It’s ‘Big’ on the continent

Africa to get its own version of 'Brother'

JOHANNESBURG — South African-based satcaster M-Net is planning to run a Pan-African “Big Brother” or a “Big Brother Nigeria” in 2003 in response to the popularity of the South African version of the international reality show in Africa.

M-Net, which is broadcasting South Africa’s second “Brother,” has around 1.3 million digital subscribers in 44 countries in Africa through its satellite service, Multichoice, with around 250,00 subscribers outside South Africa.

Carl Fischer, CEO of Magicworks, the production arm of M-Net, says it was clear from subscriber response and initial research that “Brother” was a big hit in Africa, and that prompted M-Net to consider doing a pan-African version. One result of the phenomenon in Africa has been the emergence of “Big Brother” clubs where people meet to watch the show and discuss the latest action, enabling non-subscribers to have access to the show.

“Brother” is particularly popular in Nigeria, where the satcaster has the most subscribers outside of South Africa at 80,000. Other countries where it is a hit are Tanzania, Botswana, Namibia, Zimbabwe, Kenya, Uganda and Ghana.

The “Brother 1” and “Brother 2” South African housemates were household names in many subscriber countries which they had visited in response to public demand, Fischer says.

A final decision on which show would run will be made within two months, Fischer says.

“There are many challenges. We need to look at budgets and logistics in view of the fact that the South African ‘Brother’ house will be used and housemates will be from other countries. It might be more practical to stick to one country like Nigeria.”

Selection of housemates would take place early next year and the show would be on air by the middle of 2003, he says.

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