Why Are There Few Nigerian Kids Shows on Nigerian TV?

Before I start it I want to say that this post is not written in order to complain or point fingers. It is to answer one question I and everyone involved in the Bino and Fino project gets asked a lot by Nigerian fans of the show. ‘Why isn’t the Bino and Fino cartoon on Nigerian television?’

The best way to answer is to first explain how programmes get on to Television in Nigeria. In essence it is very simple. The major TV networks in Nigeria charge for airtime. Money dictates most of what you see on Nigerian television screens.  If you have the money you can get a one hour film of you scratching your nose on to TV here.  OK, I haven’t seen that yet but trust me I’ve seen close.

The people and organisations that have the type of funds to get things broadcast are mainly government, politicians/high net worth individuals, corporations and religious bodies.

Quality TV production is expensive especially animation. TV programme producers need to find sponsors like MTN to get their TV show on air. Sponsorship also gives production companies profits. So we have to find sponsors to for Bino and Fino to go on air. That is something we’re working hard on but as we produce an educational show targeted at young children we have to be very careful. We can’t just accept the money of any sponsor as some products might not be right for children even if they are marketed to them. Of course this is subjective and a more risky position to take.

Another interesting ‘problem’ I have found is the issue of glamour and hype. Football, the music scene, Nollywood, fashion, beauty pageants and the rest are glamorous. You can’t deny it, glamour, sex, bling, hype and celebrity sells in Nigeria. Yes I’m generalising but take a look at the Nigerian shows on TV and their tone.  Sponsors are attracted to what sells or what they feel sells. Children’s educational entertainment is not glamorous. It is considered ‘boring’ and not really serious by many decision makers especially if you are producing a cartoon. I’ve actually had someone ask me why a grown man like me is doing cartoons! They don’t think it will sell.

It is up to us producers, parents and children to convince companies that they can benefit from sponsoring well-made children’s shows. Corporations are understandably interested in making money. They are not charities. I learnt this very quickly after a few presentations to possible sponsors. Most don’t care about the beneficial cultural, educational and entertainment value of shows like Bino and Fino. The main question is can Bino and Fino help them sell more products? That is fine with me as long they realise children’s educational entertainment has a place.

Programme producers are in a catch 22 situation. It’s tough to get sponsorship if you haven’t been on air and have a fan base that sponsors see. But you can’t get on air without sponsorship to reach an audience! That is why many of the formats you see on TV in Nigeria are tried and tested formats with global recognition. These are shows like ‘Who Wants to be a Millionaire’ and ‘Nigerian Idol’.  There are few companies willing to sponsor a ‘local’ show aimed solely at younger children. But eventually we will reach like minded people in these companies. However they are few and far between.

I still love these guys though

I still love these guys though

The government also has a part to play. Not only with funding but with broadcast quotas which are enforced. Countries like France, Australia, the US and the UK have such. It is compulsory for a percentage of airtime on their local TV stations to consist of locally made children’s programming. These countries have set aside a budget for children’s programming funded by their government through public broadcasting institutions like the BBC and PBS in the US. Yes I know these budgets are dropping but at least they exist.

Charlie and Lola Cartoon

That is how shows like Sesame Street, Charlie and Lola, Teletubbies and the rest came about. The NTA , the Nigerian Television Authority which is our publicly funded network here actually charges for airtime as opposed to commissioning shows.

There’s also the issue of long term funding for such projects. Animation production is a time and financially consuming process. It needs ‘patient investment’. That is something we have little of here. Things are changing on that front though and some financial institutions such as the Bank of Industry and Nexim in Nigeria are starting to make moves albeit slowly. But at least they are moving in the right direction. We’ve gone to meet them so I know this first hand.  In a few years the landscape should be different.

Working on the Bino and Fino project has shown me that when it comes to the children’s educational and entertainment media sector, we in Nigeria have a lot of work to do. A lot of lip service is paid to children’s education in Nigeria let alone the media they consume. It’s a worrying situation. A system where all stakeholders, especially the children, benefit has to be devised.

I don’t pretend to have all the answers and I can’t speak for other African countries but I know some are making determined efforts to address the situation. They understand the important role that dedicated children’s educational media content has to play.

So those are some of the reasons why the Bino and Fino cartoon and similar shows aren’t on Nigerian television…………yet.

About BinoandFino

A new black cartoon made in Africa for kids all over the world.
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8 Responses to Why Are There Few Nigerian Kids Shows on Nigerian TV?

  1. Tola says:

    Well said amigo. We’ve got a lot of work to do in this country

    • BinoandFino says:

      Hi Tola. You are right. There is so much work to be done.I don’t even know the half of it. The weird thing is that many people are congratulating themselves and partying as if Nigeria is now where it should be. It is surreal at times.

      • Tola says:

        Old Chinese Proverb: He who pats himself on the back risks a broken arm.

        We tend to get too complacent way too easily in that country of ours.

      • BinoandFino says:

        Complacent doesn’t even describe it. We haven’t even achieved any thing on a consistent national stage to be complacent. That doesn’t mean Nigerians haven’t done great things as individuals, that’s different. Anyway we all know the story so we move on.

  2. akeemagali says:

    What we hear regarding the topic of children and television are the negative impacts. Common beliefs include: TV makes kids lazy, it makes kids violent, and it hampers intelligence.
    However, certain television programs can teach children positive social skills such as sharing, manners and etiquette. Educational television shows enhance a child’s learning. They can discover many subjects, like animals, hobbies, art, science and history, which they will nurture away from the TV.
    Even though DSTV has varieties of programmes for kids, I’ll personnally appreciate any Nigeria-made programmes for Children.
    The future of this countries lies on Kiddies Projects like Bino and Fino.

    • BinoandFino says:

      Thank you very much. You’re correct. Children’s media has different sides. But the right shows combined with good parental guidance and support can really help nurture children. It shouldn’t be a replacement for activities children do away from the television. But since statistically children are watching more TV and consuming more media via other devices like mobiles and tablets we have to make sure they get quality entertainment.

  3. Muse Origins says:

    This is a really insightful and well written piece. It sounds challenging, but I’m sure it can be overcome with a bit of work and luck. Good luck. Really.

    P.S Have you tried ministry of education as a sponsor? *shrug*

    • BinoandFino says:

      Thanks. There are challenges but it’s the same boat many producers are in. Ours is slightly different because of the animation process which is much more expensive per minute to produce. I am staying away from government for now. Chasing ministries etc can be very time and money consuming plus there is usually politics involved. We might do it later but now the focus is on reaching the market and making the best product we can. If it is a success then approaching will be easier. Take P-Square for example. Government organisations didn’t care about them. Now state ministries are paying them to appear at concerts they organise.

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