In this interview, Busola Tejumola, the Executive Head of Content and West Africa Channels at MultiChoice Nigeria, speaks with TOFARATI IGE on the new features in the 2021 edition of Big Brother Nigeria.
Voting by text message is believed to be one of the major ways through which Big Brother Naija makes money. Why was that scrapped for this edition of the show?
At the end of the day, what we focus on is providing the best content for Africans by Africans. We would like to stay true to that and that is why everything we do revolve around that. We tried online voting for years, and last year, viewers were able to vote on the GOTV and DSTV apps, and they were able to vote multiple times. This year, we decided to change the format of voting so that every subscriber can vote for free on our apps. This year, we would be dropping the SMS voting and allow people focus on the content we are providing.
Some people have complained about the ‘toxic’ behaviours of some of the former housemates on the show. What steps are there to ensure the space is relatively ‘clean’ this year?
I would like to remind everyone that the show is not scripted. Because of that, we really cannot anticipate behaviours. However, there are guidelines that the housemates follow in the house. It is a global format. But, I think we should focus on what the show is for. Aside from creating and providing entertainment to our viewers, we are creating a platform for the housemates. It is a big platform for them to showcase their talents and all they can do. Former housemates are doing well, and it’s not just about the winners. There are quite a number of former housemates who did not win but have gone on to be really ‘big’ and relevant in the industry. The show is practically a reflection of who we (Nigerians) are. We live in a country where there are different tribes and different cultures. If you put people from different cultures across the country in one space, it is expected that there would be some disagreements. Over and above that, we do know that everyone makes up for it and they are all good.
Some people say MultiChoice Nigeria should sponsor more educational shows and not BBN. What’s your reaction to that?
We do have a wide array of about 200 channels on our platform that provide a mix of entertainment, information and education. So, we do provide educational content. We provide something for everyone across the different genres that are available around the world.
Back to Big Brother, the show provides information, entertainment and education. The tasks in the house are purposefully created and developed to educate some of our viewers on different topical issues.
What plans are emplaced to keep the housemates safe from COVID-19?
Big Brother Naija is one of the few reality shows that were able to run amidst the pandemic. We had the Lockdown edition last year and we did not record any cases of COVID-19.
We have put some measures in place and we are working hand in hand with the Lagos State Safety Commission, to make sure we are following protocols that have been set. All the intending housemates have been tested multiple times and they are currently in their own ‘bubble’. Also, we are limiting outside interactions. So, there wouldn’t be any guest artiste, ‘ninjas’ or other external side attractions. We will keep the show closed, just like we did last year.
What other new features are available in this edition of the show?
There are new currencies. There is also a new show on Showmax called ‘The Buzz’ and we hope that viewers would remain engaged for the duration of the show.