Tuesday, 25 February 2014

Film Industry in Kenya: Local TV Programs Boring, Losing Steam

Teacher Wanjiku Photo Courtesy of Ghafla

The Kenyan film industry is headed to a brighter future with the rolling out of digital migration and support from the government. Nonetheless, the local programs are boring and quickly losing steam as they do not take periodical breaks to refresh the content so as to get time to come up with more interesting twists, leads, story lines. As it stands, they risk losing the little audience left.

The Kenyan film industry has continued to witness significant growth in the recent years. Kenyan actors and musicians alike have received international recognition and accolades for their outstanding talent. The awarding of Lupita Nyong’o is the most recent case that proves Kenya has got real talent. It is estimated that the creative industry in general contribute up to 5% of the country’s GDP. This can be attributed to the various employment opportunities available in the industry like Acting, Producing, Directing, and Script Writing among others.

The number of opportunities is poised to increase if the government implements its manifesto wherein they state that 60% of programs aired will be local content while the foreign programs shouldn’t exceed a maximum of 40%. The government has been pushing the local media to promote local programs so as to bolster development of local talent and of course, create more jobs. Currently, the government has placed a 40%-60% ratio, that is, the media should air at least 40% of local content and a maximum of 60% foreign content. In addition to that, the rolling out of digital transmissions will provide a platform for people to showcase their work since the band will be able to accommodate more stations who need content. Also, the government through the Youth Enterprise Fund are providing low cost loans for those in the creative industry. Now, it is possible for one to borrow capital to fund production.

Granted, there is a general feeling that Kenyans prefer foreign programs to local programs. Plainly stated, Kenyans are not supportive of the local programs. The Mexican/Philippines telenovellas and Nigerian movies (Oga movies) seem to have swept most Kenyans off their feet. Surprisingly, Oga movies seem to be doing pretty well despite their wanting quality, no offence though. While at it, it is worth mentioning that the male audience has been left out in the entertainment provided by the local TV stations. Women are fond of the soap operas and the Oga movies. Some intriguing investigative drama and action series would be suffice for the league of men. Kenyan men are now the forgotten audience as the programming code of all the local stations did not have them in mind.

As much as the craze for soap operas and Oga movies pose a threat to the budding film industry, the critics of Kenyan programs argue that they are sub-standard. However, this debatable as quality is subjective but some have the diamond mark of quality while the rest are just not up to standard whichever way you look at it. Players in the industry have shifted the blame to the media houses who apparently do not want to part with cash needed to produce high quality programs.

Nevertheless, those that are being aired are fast losing popularity among the Kenyan audience because they don’t go for periodical breaks which makes them boring. The break is important as it gives the production crew time to come up with interesting stories, twists that will hook the interest of the audience and provide fresh content. We can have Inspekta Mwala season one just like we have CSI Miami Season one. Some of the programs have been running like forever without taking a break and consequently, their entertainment value is diminishing. This is why programs that were once popular like Papa Shirandula, Churchil Show among others are fast losing steam. Jokes get finished people! Take a break and come back with fresh, captivating content. You can bite me if you want LoL!