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NEW ON TV: ‘Focus on Africa’ coming to BBC World News June 18
A television spin-off from the BBC Focus on Africa radio show that has been in existence ever since the BBC first went on air 80 years ago will begin broadcasting on 18 June as part of the BBC World News service.
The new half-hour TV programme – also called BBC Focus on Africa – will be available in Africa on the DStv, MyTV, Zuku bouquets. It is the BBC’s first dedicated daily TV news programme in English for African audiences.
Speaking at a launch event held in Melrose Arch on 7 June BBC Africa editor Solomon Mugera stressed that the programme will feature impartial reporting and project ‘the real African story’.
Mugera continued: “Today’s Africa is modern, enterprising and exciting and that’s what will be reflected in the show. Open any newspaper, listen to the radio or watch TV and you are likely to hear stories about the GDP growing in Accra, about the Johannesburg Stock Exchange, or about the expansion of the middle class in Africa.
“We’re not denying the problems in Africa – we’re very well aware of people running away from Somalia, Libya and the Sudan but these stories of conflict are not the only stories in Africa. For example, no-one could picture Somalians going down to the beach in Mogadishu to enjoy their Sunday afternoons, yet this is happening.
“Our viewers have to trust the relationship the BBC has built up with African reporters over the years. They are experiencing the same life that the Africans they report on are experiencing. This news show will be passionate, impartial and independent – these are the very tenets on which the BBC has built its news service.”
He noted that the BBC had 64 correspondents in 48 African countries and production centres in Nairobi, Abuja, Johannesburg and Dakar.
BBC Focus on Africa will be presented by Komla Dumor and Sophie Ikenye.
Dumor, an award-winning Ghanaian journalist, said that Focus on Africa is part of his own story and evolution as a journalist. “A superficial coverage of Africa is unacceptable after decades of stereotyping. I’ve personally witnessed how coverage of Africa has changed. Some years ago one of my editors said I should go to Siberia and do a story because it would be unusual to see a black man in the snow. Today I’m covering stories about how Europeans are moving to Africa to find work, how droves of Portuguese people are coming to Angola in search of jobs, and how 18,000kms of undersea cable have been laid on the west coast of Africa. These are the kind of important African stories that are not receiving enough coverage.
“When I was assigned to cover the 2010 FIFA World Cup in South Africa my focus was not so much about the tournament but about how an African country was emerging as a world power. I chose to reside in Soweto for the duration of the World Cup because it brought me closer to the real South African story.
“There is so much more to tell about Africa than the usual stories about war, famine and disease and I’m proud to be able to do it. My role is to bring the real African story to viewers, coupled with my own experience of having travelled to 20 African countries in the last two years.”
Dumor added: “I believe it’s important to acknowledge what a mentor once told me – if you want to report properly about a place, you have to taste the dust in the alleyways and know the people. BBC is empowering people in African locations – we have African voices of authenticity. You won’t see any ‘parachuting reporting’ on this programme.”
BBC Business Development manager Steve Martin emphasised that BBC Focus on Africa is part of the broadcaster’s public service endeavour. “So we need to make sure it has as wide a reach as possible and that the programme is accessible. We’ve been working with free-to-air (FTA) channels in Africa to broadcast the programme. I can reveal that it will go out in Ghana on the FTA channel Metro and that we have similar deals in Kenya, Malawi and many other countries.
“The BBC chooses its partners very carefully. We are impartial broadcasters and for us the trust that people put into BBC journalists is even more important than the number of viewers that our programmes generate.”
BBC Focus on Africa goes out on 18 June in the 6.30pm (WAT).