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SMC brief

SMC PAN-AFRICAN UNIVERSITY

March 2013 March 2013

An In house publication of the School of Media and Communication, Pan-African University

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ef i n i n g t h e c re at i ve industries has presented a challenge that arises from the very notion of creativity itself. The notion of creativity is linked to innovation and, in this regard, some authors have pointed out that the term ‘creative industries’ possesses little analytical value since there is no industry or activity that is not creative. Thus, some people have expressed a preference for the term ‘cultural industries.’ However, others have settled for defining the creative industries on the basis of intellectual property. The discussion, which cannot be treated adequately here, is ongoing, but the fact that it is taking place at all is an interesting pointer to the importance that this sector has acquired as a key contributor to the economies of various nations. It is this importance that Mr. Ungwaga Orya, the MD/CEO of NEXIM Bank, points to in the lead article of this month’s newsletter. He acknowledges the government’s growing interest in developing the sector but notes also the restrictive challenge of the lack of infrastructure. The absence of an adequate distribution network, especially as it affects the film industry, is part of this challenge. The section on Research Notes presents some introductory thoughts towards a discussion on distribution. There are some interesting moves (such as the establishment of cinema chains) towards resolving some of the problems related to film distribution, but inadequate funding remains an obstacle. This is why the planned investment summit, which is the subject of one of our stories, is an interesting development. Do enjoy the issue. Ikechukwu Obiaya newsletter@smc.edu.ng

Mr. Roberts Ungwaga Orya, the MD/CEO of NEXIM Bank

Supporting the Creative Industries

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he government’s heightened interest in the creative industries arises from the recognition that the sector has great potential as a major generator of employment and foreign exchange. Mr. Roberts Ungwaga Orya, the MD/CEO of NEXIM Bank, stated this while speaking as a guest at the fifth edition of the Distinguished Lectures series, which took place in the School of Media and Communication (SMC) on the 20th of March, 2013. Mr. Orya’s presentation was titled “That They May be One: Towards a Greater Synergy Between Nexim Bank and the Creative Industries.” The NEXIM MD rued the fact that the government is not yet providing the kind of support that would encourage industry development. According to him, “We expect that tax incentives will come in, just as in other countries.” He nevertheless noted that the government, through its actions, has demonstrated that this is an industry that should not be overlooked. He was referring to the funds provided for the entertainment sector by the government, and which NEXIM is responsible for administering. Contrary to widely held opinion, he stated that various persons had benefitted from

the funds and that the Bank was processing various applications to the tune of 1.4 billion Naira. This, he said, would have a tremendous impact on the industry once this sum was applied to its development. Mr. Orya noted the lack of a protective market for intellectual property. It is due to this lack, he said, that some Nigerian artistes go outside the country to release their works. But he added that NEXIM is working with the Nigerian Copyright Commission and some other bodies to put in place the infrastructure for such a protective market. This is especially important because the artistes need the guarantee of a protective market in order to be able to access loan facilities. Earlier, in welcoming Mr. Orya, the Dean of the SMC, Prof. Emevwo Biakolo, had noted the welcome change that was taking place with reference to the promotion of the creative industries, and he commended the work of NEXIM Bank in this regard. According to Prof Biakolo, the policy decisions of NEXIM Bank make “a difference to our country, to the way that our country will push forward in terms of foreign exchange, in terms of the development of human capacity.”


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The GTBank Nollywood Studies Centre Colloquium In her presentation titled ‘Financing the Creative Industries: the Innovative role of GTBank,’ Mrs. Lola Odedina, General Manager, Communications and External Affairs, GTBank, emphasised the Bank's commitment to the development of the creative Prof. Emevwo Biakolo and Mrs. Lola Odedina i n d u st r i e s . M rs . O d e d i n a following the exchange of the MoU. described the creative Industries as one of the world's leading and he GTBank Nollywood Studies Centre of the School of Media and most dynamic economic sectors. She Communication (SMC) has held a pointed to GTBank's decision to support

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colloquium on the current challenges and the future of the Nigerian film industry. The colloquium took place on March 21, 2013, in the Victoria Island campus of the Pan-African University. In his opening remarks, the SMC Dean, Prof. Emevwo Biakolo, spoke about the origins of the Centre. He credited Prof Onookome Okome for having promoted the idea that research on Nollywood as a cultural process should be located within the country. Prof. Biakolo also applauded the involvement of GTBank in the provision of seed money for the workings of the Centre. Dr. Ikechukwu Obiaya, Director of the GTBank Nollywood Centre, presented a paper titled ‘Developing the Nigerian Film Industry: the State, Cultural Policy and the Promotion of Creativity.’ The paper analysed the role of the Nigerian government in the promotion of filmmaking as part of the creative industries. Dr. Obiaya concluded that the government's desire to tap into the wealth and job creation potentials of the creative industries requires a prior investment in training and infrastructural development. On his part, the film director and producer, Mr. Bond Emerua, traced the history of the Nigerian film industry and indicated the challenges that confront it. A c co rd i n g to M r. E m e r u a , t h e filmmakers were taken by surprise by their own success and, as such, found themselves unprepared for it. They were thus unable, in the early period, to put in place the structures that would have ensured the subsequent appropriate development of the industry.

the Nollywood Studies Centre as an expression of the Bank's interest to develop the Nigerian creative industry. Such a development, according to her, requires an institution like SMC to continue to develop capacity and provide mentoring services for the industry. The colloquium was well attended by industry practitioners, investors, academicians and other stakeholders. It ended with the signing of a memorandum of understanding between GTBank and SMC.

The Best Journalism Practice Workshop

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igerian journalists h a v e b e e n encouraged to use the social media as an important tool for improving their careers. Mr. Jeffery Hawkins, the Consul General of the United States consulate in Nigeria, stated this while speaking at the closing ceremony of a workshop on “Best Journalism Practices in the Digital Age – Enhancing Reporting Skills.” The workshop, which ran from the 18th to the 21st of March, 2013, was jointly organised by the C e n t r e fo r L e a d e r s h i p i n Journalism, of the School of Media and Communications (SMC), and the U.S. Consulate. The workshop was held to c o m m e m o r a t e t h e Wo r l d International Women History Month. According to Mr. Hawkins, its relevance derives from the need to encourage the rise of female journalists given the male dominance of the leadership of the profession in Nigeria.

Mr. Femi Adesina, the new president of the Nigerian Guild of Editors (NGE), commended the organisers of the training. Mr. Adesina, who indicated that training for journalists was a priority for his tenure as NGE president, expressed the hope t h at t h e wo rks h o p wo u ld contribute towards the desired improvement in the profession. Also speaking, the SMC Dean, Prof. Emevwo Biakolo, reaffirmed the commitment of the School to providing quality training for media practitioners. He went on to highlight the various initiatives that the SMC had taken in this regard, one of which is the Centre for Leadership in Journalism that was established in collaboration with the NGE. The workshop, which was led by Professor Lucinda Fleeson of the University of Maryland, USA, was attended by 31 female journalists and 5 male journalists.


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A Stance for Activism Journalism

Ms Toyosi Ogunseye

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he first edition of the Alumni Forum and Cocktail for 2013, organised by the School of Media and Communication Alumni Association (SMCAA), has taken place. The guest on the occasion was Ms. Toyosi Ogunseye (M.Sc. PT1), the editor of Sunday Punch. The topic of the session was activism j o u r n a l i s m , a n d M s . O g u n s eye emphasised that all journalism should be activism journalism. Journalism, she said, should be both investigative and responsible. It should make people accountable and lead them to do the right thing in order to inspire positive change in their environment. Activism journalism, the Sunday Punch editor noted, is about bringing awareness to people, letting them know when something is wrong and needs to be corrected. She said that this kind of journalism also comes with a lot of

challenges such as hatred and antagonism but, as long as one is reporting what is true and doing it for the greater good of society, it is worthwhile, and one can know that one is doing a good job. She was quick to add that obtaining results could take time, so one needs to be patient and persevere. While speaking about how change in the society can be influenced through good journalism, Ms. Ogunseye gave examples of stories on which she had reported in the past and which had led to positive action. One of these was the story about the children's centre at LUTH, which had become notorious for the negligent way that sick children were handled. The story drew a lot of public attention, and the authorities had no choice but to improve standards. This also led to the construction of a new ward and the renovation of the old one. The story won her the CNN/multichoice awards (health category) in 2011. She concluded that journalists should only publish stories that would be beneficial to people, especially those that can lead to policy change. The event was well attended by members of the alumni association and members of the SMC faculty. The occasion was supported by MTN.

“Dream Up, Speak Up and Stand Up”

Miss Oduwole (seated, centre) and her family

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he School of Media and Communication has played host to Miss Zuriel Elise Oduwole, a ten-year old who has been noted for her talent in communication, especially as regards in-depth personality interviews. Miss Oduwole's visit to the SMC was organised in collaboration with Galatian

Media. During the visit, Miss Oduwole fielded questions from an audience. The event, which had as its theme “Dream Up, Speak Up and Stand Up,” was organised to encourage the emergence of globalised African youth, who will be in the vanguard of using traditional and digital media to promote the emerging Africa. The US based Miss Oduwole was in Nigeria to promote her documentary on Africa, a narrative on the political and business leaders of Africa that are committed to improving the fortunes of the continent. The documentary features interviews with business leaders and past and current heads of state.

Chief Tony Okoroji and Prof. Emevwo Biakolo

Towards the Investment Summit

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he one-day consultative forum in preparation for the Africa Film and Entertainment Investment Summit (AFEIS), coming up in December 2013, has taken place. The forum, which held on the 6th of March, 2013, attracted a wide segment of players in the entertainment sector. The organising partners of the Summit – the School of Media and Communication of the Pan-Africa University, Trend Media City and the Federation of Pan-Africa Filmmakers (FEPACI) – seized the occasion to present their plans for the summit. The Dean of the School of Media and Communication, Prof Emevwo Biakolo, who gave an overview of the goals and potentials of the summit, listed among the highlights of the summit a business clin ic o n f ilm, televis io n , an d entertainment financing. The guest speaker, Mr. Adedapo Adelegan, the CEO of Celtron group and organiser of the popular Lekki Sun splash, then set the tone of the discussions by outlining the key problems that face the entertainment sector. Engr. Uzo Udemba, the CEO of Trend Media City, stressed the need for the industry to be investment ready and emphasised the economic potentials of the summit while Mr. Madu Chikwendu, the Regional Secretary of the PanAfrican Federation of Filmmakers (FEPACI), encouraged stakeholders to embrace the summit as an important contribution for growing the industry. Participants shared their views on the direction of film and entertainment in Africa. They particularly expressed their concerns over the lack of funding. Among those present on the occasion were Mr. Mahmood AliBalogun, Ms. Nkechi Obi, Mr. Kene Mkparu, Chief Tony Okoroji, and Joke Silva.


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Research Notes: Introductory Ideas on Distribution

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istribution, as “the core process in which economic and political moments of human communication take centre stage” (Cubitt, 2005, p. 193), plays a fundamental role in the exchanges which take place in human affairs, but it is especially key in communication. It is the intervening and inseparable moment between production and consumption. As the meeting ground between the use-value generated by the producers and the attention-value supplied by the audience, distribution leads to the “production of exchangevalue and thus of profit” (Cubitt, 2005). Distribution is that function which organizes information in space and time, accelerating or delaying its delivery in spaces that it differentiates on that basis. In this sense distribution is the construction of difference; initially in distinguishing producer from audience, buyer from seller, and in a networked world further d i st i n g u i s h i n g a n d d i v i d i n g populations by their temporal and spatial proximity to the economic power and political economy that is increasingly centralized, not at the site of production, but on the terrains of exchange. (Cubitt, 2005, p. 194) The Mediating Power of Distribution As a mediating process, distribution, especially in film culture, is a site of power. “It determines what films we see, and when and how we see them. Crucially, it also determines what we do not see. Distribution, then, is about cultural power, about the regulation, provision, and denial of audiovisual content.” (Lobato, 2009) As Garnham points out, distribution “is the key locus of power and profit” (Garnham, 1990, p. 162). This power comes into play especially when distribution is controlled by a limited group. In the presence of such control, the freedom of choice of the public is reduced. In this regard, Pardo and Sánchez-Tabernero (2012) point to the dangers of both horizontal and vertical integrations. On the one hand, horizontal integration permits the creation of oligopolies and a consequent abuse of power. Such abuse could lead to such practices like zoning, block booking or blind bidding, through which the distributor imposes on the exhibitor what films are shown and when. On the other hand, the control of production, distribution and exhibition by a few companies, through vertical integration, makes it difficult for a new

competitor to enter into the market. Distribution as a Channel for Feedback Distribution is, however, not just a one-way supply process; it also involves an informational loop: Not only does distribution bring news, entertainment and advertising to audiences; it is also a feedback loop. The cash flow returning to producers is not merely money: it is also vital data confirming the performance of products in the marketplace, and thereby shaping both the future handling of the current product and what further products will be commissioned. (Cubitt, 2005, p. 202) Harbord (2002) lists distribution among the “practices that shape the flow of film,” adding that “These are more than mediating processes suturing the path between supply and demand. The structures, patterns and formations produced by these practices in part inform production and shape consumption in a circle that never quite connects” (p. 5). Compared with the two poles of production and consumption, between which it mediates, distribution is more open to regulation. In this regard, it is not uncommon for states to promote distribution, through subsidies to the cultural industries, or to limit it through protectionist measures. Informal Distribution Systems Lobato (2009) contrasts mainstream film distribution with what he terms “ephemeral and subterranean systems of circulation that are less frequently studied by film scholars - media piracy, straight-to-video distribution, diasporic networks, and so on” (p. 3). He presents these informal distribution networks as viable options to the standard film distribution routine. In Lobato's subcinema model, he highlights “the influence that circulatory networks wield on reception, the social and cultural specificities of informal modes of distribution, and the textual changes that occur as films circulate in informal markets. Lobato speaks of the need for p o l i c y m a ke rs to ta ke i n fo r m a l circulation into consideration and points, as example, to the extreme e f fe c t i v e n e s s o f s u b c i n e m a t i c distribution in the dissemination of a nation's image. Nevertheless, he does recognise that this informal distribution “will not be helpful in realising many of

the objectives of national cultural policy” (Lobato, 2009, p. 252). However, although the informal distribution network might be effective in terms of providing a wide spread for audiovisual products, it is hardly recommendable as an effective economic model. The informality that facilitates easy movement and spread is the very factor that undermines profitability due to the lack of adequate accountability. As Lobato himself puts it, the market “cannot guarantee the return of revenues to producers” (Lobato, 2010). This lack of return will effectively break the feedback loop between the producer and the consumer. An element of instability is thus introduced that brings continuity into question. Distribution for the Nigerian Video Film These considerations are relevant for the study of distribution in the Nigerian film industry. It is widely recognised that distribution is a key problem of this industry, which has largely depended on an informal distribution system. This system has been “a success in its ability to spread Nollywood as a cultural product” enriching many along the way (Miller, 2 0 1 2 , p . 1 3 1 ) . H o w e v e r, t h e sustainability of this success is dependent on the formalization of its distribution network. It is hoped that the various moves towards this end, such as the development of strong cinema chains will yield the due fruit. Works Cited Cubitt, S. (2005). Distribution and Media Flows. Cultural Politics, 1(2), 193-214. Garnham, N. (1990). Capitalism and Communication. (F. Inglis, Ed.) London; Newbury Park; Delhi: Sage Publications. Harbord, J. (2002). Film Culture. London: Thousand Oaks: Sage Publications. Lobato, R. (2009). Subcinema: Mapping Informal Film Distribution. Unpublished doctoral thesis, School of Culture and Communication, The University of Melbourne. Lobato, R. (2010). Creative Industries and Informal Economies. International Journal of Cultural Studies, 13(4), 337-354. Miller, J. (2012). Global Nollywood: The Nigerian Movie Industry and Alternative Global Networks in Production and D i st r i b u t i o n . G l o b a l M e d i a a n d Communication, 8(2), 117-133. Pardo, A., & Sánchez-Tabernero, A. (2012). Effects of Market Concentration in Theatrical Distribution: The Case of the Big Five Western European Countries. I nte r n at i o n a l J o u r n a l o n M e d i a Management, 14(1), 51-71. Ikechukwu Obiaya belongs to the faculty of the School of Media and Communication, Pan-African University.


March Newsletter