UKTVSince
2002, Alistair Soyode has been shaking things up on the international
media front. That’s when he founded Bright Entertainment Network (BEN)
television, the first and longest-running African and Caribbean-focused
television channel in the United Kingdom. The channel however, does not
seem like a “black” channel. The company is described as a broad infotainment channel. The
former farming student, who hails originally from Nigeria, ventured to
the UK to try his hand–or feet–at professional soccer. When that
venture failed, he set his sights on the media industry.

Today, BEN has nearly one million viewers daily tuning into the channel´s lineup of entertainment, news and sports programs.

Soyode first
started out working in telecommunications and selling mobile phones.
When he noticed a major gap in UK programming, he came up with the
concept for BEN. “It is more of bridging the gap. How can the ethnic
communities learn from what is shown with the lack of programs on
mainstream channels?” Soyode says. “They are already seeing and feeling
out of place in these diverse cultured communities. As one who watched
the media/TV in the UK and Europe, I saw the opportunity. But without
any media or TV background, I felt the challenge was insurmountable yet
definitely possible. Since then, we have been trying to bridge the gap
and been the first to do so. We are trying to change the understanding
of entertainment tagged within our communities from only music to more
current and valuable informational platforms that are also very
entertaining.”

Now that BEN is a
success, Soyode is looking into the future. “As I have realized in the
business industry without much investment, one can only be realistic on
his/her expectation based on where they are and how far they have come
to play a role in the industry,” he says. “As pertaining to BEN
Television, our aim is to fully focus on content provision and
production not only for our channel but for other outfits that seek to
balance their content management with input from African-Caribbean
interest. We are determined to expand the awareness and image-building
of our people and communities to the global audience that seeks contents
and information to stimulate their intellects.”

According to
Soyode, he will be expanding BEN´s programming. “Our plan is to sustain
and make big the network in terms of content provision to other media
platforms. We are also doing in strategic planning to create new,
interactive and live programs for our audience,” he explains. “The
Ethnic communities on a daily basis seek ways to improve and better
their livelihoods. For us, that is one of our callings. It’s all about
“Bridging the Gap”. To achieve that, we have engaged the viewers. We are
more oriented in providing educational, valued, and family-friendly
programs.”