At the beginning of the month, MultiChoice Africa answered the prayers of many Ugandan audio visual creatives when they launched Pearl Magic as the latest addition to their Africa Magic catalogue.
This was a conversation that had started in 2014, then Maisha Magic had been born as an East African channel, though, when it failed to become famous, it was scrapped before it made a year.
The result was the creation of Maisha Magic East which started off by re-running most of the shows that had been on the original Maisha Magic.
Much as it used to screen a number of Ugandan films, Maisha Magic East started getting drawn more to Kenyan content that by 2015, MultiChoice had found it important to start an independent channel dedicated to Tanzanian content.
After over two years of lobbying by the creative stakeholders, on October 1, Pearl Magic was debuted on channel 161 on DSTV and 304 on GOtv.
Of course, earlier on, there was excitement though this was short lived as the channel was being previewed; some thought there was a little too much of music shows which are already flooded on other TVs.
But the biggest discussion was surrounding an Indian soap opera that occupies the TV’s prime time at 9pm, of course, the question was why was such a show on a TV they argued was ‘truly Ugandan’.
Not even the fact that the shows are dubbed in Luganda could convince film makers and later the audience that complained that Pearl Magic was joining another lot of local channels that have stuffed foreign content down Ugandans’ throats.
According to Albert Nga, the Marketing Manager for MultiChoice Uganda, the decision to have an Indian drama was directed by research that showed that locals loved Indian dramas.
“But what if research in the future proves Ugandans love Telenovelas and Nigerian soaps, will you throw them onto the schedule?,” asked Nana Kagga, the director behind TV series Beneath The Lies.
The TV has a mixture of reality TV, drama, variety shows and of course local films; that run from 5pm to midnight and then re-runs.
Some of these are shows some Ugandans have watched like 5@Home, Hostel, Campus Life as well as newer ones like Love Makanika, Mistakes Girls Do and Ba Aunt among others.
Of course, the TV operates like most local channels though, the fact that all its shows are pre-recorded deprives it of first hand fresh information, for instance, one show Jechilli hosted by Judithiana is meant to counter such shows like The Beat, After 5 and Big Deal among others.
Though, like Maisha Magic, Pearl Magic is likely to face an accessibility problem, for example, when it launched, subscribers of GOtv Lite, Value and Plus among others could not get the channel.
It was only the most expensive bouquet GOtv Max and on DSTV, subscribers of Access could not get the channel.
For many of the people that went home to watch the TV and failed argued that it was sheer hypocrisy for the pay TV to avail Africa Magic Igbo, Africa Magic Family, Africa Magic Epic and Iroko TV which showcase strictly Nigerian content and limit the accessibility of the only Ugandan channel.
“We would not mind if they took Africa Magic Igbo, Epic and World, and replace them with Pearl Magic, that is how you make channels accessible,” noted one person on social media.
After many cries though, on independence, as the channel made one week, it was opened up and thus made accessible for all GOtv and DSTV subscribers to many people’s jubilation.
But this is only part of the independence month celebration since according to the pay TV’s social media sites, they will close it again on November 9.