in Ghana
The Craziness of doing TV in Ghana

As children, we were overjoyed to watch some of our favourite programs then including Koliko, Avenue ‘A’, Villa Kakalika, Osofo Dadzie and others. GBC led the way with the development of authentic Ghanaian content. Later on, others such as Obra, Ultimate Paradise. Inspector Bediako became firm favourites.

The June 4, 1979 coup brought content development to a screeching halt. Many producers took a back seat, students went out in support of the revolution and others who didn’t have the heart to stay fled to neighbouring Nigeria in search of greener pastures. Those were difficult times for the National Broadcaster.

Soon, Dr, Hilla Limman was elected and many could breath again. The dormant Ghana Film Industry had just started to wake up from its slumber. GBC shrug its flight wings and taxied, ready to fly again. Both were rudely interrupted again on December 31, 1981. GBC’s flight was grounded. The film industry dragged itself to bed and producers and production houses went off to bed again. Cinema Houses closed and the entertainment industry found a graveyard somewhere to rest in peace. The exodus was massive. Every opportunity a person had to leave Ghana was taken.

GBC must be congratulated. It stood by Ghanaians. It performed its duty. The staff were under constant surveillance and the watchful eye of the military. GBC was a fortress. There were guns and tanks everywhere yet with dedication, love of the job and unbelievable grit and grind, Television viewers were kept glued to their seats.

Let me not bore you with History. Fast forward to 2019. There are many free to air television stations. There are over seventy licensed and unlicensed digital channels. It will interest you to know that Ghana has an estimated television viewing public of about eighteen million people. This is about 60% of Ghanaians. The proliferation of Television gives viewers a choice.

Now, let me be blunt. There is no doubt the potential GBC has. There is no doubt that the National Broadcaster has what it takes to create amazing Television. There is absolutely no doubt about the professional competencies of those who work at GBC. The reality is that no one can fault GBC for not providing the content we yearn for.

Past Governments failed to insulate GBC in the wake of opening up the air space for new Television Stations. We gave out licenses without assessing the implication it would have on the National Broadcaster. In the United Kingdom with a viewing public of almost 60 million people or 95% of the UK population, there are only five main stream TV Networks. Other regions also have their own regional networks.

All the other networks are cable networks. The BBC is protected both by law and by the issuing of licenses. Not so in Ghana. Like everything else when we open our doors, we allow everything including the junk to come through.

DTT is good but we should have allowed the existing free to air analogue channels to be fully compliant before we opened up to others. We could have given them the much-needed support to sort out their digital issues to ready them for the transition. I do not even want to go into this DTT matter for fear of opening a can of worms. Maybe I will do so another day.

Truth be told, why do we still have several unlicensed channels operating? Is the NCA blind to these unauthorized channels? Who is regulating these channels? Who is responsible for the content they put out? Who audits their books? Who watches over copyright issues? I have too many questions to ask.

Apart from being a dumping ground for cheap content brought in from certain places around the globe, we are ‘thieves’ too. Stealing content that belongs to others and showing them on our platforms as if they belong to us. Yet the NCA sits in its glittering tower offices in the plush Airport City without saying anything. We profess to build a better Ghana, we profess to want people to ‘See Ghana’, ‘Wear Ghana’, ‘Eat Ghana’ and so on yet we forget to ‘Think Ghana’ and‘Create Ghana’

What is the government’s policy on local content vis a vis foreign content? In Nigeria youCANNOT show those Telenovelas on TV…you dare not. You will be shut down. Here we are taking in everything foreign, everything western, everything overseas and forget our own. And we are a very happy bunch doing so.

I doff my hat to Kwame Despite for starting something we thought was not possible. A local TV platform. Even though the plot has been lost in my opinion by UTV, at least, he started a TV revolution and must be commended. Others have followed his lead and are also doing what he did.

Media Owners must understand that the business of Television is a serious one. It is not about you the owner, it is about the viewer. Viewers will hook on to your network if you give them what they yearn for. They will still watch you if you force feed them with junk. Be prepared however to die a slow death because the junk you feed them with will either kill your network or make it limp on one leg.

I love TV3 for one reason. They created a niche for themselves in reality programming and stuck to it. They do not profess to be the best but we know that when it come to reality programs in Ghana, they are the best. No one can beat GTV for authentic news. As old as she may be, with a little tweak here and there, GBC will overcome all odds. She still gives us the authentic Ghanaian content she creates.

Top Talk Shows, Drama in local languages and off course the News at 7. Metro was loved for Sports. They need to return to their first love. They have changed a great deal. The look and feel of the station is better, the visuals are clearer and they have some really good content. Two programs stand out for Metro TV, Good Morning Ghana and Good Evening Ghana.

So, what about all the others? TV Africa needs a wake-up call. Within three years many of the digital stations will fold up because they lack content. My advice to all Media Owners…stay off and allow professionals to help you run the show. Don’t expect returns within the first five years of operating. The pot from which all stations draw, the advertising pot is becoming smaller each day. Advertisers are looking for new ways, new thinking, new content. Not the rubbish we import and certainly not the pirated content we show.

The NCA needs to start biting. You are the regulator, not the dinner partnerClean the system and allow for some decency to take hold of our screens. I cannot fathom why we all sit quietly and think all’s good. Some will say that foreign content is cheap and easily available, maybe that is true but if we do not empower local producers to provide good quality local content we risk losing out in the long run. Many countries developed on locally produced content. Nigeria is a classic example of how local content can transcend borders and sell the country to the world. We have to as a matter of urgency do same with TV Content production in Ghana.

Hmmmmm!

Written by J.O.T Agyeman

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The 10 best international series this October, from The White Lotus S2 to Minx, The Rehearsal to P-Valley S2

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First seasons of The Rehearsal and Minx; new seasons of The White Lotus & P-Valley
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THE WHITE LOTUS S2 | Mondays from 31 October, first on Showmax
The next chapter of The White Lotus swaps Hawaii for Sicily, following a new group of vacationers jetting off to a different White Lotus resort.
Season 1 was the most awarded show at the 2022 Emmys, winning 10 awards, including Outstanding Limited or Anthology Series, Directing and Writing – and Supporting Actress for Jennifer Coolidge as Tanya – the only S1 character confirmed to return for S2.
The new cast includes People’s Choice winner Theo James (Divergent), Oscar winner F. Murray Abraham (AmadeusThe Grand Budapest Hotel), Emmy winner Michael Imperioli (The Sopranos), Peabody Award winner Aubrey Plaza (Parks and Recreation), BAFTA winner Tom Hollander (The Night Manager), Teen Choice nominees Meghann Fahy (Sutton in The Bold Type) and Haley Lu Richardson (Five Feet Apart), BAFTA nominee Will Sharpe (LandscapersGiri/Haji), multi-award-winning Italian actress Sabrina Impacciatore and Adam DiMarco (Todd/Elliott in The Magicians).
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THE REHEARSAL S1 | Binge from 10 October, first on Showmax
The Rehearsal explores the lengths one man will go to to reduce the uncertainties of everyday life. With a construction crew, a legion of actors and seemingly unlimited resources, Nathan Fielder (2022 Emmy nominee How To With John Wilson) allows ordinary people to prepare for life’s biggest moments by “rehearsing” them in carefully crafted simulations of his own design. When a single misstep could shatter your entire world, why leave life to chance?
The Rehearsal has been a hit with fans and critics alike, with an 8.7/10 rating on IMdb and a 94% critics’ rating on Rotten Tomatoes, where the critics’ consensus says: “The Rehearsal gives Nathan Fielder carte blanche to take his absurdist comedy to the limit, which he pushes even further past with deadpan aplomb in what might be his most uncomfortably funny feat yet.”
Daily Beast hailed Fielder as “the undisputed king of cringe comedy,” calling The Rehearsal “a masterpiece of awkward chaos”, while​IndieWire praised the show as “a grand HBO experiment” that achieves “next-level entertainment” and Vanity Fair called it “as enthralling and bizarre as life itself.”
HBO recently renewed The Rehearsal for a second season.
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MINX S1 | Binge now, first on Showmax
In 1970s Los Angeles, an earnest young feminist (Ophelia Lovibond from Feel Good and Elementary) joins forces with a low-rent publisher (Critics’ Choice nominee Jake Johnson from New Girl) to create the first erotic magazine for women.
Minx topped Esquire‘s list of the Best TV Shows of 2022 (Thus Far) and has a 97% critics’ rating on Rotten Tomatoes, where the critics’ consensus says, “The rapport between Ophelia Lovibond and Jake Johnson is the irresistible centerfold of Minx, a bawdy and sharp comedy that merits a full-page spread.”
HBO Max has already renewed the comedy series for a second season.
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P-VALLEY S2 | Binge from 10 October
The strip club dancers of the Dirty Delta are back in Season 2 of the award-winning drama P-Valley.
With Covid having shut down the Pynk, Uncle Clifford (Nico Annan, nominated for an Independent Spirit Award, an Image Award and a Queerty for the role) and Autumn Night (Elarica Johnson) come up with a pop-up alternative: a drive-through car wash, where masked women will give you a neon-lit show…
Created by Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright Katori Hall, Season 2 has a 90% critics’ rating on Rotten Tomatoes, with Salon calling it “incomparable to much else on TV” and Guardian saying “the opening is as brilliant a spectacle as you’ll find on television”, adding, “There is an easy confidence to P-Valley that makes it an utter pleasure to watch. Season 2 is funnier than the first, going further into its campiness, but it also feels as if it is now fully at ease with itself. There is a glut of prestige television, but this is a standout that is well worth tracking down.”
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THE HANDMAID’S TALE S5 | New episodes every Thursday, first on Showmax
Adapted from the classic novel by Margaret Atwood, The Handmaid’s Tale is the story of life in the dystopia of Gilead, a totalitarian society in what was formerly the United States, where the few fertile women, known as Handmaids, struggle to survive as reproductive surrogates.
Having got her revenge in the Season 4 finale, June is facing its consequences in Season 5, while struggling to redefine her identity and purpose. The widowed Serena attempts to raise her profile in Toronto as Gilead’s influence creeps into Canada. Commander Lawrence works with Nick and Aunt Lydia as he tries to reform Gilead and rise in power. June, Luke and Moira fight Gilead from a distance as they continue their mission to save and reunite with Hannah.
The show’s 15 Emmy Awards include wins for Elisabeth Moss, Ann Dowd, Bradley Whitford, and Samira Wiley, with nominations for Yvonne Strahovski, Max Minghella, O-T Fagbenle, and Madeline Brewer, all of whom return for the new season.
Season 5 has an 81% critics’ rating on Rotten Tomatoes, with Variety writing, “The Handmaid’s Tale has found itself — or a version of itself, at once leaner and stranger — again… Handmaid’s is in a new, fascinating era.”
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B POSITIVE S2  | Binge from 24 October
B Positive revolves around Drew (Emmy nominee Thomas Middleditch from Silicon Valley), a therapist and newly divorced dad. He needs a kidney donor when he runs into Gina (Annaleigh Ashford), a rough-around-the-edges woman from his past who volunteers her own. Together, they form an unlikely and life-affirming friendship as they begin a journey that will forever impact both of their lives.
Season 2 opens after the transplant, as the pair have to figure out how to move forward with their lives.
B Positive was nominated for Outstanding Cinematography at the 2022 Emmys, after S1 was nominated for two 2021 Emmys, including Outstanding Directing.
The comedy has an 85% critics’ rating on Rotten Tomatoes, where the critics’ consensus says, “B Positive‘s familiar sitcom trappings are elevated by its charming cast – especially the weird and winsome comedic stylings of Tony winner Annaleigh Ashford.”
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A MILLION LITTLE THINGS S4 | Binge from 17 October
Friendship isn’t one big thing; it’s a million little things.
A Million Little Things revolves around a group of friends who become motivated to live fuller lives after the unexpected death of a close friend.
David Giuntoli (Nick in Grimm), Screen Actors Guild nominee Romany Malco (Weeds), three-time Teen Choice nominee Grace Park (Hawaii Five-O), James Roday Rodriguez (Shawn in Psych) and three-time Kids Choice nominee Lizzy Greene (Nicky, Rick, Dicky and Dawn) are back for in Season 4 of the hit show that makes you feel the most.
A Million Little Things has a 7.9/10 rating on IMDb and was recently renewed for a fifth season.
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RONJA, THE ROBBER’S DAUGHTER | Binge from 13 October
Narrated by two-time Emmy winner Gillian Anderson (Sex EducationThe CrownThe X-Files), Ronja, the Robber’s Daughter is an epic, Emmy-winning animated series from Studio Ghibli (Spirited AwayMy Neighbour Totoro), based on the bestselling book by Astrid Lindgren (Pippi Longstocking).
Ronja is a 10-year-old girl born into a band of robbers. Over the course of 26 episodes, she befriends the son of her father’s rival and explores the beautiful but frightening forest, which is full of strange creatures.
In their four star review, Common Sense Media recommends Ronja, The Robber’s Daughter for children over the age of seven. Collider calls the show “a masterful, magical exploration of life itself”, praising the central relationship as “amazing to watch, especially for an animated kids’ show. It ranges from childlike curiosity, to immature rivalry, to outright hostility and distrust, to mutual friendship, to young love; every step along the way is masterfully handled and every bit as complicated as real-life relationships.”
ALSO WATCH:
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BILLY THE KID S1 | Binge from 24 October
From BAFTA nominee Michael Hirst, the creator of Vikings, comes an epic romantic adventure based on the life of Billy the Kid (Tom Blyth), from his humble Irish roots and his early days as a cowboy and gunslinger in the American frontier to his pivotal role in the Lincoln County War and beyond.
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THE GAME S1 | Binge from 3 October
A reboot of the multi-award-winning 2006 series, The Game offers a modern-day examination of Black culture through the prism of pro football. Image Award winner Wendy Raquel Robinson and Hosea Chanchez return from the original series, with Adriyan Rae (Chicago Fire’s Gianna Mackey) and Emmy nominee Tim Daly (Madam SecretaryThe Practice) co-starring.
EVERYTHING ON SHOWMAX IN OCTOBER 2022
To see everything on Showmax in October 2022, including the blockbusters The Lost CityVenom: Let There Be Carnage and The Suicide Squad, click here.
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It’s Fun Time This Week On Miss Malaika Ghana ’22!!

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“When you have confidence, you can have a lot of fun. And when you have fun, you can do amazing things” – Joe Namath. (more…)

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All You Should Know About Showmax’s First Nigerian Original Limited Drama Series, Diiche!

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Showmax’s first-ever Nigerian original limited drama series, Diiche, premieres exclusively on the platform today, September 29, 2022. (more…)

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African fantasy series Blood Psalms premieres on Showmax with glowing reviews

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Khanya Mkangisa as Nymph in Blood Psalms
The first two episodes of Blood Psalms, the first Showmax Original fantasy series, are now streaming. Early reviews are glowing, withTVMzansi calling it, “Without doubt, the best TV show ever created in Africa”; Leon van Nierop “the biggest and most spectacular production of a local series yet” and TimesLive “African fantasy at its finest.”
Set in ancient Africa, the action-packed epic follows Princess Zazi (Bokang Phelane) as she battles a world-ending prophecy to navigate her people through ancient curses, long-standing tribal vendettas and the wrath of the gods.
“Watching it feels as thrilling as being an astronaut exploring new worlds,” says Genevieve Terblanche from tvplus. “The sheer scope of Blood Psalms is breathtaking.”
On TVSA, Movies And Things With Tha-Bang writes, “What Jahmil XT Qubeka and Layla Swart have achieved with Blood Psalms is something that will go down on SA TV history books like the Yizo Yizo and Intersexions of the world, series that came and changed the game when folks least expected it.”
Swart and Qubeka were responsible for South African Oscar entries Knuckle City and Sew The Winter To My Skin. Qubeka also directed Of Good Report, which won seven SAFTAs, including Best Film and Best Director, and Stillborn, which won the SAFTA for Best Short Film.
They’ve assembled an incomparable cast, with nine SAFTA winners – Bongile Mantsai, Hamilton Dlamini, Hlubi Mboya, Mothusi Magano, S’dumo Mtshali, Siv Ngesi, Thishiwe Ziqubu, Warren Masemola and Zolisa Xaluva – and all your faves, from Enhle Mbali Mlotshwa to Lemogang Tsipa, Faith Baloyi to Faniswa Yisa, Mandisa Nduna to Niza Jay, Richard Lukunku to Sello Maake Ka Ncube, Thabo Rametsi to Thando Thabethe, Thembikile Komani to Zikhona Sodlaka, and many more.
We caught up with the most ambitious filmmakers in Africa to find out more about Yellowbone Entertainment’s first Showmax Original, which is already topping the charts on Africa’s homegrown streaming service:
Where did the idea for Blood Psalms come from?
Qubeka: I was just always extremely curious about our continent. The question mark around the history of Africa, and where we come from, has been a great platform for us to be able to build this world.
Swart: I think Blood Psalms is a yearning more than anything else. It’s a look at a history that has never been depicted before, that we always wanted to see.
When is Blood Psalms set?
Qubeka: 11 000 years ago. Blood Psalms is an action adventure series that invites us into a world that no longer exists, a time before the Great Flood changed the world.
Swart: Blood Psalms draws from elements of a multitude of African mythologies and looks at various different tribes in Season 1 – the Akachi, the Uchawi, the Ku’ua, the Chini, and Great Nziwemabwe – as they migrated south from Kemet, which is now Egypt, and formed their cultures.
Qubeka: These tribes moved southward, running away from the calamity that was happening in Kemet and Kush, which is what we now know as northern Sudan. There are remnants even today that show that there was a great civilization and a great culture that comes from that space.
Which tribe do you focus on the most?
Swart: The tribal focus in season one is House Akachi, run by the eccentric King Letsha [four-time SAFTA winner Mothusi Magano].
Qubeka: We look at this world through the eyes of his daughter, a young Akachi princess by the name of Zazi [Bokang Phelane], as she goes on her own quest to find a sense of self in a rapidly evaporating world.
How do you feel about the inevitable Game of Thrones comparisons?
Qubeka: If they want to call it the African Game of Thrones, I’ll take that mantle on. If you love Game of Thrones, you’re gonna love this show.
But what we really want to do is create heroic archetypes for the African child. If you look across the entire landscape of cinema and television, there are no archetypes for the African child.
Swart: It’s a pioneering show that attempts to redefine our very perception of our identity as Africans. What we’re trying to do is to reclaim the continent’s history from an African perspective. The goal, for us, is to ensure that the golden thread of Africa’s stunning history really shines.
Qubeka: If we don’t start to project an image of how we see ourselves, someone else is going to do that for us.
There are very few references for Africa 11,000 years ago. Was this freeing or challenging? 
Swart: Building a world that doesn’t exist has been enormously creative. Doing something set 11,000 years ago has really given us all collectively the scope to just play.
But it’s also enormously challenging. Every single costume, every single piece of the set had to be conceived and made from scratch.
Qubeka: I’m very excited to see how audiences engage this world. There’s a lot of things that people are going to look at and be like, ‘What are you talking about? Did they have guns in that time? Do they have electricity?’ There’s all sorts of things that we challenge in terms of conventions, of what people understand of our glorious past.
Where did you shoot in the Eastern Cape?
Qubeka: So the Akachi Citadel actually sits above the Hole in the Wall but we shot parts of the Citadel in different locations. For example, the big dam in Graaff-Reinet is incorporated as the Citadel dam, situated at the back end of the city.
What I really loved about shooting in the Eastern Cape is that it just brought a whole other dimension to what we were intending to achieve.
The epic scale of places like Coffee Bay and the Valley of Desolation – just the size and scale of these places – makes you feel so insignificant, so small, so we’re able to get an essence of what it could have been like 11,000 years ago on this continent.
Why should audiences watch your show?
Qubeka: It’s a sweeping epic adventure that doesn’t hold back. It is definitely a large canvas, one that I personally have not seen from this continent. This thing is big.
Now streaming, first on Showmax
Shot in the Eastern Cape, Gauteng and North West provinces, Blood Psalms is a Showmax Original in partnership with CANAL+, the Department of Trade, Industry and Competition, the Eastern Cape Economic Development Corporation (ECDC), the National Film and Video Foundation (NFVF) and the MultiChoice Innovation Fund, which supports South Africa’s most exciting entrepreneurs, enabling them to bring their unique, innovative and creative business ideas to life.
Showmax will drop new episodes of Blood Psalms every Wednesday until the end of November 2022.
Join Swart for an InstaLive on producing as part of the Showmax x Actor Spaces masterclasses at 6pm on Thursday, 29 September 2022 at https://www.instagram.com/actorspaces/.
Watch Layla Swart’s Showmax x Actor Spaces masterclass on producing:
Add Blood Psalms to your Showmax watchlist:
Watch the new trailer:
Join the conversation:
#BloodPsalmsShowmax
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Showmax confirms The Real Housewives of Nairobi, slated to begin production in September

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African streaming service Showmax, in partnership with NBCUniversal Formats, is bringing The Real Housewives to Nairobi.
The Real Housewives of Nairobi, which will debut in 2023 as a Showmax Original, is the 22nd international version of The Real Housewives format and the sixth to be adapted in Africa.
The Real Housewives of Nairobi builds on the success of other African franchises like The Real Housewives of Johannesburg, which was one of the 10 most streamed domestic series on Showmax in 2019, as well as Durban (RHOD) and Lagos (RHOLagos), which both broke records on Showmax and were trending #1 on Twitter in their respective countries.
Denise Mwende, Showmax Content Specialist in East Africa, said: “As an African streaming platform, Showmax is dedicated to telling diverse African stories, and celebrity reality TV remains a genre that excites our viewers across Africa. We love to watch other people’s lives, and The Real Housewives of Nairobi is a chance to get a much closer look at Nairobi’s elite.”
The Real Housewives of Nairobi is being produced by Eugene Mbugua’s D&R Studios (formerly Young Rich Television), the production company behind Kenya’s biggest docu-reality shows and Showmax favourites like the 2021 Kalasha nominee Sol Family; the 2021 Kalasha nominee and 2022 Africa Magic Viewers’ Choice (AMVCA) nominee This Love; 2022 reality series Kyallo Kulture; 2018 Kalasha nominee Stori Yangu and 2019 Kalasha winner Our Perfect Wedding.
“The team at D&R Studios is very stoked about the opportunity to produce The Real Housewives of Nairobi,” said Mbugua. “We’ve had a long and good relationship with Showmax, and are very excited to now be working together on an international format. We’ve gone through a very rigorous process of being shortlisted and are now geared up and ready to start production.”
“D&R Studios already has a portfolio of celebrity reality content like Sol Family, This Love and Kyallo Kulture under their belt. They understand the structure, and are willing to work hand in hand with our local teams and NBCUniversal to bring the Nairobi franchise to life,” added Denise Mwende.
On what the audience can expect with Nairobi, following the success of other African franchises, Mbugua said, “There’s quite a bit of pressure from the audience to deliver a stellar show but if what we’ve seen in the casting process is anything to go by, Nairobi promises to hold its own. Fans can expect surprises in everything, from the choice of the cast to the storylines. The Real Housewives of Nairobi is going to be the show to watch.”
As you wait for The Real Housewives of Nairobi, you can binge-watch these African franchises on Showmax: The Real Housewives of Lagos, The Real Housewives of Durban S1-2 and The Real Housewives of Johannesburg S1-2.
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This Week On Miss Malaika Ghana – Our Culture, Our Heritage!!

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This Week On Miss Malaika Ghana – Our Culture, Our Heritage!!

In an immature society culture is an import; for a mature one it is a native manufacture which eventually becomes an export. – Northrop Frye. (more…)

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