The plan to get local content on Ugandan channels is one that has been here for years. Initially, the argument was that there was no local content and later, the topic was about the expenses involved. A few TVs tried to produce their own content but this did not create the impact the industry expected.
NTV was at one point involved in the production of TV dramas Kakibe Ki, Deceptions, Second Chance and Power of Legacy, among others, but even when the shows were famous, there was little interest from other industry players.
“I worked in advertising and I knew how much our TVs were making and yet they didn’t want to buy local content,” said Hannington Bugingo, a comedian and producer of Mizigo Express.
Mariam Ndagire, a producer of Pearl Magic’s wedding show and a slew of local films and TV dramas such as Ba Aunt and Tendo Sisters is still baffled by the fact that local TVs still find it hard to believe in local content.
“We did many things right, tried to shoot beyond our normal budgets but local stations still had more reasons not to buy our content,” Ndagire, who has been selling content to the pay TV since the mid 2010s, said.
In 2018, Pearl Magic went live, it was the first time DSTV was tailoring a channel for specifically local content.
Then Pearl Magic Prime arrived at the beginning of 2021. The TV had been doing much of their ground work since the days of the pandemic. They had put out calls for TV shows they wanted to commission and two dramas; Mama and Me and Prestige, were the result.
Sanyu was developed from a mother script that has since given Africa Dede and Selina.
The shows, because of their big scale, were a breath of fresh – they raised the bar of production values, actors’ delivery as well as the way the industry pays.
In February, Pearl Magic Prime celebrated a year since the channel went live. It was both a celebration of a year that has brought to the screens stories such as Prestige, Sanyu, Chapterz and Taxi 24 while at the same time looking at the future of both the channel and the industry.