By Tonderai Zvimba, Showbiz Reporter
Local content creators have reacted to the closure of Econet’s Kwese TV saying it was inevitable.
The media group last week announced that it would be closing their Kwese satellite services from November 1 after operating in Zimbabwe for 18 months.
The company said this was as a result of a review of their business strategy and service offerings. It also said it wants to align itself with the changes in the global digital and satellite broadcasting sector.
In response to the sudden closure that left thousands of Zimbabweans who had ditched DStv and subscribed to the service stranded, Eddie Ndlovu, producer of the ‘Wenera’ drama series, said Econet should have invested in local content in the first place.
“Gone are the days of international dominance of content on the local market. People want television productions that tell our unmodified stories.
“This is a wakeup call to other players. Those who want to consume more of international content will go on Netflix, but if you’re targeting the Zimbabwean audience, then invest in local content,” suggested Ndlovu.
With one bouquet, Kwese TV had mainly sports and news channels with general entertainment as well. They however, had a bias towards basketball.
Last year, when Kwese TV was launched in Zimbabwe, many local content creators were optimistic as they saw potential investment for local productions, but that was not the case.
Renowned director and producer of ‘Tunga’, another local drama that airs on ZBCtv, William “Slimmaz” Magombedze, concurred with Ndlovu. He said Kwese likely could not sustain its business locally because of lack of content. Magombedze said he thought they would partner with local independent producers and even dedicate a channel for local productions.
Bulawayo-based independent producer Kudzai Chikomo said: “When Kwese TV launched, we thought they’d partner and create a platform for local independent producers like how MultiChoice invests in South African content.”
MultiChoice has invested in channels like Mzansi Magic, MzansiBioskop and many other local productions which have produced award-winning television productions like Isibaya and Lockdown.
Kwese subscribers also expressed their disappointment with the sudden announcement saying Kwese TV’s failure to acquire broadcasting rights of EPL, UEFA Champions League and LaLiga matches might have been its major blow.
The Econet Media Group said they will now focus on three services – Kweséiflix, Kwesé Free Sports (KFS) and Kwesé Play. Kwesé will also streamline its satellite television service with their new bouquet set to carry selected sports and general entertainment programming for a minimal fee.
The group’s chief executive officer Joe Hundah said the move would ensure the growth of Kwese TV and also provide Africans with an opportunity to tell their own stories. He also revealed plans to establish a content creation hub, Kwese studios and investments of their own programming that will provide a platform for African producers.
For those who had subscribed for the month of November, Econet said they would be refunded. The Chronicle