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Africa Channel CEO is Said to Have Been Ousted

Los Angeles Wave, News Report, Olu Alemoru Posted: Mar 24, 2009

The head of a leading cable channel for African programming has been ousted from his position as chief executive amid mounting financial difficulties, according to sources familiar with the matter.

The Wave has learned that James Makawa, co-founder of the North Hollywood based The Africa Channel, was abruptly relieved of his duties when a new executive team made up of African investors believed to be based in the Midwest flew in last week.

The new team is said to have changed locks and is now running operations at the channel. A cell phone message left for Makawa was not returned.

When contacted by The Wave an Africa Channel spokeswoman neither confirmed nor denied the allegation.

She referred a reporter to Bob Reid, listed in the company information as executive vice president and general manager, despite acknowledging that he was abroad on business.

Founded in 2003, the channel is already available in major markets such as Atlanta, New York, Washington D.C., Detroit and Houston.

According to Makawa, the channel was launched officially in 2005 with $20 million in private capital including initial investors like NBA star Dikembe Mutombo, NBC Universal executive Paula Madison and former diplomat Andrew Young.

At press time, Mutombo and Young had not returned e-mail responses through their respective charitable foundations and Madison had not returned several phone calls.

Last July, Makawa, 48, was front and center when The Africa Channel debuted in Time Warner Cables Metro Los Angeles are on Channel 176. Time Warner joined Cox and Charter Communications as three of the biggest cable markets in the country to feature the channel.

Far from the stereotypical Western images of Africa war-torn, nations, famine, exotic wildlife The Africa Channel showcases a modern, diverse, vibrant look at the continent.

It boasts 1,800 hours of programming that spans news and information, travel, lifestyle, music, soaps, talk shows, reality and special events.

Born in Zimbabwe, Makawa, is a well-traveled TV executive who majored in journalism at the University of Evansville in Indiana and worked as a news correspondent for NBC before founding a South African syndication company in 2000.

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