Interview with Hannelie Bekker, Wananchi Programming

As managing director, Wananchi Programming, Hannelie Bekker played a key role as Wananchi Group launched Kenya’s first triple-play platform, The pay TV platform is targeting a wider East African audience in Tanzania, Uganda, Ethiopia, Rwanda, Burundi and Malawi.

Age 42

Education BA (Hons) English, University of Pretoria, South Africa

Previous positions General manager, SABC 3 (SA); head of development, Videovision Entertainment (SA); director, Octant Strategy & Business Development.

Last year’s highlights Navigating the new and yet very congested pay TV market in Kenya and the broader East Africa; launching and establishing seven brand new Zuku-branded channels for Wananchi, and assembling and structuring a fully-fledged multi-channel bouquet around them.

Most significant industry development The arrival of connected TV. Those fantasies of convergence are becoming resoundingly real!

Goals for next year Launching a few more Zuku channels, and refining the content mix on the existing ones to mirror our roll-out into other territories.

Alternative career choice Somewhere in a parallel universe I run a small but distinguished literary publishing outfit.

TV character most identified with I recently re-watched bits of Ally McBeal, a series I adored as a young buyer, and acquired for SABC 3 in South Africa. At the same time I was watching 30 Rock…and I came to the somewhat reluctant conclusion that I now identify more with Liz Lemon than with Ally – a factor, I suppose, of the spirit of the times, my age – and the delight of seeing someone on TV living in a (hilarious) approximation of my own workplace reality.

Most admired personality I’m not sure about “most”, but I have real admiration for George Clooney. He embodies something of what I love about mass media in how he uses his box office status to enable projects with real substance and social value. The way he effortlessly bounces between delightful froth and high-minded seriousness for me really captures the range and scope of the industry we work in.

Life outside work Read, explore East Africa, listen to music, watch TV series and movies, and hang out with my husband.