THE BIG DEBATE BURSTS BACK - WITH REDI TLHABI

Thursday, March 31, 2016

M-Net's MasterChef South Africa cancelled after 3 seasons and a celebrity version; Nederburg test kitchen dismantled, equipment sold.


M-Net's MasterChef South Africa is cancelled with the kitchen dismantled and the equipment sold off, although the pay-TV broadcaster says the show could perhaps return in future.

After 3 seasons of MasterChef South Africa and a celebrity version, M-Net tells TVwithThinus the show is done.

The last time a local version was broadcast on M-Net was when Celebrity MasterChef SA was on air in the first half of 2015.

The end of the show comes after TVwithThinus was told that the beautiful and state-of-the-art test kitchen that was constructed at the Nederburg Wine Estate in Paarl in the Western Cape was demolished and the over 20 work stations and equipment sold off on auction.

For filming MasterChef South Africa the 1 000 m² Nederburg auction hall underwent an extensive overhaul which saw over 5 kilometre of underfloor cabling added, and the addition of over 20 cooking stations with new state-of-the-art appliances and utensils.

To create the floors and walls of the MasterChef South Africa kitchen, over 15 tonnes of wood was brought in for the show that was produced by Lucky Bean Media and Quizzical Pictures.

"M-Net will not be doing another MasterChef SA in this fiscal year," M-Net tells me.

"As with other big local productions in the past such as Survivor South Africa, we will continue to reconsider our options going forward".

SABC orders urgent investigation into alleged 7de Laan racism on the set of the SABC2 soap after actress Mbali Mlotshwa says she suffered racial abuse.


The SABC is ordering an urgent investigation after allegations of on-set racism at 7de Laan has rocked the set of the public broadcaster's SABC2 soap.

The racism investigation comes after the walk-on starlet Enhle Mbali Mlotshwa who recently joined the show as the character of Nandi for a temporary bit-role, claimed she suffered racial abuse on the set of the Danie Odendaal Productions soap broadcast on weekdays on SABC2.

Mlotshwa and Werner Coetser, who portrays Bernard and who has since left the show to join kykNET's (DStv 144) new soap Getroud met Rugby starting Monday, have been the subject of racial slurs since their interracial relationship started a few weeks ago.

The racial abuse from viewers however ramped up when "Bernandi"'s first on-air kiss was broadcast on SABC2 last week.

Mbali Mlotshwa says she was however shocked by the unexpected racial abuse she suffered on set. She didn't specify whether the alleged racism was from on-screen talent and actors or from production staff behind the scenes.

She says the show expected some racial slurs from viewers over the interracial romance portrayed on 7de Laan,  but on social media revealed that "the crazy thing is racial slurs happened on set with people I thought were educated and open-minded".

Mbali Mlotshwa did clear her romance co-star from racism, referring to him by his character's name, saying "thank you Bernard for being the perfect gentleman throughout".

Mbali Mlotshwa has not named any specific names from on-set people she experienced the racial abuse and the SABC has not yet received any formal complaint from anybody. So far 7de Laan has also not publicly commented on the alleged racism the actress says she experienced on set.

The SABC says Danie Odendaal Productions has been now been asked to investigate the allegations of racism "to get to the bottom of it".

Wednesday, March 30, 2016

BBC Worldwide pins down specific South African TV production capacity as it directly invests in Rapid Blue with plans to ramp up its local TV programming.


The BBC is directly investing in South Africa's TV production capacity with a sizeable contribution in the production company Rapid Blue although the BBC's commercial arm says it doesn't want to say how much.

The BBC's financial investment in a local TV production house is a vote of confidence for South Africa's growing TV and film industry, hamstrung by a lack of financial support and expertise, and the latest investment follows after BBC Worldwide opened a Johannesburg office in January 2015 headed up by Joel Churcher.

The move signals not only the BBC's growing recognition of the increasing value and accelerated market expansion of Africa's TV industry and local pay-TV content production, but also that BBC Worldwide intends to ramp up the programming hours of television produced from inside South Africa.

Rapid Blue, established in 1993 has already produced several shows for various BBC Worldwide channels over the past few years like BBC Entertainment and BBC Lifestyle like Come Dine with Me SA and The Great South African Bake Off.

While now in partnership with BBC Worldwide that will see Rapid Blue produce more shows for the BBC specifically, the production company will also continue to produce shows for other channels as it has been.

Rapid Blue has done several noteworthy TV productions for a gamut of channels available in South Africa, ranging from The X Factor SA (SABC1), SA's Got Talent (SABC2 and e.tv), Dragon's Den (Mzansi Magic), Strictly Come Dancing (SABC3), The Weakest Link (SABC3) and Pawn Stars SA for A+E Networks UK's History channel and Four Weddings SA for Lifetime on DStv.

As part of the long-term strategic partnership, veteran producer Duncan Irvine will continue as CEO of Rapid Blue and veteran producer Kee-Leen Irvine will remain as managing director, while staff will continue to be employees of Rapid Blue that will continue to be run by its existing senior management team.

In other parts of the world BBC Worldwide fully-owns production bases in countries like the USA, France, India and the Nordics and has a joint venture with All3Media in Germany with Tower Productions and an entertainment format production partnership with FremantleMedia in Australia.

The deal with a local production company will make it cheaper and easier for the BBC to produce content for and in South Africa for its various channels like BBC Brit, BBC First, BBC Earth, BBC Lifestyle and Cbeebies.

BBC Worldwide didn't want to disclose the nature of the investment and what it is when asked, but through its South African PR agency shared background points saying how the agreement is structured and how much money is invested are "commercially confidential".

About why it chose to partner with an existing production company instead of setting up its own fully-owned unit, BBC Worldwide says "we assessed all the routes available to us and we were fortunate enough to find the perfect partner for us in Rapid Blue, whom we've worked with successfully in the past, and who already produce a number of BBC Worldwide formats locally".

BBC Worldwide says it wants to expand in the Africa and South Africa region and "meet the growing demand for high-end, compelling and relevant local content for the African market, in addition to taking African content to the world".

"The agreement will enable us to provide content solutions for broadcasters across the continent," says Grant Welland, BBC Worldwide's executive vice president for the Central and Eastern Europe, Middle East and Africa (CEMA) region.

Duncan Irvine, in the prepared statement says Rapid Blue will "continue to grow and develop our staff and the creative and production teams who work with us" with the production company that wants to develop a slate of local drama series with some already picked up for the 2016 season.

Thursday, March 24, 2016

TOLDJA! Discovery Networks' Discovery World channel on DStv abruptly yanked off, replaced by DStv Family on another channel number.


A day after TVwithThinus reported that Discovery Networks' Discovery World (DStv 187) channel looks like a gonner on DStv, the channel is indeed abruptly going to go dark and being taken away within days at the end of March, replaced with Discovery Family on another DStv channel number.

Neither MultiChoice nor Discovery Networks International (DNI) bothered to give DStv subscribers and Discovery World viewers any reasons or explanation in a statement as to why the Discovery World channel is being removed, 6 years after it was added in February 2010.

Asked why Discovery World is being removed, DNI tells TVwithThinus that "at Discovery Networks we are constantly looking at market trends and viewer preferences, with the goal of best catering to the needs of our audiences. In Africa we have identified a high demand for family edutainment programming and are therefore adding Discovery Family to our DStv portfolio".

Instead of however growing the Discovery channel offering on MultiChoice, the Discovery World channel is being replaced by Discovery Family on a new channel number of 136 from 31 March.

Discovery's TLC Entertainment is also being moved from channel 172 to channel 135 on DStv to sit alongside the DStv Family channel.

DStv Family is a meshing of content already largely available on the Discovery Channel and Animal Planet, making it strange that Discovery didn't rather add the premium HD channel Velocity aimed at male viewers, or Discovery Life - channels that's more different from the already existing content offering from Discovery.

The sudden channel swop leaves Discovery with still 6 channels in South Africa: Discovery Channel (DStv 121), TLC Entertainment, Animal Planet (DStv 183) Discovery Science (StarSat 320), ID Xtra (DStv 171 / StarSat 223) and now Discovery Family replacing Discovery World.

Earlier this year MultiChoice told the media that the satellite pay-TV platform will still add new TV channels, but not at the same roll-out pace as before, and has moved to now rather focus on working with channel and content providers to strengthen their existing content and channel offerings already available on the DStv service like Discovery, BBC Worldwide, M-Net and others.

Discovery World as a channel was noticeably missing from Discovery Networks CEEMEA's upfront for 2016 in November last year.

When TVwithThinus specifically then asked whether Discovery World is being cancelled and removed from DStv in 2015, Discovery refused to give a straight answer and said "we wanted to concentrate the story on less channels this year to increase the impact on the audience".

It's now clear that Discovery World's termination on DStv was indeed already then in the works.

Earlier this week Discovery Networks CEEMEA was asked again directly whether Discovery World is being removed, and again Discovery Networks International wasn't willing to be truthful in its response.

MultiChoice, asked on Tuesday whether Discovery World is being dumped on DStv, said it will make the necessary announcements if any changes are made to channels.

Asked on Thursday why Discovery World is being taken away from DStv subscribers, MultiChoice didn't immediately respond to a media enquiry.

In a statement however announcing the Discovery World with Discovery Family channel replacement, Aletta Alberts, MultiChoice South Africa's head of content says "Discovery Family and TLC will provide the perfect complement that'll strengthen our DStv entertainment selection".

"Discovery Family is designed for family viewing, bringing great programming that entertains and educates."

Discovery Family will be available to DStv Premium, DStv Extra, DStv Compact and DStv Family subscribers in South Africa - the same as the discontinued Discovery World.

Things turn awkward for Trevor Noah from The Daily Show on Comedy Central when he's asked on-air: 'Are you a US citizen? Do you have a green card?'

Viewers can tune in tonight for a very awkward interview on Comedy Central (DStv 122) at 21:00 that turned into an even more cringe-worthy exchange when Trevor Noah as host of The Daily Show was asked on-air if he is a US citizen or has a green card.

The awkward moment came in a week that Trevor Noah was again slammed this week by TV critics and pop culture commentators in the United States for not quite living up to what they expect and want in a host of this satirical news show.

Things went weird and Trevor Noah seemed unprepared for the wit of the South Carolina Republican senator Lindsey Graham who got audience cheers and applause for his zingers which saw Trevor starting to play catch-up, instead of leading the interview, with a politician.

Lindsey Graham said he endorsed Ted Cruz as the Republican presidential candidate and that his endorsement "tells you everything you need to know about Donald Trump".

"I don't understand it," said Trevor Noah.

"We'll, you're not from here," said Lindsey Graham who after a few more zingers about the presidential race, turned on Trevor Noah asking: "Are you a citizen?"

"Am I a citizen? No, I'm not," said a hesitant Trevor Noah who failed to seize back control of the control of the interview. "I'm not, why?"

"Do you have a green card?" asked Lindsey Graham of Trevor Noah who started to look more and more uncomfortable. "I do not," said Trevor.

"If I were you, I'd be in a hurry," joked Graham. "If Trump wins, your days are numbered, pal. Young black liberal guy from Africa is not going to work with him".

Wednesday, March 23, 2016

Entry date extended to 4 April for Africa's journalists to send in their entries for the CNN MultiChoice African Journalist Awards 2016.

CNN International (DStv 401) and MultiChoice have extended the entry date for the CNN MultiChoice African Journalist Awards 2016 to 4 April.

African journalists across the continent gets a little while longer to enter for this journalism competition with the closing date that has been moved to 4 April 2016.

Journalists can enter online at www.africa.cnnjournalistaward.com.

Journalists can enter their work for any of these categories:
  • Culture Award
  • Innovation Reporting Award
  • Economics & Business Award
  • Features Award
  • Francophone General News Award – Electronic Media
  • Energy & Infrastructure Award
  • Mohamed Amin Photographic Award
  • Health & Medical Award
  • News Impact Award
  • Portuguese Language General News Awards
  • Press Freedom Award
  • Sport Reporting Award
  • Environment Award
  • The Maggie Eales Young Journalist Award
Out of these entries, the independent judging panel will choose the overall winner - the CNN MultiChoice African Journalist 2016.   

Discovery World finally a gonner on DStv? As expected since November 2015, the Discovery World channel is very likely going to end soon.


The Discovery World (DStv 187) channel on DStv is basically a dead man walking with the channel that will likely be cut and terminated on MultiChoice's satellite pay-TV platform sometime in April.

The deafening silence is growing that the Discovery World channel from Discovery Networks International (DNI) will be gone from DStv sooner rather than later - possibly morphing or relaunching as another Discovery channel, or simply reducing Discovery's number of channels available in South Africa.

Discovery World was conspicuously absent at the Discovery Networks CEEMEA Upfront 2016 that took place in November 2015 and where Discovery shows and talks about what it will be doing and showing across all of its channels for the next year.

It was instantly noticeable that Discovery World didn't feature on any branding material, banners or posters, Discovery World wasn't mentioned even once, and the channel logo was banished from any and all step-and-repeat banners.

I immediately asked Discovery Networks International about Discovery World's absence and specifically also asked if the Discovery World channel is begin terminated in 2016.

Discovery Networks CEEMEA was evasive not giving a clear answer and I was told it "wanted to concentrate the  isn't giving a definite answer and says it "wanted to concentrate the story on less channels this year to increase the impact on the audience, and we were very pleased with the results".

Since March, Discovery Networks CEEMEA isn't even mentioning Discovery World anymore, only talking about its "5 local channels" Discovery Channel (DStv 121), TLC Entertainment (DStv 172), Animal Planet (DStv 183), Discovery Science (StarSat 320) and ID Xtra (DStv 171 / StarSat 223).

Now there is no more monthly highlights or schedule for Discovery World like for the other channels and none is being shared with the press.

The channel, a more high-brow and cerebral version of the Discovery Channel just turned 6 years old since it started on DStv in February 2010. Like BBC Worldwide's BBC Earth channel it targeted and catered to a more upmarket audience interested in a more serious side of natural history programming, with a slightly toned down "entertainment" element.

I again asked Discovery Networks International through its South African publicity agency to please help with Discovery World information as a channel and if the channel is being discontinued. So far no answer.

When I get an answer back from DNI, if there is a specific answer as to whether Discovery World is being terminated, I will report it.

UPDATE Wednesday 23 March 12:34 - I just heard back from Discovery Networks International's reps:

"We have issued all the highlights for our May schedules that are currently available and will follow up with news about Discovery World shortly."


What is business practice though, is that when you wind down a brand and prepare to remove it from a market, one of the tell-tale signs are that you stop spending marketing and publicity effort, budget and capital in the form of attention, time and energy on it.

TVwithThinus asked MultiChoice about Discovery World's future as well, including specifically, if Discovery World is being removed and ending on DStv. Again, no direct answer.

It signals that MultiChoice isn't willing, or in a position at the moment, to clear up the growing doubt about Discovery World's ongoing future as a TV channel.

Asked if Discovery World is being removed and ending on DStv and how MultiChoice feels about the performance of the channel the past few years on DStv and if MultiChoice has been happy with the channel, MultiChoice responds:

"Performance of channels on DStv is subject to confidentiality and can therefore not be disclosed. Should we make any changes to channels on DStv, we will make the necessary announcements."

With (1) nothing that Discovery Networks International wants to highlight anymore on Discovery World after March and not being able to supply a schedule or highlights even when asked, coupled with its (2) total absence from the Discovery Upfront for 2016, and with (3) MultiChoice's avoidance of wanting to give a clear answer about the channel's ongoing future, it's becoming even more obvious what's going to very likely be happening soon with Discovery World as a channel.

SABC2 soap Muvhango slams the South African Film and Television Awards over 'growing scepticism'; says it won't be part of the Saftas due to 'major credibility issues'.


The SABC2 soap Muvhango is slamming the South African Film and Television Awards (Saftas) for what it calls "growing scepticism" over the judges and judging process, saying the awards show isn't run independently enough to be a fair and isn't true reflection of the best of South African television.

The Saftas that took place at Gallagher Estate this past weekend has been the subject of repeated criticism every year about how the award show is run, how shows are nominated and selected, how it's judged, who the judges are and over the perceived exclusion of women, minorities and smaller - especially black - producers.

This year Muvhango was again nowhere to be seen due to an ongoing boycott of the awards show, with the country's only Venda soap that was also not included in the soap live performance tribute.

In previous years SABC2's 7de Laan and kykNET's Binnelanders didn't feature, and e.tv also pulled all its productions as well as soaps Scandal! and Rhythm City from Saftas contention.

This year viewers were not able to vote for SABC2's Muvhango in the Most Popular Soap category or for SABC1's Uzalo. It again, as in previous years, meant a hollow victory for SABC1's Skeem Saam since an incomplete list means viewers are not truly able to vote for who they want.

Adding to the irony is that Uzalo is SABC1's most watched show overall and most watched soap, and that Muvhango is SABC2's most watched show overall and most watched soap - both "most popular" in terms of the AR's of South Africa's TAMS viewership ratings system .

The National Film and Video Foundation (NFVF) excluded Muvhango from the Most Popular Soap category that viewers vote for this year because the Word of Mouth Productions didn't enter itself into any other categories, and said Uzalo was not a soap but a drama.

"For a number of years there has been growing scepticism around the process followed by the organisers," Muvhango associate producer Morishe Matlejoane says in a statement to TVwithThinus.

Muvhango says it will sit out the Saftas "indefinitely" until "a marked improvement is noted in the category nominations and selection process of the judges".

"In any contest where judges are selected 'within' the system and not independently set to be true independent critics, there will always be room to question," says the soap.

"The Saftas are not independently run to fully encompass every broadcast to give a true reflection of the South African TV landscape," says the soap. "There are people working alongside those who are nominated, people working for rival production companies, which all leads to major credibility issues".

"Until a solid and fair approach is taken in the selection process, we think it's unjustifiable to place our incredible cast and crew ensemble under the scrutiny of a system that is arguably unstandardised," says Morishe Matlejoane.

In response the NFVF tells TVwithThinus that "we have acknowledged that there is a need to refine the process of the Saftas, guidelines for submissions and the judging process".

"We are actively addressing this through ongoing engagement with the industry".

"There has been a recent marked improvement and firsts, namely this year saw the Saftas experiencing real transformation in terms of the nominations with over 40% being nominated to African individuals or production companies. Last year the percentage was lower at 26%".

Diva Mariah Carey causing reality show drama behind the scenes of her new reality show, Mariah's World, currently filming for E! Entertainment.


Mariah Carey is causing havoc behind the scenes of the filming of her new reality show for E! Entertainment, driving producers mad with her diva antics.

According to reports Mariah Carey's upcoming reality show for E! is already a disaster after just two weeks of filming, following her behind the scenes of her world tour for 8 hour-long episodes.

It will be shown on E! Entertainment on MultiChoice's DStv in South Africa as well as in 152 other countries, has cameras following her on her tour in the United Kingdom, Europe, Asia and Africa while she's planning her wedding to the Australian business mogul, James Packer

Mariah who demanded complete artistic control of the series that will be called Mariah’s World, refusing to call it a "reality" show and referring to it as a "documentary", banned the cameras from filming her 4-year old twins Morocco and Monroe.

Mariah Carey has also been asking producers for a "script".

She also forgot to tell the producers that she doesn't speak on the days that she does concerts, turning performance day filming into somewhat of "silent movie" days during her Sweet Fantasy Tour.

Mariah only wants to be shot from the left side of her face, making it difficult for camera crews to capture what is happening all around her. 

Subjects in reality shows are also supposed to ignore the cameras around them, but according to reports Mariah Carey keeps talking to them and the producers decided to just let it be.

Mariah wants her "docu-series" to be very classy, but it is produced by Bunim/Murray Productions, also responsible for Keeping Up with the Kardashians

Tuesday, March 22, 2016

TV news channels scramble to get to Brussels after horrific terror bomb attacks, as Sky News' Alex Rossi was at the airport buying chocolates for his kids for Easter.


Global TV news channels on Tuesday morning scrambled to dispatch reporters and anchors to Brussels, Belgium to get to the city and the Zaventem airport following the horrific twin terror bomb attacks in the airport's departure hall and at the nearby Maelbeek metro subway train station.

Sky News (DStv 402) reporter Alex Rossi was one of the first to report - right from inside the scene. He was at the airport with a Sky News crew ready to leave Belgium when the massive bomb blasts rocked the airport's departure area.

Alex Rossi got on his cellphone as the Sky News crew filmed, detailing what he saw and felt and said he "instinctively knew it was a terror attack".

Alex Rossi said he was buying chocolate for his kids for Easter when the two terrorist explosions rocked the airport.

Sky News anchors Kay Burley and Jeremy Thompson scrambled to get to Brussels, with Kay Burley anchoring from inside the city, and Jeremy Thompson from a highway opposite the airport during their timeslots. Mark Stone also reported from Brussels, as did Enda Brady.

CNN International (DStv 401) had its senior international correspondent Nima ElbagirChris BurnsFred Pleitgen and Hala Gorani reporting from inside Brussels, with Atika Shubert reporting from close to the airport. Michael Holmes and Nick Paton Walsh were also dispatched to Brussels.

MSNBC (StarSat 263) despatched reporters Thomas Roberts, Stephanie GoskChris Jansing, Erica Hill, Claudio LavangaKelly O'Donnell, Kelly Cobiella, Bill Neely, Ayman Mohyeldin, Chris Hayes, Keir Simmons and Cal Perry to Brussels.

Gabe Gutierrez was sent to Paris, France, as well as anchor Lester Holt. They will also report for the NBC Nightly News, seen on CNBC Africa (DStv 410).

CBS Evening News, seen on Sky News, is sending Allen Pizzey to Brussels and Holly Williams to Paris, with CBS News correspondent Charlie D’Agata who has been in Brussels already since Friday.

Fox News Channel (StarSat 261) is sending Greg Palkot to Brussels.

Bloomberg Television (DStv 411 / StarSat 264) sent correspondents Ryan Chilcote and Caroline Connan to Brussels.

BBC World News (DStv 400 / StarSat 256) switched to the BBC News domestic channel for coverage from inside Brussels.

Stephen Sackur reported from inside Brussels in the city from the heart of the European Union (EU) quarter, as well as with Ben Brown reporting from closer to the airport.

Al Jazeera (DStv 406 / StarSat 257) had reporter Neave Barker reporting from close to the airport, with Paul Brennan reporting from inside the city.

Friday, March 18, 2016

South Africa the latest African country to battle the arrival of 'unregulated' Netflix; Film and Publication Board orders Netflix South Africa to comply with local classification.


South Africa has become the latest African country to battle the arrival of the "unregulated" Netflix on the continent since it arrived at the beginning with the year, with the Film and Publication Board (FPB) that has given Netflix two weeks to comply with local regulations or face sanctions.

The Film and Publication Board has also slapped Netflix South Africa with licensing fees that has not yet been paid.

South Africa is the latest African country now battling Netflix since the arrival of the global video streaming service at the beginning of January.

The Kenya Film Classification Board (KFCB) in January already threatened to block Netflix in Kenya, saying its "a threat to our moral values and national security" because Netflix fails to conform to Kenya's ratings and classification regulations as provided in law.

Netflix content in South Africa is not classified by the Film and Publication Board (FPB) although the Naspers rival ShowMax does contain, show and adhere to the FPB classification system for South Africa which is different from the broader and general classification system Netflix uses globally.

According to Kenya's Standard, South Africa's FPB also offered Netflix the opportunity to have Netflix staff trained in South Africa's classification standards.

"Our values are different from the American values and their 16-year-old is not necessarily our 16-year-old and that's why they must re-rate the films in conformity with our standards," said Sipho Risibia, FPB chief operating officer (COO), according to the Standard.

BREAKING. Besides South Africa, DStv subscribers in the rest of Africa spared a price hike in 2016; MultiChoice Africa says most countries won't see increases.


While South African DStv subscribers will see a stiff price hike from the end of this month, MultiChoice announced that most of the rest of Africa, besides South Africa, will be spared and not see a price increase this year.

MultiChoice Africa, a subsidiary of Naspers, announced that there will be no price increase for DStv subscribers in the majority of its African markets in 2016 - unless there's unexpected economic shocks impacting African currencies.

MultiChoice Africa says it continues to suffer from the "adverse impacts" from the economic environment across the continent. The pay-TV operator pays in dollar for the majority of its content acquisitions and in 2015 was forced to pass through stiff price increases.

In 2015, MultiChoice in Africa for the first time ever hiked DStv subscriptions for a second time in one year as African currencies tanked against the dollar. 

While the rand also dramatically weakened, South African DStv subscribers were spared a second price increase last year.

Second price hikes were however introduced in countries like Uganda and Kenya. In Nigeria MultiChoice upped DStv subscriptions by 20%, and between 21% and 30% in Zambia, leading to consumer outrage.

While the rest of Africa won't see DStv increases, in South Africa, the DStv Premium, DStv Extra and DStv Compact packages are however increasing from April by a whopping 8% or more – higher than inflation.

"Since subscribers are still under severe financial pressure, MultiChoice Africa has decided not to increase subscription prices for DStv in most of its markets in 2016," says the continent's largest pay-TV operator.

"We believe MultiChoice Africa is correctly responding to prevailing market conditions. Barring any further external economic shocks, we do not anticipate a price increase in 2016," says Imtiaz Patel, CEO of Naspers' video entertainment division.

"As a group, we believe in the longer term potential of our markets in Africa," says Naspers CEO, Bob van Dijk

"We will therefore provide the necessary financial support to MultiChoice Africa. We are in a position to do this because most of the Naspers group business (65% of revenue) is outside Africa, where times are better and our businesses are in good shape."

Thursday, March 17, 2016

EPIC FAILURE: Terribly bad TV drama shot in South Africa's Western Cape, Of Kings and Prophets, cancelled in America after just 2 episodes.


The terrible mess Of Kings and Prophets has just been cancelled in America after its 2nd episode, bringing to an end the second American TV drama series that was filmed in Cape Town and the Western Cape winelands recently that got the axe.

The Biblical drama based on the Saul and David story tried to imitate HBO's Game of Thrones and ITV's Beowulf in look and story but was a terrible mess right from the beginning for Disney's ABC TV network.

The show, starring several South Africans like Refilwe Modiselle, Danny Keogh, Grant Swanby, Sean Cameron Michael, Vicky Davis, and brimming with South African crew working behind the scenes, was plagued by problems from the onset with ABC demanding reshoots.

Originally planned to start earlier, the TV drama disaster was delayed by multiple months to try and rescue and improve the messy Disney production. Even after the reworking, recasting and reshoots, Of Kings and Prophets was still awful.

Of Kings and Prophets started with dismal ratings in America, even lower than Wicked City that M-Net planned to broadcast and then dumped after it was cancelled in America. The second episode of Of Kings and Prophets saw its viewership in the demo plunge another shocking 37%.

Of Kings and Prophets was picked up for 13 episodes but only 10 were filmed in South Africa after the episode order was cut back - never a good sign. Only two broadcast were broadcast on ABC.

The abrupt end to Of Kings and Prophets filmed in Cape Town and on-location around the Western Cape winelands region, follows the demise of the Syfy channel's Dominion that was also filmed in the same place and axed just a few months ago. It was seen on M-Net Edge (DStv 102).

Starz's Black Sails that's a few seasons behind and seen on History (DStv 186) is also filmed in Cape Town and the winelands region at the Cape Town Film Studios and is an ongoing production.

Game of Thrones' Finn Jones will be Marvel's new Iron Fist superhero in the next new Netflix superhero drama series following Daredevil and Jessica Jones.


Netflix has revealed its new superhero drama series that will be Iron Fist with Game of Thrones actor Finn Jones putting on a suit to defend New York.

Iron Fist will be another of Netflix's global releases, so South African viewers will be able to watch it on Netflix South Africa, like Jessica Jones and Daredevil.

Iron Fist, based on the Marvel comic, revolves around Danny Rand, a kung-fu master who returns to New York after being missing for years. Besides his martial arts, he can also summon the power of the Iron Fist.

The first season of Iron Fist will have 13 episodes. Netflix has not released a starting date from when the episodes will become available.

"Danny Rand is a very complicated character. He's a billionaire New York Buddhist monk martial arts superhero who's still trying to figure out what exactly that all means,"says Scott Buck, executive producer in a statement.

"Finn is able to play all these levels in such an honest, revelatory way that as soon as I saw him I knew he was our Danny."

Besides Daredevil (second season starts now on Netflix South Africa), Jessica Jones (renewed for a second season) and Iron Fist, there will also be a Luke Cage series.

After the Luke Cage series eventually starts, they will all come together for a miniseries called The Defenders.

"Finn wonderfully blends confidence with vulnerability, making him the perfect choice as he struggles to find his place in the world," says Jeph Loeb, executive producer and head of Marvel TV in the statement.

"Now that we've found our Danny Rand, we've completed our principal cast for the upcoming Defenders on Netflix and we are thrilled to continue to show audiences unexplored corners of the Marvel Universe."

Shadowhunters renewed for a 2nd season - and some of the other TV shows I watch and actually personally enjoy watching.


People often ask me: "What's your favourite TV shows? What do you love watching?"

It includes a lot of TV executives who who probably want to hear the sweet sound of their own show on my lips!

I never really answer, because yes, don't fear, I do watch your show. I basically watch everything!

Working as a TV critic, I watch an awful lot (another secret: I read even more) of television, but it is still in the end, work. Do a wine critic sip and taste just the wines she likes?

I do have my favourites though - shows that I personally enjoy watching and can't wait for, my own guilty pleasures. Several we don't even get in South Africa - or not on traditional television at least.

And I watch them late at night and over weekends, and almost always with food or snacks - my own private TV-indulge time.

So here's all my personal favourites - the TV stuff I can't live without - and please don't judge! I watch a lot more, this is just my personal must-must.


One of my new favourites is a total fantasy cheese-fest that is just awesome and I literally cannot wait for the next episode. And the great news is that it just got renewed for a second season.

It's not going to win Emmys, but its a youth drama that's funny with smart writing and some new actors I like.

Shadowhunters is available to South African viewers on Netflix South Africa. In America its on the Freeform channel, and on Netflix in the rest of the world.

Shadowhunters, werewolves, vampires, fairy people, demons - Shadowhunters is like Gossip Girl meets True Blood. And. I. Love. It.

How obsessed am I? To the point that I will search out episode recaps after I've watched an episode to immediately see if people noticed and commented on some of the things that I've spotted or noticed.

Star Wars: Rebels on Disney XD (DStv 104) ... total fan fest for me. Again, I will go and read up and read episode recaps. So silly.

I do tend to favour more fantasy and science fiction type shows as personal favourites, but I really watch everything.


Saturday nights very late I quickly download The McLaughlin Group, the "American original" political panel show when the new Friday episode becomes available. Somehow I find time to watch it on a Sunday afternoon or Sunday night late.

We used to get it on CNBC Africa (DStv 410) for a number of years. When it stopped showing, luckily in America they started putting every week's episodes on their YouTube channel from where I quickly download it.

I've literally watched The McLaughlin Group religiously every single week for well over a decade.

Not a day goes by that I don't watch the day's episode of the CBS Evening News (episodes here) or the NBC Nightly News (episodes here). I used to even watch the ABC World News Tonight until it got geo-blocked halfway through Diane Sawyer's tenure.

If you don't watch it online, you can record the CBS Evening News on Sky News' (DStv 402) and NBC Nightly News on CNBC Africa (DStv 410) and watch it on your traditional TV set.

ITV's Beowulf, the BBC's beauuuutiful War and Peace, FOX's (DStv 125 / StarSat 131) The X-Files and shows called Colony, Fuller House (only on Netflix South Africa) and Second Chance I've enjoyed watching on a personal level so far this year, along with DC's Legends of Tomorrow.

Billions on M-Net Edge (DStv 102) I literally watch the moment the new episode is available - it's very clever and insightful about the insider politics, narcissism, and the power plays driving any big corporation.

The best new science fiction show, The Expanse I devoured from the moment Syfy made the first few episodes available online before - a very intricate, interwoven and clever story.


Something I watch every single weekday is The Wendy Williams Show that's on BET (DStv 129). But I don't actually watch it on BET.

I download it from the talk show host's YouTube channel where it's free for the world and then watch it when I have 15 minutes during the day. I don't watch a whole episode - I just always look for the first part of the show which is the "Hot Topics" segment.

The Shannara Chronicles - who knows whether we will see it on MTV (DStv 130) or on another M-Net channel like Teen Wolf - blends fantasy and science fiction in this fantasy youth drama series set in the far-future where magic exists. The first season's 10 episodes have come and gone.

Where's the gaggle for the Goggle? Fat from feeding at the trough and then doing basically nothing, it's time for the press covering TV to shape up or ship out.


Longtime readers will know: There's little I despise more than the modern-day equivalent of Old Testament pestilence than an idiotic publicist working in TV who doesn't know, doesn't care, and who can't be bothered to actually know better and do better - but there's something else that's been bugging me for a really long time: about some of the writers and journalists, critics and wannabe celebrities covering television.

South African coverage of television and the TV biz - its industrial complex as well as on a superficial level about the content on face-value that it turns out ("Ooh, Pearl Thusi is back in Generations") - is in my opinion experiencing a nadir.

It's not the fault of our stars. It's the fault of ourselves.

I'm so tired of so-called publicists who are actually wannabe celebrities, living to attend "events" and "activations", who thirst to be on the red carpet in front of the step-and-repeat banner themselves, to show off their latest Mr Price shoezies instead of getting their clients there, or helping press with actual information.

There's a lot of them around - always rushing for the champers, taking selfies and doing fake air-kisses and hug-hugs when they see you, but who can't be bothered to respond to emails and media enquiries, or to pick up the phone when you call.

This thought piece though isn't about the PR trash that's part of my existence as a TV critic and a print journalist covering television and who I've seen come and go over the years - part of the bane of my existence.

To be fair, there's a number (although the small minority) of good, great and excellent individual public relations people at PR companies, shows, TV channels and broadcaster who have always been excellent, know their stuff, do their stuff and who I've always gotten along with.

Some spin the news, but they always help, they don't interfere, they get what a journalist like me and others are about, and they enable to benefit their brand(s), instead of damaging or doing nothing.

But it's not about PR's - excellent or awful - today. It's about the hacks.

The trash journos, the glorified bloggers, the wannabe celebrities, the here-today-gone-tomorrow journalists and the uneducated, uninformed media-types and self-deluded "brand influencers" who drank too much Kim Kardashian Kool-Aid who litter my profession and who not only shame themselves, but shame the business of journalism and of reporting about television.

My focus is on television, so I always look for news, and observe, seek out and speak to the TV people I see - either on-screen or behind the scenes.

But that's not all I see.

I've seen and continue to see what has happened in specifically the marketing, promotion and publicity side of TV-"eventing" where TV channels, shows and broadcasters hold launches and events, do press conferences and junkets, and invite and send journos to, in the hope of getting earned media.

After more than 15 years of doing this in South Africa, all I can do is share my opinion, and in my opinion it's become abusive, borderline scandalous and just plain wrong.

I'm referring to the really terrible, devoid of work ethics, unethical conduct of so-called journalists, TV critics and so-called "media" at these events and on "weekend holiday trip" and junkets who are not actually doing anything, but show up and want to be there with no intention of actually reporting back, or end up doing sponsor-infused drivel.

Again, I'm not talking about everyone. I'm not generalising. It's not everyone.

And yes, there's longtime, great, exciting and boring, intense and hardcore and softcore people who've been doing monotonous and diligent and trustworthy and wonderful work for a long time.

What I've been seeing though, more and more - and it's growing and is of concern - is the rise in the self-entitled trash media "covering" television. People who end up doing little or actually nothing but who think that going to cover something, means that it revolves around them and their demands and needs and that the world, publicists and press events revolve around them.

It's the type of person and publication who might read this now and go: Please keep quiet - you're going to spoil it for the rest of us.

While publicists and channels and shows keep inviting the same and more of The Walking Dead (zombies, if you didn't catch that reference) to their events, more and more of the brain dead keep showing up constantly to just grab "goodie bags, feed, drink themselves basically drunk on another company's budget and do ... nothing (except perhaps complain afterwards).

Not only do they do nothing later (meaning there's no earned media or return on the investment), they do nothing at the actual event!

For them it's not about television at all. For them, it's about them.

They don't know, or perhaps have forgotten, that media and the press are invited to something to report on it, not to have a great time. (If you happen to also have a great time, props to the publicists, their event worked, but that's an incidental.)

A political journalists covering a political presser or an business journalist covering a struggling parastatal or a company's financial results press con or a sport journo going asking questions of FIFA don't go to these things because they might be "fun". They go because it's news.

Why do entertainment journalists, and within that that subset those covering television, have delusions of grandeur that everything should be a party that's free from the responsibility of actually doing something and working there?

That in turn feeds into an existing stereotype that entertainment reporting is "less than": less trustworthy, less accurate, filler-fodder, and entertainment journalists lesser journalists. And that makes the job for those who are serious about this, more difficult.

As a journalist or blogger or vlogger or critic or representative of your magazine, or newspaper or whatever platform you represent, the truth is that you represent your 1, or 11, or a thousand or however many listeners or readers or viewers.

If you don't report back and do nothing, you are failing those people who you are the representative of. They get nothing - while you think you're royalty, instead of serving a higher calling of being a messenger for other people.

I've put up a Gogglebox South Africa image at the top of this opinion piece, since I've been thinking about that show for the past three weeks ever since Sony Pictures Television launched the Sony Channel's (DStv 127) first local TV production in South Africa on its MultiChoice channel on DStv.

Lyle Stewart, the senior vice president for the Sony Pictures Television Networks' Central and Eastern Europe, Middle East and Africa (CEEMA) region flew all the way to South Africa (Sonja Underwood as well), and perhaps even others too.

I wasn't invited, neither were TV critics and journalists elsewhere in South Africa to the somewhat of a biggie as it was the channel's first local show, but a lot of (I would guess 40? 50?) media types packed into a Johannesburg movie lounge to first pre-feed.

Then it was off to a cinema to watch and "review" the first episode of Gogglebox SA at the media launch and preview session.

Lyle spoke. The mediarati saw the episode. I would guess they clapped.

Now use your googler and type in words like "Gogglebox SA" and "review", or try and find what exactly Lyle Stewart who flew all the way to South Africa for this, actually said.

Surprised? Where are the stories? Where's the coverage? And whose fault is that?

Did the bulk of those who attended do so just for the Gogglebox SA snack box?

Most importantly, who suffers because of that? It's the reader who knows less, the TV executive who is less informed, the TV producer who gets less feedback, and it is the ordinary TV viewer who is less empowered by knowing less and having a harder time to make a more informed choice about what is on television, going on in television, and what is good, bad and worthwhile watching.

A+E Networks UK flew out British executives like Heather Jones recently for an A+E Networks Africa upfront. The event that several media people I spoke to didn't even know about until I told them it happened, got little traction and scant coverage in the press for what's in store for channels like History, Lifetime and C+I Network.

Have you seen any actual comprehensive stories and multiple articles from, and about, the event from those who were there?

What about e.tv's "Soap Shows" media night earlier this week? Or E!'s jam-packed fashion show of last month where people were packed in like sardines and that NBCUniversal marketing executives like Kaisa Kantalainen and Eva Dvorakova flew to South Africa for?

Go look and see how many actual stories and reporting you find - or in fact, can't find.

On Friday and Sunday it will again be the South African Film and Television Awards. What will we see on Monday?

Barely nothing if anything about Thursday night's event because it's not "sexy" (although it's ironically the "real" people making TV's event?

My guess will be the same, stale, one press release that people put their bylines on. The same, narrow one, two, or three stories although the media swarmed the red carpet for Instagram selfies. And again the same pandering, the same uninformed and biased articles; the same less that the collectively more that there could or should be.

It's as if South Africa's Press Covering Television has largely descended into one neverending party; a Great Gatsby-ish soiree where the wine never stops flowing, the PR doesn't care if you actually do something with the press release (if there even is one), and everyone fake-friendly flutters along from the one under-reported TV event and announcement to the next.

Dear PR executive, like at the circus, stop feeding the animals beforehand. If you give the media liquor or food, they will leave early, struggle to concentrate and care even less. Throw food if you must, but only after.

Stop with the insane goodie bags and gifties. It's appreciated and I know why you do it, but for a lot of wannabe trash supposedly covering television its become about that. They don't come to hear, understand and to report, they come to harvest.

The real gift a journalist should be going home with is the access (and what the person did with that in terms of the talent or executives who were there) and the information.

Stop shaming yourself but trying to lure media to your event by saying in invitations "ooh, one lucky idiot can win a LG flat screen", "one lucky moron can get a Sony".

What you're doing is diluting your value, signaling that your real reason for wanting media there - for your show, your talent, your channel and what you want to announce or share - isn't good enough for the media to show up for that. Do a lucky draw if you must, but don't pre-announce it.

Lastly, if you even do look at coverage (or non-coverage!) perhaps stop inviting the hanger-ons, the floaters, the media drifters - the ones who show up and who then don't deliver.

If some publications and journalists are able to find news or churn out two or three stories or do a respectable article or double page photo spread about your event, you need to start asking serious questions about why some of the non-performing media you keep inviting as "press" are not.

Earlier this year after a TV junket with daily press conference sessions that I attended, a longtime colleague leaned over and whispered to me that a perplexed media type asked: "What's with all the questions? Why must [he] keep asking so many questions?"

Well, love. Sadly you might not know it, but it's not "many" questions, and going to a press conference isn't actually about getting yourself a free red Grapetiser.

It's to actually work; the opportunity to ask the perhaps difficult, and awkward and burning question(s) the thousands of people your publication represent are not able to ask. And to then go and report it.

If you're a journalist and you go to an event to "eat" (and I get it, I love the food too) it's a problem. That shouldn't be your main goal. Neither is mingling, chatting with champagne in the hand, or ogling the goodie bag table.

Capture the event, report the news, share what you see and what's to be seen with your audience and your readers - the people you're supposed to represent professionally as a journalist and who won't make it pass the junior publicist at the name tag station to see it for themselves.

When the Press Who Cover Television in South Africa actually cover television, or cover it better, we all actually will get a bit more of what we really want: better television.

Person of Interest seen on M-Net cancelled; 5th season will be its final with the last 13 episodes burnt off twice a week from early May.


I saw it coming - and I'm not talking about the machine predicting the cornershop smash-and-grab: the cancellation of Person of Interest that will end with the upcoming 5th season.

After a very long an unusual delay (a year since the last season ended!) and after the entire 5th season was filmed but didn't get a spot on the American TV network CBS's schedule for months and months, a starting date of early May was finally announced - with a very unusual play-out schedule.

CBS will burn off two episodes of the 5th season of Person of Interest per week.

After already guessing that Person of Interest is dead, the schedule twist of two episodes per week, basically all but confirmed it as CBS took a page from the playbook of South African broadcasters who will burn through an entire season or series of a show when it wasn't good or to make an artificial date like a channel relaunch.

Sadly, Person of Interest, was and is good. Now Jesus Jim Caviezel will be gone quickly from May in the last shortened season of 13 episodes.

No word yet of when the 5th season will arrive on M-Net (DStv 101) in South Africa and Africa.

"We're extremely excited to be able share this final season with the fans. We're eternally grateful to our amazing cast and crew, as well as our partners at the studio," says Person of Interest executive producers Jonathan Nolan and Greg Plageman in a statement.

"Most of all, we want to thank the show's fans - the best fans in the world. This subversive little paranoia-inducing cyberpunk-thriller is for you and would not have been possible without your support."

"As life has come to imitate Person of Interest, it's been our great privilege to work on show for the past five seasons. We can't wait for you to experience this thrilling and final chapter".

SABC3 at its first 'separate again' content press screening for its latest schedule changes: 'We're not confused, we're experimenting'.


At an upfront media event for some of its new shows, SABC3 didn't make any new announcements that weren't made and are not known already since last month, but did provide more context, telling the press that SABC3 isn't confused but experimenting and trying out different things to see what might work and what won't as it continues to evolve.

Although all three channels are under pressure and dealing with audience erosion in a tough TV market, out of the SABC's three terrestrial analogue channels, SABC3 as the public broadcaster's only commercial TV channel has been and remains under the biggest pressure to improve its performance.

For the larger part of the past half a decade, SABC3 has been dealing with steadily waning audiences, constantly changing programming, a muddled channel identity and struggling to maintain and attract the quality content and upper LSM viewers that it once did in the 2000's.

Although not noted and not asked about, the SABC3 upfront event was highly significant not for the content showcased to the media, but for being held in the first place.

The event, featuring SABC3 channel head Aisha Mohamed back again from her maternity leave, marks the first time that SABC3 again held its own content showcase event for programming after it stopped doing quarterly press screenings almost two years ago.

After it consistently maintained its own regular schedule of press screenings for the media for over a decade and a half, SABC3 in 2014 was lumped with SABC1 and SABC2 in a changed initiative to do a "transversal" upfront over the past two years that didn't play to the strengths of the channel.

Because SABC2 and SABC1 which both used to do their own press screenings, did it less, more irregularly and some years had no content screenings at all, SABC3 suffered by proxy. The overall content showcase for the combined channels took place less regularly and basically only once a year, possibly due to the lack of new content to showcase on the other two channels and less publicity initiative.

It would seem as if SABC3 is now once again unshackled as a TV channel to follow its own best practice regarding press screenings.

At the beginning of last month the SABC overall yet again announced programming changes to its three main TV channels - SABC3 included - undoing and backtracking on several initiatives and scheduling moves implemented a year and a half ago in June 2014.

On Wednesday night at Montecasino in Fourways, Johannesburg, SABC3 reiterated what the SABC said in February, that the move of Afrikaans language shows to SABC3 didn't work with programming strands like Fokus that's now been moved back to SABC2.

SABC3 is at pains to emphasise that the move of Afrikaans back to SABC2 doesn't mean that the lifestyle and entertainment channel is excluding Afrikaans and that it remains a multicultural lifestyle channel including all languages.

As previously announced, the Indian lifestyle magazine show Mela has now moved to SABC3 as a companion show on Sundays for the Top Billing repeat. The new season of the music collaboration show Jam Sandwich will also be changing channels to SABC3.

As it explained in February, SABC3 will change Friday nights to "Comedy Nights" from April with a Friday night comedy strand that will include both local and foreign stand-up comedy offerings. On Saturdays from April, the start of the movie slot is moved from 19:30 to 19:00.

On Saturdays, from April the arts and culture slot is moved earlier to 18:00 and on Sundays SABC3 is introducing a male variety slot at 17:30 for shows like Top Gear and One Day with Bryan Miles.

That is followed by a current affairs block from 19:00 including shows like Interface, Special Assignment and documentaries like Ross Kemp: Extreme Worlds.

The Friday night advertiser-funded show Win a Home will be back for a 3rd "season" but will no longer be a stand-alone show. Instead it will now be folded into the afternoon talk show Afternoon Express since both are produced by the same production company.

Wednesday, March 16, 2016

StarSat will start showing the Chinese Super League after StarTimes acquires the exclusive broadcasting rights for Africa for three years until 2018.


StarSat will start showing the Chinese Super League after StarTimes has acquired the exclusive broadcasting rights for Sub-Saharan Africa for three seasons from 2016 to 2018.

There's so far been no announcement from On Digital Media (ODM) and StarTimes Media SA that runs StarSat in South Africa and Southern Africa about the soccer content acquisition.

In 2015 StarTimes and StarSat said it will start to funnel a lot more Chinese TV content - especially Chinese TV series - to Africa and South African television.

The kick off for the Chinese Football Association Super League was 11th March 2016 with the season ending on 5th October 2016. Two matches between the strongest teams per week will have English commentary bringing a total of 60 matches over 30 weeks.

It's not yet clear on what StarSat channel or channels the Chinese soccer will be shown.

StarTimes over the last year secured exclusive rights to broadcast certain soccer, basketball and tennis tournaments across the African continent and is slowly adding sports channels.

Besides this sport content StarTimes acquired the International World Rally Championships, the World Boxing Titles and Germany football league, the Bundesliga that's no longer available on SuperSport on MultiChoice's DStv. Other StarTimes soccer rights  include the Italian League, Serie A.

Comedy Central adds comedian Julia Anastasopoulos' SuzelleDIY as a new weekday sketch comedy series from 2 May at 20:05.


Comedy Central (DStv 122) has picked up SuzelleDIY as a sketch comedy series fronted by "Suzelle" who is comedian Julia Anastasopoulos.

SuzelleDIY will start on Comedy Central on 2 May, showcasing the "advice" from the 30-something female do-it-yourself-er, known for her retro fashion sense and bizarre advice, like "How to make a Braai Pie".

SuzelleDIY will run on weekdays at 20:05 with marathons on Comedy Central on Saturdays and Sundays from 7 May.

SuzelleDIY started as an online series in 2014 and won viewers thanks to its surrealist humour.

"I'm so excited that my YouTube videos are going to be on TV now for everybody to watch on their couches," says Suzelle.

"We are thrilled to welcome SuzelleDIY onto Comedy Central for what we hope will be her biggest and best DIY project ever," says Evert van der Veer, Comedy Central Africa vice president.

National Geographic Channel revamping Explorer into a weekly talk show series; Nat Geo and Nat Geo Wild announce new shows for 2016 and 2017.


The National Geographic Channel (DStv 181) has announced new shows for 2016 and 2017 while it's revamping its Explorer strand into a weekly "docu-talk" series that will have celebrity guests, field reports and talk show segments filmed in front of a live studio audience.

Explorer, done from New York, will start on National Geographic Channel in 2017 worldwide, including on the channel as seen on DStv in South Africa.

"The Explorer announcement marks a significant expansion in the scope and ambition of the series and emulates National Geographic's ongoing commitment to topical, entertaining and, most importantly, vital reporting," says Tim Pastore, president of original programming and production for National Geographic Channel.

"We are investing heavily in creative, entertaining projects that break the rules on how we report on the world and everything in it".

Other new National Geographic Channel projects include Lawless Oceans, a new 6-part documentary series scheduled for 2017 that will follow investigator Karsten von Hoesslin as he tries to solve the case of a murder at sea that was captured on video.

Jason Silva from Brain Games is the presenter of Origins, a new series that will look at how modern humanity took shape, with episodes focused on a single subject like fire, tools and transportation.

Chain of Command is a new 10-episode series in which National Geographic Channel will work with the Pentagon to look at what happens inside the American military in Afghanistan for a year.

Earth Live! is an event programming strand that will include showing wildlife activity from 7 continents.

Deep Freeze is a new documentary series that will look at the life-threatening working conditions for scientists in Antarctica studying the effects of climate change.

Parched is a new 4-episode series look at the world's water crisis.

Mars is a 6-episode series that is both scripted and unscripted and will be shown simultaneously on the National Geographic Channel. Mars tells the story of how man will eventually colonise Mars in 2032 as part of the first manned space mission to the red planet and will be broadcast at the end of this year.

Nat Geo Wild (DStv 182) is also getting three new unscripted series.

Animal ER follows animal rehabilitation in a Texas veterinary hospital.

Project Puppy will follow 6 families as they raise a puppy.

Pet Talk will be a new prime time talk show presented by two veterinarians, a wildlife expert and a field reporter.

Sindy Mabe returns to TV news as the next new sole anchor for ANN7's ANN7 Prime on weeknights from Monday 21 March.


The revolving chair of main anchor at ANN7 (DStv 405) will be filled by Sindy Mabe from this coming Monday evening with the former breakfast show presenter who is the latest news reader to move into the prime time chair at the channel.

Sindy Mabe replaces senior anchor Peter van Onselen who expertly occupied the chair at ANN7 Prime for the past two and a half months at the Gupta owned TV news channel based in Midrand.

At the end of December 2015 Peter van Onselen stepped in to replace Sebenzile Nkambule as prime time anchor who quietly left, who in turn replaced Nzinga Qunta who quit.

In just the past year an ever-changing roster of names including Juliet Newell, Candy Harris, Gladys Sithole, Chante Jantjies, Nzinga Qunta, Sebenzile Nkambule and Peter van Onselen all sat in the ANN7 Prime chair since original anchor Chantal Rutter Dros quit the news channel in December 2014.

Now Sindy Mabe who abruptly disappeared from e.tv's Sunrise in July 2014 is resurfacing on television as the ANN7 Prime presentation that has seen several "relaunches" and changes over the past two years is once again undergoing a change.

She previously did stints at e.tv's Sunrise, SABC2's Morning Live Weekend and e.tv's Morning Edition and will be the latest sole ANN7 Prime anchor from Monday 21 March at 19:00.

"For me, joining the dynamic ANN7 team is a unique and exciting opportunity to expand my skills set, meet new friends and share in our mandate to provide viewers with credible, reliable and balanced quality programming," says Sindy Mabe.

"This is the start of an exciting chapter for ANN7," says Abhinav Sahay, ANN7 news editor about the latest prime time on-screen shuffle at the Infinity Media Networks news channel on MultiChoice's DStv satellite pay-TV platform.

"We feel that it will help build our success as a news channel. We are pleased to see Sindy join the team, we have an incredibly talented group of anchors and she will add value to this tremendous list."

ANN7 remains mired in 3rd place in the ratings race when it comes to local South African TV news channels with a paltry 10.66% of audience share in February on DStv, compared to eNCA (DStv 403) in the lead with 51.54% of total viewers, and the SABC's SABC News (DStv 404) channel at 20.37%.

e.tv adds new political TV drama, new religious drama to its local production slate; both shows will start broadcasting later this year.

e.tv has added a new political TV drama as well as a religious drama to its local production slate with both new shows that will start broadcasting later in the year.

e.tv's outgoing executive in charge of channels, Monde Twala, in his last public speech before jumping to Viacom International Media Networks Africa (VIMN Africa) as the new vice president for BET, made the announcement on Monday night at e.tv's soap show event in Sandton.

Days later, invited media who attended has so far failed to report the news or about the upcoming developments regarding e.tv's soaps Rhythm City and Scandal! while e.tv didn't issue or respond to media requests for transcripts.

Monde Twala congratulated both of e.tv's longrunning soaps with their growth and longevity.

Monde Twala played an integral role in the creation of especially Rhythm City and getting it on air (as well as recently Ashes to Ashes and Gold Diggers).

"I'm very proud of the growth of Scandal! and Rhythm City. Can you believe that Rhythm City is eight years old this year? While Scandal! is 11 years old? It's a huge achievement for us as a channel," said Monde Twala.

"There's a lot to come. There's a religious drama and a political drama, but I won't say much about them for now," said Monde Twala.

No new free-to-air commercial TV stations for South Africa as broadcasting regulator rejects all 5 applications over non-compliance.


There will be no new free-to-air commercial TV stations for South Africa to compete with e.tv after the country's broadcasting regulator rejected all 5 applications due to non-compliance but said it will open the application process again in future.

Public hearings were held in November last year.

The Independent Communications Authority of South Africa (Icasa) rejected the TV licence applications of the Gupta family's Infinity Media Networks, Medo Investments, Levoca 565 (trading as Hola Media), Rubicon Investments and Change TV Network.

Icasa rejected the applications since the applicants failed to supply a guarantee of funding, proof of expertise and broadcasting experience.

Icasa also found problems with the applications in terms of foreign ownership, ownership by historically-disadvantaged people, and cross-media ownership exceeding regulatory provisions.

Medo Investments was disqualified from the licensing process after it failed to pay the application fee as required.

Hola Media wanted to offer a mix of free-to-air terrestrial TV along with video-on-demand (VOD) and internet protocol TV (IPTV) services.

Last month a legal memo to Icasa leaked warning the broadcasting regulator that Infinity Media Networks bid should be rejected since the company contravenes the foreign ownership clause in the Electronic Communications Act as it is 37,1% foreign-owned and controlled by Essel Media in India as a major shareholder.

The influential Gupta family and president Jacob Zuma's son, Duduzane Zuma, are shareholders in Infinity Media Networks who has been supplying the ANN7 TV news channel to MultiChoice's DStv satellite pay-TV platform.

Infinity Media Networks wanted to take ANN7 beyond DStv and make it a nationally available TV news channel to compete with the SABC's SABC News and e.tv's eNews.

e.tv that's run by eMedia Investments, the former Seardel media group owned by Hosken Consolidated Investments Limited that changed its name late last year, pleaded with Icasa not to license further free-to-air commercial broadcasters in South Africa.

The broadcasting regulator however said that more commercial TV stations are needed to increase competition and to improve the quality and variety of television broadcasting services in the country.

Acting Icasa chairman Reuben Mohlaloga said the regulator will issue a new invitation to apply for commercial free-to-air TV licences but will first run a series of workshops to help limit a repeat of the "deficient applications".

For now e.tv remains the sole commercial free-to-air broadcaster since it was licensed in 1998, with the SABC as the public broadcaster.

New commercial free-to-air TV station entrants in the already difficult South African TV market will face an ever increasing battle to just survive, secure content and find viewers.

While MultiChoice's DStv keeps adding channels, there's also On Digital Media (ODM) and StarTimes SA's StarSat, together with Platco Digital's free-to-air satellite OpenView HD service, in conjunction with growing community TV stations, the SABC and M-Net that last month launched a digital terrestrial television (DTT) product, GOtv, for South Africa.

In addition traditional TV viewers are lured away by expanding local VOD services like Naspers' ShowMax, Netflix South Africa and MTN's VU.

Mariah Carey reality series coming to E! Entertainment on DStv as cameras roll behind the scenes of her performances and wedding planning.


The cameras are set to roll behind the scenes to capture the drama, diva demands and private moments of songstress Mariah Carey for a new reality show on E! Entertainment (DStv 124) entitled Mariah's World.

The 8-episode reality series that will be shown on E! Entertainment on MultiChoice's DStv in South Africa as well as in 152 other countries, will have cameras following her on her tour in the United Kingdom, Europe, Asia and Africa while she's planning her wedding to the Australian business mogul, James Packer.

The series, produced by Bunim/Murray Productions, will follow Mariah Carey, who refuses to call it a reality show. She calls it a "documentary" about her life moments and has banned the cameras from filming her 4-year old twins Morocco and Monroe.

The reality show will focus on her and her inner circle as they deal with her Sweet Fantasy Tour

The diva is known for her antics and outrageous demands: she just send her people to the grocery store at 03:00 in the morning in Glasgow for Coca-Cola (in bottles), Oreo cookies and a case of Mo√ęt & Chandon champagne for her backup dancers and previously requested "adorable puppies" and white flowers.

On her previous tour she requested vitamin water to wash her dogs. Last month a video leaked of how she refuses to walk at her Las Vegas residency and gets wheeled in a customised chair from her room to the stage while her entourage hovers around her to do her hair and make-up at Ceasars Palace.

In 2002 on MTV in an episode of Cribs, the Mimi climbed a Stairmaster in high heels whilst showing off her one bathroom in Hello Kitty wallpaper.

"I'm already having so much fun with this documentary and I know you will too," says Mariah Carey. "I'm excited to to bring my fans into my life for the next journey I'm about to embark on".

"We're excited to partner with Bunim/Murray Productions and Mariah to offer our viewers exclusive access into her private world," says Jeff Olde, E!'s executive vice president for programming and development.

"The series will present a unique, vulnerable and surprisingly humorous side to Mariah that her fans have never before seen while showcasing her unparalleled celebrity lifestyle filled with true glamour, maximum luxury and ultimate stardom".