In the midst of the euphoria that welcomed the Big Brother Naija reality show, a blatant deception was noticed by some individuals who were reading between the lines.
For a show that was purportedly created to exhibit Nigerians who in turn are exhibiting their ‘Nigerianess’ to the world, then one would have thought a show like the Big Brother Naija is been shot somewhere in Lagos or Obudu Cattle Ranch.
It turned out that Endemol, owners of the show in conjunction with DSTV, the show broadcaster decided to shoot the Big Brother Naija show far away in South Africa. To buttress their compelling argument for this controversial decision, DSTV has issued a statement.
Caroline Oghuma (apparently a Nigerian) said on behalf of DSTV that:
“We have a fully equipped house in South Africa, which is used for the Big Brother shows.
“This means that we are able to achieve high production values whilst meeting tight timelines and ensuring the show comes to our viewers on time as planned, and with the same globally renowned quality.
“The house has played host to other Big Brother countries including; the general Big Brother Africa, Mozambique, Angola and now Nigeria.’’
“Perhaps her statement was not properly scrutinised by a professional pubic relations company. DSTV’s statement will further ‘add more fuel to the inferno”.
The statement has further revealed that despite Multichoice’s many years of doing business and making money in Nigeria, the company has not invested in the business locally to produce a TV show staged in a house. While it is plausible for anyone to desire good quality and execution of such productions according to timelines, it is still very shallow an argument that such show that requires no sci-fi, CGI and other advanced visuals cannot be produced in Nigeria. DSTV’s pretext further diminish everything Nigeria stands for.
Without digressing, and for fairness sake, some other company’s have taken similar shows to South Africa for production. There was a time more than 80% of Nigeria’s TV commercials were produced in South Africa. While this might seem as a justification, some alternative view claim that such move were guided by personal ego of those paying for such production or even corruption/money laundering.
Moreover, apart from the faulty statement issued by the company to back its ill-advised decision, here are six reasons the company erred.
1. There was no disclosure
Multichoice/Endemol did not disclose either before or at the start that the show will be produced in South Africa. The government and or anyone who wants to battle the company can use that a potent weapon in the court of law for the show to be stopped or banned in Nigeria. Even for local productions where auditions of contestants are done across Nigeria, it is always clearly stated that all qualifiers will be at the finals in ‘xxx’ city.
2. It is an act of economic sabotage
Nigeria has been battling with a tough recession, the worst in 20 years. With negative gross domestic products in more than three quarters, the country needs to local production and consumption to save its currency and economy.A show like Big Brother Naija and many other locally-produced goods and services are need to create jobs, increase the value of the Naira. Taking it to South Africa means all the sponsorship money have been converted into Dollars (USD) and shipped out to South Africa. This further depletes our national reserves while damaging the Naira.
Even Netflix was compelled by the European Union to produce a substantial part of its films for the EU region in the region. Whether Hollywood has a perfect environment is not an excuse to the EU.
3. The show had Nigeria sponsors
Payporte and a host of other Nigerian companies ‘coughed out’ hundreds of millions to Multichoice and Endemol to produce the show. These companies are owned mostly by Nigerians who are patronised by Nigerians. Barclays Bank will not pay for Premier League sponsorship in England and the league managers take it to Dubai or Norway for fear of terror attacks.
4. It is condescending and a national insult
Nigeria and South Africa have over time become frenemies. Nigeria and Nigerians has always been on the receiving end of this battered relationship. Taking the production to South Africa is malicious and condescending to many Nigerians who have already bottled up ‘many sins’ of South Africa. There will be many twists to the issue. A country that cannot even produce a reality show named after it. While Nigerian politicians might be hypocritical because they patronise foreign hospitals and all what nots, a foreign company will doing same might not go scot-free.
5.Multichoice is not in anyway Nigerian
This attitude is exactly the same thing that happened to MTN. The 330 billion fine is taking a toll on the company’s financials. The moment you give Nigerians the impression that you are wiser than then them, you will run into problems. No matter how hypocritical our politicians are Multichoice should not in anyway compare itself to private individuals and even Nigerian companies who might be guilty of the same offense. The company has given the impression that it is “not in anyway a Nigerian company and will never be”.
So what can Multichoice do to avert a sanction and or a ban?
Public relations stunts will not solve the problem. Statements like the one above is counter-productive. The company should tender an apology to all its viewers and promise to shoot a subsequent edition in the country. Any move to latch on damage control tactics and pointless arguments will further compound the matter.