Saturday, June 6, 2020

Discovery Channel lifts off with a spectacular Saturday documentary special on DStv going inside NASA and SpaceX’s successful 2020 Crew Dragon capsule launch.

by Thinus Ferreira

The past week's spectacular and successful Nasa launch of Elon Musk's SpaceX Crew Dragon capsule from the Kennedy Space Center in Cape Canaveral in Florida in the United States gets primetime billing tonight on Discovery Channel (DStv 121) with a special 2-hour documentary, Nasa & SpaceX: Journey to the Future at 20:00.

Discovery that spent over a year documenting SpaceX's race to become the first private company to launch American astronauts into space was also there on 30 May 2020 when the successful launch took place. 

"In our 2-hour documentary, we show the unbelievable engineering and scientific feats achieved by SpaceX in making such a historic launch happen," says Scott Lewers, executive vice president of multiplatform programming, factual & head of content, at Discovery's Science channel.

The mission, known as Demo-2 that used a Falcon 9 rocket, also built by SpaceX, to propel it, saw veteran astronauts Bob Behnken and Doug Hurley launch into space to the International Space Station (ISS) on a SpaceX Crew Dragon spacecraft.

The Discovery Channel special on Saturday night, 6 June 2020 at 20:00 will feature commentary from astronauts, engineers and other special guests, as well as unprecedented coverage of the launch from NASA's Kennedy Space Center.

The special includes an in-depth interview with the SpaceX Founder and chief engineer Elon Musk, as well as several incredible stories about this historic space achievement.

The Discovery film crew was granted unprecedented access to NASA and to SpaceX headquarters, giving viewers a rare glimpse inside Launch Control and first-hand accounts from Elon Musk, as well as astronauts Bob Behnken and Doug Hurley, and NASA administrator Jim Bridenstine.

Nasa & SpaceX: Journey to the Future reveals the behind-the-scenes action with the teams of SpaceX engineers, NASA employees and scientists as they fulfil the SpaceX mission to "fly, test, and fix" their way to the ISS – with the goal of eventually flying to the moon and to Mars.

Nasa & SpaceX: Journey to the Future repeats on Discovery Channel on Monday 8 June at 22:35, Wednesday 10 June at 17:55 and Friday 12 June at 11:00.

Captain Watson of Whale Wars tells his story as part of several Discovery Channel TV specials on DStv on Sunday 7 June to celebrate 2020 World Oceans Day.

by Thinus Ferreira

For 2020 World Oceans Day on 8 June, Discovery Channel (DStv 121) has added several TV specials for Sunday 7 June that will explore the wonders of the oceans and the impact that humans play on it, including a revealing new must-see and unique Sunday TV special in which the iconic Captain Watson of Whale Wars tells his story.

On Sunday in two episodes at 13:30 and 14:20 Discovery Channel has Chasing Oceans in which the BAFTA award-winning cinematographer Patrick Dykstra first travels to Dominica and then the Maldives to showcase some of the most hostile places on Earth.

In Dominica he captures an epic hunt between a sperm whale and a diamondback squid, while in the Maldives he dives alongside the giant manta ray and the fabled "Manta Ray Tornado" as he examines the behaviour of this incredible species.

Melting: Last Race to the Pole on Sunday at 18:25 on Discovery Channel documents the race across the Arctic Ocean of Eric Larsen and Ryan Waters, battling weather and their own limitations in an attempt to reach the Geographic North Pole in record time.

On Sunday at 20:00 on Discovery Channel is the must-see Whale Wars: Captain Watson's Story. After multiple Whale Wars seasons, this special tells the story of the Sea Shepherd founder, Captain Paul Watson who has sailed the globe in his quest to protect the oceans.

Captain Watson and his crews have confronted whaling vessels from Europe to the Southern Ocean, seal hunters in Canada and shark finning crews in Central America documented in Whale Wars and this new unique programme now blends revealing interviews with Captain Watson with archival clips of the Sea Shepherd’s dramatic encounters, and spectacular underwater footage.

In the special, the award-winning documentarian Lesley Chilcott paints a fascinating portrait of a man willing to put his own life at risk in a relentless pursuit to protect the oceans and the marine life that inhabit them.

At 22:00 on Sunday night Discovery Channel has the striking hour-and-a-half documentary film, The Story of Plastic. Discovery Channel acquired the docu-film that was the Audience Award winner at the 2019 Mill Valley Film Festival.

The Deia Schlosberg’s documentary reveals in shocking fashion how the messaging around plastic has for decades been controlled by the plastic producers, who have deliberately focused on plastic waste.

The Story of Plastic reveals how the plastics industry is simultaneously blaming wasteful consumers for plastic pollution and aggressively investing to produce more single-use plastic than ever before.

ALSO READ: INTERVIEW. Expert Delphine Lévi Alvarès in The Story of Plastic documentary film on Discovery Channel: 'Knowing the real story of plastic is going to enable us to rewrite this story'.

Friday, June 5, 2020

The M-Net Original series Trackers goes global as it starts its global broadcast window on HBO's Cinemax.

by Thinus Ferreira

South African television and an M-Net Original is going to global with the big-budget local series Trackers that was on M-Net last year that is getting its debut on HBO's Cinemax channel.

Trackers, an adaptation of the internationally acclaimed author Deon Meyer's crime novel that was filmed entirely in South Africa, will make its debut on WarnerMedia's Cinemax today, 5 June 2020.

Trackers, an international co-production between M-Net, Cinemax and Germany's ZDF, and produced by Three River Fiction and Scene23, was adapted for television by Robert Thorogood with cinematography by Ivan Strasburg and was broadcast on M-Net (DStv 101) since October 2020.

Mzansi Magic (Dstv 161) followed since April 2020, and now Trackers is making its debut on Cinemax.

The 6-episode Trackers interweaves three different story strands into an action-packed thriller that covers the length and breadth of South Africa, explosively colliding in Cape Town in a violent conspiracy involving organized crime, smuggled diamonds, state security, black rhinos, the CIA and an international terrorist plot.

In Trackers agents of the Presidential Bureau of Intelligence (PBI) are doing surveillance of a small group of Islamic radicals known as "the Committee" who are suspected of trying to secretly import a weapon of mass destruction into South Africa.

To pay for their operation, the Committee has hired a local mob boss to steal a cache of diamonds being smuggled in from Zimbabwe, but all hell breaks loose when the would-be hijackers find more - and less - than what they had expected.

The Trackers cast includes James Gracie, Rolanda Marais, Ed Stoppard, Sandi Schultz, Brendon Daniels, Trix Vivier, Thapelo Mokoena, and Sisanda Henna and is executive produced by Cobus van den Berg, Tim Theron, Jonathan Drake, Robert Thorogood and Deon Meyer; with Steve Maher as executive creative producer, Rebecca Fuller-Campbell as series producer and directed by the Finnish director Jyri Kähönen.

ADVISORY. MultiChoice reporting pay-TV operator's 2019/2020 financial results on 10 June 2020, expects headline earnings per chare of between 460 and 500 cents.

by Thinus Ferreira

MultiChoice on Friday said that the pay-TV group expects to report an annual profit for its 2019/2020 financial year and that core headline earnings would rise by between 35% to 40%.

MultiChoice that provides the DStv satellite TV service and GOtv digital terrestrial television (DTT) services in South Africa and across sub-Saharan Africa as well as the Showmax subscription video-on-demand (SVOD) service, will report its annual financial results for the 2019/2020 financial year on 10 June 2020 amidst the global Covid-19 pandemic and increasing competition from competitors like Netflix and other video streaming services.

MultiChoice says that it has further cut costs and that foreign exchange changes have been working in its favour, and expects headline earnings per share for the 2019/2020 financial year to be between 460 cents and 500 cents.

That compares with a MultiChoice loss of 353 cents per share for the previous financial year.

"Focus on cost containment allowed the business to drive a further reduction in losses in the rest of Africa MultiChoice Africa segment, which has been the largest contributor to the improvement in group performance," MultiChoice says in a statement.

INTERVIEW. Expert Delphine Lévi Alvarès in The Story of Plastic documentary film on Discovery Channel: 'Knowing the real story of plastic is going to enable us to rewrite this story'.

by Thinus Ferreira

With World Oceans Day taking place on Monday 8 June, Discovery Channel (DStv 121) acquired the award-winning documentary film, The Story of Plastic that will be broadcast on Sunday, 7 June 2020 at 22:00 with one of the key figures appearing in it saying that knowing the real story of plastic will enable consumers to rewrite this story.

The Story of Plastic gives a detailed look at the environmental damage that occurs throughout the lifecycle of plastic and what countries, companies and ordinary people can do to try and fix the massive problem of plastics.

The Story of Plastic was the Audience Award winner at the 2019 Mill Valley Film Festival with Deia Schlosberg’s documentary that reveals in shocking fashion how the messaging around plastic has for decades been controlled by the plastic producers, who have deliberately focused on plastic waste.

According to the film's producers, The Story of Plastic reveals how the plastics industry is simultaneously blaming wasteful consumers for plastic pollution and aggressively investing to produce more single-use plastic than ever before.

Delphine Lévi Alvarès, European coordinator of the Break Free from Plastic movement, is a key figure in The Story of Plastic and TVwithThinus got on the phone to ask her more about it.

Consumers feel overwhelmed by plastic and single‑use plastics.  They feel often powerless to help because they think it might be such a small difference that they can make because the issue is so big.  What advice would you have for people?
Delphine Lévi Alvarès: Well, first, I don't think that everyone feels powerless because I see a lot of people reclaiming the power of their consumption by changing their habits.

But for anyone who would feel the way you describe, the first immediate step is to make a difference is to, also at the same time very adequate with the context, is to buy from local producers.

When you buy from local, in places where you have the offer - because, unfortunately, all the places don’t have the offer - you are limiting a lot of packaging and if not like completely eradicating packaging, and you are getting fresher products – better for your health and so is preferred.

They can also switch to making your own beauty products and cleaning products.  They are also better for your health because you know everything that you put in there. 

So, there are many different steps.  But I think first we’ve seen people coming together because they are actually hopeful that they can do something as a community on achieving zero waste or on fighting back against industry green‑washing and things like that.

So I don't think people are powerless.  But if they do, they can turn towards their own consumption, but they can also participate in communities brainstorming around bringing zero waste to their city and so on and so forth.

Is there something that you yourself maybe didn’t know that you learned from making this documentary?
Delphine Lévi Alvarès: Yes, what I’ve learned in this process is how much – because I knew it before – but the extent to which the oil and gas and petrochemical companies are willing to go and threatening and ruining people’s lives to expand their profit for me was shocking.

The whole section of building the pipeline and how much they are just like ruining people’s lives to be able to build their pipeline - that for me is the scariest part. The Story of Plastic shows that plastic is a supply-driven issue.

We are not consuming plastic because people demand plastic. We are consuming plastic because petrochemical companies are producing plastic as a way to keep oil and gas production viable and make more profit.  

So, this is really refocussing the debate on the source of the plastic pollution, which is not the people, it’s the profit of some companies at the very, very beginning of the value chain.

Why should viewers make sure that they watch The Story of Plastic?
Delphine Lévi Alvarès: Because knowledge is power. Knowing the real story of plastic is going to enable all of us to continue building the collective power we need to rewrite this story and build a better future for people and the environment.

Now with the Covid-19 pandemic, it’s been interesting to see this dramatic reduction in air pollution as manufacturing shut down and the vehicle exhaust fumes decreased. Once the pandemic is over it will presumably increase again. How do we  find a better balance where it isn’t just a choice between manufacturing and consumption or pollution and consumption?
Delphine Lévi Alvarès: I don’t think an economy that actually benefits people has to be polluting.  

We see thriving communities that are creating value locally in a respectful way for both the people and the environment.  

And I do think that this pandemic highlights the impact of shutting down the factories on improving the air quality, but also the water quality and many other elements.  

It’s showing that actually our economy is not benefiting anyone.  It’s benefiting the 20% richest in the world.  Most of the people that are making these profits possible are already working in terrible conditions in those factories to produce products that contain toxins and are going to contaminate the consumers' bodies.

I think it’s really a way for us to realise how much this economy we have built isn’t sustainable for the people and the planet. It’s also unsustainable the way the food system is built. 

We’re seeing this at the moment because we have stretched the food supply chain so much that some places are struggling to get food because they have stopped producing food locally. 

So, this is really about shortening the loops, recreating values and jobs locally that benefit the people and that benefit the environment. At the moment there is a lot of human drama because of Covid-19, so it’s not yet the time to draw the lesson.

With the pandemic, we have first and foremost to focus on saving lives and supporting the ones that are suffering and the ones that are losing people. But soon we are going to have to really have an honest look at the lessons that we need to draw because pandemics like that are going to happen more and more with climate change. 

This is just a warning for all of us in the fact that we have to refocus on what’s essential.  And we hear that a lot these days – like buy what’s essential, travel when it’s essential.  This is a lot – the coming back to the essentials.

This is also highlighting the situation where people are living in terrible conditions, like living in houses that are toxic for them, and so forth. It's also highlighting inequality.

Even if people say we are all in it together, I think it just shows how much there are inequalities in the way we are impacted and therefore how much the entire system has to change. We can’t continue benefiting the same ones and leaving behind the others.

Beyond the individual consumer, what or who has to change, and what must be done sort of globally to address the issue?  How should the world try to solve the problem better beyond just behaviour changes for individuals?
Delphine Lévi Alvarès: I have to say that I really like this question because it is the right question to ask.

Consumers can do a lot but what has to change is that we have to develop the right infrastructure to allow zero waste to be at scale, to be mainstream.

Today, we see that shops and restaurants are refusing people bringing their own containers. We would not have such an issue if we had a systematic way of reusing containers and ways of washing those containers that would guarantee both the health of the workers and the consumer.  

So, we need to change the offer. We need to re-localise the value chain for many products, and in particular, food. What has to change is that we have to have a real political will and a real understanding that what we are building now is not only for now. 

The real change is to build for the medium and long-term. If you make the right decisions now, in five years and ten years from now the situation can be dramatically different.

I think we also have to really follow science to really understand the science behind all of that, and listen to scientists who are warning that we are going to have more pandemics with climate change. We are going to have sea levels rising, we are going to have food shortages, we are going to have droughts.

Measures that we take now can build the system that will allow us not only to achieve zero waste but also to ensure the health and safety of everyone and feed basically everyone, and provide the basic goods that they need to sustain their lives.

The Story of Plastic is on Discovery Channel (DStv 121) on Sunday 7 June 2020 at 22:00

SABC2 adds Brazilian telenovela Side by Side.

by Thinus Ferreira

SABC2 has added a new Brazilian telenovela to its schedule with Side by Side (Lado A Lado) that is now shown on Mondays and Tuesdays at 13:30 since June with a repeat on Saturday nights from 22:30.

The Portuguese Side By Side dubbed into English was produced in 2012 with 105 episodes and was shown previously in South Africa and across sub-Saharan Africa on the M-Net Series channel on DStv in 2015.

Side by Side that was voted Best Telenovela at the International Emmy Awards in 2013 tells the story of two women, Isabel (Camila Pitanga) and Laura (Marjorie Estiano), from different origins and social classes who "share the same ferocious will, to conquer their freedom in the conservative society in early 20th century’s society".

The idealistic and brave Isabel is the maid of a French lady who taught her "European language and manners" and who was raised by her father, the former slave Afonso (Milton Gonçalves).

In a samba gathering, she meets Zé Maria (Lazaro Ramos), a hard-working man who hides a secret: he is a capoeira player, an illegal martial art he hopes to see recognized.

Laura (Marjorie Estiano) is the daughter of former coffee barons Assunção (Werner Schünemann)
and Constância (Patrícia Pillar), but luxury and wealth does not impress her. Having her degree in education, she finds fulfilment in teaching.

Her mother is resistant to her revolutionary ways and puts all hope in Laura’s engagement to Edgar (Thiago Fragoso) as a means to ascend socially.

"With detailed scenography of old Rio, influenced by the Belle Époque, Side By Side puts different worlds side by side: luxury and simplicity; progress and prejudice."

Side by Side is distributed by Côte Ouest.

SABC2 says that "this is a theme that resonates perfectly among people between 20 and 40 not only in 21st century's South Africa but in many other countries on our continent."

"SABC2 values the partnership it has with Côte Ouest and is excited to be bringing this multi-award-winning telenovela to South African audiences," says Jacqui Hlongwane, SABC2 programme manager.

"Even though the story is set at the beginning of the 20th century, the themes explored in Side by Side are universal and still ring true to this day; themes such as sexism, the emancipation of women, prejudice, friendship, love, social and cultural divisions."

"The introduction of Lado a Lado will breathe new life into daytime viewing and the show will leave audiences enthralled and inspired."

kykNET's new Kwarantyn lockdown reality show will be a DStv pop-up channel from 10 June with highlight shows, as the Le Roux and Scheepers families compete under housebound camera-surveillance for 50 days.

by Thinus Ferreira

kykNET's Afrikaans Kwarantyn reality show will be a pop-up TV channel on DStv that will start on 10 June on channel 149, with two South African families - the Le Roux and Scheepers families - who will be spending 50 days under camera-house filled lockdown.

Kwarantyn, produced by Red Pepper that has experience with Big Brother Naija when it was filmed in South Africa as well as Nigeria, will broadcast live will launch on DStv channel 149 on Wednesday 10 June at 21:00 with the two families who will be competing for the public's vote and the chance to win R250 000.

The live broadcast pop-up channel will be preceded by a special hourlong Kwarantyn introductory episode on Wednesday at 20:00 on kykNET (DStv 144).

The Kwarantyn pop-up channel, launched during South Africa's national lockdown period for Covid-19 that is ongoing to try and curb the spread of the coronavirus, will be available to DStv Premium and DStv Compact Plus subscribers.

Kwarantyn wrap-up and highlights shows will be broadcast on kykNET (DStv 144) on Mondays, Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays at 17:00, with a special weekly edited 48-minute Kwarantyn wrap-up broadcast on the kykNET channel on Wednesdays at 20:00.

The Le Roux and Scheepers families will have to complete various challenges, tasks and DIY projects while remaining homebound after they move into a new home adjacent to one another.

"Not only will they have to live together as neighbours, but they will have to compete against each other by, among other things, trying to get more followers on social media and by trying to score points in a game’s night every evening," says kykNET.

"A family who completed a challenge successfully may also be rewarded with luxuries and other special perks. Strict rules will, however, apply in both houses. In the end, only one family will be crowned as the country’s most popular family."

Karen Meiring, director of M-Net's kykNET channels, says "Voyeuristic television has always been a fascinating concept for viewers and with our two dynamic Afrikaans families that we will be watching for 24 hours a day for 50 days".

"We look forward to excitement, entertainment, some emotional moments, new insights and surprises. We don’t know what to expect, but we are looking forward to what the families will be dishing up."

Here are more about the 2 families:


The father of this Centurion family, Braam Le Roux (50), wants to use the prize money to pay for his daughter’s wedding, if his family wins. He doesn’t get bored easily and enthusiastically describes himself as a fun-loving guy. 
His wife, Jana Le Roux (49), likes to laugh at her family’s jokes, but she firmly believes her families will emerge as the winners after 60 days because they have team spirit and zeal.
Their children, Lisa (25) and Manie (19), both loves winning, but they’re not bad sports or sore losers.
Lisa is engaged to Adriaan Brie (26), who will be living in the house with his in-laws-to-be. He loves pranks and says he isn’t scared of boredom because he has endurance.
Cousin Heinrich Olwage (25) completes the Le Roux family. He’s an innovator and problem solver, and he’s convinced his family will keep viewers on their toes.

The Scheepers is a composite family from Johannesburg. Mother, Avril Scheepers (46), and aunt Pamela Anthia Okkers (53) will lead this energetic family. Both are strong women convinced that their family will be victorious because they are talented, interesting and very funny.
Avril’s son, Austin Scheepers (19), believes that his bubbly personality will ensure that he makes friends with the neighbours although he is very competitive.
The Scheepers also consists of their extended family friends, the Hendrick sisters namely Kel-cee (20) and Jade (18) and refer to themselves as “the cousins!”.
Kel-cee Hendricks (21) is more of a quite type. She describes herself as “the person who prefers to watch and laugh.”
The Scheepers is complete with Caryn Cloete (21) – a withdrawn individual who likes to have space and who easily falls for her family’s pranks, but still loves them dearly.
The young Jade Hendricks believes that the Scheepers has the personalities that will entertain the whole country with their quirks and high jinks.

ALSO READ: South Africa's lockdown living becoming a new Afrikaans quarantine reality show Kwarantyn on kykNET looking for 2 families to live in camera-filled homes.

BBC Studios CEO Tim Davie appointed as new BBC director-general.

by Thinus Ferreira

Tim Davie (53), the BBC Studios CEO, has been appointed as the new BBC director-general.

Tim Davie will take over from Tony Hall who announced in January 2020 that he is stepping down after 7 years

Tim Davie briefly acted as BBC director-general in 2012 after he joined the BBC in 2005.

Tim Davie became BBC Studios CEO in April 2018, and previously was BBC Worldwide CEO and director of global since April 2013.

"This has been a critical time for the United Kingdom and these past few months have shown just how much the BBC matters to people," says Tim Davie in a BBC statement.

"Our mission has never been more relevant, important or necessary. I have a deep commitment to content of the highest quality and impartiality. Looking forward, we will need to accelerate change so that we serve all our audiences in this fast-moving world."

"Much great work has been done, but we will continue to reform, make clear choices and stay relevant. I am very confident we can do this because of the amazing teams of people that work at the BBC."

Tony Hall describes Tim Davie as a fantastic leader" and says "I wish him every success for the future. I know that the BBC is in safe hands".

A lof of BBC programming is available across Africa and South Africa, with several of its commercial BBC Studios channels carried on pay-TV services across Sub-Saharan Africa including BBC First, BBC Brit, BBC Lifestyle and CBeebies on MultiChoice's DStv, the recent addition of CBeebies to China's StarSat, and its global TV news channel BBC World News on both.

The BBC has adapted several British TV formats with South African versions, while its BBC News Africa division continues to expand with original TV news and radio programming on BBC World News and in expanding syndication across terrestrial TV channels in Africa.

SABC1 adds South African films for June to Sunday nights, shortfilms by women in new Wednesday timeslot in partnership with the NFVF.

by Thinus Ferreira

SABC1 is adding a series of local South African produced films from June to Sunday nights as well as a series of South African short films to Wednesday evenings.

SABC1 says that the South African films "starring popular home-grown talent" will be "telling cutting edge and authentic Mzansi stories that our viewers will find natural resonance with".

The local Sunday night films in June in the 19:30 timeslot starts with Baby Mamas, directed by Stephina Zwane and starring Salamina Mosese, Thembisa Mdoda, Dineo Ranaka and Kay Smith on 7 June; followed by She Is King, directed by Gersh Kgamedi and starring Gugu Zulu, Aubrey Poo, Khabonina Qubeka, Khanyi Mbau and Sophie Ndaba on 14 June.

Then SABC1 has Happiness Is A Four Letter Word, directed by Thabang Moleya and starring Mmabatho Montsho, Renate Stuurman, Khanyi Mbau, Chris Attoh and Tongayi Chirisa on 21 June; with Safe Bet 1, directed by Bonginhlanhla Ncube with the film's cast that includes Wandile Molebatsi, Godfrey Thobejane, Luthuli Dlamini and Macks Papo on 28 June.

SABC1 is also broadcasting a series of new South African short films on Wednesday evenings in the 19:30 timeslot in a NFVF Films programming strand.

The timeslot is a partnership with the National Film and Video Foundation, aimed at developing skills for female writers and directors. 

SABC1 is showing the following short films in this timeslot because of June being Youth Month: Feminine Lotus (10 June), Samson (17 June) and Light Bulb Moment (24 June).

Thursday, June 4, 2020

Coronavirus: Amidst Covid-19 kykNET’s Maak My Famous announces second season’s Top 10, 8-week production break and voting format change switching to viewer voting.

by Thinus Ferreira

The Afrikaans reality competition talent showcase series Maak My Famous announced its Top10 contestants on Wednesday night but also that the second season is taking an 8-week production break until 5 August because of the Covid-19 pandemic for the show to craft a new, fair way forward for the contestants that will include viewers getting the chance to vote.

When Maak My Famous returns there will be format changes, one of which will include that all viewers will now get the option to vote.

On Wednesday night viewers saw the completion of the second season's Maak My Famous Top 10 that saw entries grow from 6 000 to 8000 for the second season.

The Top 10 Maak My Famous contestants are Daylin Sass (Hanover Park, Cape Town), Emma Ellis (Port Elizabeth), Aden & Tamaryn Beukes (Walvis Bay, Namibia), Jayson Kleinschmidt (Paarl), Gideon Lottering (G.Notes) (George), Henrico Coetzer (Pretoria), Reggie B (Rawsonville), Nicoleen Saal (Oceanview, Cape Town), DfeatSA (Kuilsriver, Cape Town) and Die Wesso’s (George) who received the "Emo Ticket"-save.

Wednesday's episode 6 was the last pre-filmed episode, literally filmed just days before South Africa's national Covid-19 lockdown period started, in front of the live studio audience and their voting devices inside the Roxy Revue Bar in Grandwest Casino in Cape Town.

All of the contestants returned to their respective provinces and Aden & Tamaryn Beukes to Namibia with South Africans who are no longer allowed to travel across borders between provinces, and with cross-border travel between Southern African countries like South Africa and Namibia also still prohibited because of the Covid-19 lockdown.

In March, Maak My Famous produced by All Star Entertainment, initially announced a short production break to April but will now take a broadcast break of 8 weeks to plot a way forward that is fair to all of the contestants.

Maak My Famous is impacted mid-season in a similar way to the 16th season of Idols on Mzansi Magic (DStv 161) - produced by SIC Entertainment that already filmed its new season's national audition episodes and which hasn't yet announced its way forward - as well as the just-completed 18th season of American Idol that was forced to use up to 45 remote sites across the United States for contestants who were treated equally with similar equipment and resource access.

Co-host Emo Adams said that while it's still discussing the way forward with kykNET, that broadcasts the show on the kykNET (DStv 144) and kykNET & Kie (DStv 145) channels, the hope is that the Covid-19 lockdown restrictions in South Africa, and between South Africa and Namibia, would have eased by August.

The production hopes that by August long-distance travel would be possible again in order to bring all of the contestants back to the same stage in Cape Town with the show that would prefer not to follow the American Idol "remote performance"-option, which would be a last resort.

Format change with all viewers getting to vote
"For us it's not about how big or how flash we can go with Maak My Famous - yes, we will always strive towards that and we want a bigger stage - but at this point it's all about giving people with raw talent a chance to appear in a show and secondly to really be mentored behind-the-scenes," says Marguerite Albrecht, kykNET supervising producer.

She and Emo Adams spoke with and took questions from South African and Namibian media in a Zoom press conference on Wednesday night after the conclusion of the broadcast of the Top 10 episode on kykNET, the first Afrikaans virtual press briefing held for a locally-produced TV show in the world and South African television history.

"We've decided that, because of the position we're finding ourselves in at the moment and because we have to Namibian contestants in our Top 10 who can't travel across borders into South Africa, that we're taking the production break until 5 August."

"When we return on 5 August there will be a bit of a format change because of the country's lockdown situation. We will return the second half of an incredible season. We're changing it to where all viewers will get the option to vote."

"Since the studio audience can't get together to vote, everybody watching will now get the ability to vote," said Marguerite Albrecht.

"From Thursday we are starting a marketing campaign and will be using June and July to build up the Top 10 and to introduce them to the wider kykNET audience so that by the time we return in August, they're all already famous and people know who they are."

"We want to build their profiles so that viewers become really excited to tune in again on 5 August when the season resumes and to see how the Top 10 is whittled down over the weeks thereafter to find a winner."

Emo Adams said Covid-19 was a catalyst "for us to have to think outside of the box".

"The Covid-19 thing led to us saying 'Well, if the audience can't come to us at the theatre for a live performance to vote because it's a crowd and people have to keep a 2-metre distance, why don't we open it up for the whole of South Africa and Namibia to vote in real-time?' We're very excited about it and we found a way where we can actually make it happen."

"Instead of making the audience come to us, we're taking the vote to them and they will be able to vote."

Marguerite Albrecht says kykNET and All Star Entertainment is still working on locking down a final revised format for the remainder of the second season of Maak My Famous.

"We're just still working on tying up everything. Every time we think we have our final new format, the government changes something else."

"We're having to deal with so many changing variables. It's a very big deal for us to try and get our Namibian contestants to South Africa and we really hope that can find a way and a solution to make that happen a bit further down the line. At this stage it would have just been impossible."

"I don't think it's fair to take someone out of a competition because of something like the Covid-19 pandemic. They've made their way to this point fairly and we have to be fair as we go forward. People voted for them."

Emo Adams said "Everybody in the Top 10 is there deservingly so because they've fought for that place. Maak My Famous will do everything possible to ensure that we get them all back."

"We want to make sure and check that we're able to get into the building and venue, that we can function, that we can use our set. But those things are out of our hands at the moment. We can't predict those types of stuff."

"It might be that we have to perform against a green screen, I don't know, we don't know. But what we do know is our format will be fantastic. How we're going to package it is going to be amazing."

Marguerite Albrecht said that one of the things kykNET and Maak My Famous looked at, including American Idol's latest season in the United States, "is how to employ and use technology in case we can't get all the contestants in one place, to switch live to a contestant with a green screen in a set, and a camera team and sending a feed to us. We're still figuring it all out and every day brings new surprises."

Emo Adams said the government's rules and regulations around Covid-19 changes daily. "Then you have to go back to the drawing board and change things again. But we've already mapped out all of the possible production outcomes to figure out what route to take."

No violin-infused backstories
He says the 8 000 entries for Maak My Famous's second season shows that viewers are trusting the process.

"The show isn't about embarrassing people for 3 hours before we get to the Top 10. It's not about that. Some of us already live in embarrassment. Some of us already grow up in poverty. You don't want to go and take someone's values - the last value that they have - away from them when they come to you for help."

"We empower talent with a platform, we empower people with mentors, with airtime and then making sure that the viewer understands why. We make sure that we don't taint out viewers' view with who is standing on the stage," says Emo Adams.

"When you sit at home you see the backstory of the talent but the in-studio audience don't see that. They see the talent coming onto the stage and perform and that's what they vote on. They don't see backstories, there are no violins playing in the background to make you feel emotional because you can't base a real competition on that foundation."

Marguerite Albrecht says "One of the things I said to Emo was 'let's stay away from the big backstory. Let's just stay away. We're not going to try and influence people through that. To be dead honest, 90% of the talent in the show comes from disadvantaged backgrounds. They're going through a difficult time."

"Now, I don't want to make this a pity show. Maak My Famous is where we build people up and make them shine and we put all the spotlights in the world on them and to allow their talent to speak for them, not their circumstances."

Wednesday, June 3, 2020

China's state-run TV news channel CGTN found guilty of serious breaches of compliance over biased coverage by Britain's media regulator, faces fine for repeatedly breaching rules over its 2019's Hong Kong protest coverage.

by Thinus Ferreira

China's state-run TV news channel CGTN (DStv 409 / StarSat 266) that has been described as a propaganda channel has been found guilty of biased coverage and is facing a fine after Britain's broadcasting regulator found that CGTN repeatedly breached broadcasting rules.

Britain's Ofcom in its judgment found that CGTN broke media rules at least 5 times in programmes like The World Today and China24 in August, September and November 2019 by blatantly favouring the Hong Kong government authorities and the Chinese government in coverage and their positions and comments, and not giving protestors the same opportunities or telling or reporting on their side of the issue.

CGTN that has a very small audience in Africa is carried on MultiChoice's DStv and China's StarTimes pay-TV services across the continent.

Ofcom found that CGTN in "serious failure of compliance" for its shockingly one-sided coverage in 2019 of the Hong Kong freedom protests, saying that CGTN blatantly downplayed the aggression and attacks by law enforcement and the authorities on the public and protestors and overly-focused on violent acts committed by protesters against police.

Ofcom found that CGTN shamelessly channelled the views from the Chinese and pro-China Hong Kong authorities that the protests and protesters are bad, focusing on the economic disruption to Hong Kong business instead of why there are protests.

In one of the biased reporting cases highlighted by Ofcom, the regulator found that CGTN "made no attempt to acknowledge or explore any alternative view at any point during the item, for example, that the Hong Kong police may have played a part in escalating tensions with protesters or that violence occurred on both sides".

CGTN told Ofcom that it did acknowledge that "there has been violence used by the Hong Kong police against protesters".

CGTN told Ofcom that international viewers of CGTN were "unlikely to be surprised by the Chinese views aired on CGTN and will be able to evaluate those views in context, particularly when the audience is likely to be aware of the mainstream positions as presented on other television channels and news platforms".

Ofcom found that the "5 breaches, taken together, represent a serious failure of compliance".

ALSO READ: TV CRITIC's NOTEBOOK. Wednesday night I deleted China's CGTN app from my phone after its shocking censorship and news bias became very clear - here's why you should too.

ALSO READ: China's CGTN news channel on DStv and StarTimes's StarSat shamelessly censors its coverage of the chaotic scenes and protests in Hong Kong while its Africa Live bulletin does pandering coverage of how Chinese business and politicians shine in Africa.

Coronavirus: Some live sports returning to SuperSport in June amidst Covid-19 pandemic including Premier League, La Liga, Serie A and new Aotearoa rugby event; F1 and cricket tests coming in July.

by Thinus Ferreira

Some live sports is returning to the various SuperSport channels on MultiChoice's DStv pay-TV service as the regulations around various national lockdown periods around the world are being scaled back and which saw all sporting codes and events cancelled in a dramatic cascade-effect since late March 2020 because of the global Covid-19 pandemic. 

Earlier during Covid-19 SuperSport wasn't willing to answer any specific questions around the impact of Covid-19 or to make any executives available to speak about how SuperSport tried to adapt to the "new normal" regarding scheduling and content changes.

On Tuesday, Gideon Khobane, SuperSport CEO, speaking about the return of some international soccer matches, in a prepared statement says that "The leagues' closed-doors policy may take some getting used to, but the television product ought to be as thrilling as ever".

Next weekend will see the resumption of the Premier League with 92 matches lined up to complete the season, along with matches from the La Liga and Serie A leagues that will also likely return later during June.

From 11 June to 12 July there will be at least one La Liga fixture played each day before all 20 clubs play their final two matches simultaneously on 15 July and 19 July.

Italy approved the resumption of Serie A from 20 June after it was suspended on 9 March.

New Zealand's Aotearoa rugby event involving the Blues, Chiefs, Hurricanes, Crusaders and Highlanders will start on 13 June with all matches that will be broadcast live on SuperSport.

On Friday the Investec Coronation Cup horse race will take place in Britain and will be broadcast live on SuperSport as well.

Next week the PGA Tour golf will return on 11 June with the Charles Schwab Challenge in Texas starting a stretch of 25 weeks of tournament golf.

In July Formula One will also be back with SuperSport that will broadcast the revised season beginning in Austria on the weekend of 3 July.

In international cricket England will host West Indies for three Tests over 21 days, starting 8 July that will be shown on SuperSport. The three matches will be played behind closed doors.

Coronavirus: Production on The River telenovela for M-Net's 1Magic on DStv shutters after colleague tests positive for Covid-19, Tshedza Pictures locks studio doors for decontamination and will not do interviews.

by Thinus Ferreira

Production on The River telenovela on M-Net's 1Magic (DStv 103) channel has been forced to shut down for a second time this year because of the Covid-19 coronavirus pandemic, this time because an unnamed person working on the show has tested positive for the virus on Tuesday morning.

The River, produced by Tshedza Pictures, restarted production on 1 May 2020 after weeks of downtime when South Africa's entire film and TV industry shuttered since late-March because of South Africa's national lockdown period to try and curb the spread of the virus.

Now the weekday primetime series produced for one of M-Net's channels and seen on MultiChoice's DStv satellite pay-TV service has locked the studio doors again.

The River has closed its doors for the set to be decontaminated and the Tzhedza Pictures producers don't want to do any interviews.

"Ever since we resumed production on 1 May 2020, all necessary lockdown health guidelines were implemented on set," says Phathu Makwarela of Tshedza Pictures in a statement.

"After we received the news of the colleague testing positive, we immediately asked the cast and crew that came into contact with the member to go into self-isolation. They will soon avail themselves to health authorities for testing, in-line with government directives."

Nomsa Philiso, channel director for local entertainment channels at M-Net, in the prepared statement says that "We have contacted the production team in order to assure them of our support".

"Our understanding is that ever since they resumed production, the production team implemented all the necessary health precautions to ensure the safety of cast and crew."

"Now more than ever, we need to show compassion to our fellow brothers and sisters, and we would like to wish the affected member of the production team a speedy recovery."

M-Net ran out of episodes for The River on 8 May 2020 which was replaced on the 1Magic schedule by Is'thunzi. After production resumed on 1 May, new episodes of The River resumed on 25 May 2020.

It's very important to note that MultiChoice, M-Net and Tshedza Pictures felt the need to specifically say that there won't be any interviews done because they want to make very clear that they don't want to talk about Covid-19 and its impact on the show, and don't want to answer any questions about it at all.

So far there's been very little evidence of South Africa's TV and film industry working on awareness campaigns and pro-active communication against the stigmatisation of Covid-19 and people with Covid-19.

This is something once again shown by the approach of MultiChoice, M-Net and Tshedza Pictures to outright tell the media that there won't be any interviews done.

TV programming, producers and South Africa's media show viewers how they themselves respond when confronted with Covid-19, and through that are teach viewers how they should react when they or someone they know tests positive for Covid-19: Hide and don't talk about it.

While fighting the scourge of Covid-19 South Africa's TV and film industry should keep in mind that it is as important to signal that there is nothing "wrong" with being Covid-19 positive, nothing to be ashamed about, and nothing to hide away for or to keep a secret.

If everybody really is "in this together" - especially South Africa's influential TV and film industry - it is extremely important to be open, forthcoming, to keep talking about Covid-19 without fear, to fight against coronavirus stigmatisation and to tell people that it's okay to say that you are Covid-19 positive, to get help, and to ask for help.

Tuesday, June 2, 2020

Coronavirus: South African news media devastated by Covid-19, shedding hundreds of jobs in 'media extinction event' new SANEF-study finds.

by Thinus Ferreira

The already-struggling South African news media has been left reeling and is doing triage in what has been described as a "media extinction event", trying to keep newsroom doors open as a devastating wave of layoffs and salary cuts have swept the industry over the past two months because of the ongoing Covid-19 national lockdown.

A new study by the South African National Editors' Forum (SANEF) released on Monday makes for nightmare reading that found that while the need under the public for accurate news from dwindling, credible news sources has never been greater, the cataclysmic drop in advertising income because of Covid-19 is decimating the news biz.

Hundreds of jobs have already been lost and vanished seemingly overnight in the local media pool spanning South Africa's TV, magazines, newspapers, radio and online media.

The new 32-page SANEF study paints a horrifying picture of how the Covid-19 pandemic and resulting government lockdown regulations have further eroded South Africa's news industry that is "desperately looking for new ways of sustaining itself while audience demands for timely, credible but free news surges".

The report states that South Africa's magazine industry was dealt a massive blow "with the closure of two magazine publishers with the loss of 97 jobs at the one publisher and up to 250 at the other".

"Away from the limelight, small, independent, hyperlocal print publications were also ravaged. This was in the first phase of the lockdown as small publishers were unable to access emergency funding, resulting in the loss of an estimated 300 to 400 journalistic jobs."

"Workers at three of the so-called Big 4 print media companies were forced to take salary cuts of up to 45% and temporary lay-offs have been widely implemented. It is not known how many jobs have been lost at community radio stations," the study says.

"Neither the regional and national newspapers of the Big 4 South African publishers nor broadcasting was immune to the plunge in advertising, which varies from an estimated 40% to 100%." The "Big 4" are Independent Media, Media24, Arena Holdings and Caxton & CTP.

Online news surge
The SANEF study notes how the public has sought out news and information to a higher degree than ever before because of the Covid-19 pandemic.

"Perhaps the biggest upside of this dark period for the industry has been the massive surge in traffic to credible online news sources."

"Traffic to news websites increased by 72% in March, while these sites saw a 44% growth in unique browsers. Many news websites saw double-digit growth in their audience numbers, with News24, Business Insider, The Citizen, Fin24, SABC and EWN growing their traffic by more than 50% in March."

"The crisis brought on by the Covid-19 lockdowns has pushed over the edge operations that were imperiled or survivalist, and arguably have highlighted fissures in the news media industry. How well the news media will emerge from the crisis will depend on the speed of the economic recovery and the attendant increase in advertising revenue."

The SANEF study says that "While print media consumption has been devastated, broadcasters and online platforms, linked to legacy print operations or not, have seen dramatic uptake in their production of news as citizens seek sources of trustworthy, credible information in the time of uncertainty around the Covid-19 pandemic."

Hundreds of jobs lost
According to the SANEF study print magazines were not granted “essential service” status in terms of government regulations for the first phase of the lockdown and can be regarded as the first media casualty of the lockdown.

"Other print publications may follow the magazine closures," the study found. "Caxton, once more, seems to have moved decisively by closing or merging freesheet titles. The company announced the closure of its North Eastern Tribune along with City Buzz and that the, "Footprints of certain local newspapers in Gauteng metropolitan areas, Limpopo, Mpumalanga and the South Coast of KwaZulu-Natal needed to be adapted for the company to provide the best solutions for readers, customers and clients in these markets."

According to the study, Carol Mohlala, executive director of the Association of Independent Publishers, estimates that 300 to 400 journalists’ jobs have been lost as small, mostly black-owned independent newspapers, often serving indigenous-language groups in far-flung rural areas, have closed and a further 700 jobs in the value chain lost.

"Notably, once heralded as the savior of print, tabloid newspapers have not proved immune. Media24 has cut back the print edition of its popular tabloid Daily Sun to four provinces: Gauteng, Limpopo, North West and Mpumalanga."

The study notes that freelance journalists and photographers have also been badly affected.

"The danger is that in South Africa and elsewhere the strong may get stronger, including the social media giants that soak up much online revenue, and the weak be victims of the competitive destruction that marks major economic downturns."

"WhatsApp, Facebook, Netflix (and other streaming services) and Zoom are among obvious beneficiaries of the work-from-home reality forced on former office workers."

Stark news audience change
The Covid-19 pandemic has heightened awareness of the value of credible news and boosted readership, viewership and listenership of broadcasting and online outlets that provide such news, the SANEF study finds.

"Newspaper readership has been devastated by the decrease in the movement of people. Andrew Gill of Arena Holdings explains that newspaper retail sales, for instance at supermarkets, took a big hit thanks to the decline in traffic, while informal street, and door-to-door, sales in e.g. townships dropped to almost zero."

"While free-to-air TV has been validated by the coronavirus, pay-TV in the form of DStv has been knocked by the unavailability of sport, arguably DStv’s major drawcard and in an era of film and TV-series streaming via the Internet, offset to some extent by MultiChoice’s own standalone Showmax online service."

"Netflix and other streaming services are bound to have been beneficiaries of the lockdown, along with social media, competing for the attention of audiences with news. However, the lockdown and confinement of many South Africans to their homes with the main link to the world outside being a computer screen has as expected boosted online news."

According to the SANEF study the Covid-19 coronavirus pandemic "resulted in a surge in web traffic, most notably the news category".

"In particular, massive month-on-month growth can be seen across News24, Fin24, Citizen and BusinessInsider who all recorded more than 50% growth in unique browsers. Typical monthly variances in traffic for these top 10 sites is in the region of around 10%, which highlights the massive increase in online browsing during March 2020."

"Some advertising vanished entirely during the lockdown. Freesheets normally thick with inserts for major stores and full of other retail advertising and small classifieds shrank to eight pages of news without ads. For broadcasters, the problem is compounded by the time given to official announcements displacing commercial programming."

"A high-level SABC source notes that the Ministerial briefings have disrupted schedules and have been a 'major displacement of revenue at the SABC, but we have to do the right thing."

Media extinction event
The SANEF study notes that "Businesses already on the brink will be pushed over the edge".

"Financial problems may be multifaceted, and stem from the relationship between the paying audience and the content published. Some reflection is needed within the news business of whether journalism is offering what the audience wants and needs."

"In the time of Covid-19, magazines, and in time newspapers, may face what has been called a 'media extinction event', affecting the news industry more than the 2008 global recession, including African newspapers."

"So far, the print media has been hardest hit and this threatens to affect the amount of news being produced, with massive closures of community newspapers, and possible shrinking of newsrooms through retrenchment. Freelance journalists, a longstanding part of the supply chain of news content, are exceptionally vulnerable."

"Broadcasting will not remain unaffected. The SABC has been affected by advertising revenue declines. The corporation would have received its full bailout amount of R3,2 billion cannot ask for more from the cash-strapped fiscus. Private media houses would have to stand in line with other worthy recipients of rescue money, such as the unemployed whose numbers will be swelled."

For domestic news media, the key word in the immediate period is "survival", says the study. "Those organisations entering the crisis with serious cash-flow problems will have difficulty surviving."

"While news organisations are clearly worth preserving, a thought must be given to individual journalists displaced by the wake of the Covid-19 destruction," the study says.

"Some funding could be directed towards individuals to help them cope with retrenchment and retrain for new work. South Africa no longer has a journalism union to fend for journalists."

"A return to a 'new normal' may not prevent further job losses," the SANEF study finds in its conclusions.

"So far, none of the major newspapers have been closed, but a lot depends on the way the ending of the lockdown is handled, the length and severity of the Covid-crisis-induced depression, and whether the lockdown has changed audience behaviour."

"Retrenchments and shrinking of news staff have so far been confined to print, but broadcasting has also been hit by a decline in advertising and what levels of ad revenue will return to in a depressed economy is uncertain."

Ths study notes that "the Covid-19 crisis has been devastating".

"The effect can be calculated in jobs lost – still difficult at this stage to ascertain with any certainty – and most importantly in the shrinking of the vital-for-society news ecosystem as the country and the world copes with an unprecedented economic decline."

Monday, June 1, 2020

SABC1 adds new South African hip hop docu-reality series, Blow Up Or Cave, narrated by Zubz.

by Thinus Ferreira

SABC1 is adding a new South African hip hop doc-reality series, Blow Up Or Cave, narrated the Zambian-born South African rapper Ndabaningi Mabuye, known as Zubz.

Blow Up Or Cave, making its debut on SABC1 on Monday 1 June at 21:00 will showcase some of the country's rapper and lyricists, taking viewers through the story of their lives as it introduces the so-called "new school in the hip hop fraternity" to show the craft of these music creators.

Zubz was previously the presenter of the docu-reality hip hop series Above Ground that was broadcast in 2015 on's eKasi+ channel on Openview.

Blow Up Or Cave on SABC1 will examine elements of hip hop music and culture and will serve as a preview into the new and upcoming generation of hip hop artists, producers and labels, taking viewers behind-the-scenes and into the lives of rappers who have made their mark already, as well as those on their way to the "big time".

Blow Up Or Cave will profile artists ranging from JOZI, Reason, Shugasmakx, Big Hash, Touchline, thisguthatguy, Indigo Stella and Champagne69 to Jimmy Wiz, Benny Chill, Danny Bazuka, Faith K, Dee Koala, Fonzo, Charlie Fam, SIMZ MRVL and more.

Bollywood bounces back as 4 Star Life primetime series are set to return from 8 June with new weekday episodes.

by Thinus Ferreira

Bollywood is bouncing back as international lockdowns restrictions regarding work and movement to curb the spread of the Covid-19 coronavirus pandemic are starting to ease with Star Life (DStv 167  / StarSat 550 / Openview 110) that has returned 4 series to its schedule with new episodes that will debut on 8 June.

In April 2020 Indian TV channels like Star Life, Zee World and Glow TV ran out of new episodes for several shows because of the Covid-19 international shutdowns that led to schedule disruption and schedules that were altered and shows replaced by repeats.

"Lockdowns are still in place in some form or the other in different parts of the world that is still impacting our various productions," Mayank Bharara, Star Life spokesperson tells TVwithThinus, "but we are doing everything possible to bring back our powerful shows for our audiences across Africa and so we will be bringing back 3 hours of original programming in June."

"With the reduced workforce in studios, that is the maximum we can manage for now until lockdowns completely open."

On Star Life Family Affairs (18:00 to 19:00), Kulfi - The Singing Star (19:00 to 19:30), Made for Each Other (19:30 to 20:00) and Geet (20:00 to 21:00) are all back on the primetime schedule between 18:00 and 21:00.

While all 4 of these shows are back, they're showing repeats and have been rolled back a few episodes to that viewers can get a recap of where the stories were before the shows went into repeats and left the schedule.

On 7 June all 4 of these shows will align back to the point where they were on Star Life when they stopped.

"From Monday 8 June 2020 we will have all-new episodes of these 4 shows," says Mayank Bharara.

Between 21:00 and 23:00 where Star Life had The Inseparables and A Perfect Lie, the TV channel has now brought back Game of Love from 28 May due to public demand, after the end of Chasing My Heart.

"This show launched when we launched the channel in 2018 and has been our most successful show so we should have good viewership during this timeslot too," says the channel.

CNBC Africa turns 13: ABN Group says Covid-19 is a 'major test' for the TV business channel, hints at switch to a new operating model post-coronavirus.

by Thinus Ferreira

CNBC Africa (DStv 410 / StarSat 309), the Africa-localised TV business news channel franchise of the American CNBC brand is turning 13 years old today amidst the devastating global Covid-19 pandemic and says that the impact of the coronavirus has been a "major test" for the channel, hinting at a switch to a new operating model in the future post-Covid-19.

As with all South African and African media, the ABN Group that launched CNBC Africa on MultiChoice's DStv satellite pay-TV service on 1 June 2007, has felt the tremendous devastating impact of Covid-19 over the past two months.

As elsewhere, CNBC Africa saw programming advertisers and sponsors disappear while several of CNBC Africa's planned, broadcast business sessions which are sponsored content, had to be cancelled.

CNBC Africa currently has bureaus in Johannesburg (South Africa), Lagos (Nigeria) and Kigali (Rwanda) and produced roughly 8 hours of Africa-produced business and economic-related TV content per day.

Commenting about CNBC Africa's 13th anniversary, Roberta Naicker, ANB Group managing director, says that "The journey has been a game-changer in the business news genre as the channel has showcased business and economic news on the continent".

"We could not have achieved this without the commitment of the executive team and staff at CNBC Africa who have been the cornerstone of our achievement."

Sid Wahi, CNBC Africa director, says that the industry has evolved over the last decade as both content creation and distribution have radically transformed.

"Although we were the first server-based TV station in sub-Sahara Africa, that was not enough as we had to realign our processes, modernise our equipment, train our staff and consolidate the operation to meet the challenges that we were faced with."

Sid Wahi says that CNBC Africa TV channel distribution had to be addressed as well since it was a major gap in sub-Sahara Africa. After just being available on MultiChoice's DStv in 2007, CNBC Africa gained carriage to further carriage agreement contracts on other platforms as well, for instance China's StarTimes pay-TV platform.

"Covid-19 has been a major test of the channel's resolve." says CNBC Africa. "On one hand news media is considered an essential service, but on the other, there is little support in the form of advertising and sponsorships during this pandemic."

"Like all media companies, we have reached out to a lot of our long-time clients to stand by us during this extremely challenging time. The post-Covid-19 era will herald a new operating model as the experience has catalysed transformation of the business, making it more productive and efficient."

In an interview on CNBC Africa on Monday, Zafar Siddiqi, ABN Group co-founder and chairperson, about the impact of Covid-19 on the TV business said that the channel "has a steady number of viewership who are interested in business news so we generally will not lose them. So, in summary I'd say - uncertainty, again - but we should be out of the storm in roughly 12 to 18 months".

MultiChoice and M-Net add Big Brother Pepper Dem reunion show to Africa Magic on DStv to drive entries for camera-reality show's new 5th season.

by Thinus Ferreira

MultiChoice and M-Net West Africa has added a Big Brother Naija Reunion Show, starting on 1 June 2020 and that will be shown on the Africa Magic Urban (DStv 153) at 23:00 and Africa Magic Family (DStv 154) channel at 23:30 on DStv to help promote and drive entries for the new 5th season of Big Brother Nigeria.

The Big Brother Naija Pepper Reunion Show will revolve around contestants from the 4th season of Big Brother Nigeria. and episodes will be shown from Mondays to Thursdays.

"This is no spoiler alert but there will be a laughter, tears and confrontations as the ex-housemates along with Ebuka Obi-Uchendu, the show's host, revisit the events that rocked Biggie's house last season," says MultiChoice in a statement.

The reunion show will let viewers in on the lives of the Big Brother Naija Pepper Dem contestants 7 months after the show's finale.