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The Rot in Nigeria’s Television Stations: Who Will Save Independent Producers?

By Charles Novia.

Independent Television Producers in Nigeria are really suffering. They are endangered species. According to celebrity network.com, in America here's how a typical TV production company operates:

Step 1) Production company sells a show idea to a TV network.
Step 2) The TV network pays the production company a flat fee per every episode to produce a season of TV.
Step 3) The TV network goes out to advertisers and tries to make more money selling ads than it pays for the actual show.

For example: Jerry Bruckheimer Television sells a TV show called "CSI Miami" to CBS. CBS agrees to pay Jerry Bruckheimer Television $1 million weekly for 23 episodes of CSI Miami. CBS then goes to advertisers like McDonalds, Coca Cola, Viagra, Lipitor, Ford etc… and convinces these companies to buy advertisements that air during CSI Miami. When it's all said and done, CBS better be making more money off the advertising than it's paying for CSI Miami. In this case, more than $23 million. If not, the show gets dropped and can typically never air again because CBS owns the right of first refusal."
That is in America.

In Nigeria, on the major television stations, including NTA, the reverse is the case. I have personally experienced it as with a few of my colleagues.

Step 1. Production Company shoots a television series/serial or programme.

Step 2. The Independent Producer searches high and low first for a brand to sponsor. More - often - than - not he/she is unsuccessful.

Step 3. The Producer approaches the private TV station and asks for airtime to air his content, thinking that the station would be glad to collect the content and pay for such. Alas, the stations are mostly run by creatively bankrupt Programme Managers and Greedy and Lazy Commercial Managers who don't see it the Producer's way.

Step 4. The Producer is asked to BUY or PAY for his airtime.

Step 5. The desperate Producers ready for such crap, buy airtime running into millions of naira.

Step 6. The Programme starts airing on the station. The Producer goes round the advertising companies abegging for adverts.

Step 7. Most of the Media Planners and Buying Managers in the advertising agencies will play hardball except the Producer is willing to cut deals with them.

Step 8. The desperate Producer most times agrees to part with as much as 60% of his advert revenues with the agencies and the cut throat ad guys who just make millions for doing NOTHING.

Step 9. The Producer doesn't even get his money as and when due from the agencies most times. He could be owed for as long as 8 months to one year or more by some agencies. Meanwhile, he has bills to pay. He has to find funds to produce new episodes of the series and funds to pay the station which is on his neck.

Step 10. Angry, depressed and despondent, the Producer throws in the towel.

Step 11. Most Producers who don't give in to the number 10 point are either doing great deals with the advertising companies or are just spending heavily to SUSTAIN their programme on air. In actual fact, if they really balance and audit their books, they will find out that they operate on a loss.

My conclusion: it's easy to abuse the Government. But what do we say to the abuse going on in other sectors?.

Charles Novia is a multi award winning Nigerian Flim maker and Producer.

 

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