Saturday, January 19, 2019

BREAKING. Oppressive Zimbabwe government clamping down on press freedom amidst ongoing protests deports eNCA reporter Aldrin Sampear and cameraman Linge Ndabambi.

The oppressive Zimbabwe government clamping down on public protests, freedom of speech and news reporting in the struggling Southern African country has deported eNCA (DStv 403) reporter Aldrin Sampear and cameraman Linge Ndabambi.

The two South African journalists working for eMedia Investments' South African TV news channel carried on MultiChoice's DStv satellite pay-TV platform, were deported from Zimbabwe on Friday 18 January after going there to try and cover the unfolding public unrest in the country struggling with massive economic problems and socio-political unrest.

Aldrin Sampear and Linge Ndabambi were deported back to South Africa after they landed at the Robert Mugabe International airport.

Zimbabwe's shocking deportation of the South African press comes amidst ongoing reports of shocking violence from armed Zimbabwean security forces trying to quell protest action by the Zimbabwean public angry over runaway inflation, dramatic currency devaluations, and unaffordable petrol increases in a week that saw the government cut off access to the internet and social media.

In a statement, the Media Alliance of Zimbabwe (Maz), representing a group of different media outlets in the country, "The Media Alliance of Zimbabwe is appalled at the decision by the government of Zimbabwe to deport two South African journalists on the morning of  18 January 2019".

"The deportation of the foreign journalists comes on the backdrop of the second directive by the government to completely shut down the internet in response to widespread citizens' demonstrations, violent protests and a heavy-handed state response that has plunged the country into crisis."

"The deliberate and drastic actions that the Zimbabwe government is taking to ensure a total information blackout are fuelling the obtaining crisis in the country."

"Maz, therefore, reiterates its calls for the government to respect citizens' constitutionally-guaranteed rights to free expression, access to information and to media freedom."

"Zimbabwe is a democratic and open society. It is prudent that government realises that barring foreign media or blocking the internet only serves to further isolate the country and will scuttle any plans to re-engage with the world," Maz said.

In November 2017 Zimbabwe barred and deported a news crew from SABC News (DStv 404) from entering the country, including the SABC's foreign editor Sophie Mokoena, reporter Noma Bolabi and others.

ALSO READ: Now pay from SA in rand, says MultiChoice Zimbabwe, operating with 'limited capacity' as Zimbabwe's untenable political, social, economic and foreign currency crisis escalates.

National Geographic's new docu-drama series, Valley of the Boom, starts Sunday, tracking Silicon Valley's boom-to-bust in the 1990s with Netscape, and Pixelon.

The new docu-drama series, Valley of the Boom, recounting America's boom-to-bust story of the technology-internet upstart area known as "Silicon Valley" is starting on Sunday 20 January at 20:00 on National Geographic (DStv 181 / StarSat 220 / Cell C black 262).

Created by Matthew Carnahan, Valley of the Boom tries to tell the story of the rise and fall and rise of Silicon Valley, blending documentary style interview with real-life subjects, together with scripted storylines, similar to National Geographic's MARS that just concluded it's second season.

Set during the 1990s in Silicon Valley, the 6-episode Valley of the Boom has Bradley Whitford, Steve Zahn and Lamorne Morris as part of the cast, with Matthew Carnahan as showrunner and Arianna Huffington as executive producer.

Valley of the Boom follows the turbulent ride of 3 different companies whose founders were trying to change the world using the new technology of the internet. 

Before Google, Netscape pioneered the first commercial web browser and launched the so-called "browser wars" with Microsoft. 

Before Facebook, was a rapidly expanding social networking site built by dreamers on a university campus. And before YouTube, a con artist on the run from the FBI reinvented himself in Silicon Valley to start a streaming video company called Pixelon, resulting in an entrepreneurial rise and fall almost too insane to be believed.

"Our society is internet-dependent but most of us are not familiar with many of the visionaries who brought the web into existence and battled for its soul," says Matthew Carnahan.

"In Valley of the Boom I focused on telling the humorous, messy and real stories of these inventors, investors and con men. The goal is that the way in which the story is told is as disruptive as these figures themselves."

BREAKING. Wendy Williams hospitalised; talk return abruptly postponed for a third time as Wendy asks for privacy during an extended and this time significant absence.

Wendy Williams (54) has been hospitalised with her talk show return that has been abruptly postponed for a third time, with the American talk show host who will not be back on TV soon and who will now spend "significant time" in hospital as her health situation kept deteriorating.

Wendy Williams, always discussing and dissecting the gossipy lives of celebrities in front of her live studio audience "spilling the tea" is now asking for privacy.

After pushing out her return to the 10th season of her weekday talk show seen on Viacom Africa's BET (DStv 129) to 14 January due to "less than stellar episodes", and then again to 21 January, Wendy Williams has now been hospitalised with her comeback postponed indefinitely due to complications from her Graves' Disease in addition to dealing with a shoulder fracture she fractured in mid-December.

After the show's return was postponed from 14 to 21 January, The Wendy Williams Show returned this past week with a rotating daily panel of substitute panelists who talked about various topics similar to The View and The Talk.

In a new statement Wendy Williams now says she will be an extended absence from the show that will now go into repeat episodes from this coming Monday. Next week producers will once again scramble to find fill-in hosts who will start to present the show from 28 January for the time being.

"As Wendy Williams Hunter previously shared, she fractured her shoulder and has been on the mend. Over the past few days, Wendy has experienced complications regarding her Graves' Disease that will require treatment," Wendy Williams said in a statement.

"Wendy will be under the strict supervision of her physicians, and as part of her care, there will be significant time spent in the hospital. Despite her strong desire to return, she is taking a necessary, extended break from her show to focus on her personal and physical well-being."

"Wendy thanks everyone in advance for their well-wishes and for respecting her and The Hunter Family’s privacy during this time."

The talk show's American producer and distributor Debmar-Mercury says in a statement that "For over ten years, Wendy has been a vital part of the Debmar-Mercury family. We wholeheartedly support Wendy in this decision to take the time she needs and we will welcome her back with open arms the moment she is ready."

In December, Wendy Williams who suffers from hyperthyroidism and Graves' disease that caused her to take some medical leave in February 2018, fell and suffered a hairline fracture in her right arm, forcing her to wear a sling.

The talk show ended in 2018 on 20 December following episodes with Wendy slurring her words, looking disconnected and disinterested in interviews with celebrities like Martha Stewart, barely standing, preferring to sit during segments during the last week on air, and no longer doing her customary side-door walk-in entrance.

On the last episode of 20 December Wendy Williams wrote on Instagram that "I sincerely apologize if you feel that today's show was less than stellar. I'm on your TV screens every day wanting to spread laughter, entertainment and cheer. As I reported earlier in the week, I have a hairline fracture on my upper arm, which hurts like hell".

Wendy Williams said "I've never taken a pain medication in my life (except when I got snatched over 20 years ago) until this week. I did that to power through and try to deliver a great show for you, against the better judgement of the many people around me who genuinely care for my well-being".

"I promise you a better Wendy in 2019. I will get some much-needed rest and healing over these next couple of weeks."

Friday, January 18, 2019

Cell C black dramatically cuts down its free trial period from 30 to just 7 days but increases the access to its top-tier Binge Elite package.

As the video streaming wars in South Africa are heating up Cell C black is dramatically cutting down on its month-long free trial period and changing its window-shopping option to now give a 7-day free trial period to its top-tier package, Binge Elite.

Instead of a free month on Cell C black Binge Select, Cell C black is giving 7 days on Binge Elite. A customer's payment details are not be required when signing up for Cell C black's trial period and there are no deductions.

Cell C black - offering a raft of linear pay-TV TV channels similar to DStv and StarSat, as well as a stack of library on-demand TV shows and film including new straight-of-the-circuit films - is changing its free trial access from today from a longer period on its entry level package to a much shorter period but on its most premium subscription package as it tries to rope in more potential new subscribers.

While still having a small subscriber base due to limited penetration and costly broadband in the country, subscription video-on-demand (SVOD) services in South Africa like Netflix South Africa, Amazon Prime Video, Showmax and others are expanding and steadily making inroads as a supplement service to traditional pay-TV services like MultiChoice's DStv, Deukom and China's StarSat/StarTimes.

These over-the-top (OTT) players - not just fiercely competing with traditional direct-to-home (DTH) pay-TV providers but also each other - are all working hard at constantly trying to sweeten the pot to attract the buzzy consumers and early adopters seeing streaming services and "binge-watching" as the hot new TV thing. 

Cell C black is now making its entire range of content - except for movies available for rent - available for free for a week to potential customers who want to sample the range of content.

This includes its impressive range of over 60 linear TV channels, including premium channels like FOX, National Geographic, TNT, Fox Sports and others; and can stream watch or download content ranging from series including Empire, The Americans and Modern Family, to music, movies, sports, children's programming and documentaries.

"We want to offer consumers the full experience when they register on Cell C black," says Precious Nkabinde, Cell C black spokesperson. "The changes allowed for the quality of the package to be vastly better."

The free trial change from entry level to Cell C black Binge Elite is being implemented from today, 18 January.

"We are offering consumers the opportunity to trial the service before committing to a daily, weekly weekend or even monthly package.  For 7 days, the service is open to people to watch what they want, when they want. This is a fantastic way to keep the budget in check while reviewing the content on the platform to see if it meets expectations," says Precious Nkabinde.

While the new trial offer is replacing Binge Select with Binge Elite, people who are currently in the middle of their trial period of Binge Select will continue to have access to this for the full 30 days free of charge.

TV NEWS ROUND-UP. Today's interesting TV stories to read from TVwithThinus - 18 January 2019.

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

■ Kit Harington hopes the ending of Game of Thrones seen on M-Net (DStv 101) "will change TV again".
"I think it's going to be extraordinary."

■ Stephen Colbert flies Mary Poppins into a Brexit apocalypse.

■ Dumping of locally produced trashy telenovelas on TV in Ghana is apparently dumping the country's film biz.

■ Netflix agrees to content code in India.
Netflix signed and agreed to follow a new industry code of conduct and self-regulation for online content in India but Amazon Prime Video refuses to go along with the self-censorship in India.

■ Star Trek: Discovery season 2 on Netflix: The "ultimate" guide.

■ Alcoholic Ant McPartlin, the one half of presenting duo with Dec Donnelly, returning to TV in the United Kingdom on Friday after another stint in rehab for Britain's Got Talent and presumably the other shows seen on ITV Choice (DStv 123) the two present.

■ Fake BBC News page used to promote a Bitcoin-themed con scheme.

■ Fox & Friends on Fox News (StarSat 261) is even worse with a studio audience.

■ Watch: Aaaaawkward interview on Sky News (DStv 402) with a British politician.

■ No Excuse, pay Papgeld show on Moja Love (DStv 157) the cause that soccer player Siyabonga Zulu was fired from Mamelodi Sundowns.

■ A listless army of zombie lads: Why The Grand Tour's studio audience seen on Amazon Prime Video had to go for the upcoming third season starting on Friday. 

■ How plane crash TV shows ruin your holidays.

■ Ellen Pompeo could be sticking with Grey's Anatomy seen on M-Net (DStv 101) for a little while longer.

■ A Dubai pay-TV operator adds Amazon Prime Video to its service for its subscribers through direct carrier billing.

■ How a mixed ecology is driving record investment in the United Kingdom's TV industry.

■ Remembering Babylon 5 - one of the smartest science fiction TV drama series 25 years after its debut.

■ Desperate plan from producers of Victoria, seen on ITV Choice (DStv 123), to sex up the drama and rescue it from low viewership by making sure the third season isn't another flop.

■ Netflix can continue to raise prices amid new competition.

■ Hugh Grant begs thieves who broke into his car to just bring stolen script back.

Thursday, January 17, 2019

Al Jazeera commissions 6 episodes from Talesmith for its environmental series strand, earthrise, to broadcast in May 2019.

Al Jazeera (DStv 406 / StarSat 257 / Cell C black 503) has commissioned 6 episodes for its environmental series strand, earthrise, from the factual production company Talesmith.

The 6 half-hour episodes as part of earthrise will explore the most significant environmental threats to the planet and highlights eco-friendly solutions being employed around the world to tackle them.

Stories that will be covered in earthrise will include how Rohingya refugees fleeing Myanmar formed a local group to help protect Bangladesh's last surviving elephants and a new restaurant in Finland which aims to minimise its environmental footprint by growing food on-site and recycling the vast majority of its waste.

The episode will be broadcast as part of earthrise on Al Jazeera in May 2019 and has Kirsty Wilson and Martin Williams as executive producers.

"How we deal with humanity’s impact on the environment is of huge interest to global audiences," says Martin Williams, Talesmith CEO and creative director.

"earthrise is an eye-opening and informative series which focuses on innovative solutions – often developed by young people from around the world. We're thrilled that Al Jazeera has entrusted Talesmith to produce one of its highest profile brands."

Amanda Burrell, Al Jazeera's executive producer for earthrise, says: "The importance of a programme such as earthrise, which seeks to offer environmental hope and inspiration, only increases as the man-made problems threatening our planet worsen and the need to find, and enact, workable solutions intensifies".

"It's very exciting to be working on this new series with Talesmith, which has a strong track-record in bringing science and natural history stories alive for an international audience."

Cartoon Network still most-watched kids TV channel in South Africa; ratings of rebranded TNT surging past Studio Universal, says Turner Africa.

Cartoon Network (DStv 301) remains the most-watched kids TV channel in South Africa, while the rebrand of TCM to TNT (DStv 137) in September 2018 has seen a dramatic viewership upswing from DStv subscribers, says Turner Africa.

Turner Africa says its combined kids channels multiplex and the rebranded TNT in 2018 lifted Turner's Africa business to achieve greater reach and rating results than ever before.

"In November 2018, Turner Kids celebrated 51 consecutive months in the number 1 spot among pay-TV multiplexes in South Africa," says Turner Africa

Cartoon Network remains the favourite kids TV channel in South Africa with the channel that celebrated its highest-ever monthly share and remained the number 1 pay-TV Kids channel among kids aged 4 to 14.

Turner Africa says Cartoon Network's most popular shows vary between Ben 10, alongside new Cartoon Network original hits like Apple and Onion and Craig of the Creek

Original Cartoon Network productions and Warner Bros. content totalled 77% of the most viewed content on the channel.

Cartoon Network continued with its high-performance success in December 2018, with the Power Rangers: Clash of the Red Rangers movie viewed by 239 000 kids aged 4 to 14, and the sneak peek of the new Cartoon Network Original Summer Camp Island claiming the second spot.

Boomerang (DStv 302), Turner's other kids channel, is closing in on Cartoon Network's ratings, after moving up to the number 2 spot amongst the pay-TV kids channels for kids aged 4 to 14.

Meanwhile TNT Africa in October 2018 had its highest performance ever in ratings with an average of 36 000 viewers.

In November 2018 TNT Africa broke a new record with 40 700 viewers tuning in - a 13% month-on-month increase and achieved its second highest performance in share (1.14%) since December 2016.

TNT ranked number 5, ahead of NBCUniversal International Networks' Studio Universal (DStv 112) for a second month in a row.

"For the first time ever, not only did TNT dominate the top 50 competitive movies in November - with 7 movies on the top 10 list, but the channel also secured the top 3 spots for the month," says Turner Africa.

"For prime-time tune-ins, TNT remained on top of the podium, says Turner Africa, noting that TNT's  performance was driven by viewers tuning in on weekday afternoons, averaging 83 000 viewers between 15:00 and 18:00; and Saturday evenings during prime time, fuelled in November by The Schwarzenegger Fan Month programming stunt, gathering an average of 202 000 viewers.

The Grand Tour on Amazon Prime Video changes its format for the third season to align with global viewers' preferences, doing away with British guests and more changes to come.

The Grand Tour on Amazon Prime Video has changed its format for the 13-episode third season, with the episodes that will roll out weekly from Friday 18 January that will align more with global viewers' preferences.

The seasons beyond that will see even more changes for The Grand Tour.

The new third season of The Grand Tour will be the last to have a studio audience and a tent, and the guests are also gone.

Amazon has renewed The Grand Tour in December 2018 beyond the new third season but for a series of travelogue specials.

The Grand Tour from the 4th season will be different in style from the first three, with the presenters who will "ditch the tent and take on big adventure road trips that fans around the world love".

The Grand Tour with Jeremy Clarkson, Richard Hammond and James May back for a third season, is also doing away with guests, who in the previous two seasons were mostly British personalities.

At Amazon Prime Video's media launch for The Grand Tour on Tuesday in London, Jeremy Clarkson reportedly said that international viewers don't know and don't care who the British guests appearing on the show are.

"When we began on the other show [Top Gear on the BBC], many years ago, it was a British show that was only really shown in the United Kingdom," said Jeremy Clarkson.

"And then it became international, and it still is very, very international. We're much better known in Italy and China than we are here in the UK, weirdly."

"So there is no point in having a guest where you go, 'Ladies and gentlemen, it's Howard from the Halifax advert' because in Uruguay, they haven't got a f- clue who Howard is. There seemed to be no point persevering with the guests. So that segment has gone. No guests in series three," said Jeremy Clarkson.

Richard Hammond said what viewers like "is what we like the most - which is the big adventures, us three messing about in Mongolia or Colombia or China or wherever else."

Jay Marine, vice president of Amazon Prime Video says "The Grand Tour is a worldwide hit and fan favourite. We're delighted the guys are coming back for series four. We're proud to say that Prime Video will continue to be the home for Jeremy, Richard and James".

"They've got some ambitious new ideas that Prime members are going to love. We're excited to bring more Clarkson, Hammond and May to Amazon Prime Video for years to come."

The 2 big reasons why MultiChoice Africa and M-Net West Africa decided to switch production of Big Brother Naija from South Africa to Nigeria.

Two big reasons have been the natural impetus behind MultiChoice and M-Net's move to switch production of its reality competition series Big Brother Nigeria from South Africa to Nigeria - both having to do with the pay-TV operator's intent to improve local TV production quality and standards in sub-Saharan Africa outside of South Africa.

This week MultiChoice Nigeria and M-Net West Africa announced that Big Brother Naija has been renewed for a 4th season that will kick off after the conclusion of the upcoming Nigerian general elections.

MultiChoice Africa and M-Net however also surprised by revealing that the new season would be produced in Lagos instead of Johannesburg, South Africa where the existing Big Brother house in Linden, production facilities and production company Red Pepper Productions are based and that had been used so far for Big Brother Naija as well as the continental Big Brother Africa versions.

Previous seasons of Big Brother Naija in 2017 and 2018 were done in South Africa with contestants, family members and some Nigerian crew flown in, and then broadcast to Nigeria and across Africa on a dedicated Big Brother channel for DStv subscribers.

MultiChoice Nigeria and M-Net West Africa repeatedly explained that producing the show in South Africa is cheaper, safer, easier and ensures higher production values for viewers across the continent than what is possible in Nigeria where constantly interrupted electricity supply, hard to find TV technical skills, security issues, and other production issues make Big Brother Naija impractical and would make production costs soar.

Behind-the-scenes however two crucial things changed, that combined led to MultiChoice and M-Net deciding to switch production of the Endemol Shine Group's reality series from Johannesburg to Lagos.

Firstly, with a long-term view, MultiChoice and M-Net saw the sense in trying to expand the existing TV production capacity in Nigeria and West Africa to try and raise over time both the physical studio floor space available to use for multi-production of various shows for the region, but also over time production quality and standards.

Secondly, MultiChoice Africa decided to launch its MultiChoice Talent Factory (MTF) initiative in mid-2018 - a sub-Saharan film academy providing year-long internships for talented filmmakers in 3 hubs: Zambia for Southern Africa, Kenya for East Africa, and Nigeria for West Africa.

Having a dedicated real-world studio and studio space available in Lagos, Nigeria would help and provide a hands-on practical sphere where the intern filmmakers from across West Africa could observe, learn and hone their skills next to working production crew.

This lead to the decision to re-purpose an existing facility into new studio space in Lagos that will serve a dual purpose.

"Over the past two Big Brother Naija seasons, MultiChoice took a business decision to use the existing purpose-built facility in South Africa - which was not only cost-effective but also enabled the team to meet tight production deadlines without compromising on quality," Mokgadi Seabi, MultiChoice Africa spokesperson told TVwithThinus.

"This period also gave us time to start the process of replicating the set infrastructure and processes in Nigeria that we believe will deliver the same unmatched production quality that our valued customers have come to enjoy."

"The past two seasons gave us time to start building the infrastructure in Nigeria which, in the long term, will benefit our viewers as we will have a state-of-the-art studio to continue producing some of Nigeria and the continent's best-loved series, variety shows and sports programmes."

"It's also best to note another important factor - the MultiChoice Talent Factory. The West Africa MTF academy is based in Lagos, Nigeria and having this new purpose-built studio with varying functionalities in close proximity to them, will allow the MTF Academy's 20 West African students an opportunity to gain some valuable hands-on experience in various production techniques, through a live show production," says Mokgadi Seabi.

Red Pepper Productions will be the consulting production company in Nigeria, alongside a local production workforce featuring locally-sourced suppliers and in-house experts, says Mokgadi Seabi.

John Ugbe, MultiChoice Nigeria CEO says "this fourth season of Big Brother Naija promises to be even bigger than previous editions and underscores MultiChoice's position as the biggest investor and driver of entertainment content on the continent".

Viacom's Comedy Central rolling out the channel's first rebranding in 8 years, featuring its own bespoke font type and colour.

Viacom's Comedy Central (DStv 122) is rolling out the channel's first rebranding in 8 years that will soon be used worldwide.

A week ago Viacom International Media Networks Africa (VIMN Africa) was asked when the rebranding will be introduced and rolled out for South Africa and Africa but Viacom Africa didn't respond to a media enquiry.

The Comedy Central refresh is the first one since 2011, with the rebranding look that was done by the New York studio Loyalkaspar, together with Comedy Central's in-house design team.

The Comedy Central refresh further refines the current "C"-symbol that is now alongside a custom-made sans-serif typeface called "Comedy Sans" and also includes a new colour palette using a yellow named "Summer Ale".

These are being used together with black and white as its primary colours, alongside an extended palette of red, orange, blue, green and grey to work with different TV shows and content on Comedy Central.

"The core idea behind the new branding is 'everything is content', which looked to hero the channel's shows and allow the brand to take a back-seat," says Anna Minkkinen, executive creative director at Loyalkaspar.

Paul DeBenedittis joins Nickelodeon as executive vice-president for programming and content strategy.

Viacom's Nickelodeon (DStv 305) has hired Paul DeBenedittis as its new executive vice president of programming and content strategy.

Paul DeBenedittis, most recently senior vice-president of programming strategy for Disney Channels Worldwide, is tasked with leading strategies, partnerships, acquisitions and media planning for Nickelodeon, Nick Jr., Nicktoons and TeenNick across linear, digital, apps, VOD, DTO and wireless platforms.

Paul DeBenedittis, replacing Elizabeth Murray in the role, will also work with Nick channels worldwide from Nickelodeon's Burbank studio in California and will report to Brian Robbins, Nickelodeon president.

"Paul has extensive expertise in programming and leading content strategies that reach and resonate with youth audiences," says Brian Robbins in a statement.

"He's one of the most dynamic executives in the kids and family space, and we're happy to have him on board as we forge a new Nickelodeon for today's audience."

Turner promotes producer Sarah Fell to director of original kids series for Europe, Middle East and Africa.

Turner Europe, Middle East and Africa (EMEA) has promoted Sarah Fell, producer on The Amazing World of Gumball, to director of original series for kids.

Sarah Fell will be responsible for overseeing the development and production of all Turner kids' series across the EMEA region, including the recently commissioned Elliott From Earth series.

Sarah Fell is also tasked with finding and developing new talent and ideas into content that can play across Turner's kids' platforms in the region. Sarah Fell joined Turner in 2011 as producer of Cartoon Network's (DStv 301) The Amazing World of Gumball.

She also oversaw production of The Heroic Quest of the Valiant Prince Ivandoe, as well as Turner EMEA's first Boomerang (DStv 302) original series, The Happos Family.

Sarah Fell will report to Patricia Hidalgo, chief content officer for Turner EMEA and international kids strategy.

Patricia Hidalgo says "Finding the best creative talent across our region, sourcing and developing ideas into great shows is key to the success of our kids business".

"Shows produced here like The Amazing World of Gumball and The Heroic Quest of the Valiant Prince Ivandoe have not only enjoyed significant critical acclaim but have proven key in making our channels and digital platforms successful in EMEA and across the globe."

"None of this would have been possible without Sarah's creative leadership and we're delighted she will be taking on this expanded role to help bring more of our EMEA-made content to the forefront."

TV NEWS ROUND-UP. Today's interesting TV stories to read from TVwithThinus - 17 January 2019.

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

■ The SABC's hypocrisy over R.Kelly's music.

■ Iranian state television anchor arrested after landing in America.
Press TV's Marzieh Hashemi arrested on undisclosed charges.

■ The pay-TV bundle strikes back: How video streaming prices caught up with tradition subscription television.
Rising prices mean streaming services cost as much as traditional satellite pay-TV.

■ Welcome to the era of video streaming bundles.

■ Watching your favourite TV show a million times isn't compulsive. It has a name now: Welcome to "comfort binge".

■ Family Guy seen on FOX (DStv 125 / StarSat 131 / Cell C black 201) is phasing out the gay jokes.
"Some of the things we felt comfortable saying and joking about back then, we now understand is not acceptable."

■ Steve Carrell working with executive producer of The Office on a new workplace comedy series, Space Force for Netflix.

■ Netflix and its local video streaming rival Hotstar will both start to censor their content in India.
Self-censorship is an attempt to prevent censorship by India's government.

■ Users have problems with Netflix - beyond the latest price hike.
The original Netflix programming "tends to be hit or miss". And "endless scrolling" is awkward and tiring.
■ Netflix isn't raising prices in India - it can't afford to. It's already the most expensive streaming service there.

■ George R.R. Martin's science fiction horror series, Nightflyers, will become available on Netflix on 1 February.

■ Many people have no idea how much they're paying for Netflix.
Study finds 84% of consumers underestimate what they're spending on video streaming services like Netflix, Amazon Prime Video and others.

■ Uganda's speaker of parliament Rebecca Kadaga fawns over China and lavishes effuse praise on StarTimes for doing the African country's digital terrestrial television (DTT) switch.

■ Welcome to the new pay-TV world.
The user experience from new entrants is incredibly strong – it is fun, engaging and easy to interact with. The most successful operators have focused on emulating the best features and functionalities of the new market entrants to stay competitive.

■ World of Sport wrestling announces new deals, including with StarTimes in Africa.

■ Content classification changes coming to Britain.
To better protect people watching disturbing content on video streaming services.

■ Chinese censors ban male stars from being seen with earrings on TV.

■ Egyptian idiot: TV and films have given women the impression that they can refuse their husbands' call to bed.

■ First human rights TV channel promises to "give a voice to the voiceless".

■ The reality show Temptation Island hasn't changed. We have.
And it's still trash.

■ Second season of Star Trek: Discovery on Netflix is less interesting.
■ Star Trek: Discovery - the technology won but Rodenberry's visionary society is lost.

■ Why is Colton Underwood always showering on The Bachelor?

■ Julia Roberts won't be back for the second season of Homecoming seen on Amazon Prime Video.

Wednesday, January 16, 2019

Afrikaans host of SABC2's Noot vir Noot, Johan Stemmet, finally stepping down after 28 years; will remain involved behind-the-scenes as show gets new presenter and a makeover.

Johan Stemmet (66), the Afrikaans host of SABC2's music game show Noot vir Noot is stepping down and away from the show he started after 28 years and will be bowing out on Thursday evening at 19:00 at the end of the 43rd season and more than 700 episodes.

Noot vir Noot ("Note for Note"), produced by Stemmburg Television with Johan Stemmet and Johan van Rensburg, will get a new presenter and a makeover on SABC2.

The first episode of Noot vir Noot was broadcast on 27 July 1991, making it the longest-running TV game show in South African television history.

In 2018 the National Film and Video Foundation (NFVF) awarded Johan Stemmet, known for his colourful shirts and waist coats, a Lifetime Achievement Award at the 2018 South African Film and Television Awards (Saftas).

"In the 28 years that we've walked, I feel in my heart that this is one of the most exciting season finales ever. This one you must definitely not miss," Johan Stemmet wrote on his Facebook page.

Thursday's season finale will be followed by the usual special charity episode where local celebrities compete against each other to win money for charities.

"Noot vir Noot is a household and much-loved brand that many South Africans grew up with and Johan has been instrumental in its success both on and off screen," says Jacqui Hlongwane, SABC2 programme manager.

"The show has attracted a diverse and in. The secret to Noot vir Noot's longevity has been Johan Stemmet's ability to constantly evolve the show to keep abreast with the latest music and programming trends in music game shows".

SABC2 says "Noot vir Noot will continue in a new format with a new host. Johan Stemmet will be part of the creative and editorial team for the new show".

"SABC2 would like to express its sincere gratitude and appreciation to Johan Stemmet for his professionalism, commitment, creativity and passion that he brought to the show, season after season keeping our audiences highly entertained."

Lee Thompson, South Africa's hunk of The Bachelor South Africa coming to M-Net, says he's a master - guess at what.

Lee Thompson, the hunk that women will fawn over from 14 February in The Bachelor South Africa on M-Net (DStv 101), says he is a master - a master at braaing.

In an interview with East Coast Radio on Wednesday, Lee Thompson - an international model, an entrepreneur running a cleaning and a web development business, and a former Sharks rugby player who will pick and choose beauties from February as South Africa's first TV bachelor - said that he is still single "because I've been so focused on my career and getting my life in place that in terms of creating that success and that platform to build that family, that I haven't fully focused on my love life".

"I see The Bachelor SA and this journey as a perfect opportunity to fully focus on that and potentially find the one," he said.

"When they asked me to be a part of this, I just saw it as a great opportunity, and it's a unique way of finding love - but it's still a way and I'm so excited for the opportunity."

Lee Thompson watched a few episodes of the American version of The Bachelor with an ex-girlfriend because he was forced to, he says. "From seeing it, I was always sceptical, but after watching a full season of Australia season 1 just to do a bit of homework and to see what it's about, I thought that I could do this and I trusted that M-Net and Rapid Blue would come up with some magnificent contestants to choose from and I've met some wonderful and unique individuals through this journey."

Lee Thompson said the producers "were looking for someone who was truly looking for love and looking to settle down and create a family and start a life with, and that's my true intentions. That's the real reasons why I'm here".

"I'm a very optimistic person and potentially I could find the one. We'll have to wait and see."

"I don't like to box people in or label anyone. I have done that in the past but through this journey I've learnt not to do that because there are so many unique and diverse people in South Africa. I used to have a type but after this journey I've learnt to open my mind and just accept many different people and I've surprised myself. Do I have a type? Not necessarily."

"It's about that person having the right soul, the right mind; just someone I can be myself with and enjoy life with."

Lee Thompson revealed that "braaing is definitely one of my favourite things to do. I'd like to think of myself as a master braaier".

Now pay from SA in rand, says MultiChoice Zimbabwe, operating with 'limited capacity' as Zimbabwe's untenable political, social, economic and foreign currency crisis escalates.

MultiChoice Zimbabwe struggling in the same way as other businesses in the ravaged Southern African nation running out of foreign currency and losing DStv subscribers who can't pay, is advising customers about a new option to pay their monthly subscription fees in rand from South Africa.

MultiChoice Zimbabwe told TVwithThinus it is "operating with limited capacity" due to the political, social and economic turmoil in the country and is evaluating the situation day by day.

With untenable political upheaval in Zimbabwe - many businesses shut, the country's internet cut off from the outside world making online payments impossible, and a growing foreign currency crisis - the pay-TV operator is one of numerous businesses in Zimbabwe facing a very stark future and possible shutdown if customers can't pay for services and products.

Zimbabwe's already bad currency and foreign currency crisis steadily worsened during the past two years, with it becoming almost impossible for DStv subscribers in the country to make payments.

In February 2017 the Zimbabwe Reserve Bank dramatically ramped up its clamping down on citizens using foreign currency and the American dollar, specifically slamming Zimbabwean DStv subscribers for their "illogical behaviour" of wanting to subscribe and pay for DStv.

Since late-2016 several payment options for DStv subscribers in Zimbabwe simply disappeared with payment processing providers announcing that they simply can't continue to process DStv payments.

Earlier this week, with Zimbabwe facing chronic shortages of foreign exchange and with many shops and factories shuttered and the petrol price there after an overnight doubling on Sunday night now the most expensive in the world, the head of Zimbabwe's main industry body has warned that many companies that continue operating will shut this month due to the currency shortage.

This threat is also looming for Skynet trading as MultiChoice Zimbabwe, where Lovemore Mangwende, MultiChoice Zimbabwe CEO, died last week from heart failure.

MultiChoice Africa told TVwithThinus in response to a media enquiry as to whether MultiChoice Zimbabwe continues to operate, that "MultiChoice Zimbabwe, trading as Skynet, is carefully monitoring the current situation in Zimbabwe".

"The business is operating as usual, albeit with limited capacity in the interest of employee safety. Customers can refer to the DStv Facebook page for information".

MultiChoice Zimbabwe has now also started telling DStv subscribers in the country that they can ask friends and family to pay their DStv subscription fee from South Africa in rands. These payments can be made at all Shoprite, Checkers, Pick n Pay and Kazang point-of-sale machines. All that's needed is the first 10 digits of the smartcard number in the DStv decoder, not the account number.

"The conversion to rand will happen at the till," says DStv Zimbabwe. "It's a simple, seamless, real-time solution".

TV NEWS ROUND-UP. Today's interesting TV stories to read from TVwithThinus - 16 January 2019.

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

■ Maria Bartiromo was a generational icon for financial television. What happened?
The former CNBC (DStv 410) "Money Honey" sadly transformed into a Donald Trump acolyte.

■ Shocking: MultiChoice's DStv decoder insurance is a disgusting rip-off.
MultiChoice fails to respond after DStv subscriber is offered a "refurbished decoder" that doesn't even work.

■ New study finds Americans spend half their waking hours staring at screens.

■ Gossip Girl Penn Badgley now in the drama series YOU on Netflix says his masturbation scene felt "surprisingly disgusting".
During a round table interview that's part of the YOU's current press tour in the Philippines, Penn Badgley says director wanted him to close his eyes during the awkward scene.
■ "If you do something and you just don't move your face muscles, it becomes very creepy," he tells Rappler.
■ The "Netflix Effect": Creepy YOU surges in popularity since moving to Netflix.
■ Netflix made YOU a thing - let's hope it doesn't ruin it.

■ Schitt's Creek on Netflix: The funniest sitcom you're (probably) not watching.

■ Gillette facing massive backlash and consumer boycott over "toxic masculinity" TV commercial.
Explained: Men are saying to Gillette, "We feel marginalised, criticised and accused rather than feeling inspired and empowered".

■ The "Game of Thrones Effect".
How the fantasy drama series seen on M-Net (DStv 101) has been both a blessing and a curse for tourism and its key filming locations.
■ And what actor Kit Harington took from the set as a keepsake after filming wrapped.

■ Twitter suspends The New York Times' photo account @NYTPhoto after its horrific trash publishing of dead bodies in the DusitD2 terror attack in Nairobi, Kenya.
■ BBC Africa business editor, Larry Modowo, slams The New York Times and dares the newspaper to point to any of the US mass shootings where The New York Times published photos of the dead.
■ Graphic photo of killed people in Nairobi terror attack in The New York Times draws anger.

■ How SpongeBob sank with Viacom's dreams in China.
There's no money to be made in trying to get Chinese viewers hooked on MTV and Nickelodeon.

■ Outside of Los Angeles, Vancouver in Canada is the place for TV shows.
19 movies and TV shows filming there in January 2019.

■ SuperSport announces South Africa's controversial Vision View as the production company to handle its outside broadcasts of the Zambian Football League in Zambia.
Oddly, Vision View will now be responsible for the actual live feeds for SuperSport, using 4 outside broadcast vans.

■ The fastest-growing pay-TV channel in America? The Tennis Channel.

■ Police warn: Don't call 911 if you're fighting and can't decide what TV channel to watch.

■ Why old-fashioned, free-to-air TV watching in America is booming.
One in 7 American TV households don't have pay-TV and prefer to watch local TV news and free TV channels - and the percentage is growing.

■ Nat Geo Wild's (DStv 182 / StarSat 221 / Cell C black 262) Dead at Dawn is the first great new horror show of 2019.
The world's first "horror nature series" is honestly one of the most terrifying horror shows you'll see on TV this year.

■ Man smashes a flat-screen TV set over a woman's head.

■ Instead of Xenu, Scientology blames Leah Remini and her show Leah Remini: Scientology and the Aftermath on Crime+Investigation (DStv 170) for inciting murder.
 A man died after being stabbed in the neck at the Scientology headquarters in Sydney, Australia on his way to a so-called "purification ceremony".

■ Women now dominating lead roles in TV dramas as men are being reduced to stereotypical "cop" roles.

■ Netflix's largest-ever price hike - why now? Also, the latest price increase won't affect South Africa Netflix tells me.

■ Why the aliens on the new Roswell reboot drink nail polish remover instead of Tabasco hot sauce.

■ SABC1's shameful botching of Diamond City while the channel is in desperate need of successful local dramas.
And my reporting about the SABC's mess-up here.

Netflix's largest-ever price hike not affecting South Africa.

Netflix's largest-ever price hike in the history of the global video streaming service won't affect South Africa where prices won't change.

On Tuesday Netflix announced a double digit percentage increase of between 13% and 18% to its various monthly subscription fees in the United States where Netflix has over 58 million subscribers. Netflix's most popular plan will see the largest price increase from $11 to $13 per month.

The increase announcement comes just before Netflix is scheduled to report its earnings for the fourth quarter of 2018 on Thursday.

Netflix's price hike comes as the company dramatically ramps up its investments in original content including movies and series, marketing and technology, as well as regionalised commissions, for instance, a first local drama series in South Africa starring Pearl Thusi.

The latest increase will also affect Netflix users in 40 countries in the Caribbean and South America where Netflix bills in dollar, for instance, Uruguay, Barbados and Belize. The Netflix price increase will however not come into effect for Mexico and Brazil where Netflix subscribers are billed in local currencies.

While Netflix's growth in the United States is tapering off, its international expansion keeps growing including in South Africa where Naspers' MultiChoice in 2018 blamed Netflix for a decline in the percentage of its top-tier DStv Premium subscribers.

Netflix nearly had 79 million subscribers outside America by September 2018  - its fastest-growing group - and in 2018 spent nearly $10 billion on content and marketing as it ramped up its slate of original programming instead of licensing shows from other studios and producers.

Netflix in response to a media enquiry told TVwithThinus on Wednesday that Netflix South Africa won't increase prices in line with the United States now where users are now also billed in rand as local currency.

Netflix South Africa says "Price increases are specific to each country and the United States increase does not influence or indicate a global or local price change".

SuperSport appoints Vision View from South Africa to now handle all the outside broadcasts and provide the live feeds of the Zambian Football League in Zambia.

This report has been edited and changed from its first, original version, please see the end of the article:

SuperSport has entered into a partnership with the production company Vision View in South Africa to now do the outside broadcasts of Zambian Football League matches in Zambia.

While MultiChoice will still show Zambian Football League action to DStv subscribers, SuperSport has outsourced all the live league coverage of its outside broadcasts to Vision View.

In South Africa controversy swirls around a contract between the South African public broadcaster and Vision View.

It is one of several contracts entered into between the SABC and various different companies that were set aside by the Special Investigating Unit (SIU) in late-2018 due to the SABC not having followed its own procurement policy.

The legitimate tender was for refurbishing of SABC studios that was abruptly cancelled by the SABC and awarded to Vision View. The SIU is continuing a wide-ranging investigation into looting and corruption within the SABC.

Now SuperSport has teamed up with Vision View to handle its Zambian Football League outside broadcasts in Zambia, with the technical component of its outside broadcasts that will be now be done by Vision View.

"The Zambian Football League will still be broadcast on SuperSport and the partnership between SuperSport and the Zambian Football Association remains, however we now just have a new outside broadcast partner that will be responsible for the actual live feed. This will have no impact on league fans' viewing at all," says Gideon Khobane, SuperSport CEO.

For SuperSport's live feeds Vision View will use its 4 outside broadcast vans that can accommodate between 6 and 24 cameras. The vans have previously been used to broadcast live Currie Cup, PSL, Varsity Cup and MultiChoice Diski Challenge matches in South Africa, as well as for international cricket coverage in the SADC region.

MultiChoice says that working with Vision View "reflects MultiChoice's ambition to constantly partner with African enterprises in bringing its world-class content to Africa while engaging and uplifting local communities".

SuperSport is also donating TV production equipment to the MultiChoice Talent Factory (MTF) initiative for use by its emerging filmmakers.

UPDATE: Friday 18 January 2019 21:30 - erratum and correction:

Please note that this report was edited and both the third and fourth sentences changed from the first, original version; together with the word "controversial" that was removed from inside the original headline.

The third sentence originally read: "In South Africa controversy swirls around a dodgy contract ..." The word "dodgy" was deleted.

The fourth sentence was reworded to make it clear that the court found that it was the SABC that didn't follow its own procurement policy.

TVwithThinus apologises for the possible and unintended misinterpretation of meaning that unintended lapses in the original version caused and/or might have caused, as well as for not being specifically clear enough during providing background in the article that the Special Investigating Unit (SIU) set aside a contract due to the SABC that deviated from its own procurement policy.

Tuesday, January 15, 2019

Soweto TV co-presenter, Thembinkosi 'Mangethe' Zwane, dies at 45 after battle with diabetes.

A Soweto TV co-presenter, Thembinkosi "Mangethe" Zwane has died after a long battle with diabetes. He was 43.

Thembinkosi "Mangethe" Zwane died on Friday 11 January and was known as the longest-serving presenter at the Jozi FM radio station in Soweto, where he had worked for two decades.

Thembinkosi "Mangethe" Zwane was also the co-presenter of Izingi, a traditional music show on Soweto TV (DStv 251 / StarSat 488).

"It is with great sadness that we announce the passing of our friend and colleague, Thembinkosi Mangethe," said Soweto TV.

Big Brother Naija renewed for a 4th season as MultiChoice Nigeria and M-Net West Africa move production of the 2019 housemates reality series to Lagos, Nigeria to start after the upcoming general elections.

MultiChoice Nigeria and M-Net West Africa on Tuesday announced that a new season of Big Brother Nigeria will be produced in 2019 and that the 4th season of Big Brother Naija will be done in Lagos, Nigeria instead of Johannesburg, South Africa, where existing Big Brother house production facilities have been used until now.

MultiChoice and M-Net announced at a media briefing at the George Hotel in Lagos that auditions for the 4th season of Big Brother Naija will take place on 1 and 2 February in 6 different Nigerian cities, including Lagos, Calabar, Enugu, Benin, Ibadan, Warri and Port Harcourt.

Ebuka Obi-Uchendu will again be the host of the upcoming 4th season, with the former housemate who presented the second season in 2017 and the third season that started in January 2018.

The 4th season of Big Brother Naija will be only the second time that Big Brother Naija has been produced outside South Africa since it began in 2006.

Following 2016, the second season in 2017 and the third season in 2018 were both done in South Africa and shown in Nigeria and across sub-Saharan Africa on DStv's satellite pay-TV platform.

Despite harsh criticism from Nigerian press that doesn't understand basic TV production, MultiChoice and M-Net previously explained that Nigeria doesn't have good enough production facilities to produce Big Brother Naija; that using the existing Big Brother house in South Africa makes production costs cheaper, and that hard to find technical skills, constantly interrupted electricity supply, security issues, and other production issues would make Big Brother Naija's production costs soar if done in Nigeria.

MultiChoice and M-Net on Tuesday didn't explain the change in its stance and why production of Big Brother Naija for its 4th season is moving to Lagos. A new Big Brother house facility is currently being constructed in Lagos.

MultiChoice and M-Net plan to start broadcasting the 4th season of Big Brother Naija after the upcoming general elections in Nigeria for a duration of three months over 90 days.

"This fourth season of Big Brother Naija promises to be even bigger than previous editions and underscores MultiChoice's position as the biggest investor and driver of entertainment content on the continent," says Martin Mabutho, MultiChoice Nigeria's general manager for sales and marketing.

"From a cost perspective, it is always good to share the Big Brother house in South Africa where all the African versions of Big Brother can make use of the house."

"Now we are at the vantage position of hosting the show in Nigeria and give the global standard for which the show is known for. The Big Brother house is currently under construction and will be ready before the kick-off."

Trinity Broadcasting Network appoints Loyiso Bala as channel director of TBN in Africa.

The Christian-based Trinity Broadcasting Network (TBN) has appointed Loyiso Bala as the TBN channel director for the African branch of its international TV network.

TBN Africa says Loyiso Bala "brings with him an intuitive understanding of the business having not only presented and produced several television shows, including our very own TBN Meets, but has also run a successful talent management company since 2007 and is currently completing the final year of his MBA studies at the Henley Business School."

TBN says Loyiso Bala's role would be to lead an experienced team in increasing viewer experience. Loyiso Bala will oversee content creation, brand and channel identity, marketing, and new business strategies.

Lucky Mbiko, TBN Africa managing director, says "We are excited about bringing Loyiso Bala onboard as we believe he will form an integral part in our next phase of our development strategy".

"We have a big vision for both content production and distribution in Africa as we are looking at providing our viewers with good-quality, original content."

Loyiso Bala says "I am honoured and humbled to be granted the opportunity to lead such an amazing team that I've come to feel part of over the past 3 years presenting and producing for the channel. I look forward to the challenge and to continue building on the great success that has been achieved by TBN so far."

TBN is carried on MultiChoice's DStv satellite pay-TV platform on channel 343.

John Boyega to produce Cape Flats gangster film, God is Good, written and directed by first-time filmmaker Willem Grobler.

John Boyega will executive produce a film, God is Good, set on the notorious Cape Flats in Cape Town and written and directed by first-time filmmaker Willem Grobler.

Willem Grobler was a co-writer on the 13-episode Afrikaans drama series Spoorloos that just concluded on M-Net’s Afrikaans channel kykNET (DStv 144), with the British production company Bandit Country that will be producing the movie.

Deadline reports that the film, in English, will follow a reformed gangster that have become a pastor and a volatile detective who cross paths after a brutal act of violence. This leads them to a collision course with a heinous gangster boss. God is Good plans to start filming around autumn.

John Boyega told Deadline that God is Good is "a powerful and important story that explores themes of fathers and fatherhood, toxic masculinity, race and faith in a community that has become trapped in an unending cycle of violence and racial oppression, and where sometimes it seems for men that violence is the only way of achieving power".

"Willem has written a superb screenplay and we are looking forward to working with him to realise the vision behind it."

God is Good will have an accompanying soundtrack that will include songs from various artists across the African continent, that will be done through John Boyega's new record label, UpperRoom Records.

Shocking Surviving R. Kelly and Harvey Weinstein documentaries coming to Crime+Investigation in February.

South African and African viewers will finally get the chance to see the buzzed-about Surviving R. Kelly documentary series next month when Crime+Investigation (DStv 170) will screen the series, along with another documentary chronicling the Harvey Weinstein scandal.

The documentary series, Surviving R. Kelly that A+E Networks broadcast at the beginning of this month on Lifetime in the United States led to a big public uproar after multiple women and others spoke about about allegations of rape and assault over years by the controversial singer.

A+E Networks UK has slotted the documentary series for broadcast on the Crime+Investigation channel for Africa, with a double episode of Surviving R. Kelly that will start on Wednesday 6 February at 20:00, and single weekly episodes thereafter until the final episode on 6 March.

The 6-episode series includes over 50 interviews with victims and people from R. Kelly's inner circle, revealing new allegations about the sexual, mental and physical abuse they've suffered. Included in the interviews are Tarana Burke, musicians John Legend and Sparkle, talk show host Wendy Williams, ex-wife Andrea Kelly, and brothers Carey and Bruce Kelly.

The Harvey Weinstein Scandal will premiere on Crime+Investigation on 13 February at 20:50 and examine the rise and fall of the Hollywood mogul and predator Harvey Weinstein.

Besides tracking his life, career and creation of Miramax and The Weinstein Company, it also documents the shocking allegations that emerged on 4 October 2017 in an expose in The New York Times detailing his decades of abuse, and his fall from grace.

The documentary takes a deep look inside Hollywood and the abuse by powerful men in the entertainment industry, and includes interviews with people who knew Harvey Weinstein and women who have come face-to-face with him - as well as dramatic re-enactment scenes.

eNCA backtracks on NewsNight changes as Vuyo Mvoko is made sole anchor and political editor; Cathly Mohahlana back to anchor during the day with Vata Ngobeni appointed as eNCA sports editor.

eNCA (DStv 403) is undoing some of its line-up changes just 6 months after its introduction in mid-July 2018 with its prime time news programme NewsNight that is going back to starting at 18:00 and that will now be sole anchored by Vuyo Mvoko, with co-anchor Cathy Mohahlana going back to anchor a daypart.

Six months after eNCA's now departed news director Mapi Mhlangu changed the South African TV news channel's schedule and anchor line-up in mid-July 2018, eNCA is once again changing it, including breaking up its NewsNight co-anchor presentation that always had dual presenters.

From Monday night NewsNight that was shifted to 17:00 in mid-July is once again moved back to a starting time of 18:00, now with Vuyo Mvoko as the only anchor of eNCA's flagship news show.

Cathy Mohlahlana who anchored mid-mornings before her promotion to NewsNight in mid-May 2017 as co-anchor, is shifted back after a year and 8 months and will now once again be anchoring eNCA during the day.

Cathy Mohlahlana is now taking over as the anchor of eNCA Now between 13:00 and 15:00 on weekdays, replacing Jeremy Maggs.

Jeremy Maggs, eNCA acting editor-in-chief, will no longer serve as anchor during the week but will continue to present his weekly media magazine show, Maggs on Media on Sunday mornings.

Jeremy Maggs shifted from prime time in mid-July to the afternoon slot, but with the added duties of day-to-day management of eNCA and with 2019 being a general election year requiring additional management of news resources and logistics, decided to let weekday anchoring go.

Jeremy Maggs will be used as a special anchor on eNCA depending on his availability during key news events.

"I am very pleased that I can hand the lunchtimes over to Cathy who is one of the young stars in a very talented line-up of anchors," says Jeremy Maggs. "This will give me an opportunity to focus on the business of running a dynamic and demanding newsroom."

Following eNCA Now, Thulasizwe Simelane will now anchor on eNCA from 15:00 to 18:00 for an hour longer.

Besides now being the lone anchor of NewsNight, Vuyo Mvoko has been appointed as eNCA's political editor, with Vata Ngobeni from Pretoria News appointed as eNCA's new sports editor from February.