Tuesday, October 25, 2016

M-Net turns 30 years old as it celebrates three decades of bringing viewers in South Africa and across Africa a premium TV experience.

M-Net officially turns 30 years old today - celebrating three decades of bringing viewers in South Africa and across the African continent premium TV content since it changed and revolutionised the face of South African television on 26 October 1986 forever.

It's today - exactly 30 years ago - that M-Net went live in South Africa and broke the stranglehold of the often staid South African public broadcaster's moribund programming.

M-Net introduced viewers to exciting TV content and concepts - from the soaps Loving and Egoli and the latest movies shown without commercial breaks, to M-Net East Net for Indian viewers, a dedicated youth slot, KTV; real magazine and investigative programming ranging from Revue Plus to Carte Blanche, and buzz-worthy reality shows from Idols to Big Brother and beyond.

M-Net started with R50 000 after securing a pay-TV licence in April 1985 and while its start was catastrophic - it lost R3.5 million per month just six months after it started - the Randburg based pay-TV operator started to break even on a monthly basis just two years later and since then, has never looked back.

In 1990 the existence of M-Net, that at that time passed the 400 000 subscriber mark, led to the creation of MultiChoice and its DStv satellite pay-TV service that has grown to provide M-Net supplied as well as global third-party channels to million of DStv subscribers in South Africa and across more than 50 countries in Africa.

Remember M-Net Open Time during which viewers could get unencoded access to the M-Net magic on a daily basis between 17:00 and 19:00? 

Remember the multiracial M-Net continuity presenters - white black, Indian, and coloured - all on one channel together - that presented a vision to South African viewers of not how the country was, but who it could be?

With an M-Net decoder costing R595 and a monthly subscription of R29, viewers gorged on the feast of international content and growing local slate as the pay-TV subscribers started running rings around the SABC, realising that viewers wanted to be treated like consumers, instead of being spoonfed on old series and hokey local programming with bad production values.

It also held true for South African and international sports coverage. 

Creating the SuperSport brand, M-Net revolutionised outside broadcasting for sports events - especially rugby - realising that consumers will pay for premium coverage, in multiple languages, with multi camera-angles and insightful commentary, of live events.

While the kids watched the goofy KTV presenters and dad watched the Currie Cup, mom watched Egoli, the local soap from Franz Marx that set new benchmarks for serialised daily TV storytelling in South Africa and spawned the creation of all the other local soap operas that came after it.

From Survivor South Africa, to Who Wants to be a Millionaire? to Dali Thambo's talk show Night Moves, from Sex Etc. to Trevor Noah's first TV talk show and from the creation of kykNET to Mzansi Magic and M-Net Movies, M-Net has always pushed the boundaries to better what South African television could be.

Idols that started in 2002 on M-Net and that is still on, is as popular, judged by the ratings, as when it first aired 14 years ago while M-Net kept with what worked and added: everything from The Weakest Link and MasterChef South Africa to The Voice South Africa.

As M-Net grew, shows like Big Brother SA grew into Big Brother Mzansi and Big Brother Africa - indicative of M-Net and MultiChoice's continental television expansion drive that became and remain as ambitious as when Koos Bekker in the early 1980's at Columbia University in New York did his thesis on a pay-TV model for South Africa and started to dream about bringing a better world of television to viewers.

M-Net's 30th anniversary celebration will carry on during November. M-Net is running a pop-up channel, M-Net Movies BlockParty on DStv channel 109 during October and will do a M-Net Movies Harry Potter pop-up channel during November.

M-Net is doing a 30th anniversary theme song competition in which 30 viewers can each win R30 000 with their rendition of Queen's iconic theme song A Kind of Magic that M-Net used as one of its theme songs, and there is the The Greatest Movie Ever Made competition. 

A coffee table book is in the works, while M-Net is also producing a new TV special looking back at its three decades as a pay-TV broadcaster that will be shown across M-Net's channels on DStv during November.

From this coming Friday, M-Net and DStv will open three of its DStv Premium channels, M-Net (DStv 101), M-Net Edge (DStv 102) and VUZU AMP (DStv 103) to all DStv Extra and DStv Compact subscribers.

"M-Net has grown immensely over the past 30 years – from being one pay-television channel to producing more than 40 channels for different audiences across the continent on different platforms," says Yolisa Phahle, M-Net CEO.

"But we wouldn't have been here without the continued support of every single person who finds our kaleidoscope of story-telling entertaining, informative or inspiring."

Monday, October 24, 2016

New 7de Laan episode will be broadcast on SABC2 on Monday night, after crisis over new 7de Laan and Muvhango contracts are finally resolved.

The SABC's 7de Laan will be broadcast tonight on SABC2 after the SABC rushed to sign off on a long-delayed new contract for the Afrikaans weekday soap after an ultimatum from the production company that it won’t deliver any new episodes from today without a signed contract.

After waiting for months, the SABC has now put signatures on new contracts for both 7de Laan and the Venda soap Muvhango.

It's not the first time that the SABC stalled to sign contract extensions for 7de Laan and Muvhango. Muvhango is SABC2's most watched show, with 7de Laan its 7th highest rated programme according to September viewership figures.

ALSO READ: Why the SABC should temporarily lose access to 7de Laan on SABC2 even if it does manage to sign a new contract for the soap's18th season.

Late last week the production company of 7de Laan, Danie Odendaal Productions, said that it won't be delivering any new episodes of the 18th season starting today to the SABC for playout on SABC2 without a signed off contract, and also warned the cast and crew that they might not get paid at the end of this month and to make alternative arrangements to get money in their bank accounts for debit orders to go through.

Muvhango's production company, Word of Mouth Productions had to take out a loan to pay cast and crew earlier this month and 7de Laan’s producers said it would no longer be able to pay staff out of its own pocket without money coming in and a signed new contract.

SABC spokesperson Kaizer Kganyago, trying to downplay the crisis, told Eyewitness News that 7de Laan will now continue and will be shown on SABC2 this evening.

"There’s never been a crisis over this matter because discussions have been taking place over a period of time," Kaizer Kganyago told EWN.

"The contract has now been finalised and I don't think anyone should worry about anything. Whoever was spreading these messages out there did so with malicious intent."

It was ironically the SABC's own service providers spreading the messages.

Frances Maposa, 7de Laan producer in an internal memo told staff that "it is with great concern and sympathy that I write this memo today, in all the years of being at 7de Laan, this is the first time that this type of memo has to be sent out,", saying that because the SABC didn't ensure that a new timeous contract is in place, "the ripple effect of this sees no end".

The 7de Laan spokesperson said on Friday and over the weekend that there will only be finality on Monday as to whether there would be a further episode of 7de Laan screened on Monday evening on SABC2.

SABC again wins awards at the Media Sunshine Awards - yes, there is such a thing.

The SABC has again won awards at the Media Sunshine Awards.

The 2nd Mpumalanga Media Sunshine Awards took place on Saturday in Middelburg where the South African public broadcaster scooped prizes at the awards ceremony for talent in the media and music industries.

Flomi Skhosana, executive producer for the SABC's Ndebele TV news and Ndebele news reader Reader Vusi Ndlovu won, as well as Ligwalagwala FM radio presenters Lungile Mhango and Dumisa Mavuso.

Tys Mngidi from Ikwekwezi FM won as best sports commentator.

The SABC winning awards at this ceremony is ironic, given that the public broadcaster's controversial boss Hlaudi Motsoeneng is known for his push for what is known as "sunshine journalism" - so-called "positive stories" that shy away from topics like corruption, failures around goverment and government service delivery issues and service delivery protests.

His plan and announcement earlier this year of 90% local music airplay on SABC radio stations was followed by an order for 80% local TV content on SABC3, and was preceded a few year's ago with a dictum of "70% happy news" on the SABC's TV and radio stations.

In 2013 Hlaudi Motsoeneng said that "from the SABC's side, 70% should be positive news stories and then you can have 30% negative stories. The reason I am championing this is because if you only talk about the negative, people can't even try to think on their feet."

In mid-July this year the broadcasting regulator, the Independent Communications Authority of South Africa (Icasa) ordered the SABC - after a public hearing and a massive public outcry - to reverse Hlaudi Motsoeneng's decision taken in May this year, to censor visuals of the destruction of property on SABC TV news.

Nigeria wins the most, followed by South Africa at the MAMAs 2016; awards show flat with awkward hosting trio of Bonang Matheba, Yemi Alade and Nomzamo Mbatha.

The MTV Africa Music Awards 2016 took place on Saturday night at the Ticketpro Dome in Johannesburg for the first time with the live awards ceremony that was broadcast on MTV Base (DStv 322) and MTV (DStv 130), as well as delayed-live on e.tv.

Bonang Matheba replaced the ill Trevor Noah at short notice.

Bonang Matheba presented with Nomzamo Mbatha and the Nigerian singer Yemi Alade but the trio's presenting style came across as awkward, forced and bland and the awards show with short songs, and a very dark stage, as flat and uninspiring.

Performances during the awards show included Cassper Nyovest, Wizkid, Maphorisa, Yemi Alade, American rapper Future, Nasty C,Wodumo and a tribute to Mandoza who died recently.

Nigeria won 6 awards, followed by South Africa with 5.

The winners of the MTV Africa Music Awards 2016 were:

Artist of the Year: Wizkid (Nigeria)
Best Female: Yemi Alade (Nigeria)
Best Male: Wizkid (Nigeria)
Best Group: Sauti Sol (Kenya)
Best Breakthrough Act: Tekno (Nigeria)
Best Live Act:  Cassper Nyovest (South Africa)
Best Hip Hop: Emtee (South Africa)
Song of the Year: “My Woman, My Everything” Patoranking feat. Wande Coal (Nigeria)
Listener’s Choice: Jah Prayzah (Zimbabwe)
Video of the Year:  “Niquer Ma Vie” - Youssoupha (Congo) - Director: Antony Abdelli & Jose Eon
Best Pop & Alternative: Shekinah & Kyle Deutsch (South Africa)
Best Francophone: Serge Beynaud (Ivory Coast)
Best Lusophone: C4 Pedro (Angola)
Personality of the Year:  Caster Semenya (South Africa)
Legend Award: Hugh Masekela
Best Collaboration: DJ Maphorisa feat. Wizkid & DJ Buckz - "Soweto Baby" (South Africa/Nigeria)
Africa Reimagined: Vivian Onano and Mary Taedzerwa
Best International: Drake (USA)

Saturday, October 22, 2016

Why the SABC should temporarily lose access to 7de Laan on SABC2 even if it does manage to sign a new contract for the soap's 18th season.

Even if the SABC manages to put a signature on a new contract – delayed for months already – for its Afrikaans soap 7de Laan before it literally runs out of episodes on Monday, SABC2 should actually rightly lose the ability to air episodes, at least temporarily.

Even if the SABC manages to sign a new contract with Danie Odendaal Productions for new 7de Laan episodes before the 18th season is supposed to start on Monday on SABC2, it's actually wholly unfair of the public broadcaster to expect a new episode and subsequent episodes to immediately, and seamlessly, be available for playout.

Local soap productions – those of the SABC but also of other South African broadcasters like e.tv, M-Net and Mzansi Magic – work at breakneck speed, Rumpelstilskin-like, as they churn out episode after episode often under gruelling conditions with long and exhausting production schedules.

In order to provide an adequate "buffer", in-production soaps film episodes roughly around two to two and a half months in advance of what the TV biz refers to as the actual “TX” or broadcasting date.

Rightly, if the SABC signs a new contract over the weekend, the SABC and SABC2 should actually wait two months for new episodes to be produced and delivered since it allowed the entire "buffer"period to collapse.

In the latest 7de Laan case, Danie Odendaal Productions as a production company has actually been too nice with the SABC, and already produced 18th season episodes not yet paid for, out of its own 17th season budget that's already completed and available.

Technically it's actually an unfair expectation for the SABC to get those episodes immediately after signing a long overdue contract and having new episodes appear "magically" to broadcast on SABC2 on Monday.

Imagine ordering a wedding dress, only paying for it on a Friday, and wanting it on a Monday. It's wholly unfair to the tailor.

The Afrikaans weekday soap from Danie Odendaal Productions, along with fellow SABC2 soap Muvhango from Duma Ndlovu's Word of Mouth Pictures, saw their existing contracts with the SABC run out in August already.

In almost three months since then the SABC hasn't gotten as far as putting final signatures on contract extensions for the soaps – yet at the same time the controversial SABC boss Hlaudi Motsoeneng in May exerted massive pressure on Duma Ndlovu to sign three year contracts with his actors on the soap.

The SABC basically wants production companies to take on the bigger responsibility of guarantee work and improved work security to actors, but isn't doing the same to the production companies making its prized local content.

The questions needs to be asked how the SABC and SABC2, where Gerhard Pretorius is the SABC2 channel head, improved and streamlined the system – or not – since Muvhango and 7de Laan signed their previous contracts.

‘Nuclear option’
Recently Muvhango's Duma Ndlovu took out a loan just to pay cast and crew out of his own pocket, while Danie Odendaal Productions also paid cast and crew for the past two months when the guarantee of further income from the SABC ran out.

The latest "hullabaloo" pushed the production company to breaking point with Danie Odendaal Productions that has been forced to tell its staff that it simply can no longer pay them without a new, signed contract from the SABC.

It's been extremely awkward and uncomfortable for Danie Odendaal Productions – as a production company and as a service provider in the business of creating entertainment and escapism to millions of SABC viewers on a daily basis – having to tell the SABC that it will be withholding episodes from Monday.

In doing so, it pulled the trigger on a final "nuclear option", literally now forcing the SABC to sign a contract or go without further content.

It's not preferable, since it damages the existing relation between production company and broadcaster; however the initial business damage – and resulting bad publicity and brand damage – was caused by the SABC for dragging its feet for months.

This is not the first time the SABC delayed in signing new contracts with both Muvhango and 7de Laan, although it is the most extreme and deadline pushing crisis yet.

Neither are these the only two local production companies the SABC has been stringing along for months, desperately waiting for the signed-off greenlight to make local content for the SABC.

TVwithThinus specifically asked the SABC on Thursday if it has any comment or a response as to how the SABC feels about the situation after it publicly said numerous times in 2016 how it supports local productions, local content and local South African artists, yet fails to sign actual contracts timeously.

"The SABC does not discuss or negotiate contractual issues in the public domain or through the media," said SABC spokesperson, Kaizer Kganyago.

'Still waiting for payment from the SABC'
In the process of making television where it's usually presenters and actors hogging the limelight and whose contractual issues as on-air talent grab the headlines, it's the South African TV producer just trying to make a living and delivering good content under difficult circumstances who is very often suffering in silence.

Over the past few months since mid-July when Hlaudi Motsoeneng, then as chief operating officer (COO) suddenly announced a dramatic 90% local TV content increase for the SABC’s TV stations – starting with 80% for SABC3 – TVwithThinus has spoken to several exasperated TV producers in business with the SABC.

These TV makers – including longstanding as well as brand-new producers – speaking off the record since they're scared to damage existing and new business relationships with the SABC, all complained about "the terrible way" in which the SABC commissions local programming and acquires content.

Just like in the case with Muvhango and 7de Laan who want to remain in business with the SABC through lucrative serialised TV contracts, these other South African TV producers are angry and despondent over the haphazard and drawn-out process just to get contracts signed, too little time to meet content deliver deadlines once contracts are finally signed off, and the "debilitating" bureaucratic red tape.

Producers feel they have very little recourse and feel powerless to change the system.

When the SABC hastily "commissioned" a slate of new, mostly talk show and lifestyle magazine shows to fill sudden holes in its SABC3 schedule where international series had to be yanked mid-season from its roster, several TV producers told TVwithThinus that they were expected to produce finished episodes of brand-new shows within as little as three weeks without having proper signed-off contracts.

"Producers are extremely worried if they will be paid by the SABC, and in turn be able to pay their writers, actors and crew," a veteran TV producer said.

"The production house I work for has just sent out a notification that they are still waiting for payment from the SABC, which should hopefully happen at the end of the month," a TV producer told TVwithThinus in late-August.

"Until then, they can't pay us, the workers. Now I know the producers are anal about getting their invoices in to the SABC in good time, so this is really concerning".

Wide-ranging public inquiry needed
In September the SABC quickly found R2.6 million to help fund the hastily arranged and then disastrous #ThankYouSABC Concert, yet the past few years TV producers who have been in business with the SABC were forced to sell cars, houses and even shutter production companies after ongoing payment issues with the public broadcaster.

The Independent Producers' Organisation (IPO), representing over 80% of working TV producers in South Africa, has now called for a wide-ranging inquiry into the ongoing problems at the crisis-riddled SABC.

This "broader, stakeholder inclusive public enquiry into the SABC should include looking at the SABC's persistent crises of governance, management, funding, policy, programming and operations," says the IPO, as well as "key requirements for the public broadcaster to effectively fulfill its mandate".

"The current crisis surrounding the SABC board is not new. It is one that South Africa has experienced before. It points to the problems of the SABC as systemic, needing to be addressed beyond the failings of the present SABC board and senior management".

e.tv and OpenView HD to broadcast the MTV Africa Music Awards 2016 in HD as a delayed-live broadcast an hour after MTV Base and MTV on DStv.

e.tv and OpenView HD will broadcast the MTV Africa Music Awards 2016 in high definition (HD) as a delayed live broadcast on Saturday night at 22:00 as a delayed live broadcast, starting one hour after the live broadcast in Johannesburg from the Ticketpro Dome at 21:00 that will be shown on MTV Base (DStv 322) and MTV (DStv 130).

Trevor Noah has dropped out out as host citing illness and is replaced by Bonang Matheba as the pan-African music awards show from Viacom International Media Networks Africa (VIMN Africa) moved to Johannesburg for the first time, since it was started in 2008.

It is the 3rd time this year that e.tv is partnering with VIMN Africa and MTV Base to bring viewers the MAMAs that celebrates musicians and achievers who have made the biggest impact on African culture and the continent's music scene over the past 12 months.

"We are once again excited to be partnering with MTV Base to bring millions of our diverse free-to-air viewers the MAMAs," says Marlon Davids, managing director at e.tv channels division.

"The event offers a fantastic, rare glimpse into both the vibrant continental and global entertainment trends."

Monde Twala, the vice president for BET, youth and music at VIMN Africa says "we are thrilled to partner with e.tv to bring this amazing awards ceremony to e.tv viewers - packed with stars, music, spectacle and world class performances and collaborations".

The MTV Africa Music Awards 2016 will celebrate 18 award categories, which includes categories, which includes categories such as Best Male, Best Female, Listener's Choice and Best Group. Additional categories include the Africa Re-Imagined Award and Personality of the Year.

Viewers can look forward to African and international musicians. 

Award-winning American rapper, Future is set to join some of Africa's best entertainers such as Alikiba, Babes Wodumo, Cassper Nyovest, Nasty C, Ycee, Yemi Alade, Diamond, Emtee, Kwesta and Patoranking.

AKA and Black Coffee are nominated in the Best Male category alongside Patoranking, Wizkid and Diamond. Gold medallist Caster Semenya and Pearl Thusi will compete against the likes of Linda Ikeji, Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and Wizkid in the Personality of the Year category. 

The South African rap sensation, Emtee  is nominated in the Best Hip Hop category.

Comedian Trevor Noah pulls out as host of the MTV Africa Music Awards 2016 over illness, replaced by Bonang Matheba; says 'I'm disappointed'.

A video posted by Trevor Noah (@trevornoah) on

The South African comedian and host of Comedy Central's The Daily Show Trevor Noah has pulled out as host of the MTV Africa Music Awards 2016 set for Saturday night in Johannesburg as a live broadcast on MTV Base (DStv 322) and MTV (DStv 130) from the Ticketpro Dome at 21:00.

Not travelling to South Africa from New York over illness, Trevor Noah has been replaced by the South African presenter Bonang Matheba as the fill-on host for the pan-African awards show that will also be shown as a delayed-live broadcast on e.tv on Saturday night from 22:00.

It means that Bonang Matheba, a SABC presenter, will be seen on e.tv.

In a video message on social media, Trevor Noah says "Thank you to everyone that supports me, I know that a lot of you are going to be disappointed, I'm disappointed."

Before the video message, in a social media posting, Trevor Noah wrote that he's dropping out of his MAMAs 206 hosting duties "due to a severe upper respiratory and ear infection".

"Due to the infection and strain on my vocal chords the doctor has ordered me to rest my voice and recover my health. I desperately wish I could dismiss the doctor but the added risk of flying means that decision would be highly irresponsible and may cause further damage," wrote Trevor Noah.

"I love the MAMAs and more importantly I love performing in my country. Myself and MTV Africa have been trying to make the MAMAs a reality for a few years and I was so excited because this was finally the year where the pieces fell into place and the date was one I could do."

"I push myself as hard as I can all the time because I appreciate every opportunity I am afforded in life. Unfortunately there comes a day like today when it all catches up and my body cannot do what my mind wishes I could."

"I'm so sorry if I've disappointed you but please know that I love performing more than anything in life and so having to cancel any show, breaks my heart. Sorry isn't enough of a word to convey how I feel and again to all my fans I will do my utmost to make it up to you."

MTV Africa Music Awards 2016 organisers called Bonang Matheba on Thursday night at 20:30 and asked her is she could fill in as replacement host for Trevor Noah with 24 hours to prepare.

"We are thrilled that Bonang Matheba, one of Africa's most inspiring and luminous media personalities, will be hosting the MTV Africa Music Awards on 22 October," says Alex Okosi, the senior vice president and managing director at Viacom International Media Networks Africa (VIMN Africa) in a statement.

"With her extensive presenting experience, personal charm and beauty, Bonang Matheba is going to make a fabulous host for the MAMAs 2016 and we look forward to an amazing show on 22 October with her at the helm."

"We are naturally disappointed that Trevor NOah will be unable to join us on Saturday, but his health is of paramount importance and we wish him a speedy recovery," says Alex Okosi.

Thursday, October 20, 2016

Hearing coming at broadcasting regulator on 25 October over e.tv's desire to stop giving South African TV viewers a news bulletin during primetime.

South Africa's broadcasting regulator has set 25 October as the date for a public hearing into e.tv's controversial application to get its broadcasting licence conditions changed because e.tv no longer wants to do a TV news bulletin during prime time.

If e.tv is successful in getting its longstanding broadcasting licence conditions changed and stops broadcasting a daily half hour TV news bulletin during prime time, it will leave the SABC as the sole terrestral television broadcaster in South Africa to do national news bulletins in the country.

e.tv wants to get rid of its responsibility to do a daily half hour TV news bulletin during prime time, saying its not lucrative enough and that e.tv as a free-to-air broadcaster is a commercial channel with entertainment programming that would benefit its financial bottom-line more than giving viewers a half hour news bulletin.

e.tv's move to dump its half hour news bulletin would marginalise the diversity of voices and TV news offering that tens of millions of South African TV households rely on who do not have access to pay-TV services and those services' 24-hour TV news channels.

"In short, e.tv would like to move their prime time news bulletins outside the prime time period," says the Independent Communications Authority of South Africa (Icasa).

Icasa has received one submission about e.tv's application to dump its half hour TV news, has scheduled a public meeting for 25 October that anyone can attend, at its Sandon offices in Pinmill Farm from 10:00 in the morning.

e.tv says in its submission that if it's forced to do a half hour TV news bulletin during prime time, "English news bulletins in prime time have seen a rapid decline in ratings across all free-to-air channels over the last few years".

"As a commercial broadcaster generating most of its revenue in prime time, this presents serious revenue challenges – which ultimately lead to commercial viability challenges".

e.tv has already dumped a half hour Zulu prime time TV news bulletin it introduced in 2015.

e.tv's eNews Prime Time, renamed eNews Direct, was the most watched TV news bulletin on South African television for several years.

Debilitating tinkering as well as bad and perplexing time slot and style changes has seen its viewership fall as e.tv gave its soaps Scandal! and Rhythm City more attention and better timeslots, leading to the very viewership drop e.tv is complaining.

e.tv moved its news bulletin from its prime TV real estate at 19:00 to a dead zone 20:30, and then to 18:30 where eNews Direct is a ratings failure.

e.tv at the time said the move to 18:30 is because market research showed that viewers want to see the main English news bulletin earlier.

e.tv's claim that South African viewers don't watch TV news and that TV news ratings are falling appears to be untrue.

SABC1's Xhosa news bulletin at 19:30 drew roughly 4.2 million viewers (12.6 AR) in September and the Zulu TV news on SABC1 4.17 million viewers (12.2 AR) - both making the top 20 most watched shows on the channel during the month.

On SABC2 the Afrikaans TV news bulletin pulled 1.45 million viewers (4.3 AR) during September, while the SABC's flagship English news bulletin on SABC3 grabbed 666 162 viewers (2 AR).

While e.tv's eNews Direct has plunged and doesn't even rate high enough to make its monthly 20 most watched programming, its one minute eNews Direct headlines at 18:00 is very strong and lured 3.2 million viewers (9.6 AR) in September, indicating that viewers will watch news on e.tv when it's done at a time that works for them.

SABC2 soap 7de Laan forced to warn cast and crew that they might not get paid since,like Muvhango, the SABC has so far failed to sign a new contract.

SABC2's 7de Laan production has been forced to warn its entire cast and crew to try and manage their finances since they might not be paid at the end of this month because the SABC continues to drag its feet in signing a new contract just like with Muvhango.

UPDATE Thursday 20 October 2016 14:00 - I'm told by production sources who confirm to me that the show will definitely not be giving the SABC any 7de Laan episodes unless there isn't a signed contract and that it means that if there is no signed contract, there won't be a 7de Laan episode on Monday on SABC2.

Like the SABC's other local soap on SABC2, Muvhango, that ran out of its current contract months ago and doesn't have a signed new one leading to financial hardship for the actors and crew who struggled to get paid, the SABC has so far also failed to sign a new contract with 7de Laan producers. 

According to multiple insiders at Danie Odendaal Productions, the soap is in crisis with production that might shut down this coming Wednesday.

Frances Maposa, 7de Laan line producer wrote a memo to all 7de Laan staff - the cast, crew and writers - saying "it is with great concern" that 7de Laan is forced "for the first time that this type of memo has to be sent out".

YOU magazine reports that Frances Maposa told the cast and crew that the production company will withhold all episodes for the upcoming 18th season, set to start on Monday 24 October until the SABC has signed a new contract.

It means that if the SABC fails to sign an actual new contract, that there won't be new episodes on SABC2 from Monday.

According to insiders the SABC has been dragging its feet since August, and more than two months later 7de Laan is yet to see a signed contract.

SABC spokesperson Kaizer Kganyago says in response to a media enquiry asking why new contracts haven't been signed with Muvhango and 7de Laan, why there's been a delay, and how the SABC that says it supports local content and artists that the SABC doesn't pay staff of any production company and can't comment.

"The SABC does not discuss or negotiate contractual issues in the public domain or through the media," says Kaizer Kganyago.

The other SABC2 local soap, Muvhango, also doesn't have a new contract after month's of waiting. There the production company is paying actors and staff out of its own pocket, waiting for the SABC to sign a new contract as well.

Production on 7de Laan might shut down on Wednesday, according to sources, if cast and crew are not paid since several people use public transport to get to work.

In the memo Francis Maposa warns people about "the ripple effect of this sees no end" and that "each and every one of us make alternative arrangements to ensure our debits go off as well as other commitments are met".

Wednesday, October 19, 2016

MultiChoice adding Nigeria's ROK channel from ROK Studios to DStv from 1 November across Africa, excluding South Africa.

The Nigerian ROK channel from ROK Studios will launching on MultiChoice's DStv on 1 November across sub-Saharan Africa with original Nollywood series and films.

ROK will be available on DStv channel 168 in 52 countries and in Southern Africa, but excluding South Africa.

ROK will launch with ROK Studios' exclusively-produced content, including Festac Town, Banks Chronicles and Bloodline

ROK Studios was launched in 2013 and has a production house based in Lagos, Nigeria.

Nigerian cinema, known colloquially as Nollywood, is the second largest film industry in the world, in terms of production output and in its short history ROK Studios has become a prolific prducer of original content, creating a Nollywood catalogue of 12 TV series and over 150 movies.

ROK is programmed, produced and developed in-house by ROK's Lagos-based team and is headed up by Mary Njoku, an award-winning Nollywood actress and film producer.

"Joining the DStv family is the next step in ROK's evolution as Nollywood's leading film production house and brand," says Mary Njoku.

"What lies beneath every ROK production, the ROK brand, be it movies or TV series, is our fanatical love of African storytelling; we want to relate amazing African stories that our fans can recognise, be swept away by and be entertained with."

"We work with Nigeria's most exceptional talent, in front of and behind the camera, and we continue to push the boundaries in terms of production values. This has given us the edge, in our short history, and has helped us build a fanbase around the world."

"ROK on DStv allows us to bring ROK to every corner of the continent and connect viewers with content they love".

John Ugbe, MultiChoice Nigeria managing director, says in a statement "one of the cornerstones of our customer promise is to deliver content that our customers love and enjoy, and that is why we're excited to introduce ROK which will boost DStv's local content offering and showcase even more African stories made in Africa, for us Africans".

MultiChoice Africa is adding the Eva+ channel on DStv and GOtv as a sister telenovela channel to Eva from AMC Networks International UK.

MultiChoice Africa is adding the sister channel to the telenovela channel Eva, Eva+, from AMC Networks International, to DStv in several South African countries from 1 November.

Eva+ will not be available on DStv in South Africa, but will be added to the DStv and GOtv platforms in several African countries.

Eva+ will be the first channel from AMC Networks International UK (AMCNI UK) to be made available on MultiChoice's GOtv service in Africa.

The addition of Eva+ follows after Eva was added in late-March 2015 to DStv in South Africa and across Africa.

Just like Eva, Eva+ will have Latin American telenovelas dubbed in English and Portuguese.

"We are delighted to be expanding on our telenovela offering and introducing Eva+ to the African market, in partnership with MultiChoice," says Louise Cottrell, the vice president for affiliate sales for AMCNI UK.

"'Telenovelas are increasingly popular in the region, so it's exciting that with Eva+ offered on GOtv in addition to DStv, we will now be able to reach brand new viewers with our top quality content."

Tim Jacobs, MultiChoice Africa CEO, says "with our focus now on putting our customer first, we are delighted to be adding Eva+ on to our platforms".

"Telenovelas have always been a sensation with our customers and we hope this addition further demonstrates our commitment to bringing programming that will make viewers eager to tune in to DStv".

Eva+ will broadcast double bills of four telenovela titles every weekday and marathons over the weekend, including Buscando a Maria (Searching Maria) on air from Tuesday 1 November at 11:20 every weekday, then on Saturday at 06:00 and on Sunday at 16:00.

Cuando me Enamoro (Timeless Love) willbe broadcast on Eva+ from Thursday 1 December at 11:20 on weekdays at 17:00, then on Saturday at 06:00 and on Sunday at 16:00.

MultiChoice adding a Harry Potter pop-up channel from M-Net to DStv from 4 November; lowering DStv subscription prices in several African countries.

MultiChoice announced that it will be lowering monthly DStv subscription fees from 1 November in several African countries where the DStv prices were out of line with the average and will add a temporary Harry Potter pop-up channel from M-Net.

DStv will also add several TV channels to lower-tiered bouquets in several countries and make more soccer viewing available on SuperSport channels given to its lower-tiered offerings, to boost the content offering for cheaper DStv packages and to add content value.

Several countries, including Kenya, Tanzania, Malawi, Ghana, Uganda, Zimbabwe and Botswana - but notably excluding South Africa and Nigeria, it's two biggest markets - will see a significant reduction in monthly DStv subscription fees from 1 November.

The DStv price reduction comes as tough economic conditions facing consumers and greater competition in the pay-TV market from rivals like StarTimes, EcoNet, Zuku and others, have seen the pan-African pay-TV operator decide to lower prices to try and stem the tide of MultiChoice Africa customers cancelling subscriptions.

In Nigeria DStv prices are not lowered but some new local channels like ROK are being added and several channels previously only accessible to DStv Premium subscribers are being made available to lower packages to add bigger content value to cheaper subscription options.

New channels added
Elsewhere in Africa new TV channels like Eva+, a sister channel to the telenovela channel Eva, will be added to DStv, along with the Nigerian entertainment channel ROK from ROK Studios, with several channels that will be upgraded to high definition (HD) quality similar to South Africa.

While DStv Premium subscribers across the continent and including South Africa can watch the pop-up M-Net channel M-Net Movies BlockParty on DStv channel 109, MultiChoice in a statement says DStv subscribers can "look forward to more exciting pop-up channels in the coming months like the M-Net Movies Harry Potter pop-up channel which will run from 4 to 14 November".

The Harry Potter pop-up channel will show all of the Harry Potter movies before the debut of the first movie in the new spin-off film series, Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them that is scheduled for a worldwide release on 18 November.

It's similar to what M-Net did with its Star Wars pop-up channel late last year before the release of the new Star Wars film.

Significant price drop
The DStv price reduction starting 1 November, comes in a year in which MultiChoice Africa decided not to increase subscription fees in several countries outside of South Africa, and following a first-ever double price increase in 2015 to try and keep up with local African currencies' ongoing depreciation against the American dollar in which most premium TV content are acquired.

The stiff DStv price hikes put subscribers under pressure and led to the loss of 288 000 subscribers in one year as people could no longer afford the service or no longer saw it as valuable enough, at the same time as competing services like the subscription video-on-demand (SVOD) service like Naspers' ShowMax and America's Netflix launched their services across Africa.

About the move to adjust prices in several African countries, MultiChoice Africa says that "when reviewing our packages and prices in each country, we take into account local dynamics such as inflation, content costs, foreign exchange rates, local taxes and overheads required for each business".

"The price of DStv in South Africa as well as some of the other markets including Nigeria compare favourably with the pricing in the countries where subscription prices are currently being reviewed downwards".

In East African countries like Kenya, DStv subscribers will pay between 5% to 13% less from 1 November for the various packages.

In Uganda, a MultiChoice spokesperson said it "realized that it increasing subscriptions all the time is not sustainable. In the long run, people will not afford our services if we continued this way".

In Uganda DStv subscriptions are dropping from November by up to 15%.

In Zimbabwe DStv subscriptions are dropping between 11% and 21% from November with subscribers to cheaper packages in this country, as elsewhere, getting more soccer content with the addition of more UEFA Champions League matches as well as coverage of the best European football leagues and the Europa league on SuperSport.

"The significant price drop, coupled with the major boost in entertainment value across all DStv bouquets, demonstrates our commitment to ensuring DStv customers receive the best possible access to great entertainment and outstanding value," says MultiChoice Africa in a statement that was slightly adjusted for each African country where DStv price reductions are being introduced.

"These changes are not only a defining moment in our MultiChoice story, but also a defining moment in the African entertainment landscape and we are proud to be pushing as hard as we can to delight every television entertainment fan in Africa".

No price reduction in South Africa
MultiChoice in South Africa says South African DStv subscribers won't see a price reduction and that the price of DStv Premium in South Africa compares favourably with the pricing in other African countries.

"We review the DStv prices once a year when we do our business planning - our prices for next year will be announced before 1 April 2017".

MultiChoice South Africa says "when reviewing our packages and pricing in each country, we take into account local dynamics such as inflation, content costs, foreign exchange rates, local taxes and overheads required for each business".

"We've done a lot of research into what pay-TV costs in other parts of the world, and we believe that DStv offers good value for money in the countries in which it operates."

"In South Africa we've implemented a number of cost-saving options for our customers - those who pay annually receive one month free, and our Price Lock packages enable customers to freeze their package price for two years".

MultiChoice currently has close to 10 million subscribers in 49 sub-Saharan African countries.

Tuesday, October 18, 2016

The SABC's TV channels all in a troubling viewership slide in September, while Sofia the First on DStv's Disney Channel proves the power of a princess.

The SABC's three main TV channels each continue a very troubling downward trend in the ratings as SABC1, SABC2 and SABC3 continued to shed viewers in September, while Sofia the First on The Disney Channel on DStv delightfully proved the viewership power of a princess.

Troubling for industry watchers is that the overall TV viewership of people watching the SABC was again lower in September than in the preceding month, due to lower ratings for each of the public broadcaster's three main channels, according to the viewership figures compiled by the Broadcast Research Council of South Africa (BRCSA).

SABC1's overall viewership during September fell from a month before, with the bulk of its top 20 most watched shows all grabbing less viewers than during August.

SABC1 lost thousands of viewers in total from Generations, Uzalo, Skeem Saam, Vodacom Millionaires, Thandeka's Diary, Selimathunzi, Shuga, Live Amp and Rise that were all down from the previous month, while the Xhosa news, Mutual Friends and Zaziwa managed to edge up.

On SABC1, soaps Generations and Uzalo remain dead even as the most watched shows on South African television - both with a 23.9 AR, with Generations grabbing slightly more viewers for its top-rated episode in September with 8.16 million viewers, compared to Uzalo's 8.15 million.

Worryingly, SABC2's viewership is also edging lower, with the second SABC channel's average top viewership for its top 20 most watched shows in September, also falling lower than a month before.

SABC2's viewership problems
SABC2's top shows - like its Venda soap Muvhango, the live Lotto draw and others are all down, but that's not where the problems end.

The plummeting viewership of 7de Laan remains a growing problem for the SABC, with the ratings of the once strong Afrikaans weekday soap on SABC2 once again falling further from August to September from a 5.5 AR (1.86 million viewers) to a 5.3 AR (1.81 million viewers) for its top rated episodes.

Whilst still a top show for SABC2, the channel seems unable to stop the viewership erosion, with the bad recent timeslot change that's been having an ongoing detrimental impact on the show's ratings.

Viewers are also fleeing SABC2's Afrikaans news bulletin, down from 4.4 ARs (1.49 million viewers) to 4.3 AR in September (1.45 million viewers) that also apparently changed its timeslot for the worse.

Also down in September from August: The viewership of SABC2 shows ranging from Musiek Roulette to Keletso.

SABC2's consumer magazine show Speak Out showed an uptick from a 6.8AR to a 7.4 AR (2.5 million viewers) in September.

SABC3's painful ratings slide
SABC3 remains a big and growing problem for the SABC.

As the SABC's only commercial TV channel that is supposed to pull in an affluent metropolitan audience highly sought after by advertisers, the opposite has been happening.

With the evisceration of its schedule by controversial boss Hlaudi Motsoeneng who banished foreign TV shows for an avalanche of rushed-to-air local shows, none of which are pulling audiences, viewers have made their displeasure known with the SABC for removing hugely popular fare like Days of Our Lives and American drama series from advantageous timeslots.

Although it costs the SABC millions of rands to produce new local content shows, the raft of new, mostly talking heads talk show type and reality magazine shows have failed to lift SABC3's anemic viewership for a third month in a row.

This is putting pressure on the SABC to do something as SABC3's overall programme ratings and viewership keeps dropping.

The SABC will have to either return popular foreign shows like The Amazing Race and other foreign drama and sitcom series it yanked mid-season back to the SABC3 schedule and bring back Days to its late afternoon timeslot, or produce better and more compelling local shows than the Divas of Jozi and Top Chef SA that viewers rejected.

Foreign films left on the SABC3 schedule is what fills the bulk of SABC3's most watched programming list during September, while its local weekday soap Isidingo showed a small uptick from 3.1 AR (1.03 million viewers) to 3.3 AR (1.11 million viewers) for its highest rated episodes.

Besides Isidingo, the only local TV series besides foreign movies to rate at all on SABC3's top 20 most watched list for September are telenovela High Rollers (1.8 AR), late afternoon talk show Afternoon Express (1.6 AR) and the stalwart glam magazine show Top Billing (1.4 AR) in the 20th position.

It's hugely troubling to advertisers and the TV biz that despite spending big bucks to fund new local shows to fill primetime, that viewers have turned their back on the entire new local content offering that SABC3 presented on its schedule when it comes to ratings.

e.tv's soap surge
The SABC's viewership loss is largely free-to-air channel e.tv's gain.

On e.tv in September its weekday soaps Scandal surged from August (13.2 AR to 13.8 AR and 4.7 million viewers) while sister soap Rhythm City also grew from 9.6 AR to 10.6 AR and 3.63million viewers.

The latest season of the Rapid Blue produced SA's Got Talent is a viewership hit as the 5th most watched show on e.tv in September with a 9.9 AR and luring 3.38 million viewers for its most watched episode so far.

The power of a Disney princess
Mzansi Magic (DStv 161) continues to grab the lion's share of viewers on MultiChoice's DStv satellite pay-TV platform, with Our Perfect Wedding, Isibaya, Rockville and Idols remaining the four most watched shows on in September on DStv, as they were in August.

The Queen, Greed & Desire - and even the repeat broadcasts of both shows - both series on Mzansi Magic as well, also took four spots out of the most watched programming list on DStv for September.

Don't ever under-estimate the resolve of children and the steel-strong consumer power of young viewers to influence viewing behaviour and patterns.

MultiChoice and The Walt Disney Company opening up The Disney Channel (DStv 303) in September to subscribers on lower-tiered packages was a huge ratings bonanza for Disney.

The toddler animation show Sofia the First on The Disney Channel for instance managed to lure more adult viewers in September aged 15 years and older to DStv than some Absa Premiership and Premier League soccer matches.

What it means is that such is the power of a Disney princess, that Sofia got her young underlings to not only watch the show themselves, but got them to force their parents - moms and dads - to watch with them, unable to tune away to "big people" shows.

More than 341 202 adult viewers (and that's excluding kids younger than 15) tunde in for the most watched Sofia the First episode on The Disney Channel on DStv during September.

The third party movie channel Studio Universal (DStv 112) from NBCUniversal International Networks popped up a ratings hit in September.

Studio Universal rated in September when the film First Blood drew 377 072 viewers on 3 September, making it the most watched movie on DStv during the month and giving it an overall 15th place on the most watched list.

Monday, October 17, 2016

New Telemundo International Studios launched by NBCUniversal Telemundo Enterprises, headed up by Marcos Santasa, president of Telemundo International.

The new Telemundo International Studios has been launched by NBCUniversal Telemundo Enterprises.

The new Telemundo International Studios will help to produce series for international markets with programming that will very likely show up in future on channels like Telemundo Africa (DStv 118) on MultiChoice's DStv satellite pay-TV platform.

MultiChoice carries the channel from NBCUniversal International Networks with its Spanish telenovelas in dubbed English and Portuguese in South Africa and across the African continent.

Marcos Santana, president of Telemundo International, will head up Telemundo International Studios that will be based in Miami in the United States.

Telemundo International Studios will "generate content that can travel to all platforms, from broadcast to pay-TV and digital media".

"Telemundo International Studios will tap into an international growth opportunity at a time when Telemundo has established itself as the number 1 Spanish-language broadcast network in prime time in the United States," says Cesar Conde, chairman of NBCUniversal International Group and NBCUniversal Telemundo Enterprises.

"With this new production, we will continue innovating and increasing the level of content production in Spanish in the United States internationally.

"The launch of Telemundo International Studios represents the great growth of our unit, increasing our offer's expansion and our distribution catalog, generating new opportunities for markets and platforms," says Marcos Santana.

The Walking Dead on FOX renewed for 8th season; DStv subscribers will have to switch to StarSat to catch Fear the Walking Dead and aftershow Talking Dead from November.

AMC has renewed The Walking Dead shown on FOX for an 8th season as well as the aftershow Talking Dead on AMC just before the start of the zombie drama's upcoming 7th season.

South African viewers will be able to watch the 8th season of The Walking Dead on FOX (DStv 125 / StarSat 131) in late-2017 that will have 16 episodes. The 8th season premiere will mark the series' 100th episode.

With MultiChoice killing off the AMC channel on DStv, only StarSat subscribers will be able to watch the companion aftershow series, Talking Dead, that airs on the AMC channel from after mid-November.

AMC still airs on DStv channel 140 until 11 November, but the channel that shows the spin-off zombie drama series Fear the Walking Dead, already renewed for a third season, and the talk show Talking Dead will only remain accessible to StarSat subscribers on channel 115 from after that.

Meanwhile the 7th season of The Walking Dead will premiere on FOX this coming Monday morning, 24 October, for South African and African viewers at 03:30 in the morning as a simulcast with the American airdate.

The Walking Dead's 7th season will then roll out its first episode again later on Monday night at 21:00 in its regular weekly timeslot.

DStv and StarSat subscribers can watch the second season of Talking Dead: Fear Edition from today on AMC on Mondays at 20:45 with presenter Chris Hardwick.

The premiere episode of The Walking Dead's 7th season is set to reveal which main character villain Negan (Jeffrey Dean Morgan) has chosen to kill off in the 6th season finale cliffhanger, although its a certainty that it won't be the lead character of Rick Grimes (Andrew Lincoln) who is definitely safe.

"Eeny, meeny, miny, more," says AMC boss Charlie Collier in a statement announcing the 8th season renewal of The Walking Dead.

"What a joy to partner with Robert Kirkman, Scott Gimple and some of the hardest-working people in television to bring The Walking Dead to the fans. And, most important, thanks to those fans for breathing life into this remarkable series right along with us."

The FOX Networks Group (FNG) will once again show episodes of The Walking Dead internationally in over 125 territories, including South Africa and across Africa, 24 hours after the season launch on AMC in America.

As in previous seasons, the 7th season of The Walking Dead will be shown in two parts with the first 8 episodes from this coming Monday, and the second batch of 8 episodes from February 2017.