Mr. Deji Balogun is the General Manager of Lagos Television. The station relaunched the Lagos Weekend Television, it’s most popular programme of the 80s on Friday, April 1, 2016 with pomp and ceremony.
ENCOMIUM Weekly met with the General Manager of the station to ask why the weekend belt was reintroduced and more.
What would you say informed the re-introduction of Lagos Weekend Television (LWT)?
Personally, I discovered that most Saturdays and Sundays are boring. So, we looked at other terrestrial stations and saw a similar trend. It’s like the parties and sports have taken over the weekend belts and they are mostly none Nigerian sports. They are foreign sports.
So, we went back to the drawing board. What were those things that the founders of the LTV did then that made it different from the other? One of them was the introduction of Lagos Weekend Television, which was the icing on the cake at that time.
Fine, we have a platform. We have created a platform to reinvigorate. Then we saw Lagos Weekend Television (LWT) as another tool that will be useful to the state government in terms f security. People that will normally go out will have something to them at home now. It is something that is going to bridge the generation gap. Those who knew and enjoyed Lagos Weekend Television (when it was first introduced) are in their mid-ages now. People that watch television most now (the youths) probably just heard about Lagos Weekend Television. We can now create a platform to bridge that generational gap and then introduce a generational link to what we enjoyed as youths in terms of quality television content. So, that was what informed the reintroduction of Lagos Weekend Television.
Will the contents of the new LWT be like that of those days when they were showing a lot of movies particularly Indian and Chinese movies?
Yes, it will be 80 percent entertainment. But we cannot abdicate our responsibility of informing and educating people. So, 10 percent will be dedicated to news and 10 percent will be dedicated to current affairs.
There are limitations to what we can do in terms of foreign content. The NBC Act says ‘Foreign content must be outside the family belt. But that will not stop us from giving the people what the LWT of that time used to give the people in terms of entertainment. That is why there will be 60 hours between 6.30pm on Fridays and 6.30am on Mondays.
The former LWT was 7.00pm on Friday and 7am on Mondays. Out of these 60 hours, there is going to be 50 hours of entertainment. We are going to do entertainment that will appeal to every member of the family particularly the youth.
They are the ones that you will see, they are the ones that you will hear and they are the ones that will shape how everything will go.
All the dramas we have now are Nollywood English and Nigeria soaps (opera). We are having Dear Mother, Spider, Living Partners and lot of English soap. We have opted for the Indian series too. So, that wherever you stop, you can pick up in the next episode.
We are also in talk with content provider to get us some Chinese stuff. Not necessary movies but series too. Chinese series that people can follow episode by episode.
We know a lot of men love wrestling so, we have gone for the best that people can follow episode by episode. It didn’t come cheap but I know a lot of people will love it. We have invested handsomely in acquiring content.
What we want to do first is to arrest our audience back from the clutches of foreign dominion through cable TV and get them to appreciate Nigeria values in our production.
Averagely, how much will it cost you to run Lagos Weekend Television?
We just take it as an extension of our daily running. On monthly basis, acquisition of contents will set us back some millions of naira between N3.5 million and N4 million. We cannot separate the running of LTV from that of LWT. The only difference between them is the change of icon.
Maybe the extra cost will be in terms of acquisition of contents which I have given you.
So, how much does it cost to run LTV on monthly basis?
Where do I start from? Do I start with personnel cost or how much we expend on diesel? Although, we have IPP (Independent power project), but in the last couple of weeks, the IPP is also affected by the shortage of power supply and all that. We had to expend money on that.
We have old vehicles that have been getting more attentions at the mechanics workshops either for services or complete replacement.
So, let me say on a monthly basis to run LTV personnel and everything is coming to about N28 million. Personnel costs is just about N18 million to N20 million because we have to think of pensioners too. We have statutory liabilities that we have to meet up on monthly basis. Then we have outstanding that we have to meet up.
We are able to generate this money. We are able to break even. We are hoping that Lagos Weekend Television will add more so that we can approach the government and say we have some money, we want your approval to allow us buy this, buy that instead of waiting for government.
Is it true that the station is no longer getting subvention from the government?
That is an administrative issue. Basically this is a commercial enterprise and it will be a shame if we have to continue to lean on government. It is a commercial enterprise. We are making money. It’s a business venture so you can’t be doing that. You make money and you still expect government to be giving you money. It is not possible.
So, you no longer receive subvention from the government?
I have not said that. I only said that this a business venture. We still collect money from the government. Not as much as before but we still collect money from the government.