BY CEDRIC SWANKA
Government has considered the option of altering the manner in which it outsources content from creatives for Botswana`s youth based television channel NOW!.
It has since emerged that the current procurement method of tendering does not satisfy requirements specific to a television and film industry, atleast according to the Ministry of Youth, Sport and Culture Development (MYSC).
MYSC this week told Parliament that for the financial year 2019/20, it was allocated P50 million for content acquisition through tendering. A hundred and fourteen local companies bid for the tender and twenty two companies were disqualified for noncompliance with the tender while the remaining ninety two companies’ 199 programmes are currently being evaluated across 11 genres and are at the financial stage anticipated to be concluded end of August 2019.
Minister Tshekedi Khama told Parliament that “as a new channel the procurement method applied on the current tender proves not to be best to acquire television content due to issues of creativity. Hence the need to adopt a method of commissioning rather than the normal tendering process.”
“Due to the large number of bids received and limited number of skilled manpower the acquisition process for the content has taken longer than had been anticipated,” Khama said.
The decision to redefine how the process of tendering was motivated by two engagement sessions between MYSC and content producers in the country so that they contribute and the process of acquiring television content be more relevant to what they are doing.
Minister Khama shared that “one of the challenges we have when we roll out these policies or initiatives is we tend to get stuck in the old ways of doing things, which does not work for us. So we have given the industry (content producers) two weeks to come and give us insightful information on what we should look at when putting together a tender which makes sense to them, because the tender process and formulation of the tender we have are not relevant in the sense of what we are trying to achieve.”
NOW! Channel was established to promote and showcase local talent in the areas of youth empowerment, sport and culture development as well as grow the film and television industry in Botswana. At inception during the financial year 2017/18, MYSC had been allocated P10 million for acquisition of television content and a total expenditure of Seven million Eight hundred and Eighty one thousand and sixty two pula (P7, 881, 062.00) was used to procure thirty eight programmes of thirteen episodes across six genres.
Originally NOW channel was launched on a digital platform which would require the use of a set top box and antenna to watch the channel. In the latest development NOW channel can be watched on DStv platform as an online streaming option in partnership with Botswana Fibre Networks (BoFinet) which is currently under development.
Minister Khama was answering a question brought by Member of Parliament for Francistown East Buti Billy, who wanted Parliament be updated on the slow roll out of youth television station.