Thursday, August 25, 2016

As Nigerian exodus of companies accelerates, MultiChoice doesn't plan to ditch Nigeria; MultiChoice Africa says it 'remains firmly committed' to Nigerian market.

Pay-TV operator MultiChoice says it doesn't plan to disinvest and leave Nigeria and remains committed to doing business there, amidst the West African country's tanking economy and increasingly onerous regulatory environment that's accelerating the scale of the ongoing exodus of South African and other multinational companies.

MultiChoice Africa tells TVwithThinus that the pay-TV company that operates the DStv and GOtv brands across the continent, "remains firmly committed to its joint venture in Nigeria".

It comes as Nigeria's economy continues to nosedive against the backdrop of a regulatory environment for all Nigerian business sectors that continues to grow more hostile for companies to thrive and has also seen onerous conditions imposed on MultiChoice in the country the past few months not found elsewhere in Africa.

Sun International has now joined the stampede of companies that has jettissoned Nigeria over a too harsh investment climate and worsening economic policies, following South Africa's Truworths, Clover and Tiger Brands out the door.

Meanwhile a growing number of airlines have quit their Nigerian routes over mounting losses and at least 14 airlines dumped Nigeria and started the process of moving their operational offices to Ghana. Cellular operator MTN was slammed with an astronomical fine.

MultiChoice says it has no plans to abandon Nigeria where it has become increasingly more difficult to do business.

"MultiChoice Africa was one of the first pan-African businesses to establish operations in Nigeria over 23 years ago. Our commitment to Nigeria has seen major investments in infrastructure, people and great entertainment which will continue as we have a long-term view and confidence in the Nigerian market," says MultiChoice Africa.

Earlier this year Nigeria's Consumer Protection Council (CPC) that executed a shocking raid in October 2015 on MultiChoice's head office in Lagos, ordered onerous changes to MultiChoice Nigeria's service not found elsewhere in Africa, ranging from one month's worth free switch-off per year to billing system changes, and to to pay out "compensation" to DStv subscribers who over time lost paid viewing time by not having their service restored quickly enough after payment.

In February Nigeria's senate slammed "the menace of MultiChoice" while Nigeria's broadcasting regulator, the National Broadcasting Commission (NBC) is tightening the censorship screws that is increasingly having a negative impact on MultiChoice's DStv across the entire Africa.

Since late-2015 Nigeria's NBC has forced MultiChoice and channel partners ranging from Discovery Networks International (DNI) to NBCUniversal International Networks to pull certain programming from various TV channels on DStv, making the content unavailable for the entire Africa - not just in Nigeria - since channel providers have only one satellite channel feed to Africa.

In just Nigeria's telecommunication sector, Nigerians already pay 26 different kind of taxes, with the government that plans an additional, brand-new 9% Communication Service Tax (CST) that will have a further detrimental impact on all telecommunication companies, internet service providers and pay-TV operators like MultiChoice in the country.

Consumer rights groups and telecom stakeholders in Nigeria have been vocal about the adverse effects the CST will have on consumers and businesses already battling a harsh economic environment with a PwC Nigeria report on the proposed tax saying it will add to making Nigeria "unattractive to investors".

On Tuesday, MultiChoice Nigeria launched GOtv Lite as a new, cheaper package with less TV channels, of MultiChoice Africa's existing GOtv digital terrestrial television (DTT) service on the continent.

GOtv Lite with 20 TV channels, a new lower-tiered option to GOtv Plus and GOtv Value, will now target Nigerian pay-TV subscribers who can't afford the various DStv packages and the two more expensive GOtv options in the country where the worsening economic conditions has negatively impacted subscriber numbers.

In June MultiChoice, owned by Naspers Limited, said its keeping subscription fees in several African countries - including Nigeria - unchanged for a year to try and halt a decline in subscriber numbers.

Monday, August 22, 2016

Naspers' video-on-demand (VOD) streaming service ShowMax turns one and changes logo to include colour; serves up 10 million 'views' the past year.

ShowMax, Naspers' video-on-demand (VOD) streaming service has turned one and has changed its logo that now also includes colour.

ShowMax says the logo change from the framed black and white logo used the past year, is to give the service more flexibility in terms of colours and usage.

The new logo - adopting a new small caps font and adding dark magenta and teal stripes - will be rolled out the next few weeks and replace the old ShowMax logo where its being used, for instance on apps on smart devices and MultiChoice's DStv Explora interface.

While ShowMax remains silent about its number of actual subscribers since it launched in August 2015, it says that it has achieved 10 million "views" over the past year.

ShowMax currently offers 600 movie titles and 365 TV series, still at the launch price of R99.

According to Morgan Stanley, ShowMax is expected to break even in 2021 when it reaches 800 000 subscribers.

ShowMax competes with Netflix in South Africa and across the rest of Africa since the global streaming service activated its service on the African continent in January 2016 - along with MTN's relaunched VU, the just-launched PrideTV, and PCCW Global's

China's that has been very quiet the past year in South Africa and doesn't communicate new content additions to its streaming service, will turn one year old on 16 September and is still available at the launch price of R89 per month.

MultiChoice adds SuperSport 12 channel for Spanish soccer to DStv; opens Mzansi Magic, SuperSport 3 and SuperSport 4 channels for a week.

MultiChoice is opening the Mzansi Magic, SuperSport 3 and SuperSport 4 channels to for DStv Family and DStv Access subscribers from today for a week, and starting the new SuperSport 12 channel for Spanish soccer from Tuesday on DStv.

The Mzansi Magic (DStv 161), SuperSport 3 (DStv 203) and SuperSport 4 (DStv 204) channels are being opened for a week, from today until 29 August, for the lower-tiered DStv Family and DStv Access subscribers.

It means DStv Family and DStv Access subscribers will be able to watch the start of the new Premier Soccer League (PSL) season starting on Tuesday, 23 August.

On Tuesday MultiChoice is adding a new SuperSport channel, SuperSport 12 (DStv 212) for DStv Premium and DStv Extra subscribers. It will be a 24-hour channel dedicated to the Spanish premier league La Liga.

MultiChoice and The Walt Disney Company are opening The Disney Channel (DStv 303) from 5 September for a month to DStv Extra and DStv Compact subscribers.

Friday, August 19, 2016

The shocking ratings slide of SABC2's 7de Laan continues: How much has the tampering, retooling, cast changes and timeslot meddling damaged the soap?

Concern is growing over the once popular SABC2 soap 7de Laan that's continuing its shocking ratings slide after ongoing tampering and retooling, unending cast changes and a misguided timeslot change have all been taking a heavy toll on the damaged weekday soap.

7de Laan, once alternating with the Venda soap Muvhango as the most watched show on the SABC2 schedule and one of the most watched shows on South African television has continued to fall out of viewer favour after seemingly just too many ongoing changes.

The Danie Odendaal Productions produced weekday soap dropped another massive 269 527 viewers in just one month from June to July (to 1.81 million viewers).

While shows gain and lose some viewers marginally from month to month, veteran TV shows like 7de Laan are mostly stable: ratings rises and viewership declines do happen, but are very gradual. 

That is why advertisers love soaps – with a stable built-in audience, they deliver consistent ratings.

Advertisers buy airtime in these repetitive shows because they’re guaranteed a certain volume exposure for their brands to a largely set target audience that doesn’t show dips and spikes over time, but 7de Laan is no longer delivering the numbers advertisers are promised.

To put into perspective what has happened with 7de Laan: The plunge of over a quarter of a million viewers who used to watch SABC2 but abandoned 7de Laan in just one month represents a drop-off of 18.52% in the show's audience share from just one month to the next – and that is massive.

While viewers are fickle and it's easy for any TV to lose viewers, it's incredibly hard to get them back.

Misguided timeslot move
Adding to the show's latest handicap is that SABC2 executives abruptly moved the long-running soap in July from its 18:30 berth to the 19:00 timeslot. 

Meanwhile the show that replaced it in the 18:30 timeslot, Election Debate, ironically completely tanked in the ratings, not showing up as one of the top 20 most watched shows on the SABC2 July schedule.

That means that a very large number of viewers simply tuned out and away from SABC2 during the timeslot, and that a lot less viewers came back to SABC2 and 7de Laan at 19:00.  

Exactly two years ago in August 2014, SABC2 executives ordered wide-ranging production changes to be implemented to the Afrikaans soap to make it more multicultural and to try and lift stagnant ratings. It included several set alterations and changes.

In June 2015 the show also dropped its iconic Soweto String Quartet theme song for a forgetable new ditty, with viewers who vocally complained that their howling dogs familiar with the tune, no longer made a noise reminding them to watch the show.

Changing face
Meanwhile a massive number of ongoing 7de Laan cast exits have seen the disappearance of longtime familiar faces and it is literally changing the face of the soap – gone are the people who felt like friends and who viewers have come to know and tune in to see.  

The departures of Heino Schmitt, Werner Coetser and Zane Meas have seen Diaan Lawrenson, Jo da Silva and Christo Davids follow them out the door. 

Meanwhile Melanie du Bois, CornĂ© Crous and Masego Sehoole's were essentially fired – their contracts were not renewed by the soap, while Anelisa Phewa quit when he was not allowed to be on the soap and also be a film and TV lecturer at AFDA.

In March after the walk-on starlet Enhle Mbali Mlotshwa left the soap she slammed 7de Laan for alleged on-set racism and claimed that she suffered racial abuse working on the show with the SABC that ordered an investigation.

With 7de Laan literally not looking the same anymore – from its theme song, sets, different faces and the loss of a lot of familiar ones – its transition the past few months, coupled with a dramatic timeslot change, has made it harder, not easier, for viewers to find and stay tuned in to the soap.

Thursday, August 18, 2016

Bye-bye, The McLaughlin Group: The McLaughlin Group to end this weekend after 34 years with a final episode as a special retrospective tribute.

After 34 years on the air, The McLaughlin Group will end this weekend with its final episode, following the death this week on Tuesday of its moderator and host John McLaughlin (89).

The final episode of The McLaughlin Group will be recorded on Friday and will take the form of a special tribute retrospective episode with the existing panelists of Pat Buchanan, Tom Rogan, Eleanor Clift and Clarence Page.

The final episode will be done to honour the legacy of John McLaughlin.

The McLaughlin Group can be viewed online.

■ Esquire's 2008 essay reprinted: The McLaughlin Group taught me more about human interaction than any other show.
"There are 388 shows on television that feature lunatics yelling at one another, but this is still the only good one".

■ Bloomberg: A brief video tribute to John McLaughlin.

■ You'll be missed, John McLaughlin.

■ Clarence Page in The Chicago TribuneJohn McLaughlin's final 'Bye-bye'.

For Discovery Channel's Shark Week for 2016, DStv subscribers will for the first time be able to take a bite out of additional shark content on DStv Catch Up.

After a failed and disappointing Shark Week in late-June on Discovery in America, Shark Week is coming to Discovery Channel (DStv 121) in South Africa and across Africa from Monday 29 August.

This year additional shark-related content that will be available on MultiChoice's DStv Catch Up service for Discovery Channel viewers.

The past few years Discovery Networks experimented with establishing and growing a similar "Shark"-themed programming strand for South Africa and Africa on the Discovery Channel, starting with Shark months and now aligning ever closer and closer to America's version of Shark Week.

This year however, where Discovery usually has its Shark Week in late-July and early-August, executives moved Shark Week earlier to be out of the way of the Olympic Games - but ratings were down because of the move and Shark Week largely flopped.

As a result, in 2017, Discovery is moving Shark Week back to its "original" position.

With Discovery finally doing a proper Shark Week for its South African channel, it means that next year will see the closest-aligned Shark Week yet between South Africa and the United States versions.

Back to this year, Shark Week will kick of on 29 August for Africa's DStv subscribers watching the Discovery Channel, with the programming strand bringing viewers compelling shark stories about these ocean predators on a daily basis at 21:00 and 22:00.

Here's the Discovery Channel Shark Week programming:

Monday 29 August
Sharks Among Us 21:00
Dr. Craig O'Connell showcases a system that will prove that sharks and people can peacefully co-exist.

Shallow Water Invasion 22:00
Marine biologist Mauricio Hoyos and Grant Johnson discover great whites moving into the shallow waters of Guadalupe Island at night. This is an increasing trend, which would account for some of the shark attacks and encounters happening with greater frequency along coastlines.

Tuesday 30 August
Isle of Jaws 21:00
Andy Casagrande discovered that great white sharks had strangely and completely disappeared from the Neptune Islands off South Australia. Searching west along the known great white migration route, he stumbles upon an incredible discovery - a concentration of all make great white sharks off an unchartered island.

Sharks vs Dolphins: Face Off 22:00
Delve into the true nature of the relationship between these two masters of the sea. Dr. Mike Heithaus and his team bring new research that may solve why sharks attack dolphins far more than we ever knew.

Wednesday 31 August
Air Jaws: Night Stalker 21:00
Chris Fallows embarks on his 8th Air Jaws adventure. With shark expert Jeff Kurr and shark biologist Neil Hammerschlag, they discover how great white sharks hunt in total darkness.

Killing Games 22:00
Dr. Jonathan Werry and filmmaker Andy Casagrande travel to a special location in South Australia to research a new great white hunting strategy where they no longer wait for seals to enter the ocean - they come out of the water and snatch them from the shore.

Thursday 1 September
Wrath of a Great White Serial Killer 21:00
A newcomer has taken residence in the waters of the Pacific Northwest. Shark expert Ralph Collier and Brandon McMillian seek answers as to why great white sharks are travelling so far north.

Return of the Monster Mako 22:00
Professional shark tagger Keith Poe and marine biologists Greg Stuntz, Matt Ajemain and their team use state-of-the-art technology to try and document a live attack of a mako shark.

Friday 2 September
Jaws of the Deep 21:00
Greg Skomal and the SharkCam team return to Guadalupe to find the world's largest great white shark, Deep Blue. They uncover the hunting techniques and strategies great whites use to ambush their prey.

Sharksanity 22:00
Experts search the seas to bring you the greatest moments from Shark Week 2016 with closest calls, biggest bites and greatest gadgets.

After her racist remarks Wendy Williams fires producer Jason 'the white one' and other senior staffers before the start of the 8th season on 19 September.

After her racist and misguided remarks, the American talk show host Wendy Williams held a wrap-party at the end of the 7th season after which she fired staffers who made her look bad, including Jason "the white one".

The Wendy Williams Show will return with its 8th season starting on 19 September on BET (DStv 129) but it will be without one of "her" two Jasons: Jason Gabel.

Jason Gabel was fired after the wrap-party in July together with two other senior producers on the talk show, shocking staff.

After public pressure and sponsors dropping the Debmar-Mercury produced show, Wendy Williams was forced to apologise on-air just before the end of the season for saying, among other things, that she doesn't believe in historically black colleges because there's no "white" equivalent.

Wendy Williams Show staffers then held a wrap-party, only for Wendy Williams to give them the ax the next day, including Jason Gabel who often features together with Jason "the black one".

Jason Gabel has been with The Wendy Williams Show right from the beginning in 2008 and Wendy staffers are reportedly furious that Jason Gabel and others are being scapegoated for Wendy Williams' own misguided opinions.

MultiChoice and Walt Disney opening up The Disney Channel for a month from 5 September to DStv Extra, DStv Compact subscribers for channel's 10th anniversary.

MultiChoice and The Walt Disney Company are opening The Disney Channel (DStv 303) on DStv for all DStv Extra and DStv Compact subscribers for a month in September to market the brand and celebrate the channel's 10th anniversary in South Africa.

MultiChoice added The Disney Channel on 25 September 2006 to DStv in South Africa. The premium mouse ears channel that's for DStv Premium subscribers will be opened for DStv Extra and DStv Compact subscribers from 5 September to 10 October to celebrate its 10th anniversary.

Among the content that DStv subscribers will be able to watch are Disney Channel original movies on weekends at 17:25, including the 100th original Disney Channel movie, Adventures in Babysitting on 23 September at 17:25 with Sabrina Carpenter and Sofia Carson.

The new live-action comedy series Stuck in the Middle starts on 22 September at 18:15 and follows middle-child Harley in a family of seven siblings.

After having started on SABC2 on Fridays afternoons in July, Disney's first long-form series, Disney Cookabout is being repeated on The Disney Channel from Thursday 8 September at 18:40 in which teen "cooktestants" in the Western Cape find local ingredients and cook recipes in the Magic Kitchen.

Classic Disney films will also be shown like Full Out (9 September 17:25 and 10 September 10:40), A Bug's Life (16 September 17:25 and 17 September 10:40) and Ratatouille (24 September 17:25 and 25 September 10:40).

Lentswe Bhengu replacing Donovan Goliath as co-presenter in the second season of The Great South African Bake Off on BBC Lifestyle.

The largely unknown Lentswe Bhengu is replacing Donovan Goliath as co-presenter in the second season of The Great South African Bake Off on BBC Lifestyle (DStv 174) starting in October.

Lentswe Bhengu will now join former co-presenter Anne Hirsch in the place of Donovan Goliath that failed to pop in a lackluster first season presenting stint in the Rapid Blue produced baking show for the BBC Worldwide channel seen in South Africa and Africa.

Lentswe Bhengu is the only swap-out in the second local South African version based on the Love Productions format, with judges Shirley Guy and Tjaart Walraven both returning for the second season of The Great South African Bake Off.

Not that familiar to many viewers, Lentswe Bhengu made appearances on the community TV channel SowetoTV's Kasi Kitchen, a web series called Africa on a Plate and on SABC3's breakfast show Expresso and has worked as a chef at restaurants like Savoy Cabbage, The Roundhouse and Saucisse Deli.

"I'm over the moon to be joining The Great South African Bake Off," says Lentswe Bhengu in a prepared statement. "I can't wait to join BBC Lifestyle's successful local version.

Anne Hirsch says she "can't wait to see what this year's bakers have in store for us".

Judge Shirley Guy says she's "delighted to be back for a new season and I'm sure that the show is going to be even better this year".

Judge Tjaart Walraven says he's also "absolutely thrilled to be back again in the Bake Off tent and I'm looking forward to even more incredible bakes".

Wednesday, August 17, 2016

Viewership plunge for SABC shows after local content move in July; SABC2's 7de Laan sheds hundreds of thousands as new SABC3 local shows collapse.

The SABC has been hit by a viewership plunge for several shows following abrupt local TV content moves, with the popular weekday soap 7de Laan on SABC2 for instance shedding hundreds of thousands of viewers and SABC3 confronting a schedule disaster with every single one of its new local shows started in July that's a ratings flop.

Just a few months after it announced changes to its TV schedules in February, the SABC in July once again upended its TV channels' schedules in a month that also saw the abrupt firing of Verona Duwarkah as the SABC's head of television who was replaced with Nomsa Philiso.

The SABC's TV schedules rejig from July was a result of the public broadcaster's controversial and famously matricless chief operating officer (COO) Hlaudi Motsoeneng who ordered a drastic cut-back to international TV content as part of his plan for 90% local content on the SABC's TV channels, starting with 80% local programming on SABC3 from July.

In July ad agency executives warned the SABC that the public broadcaster is going to experience huge losses in terms of advertising revenue if the sudden new slate of programmes doesn't manage to lure viewers and get ratings.

With 7de Laan moved later to 19:00 on SABC2 as part of the changes, the popular Afrikaans weekday soap shed a shocking 269 527 viewers from June to July to plunge from 5th place on SABC2 in June to a shocking 9th place on SABC2's ratings with 1.81 million viewers (5.4 AR / 15.4 share).

On SABC3 where the schedule underwent a massive change with a flurry of new local shows rushed to production, not a single one got enough viewers to rate anywhere close to the top 20 most watched programmes on SABC3 during July.

The Bold remains beautiful
Ironically it was again the American soaps, The Bold and the Beautiful and Days of Our Lives that Hlaudi Motsoeneng wants to get rid of, that did the bulk of the lifting to lure viewers to SABC3.

On SABC1, the local primetime soap Generations The Legacy pulled ahead marginally ahead of Uzalo for the second time since May, grabbing 8.3 million viewers (24.7 AR / 68.7 share) in July, compared to Uzalo's 8.1 million (24.3 AR / 64.3 share).

The SABC1 schedule is the one the SABC needs to be least worried about, with a stable performance from reliable locally produced programmes bringing in strong ratings.

On SABC2 in July its top-rated show, the Venda weekday soap Muvhango was down to 5.7 million to June's 5.8 million.

Besides the plunging 7de Laan, the Afrikaans news on SABC2 fell to 14th place (1.43 million) from 12th (1.47 million) in June in its changed timeslot. SABC2's Sotho news bulletin also shed viewers from 1.69 million in June to 1.36 million in July.

Local SABC2 shows Thola, Skwizas, It's Gospel Time, Keletso, the live Lotto draw, Speak Out all saw marginal viewership upticks, but the Mmampodi and Fokus viewership were lower compared to the previous month.

Viewers love Leon Schuster, Idols
On the ratings for both its cornerstone soaps Scandal! and Rhythm City were marginally lower in July (4.8 million and 3.5 million).

Meanwhile Leon Schuster came to's aid as the hidden camera prankster scored the 1st, 3rd, and 4th most watched places on's top 20 list for July with Mr Bones (5.1 mil), Mama Jack (4.3 mil) and Mr Bones 2: Back from the Past (4.1 mil) luring in millions of viewers.

The decision to cancel its local telenovela Ashes to Ashes was a right move: its viewership took a whopping dive from June to July from 3.2 million viewers to 2.5 million. WWE Wrestling Raw and Zbondiwe remained steady.

Meanwhile the Broadcasting Research Council of South Africa (BRC) that has massively curtailed the South African public's access to TV viewership figures the past year has decided to further redact and marginalise the information.

From this month the BRC suddenly only makes available a combined top 30 programme list to the public for MultiChoice's DStv for the month of July, instead of for a selection of individual DStv channels like it did monthly since earlier this year.

In July the 12th season of veteran reality signing contest show Idols, now just on the Mzansi Magic channel roared back as a hit with 1.12 million viewers.

Uefa Euro 2016 and Vodacom Super Rugby on the SuperSport channels and Tom & Jerry Tales on Turner Broadcasting's Boomerang were some of the top viewership drawa on DStv during July.

Meanwhile Mzansi Magic's Our Perfect Wedding, Igazi, Isibaya, Rockville, Date My Family, Doubt, Isikizi, Ring of Lies and Greed & Desire dominating the ratings and most-watched list on DStv.

SHOCKER. SABC3 entire new local content slate a TV ratings flop; ratings collapse in July as not a single new local programme finds favour with viewers.

The SABC's disastrous move to suddenly dump international content and flush the SABC3 schedule with cheap and badly produced local content from July has seen SABC3's ratings collapse, with viewership for all the new shows so low that not a single one of the new programmes managed to even make last month's top 20 most watched shows.

After an abrupt order for his plan of 90% local television by the SABC's controversial chief operating officer (COO) Hlaudi Motsoeneng that was hastily implemented in July, the plunging ratings for SABC3 spells disaster for August and beyond since some foreign films and the weekday soap Days of Our Lives that were still shown in July, largely propped up the SABC3 schedule for July.

ALSO READ: Viewership plunge for SABC shows in July after schedule moves; SABC2's 7de Laan sheds hundreds of thousands.

Not a single one of the flurry of new local shows on SABC3 rushed to production managed to become a viewership hit, nor got enough viewers to rate anywhere close to the top 20 most watched programmes on the channel in July.

Despite collectively costing the SABC a lot of money to produce, all the new local SABC3 shows are viewership flops according to South Africa's TAMS TV ratings.

With too low viewership to make the top 20, the local SABC3 TV flops range from the panned Divas of Jozi (replacing Survivor), Top Chef South Africa, The Sober Companion, Fun-Natix and Frontier Vets, to the new local weekday talk shows like Anele Mdoda's Real Talk, Jason Goliath's Larger Than Life and the panel talk show Trending.

Also viewership failures are Siv Ngesi's Jou Ma se Chef and the new weekend edition of Expresso.

The Janez Vermeiren produced The Man Cave eaked out a barely-there 20th spot in the ratings for July with a lowly 597 635 viewers (a 1.8 AR) - but that was for the last time it was broadcast in its Sunday evening slot before again being shunted yet again for a third time to its new timeslot on Friday nights where it doesn't rate at all.

Shockingly, existing local shows on SABC3 like the telenovela High Rollers that's meant to prop up the weekday schedule that ranked 10th in June, completely dropped out of the top 20.

The fact that not one of the new SABC3 local shows rate - meaning that very few viewers are watching these - means that the troubled SABC3 must adjust advertising rates for timeslots down due to the fewer viewers it's getting. That means less income.

By having replaced popular shows with local shows that has lower production values, higher income TV households - those that advertisers want to reach - have fled SABC3.

It also means that SABC3's overall ratings - it's combined audience figures for August - will be lower, a problem for SABC3 that is already struggling in the viewership race as the SABC's only commercial TV channel.

When the top 20 programmes list, now made up out of less of the more-watched international content, consists out of more lower-rated local shows that people don't want to see, it means that SABC3's combined viewership tally will be lower in August.

In early July ad agencies warned the SABC that the public broadcaster is going to experience huge losses in terms of advertising revenue if the sudden new slate of programmes don't manage to lure viewers and rate.

The American soap The Bold and the Beautiful - the type of content that Hlaudi Motsoeneng said the SABC will dump - is still by far the most watched programme on SABC3, number one in the channel's ratings in July with 1.55 million viewers (4.6 AR / 16.9 share).

It's followed by the Chinese science fiction comedy film, CJ7 in second place with 1.2 million viewers (3.6 AR / 12.2 share) and then the weekday local soap Isidingo remaining in 3rd place with 1.17 million viewers (3.5 AR / 10.1 share).

While Hlaudi Motsoeneng in June and again in July said that viewers don't watch Days of Our Lives, it remained a perennial solid performer in July for SABC until it was yanked from the schedule, with 1.07 million viewers in 7th place (3.2 AR / 17 share).

International movies in July helped to prop up the SABC3 schedule with Jinxed, A Knight's Tale, Click, The Sorcerer's Apprentice, Spanglish and Fired Up taking six places out of the top 20 most watched content on the channel above any of the new local shows.

One better performer on the SABC3 schedule after moved to a later afternoon timeslot from July was Afternoon Express, now ranking 13th and managing a place in the top 20 for the first time.

Here is the list of top 20 highest-rated programmes on SABC3 in July:

1.The Bold and the Beautiful   1.55 million       4.6 AR
2.CJ7                                        1.2 million         3.6 AR
3.Isidingo                                 1.17 million       3.5 AR
4.Jinxed                                    1.14 million       3.4 AR
5.Filler: Winter on Air              1.145 million    3.4 AR
6.Gourmet                                 1.142 million    3.3 AR
7.Days of Our Lives                 1.078 million     3.2 AR      
8.Places to Be                           1.071 million     3.2 AR
9.Places to Be (repeat)              976 406             2.9 AR
10.English news                        876 992             2.6 AR
11.Wildest Africa                      827 848            2.5 AR
12.A Knight's Tale                    820 983             2.4 AR
13.Afternoon Express               731 290             2.2 AR
14.Click                                     679 119             2 AR
15.The Sorcerer's Apprentice    675 510            2 AR
16.Spanglish                              633 039            1.9 AR
17.Top Billing                           621 536             1.8 AR
18.Fired Up                               612 356             1,8 AR
19.Filler                                     604 805            1.8 AR
20.The Man Cave                      597635             1.8 AR

ALSO READ: Viewership plunge for SABC shows in July after schedule moves; SABC2's 7de Laan sheds hundreds of thousands.

Tuesday, August 16, 2016

'BYE, BYE': John McLaughlin, moderator of 'the American original', The McLaughlin Group, dies at 89 from cancer; now with his dog, Oliver, in heaven.

John McLaughlin, the moderator of the weekly The McLaughlin Group has died.

He was 89 and died in his home in Virginia in hospice care after prostrate cancer that was diagnosed a while ago and that had spread.

After a repeat episode the previous week, this past week was the first time in 34 years of hosting the fast-paced weekly political panel show that John McLaughin wasn't in the centre blue chair as moderator, although such was the dedication of the panelists Clarence Page, Pat Buchanan, Tom Rogan and Eleanor Clift, that they did the episode without him.

"Earlier this morning, a beloved friend and mentor, Dr. John McLaughlin, passed away peacefully at the age of 89," said the McLaughlin family in a statement on Tuesday.

"As a former jesuit priest, teacher, pundit and news host, John touched many lives. For 34 years, The McLaughlin Group informed millions of Americans. Now he has said bye bye for the last time, to rejoin his beloved dog, Oliver, in heaven. He will always be remembered."

John McLaughlin was the creator, executive producer and moderator of "the American original", The McLaughlin Group that started in 1982 and was seen around the world, including South Africa on channels like CNBC Africa (DStv 410) for a number of years, after which full weekly episodes were immediately uploaded every Saturday to YouTube.

John McLaughlin was known for the academic-like quality, topics and grilling questions he asked his panelists, his "Bye, bye" and sign-off handwave at the end of every every episode, his often unexpected "forced predictions" and his "On a scale of zero to 10, where 0 means zero probability and 10 means metaphysical certitude...".

This past week John McLaughlin missed his first episode in 34 years.

The episode started with a note, telling viewers: "Dear friends of The McLaughlin Group, Dr. McLaughlin here. As the panel’s recent absences attest, I am under the weather. The final issue of this episode has my voice, but please forgive me for its weaker than usual quality. Yet my spirit is strong and my dedication to this show remains absolute!"

Although sounding incredibly frail and of course ill, John McLaughlin still recorded the voice-overs for all of the "issues" in the last episode for the panelists to discuss and argue over.

Following his death, on Twitter, The McLaughlin Group said: "John is with Oliver" a reference to his beloved basset hound who passed away years ago and can always be seen at the end of every episode's end credits as part of Oliver Productions.

He mentioned Oliver again in one of his two-part, annual "Year End" specials two years ago, saying: "Person of the year: Pope Francis, especially now that he's told that animals can go to heaven. And Oliver is up there waiting for me."

An emotional Tom Rogan - who often, gently, acted as almost a second moderator helping a sometimes forgetful John McLaughlin along with prompts and who book-ended the last episode with a goodwill message to John McLaughlin ("On behalf of the panel we all want to say to John, we're thinking of you and you have our very best" - shared a message on Tuesday about John McLauglin who he called on his website my close friend and defining mentor.

Panelist Eleanor Clift, for years from Newsweek and then The Daily Beast, wrote a fitting and must-read goodbye, saying "We will miss his signature phrases, beginning with Issue One, and ending with Bye-Bye. And we will miss the man".

Editor: The first time I watched John McLaughlin - and I still have it on several old VHS cassettes - was as moderator of the special Cheers 200th episode that was broadcast on the then CCTV channel.

He was, and spoke like the university professor I wish I had but never did during all my years of tertiary education.

Prefacing every discussion with "issue one", "issue two" he would lay out the subjects with background and then challenge the panelists with difficult questions, trying to catch them out, but probably being proud when they managed to hold their arguments, fight back and come up with "right" answers.

Every since The McLaughlin Group was broadcast in South Africa I've watched it, and I never ever, and mean, never, missed an episode over the past 9 years - first on television, and then later on YouTube where I would religiously download every episode in high definition and watch it very late very Sunday night.

It was packed with humour. The McLaughlin Group was parodied over the years, it popped up in popular culture like the film Watchmen, and also did something for the current film, Independence Day: Resurgence, for instance:

What made The McLaughlin Group different from all other modern-day political shouting heads is that they shouted and argued, but that you could see they were actually friends and had respect for one another, despite their political and ideological differences.

I was amazed, and remained amazed every single week, over the daunting and endless sacrifice in terms of sheer time, dedication and effort John McLaughlin and the panelists have put in over years doing this show, and reaching across the world, including someone like me, a South African TV critic, who appreciated it enormously for what it was.

In March this year I told of how The McLaughlin Group is on my list of guilty TV pleasures - among the countless hours of television I (have to) watch every day and week and month, a bit of the rare television that I honestly enjoyed watching incredibly much.

The McLaughlin Group was the most cerebral singular half hour of television I indulged in weekly.

I will miss John McLaughlin's esoteric comments, the bickering panelists making their cases and the entire show for what it was immensely.

Rest in peace, John McLaughlin.

The low-rated transgender reality show, I Am Cait, with Caitlyn Jenner on E! Entertainment cancelled after just 2 seasons.

The low-rated reality show I Am Cait on E! Entertainment (DStv 124) following the transgender journey of Caitlyn Jenner and produced by Bunim/Murray Productions has been cancelled after just two seasons.

Caitlyn Jenner will return to the original franchise, Keeping Up with the Kardashians where she formerly appeared as the dad Bruce Jenner.

"We are incredibly proud of the two seasons of I Am Cait, a groundbreaking docu-series that sparked an important and unprecedented global conversation about transgender people, their struggles and triumphs," says E! Entertainment in a statement announcing the cancellation.

"Caitlyn and E! have mutually decided not to move forward with another season at this time.  She will always remain a part of the E! family, and we look forward to continue following her journey as she appears on Keeping Up with the Kardashians".

In May MultiChoice and NBCUniversal International Networks decided to censor and take away the show for all African viewers by removing all remaining episodes of the second season of I Am Cait from E! Entertainment's single African channel feed on DStv, following complaints by Nigerians.

MultiChoice and NBCUniversal International Networks' censorship move, taken on Africa Day - the second such shocking "one size must fit all" censorship move specifically around a show with a transgender theme - has set a dangerous and growing precedent around what television material MultiChoice in Africa and its channel partners don't want and won't show its paying DStv subscribers.

Caitlyn Jenner will appear in the upcoming third season of the transgender drama series from Amazon, Transparent, that is being shown by M-Net on the M-Net Edge (DStv 102) channel throughout Africa.

Johnny Flynn, Geoffrey Rush to play young, old versions of Albert Einstein in National Geographic Channel's first scripted TV series, Genius.

The South African born actor and musician Johnny Flynn and Geoffrey Rush will play a young and old version of Albert Einstein in National Geographic Channel's (DStv 181) first scripted TV series entitled Genius.

The first season of the Genius anthology series is based on Walter Isaacson's Albert Einstein biography, Einstein: His Life and Universe, and production will start next month (September) in Prague.

As with several other FOX channels and National Geographic Channel shows the past two years, the Albert Einstein series with 10 episodes will start in South Africa and 170 other countries on the National Geographic Channel simultaneously in 2017.

The Albert Einstein drama will tell the story of a young Albert Einstein, years before he rose to fame - a period during which he was a lowly patent clerk who couldn't get an academic job, and long before his famous research and equations.

Each episode of Genius will explore Albert Einstein's scientific achievements, along with his volatile, passionate and complex personal relationships.

"The caliber of the Genius cast lives up to the show's title," says Carolyn Bernstein, the executive vice president and head of global scripted development and production at the National Geographic Channel.

"The supremely talented Geoffrey Rush is dream casting for the role of Albert Einstein, and Johnny Flynn not only is an incredible talent but also bears more than a passing resemblance to Rush."

"National Geographic's unwavering commitment to excellence and their support and passion for this project has helped us attract talent such as Geoffrey and Johnny. My excitement for this project grows every day, and I cannot wait to get started," says executive producer Ron Howard in the statement, who will also be the director of the first episode of Genius.

OpenView HD dumps its former Afrikaans channel ASTV; will go dark on 14 October for failure to meet 'content and performance criteria'.

OpenView HD has dumped ASTV, with the Afrikaans TV channel that didn't meet its content and performance criteria that will go dark on 14 October on the OpenView HD platform just three years after it was added in October 2013.

ASTV will remain available on StarTimes Media SA and On Digital Media's (ODM) StarSat satellite pay-TV platform.

ASTV's culling from Platco Digital's OpenView HD is however a big set-back and an embarrassment - especially since it was actually acquired by Sabido Investments (now eMedia Investments) in mid-2014 with big fanfare and the news launched with a media event.

While the former CEO of, Marcel Golding saw potential in ASTV, ASTV says the channel's contract was ended with eMedia early in 2015.

The contract was ended just a few months after Mark Rosin and Antonio Lee took over following the ugly and acrimonious corporate ousting of Marcel Golding and his wife, Bronwyn Keene-Young as COO.

ASTV's channel head, Jaco Ferreira, in a statement, says despite "talks of a new Afrikaans TV channel with which ASTV would have merged, nothing came of it after months of meetings".

"Due to unsuccessful negotiations, ASTV was sold back to the original shareholders during November 2015. ASTV was however still given the opportunity to continue broadcasting on the OVHD platform".

ASTV was told on 2 August that the channel is getting dumped from OpenView HD.

ASTV says that after a meeting on 10 August with OpenView HD's group channel and acquisitions executive, Ziyanda Mngomezulu, ASTV still tried in vain to persuade OpenView HD to keep ASTV on the platform, but according to ASTV, OpenView HD kept to its decision to kick the channel off.

"ASTV has always had a great relationship with OpenView HD, Platco Digital and It was especially the case during the time when Marcel Golding was still involved," says ASTV in its statement.

"Unfortunately OpenView HD no longer sees a place for ASTV on their decoder," says ASTV, adding that "during the time of carriage on OpenView HD, ASTV advertised the company [OpenView] and lured thousands of customers to the platform".

"These days there is however an obstacle from OpenView HD's side in terms of the availability of decoder stock in stores," says ASTV.

"Currently disheartened customers must return home empty handed since there's not enough stock available. It's therefore with big regret that we have to end our broadcast on OpenView HD from 14 October because of the aforementioned reasons," says ASTV.

ASTV says it will remain available on OpenView HD competitor StarSat, and that a big benefit is that "there's exists no costs to broadcast on StarSat".

"StarSat is also willing to make the necessary investments in ASTV that will ensure more better quality entertainment".

In response to a media enquiry, Ziyanda Mngomezulu of OpenView HD confirms to TVwithThinus that "ASTV will be coming off OpenView HD. The channel did not meet our content and performance criteria. OpenView is continually looking at refreshing its channel offering".