“Nothing ventured, nothing gained” goes the popular adage. This saying has proved true for TVC Communications as millions of dollars invested in infrastructure is paying off for the company.
According to its Managing Director/CEO, Andrew Hanlon, “we know that if we don’t put the money into the business, the infrastructure of the business, we are not going to get returns. It is paying off! The more we put it into the business, the more we get back cash.”
At the unveiling of its new high definition news studio recently in Lagos, Hanlon explained how the substantial investment has boosted the company’s market share, expansion of the business and brightened its plans for the future.
How much we invested so far? I am not going to tell you now! But it is safe to say that we have spent millions of dollars on this whole transformation of TVC Communications. It has been going on over the last couple of years. We know that if we don’t put the money into the business, the infrastructure of the business, we are not going to get returns back in terms of the viewers, listeners and advertisers. And guess what? It is actually working for us; it is paying off! The more we put it into the business, the more we get back cash. Even in this slightly post-recessionary times with very little growth in the Nigerian market, we see much inflow of advertising revenue ever since we started this accelerated investment programme. So it really does work for us. And somebody said to me, maybe that is a lot of lessons for Nigeria as well. If you put money into infrastructure, more especially funding enough, you will get returns back.
What I said in my remarks about the set is that the set is only the icing on the cake. But behind the set are the people, the 530 Nigerians we employed in the business; wide across our business. More than 50 or 60 of whom are working directly from the news channel. So, those are our correspondents, our reporters and Nigerian technicians. The Nigerian technicians are the ones who are driving the satellite and telephoric equipment we brought in that allow us to beam live pictures from anywhere in the federation. So, that is really where the core of the technology comes from. What you see on the set, on the very nice screen is the icing on the cake. But it is the technology behind all of that that really makes the difference for us in terms of fulfilling the promise that we have; being the first with the Breaking News! So, satellite news gathering (equipment), we have six of them: We have GSM technology transmission backpack, which is similarly round in Nigeria; we have Fly Away satellite transmitters, which are spread all around the country as well. With all those tech that we have that enable us do live transmission that we need to get the news on the air fast, that is really where the technical space comes from. And that is driven by all the Nigerians we employ. The set is the icing on the cake. It looks very nice and very important to us that Nigerians, just like anybody else, want to have a news service that they find attractive, that looks professional, that looks world-class. That is why we spend a lot of money doing that. Nigerians, we all know, love to watch international news channel as well. So they are used to high standard. So we knew that we have to match the high standard of international broadcasters in all we do. At the end of the day, it comes back to the Nigerians we employ here, the journalists, the producers and the technicians.
In terms of digital transmission, we are on Star Times. We are also on GoTV and on DSTV as well; that is the biggest carrier we have. In terms of digital terrestrial, you have to address that question to NBC (Nigeria Broadcasting Corporation). They are the ones who are driving switch over to DTT (Digital Terestial Television) for Nigeria. That is not within our gift. We would be ready when DTT is switched on in Nigeria. We would be fully digitised; we would be HD. We don’t know whether it is not going to happen for a while. We wish it happens sooner. But it is within the gift of NBC. So I will refer you to our friends in Abuja.
Stock Exchange listing
Listen! We are doing well as a private company. We’ve got the support of our investors. But who knows what the future holds! We are building the business. We want to build business of scale; we want to build business that is built to last, we want to expand the business and we want to be successful in what we do. We are doing it to get the fun. We are doing it because we want to be successful. We’ve got radio station, we’ve got television, we have landline services. We intend to grow those much bigger than now. That is why we are pulling this investment in. We have to produce returns for our investors. We have to do that. If we are to grow our audience, we have to make sure that all our services are world-class.
All our services have different audience; target audience. So each service we have has different audience. TVC News has its slightly male audience, it has slightly much fresh audience, TVC Entertainment Channel has a much broader audience; it is 15 to 54-year-old service. That is its core market. It is broad family channel. It has four million viewers everyday. Max FM is former Radio Continental; it is 15 to 24-year-old tech news station.
I have said in my earlier remarks, that has really worked for us. We have grown the audience five times over, from 300,000 listeners everyday to 1.5 million listeners everyday. So success comes from numbers; success comes from content. If the content is good and you don’t add something unique, you can’t grow your viewers and listenership base. So that is pretty much everything we are doing. The marketing, the graphics, of course, have to be world-class. We want to have the best as we can. We’ve got a magnificient graphic team at TVC who are heavily involved in all the graphic presentations that you saw here today. By the way, you are asking about the set. All of the trademarks we have here today are the trademarks of TVC. They are designed by a company called Evoke Motion Graphics, which is a Lagosian company, fantastic company. In fact, we asked three best Lagosian graphic design companies to pitch for the design of the TVC News mark and the TVC mark. So we always get Nigerians involved in every particular place we can. So branding is very important. It is going to attract. It is part of pack.
We felt time was right to operate the overall tagline of our news channel and that is improving our editorials, our technology and on-screen look. Our plan is to be the best provider of broadcasting news in Nigeria. And that means to provide services that people can rely on and what they can define as attractive to watch. This is part of our broad strategy, which we had really worked hard to deliver.
At our broadcasting office complex here in Lagos and offices in Abuja and Port Harcourt, we are in the process of modernising and transforming our TV, radio and other landline services to ensure that we give our audience and advertisers exactly what they want.
For example, since we re-launched our radio station, Max FM, in Lagos just about a year ago, the station has gone up massively from being the number 15 most popular station to the 6th most popular station, with 34 channels, here in Lagos. That was just last month! That has propelled our audience from 300,000 listeners everyday to 1.5 million listeners everyday. So we brought new audience five times over since we launched Max FM, just a year ago. It is a phenomenal growth!
Max FM Abuja was launched just a few months ago. And that will be coming within the top five stations within Abuja by the end of the year.
TVC, our entertainment channel, which most of you also know, boasts of over four million viewers a day and it is the second most watched channel in Lagos due, in most part, to our home grown bouquet of key programmes such as News and Your View with Morayo and the Ladies, News Splash and News at 10, which is on every week at night. Our mission is to provide our viewers with a high quality news content and to be the first with breaking news in Nigeria. We will achieve this through the deployment of digital satellite technology, which will allow us to broadcast anywhere in Nigeria at anytime.
We have invested millions of dollars in getting that technology, which no other one has in the country. We are far more than others, which means we will get news as soon as it happens. That is why our maxim is first with breaking news.
Of course, all this technology is just one part of what is required to be there; we have great team of journalists, producers and technicians to bring all that to live. And we have our team here in Lagos, in Abuja and our offices and bureaux around the country.
We understand and appreciate that Nigerians expect to be visually engaged by the aesthetic look and feel of a channel. This is so because Nigerians are used to seeing the best from international news channels. We strive for similar excellence and perfection and we think our viewers will really like what we have to offer. We have just built a new state-of-the-art high definition TV studio.
What you are seeing here today is a result of long hard work and diligence. It took six months to design, construct and build. A lot of work has been going on here since last year, culminating in this beautiful studio. The labour just completed everything you are seeing here last night. This is the state-of-the-art studio and right now, the best we have in Lagos. The set was cut and refabricated in India before it was brought to Nigeria in two 40ft containers. It was assembled here over the period by a team of 12 experts from India, who also helped supervise the work and ensure it was perfectly done.
Behind this state-of-the-art studio in Lagos lies the real engine of our news operation: a substantial team of journalists, producers and the latest mobile satellite technology, spread throughout Nigeria, providing us with the ability to broadcast live anywhere, anytime. We must be capable of mobilising correspondent’s and technical teams anywhere, anytime in this vast country, to cover stories within a very short space of time to get the story on air first – and that’s what separates TVC News from other news networks and allows us to be First with Breaking News.