Thursday, September 21, 2017

DAILY TV NEWS ROUND-UP. Today's interesting TV stories to read from TVwithThinus - 21 September 2017.

Here's the latest news about TV that I read, and that you should too:

■ Correspondent Ayman Mohyeldin is getting his own weekend anchoring show on MSNBC (StarSat 263).
His show will be followed by yet another new MSNBC weekend show with Kasie Hunt as the anchor.

■ Leslie Moonves says CBS and CBS News is talking about what to do with the CBS Evening News.
South African and African viewers can still see it on Sky News (DStv 402).

■ Firefly at 15 years: The cast shares their oral history about the short-lived science fiction show.

■ Manga Nawa-Mukena (37), MultiChoice Namibia's former marketing manager back in court for fraud case. 
After she made MultiChoice Namibia pay N$2 million (R2 million) over a period of 4 years into her bank account that appeared on invoices, Manga Nawa-Mukena is back in court for a 4th appearance.
The lovely Manga denied guilt on charges of fraud and forgery.
She handed in the invoices, but claims she doesn't know how her bank account details ended up on the 80 falsified invoices. She will appear in court again on 17 November.

■ Stephen Colbert slams Donald Trump over the American president's obsession with the Emmys and ratings.

■ Sabrina the Teenage Witch is following Archie as a live-action TV teen drama series.
The Chilling Adventures of Sabrina will be a dark horror show designed to serve as a companion series to Riverdale that is seen on

■ After winning big with The Handmaid's Tale at the 2017 Emmys, Hulu is pumping another $2.5billion into making more TV series.
Will launch another 7 new original TV series within the next 6 to 9 months.

■ A 5th Game of Thrones prequel drama series is being developed and could possibly make it to television.

■ Research finds 59% of TV companies are unprepared and unequipped for advanced TV.

■ Netflix's success only makes it burn through more and more money.
Spending cash on original content is to blame for Netflix's growing debt, and it's not going to stop until Netflix's user growth stops.

Wednesday, September 20, 2017

eNCA news anchors complain about 'toxic environment' at eNCA as freelance news readers say they're forced to work without contracts.

eNCA (DStv 403) news anchors are complaining about a "toxic work environment" at the eMedia Investments run TV news channel carried on MultiChoice's DStv satellite pay-TV platform, with freelance news readers saying they're working without contracts.

TVwithThinus asked eMedia Investments on Wednesday if it can please say whether eNCA freelance news anchors, working late nights and weekends for instance, have contracts, and if not, why not, or how does it work?

Spokesperson Vassili Vass declined to answer the question specifically.

TVwithThinus also asked about Sally Burdett apparently promising news anchors contracts - something else that according to news anchors haven't happened and if eNCA and eMedia Investments has any possible comment or explanation.

eNCA anchors say they are living in fear of speaking out about their "toxic working environment", fearing that they'd be dropped from the news reading schedule.

"The company adheres to all labour laws of the country,' said Vassili Vass in response. "The matter of contracts, freelance and otherwise, is an internal matter on which we will not be drawn to comment in public."

"That said, certain freelancers who provide ad hoc services are paid on the provision of proper invoices, and any freelancer (or any employee for that matter) who feels like he or she has not been properly accommodated in that regard is free to approach our human resources department and the matter will be attended to."

"Should any employee have any grievances, there are properly established internal channels which deal with the issues."

"All employees are treated fairly and respectfully during this process, thus talk of a toxic environment are therefore false, defamatory and unfounded. It is in our view, mischief making."

The Star newspaper first reported on Wednesday about eNCA that is apparently flouting South Africa's labour laws.

eNCA news anchors told the newspaper they're living in fear, because they don't know how much they will be paid, don't have contracts that's required by law, and don't want to force the issue, fearing that they'll be let go.

One longtime eNCA news anchor told The Star that "If you complain you are removed from the roster. And there is no contract that you can go back to and say: 'But I have a contract to work this number of shifts a month".

The issue in in the public eye, although eNCA says it is an internal matter.

Also odd is that eNCA and eMedia Investments isn't willing to confirm that all eNCA freelance news anchors have signed contracts - as required by law - something that would put the issue to bed immediately.

DAILY TV NEWS ROUND-UP. Today's interesting TV stories to read from TVwithThinus - 20 September 2017.

Here's the latest news about TV that I read, and that you should too:

■ "Haunting, chilling, peerless, plausible." How The Handmaid's Tale changed television.
Everybody is now buzzing about the drama that won the best Emmy. South Africans haven't been able to watch it - and still can't.
- The Handmaid's Tale win validates online video streaming services as an equal competitor to traditional TV.
- M-Net (DStv 101) will finally start to show it - a month and a half from now on 30 October. South Africans likely would perhaps have seen it sooner already if M-Net and DStv didn't dump the M-Net Edge channel at the beginning of the year.
Shonda Rhimes calls the Emmys "embarrassing".

■ The Murdoch's global television ambitions.
The Murdochs is interested in taking over pay-TV broadcaster Sky in the United Kingdom, but they and their 21th Century FOX have their sights on much larger, international TV goals - specifically India. And they want Europe, South America, Africa and Australia.

■ FOX News (StarSat 261) accused of blacklisting.

■ Poor SABC says it can't afford to broadcast all national sports matches.

■ "Patriotic" American TV shows are falling out of favour in the rest of the world.
American TV studios now deliberately toning down the over-done "America first" tone of dramas.

■ New video takes viewers behind-the-scenes of the new Star Trek: Discovery.
But it's not available to viewers in South Africa and Africa - although the show will be made available on Netflix Africa and South Africa from the end of this month.

■ Zambia tries to assure Zambians that StarTimes' decoders are safe.
Subscribers are also complaining about the bad video and sound quality of StarTimes channels - something that TopStar admits.

ITV Choice had another upfront. Two weeks ago. But neither I nor the others telling you about Television knew or can actually tell you anything about it.

ITV plc's ITV Choice (DStv 123) recently had a content upfront in South Africa again to showcase its upcoming programming and where ITV executives spoke but, apologies  - the lack of coverage and reporting about it is because TVwithThinus wasn't invited to it, nor told it would be happening.

Neither were other media - so sorry about that, and for not being able to do what we're supposed to, should do, love to do, and could do.

Last week Thursday just after the conclusion of M-Net's (DStv 101) media launch for The Wedding Bashers, a journalist came up to me and asked why TVwithThinus isn't doing any reporting on the ITV Choice upfront showcase.

I was flabbergasted.

Gobsmacked, I said I wasn't aware that something like that took place and that I don't believe that something like that happened.

I explained that I very specifically asked ITV Choice last year when the channel did a similar upfront in Johannesburg and also failed to alert a lot of journalists about it, if it could communicate beforehand if something like that were to take place again and if the press could please just be kept in the loop (and was assured it would be done).

The journalist said she also didn't get any communication from ITV Choice, but thought that I would have, and only knew about it from co-incidentally seeing a tweet on social media on the day - apparently 31 August. The journalist said she won't now be covering ITV Choice.

I really couldn't believe that ITV Choice'c communication to the press would be this non-existent and bad (again) about something like a programming and content upfront after it was something I specifically raised with ITV Choice a year ago and specifically asked to just be kept informed about.

After the journalist asked me, I in turn decided to quickly ask around to get a sense from other journalists and media working in print, online and radio from across South Africa - Cape Town, Johannesburg, Durban, even places like East London - if they're knew of any ITV Choice showcase event.

One by one, each and every single one of them at the event we were attending, said they didn't know about ITV Choice's upfront, and don't care about ITV Choice, with differing levels of total indifference towards the TV channel brand.

A Durban journalist with a radio show and covering television told me he's never gotten any communication from ITV Choice "and I don't care. I don't bother covering ITV Choice. ITV Choice has never invited me to anything".

Another print journalist asked: "What is ITV?" while another journalist said to me: "I never get anything from ITV Choice".

A TV critic told me: "I know and saw nothing. I didn't pick up on any ITV Choice stories about anything the channel had. It probably just shows how non-existent everything is they might be doing. That two weeks went by should tell you."

"Haven't heard anything. Got nothing," said another TV critic.

Of course it's as scientifically unsound a poll as anything to gauge instant sentiment from a group of TV critics, journalists and editors standing around and sipping champagne but it was quite revealing.

On a personal level for me however it's disturbing and disconcerting that ITV Choice would do something like showcasing content at an upfront but not bother to communicate to media, TV critics and journalists covering TV either beforehand and/or afterwards that it did so.

While ITV Choice is definitely the biggest loser, to a degree the media as messengers are losing out too when they're not able to bring the news.

Personally I like ITV Choice and I've kept close track about its programming since the channel launched in South Africa in May 2015 on MultiChoice's DStv satellite pay-TV platform.

Two weeks ago I remarked how I thought ITV Choice actually had the best Princess Diana 20th anniversary of her death documentary from all of the available programming across the various DStv channels.

As background to this sorry saga: Exactly a year ago ITV Choice also held a showcase but similarly didn't bother to communicate to media about it, although some Johannesburg press and one journalist from Port Elizabeth were invited and attended.

MultiChoice that has publicists specifically working in conjunction with channels and who themselves attended, similarly couldn't be bothered beforehand to reach out to media to make sure that they are at or aware of the ITV Choice upfront, or afterwards to get the information that was shared, out to journalists.

At the time, and after thinking a lot about it and out of respect for ITV Choice, I decided not to report on ITV Choice's lack of communication with the press in regard to the ITV Choice upfront.

What I did do a year ago was to take it up with the channel directly, and to make the effort to share the concerns I had with ITV Choice.

After a long conversation, I gave ITV Choice the benefit of the doubt that it was a mistake in the sense that ITV didn't realise or understand why it's important to keep media in the loop.

I explained why it's important to have stakeholder media like the Press Covering Television at your programming upfront, and why it is important to, at the very least, just communicate if you work in media, communications and television that you're going to have an upfront.

Last year I specifically asked ITV Choice, and was assured by ITV Choice, that in future it would communicate beforehand if it did a similar programming upfront to give media a heads-up about what it is busy with and planning, so journalists are not blindsided and caught unaware.

I really thought I was heard. I felt that ITV Choice understood where I and other media covering television, are coming from, and why we are desperate for the baby monitor to be switched on and for the communication to be flowing - even when you have to listen in from another room.

Cue a year later and ITV Choice failed to keep its promise - moving something that I was willing to forgive (although it really irked me at the time) as a genuine "didn't know better" mistake, squarely to the "Oops, I did it again" and don't seem to care box.

If you're wondering as a potential advertiser, as a dedicated or casual viewer of ITV Choice, as somebody generally interested in media, or as a TV executive or producer why there isn't any coverage of ITV Choice's upfront, it's because TVwithThinus genuinely can't and neither can others.

I can't tell you what Katherine Wen, ITV channel director said - or any of the other ITV Choice executives - after all the effort they made to fly to South Africa.

I couldn't hear what she had to say and afterwards there were no speech transcripts; no interview offered. In fact, neither I nor others even knew she was here.

I can't tell you what Paul Ridsdale, ITV's head of marketing said about ITV Choice's successes and possibilities (presumably there are) and his message and insights to South Africa's advertisers and ad buyers. It's a shame and shameful, really.

I can't tell you what ITV Choice executives said about ITV Choice's (sure to be lovely) British programming, or its content and content strategy(ies).

ITV Choice couldn't be bothered to give that information about what ITV Choice thinks about its own programming, either pre- or post its upfront.

There's no ITV Choice 2017 upfront pictures to show, no sense of what upcoming programming highlights or content developments ITV Choice is really excited or proud about - in fact, there's nothing to show.

In South Africa's TV industry where several TV channel operators from Zee TV to have joined the likes of Discovery Networks International, FOX Networks Group Africa, BBC Worldwide Africa and a growing number of others in doing upfronts to court advertisers and the press and to proudly beam about its programming, it's bizarre that ITV Choice communicates so badly about its own show-and-tell.

While its supposedly a premium pay-TV channel, ITV Choice, in its lack of proper upfront communication is more akin to what one expects from South Africa's struggling public broadcaster, the SABC.

Will ITV Choice get better at keeping the media in the loop when it has what is arguably its biggest event on its own TV calendar? Who knows?

I'm no longer holding thumbs.

And where I once cared a lot, then cared, I'm starting to care less and less. There's too many TV channels and too little time.

As the number of TV channels and programming choices that are available to South African viewers and to pay-TV subscribers keep growing, you'd think that it would be very, very important for ITV Choice to make sure, and to maximise every opportunity to get the word out there - especially with something like an upfront.

You'd think that in the cacophony of content, ITV Choice would do everything it can to communicate as best it could - that ITV Choice would crow about its own content as loudly as it could to get traction within all the noise that surrounds not just ordinary viewers, but the media trying to cover it.

Sadly, it feels as if ITV Choice - as far as South Africa and Africa are concerned - have yet to come to the realisation that in the profusion of choices, ITV Choice's biggest letdown in the content communication race, is itself.

Tuesday, September 19, 2017

BROMANCE. So, Bromans is the latest British tele-trash and comes complete with naked Gladiator lads ... and genital casts.

In the age of "Peak TV" and more terrific television across the spectrum, there's also been a widening of the Trash TV side, exemplified by yet another trashy new British reality teletrash entry, Bromans that comes complete with, yes, lets say it, genital casts.

What is this new trash, you may ask?

In Bromans that just started on ITV2 in the United Kingdom, 8 so-called "modern day" Brit-trash lads are thrown back in time to live in Romans times to compete for prizes.

Within the first 5 minutes the lot has to get naked, Gladiator-wise to recreate the Roman-slave experience, because nothing spells out TV-trash as quickly as getting "nekkid" in a cosplay reality TV show.

The British print media has had a field day with the TV trash of Bromans - a title play between the words "bromance" and "Romans" - in which the blokes are filmed in "Roman times" to see if they can live and cope (and fight naked) like Roman gladiators.

Oh, warns ITV - that also does highbrow TV like Downton Abbey - "Bromans contains strong language and nudity".

"Why can't we pull ourselves away from trash television like ITV2's Bromans?"laments Britain's The Sun. When a UK tabloids newspaper, itself trash, starts to worry, you should know the end of the world is one step nearer.

The Daily Mail calls Bromans vain and vacuous, saying "these are Tony Blair's millennials. This nation can be proud".

The Evening Standard reports that some of the bro-bros were allegedly "tricked" to take part, while Britain's The Metro breathlessly exclaimed that Bromans might just become "your new guilty viewing pleasure".

The tabloid magazine OK!, a bastion of accurate investigative reporting also reports that the dudes were "tricked" into appearing on the show, lured by promises of it merely being a "summer jolly".

There's not just muscle in the show but also golden bikinis and sand wrestling as the moron men's girlfriends have to rake through Colosseum sand to find clothes for them.

Luckily a classics professor Dr Andrew Sillett in Britain who live-tweeted the first episode, ready to point out mistakes, was delighted by how historically accurate Bromans surprisingly turned out to be.

Despite the penises, Dr Andrew Sillett says even the full-frontal male nudity of Bromans serves a real purpose and tweeted: "Obvious an excuse to show eight c*cks on ITV2 at five minutes past the watershed, but some truth in the humiliation of the gladiator".

Thank you, professor!

Forbes was harsh and gave a colisseum thumbs down, saying Bromans "fails as both history and entertainment" and is "simply a reality-couple-adventure show containing a heavy dose of various naked body parts, with all of its ancient world information seemingly cribbed from either Gladiator or 300".

Who knows if South African viewers will ever get to see the tele-trash of Bromans?

Will it pop up on ITV Choice (DStv 123) or CBS Reality (DStv 132) or one of the other reali-trashy channels on DStv or StarSat?

Who knows? More importantly, who really cares?

THE SMALL PRINT. MultiChoice is giving DStv Premium subscribers free access to Showmax until the end of March 2019 - for now.

MultiChoice that last week announced the bundling of a free Showmax subscription for all DStv Premium subscribers won't remain a free value add-on forever: Showmax will remain a free fold-in service until the end of March 2019 - for now.

MultiChoice is not planning on making Showmax available on a free-use basis to lower-tiered bouquets besides DStv Premium.

Last week MultiChoice announced that all DStv Premium subscribers can now add Naspers' subscription video-on-demand (SVOD) service to their existing DStv subscription for no extra monthly charge.

DStv Premium subscribers are now able to access Showmax - a SVOD service costing R99 per month - through DStv Explora decoders, the DStv Now app, online and smart TV sets. (Here's the steps to take.)

Showmax carries a catalogue of 25 000 TV shows and films and DStv Premium subscribers can now use up to four mobile devices such as smartphones and tablets to access the DStv Now app.

Interestingly DStv Premium subscribers accessing Showmax through DStv Explora decoders can't actually download shows - it can only be watched as "live" video streaming.

Reaction to the DStv Premium free Showmax link-up news was near-universally positive and is part of the tighter integration between Showmax and MultiChoice as the 2-year old SVOD service is folding its South African and African operations into the DStv Digital Media unit of MultiChoice.

One thing that DStv Premium subscribers have to keep in mind as they link their DStv Premium accounts and Showmax and shouldn't forget is that there's more important consumer information hidden in the small print: the Showmax add-on won't be a free included service forever.

While MultiChoice didn't specify it at all in last week's press release, the free Showmax offer for DStv Premium subscribers does actually come with an expiry date - a point at which DStv Premium subscribers will have to pay for it.

It could also be that when that time comes, MultiChoice might decide to extend the free use Showmax period, but that will only be known in 18 months' time.

In any case it would be prudent for DStv Premium subscribers who do link their DStv Premium and Showmax accounts to make use of the additional free service, to set a date reminder for March 2019 and to, when the time comes, check to then see if they will have to pay, or otherwise to delink or cancel Showmax in a year and a half's time from now if they don't want to continue with it.

In response to a media enquiry asking if Showmax will remain a free add-on service or if it will remain free for DStv Premium indefinitely, MultiChoice says it will remain free "for now until 31 March 2019".

Asked if Showmax will be made available to other DStv subscribers besides Premium bouquet customers, MultiChoice says that "including Showmax in the subscription at no extra charge is exclusively for our DStv Premium customers".

M-Net adds The Handmaid's Tale after the Hulu show wins the 2017 Emmy award for Best drama series.

Impossible for South Africans to watch anywhere, M-Net (DStv 101) has now acquired and added the post-apocalyptic show The Handmaid's Tale that will start on the channel on Monday 30 October at 22:00.

With Game of Thrones not eligible this year, The Handmaid's Tale swept The 69th Annual Prime Time Emmy Awards and became the toast of this year's Emmy awards with multiple wins as it also beat out Netflix to become the first-ever video streaming TV series to win the Emmy in the highly-prized Outstanding Drama Series category.

Here's the interesting part: It's the first time ever since America's Prime Time Emmy Awards TV ceremony has been broadcast on South African television that the show that won the best drama series category has not been broadcast somewhere on South African television.

It's yet another indication of just how fast and unpredictably the TV industry globally and in South Africa is changing that even legacy broadcasters and new subscription video streaming services are unable to keep up.

The Handmaid's Tale, the 32-year old story based on  Margaret Atwood's post-apocalyptic book that struck a cord with Hulu viewers and Emmy voters has not been accessible to South African TV viewers despite the large number of TV services available that South African viewers can pay for.

Before its Emmy win, The Handmaid's Tale hasn't been seen anywhere on MultiChoice's DStv or StarTimes Media SA's StarSat's collection of TV channels, M-Net, the SABC, or the fast-growing flurry of subscription video-on-demand (SVOD) services like Netflix, DEOD, Showmax, ONTAPtv, Kwesé Play or Amazon Prime Video despite the growing TV watching options available to South Africans.

Out of 13 nominations, The Handmaid's Tale won 8 Emmy awards after extremely positive reviews from TV critics the past few months.

The bigger publicity and Emmy wins will undoubtedly spur some South Africans on to now use illegal online torrent sharing and downloading sites to watch episodes since The Handmaid's Tale - a show from the Hulu streaming service in America - isn't available to watch legally in South Africa anywhere.

The show's first season of 10 episodes that was filmed in Toronto, Canada, will roll out on M-Net a month and a half from now. It's not yet clear if M-Net has any plans to speed up the starting date and bring The Handmaid's Tale to South African viewers sooner following its big Emmy win on Sunday night in America.

The Handmaid's Tale is set in a near-future America, renamed Gilead - a type of oppressive, totalitarian and futuristic yet Middle Age type world destroyed by environmental pollution and sexually transmitted diseases.

As a result women's rights have been taken away as fertility plunged, with the few women who can bare children - called handmaids - being ruthlessly controlled in a new hierarchical regime of social classes.

It's in this world that June Osborne, renamed Offred - and played by Elisabeth Moss who won the Emmy for best actress in a drama series - finds herself.

Vulture nicknamed Elisabeth Moss "the Queen of Peak TV".

DAILY TV NEWS ROUND-UP. Today's interesting TV stories to read from TVwithThinus - 19 September 2017.

Here's the latest news about TV that I read, and that you should too:

■ A new satellite pay-TV service, TStv, says it plans to launch on 1 October in Nigeria - but will it?
TStv blatantly plays on MultiChoice's DStv name, and promises a mix of TV channels already available on DStv and StarSat/StarTimes - but how will that work?
TStv even promises English Premier League (EPL) soccer coverage - but how?

■ Why the series finale of the vampire drama The Strain on FOX (DStv 125 / StarSat 131) ended with a glimmer of hope.
"Bleaker versions were discussed" but the producers felt the audience would "feel too depressed" and that it "just didn't seem like it would be very satisfying".

■ Sean Spicer on his surprise Emmy stage appearance.
He explains how it came about, what scared him - and a lot of interesting details of what happened afterwards. And even more fascinating insight in another first-hand report with details from what he said afterwards.

■ The viewership of the 69th Annual Prime Time Emmy Awards 2017 remains at a record-low. Viewers don't see the air-conditioners blowing outside to keep the red carpet cool, while Allison Janney ironically complained about global warning during the show.
- And how The Handmaid's Tale - a 32-year old book, became a timely TV show and the toast of this year's Emmys.

■ The programming bosses of America's big TV networks reveal the strategies
in a MUST-READ on how they plan on turning around falling ratings for the new TV season.

■ The ratings of kids TV is falling sharper than any other viewing demo in America.

■ Corporate paranoia is growing inside ESPN, the American sports channel that dumped Africa a few years back and is now trying to worm its way back to the continent through Kwesé TV.
ESPN is embroiled in ongoing embarrassment that current and former ESPNers describe as "self-inflicted wounds" as inside angst grows.
-While ESPN's problems keep piling up, ESPN seems confused about what is really happening.

■ Yet another American TV critic is a gonner.
Jeff Jensen is out at Entertainment Weekly - and he finally burns it down in a MUST READ as he reveals how trash Warner Bros. was in deliberately excluding Entertainment Weekly from its media strategy for launching the Harry Potter movies.
Of course EW did a cover story anyway and scooped the rest to serve its readers. Warner Bros. realised its time to crawl back and play nice.

Monday, September 18, 2017

DAILY TV NEWS ROUND-UP. Today's interesting TV stories to read from TVwithThinus - 18 September 2017.

Here's the latest news about TV that I read, and that you should too:

Robert Bianco is gone as TV critic of USA Today in America; and meanwhile in a MUST-READ, TV critic Gail Pennington is retiring from the St. Louis Post-Dispatch after 23 years of covering television (PS: TV critics no longer take pictures with the talent.)

■ The upcoming new TV season from America is going to be basically trash, warns AdAge, "cobbled together from the contents of a junk drawer stuffed with reboots, spin-offs and formulaic mush".

■ Reports of the death of broadcast television are greatly exaggerated, to kinda quote Mark Twain says the boss of NBC in America.

■ An uninformed idiot who really should know better, is let loose to share his "impression" that TV audiences in South Africa and DStv audiences are "dwindling". Of course it's growing since DStv subscriptions are increasing (more South African homes have DStv than ever before) as are TV set sales, but as this person says "I have no evidence for this other than my own observations".

■ Technology companies are the new titans of television.
As TV, the internet and wireless technologies converge, it's spend, spend, spend for tech companies to create and own content.

■ As SuperSport spends a lot of money to hype its acquisition of WWE wrestling, Africa's DStv subscribers are very angry at SuperSport for its failure to show the Canelo Alvarez vs Gennady Golovkin boxing match outside of South Africa.
The rant-filled comments from angry DStv subscribers directed at SuperSport and MultiChoice below Edem Djokotoe's article are fascinating and revealing.

■ MultiChoice Botswana wins in court over Botswana's broadcasting regulator.
The Botswana Communications Regulatory Authority (Bocra) demanded that MultiChoice Botswana submit its DStv price hike tariffs. MultiChoice Botswana won by showing that MultiChoice Africa is responsible for DStv tariff and DStv bouquets design and was granted the urgent court interdict to prevent Bocra from suspending its licence (and shutting MultiChoice Botswana down).
The case will be heard in October.

■ FOX that wants to take over Sky will be the British broadcasting regulator's hardest test ever.
Ofcom will have to decide whether the take-over will represent a "FOX News-ification" of Sky News (DStv 402), and also whether it will threaten and diminish media plurality.

■ The mess created by trash press, that creates an even bigger mess.
Long story short: So MultiChoice Nigeria keeps inviting moronic media to media briefings - dumb-dumbs who don't understand television, don't understand pay-TV, don't care to learn, report wildly incorrectly and end up inflicting reputational damage on DStv Nigeria, misinforms consumers and makes things worse.

- The latest trashination started when MultiChoice Nigeria had a media briefing to explain that DStv Nigeria subscribers actually benefit through bundling of content.
DStv explained that nowhere in Africa is pay-per-view (PPV) used and that DStv subscribers could watch the Floyd Mayweather/Connor MCGregor fight on SuperSport for instance where in America they would have had to pay much more for this single PPV event.

1. Lo and behold Nigerian trash-reporters literally reports that MultiChoice Nigeria is set to introduce "Pay-per-view".
2.Trash-bad copy-and-pasters ranging from IT News Africa to Telecompaper to several others, damage their credibility and make the misinformation worse by re-"reporting" without checking anything, that MultiChoice Nigeria is launching PPV.
3. MultiChoice Nigeria is forced to issue a new statement to deny that it's launching PPV - ironically what the original press briefing was supposed to spell out. MultiChoice Nigeria - without calling out the specific media trash that caused the mess, says MultiChoice has no pay-per-view plan.

■ The 69th Annual Prime Time Emmy Awards 2017 in America made history when The Handmaid's Tale became the first TV show by a streaming site (Hulu) to win the Emmy for best TV drama.

- Deadline analyses that the 2017 Emmy "had something for everyone". "Sleek and sincere," notes Variety but says there's still a long way to go.

Women working in television in America are making strides, the audience stood up for those who really deserved it and there were memorable speeches, while Strange Things, The Crown, Feud and Westwold turned out to be duds.

 - It's also been disappointment for This Is Us seen on M-Net (DStv 101) that lost out on all its Emmys except for one (but the show is still great!). Why a lot of the stars wore blue ribbons on the red carpet.

- A lot of diverse winners at the 69th Annual Prime Time Emmy Awards 2017, the Emmy's best and worse momentsmore snubs and surprises, how his Donald Trump overkill marred Stephen Colbert's hosting debut that included Sean Spicer's surprise appearance. Donald Trump basically got a key supporting role at the 2017 Emmys.

- How Saturday Night Live (SNLgot it right and won several Emmys in the "year of Trump". Netflix spends $6 billion per year on new content and Hulu ended up winning the big Emmy first.
And Entertainment Weekly chooses its 10 best moments.

■ Snapchat is against freedom of speech. Snapchat has agreed to a request from the Saudi Arabian government to block Al Jazeera (DStv 406 / StarSat 257) news articles and video on its Snapchat app in that country.

■ "The national broadcaster has to look for quality content as well as improve on other issues like presentation and the general programming format".
That's interestingly not being said of South Africa's inept, debt-riddled and struggling SABC although it's as applicable, but of Zimbabwe's propagandistic state broadcaster, ZBC in what Zimbabwe's The Sunday Mail describes as a "do-or-die moment".

REVEALED. The 4th Powerpuff Girl - voiced by Toya Delazy in South Africa and Africa - is blue, brown and purple and named Bliss.

The Cartoon Network (DStv 301) has unveiled how the 4th Powerpuff Girl named Bliss looks and who is voiced by Toya Delazy in Africa and South Africa and by 15 other regionalised stars in America and other parts of the world.

The blue hair, purple eyed and brown-skinned Bliss has made her appearance in the new 5-episode The Powerpuff Girls special, The Powerpuff Girls: The Power of Four that kicked off in America on Sunday, with Turner Broadcasting that will roll out the episodes in South Africa and Africa a month later on Saturday 21 October at 08:00.

For people who can't wait, The Power of Four will be pre-screened before its TV broadcast on 7 October in the Kids Zone in the Cartoon Network screening area at the DStv Delicious International Food & Music Festival.

The Powerpuff Girls is produced by Cartoon Network Studios with Nick Jennings as executive producer and Bob Boyle as co-executive producer.

The teenage Bliss is the long-lost older sister of Bubbles, Blossom and Buttercup. In the new 5-part series, Bliss returns to Townsville as she figures out her powers that includes flying (of course!), super strength, telekinesis and teleportation.

Bliss was created by Professor Utonium before he made the three other girls, but she mysteriously disappeared for reasons unknown, and hasn't been seen by anyone in a very long time.

Now she is back but there's a lot of unanswered questions. Where was she? What went wrong? Why is she suddenly back? Of course the reunited sisters can sit down and just ask questions since they have to work together and use their combined powers to save Townsville.

Besides Toya Delazy, female stars from around the world are lending their voices to Bliss, with every regional feed of The Cartoon Network broadcasting their own version. The Australian star Wengie is for instance the voice of Bliss for Australia and New Zealand.

On voicing Bliss for Africa and South Africa, Toya Delazy says that she's always wanted to be a voice-over artists for a cartoon character" and that "it is an honour to be associated with the campaign and to represent Cartoon Network on the African continent again".

Cartoon Network says it has "joined forces with 15 super-powered celebrities across Europe, the Middle East, Africa and Australia who will each lend their voice to the newly revealed 4th Powerpuff Girl".

"This activation is the perfect way to continue building brand awareness and affinity, not only with girls and kids, but with millennial women and mums too," says Lesley Bailey, the vice president for channel marketing and brand management at Turner's kids division for the Europe, Middle East and Africa (EMEA) region.

In 2016 Turner Africa's Cartoon Network collaborated with Toya Delazy to do a localised South African version of The Powerpuff Girls theme song for the launch of the reimagined new series.

Sunday, September 17, 2017

IN PICTURES. M-Net unveils The Wedding Bashers with the biggest flower show spectacle any South African TV show launch has ever seen.

It wasn't the Chelsea Flower Show. It was bigger and better.

M-Net on Thursday morning had a media launch for its new reality show, The Wedding Bashers, starting on M-Net (DStv 101), Sunday 17 September at 17:00.

For the event, M-Net, with the help of Zavion Kotze, created the biggest, most eye-poppingly beautiful, and totally over-the-top flower show media launch spectacle that any broadcaster or TV channel has ever put on in the history of South African television.

Besides everything dripping with gold, silver and flowers everywhere that included an unbelievable flower-wall, each guest got two hand-made, personalised flower arrangements.

Men received a boutonnière and women a corsage that were pinned on at arrival at Zavion Kotze's flower table.

When guests left, everyone received a little golden bag filled with cosmetics, some treats and personalised little cards from each of the presenters, as well as, again, a beautiful flower arrangement.

Scattered all over next to beautiful floral arrangements were portraits of wedding couples, frames from, I thought, Mr Price Home or Boardmans with the stock photography the frame comes with, to enhance and fit the theme.

"No love," I was told. "These are photos of the actual couples who will be featuring their wedding in The Wedding Bashers on M-Net".

The press - who for once actually dressed up a bit as instructed to please do in the (wedding) invitation - were so truly bowled over by the amazing "wedding day/flower show" presentation at M-Net's The Wedding Bashers media launch at the Saxon Hotel in Johannesburg, that a large number of them decided to simply stay.

More than a dozen and a half media kept socialising for at least 2 more hours after M-Net's event ended as the champagne kept flowing and the media excitedly kept chattering.

Long after M-Net did a Q&A with the press and showed a specially edited preview of the show with outtakes from several of the upcoming episodes, members of the media simply refused to leave the posh Sandhurst enclave - utterly enticed and dazzled over the magical atmosphere M-Net's The Wedding Bashers created.

The Wedding Bashers, produced by [SIC] Entertainment with Gavin Wratten and ProVerb [Tebogo Thekiso] as co-executive producers, will feature 22 weddings that are attended and judged by Zavion Kotze, Cindy-Nell Roberts, Siba Mtongana and Denise Zimba (who didn't attend the event) as the 4-some presenters.

Here's M-Net's The Wedding Bashers media launch in photos:

Meet the second 5 teams of My Kitchen Rules South Africa: Working moms, a gay couple, brothers-in-law, foodie friends and a married couple.

The second batch of contestants (here's the first group of teams) of My Kitchen Rules South Africa have been revealed and they include a gay couple, working moms, soon to be brothers-in-law, a married couple and foodie friends.

The food reality competition show produced by Endemol Shine Africa continues on M-Net (DStv 101) on Sundays at 18:00 in which several teams of two each are battling it out in their kitchens to come up with the best meals.

J'Something and David Higgs are the judges critiquing every dish being served up.

Here's the second group of 5 My Kitchen Rules SA teams:

Charnell and Kerry (Weltevredenpark, Johannesburg)
These friends from Weltevredenpark in Johannesburg are creative, working moms.
Kerry who used to be an accounts manager, recently resigned from her job in order to pursue a career in food and photography.

Andrew and Brent (Dainfern, Johannesburg)
This gay couple from Dainfern in Johannesburg are enganged and are living as a self-confessed "modern family".
Andrew and Brent say they are a confident and vibrant duo who loves to entertain and are passionate about friends, family, food and drinks.

OG and G (Cape Town)
OG and G are soon to be brothers-in-law from Cape Town.
On the surface these Capetonian cooking brothers are your typical "meat and two veg" guys, but those looks can be deceiving as beneath the surface lies some serious creative flair.

Jamandi and Machiel (Bloemfontein)
This married couple from Bloemfontein brings humour to the competition with their flamboyance and honesty that has no filters.
Jamandi and Machiel have been married for a decade and decided to enter My Kitchen Rules SA in order to challenge themselves and to take their relationship to the next level.

Nicole and Zamatonga (Durban)
These foodie friends from Durban are self-assured women who like to immerse themselves in different culinary worlds, fusing traditional fare with exotic ingredients and creative experiments.

The batch of episodes about the second group of 5 teams kicks off on Sunday 17 September, with the episode revolving around Charnell and Kerry.

These working moms get their turn to host an Instant Restaurant in Johannesburg and try to impress the other teams and the judges.

Friday, September 15, 2017

SABC3's Isidingo plots a dramatic Dynasty Dallas spectacle that could see the end and exit of Robert Whitehead's evil character Barker Haines.

SABC3's Isidingo weekday soap is copying two of America's biggest TV cliffhanger moments and meshing them together with Isidingo characters who will be mowed down in a hail of bullets at a party like Dynasty after which Barker Haines will be shot in Dallas' "Who shot JR?" style.

The hyper-dramatic storyline could spell the end of Isidingo's evil Barker Haines character played by Robert Whitehead, the show's remaining big villain after the exit a few years ago of his former-wife and infamous "super-bitch", Cherel Barker-Haines played by Michelle Botes.

Earlier this month the 66-year old Robert Whitehead who has been with Isidingo for 13 years, in an interview with Move! magazine said he is not yet ready to retire.

The Endemol Shine Africa produced soap often borrows real-life South African stories ranging from the Oscar Pistorius and Reeva Steenkamp killing case to farmer racism for story lines but now Isidingo's executive producer Pumla Hopa, has okay'ed an explosive upcoming story that borrows from two of American television's greatest fictional TV moments.

Characters are going to be mowed down at a party with viewers left wondering who lives and who died - just like Dynasty did, seen on TV4 in the 1980's - in its notorious Moldavian wedding massacre which is the moment that the glitzy American super-soap jumped the shark.

Isidingo that has turned 19 years old, is meshing that with the biggest moment from the other 80's super-soap Dallas that was seen in South Africa on TV1 - the infamous shot rang out to shoot the despised JR Ewing.

Horizon Deep is a hotbed of tension following the merger of Barker Haines' company, Haines International with Sibeko Gold in a story line that could finally spell the end and exit of Barker Haines' character played by Robert Whitehead.

While Barker Haines continues to wreak havoc and disorder, viewers should get ready for unknown rogues bursting in on a party to which everyone has been invited.

A vicious gun battle ensues that sees bullets fly, and where blood is spilt. Mayhem ensues as they unleash a reign of terror and a hail of bullets on the guests just like the Dynasty writers did in 1985 at the end of the 5th season to get rid of characters and keep other actors in their toes during tense contract renegotiations.

As the room goes silent, viewers will see the Isidingo characters gather themselves and look around, just like after the Moldavian massacre, to see who's been hit, and how badly. Was Barker hit?

As if this is not enough, the following morning Isidingo will switch Dynasty for Dallas when a single shot will ring out in Barker Haines office, just like when a mysterious person targeted JR Ewing in his office in one of television's most iconic cliffhangers ever.

Who is firing the single shot and has Barker Haines' wicked ways finally caught up with him?

The Isidingo Dynasty Dallas dramatics will start to play out from next week with the party massacre that will be broadcast on Friday 22 September. 

After the cliffhanger viewers will have to wait the weekend of Heritage Day to find out on Monday 25 September what happened – which is when Barker Haines gets shot.

Thursday, September 14, 2017

Econet Media launches new TV streaming service, Kwesé Play in South Africa, partnering with Roku and Netflix Africa.

Kwesé Play is launching in South Africa as a new streaming TV service with 100 streaming channels available through its branded black digital media player set-top box, and also offering South Africans access to Netflix for a monthly fee.

Kwesé Play is part of the pan-African pay-TV service Kwesé TV that is owned and run by Econet Media.

Kwesé TV is a pay-TV service that is already available in several other African countries and just added the countries of Botswana and Zimbabwe.

Kwesé Play is partnering with Roku and Netflix in Africa to offer the streaming channels and Netflix can for the first time be paid in South African rand.

The set of Kwesé TV's pay-TV channels available through its traditional satellite pay-TV service elsewhere in Africa is however blocked on the device for South Africa and not available, and can't be paid for or streamed through the device.

Econet, through the Kwesé Play Roku, however plans to roll out the Kwesé TV pay-TV functionality in South Africa eventually.

Kwesé is now targeting competitors head-on in the new South African TV arms race for not just space on the TV stand but also viewers' time, attention and their money.

Kwesé and its Kwesé Play is the latest TV service entrant to enter the fray where Naspers's satellite pay-TV giant MultiChoice and its DStv service, Naspers' subscription video-on-demand (SVOD) service Showmax, and other pay-TV players ranging from the Chinese StarTimes Media SA and On Digital Media's StarSat and other SVOD services like DEOD and ONTAPtv are battling for viewers' wallets.

Kwesé Play will target South African viewers who have ADSL, as well as fibre-to-home and LTE broadband users with its little black box that give access to 100 video-on-demand channels, including the American sports channels ESPN, NBA, Red Bull TV and things like YouTube, Iflix and TED Talks.

Kwesé Play users who have to buy the box for R1 599 don't pay a monthly subscription fee - just like Platco Digital's OpenView HD (OVHD) free-to-air satellite service for instance.

Kwesé Play Roku users will however have to pay for the large amounts of data needed to stream content through the device, with TV content streaming that remains data intensive and expensive in South Africa.

Kwesé Play Roku users also have to pay if they want to use Netflix.

Kwesé in a statement says it wants to be "Africa's source for the best in international and African programming".

The launch of Kwesé Play in South Africa comes in the same week and just 3 days after MultiChoice announced that it's bundling Showmax for free with DStv Premium subscriptions.

Partnering with Netflix for sub-Saharan Africa, Kwesé Play subscribers using Netflix as a SVOD on the box, can be billed by Kwesé in local African currencies, starting with the rand.

Kwesé Play viewers can pay their monthly Netflix add-on subscription fee through the Kwesé Play device.

Netflix subscriptions through Kwesé Play will, at launch, cost R129.99 per month (Basic in SD resolution), R164.99 per month (Standard in HD resolution)) and R199.99 per month (Premium with HD resolution) depending on the package.

The Roku media box is approved by South Africa's broadcasting regulator, the Independent Communications Authority of South Africa (Icasa) and users can watch content in high definition (HD) in 720p and 1080p.

The Kwesé Play Roku that comes with a HDMI cable, also has a microSD card slot, and supports WiFi and has an ethernet port.

The Kwesé Play streaming box is the first set-top box in Africa to officially include Netflix as a service, says Kwesé. The remote control has a branded red Netflix shortcut button and a purple Kwesé shortcut button.

South Africans who sign up for Kwesé Play before the end of January 2018 will get a 3 months free Netflix subscription.

Kwesé Play can be brought through, FNB, VOX and at Cellucity, Ellies and Incredible Connection.

"The number of connected homes in Africa continues to grow at an impressive rate and we expect to see strong uptake of Netflix in our markets," says Joseph Hundah, Econet Media president and CEO in a statement about the Kwesé Play and Netflix Africa tie-up.

"The current number of active subscribers is a fraction of what we both believe the potential to be. We see this as an opportunity to expand Kwesé's multi-platform offering while bringing the best in original general entertainment to households across the continent".

Maria Ferreras, Netflix vice president of business development for the Europe, Middle East and Africa (EMEA) region says "African customers are demonstrating their enthusiasm and appetite for internet television and we believe they should be able to access the best shows in the world at the same time as everyone else, without the restrictions of a linear schedule."

"We're working hard to make this a reality and we are thrilled to be working with Kwesé to make it easier for people to access and enjoy our service."

Netflix has several American shows and upcoming new shows exclusive to the platform ranging from Shadowhunters and Designated Survivor to Marvel's The Defenders. The new Star Trek: Discovery will for instance start to roll out internationally and in Africa and South Africa on Netflix from the end of this month.

Here's the channels available on Kwesé Play in South Africa at launch with more channels that will continue to be added:

America's Funniest Home Videos
Family TV
Made for TV

Kids content
Happy Kids 2
Appu Series
Popeye Channel
Looney Tune Network
Toon Goggles
Kids Bop
Space Bop

The Movie Channel

RedBull TV
Driving Sports

AccuRadio (offering 850 music radio channels)

Al Jazeera
Russia Today (RT)
The Real News Network
World News

TED Talks
Indian Recipes
Chinese Recipes
Cake Recipes
The Design Network

SABC wants a R3 billion bailout.

The beleaguered South African public broadcaster urgently wants a massive R3 billion bailout to keep it from collapse, more than double its last government bailout of R1.47 billion in 2009.

Parliament’s standing committee on finance on Wednesday revealed that the struggling SABC – gutted after gross financial mismanagement, corruption and a revolving door exodus of top executives and board upheaval over the past three years – wants a R3 billion bailout.

The jaw-dropping R3 billion sticker price is the first time the South African public has heard what the bailout amount is that the SABC is asking the government for and that has so far been deliberately kept secret.

It comes four months after the cash-strapped SABC requested yet another government bailout from national treasury in May, an amount that the new minister of communications, Ayanda Dlodlo who said her ministry will support transparency, has been unwilling to reveal despite repeatedly being asked about it.

The secrecy over the size of the amount the SABC wants in its latest bailout has prevented any public debate to take place over it, with the long-suffering SABC – similar to other parastatals like the SAA, Eskom and others – in desperate need of another large cash injection to keep it afloat.

The SABC is unable to get any bank loan without a government-backed guarantee, meaning that the broadcaster is unable, without help, to raise the necessary cash to cover its operating expenses on its own.

A bailout in the form of a “government guaranteed loan means that the South African public – through the government – becomes responsible should the SABC be unable to repay it.

The SABC lost millions of rand due to a litany of dubious contracts, consultancy fees, legal fees in lost court cases, exorbitant executive salary hikes and irregular bonus payouts, unsustainable localTV and radio content quotas, falling TV and radio viewership and listenership, as well as wasted spend on local TV content that failed to attract ratings.

Despite being in deep financial trouble, the SABC has inexplicably also been paying external companies for “double up” work, for instance to collect SABC TV licence fees while the broadcaster has a large in-house TV licence fee collecting staff. This practise has now been cancelled by the interim board.

Ironically, while the SABC paid mega-millions for external fees collection, the SABC’s revenue from TV licence fees has plunged, with the broadcaster that paid more to receive less.

The mismanaged SABC owes millions of rand to TV producers,  various suppliers and even the signal distributor Sentech with which the broadcaster had to make a special arrangement to settle back payments later in order to prevent it’s channels’ signals from being cut off and the SABC going dark.

The Special Investigative Unit (SIU) has been given the green light to start a comprehensive, in-depth probe into widespread mismanagement and corruption at the SABC, an investigation that is expected to take three to four years to complete.

The SABC is expected to end its 2016/2017 financial year with a eye-watering R1.1 billion net loss. The broadcaster posted a R395 million loss in 2014/2015 that became even worse and grew to R411 million in 2015/2016. That loss will now again more than double in just a year.

Earlier this month parliament was told that while SABC3 as the broadcaster’s only commercial TV channel is supposed to bring in the money to support the broadcaster’s public broadcasting services (PBS)  side, that it’s become SABC1 that now has to support the crippled SABC3 that saw a content and ratings implosion.

Earlier in September Mathatha Tsedu, interim SABC board deputy chairperson, told parliament that the SABC is unable to do basic maintenance on its dilapdated buildings – unable to fix things like leaking roofs or even broken doors. He said the SABC can only do building repairs if something is “truly life-threatening”.

Mathatha Tsedu told parliament that without another bailout the SABC “will survive” but that the broadcaster won’t be able to fulfill its broad mandate as a public broadcaster.

“It is not going to be possible to transform, modernise and digitise the SABC without an injection from external funding,” he said, adding that without another bailout “we would survive, but just survive”.

R3 billion bailout ‘an astonishing amount of money’
The Democratic Alliance (DA) political party’s Phumzile van Damme and a member of parliament says “it is serious disappointing that parliament, and indeed the public had to find out about the R3 billion amount of the SABC’s requested bailout in a roundabout manner”, and described the R3 billion as “an astonishing amount of money”.

"The DA has on several occasions requested Ayanda Dlodlo to make the SABC’s financial requirements public and to consult parliament on the proposed bailout. However she refused, stating that the amount doesn’t matter".

"Parliament’s communications committee should have been consulted in the interest of good governance and transparency especially given the financial stress at the SABC,” says Phumzile van Damme.