Mo Abudu is the Chairman and CEO of Ebony Life TV, Africa’s first Global Black Entertainment Network broadcasting on DSTV channel 165. The TV personality is a passionate and dynamic woman who has made her mark in various fields of endeavour, Mo Abudu the creator, Executive Producer and Principal Hostess of Moments With Mo, Africa’s first and only syndicated daily talk show airing across 48 African countries and on cable TV in the United Kingdom, hosting a robust profile of guests, from Presidents to noble laureates among other dignitaries.
The stylish celebrity woman who will clock 50 come September this year is a recipient of multiple industry and philanthropic awards for her numerous and continuous stellar achievements among which are Forbes Award for The First Woman in Africa to own and operate a pan –African TV channel and the Hollywood Reporters top 25 Most powerful women in Global TV.
The media professional was one of the guest speakers at the recently held Women in Journalism 2014 conference where she was saddled with the responsibility of tackling the topic of Accessing Financing for media start-ups where she recalled her story into journalism and some of the hassles she faced while trying to set up her Ebony Life TV, which is today one of the biggest Pan African TV channel.
The panel which had other speakers including Dr. Issa MOMOH, from School of Media and Communication, and top banker Ope Emi Jones, Group Head, Inclusive Banking Access Bank, were posed with questions on how to scale through the difficulties of financial constraints as a young media practitioner who wishes to start up his or her own firm.
And to tackle this issue, Mo Abudu took us down the memory lane of how she started Ebony Life TV as she gave very revealing details of the hurdles she jumped to set up this celebrated TV channel that has earned her a lot of accolades. In her words,” talking about my journey, every body’s journey can’t be the same, it all depends on how you got into the industry and what the dynamics were., so my story may not be yours and the way I did it may not be the way you did it. But I have got a few things I want to share.
I think for the media, those in the finance sector don’t understand our sector because I believe the sector is run by people who are very passionate about the sector rather than being business managers so it is very important to understand the business of the media, you have to be very passionate about what you do and at the same time, be a business manager, which means you have got to have business plans.
But I don’t think the financial sector in Nigeria understands our sector, I can tell you that for free because I spent so many years trying to save money for my TV and it’s a great miracle I succeeded in the end. I had to go as far as South Africa to get a financial consultant there who really understood media and was able to analyze what the revenue streams are because in every business, there has to be a way to make money.
It’s not just the passion that you want to sell Africa story, if you want it to generate money, there is got to be something bankable in that particular business. Atimes we may not have all the expertise to help create the things we want to do, we then have to find someone that is business savvy enough to convince you that this is how this business works, and this is how long it’s going to take for you to break even because media is one of those businesses that takes off very slowly, so for you to borrow money at a high interest rate to run that kind of business, is not encouraging at all.
But I think because Nigeria nay Africa is not saturated with media, the start-up and capacity to break even will not take as long as it will take in the developed world, for instance, if you look at the DSTV bouquet where we sit, on the one side of the bouquet, you have about 6 or more Africa magic channels and on the other side, you have got international channels but what DSTV did not have and the gap we were able to fill was to provide the premium channel that was speaking to a slightly more educated, more affluent, more aspirational group of people, so it’s very important while trying to raise funding, there should be your own unique selling point.
Regards to my own personal story, it started about 8 to 9 years ago, with Moments with Mo, when I decided that I wanted to go into the talk show, again I saw a gap in the market, there were some talk shows but there were no talk shows that were African on the DSTV bouquet and we had talk shows on NTA, and other Nigerian channels but there wasn’t a pan African talk show at the time.
So when I first walked into DSTV even though they didn’t say they were looking for a Pan African talk show, they didn’t listen to me, I told them I wanted to do a talk show and they literally told me to get lost that they do not need a talk show. And quite 10 years ago, there wasn’t much of our local content there. It’s only now our local content has become a really big deal. So it’s important for you to know what the regulations are so you can see where the loopholes are and where you can also find a space for yourself.
DSTV now had to create a space because the Nigeria Embassy was saying you need to supply local contents so at that point, they decided to listen so we went to them and did 4 or 5 pilots which they rejected and eventually, one was accepted. And even at that point, I was then told they were not going to commission, that they were only going to license, which means they will buy the content from you at an agreed price. So I was told to go and look for sponsors and the story goes on.