IN what looks like a response to critics, who had accused the pay TV Company of not investing in the local industry, HiTV has finally concluded plans to take over the world class Tinapa Studios, with which it aims at advancing filmmaking in Nigeria. Described by the CEO of the outfit, Mr. Toyin Subair, as a "milestone" in the history of Nigeria's entertainment industry, the deal was finally sealed last Monday in Calabar, the Cross River State, amid frenzied preparations for the kick off of the annual Calabar Christmas Festival. The State's Attorney General and Commissioner for Justice, Mr. Eddy Ogon who stood in for the Governor, Senator Liyel Imoke, at the signing of the Memorandum of Understanding at the Governor's Office, Calabar, expressed his joy over the agreement on the acquisition the acquisition of TINAPA Studios by Hi Media, operators of Hi TV. With the deal already sealed, Ogon is optimistic that HiTV will explore the state-of-the-art studios in a way that will be mutually beneficial not only to the parties involved but to the people of Cross River, Nigerians and Africa at large. He described TINAPA Studios as an artistic blessing to Africa, which will make the state a Mecca for all film, music producers, with the takeover by HiTV. Speaking on the deal, Subair assured that his company would employ the same strategy it used in growing HiTV into one of the fastest growing networks, on TINAPA Studios. "Nigerians should brace up, Cross Riverians should brace up because this is the dawn of a new era in Nigerian entertainment industry because TINAPA Studios is poised to bring back the lost glory in the production arm of our industry." Complaints about the quality of production in our movies, music and sundry, according to Subair, will from mid next year when TINAPA Studios finally open for business, be a thing of the past. "HiTV has from inception being investing in the local entertainment industry, now, what we are setting out to do, is try and open the production arm of the industry up so that our works will be able to compete with works from Hollywood and other places of international repute. Production quality as expected will be world class when TINAPA finally opens early next year; that I can assure you." Subair frowned at the current, where a lot of Nigerians depend entirely on South Africa for shooting commercials; documentaries, movies and music videos. "All that will soon stop because, whatever degree of quality you are looking for elsewhere could be found at TINAPA Studios. However, the federal government has a role to play in encouraging Nigerians to patronise a world class studio in the heart of Nigeria because the rebranding starts with Nigerians buying Nigerian goods and services." The intellectual property lawyer described the acquisition of TINAPA Studios as one of the fallouts of the recent re-branding that took place in the company, which saw it wearing the new toga of Hi Media. "We are now Hi Media, and the repositioning was in line with our undying resolve to serve our esteemed customers better as we have always done in the last two years and a half." The rebranding is to let the world know that Hi Media is not just about football or a TV subscription based business, but is into distribution as well as music and film production and publishing among others. "We believe in the future of entertainment in Nigeria and we are consistently investing into it. The change in name was necessitated by the fact that the group is now diversified into various aspects of media including television, publishing, production, cafes, etc. As a media group, we are now positioned to exploit several opportunities in media, tapping into synergies in pay television, content production, publishing and entertainment generally with a view to creating value for our rapidly increasing our subscriber base." The company, which recently won the 100 per cent Barclays Premier League broadcast rights, according to Subair, is "now 100 per cent Hi! TINAPA Studios even makes us 'Hi er', but in all humility, this is just the starting point and we could not have achieved all this without the love and support of Nigerians who have stuck with us even as we correct our mistakes and improve on our act this last couple of years. For that, we are grateful." As HiTV braces up to its new challenge, critics of the sector are of the opinion that federal government as well as stakeholders' support and encouragement at this point for the wholly Nigerian company is needed as it take a giant stride into the entertainment turf. As a Nigerian company, HiTV in its barely three years of existence, has shown immense support for local sports and entertainment even in the face of several artificial hurdles that have made it a Herculean task of making popular local sports like it has done with the English Premier League in Nigeria.
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