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FIC Africa's new TV vision

Fox International Channels recently announced the appointment of Ratna Siriah as the new general manager for FOX International Channels (FIC) Africa. I caught up with Siriah to find out her views on the current state of international pay-TV on the continent as well as future plans for locally produced content.
Ratna Siriah
Ratna Siriah
Based in Johannesburg, Siriah has assumed management of the company's business in the region, with FIC Africa's pay TV channels including Fox, Fox Crime, FX, National Geographic Channel, Nat Geo Wild, National Geographic Gold, Fox Sports, Fox Sports 2 and Baby TV. Fox International Channels (FIC) is 21st Century Fox's international multimedia business.

Indian TV in Africa


Siriah is well-suited to the position, having served as business head for ZEE's successful Zee World channel in Africa for the past three years. This was a first-of-its-kind Bollywood channel, customised and dubbed in English.

Siriah says the challenge was to bring the Zee brand to the African map with Bollywood content that resonated with the local mainstream audiences in the region. The channel has been doing so since its launch in February 2015, with her many years in media, both on the creative and business side in SA and India, serving her well for the role. She also started and ran her own imports/exports business successfully in Africa for about three years. Little wonder then that Siriah also headed the second Zee channel for French audiences in Africa called Zee Magic, launched more recently in October 2015 on Canal Plus and Maurice Parabole.

She's aptly suited to the role based on her passion for the television industry, having specialised in 'animation' during her bachelor's degree studies in Fine Arts.That's further proof of her creative heart. She couples this with a strong business mind to bridge the gap between the two. Her appointment is seen as a reflection of FIC's ambition in Sub-Saharan Africa with commercial approach and ability to understand the needs of fans, affiliate partners and advertisers alike.

The ABCs of FIC Africa


Siriah says Diego Londono, FIC's COO: Europe and Africa, says the intention is to: "Build brands that have unquestionable consumer appeal, which deliver addictive (FOX), awe-inspiring (Nat Geo) and immersive (FOX SPORT) content, that can be enjoyed however viewers want."

There's no doubt the brands have fans, the content is constantly getting better FIC has a large footprint. For example, on the African continent they're available across 29 platforms in 47 countries with 10 channels, available to 12,695,107 subscribers in total.

That's set to expand further with coming changes to the TV medium. We're living in exciting times in Africa, especially with DTT and other new emerging platforms giving the audiences a far greater choice as well a wider reach for international channels and content providers.

Even better, Siriah says the fastest growth in TV is coming from countries outside of South Africa demanding a deep-rooted need for local resonance in international content, along with a need for local content amongst the viewers.

The need for timely, locally relevant content


That's a point that's come up repeatedly at conferences about other media this year, particularly mobile and digital. Now it's TV's turn to add more local to the mix.

Siriah's well aware of this, and her goal as new GM for Fox International Channels Africa is to expand and grow the channels' reach with the best in international content, as well as bring in local productions to cater to the needs of viewers in Africa with the full range of FIC portfolio.

This is especially evident on the National Geographic Channel (NGC) front, which will be working hard to be the world's premium science, adventure and exploration channel with upcoming content including productions like He Named Me Malala and The Story of God, the latter of which was narrated, presented and produced by Morgan Freeman. There's also an exciting new channel project in the works that'll feature locally produced content.

In addition, viewers want to see things at the same time as the rest of the world. 2015 has gone a long way to solidifying FIC's stake in the pay-TV market channel competitor set locally through Fox's continued acquisition of first-run content, bringing the best local content to viewers within 24 hours of US broadcasts.

For more on FIC, visit their website or follow them on Twitter.

About Leigh Andrews

Leigh Andrews AKA the #MilkshakeQueen, is former Editor-in-Chief: Marketing & Media at Bizcommunity.com, with a passion for issues of diversity, inclusion and equality, and of course, gourmet food and drinks! She can be reached on Twitter at @Leigh_Andrews.
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