BANDAR SERI BEGAWAN – Seven local video production houses are vying for the chance to have their work featured on Malaysia’s Muslim lifestyle channel, Astro Oasis.

Only three spots are available for companies from Brunei, as the Malaysian subscription TV channel looks to source content from the Malay archipelago.

This marks the first collaboration between Authority for Info Communications Technology Industry of Brunei Darussalam (AITI) and Astro Oasis, as part of the AITI’s initiative to help local production companies enhance quality, while providing opportunities to show their content outside of Brunei.

AITI’s manager of Broadcasting Contents, Farid Azlan Ghani, said three programs from three different companies will be selected to air on Astro Oasis.

The competition was opened to local production companies and AITI received 10 responses, out of which seven delivered their pitches on Friday. Many of them pitched three to four ideas to a team of panelists from AITI and Astro Oasis.

“We already have airtime slots so the three production houses that are selected will be given a MasterClass on production, technical and editing to ensure that the quality of the programs are in line with Astro Oasis’s identity,” he said.

“Our idea is actually to have programs that of course showcase Brunei, and at the same time, have global value so that it can be accepted by other countries as well,” added Farid. AITI is also negotiating for the programs to start broadcasting on February 23, 2019 on Brunei’s 35th National Day.

AITI’s manager of Broadcasting Content, Farid Azlan Ghani (L), Astro Assistant Vice President at the Content Development Unit, Hakim Amir (C) and Astro Oasis’s channel manager, Ahmad Fuad Mat Ali (R), talk to Brunei media. Photo: Rasidah HAB/The Scoop

The top three production companies will be announced on Tuesday, December 4.

“After the announcement… they need ample time to prepare for their production. We only have two months, but it is doable because it is a 30-minute program. It will not be smooth sailing but we have the team from Astro Oasis to guide them to the standard,” Farid added.

Astro Oasis’s channel manager, Ahmad Fuad Mat Ali said the collaboration was part of ASTRO’s new campaign and direction in pushing content from the Malay archipelago.

Astro Oasis is a predominantly Islamic channel and airs content related to Islam with topics ranging from lifestyle, entertainment to education.

“However, we have to be very selective in terms of what we want to share with our audience as this is the first collaboration,” Ahmad Fuad said.

ASTRO’s Assistant Vice President at the Content Development Unit for Malay Content Business, Hakim Amir, said there was diversity in terms of the ideas pitched by Bruneian companies on Friday.

“Brunei content makers range from the young ones [who feature content primarily in social media] to the more experienced ones. The diversity in terms of the levels of experience made me believe that there’s a lot of depth in Brunei’s content makers,” he said.

However, he added the program need to have strong content, in order to sustain viewership: “If you are doing a program for half an hour, you need to make sure that it is filled with moments that engage and moments that people would want to watch.