Photo above is of some of FEVA TV’s management team. From left to right: Farley Flex, SVP Stakeholder Relations and FEVA Spokesperson; Peter Crane, Technical Consultant to FEVA; Robert Onianwah, President/CEO; Charles Eghbamien, CFO; Ola George, SVP Project Management. Not pictured: Kingsley Jesuorobo, Director/Chief Legal Counsel and Osahon Okunbo, SVP Strategy and Business Development.
By Lincoln Depradine
Pride Contributing Writer
TORONTO, Ontario – FEVA TV – First Entertainment Voice of Africa – went on air eight months ago, and shareholders are so impressed with the response to the station’s programming, they are considering expansion outside of Canada.
“We are tracking well in terms of our expectations; very, very well in terms of viewership and we continue to build on it,’’ Robert Onianwah, President and CEO of FEVA TV, told Pride News Magazine, in an exclusive interview earlier this week.
Onianwah said FEVA offers entertaining and educational shows that, while focused on Black people in Africa, the Caribbean, North and South America and elsewhere, are “human stories that anyone will be interested in’’.
As an example, Onianwah points to the documenting of the exploitation of young African footballers that are contracted to play soccer in Europe.
“That is a human story; it is not an African story. It’s a story that anyone will find captivating. That’s the type of programs we have,’’ said Onianwah.
“You’re going watch movies that entertain and inform you on different cultures; you’re going watch documentaries that – no matter where you’re from – are very compelling; are very informative; are very revealing.’’
Onianwah said Canadian audiences are becoming more aware of FEVA TV, whose programming remains available for viewing – at no cost – until March 2016.
“We’ve been reaching out to the community, supporting events and covering events. We’re going to be embarking on even more community engagements,’’ Onianwah revealed. “Advertisers are also taking note; we’ve started getting calls from national advertisers.’’
FEVA was among media houses that covered last February’s African Canadian Achievement Awards, sponsored by Pride News Magazine.
Onianwah said after conceiving the idea for the station, he and his partners worked for two years behind the scene before FEVA was launched in August 2014.
“Because there was a vacuum of black-focused entertainment news in Canada, I felt that there was a need to fill that vacuum and to try to bring different talent and resources together to make it happen,’’ explained Onianwah. “We want to serve as a vehicle through which people know and learn about one another.’’
FEVA’s content, according to Onianwah, includes “quality high-definition African movies’’; talkshows; discussions of sickle cell disease and other health issues; Reggae, Soca, Afrobeat and other music features; and programs that examine such things as the “emerging middle class in Africa and the Caribbean’’.
“The Caribbean is growing exponentially; Africa is growing exponentially; we are the conveyer of that fact, for many people who might not be aware of it,’’ Onianwah said. “We have programs that would entertain; sometimes, make you cry; just all the human feelings are what we portray.’’
About 30 people – independent contractors, casual staff, fulltime staff and student interns – are involved in keeping FEVA TV on the air.
The FEVA team includes former Canadian Idol judge Farley Flex, who is senior vice president of Development and Stakeholder Relations.
Flex, a popular music promoter and motivational speaker, has won numerous awards for his work, including appointment as a National UNICEF Ambassador and an Honorary Diploma in Media and Broadcasting from Niagara College.
More than $1 million is being spent on constructing studio facilities that would allow FEVA to do live-to-air broadcasts, shoot commercials, accommodate studio audiences, and expand its programming.
“It’s a gradual process; we want to bring the studio up to a place where it’s functional and we can scale it up as needed because technology is quickly changing,’’ Onianwah said.
“We’re presently an entertainment station but we’re working towards daily news. We will evolve in some form into a general-interest station. We have a social mandate to really educate, entertain and inform our people and to motivate them to action; to show them all the possibilities.’’
Onianwah disclosed that FEVA could soon be available to cable subscribers living in the Caribbean.
“We’re talking to one of the largest cable providers in the Caribbean. That deal is still in the works,’’ he said.
“We hope to be in the Caribbean in 11 countries. We would bring a different type of programming that would really enrich the lives of people in the Caribbean. The cable providers are working very hard to make sure this happens. If everything works out well, we hope to be there by June, July.’’
FEVA is currently available — free — on Bell Fibe (Channel 2462) and Rogers Cable (Channel 670).