The station will focus mainly on African entertainment.
Ayo Animashaun is the CEO of Smooth Promotions, owners of Headies awards, HipTV, street Hop and Hip-Hop World Magazine. He spoke to Michael Abimboye on the new HipTV 24 hours channel on DSTV, and the delay in this year’s Headies Awards.
PT: Why is HipTV going on cable TV?
AYO: I mean if you are doing television where would you rather be? What platform would you rather be on? Cable TV is the biggest platform you can be as far as TV is concerned, and it is the next level of production and we are proud and happy that we are where everybody wants to be. But the reality is that not everybody is going to be on cable TV and we find ourselves there, so we are lucky and that’s not to say we don’t deserve it. We have put in a lot of hard work; we are still working very hard. What we want to do as a journalist and an entrepreneur is let our voice be heard. When our voice is heard on the street, we are happy. When our voice is heard in our cities, we are happy, how much more when we become the voice of the continent. We are happy Africans will be watching HipTV all over the continent.
PT: According to press releases, HipTV will be having reporters in Lagos, London, New York and other major African cities. Will HipTV be doing serious or hard entertainment news?
We have never done gossips. We do news. We report hard news. Maybe because it’s entertainment news and as such can also be classified as soft news but there is a thin line between the two. But we will be doing serious news mixed with soft news and not gossip. If the platform of Hiptv is this huge and we keep selling African content to Africans; Nigeria is still part of Africa. But we don’t want Africans to consume Nigerian contents alone even as Nigerian content is huge and if you take away the Nigerian content, you will be left with nothing. We produce more than half of the music and movies Africans consume. We are already in Ghana, U.K., Gabon, U.S., Kenya, Burundi, Angola, Tanzania and so many parts of the Africa continent. So the beauty of it is that when a citizen of Gabon is going good music and gets on our platform, he will be assured that the whole of Africa gets to consume his music.
PT: What should we expect in terms of content? Will it be 100% proprietary content?
It is not easy to constantly produce content especially when you have 24hrs to play with. If you coming from a programme background to a TV channel background, it is like pouring a cup of water into a bucket, it won’t fill it. So you need to expand your production and operation. You need to get content from other people to sustain the life of the channel. We already have loads of content but we are getting more content from independent producers. Now, we have more than 26 programmes. Different programmes saying different things and one of them is next rated; which came from the magazine and later went on to become a category at the headies awards with a prize attached to it and now it’s coming on HipTV channel as a programme. We also have a lot of exclusive interviews, a lot of behind the scenes, we have street hop- a programme from our online radio, street hop. We have a lot of exciting programmes for Africans.
PT: What will be the ratio of global entertainment new to African or Nigerian entertainment news on HipTV?
African new is our forte. For global news, I don’t live in New York, I don’t live in London, even though I have met Jayz, Akon, Beyonce and other superstars, but they are not the ones we want to report. Americans will report Americans, Europeans will report Europeans, so let us report ourselves. Nigerians should not report Americans. Am not saying we shouldn’t report them at all, but we at HipTV are reporting African for Africans. So we owe ourselves and generations to build ourselves, report our stars, push them out and make them bigger and celebrate them. We would be seriously concentrating on African stars, of course we won’t let go the international stars, but it will be a ration of 15% to 20% or 30% to global entertainment news.
PT: What benchmark in terms of channel do you want to emulate?
We are doing our own thing. We say we are a break from the norm, so we are setting our own standards. People have done things before us that we are proud of, but we are doing our thing our way and I would like us to keep it at that.
PT: What is the staff strength of HipTV considering the kind of entertainment journalism you want to do?
I think the most important thing is what the staff are able to dish out. I don’t want to say anything on that. It’s not a game of number. At the end of the day, it is what we dish out that would set us apart not the staff strength. I would like to say ‘I produce more result than you’ at the end of the day not ‘I have more staff than you’.
PT: What will constitute success for you when HipTV finally takes off?
When it controls eye balls and when it becomes the default channel for entertainment on DSTV.
Since you are focusing more on HipTv channel, what is happening to hiphop world magazine?
Magazines all over the world are not finding it easy to survive because of the online media platform. Online media has actually killed the magazine industry. No one needs to get a magazine before getting the latest gist or information as it is already available online. Hiphop world magazine still comes out, but we are online now also. It also comes out every Friday as a news letter.
PT: How much is the new 24hrs channel on DSTV costing Smooth Promotions?
What do you want to use the figure for? You want LIRS (Lagos Inland Revenue Service) to be chasing me up and down (General laughter).
PT: What is the drive behind this new channel?
Passion to excel and do something big. To not spoil the chance for people coming behind us, many years ago we were like only if we have the opportunity to do something like this, but now we are there now and we would be the ones taking decisions. So the drive is the passion to do it right and do something big.
PT: Why is Headies Awards coming late this year?
If you check very well, a lot of people who produce awards no longer produce. Nigeria is a country where it’s not easy to do anything. We moved from March to October, and now December. This will probably be the only year Headies will hold in December. Every award organizers in Nigeria is going through so much to keep producing the awards, sometimes it works out well, sometimes it doesn’t, sometimes you make money, and most times you don’t make money, contrary to what people say that they’ve given him this amount. It’s coming late because of so many reasons. Obviously we want to drive the Headies campaign on HipTV channel which is one of the reasons its coming late. Then, we are hoping that this year, the awards will be bigger and better than previous editions in many ways than one.
PT: What should people expect from Headies awards this year?
It is going to be the last major event of the year so we are saving the best for the last”.