Monday, June 17, 2019

SABC's finance boss Yolande van Biljon warns: SABC's 'Day Zero can happen tomorrow', can't confirm that South African public broadcaster's staffers will be paid at end of June, says SABC owes over R1.8 billion to hundreds of companies.

The SABC's "Day Zero can happen tomorrow."

That is the dire and stark warning from the SABC's chief financial officer, Yolande van Biljon, who in an interview on Monday morning with SABC News said that the cash-strapped South African public broadcaster could see its operations seize up at any moment.

So precarious is its cash-flow situation and so beleaguered is the South African public broadcaster's financial situation that its finance boss on Monday couldn't guarantee that SABC staffers would be getting paid at the end of the month and didn't want to make any commitment and say that salaries will be paid.

The SABC that is drowning in debt owes more than R1.8 billion to hundreds of companies and service providers ranging from Sentech and SuperSport to production companies, royalties payable to Samro, and many more.

The South African public broadcaster is finally completely without money and on Sunday Bongumusa Makhathini, SABC chairperson in an interview with The Sunday Times warned that the SABC is on the verge of seizing up and that "communication blackout is imminent".

"I’m not sure how we are going to pay for salaries come end of June," Bongumusa Makhathini said according to a report in The Sunday Times.

The SABC has been waiting for months on another government bailout of R3.2 billion while its already precarious financial position kept worseing, pleading with Stella Ndabeni-Abrahams, the minister of communications, to do something.

Meanwhile political pressure saw the bloated broadcaster forced to abandon its plan of mass retrenchments that was scrapped before the general elections.

In February this year after his budget speech, Tito Mboweni, the minister of finance, revealed that the SABC now actually needs R6.8 billion as a bailout if it's to survive.

On Monday Yolande van Biljon, SABC CFO, told SABC2's Morning Live in an interview that the broadcaster's juggling act to pay SABC staff salaries at the end of every month has "been the case for the last 8, 9 months. It has just been progressively worseing the last few months".

"We have had low-income months due to various reasons and that impacted heavily on our available cash resources and in the process the strain on the cash have just increased tremendously."

"In terms of debt there is over R1 billion that is owed. If you add accruals you come close to R1.8 billion altogether that is due and payable," she explained.

Asked about the R3.2 government bailout she said "we've had not had formal feedback yet. There is lot of support though".

"Again I ask you, will SABC employees be paid at the end of the month?" asked the Morning Live co-host Leanne Manas, who also revealed that some SABC employees, especially some freelancers, continue to not receive payment and that it has been happening as recently as the end of May.

"We're doing our best Leanne to provide for it in our forecasts and ensure that it is the first thing line-item that is executed in about two weeks from now. The moment a SuperSport or a Sentech or one of the other big partners is just unable to further say 'we're happy to carry you for another month' then the salaries will be at risk."

"As I sit here now it is in the forecast, we are planning to pay it as usual, but the times are extremely uncertain. It's really a day-to-day monitoring situation," Yolande van Biljon said.

'All suffering'
Yolande van Biljon explained that about 10 institutions are owed the majority of the R1 billion in SABC debt with the public broadcaster that also owes money to the South African Auditor-General (AG), as well as the Special Investigating Unit (SIU).

"Then there's literally hundreds of smaller guys if I can put it like that. We do typically try to ensure that they have an allocation because we don't want to put further strain on the general, smaller service providers and suppliers. The pressure is with those big, 6 or 7 institutions that we owe a lot to."

"We need the funding support as soon as possible in my view. I worry. Apart from the salaries you know, there are service providers and suppliers in the bigger circles that work with the SABC which are all suffering as a result of what we have to deal with."

'Day Zero can happen tomorrow'
"I think Day Zero can happen tomorrow. It depends on if one of these big partners are unable to support us financially, or must be forced to switch off our signal and distribution network, or where the maintenance situation impacts one of our critical infrastructure facilities in one of the studios and there's a real black-on-air situation because the equipment couldn't do what it is supposed to do anymore," Yolande van Biljon said.

"The fact that we're managing it and that we keep presenting a front that everything is fine doesn't serve our purpose. But we've got phenomenal people, we've got fantastic support from our partners that ensure that we remain on-air as is required."

"But it takes one small thing at this point in time and the SABC's Day Zero will be that day," she said.

Explaining the impact of a SABC blackout she said that "28 milion people who listen to our radio stations will not have their news, entertainment and education. That's half of the population which will be immediately affected and they lose this news, entertainment and education in their mother tongue".

"I think it's quite a disaster. The television stations the same thing - a little bit less viewers but if you at SABC1, a significant number of viewers. Millions of people in South Africa will suddenly no longer have access to this kind of information, entertainment, education and news. And this is the SABC's mandate."

"Half of the population will be affected and then I'm not even talking about the 5 000 people who work with the SABC whether in a freelance basis or on a permanent basis - obviously those people and their families and the broader circles will be affected."

Sunday, June 16, 2019

NEWS ALERT. 'Communication blackout is imminent'. SABC issues dire warning of broadcast failure as it's unable to pay staff at the end of the month, didn't pay electricity and owes hundreds of millions to service and content providers.

NEWS ALERT - The South African public broadcaster that is finally completely without money on Sunday warned that it's on the verge of a total shutdown and that a "communication blackout is imminent" with the SABC that doesn't have money left to pay staffers at the end of June, is no longer able to pay for electricity and owes hundreds of millions to service and content providers ranging from Sentech to SuperSport.

While Stella Ndabeni-Abrahams, South Africa's minister of communications, has been jetsetting to Japan last week and after having had months to help the SABC out of its precarious situation, she had failed to solve the massive financial crisis of the South African Broadcasting Corporation.

Bongumusa Makhathini, SABC chairperson, on Sunday warned that the SABC is finally on the verge of collapse with a blackout that could happen any moment.

"I’m not sure how we are going to pay for salaries come end of June," Bongumusa Makhathini says according to a report in The Sunday Times.

"We have also not maintained any of our infrastructure and a communication blackout is imminent".

The SABC that is perilously close to no longer broadcasting hasn't paid for municipal services like electricity at the end of May, choosing to rather pay SABC staff salaries.

The SABC now owes the City of Johannesburg more than R13.5 million. The SABC is meeting with the Coty of Johannesburg again on Wednesday.

The SABC owes the parastatal signal distributor Sentech R317 million and MultiChoice's sports content division SuperSport over R208 million.

Beyond that the SABC also owes millions to other content providers like independent South African production companies.

Nothing has so far come of the SABC's plea for a massive R6.8 billion in another government bailout.

"We never had a blackout before, but if the funding doesn't come soon the possibility of a blackout is imminent," Madoda Mxakwe, SABC CEO said a month ago.

The SABC could either experience a blackout when it's electricity supply is cut off, content is simply no longer being received, or if SABC staffers down tools, go on strike or simply become no-shows when the SABC fails to pay them at the end of the month.

The SABC planned and started a process of mass retrenchment but buckled under political pressure before the general elections and was forced to abandon the process of firing up to 981 permanent staffers and 1 200 freelancers at the bloated public broadcaster.

Saturday, June 15, 2019

Nigerian government's vengeful consumer unit gives MultiChoice Nigeria a 'final order' demanding outrageous changes like 24-hour call centres and letting DStv subscribers switch off for free for at least 45 days per year.

The Nigerian government's vengeful and idiotic federal consumer protection unit persists in its unrelenting attack on MultiChoice Nigeria and has issued a "final order", again demanding that the pay-TV operator adhere to outrageous demands like a "24-hour call centres, 7 days a week" and allow DStv and GOtv subscribers to switch off their pay-TV subscription for at least 3 times per year for 45 days per year.

These demands are part of 11 directives in a "final order" that Nigeria's Federal Competition & Consumer Protection Commission (FCCPC) issued against MultiChoice Nigeria.

While DStv subscribers in Nigeria with the country's tanking local currency are already paying the least on the continent for their pay-TV subscriptions and are subsidised the most by The MultiChoice Group's MultiChoice Africa division, Nigeria's FCCPC continues with its relentless vendetta against the company.

Nigeria's DStv subscribers already benefit from some of the best pay-TV consumer regulations in Africa but that isn't enough for the FCCPC, formerly known as Nigeria's Consumer Protection Council.

The Nigerian government continues to wage war against originally South African started companies as well as other foreign companies, including airlines who find it very and increasingly difficult to do business in the West-African country that has seen its struggling economy falter.

Since Nigeria on paper is so-called "free market" economy, the Nigerian court found against the Consumer Protection Council who wanted to prevent MultiChoice Nigeria from hiking DStv and GOtv subscription fees and wanted the right to prescribe to MultiChoice Nigeria as a private company what prices it can and can't ask.

With an apparent chip on its shoulder and after having raided MultiChoice Nigeria's offices in the past, the FCCPC keeps going after MultiChoice Nigeria and on Friday issued MultiChoice Nigeria Limited with a "final order", again demanding that the pay-TV company must establish and introduce some ridiculous and extremely costly operational must-do's.

In the so-called "final order" the FCCPC director-general Babatunde Irukera on Friday again instructed MultiChoice to allow Nigerian DStv subscribers to be entitled to "temporarily suspend" their DStv subscriptions for "no less than 3 times" per year, each for a period of up to 14 days.

The clueless FCCPC appears uninformed about how traditional pay-TV and commercial business works and that allowing DStv subscribers to switch off their DStv and not paying for it for at least 45 days per year each will dramatically increase the price for these and all other DStv and GOtv subscribers.

The FCCPC also demands that MultiChoice runs "24-hour call centres, 7 days a week" including weekends and public holidays as if the private pay-TV company is a Nigerian hospital or emergency or ambulance service. The FCCPC demands that calls to these call centres should be free.

"The court granted interim injunctive relief prohibiting MultiChoice from proceeding with the conduct that the Commission alleged constituted bad faith," Babatunde Irukera writes.

"MultiChoice failed to obey the injunctive order of the court, preferring instead to challenge the validity and proprietary of the order and powers of the court.  The court order became the subject of appeal to the Court of Appeal."

In its "final order", the FCCPC demands that "MultiChoice shall, subject to prevailing regulatory and telecommunications industry practices and constraints, commence toll-free technical and customer service helplines" and that "the company shall also operate fully-resourced call centres 24 hours, and 7 days a week, including public holidays".

MultiChoice is also ordered to "create multiple and additional social media platforms where subscribers can easily upload proof of payment when service is not restored immediately after payment".

This is in addition to providing DStv subscribers with the option of suspending their subscriptions "no less than three times annually for up to 14 days in each instance".

MultiChoice must ensure that all DStv subscribers have free and automatic access to the local free-to-air TV channels and must "carry out periodic customer sensitisation about changes made".

The FCCPC warned MultiChoice that it "shall be under the commission's monitoring for a period of 12 months of this order and shall provide prior notice of proposed changes or modifications of material terms and conditions of service that are the subject of this order."

MultiChoice's Showmax makes sports content trial available to all users of the video streaming service as streaming boss Niclas Ekdahl says sports content 'is the obvious next target'.

Days after starting a trial available to just some users earlier this week offering them access to certain sports content, MultiChoice's Showmax has opened the sports content trial to all Showmax consumers.

Showmax has so far repurposed and taken both American studio content that used to be on M-Net(DStv 101) first from the likes of HBO and Showtime, as well M-Net's locally-produced content from its M-Net, kykNET and Mzansi Magic channels.

Showmax will now also piggy-back and use SuperSport content that previously was only accessible to DStv subscribers.

"We're going to trial a bunch of different sports content while keeping Showmax at the R99 price point, and see how our customers interact with the service," says Niclas Ekdahl, MultiChoice's Connected Video CEO, in a statement.

"We’ll be ramping up our live game offerings with everything from selected matches from the best football leagues in Europe to streaming a wide variety of varsity and school sports."

Connected Video runs MultiChoice's online streaming platforms like its subscription video-on-demand (SVOD) service Showmax and the temperamental and untrustworthy DStv Now that offers a programming catch-up and a live linear channel streaming experience.

"As of today, sport is officially up and running on Showmax in South Africa - not only magazine shows and highlights clips, but a whole new capability to live-stream games," Showmax said in a statement on Friday.

"It's a first for Showmax that taps into the growing streaming-only customer segment. The price of Showmax remains unchanged at R99 per month."

Showmax said that the new sports content includes live streaming of South Africa's games in the 2019 ICC Cricket World Cup and SuperSport Rugby Challenge matches.

The newly added sports content vertical will also include extended highlights from major sports events, and magazines shows taken from SuperSport that will be available to watch as live broadcasts and on a catch up basis.

These include What a Weekend, Showcase, Home, The Final Whistle, Phaka, Inside EdgeIn Touch, The Dan Nicholl Show#borntorugby and FirstXV.

"Adding sport to Showmax is something fundamentally new for us and it’s a big deal," said Niclas Ekdahl.

"We’re preparing for a future when uncapped data is affordable to all in Africa and video-on-demand becomes the norm."

"We've been delivering TV series and movies for almost four years and continue to see strong growth in usage. Sport is the obvious next target and the only way to do that properly is to be able to stream it live."

Showmax's new sport section is available on most Showmax apps and platforms except for Apple TV, Xbox and PlayStation, and some smart TVs, although support will be added for these in the coming months. 

The Showmax sport content is currently available only in South Africa.

It's not yet clear to what extent the taking of content from M-Net and SuperSport is devaluing the existing DStv offering to customers and potential subscribers.

Existing and potential DStv subscribers no longer have to subscribe to MultiChoice's DStv but can get premium content that was only available on M-Net, for instance international fare like Game of Thrones to local series from kykNET and Mzansi Magic, at the same time or even before it is broadcast on M-Net and other channels.

HBO's Cinemax has joined the Cape Town filmed co-production of Deon Meyer's Trackers drama series done by M-Net and Germany's ZDF.

HBO's Cinemax TV channel has also joined South Africa's M-Net and Germany's ZDF in their co-production of the Cape Town filmed drama series based on Deon Meyer's crime-and-spy book Trackers.

M-Net announced Trackers in February 2018, based on Deon Meyer's 7th book.

While M-Net will show Trackers in South Africa and across sub-Saharan African on MultiChoice's DStv satellite pay-TV service, ZDF will show it in Germany while Cinemax gets the remaining worldwide rights for the United States and areas beyond Africa and Germany.

The 6-episode Trackers, produced by Three River Studios in the United Kingdom and Studio 23, will start on M-Net (DStv 101) in October 2019 and will also be available on MultiChoice's subscription video-on-demand (SVOD) service, Showmax.

Trackers as an action-thriller revolves around an international terrorist plot in Cape Town, South Africa and an extended conspiracy involving organized crime, smuggled diamonds, state security, Black Rhinos, and the CIA.

The British writer Robert Thorogood is the showrunner with Deon Meyer as supervising screenwriter and co-producer. Jyri Kähönen is the director of all Trackers episodes with Ivan Strasburg as director of photography.

The team of South African writers on Trackers includes the screenwriter and director Amy Jephta as well as writer-directors Kelsey Egen and Jozua Malherbe.

The Trackers cast includes Ed Stoppard, Rolanda Marais, James Alexander, Thapelo Mokoena and James Gracie, among others.

James Alexander plays the character of Lemmer, a man seeking revenge while rebuilding his life in a small town after his career was destroyed during an operation for the Presidential Bureau of Intelligence (PBI).

Rolanda Marais is the "unlikely heroine" Milla Strachan, an abused Cape Town housewife who becomes a data analyst for the PBI and finds herself at the centre of the conspiracy.

Ed Stoppard is Lukas Becker, an alleged CIA operative.

"The trailblazing and massively exciting co-production of Trackers illustrates M–Net's vision and commitment to shine the spotlight on the African film and television industry and provide fresh, proudly African narratives to our viewers as well as global audiences," says Yolisa Phahle, MultiChoice CEO of general entertainment.

"It is also taking our longstanding relationship with Cinemax to the next level, allowing local and international talent to combine their world-class story-telling and production skills."

"Trackers is an unprecedented scripted television venture and MultiChoice and M-Net are proud to chart out new territory with all the game-changing players involved in this co-production."

Len Amato, president of HBO films, miniseries and Cinemax, says "Cinemax is delighted to partner with M-Net and ZDF in bringing Deon Meyer's unforgettable characters and storytelling - all so richly rooted in the people and spectacular geography of South Africa - to screens around the world".

Besides Cape Town, M-Net says filming for Trackers has already started in "exotic locations" across South Africa and that M-Net, ZDF and Cinemax have been working together on all aspects of production – from developing and casting, to assembling the crew and approving the final content.

Lee Daniels says he’s ‘beyond embarrassed’ about defending FOX's Empire actor Jussie Smollett after his staged attack; has stopped speaking to him.

Lee Daniels, the co-creator of the American drama series Empire on FOX (DStv 125 / StarSat 131 / Cell C black 201), now says that he is "beyond embarrassed" about his former forceful defence of Jussie Smollett after the disgraced actor earlier this year claimed that he was physically attacked in the United States in a hate crime.

In late-January this year Jussie Smollett was hospitalised after a physical assault that he claimed was homophobic and racist but the police ended up arresting Jussie Smollett after an investigation, saying he staged the attack. 

The charges were then abruptly dropped although the city of Chicago has sued him to recoup the money spent on the investigation.

Unsealed Chicago police records show how Jussie Smollett brought drugs like cocaine, ecstasy and marijuana from the two Nigerian brothers who he arranged to attack him and who were eventually arrested.

In an interview with Vulture Lee Daniels now says that "I'm beyond embarrassed. I think that when it happened, I had a flash of me running from bullies. I had a flash of my whole life, of my childhood, my youth, getting beaten."

Lee Daniels says what Jussie Smollett did was "a huge betrayal" if "it turned out that he did it, was guilty, and all of it's accurate".

Lee Daniels says he is still holding out some hope that Jussie Smollett didn't stage the hate crime attack on himself. 

"Of course, there's some doubt. I’m telling you that because I love him so much. That’s the torture that I’m in right now, because it’s literally if it were to happen to your son and your child, how would you feel?"

"You would feel, Please, God, please let there be that glimmer of hope that there is some truth in this story. That’s why it's been so painful. It was a flood of pain."

"I had to detach myself and stop calling him because it was taking away the time I have for my kids, the time I have for my partner. It was affecting my spirit and other shows, everything."

Zimbabwean cameraman and singer-songwriter Ray Ceeh murdered in Cape Town.

The Zimbabwean cameraman Ray Chifamba (33) known as Ray Ceeh who was also a singer-songwriter has been murdered in Lentegeur in Cape Town after he was shot in the neck on Wednesday night in his vehicle.

Siyabulela Malo, police spokesperson says Ray Ceeh was killed around 22:43 in Maartbloom Steet in Lentegeur in Mitchells Plain with a murder investigation that is underway.

"Lentegeur police responded to a complaint and upon their arrival noticed a white vehicle that had driven into the wall at the mentioned address. It was apparent that the victim was about to drop passengers in the area when three unknown men approached his vehicle and fired one shot to his neck and he lost control of the vehicle".

Ray Ceeh was about to drop passengers when three unknown men shot him.

Ray Ceeh worked at Durham Studios in Woodstock and released his first music video this year and also produced his own podcast show, The Ray Show.

Ray Ceeh who moved from Zimbabwe to South Africa previously worked for the Muslim lifestyle channel Deen Channel (StarSat 265) as a cameraman.

"He was the life of our office and brought smiles to the faces of many," said Faizal Sayed, Deen Channel CEO. "He was determined and a hard worker. He always wanted to be someone in life and his life was unfortunately cut short."

"He came to SA from Zimbabwe as a very talented person. He always wanted to help his mother. He produced music, he sang very well. I haven't been able to work all morning, we are all shattered by the news," said Faizal Sayed.

"There is no justification. He saw South Africa as an outlet for him to be somebody and make a future here. It's a disgrace that his life was taken here."

The South African government's department of communications changing to department of communications and digital technologies.

The South African government has announced that its department of communications will be changing to a new name of department of communications and digital technologies (DCDT).

South Africa's president Cyril Ramaphosa made the announcement on Friday.

This follows the merger of the department of telecommunications and postal services that has been folded back into the department of communications.

The department of communications was split into the department of communications and the department of telecommunications and postal services in 2014 by the then South African president Jacob Zuma and his corrupt government.

South Africa's industry, business and TV sector in 2014 slammed the split with both departments that continued to severely underperform and with the country little further in long-delayed switch and digital migration from analogue to digital terrestrial television (DTT).

The switch to DTT has already cost the South African government and the local TV industry billions and is more than a decade behind schedule with both departments that failed in advancing and completing the process.

The jetsetting minister Stella Ndabeni-Abrahams who was in Japan last week on yet another whirlwind global tete-a-tete will continue to lead the department of communications and digital technologies although she hasn't been hands-on in dealing with solving extremely acute and months-old problems like the cash-strapped South African public broadcaster.

The damaged and beleaguered SABC needs more than R3 billion in an urgent new government-guaranteed bailout, while the South African Post Office has been floundering, and many other areas requiring urgent intervention.

The merger of the department of communications and department of telecommunications and postal services are ongoing.

Thursday, June 13, 2019

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.

It was weird on Wednesday night when I chose to "delete" the news.

I love the news, especially TV news, and the more different news sources there are, the better for me, for you and for the world.

Yet, on Wednesday I scrolled down the apps list on my phone and clicked "uninstall" on the "news" app of China's CGTN (DStv 409 / StarSat 266) to completely get rid of it.

Somehow I should probably have realised sooner that China's CGTN is not really a news channel but like ANN7 that morphed into Afro Worldview, Russia's RT, and some others, actually a propaganda channel with a specific view and a biased narrative that it is pushing.

With stories like Wednesday's "Chinese soldiers plant trees to run barren island into a paradise" CGTN shamelessly panders to whoever its audience might be, using the semblance of what consumers known as "news" to push propaganda that only makes the Chinese government and its great Xi look good.

It was jarring and jaw-dropping as a South African and African TV news consumer to see in real time BBC World News, Al Jazeera, Sky News, CNN International, France24 and a raft of other channels do live coverage from the disturbing and chaotic scenes in Hong Kong on Wednesday.

As the police fired tear gas and rubber bullets at protestors shown on several TV news channels, CGTN showed recorded travelogue snippets of how beautiful it is in Tibet.

While global TV news channel followed up with filed reports and live crossings to Hong Kong's streets and interviewed protestors and told viewers what is happening, CGTN did fluff-stuff after fluff-stuff of how China is adding more flights to Africa and how Chinese business is uplifting Africa.

Sadly, Africans in traditional tribal gear still only dance like circus acts (and by implication for their dinner) for the Chinese men in their business suits as proudly broadcast on CGTN. Weirdly on CGTN it never happens the other way round.

It was shocking to see how CGTN as a propaganda channel of the Chinese communist government totally controlled and censored the "news" on Wednesday. Not not a single story about the Hong Kong protest was broadcast, not a single mention on the news scroll, not a single story on the CGTN website, or anything on its social media.

While news consumers in Africa and elsewhere in the world have access to multiple other news sources and could follow and were shown what was happening (although CGTN did not), it made me think of how it must be to live in China where news like the 1989 Tiananmen Square protests and the recent anniversary of it, news about Taiwan, and other actual news about and around China are completely blocked, censored and delivered slanted.

On its website CGTN says it's a news source that "gives a balanced view".

Well, on Tuesday and Wednesday there was zero balance on CGTN, just blatant, arrogant, misguided and highly-embarrassing CGTN censorship.

The awkward and blunt CGTN censorship and propaganda, after some research late into Wednesday night, becomes even more clear when you make the effort as a news consumer to take a broader look.

After saying that the recent debate between Trish Regan of Fox Business News and whoever the CGTN anchor was would be broadcast on both channels - live - and announcing and hyping it up beforehand, CGTN literally backed down and bluntly and quietly announced it won't be broadcasting it anymore ... two hours before the time.

CGTN suddenly said it couldn't broadcast the anchors' TV tete-a-tete "because of copyright".

Of course no copyright issues were ever involved, other than China's government and CGTN being scared that Trish might say something on live television or talk about a topic that they don't want Chinese viewers to hear.

Of course there are "good" people and "real" journalists working at CGTN - globally and across Africa. It's sad that they work for a propaganda channel and probably want to do real journalism but are hamstrung by their censorship bosses.

When CGTN Africa's division based in Nairobi, Kenya started and launched the Africa Live broadcasting block, I cheered. Africa Live still does more coverage daily about Africa than most of the other TV news channels.

The problem - hugely evident on Wednesday night - is that at some point however an editorial decision was obviously taken to turn it into pandering, 'newsfomercials' fodder, hijacking the "news" format to do puff-piece China-promoting publicity to Chinese politicians and Chinese business across the African continent instead of news.

While Africa Live does more Africa coverage, a lot of it isn't actually news.

When something in Africa involves the remotest connection to China it's turned into China-prime stories on Africa Live, China's benefactor role is hyped up beyond belief with glowing visuals and language and it's run like China puff-pieces looking exactly like corporate videos but one in which China is the company.

Wednesday night's Africa Live stories about Chinese flights and Chinese brand rakings and Chinese representatives hobnobbing with African politicians were done awfully.

CGTN and CGTN Africa bosses must think that Africa's news consumers are idiots and will just slurp up this contant slanted sludge without pushback or critical thought. Not so.

Consumers in Africa have access to more news sources that don't shamelessly censor and spout propaganda and can see and compare the differences.

By comparison, CGTN with its biased approach looks silly, embarrassing and incapable of bringing and providing real news coverage when it matters.

While I love the news, on Wednesday I realised that I no longer - if I ever did - trust CGTN. I don't trust that CGTN will show me what is news in the world (including China), all the news, and the news accurately, timeously and without censorship.

I don't have time to kowtow and to use and consume and to drag along "news" sources like CGTN on my TV screen or as an app on my cellphone when it clearly shows itself to be useless when it comes to doing what it falsely purports to be: a "news" platform.

Neither should you.

Olympic Channel content added to SuperSport's website as part of new digital vertical before launch of linear Olympics channel on DStv for the Tokyo 2020 games.

Content from the Olympic Channel which isn't running and available in South Africa or Africa has now been added to SuperSport's website as part of a partnership between the Olympic Games and MultiChoice in the run-up to the Olympic Games Tokyo 2020.

The Olympic Channel was created in 2016 and went live in August 2016 but for the past three years the International Olympic Committee didn't bother to communicate about it or do anything much to publicise its existence.

The Olympic Channel said at launch that it would have original programming, in English, and showcase content from around the world, including some live sports events, news and highlights, as well as features and documentaries about sports and athletes.

Now Olympic Channel content has been folded into SuperSport's website for South Africa and sub-Saharan Africa as part of a new online section from 13 June.

The Olympic Channel content digital add is a precursor to SuperSport's TV coverage for the Olympic Games and Youth Olympic Games through 2024, as well as a linear Olympic Games channel packaged by SuperSport that will run for and start before the Olympic Games Tokyo 2020. 

For the new Olympic Channel section on its website SuperSport will be making and adding existing and new locally-produced content, where documentaries and Olympic-themed content commissioned by the Olympic Channel will also be available.

News about the Olympic Games 2020 will also now be placed here, as well as for the Youth Olympic Games taking place in Dakar in Senegal in 2022.

Content in this section includes the film Apart about Odessa Swarts and her son, Wayde van Niekerk, sharing their stories about sport against the context of apartheid, as well as Africa Cycling Revolution, a series about a new generation of cyclists in Africa.

"With Tokyo 2020 just over a year away, we look forward to further developing our partnership with SuperSport across multiple platforms with the common goal of building excitement for the upcoming Olympic Games through relevant and local content that engages their audience," says Mark Parkman, the general manager of the IOC's Olympic Channel, in a quotable as part of a joint statement released on Thursday by the IOC and SuperSport.

Gideon Khobane, SuperSport CEO, says "The countdown has begun in earnest for the 2020 Olympic Games and SuperSport is determined to bring the many stories and the vibrant build-up to viewers across the African continent".

"Doing so via our popular digital platform and the Olympic Channel ensures a wide reach and will complement our linear broadcast offering".

"Our partnership with the IOC is something we cherish and we look forward to building towards the action in Tokyo, where Africa will be well represented."

The agreement between the OIC and SuperSport includes distribution in 45 territories in South Africa and Sub-Saharan Africa including Angola, Benin, Botswana, Burkina Faso, Burundi, Cameroon, Cape Verde, Central African Republic, Chad, Comoros, Congo, Democratic Republic of Congo, Equatorial Guinea, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Gabon, Gambia, Ghana, Guinea, Guinea-Bissau, Ivory Coast, Kenya, Lesotho, Liberia, Madagascar, Malawi, Mali, Mauritius, Mozambique, Namibia, Niger, Nigeria, Rwanda, São Tomé and Príncipe, Senegal, Seychelles, Sierra Leone, South Africa, St Helena and Ascension, Swaziland, United Republic of Tanzania, Togo, Uganda, Zambia and Zimbabwe.

Wednesday, June 12, 2019

Britain's Sky pay-TV operator creates Sky Studios, will double its investment in original series over the next 5 years in its fightback against video streamers.

Britain's Sky pay-TV operator in a statement on Wednesday announced that it is creating Sky Studios and that it will be doubling its spending on original series over the next 5 years as part of its fightback to retain viewers as video streaming services keep growing.

Where Sky goes, M-Net and MultiChoice in South Africa over the past 15 years have often followed, so whether the creation of Sky Studios might lead to MultiChoice and M-Net establishing something like the M-Net Studios or MultiChoice Studios, remains to be seen.

Sky, through Sky Studios as an in-house production unit, wants to become the leading TV production force in the United Kingdom and across Europe and undet the Sky Studios plan, Sky's investment in original TV series will more than double from the current level over the next 5 years.

Gary Davey, Sky in the United Kingdom's managing director of content, will head up Sky Studios.
"This exciting new venture is perfectly timed to meet the growing content demands of our customers," says Gary Davey in a statement.

 "We look forward to working with the whole creative community, from individual creators to the big independent producers to produce more of the original content our customers love."

Sky says that Sky Studios will produce and develop original content across all genres, with a focus on drama and comedy. "With the emphasis firmly on quality, Sky Studios plans to double the amount of originals currently produced by Sky. It will work in close collaboration with local Sky leadership teams."

"Sky's increasing success with original productions, coupled with the ability to partner with NBC and Universal, puts Sky in a strong position to extend its leadership in this increasingly global, profitable, and strategically important area.

Sky Studios will create content for the TV channels carried on the Sky pay-TV service.

Now being owned by America's Comcast, it will also create content for NBCUniversal like the NBC's broadcast and pay-TV channels in the United States, as well as for Universal Pictures, and NBCUniversal International Networks and the TV channels that it supplies to pay-TV operators in Africa, like MultiChoice running the DStv service.

"This is a transformational development for us," says Jeremy Darroch, Sky CEO, in a statement.

"Sky Studios will drive our vision to be the leading force in European content development and production. Our ambition is to make Sky Studios famous for quality content and a place where Europe's top creatives will want to do their best work."

"Being part of Comcast enables us to increase our investment and to maximise the advantage and leverage of the Sky Group and our partners, NBCUniversal. This is a clear signal of Comcast’s belief in our commitment to producing the best original content in Europe."

Jude Law fantasy drama series
Production will begin in July on Sky Studios' first international project, a 6-episode drama called The Third Day, a co-production with HBO and starring Jude Law.

Set on a mysterious island off the coast of Britain, The Third Day will tell the story of Sam who encounters the island's secretive inhabitants and their strange rituals.

Fantasy and reality began to blur for Sam, triggering past traumas, and bringing him into conflict with the islanders.

The Third Day will be filmed in the United Kingdom and broadcast in 2020.

Viacom Africa is working with Emerge Gaming to launch Nickelodeon's NickX esports gaming platform in South Africa and across the continent soon.

Viacom Africa will be rolling out NickX in South Africa and across sub-Saharan Africa soon as its new esports gaming platform tied to its Nickelodeon (DStv 305) channel.

NickX is a new children-focused, interactive esports platform that will contain and showcase content from Viacom's Nickelodeon, based on Emerge Gaming's ArcadeX technology.

NickX will be freely accessible through the Nickelodeon web app, Android app and iOS app and available on all devices.

Bert Mondello, Emerge Gaming chairperson, on Wednesday in a statement said that "We are delighted to partner with Viacom Africa in the delivery of this new kid-focused esports platform".

"Viacom Africa represents the absolute best in terms of a portfolio of leading global brands with global reach and represents the first leading brand targeted to partner with Emerge Gaming."

"Emerge Gaming will deliver NickX for Viacom Africa’s Nickelodeon, the leading entertainment brand for kids. Working with Nickelodeon will give Emerge Gaming access to unrivalled content for kids. The strategy is to provide kids with educational content through the NickX gaming platform whilst creating an engaging gaming environment."

Monetisation of NickX will be through brand take-up, premium subscriptions, in-app subscriptions and advertising across the platform.

In an Australian Stock Exchange disclosure announcement, Emerge Gaming on Wednesday said it's developing NickX with Viacom International Media Networks Africa (VIMN Africa)" and that "the roll out of the esports product, which will be called NickX, will be operated and maintained by Emerge Gaming".

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.

On Wednesday China's global TV news channel, CGTN (DStv 409 / StarSat 266), further damaged what was left of its credibility as a news service by completely ignoring any news regarding the massive public protests in Hong Kong.

CGTN again revealed its shocking and deliberate news bias and active censorship of news the Chinese government doesn't like by giving zero coverage and making no mention of the protests in Hong Kong that got shown everywhere else on Wednesday.

Other global TV news channels from BBC World News, Sky News, Al Jazeera, CNN International and France24 - all available in South Africa and across Africa to viewers through pay-TV services like MultiChoice's DStv, StarTimes and it's StarSat subsidiary in South Africa, as well as others - all covered the protests in Hong Kong.

While CGTN censored the event and did absolutely nothing, they all showed the chaotic scenes, had live visuals, and had various filed stories from reporters in the Hong Kong streets all through Wednesday.

In sharp and highly-embarrassing contrast, CGTN completely blocked out any news and reporting of the protest with no stories on the CGTN website about the protests, not a single mention on the CGTN news broadcasts, and nothing on CGTN social media, pretending as if a big global news event was simply not happening.

CGTN's surreal and shameless censorship and news manipulation continued on Wednesday evening when it's flagship prime time programme, Africa Live, for African audiences and done from Nairobi Kenya with news anchor, Richard Nta.

Africa Live, just like the rest of CGTN, likewise censored the news with no coverage of the protests in Hong Kong and not a single mention during the hour-long Wednesday bulletin.

On Wednesday dramatic scenes unfolded and was broadcast worldwide - except for on CGTN - when violent clashes broke out in the streets after the aggressive Hong Kong police tried to stop protesters storming the city’s parliament and then started firing rubber bullets and teargas on the thousands of protesters.

Hong Kong citizens are against the government's plan to change existing laws to agreed to allow for the extradition of people to China.

Instead of showing African viewers the actual news and what is happening in Hong Kong, CGTN in a surreal display of how far it has become a Chinese government propaganda channel, broadcast insert after insert on Africa Live about how well China's politicians and Chinese business are working with Africa.

Chinese politicians were shown in inserts beaming and shaking hands with Ethiopian counterparts, after which Chinese politicians cozied up to other African leaders in other stories.

Then in a pandering insert, Africans in tribal gear had to dance for Chinese dignitaries in suits on the tarmac in Nairobi, Kenya, in an "infomercial-news" insert celebrating new Chinese flights between Changsha in China and Nairobi in Africa.

That was followed by a story of how wonderful Chinese brands are and how well Chinese brands are doing in Africa and globally.

None of the Africa Live stories regarding China contained any criticism or any actual balance, as the litany of fluff pieces to show how great and wonderful China is, were broadcast as "news" in an unending stream of inserts showing off China as Africa's big benefactor.

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.

SABC fires current affairs executive producer, Sam Mochichila, over jobs-for-cash bribery corruption at Thobela FM.

The SABC has fired a current affairs executive producer, Sam Mochichila, found guilty in a jobs-for-cash bribery corruption case.

The former Thobela FM executive producer was shown the door on Monday by the South African public broadcaster.

He was found guilty of receiving R2000 from a former current affairs producer and presenter Tlou Moabelo, who paid him the cash to get an extension of her contract at the public service broadcaster after her fixed term expired at the end of January 2018.

The SABC found Sam Mochichila guilty on two charges of gross dishonesty and a contravention of the SABC rules and regulations.

Vuyo Mthembu, SABC spokesperson, says "The SABC can confirm that Sam Mochichila is no longer within the employ of the SABC following a disciplinary hearing".

"This was a matter between the SABC and Sam Mochichila and therefore the SABC will not go into the details or comment further".

Thandi Brewer, the prolific screenwriter-showrunner called 'South Africa's Shonda Rhimes' has died after losing her 3rd battle against cancer.

The showrunner, prolific screenwriter, film producer, director and script editor Thandi Brewer, often called "the Shonda Rhimes of South Africa" has died after losing her third battle against cancer.

The legendary and highly-respected writer-producer-director had a career in South Africa's TV and film industry spanning close to 60 years.

Her legacy stretches beyond the numerous, hugely popular TV shows she created to the vast number of people working in the local entertainment industry today who got a foot in the door and mentorship when they started out, thanks to her.

Not only did Thandi Brewer launch many careers in scriptwriting and directing behind-the-scenes as well as acting in front of the cameras in South Africa, but she also started and was the founder and first chairperson of the influential and growing Writer's Guild of South Africa (WGSA) looking out for writers' interests within the industry.

Beyond TV and film she was also a writer and director of numerous stage productions over many years.

In 2018 on Facebook Thandi Brewer wrote: "I am in the midst of the third round with cancer.".

"The breast cancer metamorphosed into bone cancer attacking the back. Remember the back pain I used to moan about? That wasn’t just 'writers back'. It was cancer which obviously loves me and wants to live with me on a permanent basis. I’ve no idea how those actresses manage to look palely interesting when playing someone with cancer because I look like hell."

The Friends of Thandi Brewer (FTB) Facebook group shared on Wednesday that Thandi Brewer died "at home on her beloved Smoke, with her daughter by her side, her river and her dogs - all she wanted. Thank you so very much to all of you who supported Thandi in her journey with her illness".

Harriet Meier, chairperson of the WGSA, told TVwithThinus on Monday that Thandi Brewer "passed away this morning at around 02:15 after a long battle with cancer. She was in tremendous pain over the last year, but fought and was our pillar of strength until the end".

"Thandi touched so many lives during her time with us, not only as an extremely talented writer, producer, director, teacher and mentor, but also as a friend. Her love embraced all who met her, and she will be greatly missed by many, many people."

"She was the founding member of the Writers' Guild of South Africa (WGSA) and of The Pack, the first writers' cooperative in South Africa."

"While we desperately miss her, we will also celebrate her life and legacy by continuing her work and her vision. Thandi leaves behind her daughter Cody and an extended family of wordsmiths throughout the world."

Thandi Brewer who finally lost her latest battle against cancer was responsible for the film screenplays of movies like Story of an African Farm with Richard E. Grant, De Gerrie for Hugh Masakela and The Chemo Club which marked her directorial debut.

Some of the shows she created for the SABC or steered as showrunner range from Dynamite Diepkloof Dudes, 37 Honey StreetEnd Game, Keeping Score to Usindiso, Sticks and Stones and many more, to Bahati Close the first series produced by M-Net for East Africa where she was the headwriter and trained Kenyan and Uganda writers.

As a script editor she wrote and improved text from shows from SABC1, SABC2, to and M-Net ranging from Society, Tiger, Love Mzansi Style, Borderliners, Hillside, Glory Boys and many more and worked on scripts for international films and more than 24 documentaries.

In March the National Film and Video Foundation (NFVF) honoured her at the 13th South African Film and Television Awards (Saftas) with a special industry achievement award. 

The outpouring on Wednesday following news of Thandi Brewer's death was swift with Thabang Moleya, co-founder of Seriti Films and director of the film Happiness in a Four Letter Word, saying "A true leader and a legend. Thandi Brewer. Rest in power".

"Thandi was a writer/producer of the political drama series I directed called End Game. She wasn't afraid to write and push the story into narratives that would upset people. There was an episode the TV channel refused to air but she fought and wasn't about to listen to anybody, not even the channel that commissioned the project".

"She was someone who would believe in you and challenge you to push yourself. I salute her and the impact she has had on the industry and the people whose lives she touched."

Makhosazana Khanyile, CEO of the National Film and Video Foundation (NFVF), in a statement says "Thandi has played a monumental role in shaping the industry with her work, breaking viewer records and creating much-needed conversation on social issues faced by South Africans on a regular basis".

"In giving back to the industry, she used her talents and expertise to empower emerging and experienced scriptwriters and producers through various NFVF initiatives."

"The NFVF is honoured to have recognised her role at the 13th Saftas where she was awarded a Special Recognition Industry Contribution Award."

"We will forever be grateful for her efforts in passing on her knowledge and paving the way for the youth and practitioners in the film and television industry. We grieve with her family, friends and industry colleagues and hope you all find comfort in this trying time."

M-Net is first in the fightback against video streamers, with this latest trend reshaping traditional broadcasters that is now becoming visible on South African television.

Traditional linear TV in the United States as well as in South Africa are fighting back against the rise of video streaming services and MultiChoice's M-Net is visibly in the lead with the first new trend - longer individual episode lengths for both overseas and local shows on broadcast television.

Longer TV episodes form part of changes in strategy taken by American broadcasters and M-Net months ago and which are now becoming evident to the end-consumer, resulting in the viewer at home getting more story time and less TV commercial time per hour.

After decades of slowly shrinking both hour- and half-hour programming to jam in more ad breaks to increase ad revenue, traditional broadcasters are cutting back and improving the viewing experience by making episode durations longer again.

In order to keep viewers watching more and for longer and to prevent them from flipping the channel or tuning out entirely, broadcast TV channels are willingly cutting down on the advertising minutes per hour and are ordering their TV studio producers to increase the episode duration by a few minutes.

In March 2018 TVwithThinus reported on the business strategy decision by NBCUniversal, FOX and others to decrease TV commercial clutter during episodes on broadcast television for the new TV season, meaning less ad breaks and by implication longer individual episodes that keep viewers watching for longer.

Traditional TV wants to closer emulate the viewing experience of video streaming services that don't do any commercial breaks. Although it means a decrease in TV commercial inventory broadcasters have taken a decision to try and keep audiences "immersed" in a story for longer, with less interruption.

Since South African broadcasters acquiring and scheduling overseas programming have to show episodes as received, it means that they have no choice when receiving longer episodes, but to decrease the ad load per hour as well, meaning less volume that will be available on the traditional 30 seconds ad spot.

Last year it was envisioned that the first evidence and impact of this would be felt by October 2018, but it ended up taking a few months longer. By May 2019 the first of these "longer" shows are now here meaning more show and less ads for DStv subscribers.

Since M-Net and DStv as a pay-TV business buy and schedule new shows and new seasons first, the effect of this new trend will still permeate through and impact the SABC as South Africa's public broadcaster and as a commercial free-to-air broadcaster before long as well.

This trend is set to grow as even more new seasons of existing shows and new shows wash ashore in South Africa.

Seen from The Orville to Survivor SA
The science fiction drama series The Orville on M-Net City (DStv 115) that just started its second season is the first regular American broadcast TV series that now boasts longer individual episodic duration since the new TV season started.

Viewers get more scenes, longer acts, and in total more story per episode. The few minutes more per hour-long episode are making a massive impact on viewing quality although viewers on a superficial level might not realise why a show suddenly feels so much improved and better.

Producers and scriptwriters are able to slightly adjust the pacing and the exposition - there's now literally more time for character scenes and character interaction.

This will happen for a lot of new seasons of American shows like This is Us and a growing number more when they start showing here. It's however not just an American trend. M-Net has also okay'ed a longer duration for certain M-Net Original series.

At the same time as The Orville's new and extended episode duration, the 7th season of Survivor South Africa: Island of Secrets now on M-Net (DStv 101) and produced by Afrokaans, also got the green light to deliver longer episodes.

Individual weekly Survivor SA: Island of Secrets episodes with commercial breaks on M-Net now run over an hour where previously it came in at exactly 60 minutes.

DStv subscribers might not realise that why they like watching the latest season of the local reality show is largely due to the more time that the show has to focus on individual character actions and motivations that previously would have remained in the editing suite video archives.

Without commercials, Survivor SA episodes on M-Net now come in at 55 minutes each.

While viewers get more actual show, on the flipside it means that DStv Media Sales, the ad sales division of MultiChoice, as well as shows themselves, will have to work even harder in future to fully monetise the smaller available ad inventory of TV shows to maximum commercial gain, as well as securing things like headline sponsors and in some cases in-show product placement.

SABC3's Expresso and Afternoon Express produced by Cardova Productions leaving Sea Point studios in Cape Town on Friday after 9 years and moving to Tokai.

SABC3's morning show Expresso and Afternoon Express will leave its studio and office space inside The Equinox Building in Sea Point, Cape Town after 9 years and move to a new studio facility in Tokai from where the shows will broadcast from 24 June.

As TVwithThinus reported yesterday, both shows and the production company are leaving their longtime studio space berth atop the Sea Point high-rise after nearly a decade at the end of this week.

Cardova Productions, sister company of Tswelopele Productions, moved into the 7th floor penthouse space of The Equinox in October 2010 at 154 Main Road in Sea Point on the corner of Main Road and Milton Road where its been doing the weekday Expresso morning show and Afternoon Express from since.

The Hello Doctor/Dr Mol Show/Doctor's Orders show also produced by Cardova for SABC3 was also filmed inside The Equinox until it was axed, as well as programming for shows like Win a Home.

Using the top floor of The Equinox including exterior backdrops for its live broadcast the past 9 years has lend Expresso watchers a fascinating and constantly changing view on the ever-changing seasons and the vagaries of Cape Town's temperamental weather.

SABC3 in response to a media enquiry confirmed the move happening on Friday and says the shows will go live from the new studio on 24 June. 

Cardova Productions and SABC3 were asked why the production company and the shows are moving out of the existing building but didn't respond with an answer.

According to insiders the new studio will be based in the picturesque Westlake in Tokai, close to the Tswelopele Productions head office in the same suburb. 

"This is so that the shows can be loser to that head office," said a source. "Tswelopele and Cardova are sister companies, so it makes sense to house all production for Top Billing, Afternoon Express and Expresso within earshot of each other".

Tuesday, June 11, 2019

BLF group demands Moja Love on DStv and presenter Jub Jub of Uyajola 9/9 apologise by Friday for insulting Xhosas and saying 'I have never seen a nation as promiscuous as the Xhosas'.

The Black First Land First (BLF) group has given the Moja Love (DStv 157) channel on MultiChoice's DStv and the Uyajola 9/9 presenter Jub Jub an ultimatum to apologise to Xhosa people by Friday 14 June or be taken to South Africa's Equality Court.

Molemo Maarohanye known as Jub Jub is the presenter of the controversial new tabloid reality show Uyajola 9/9 that exposes people cheating on their partners and in a promo video on Instagram for an episode said "You've never witnessed what you're about to witness tonight, it is crazy, it is ridiculous. I have never seen a nation as promiscuous as the Xhosas".

Jub Jub then says he has also however never witnessed a group of people who are as loving, forgiving, full of attitude and as stubborn as Xhosas.

"I have never seen as well a loving nation like the Xhosas. I have never seen a nation that forgives like the Xhosas. I have never seen a nation with attitude like Xhosas and I have never seen a stubborn nation like the Xhosas. In a nutshell, the nation is just too much."

The Uyajola 9/9 video that sparked a public backlash also angered Andile Mngxitama, BLF leader, who claims that Jub Jub humiliated and impaired the dignity of Xhosa people.

"This defies the right to freedom of expression and amounts to hate speech," Andile Mngxitama wrote in a letter to Moja Love and its channel head Jacqui Setai.

"Correctly interpreted, Jub Jub's speech impairs the dignity and integrity of a whole group of people by attributing negative traits to it unjustifiably. BLF hereby asks that Jub Jub issues a public apology to the Xhosa speaking people, including the whole of South Africa."

"Secondly BLF asks that Jub Jub undertakes a basic introductory course to Black Consciousness (BC) so as to avoid such mishaps in the future and to understand why tribalism is a bad thing."

"BLF is willing to meet with both Moja Love and Jub Jub to clarify our objections if such is required."

"We ask that the apology be given within 5 working days after receiving this letter, failing which BLF shall lodge a complaint against Jub Jub and Moja Love at the Equality Court in Johannesburg," Andile Mngxitama wrote.

Meanwhile a petition was started by viewers on after Uyajola 9/9 started broadcasting on Moja Love two weeks ago, saying the show is harmful and making "a mockery of black people".

"This show violates our privacy. It destroys families and lives in general. Sign this petition to have it taken down from our TV," Kholofelo Masha, the creator of the petition, wrote.

The petition has now been signed by 982 people so far.

Neither Lindiwe Mbonambi, Moja Love's head of marketing and PR nor Vincent Lubisi, Moja Love sales executive, have responded to a media enquiry asking Moja Love for comment about BLF demanding an apology and also what Moja Love's comment is regarding the petition and people asking for Uyajola 9/9 to be cancelled.

SABC3's morning show Expresso and Afternoon Express both produced by Cardova Productions getting ready to leave its highrise studio nest in The Equinox building after 9 years.

The streets are talking and SABC3's weekday Expresso morning show is apparently getting ready to say adios to its 9-year multi-floor penthouse studio and control room space in The Equinox building in Sea Point in Cape Town for a greener pastures elsewhere in the city.

Word is that the Cardova Productions produced shows Expresso and Afternoon Express will relocate soon to a new building after 9 years of using the 7th floor penthouse of The Equinox Building when Expresso launched in October 2010.

Afternoon Express, also produced by Cardova Productions, followed a while later, also done from the same space inside the building at 154 Main Road in Sea Point on the corner of Main Road and Milton Road.

The Hello Doctor/Dr Mol Show/Doctor Orders show also produced by Cardova for SABC3 was also filmed inside The Equinox until it was axed.

Cardova Productions and SABC3 were asked why the production company and the shows are moving out of the existing building, when the relocation will happen and where the shows will be moving to, but Cardova hasn't yet responded to the media enquiry made last week.

Using the top floor of The Equinox including exterior backdrops for its live broadcast the past 9 years has lend Expresso watchers a fascinating and constantly changing view on the ever-changing seasons and the vagaries of Cape Town's temperamental weather.

SOAP REVOLVING DOOR. Gerard Rudolf dumped from Isidingo on SABC3, Salamina Mosese picked up by Generations on SABC1, Pascal Pienaar gone from Binnelanders on kykNET.

Like sand through the hourglass so are the comings and going from weekday TV soaps in South Africa - Gerard Rudolf has been dumped from Isidingo on SABC3, Salamina Mosese has been added to Generations on SABC1 and Pascal Pienaar exited Binnelanders on kykNET (DStv 144).

Gerard Rudolf who played the character of Hendrik Lategan appeared on-screen for the last time on Isidingo on Monday 10 June when the character of Hendrik was killed off after suffering a brain aneurysm.

In a statement Pomegranate Media now producing Isidingo says "To Gerard Rudolf thank you for sharing your craft and impeccable talent with the Isidingo family and fans. Your presence on and off screen will be sorely missed".

Meanwhile Salamina Mosese has joined Generations: The Legacy, produced by Morula Pictures on SABC1.

The former 7de Laan soap star appears as Christine, the head of marketing at Nova Wines and is responsible for choosing which one of the Moroka brothers is best for her business – Mazwi or Smanga.

In a statement Salamina Mosese says "Getting the chance to join the cast of one of South Africa's biggest soapies is an opportunity I relish. This is another chapter in my love story with TV and acting".

Actress Pascal Pienaar who played Karli in the Afrikaans weekday soap Binnelanders on kykNET (DStv 144) exited the soap in March this year produced by Stark Films, 5 and a half years after she joined in 2005.

In late-May viewers recently saw the character Karli meet her demise who apparently died from a suicide, although all is not what it seems.

M-Net grabs The Amazing Race after Sony folded, season 30 set to start on Sunday 14 July.

M-Net (DStv 101) has scooped up the broadcasting licensing rights to the reality competition show, The Amazing Race, with the 30th season that will start on Sunday 14 July at 18:00.

M-Net originally scheduled The Amazing Race for Fridays at 19:00, starting in June but postponed the show's launch and gave it a better timeslot on Sundays as a lead-in to Carte Blanche.

The long-running and hugely popular American reality series used to be broadcast on SABC3 but in a highly-erratic schedule due to the South African public broadcaster's ongoing financial problems.

The 27th season ended on SABC3 in January this year but the SABC is likely to continue on its own schedule of broadcasting older seasons.

A few years ago Sony Pictures Television Networks grabbed the pay-TV rights of The Amazing Race for The Sony Channel and started showing more up to date seasons, managing to get to the 29th season in August 2018 on the Sony Max channel carried on both MultiChoice's DStv and the Cell C black pay-TV services, after which the channels were shut down and removed in January 2019.

M-Net is now taking over The Amazing Race after Sony folded for South African and African viewers from Sony and will continue from the 30th season, securing the show from Disney Media Distribution that sells the international rights.

The 31st season is currently being shown in the United States on the CBS network.

The 8-episode 30th season starting in July on M-Net will again feature 11 teams of two visiting countries ranging from Zimbabwe and Thailand to Hong Hong, China, Morocco, France and Belgium to Iceland and Bahrain.

Team include engaged lifeguards, goat yoga moms, IndyCar drivers, professional skiers, dating debaters, dating gay violinists, dating reality stars, twins, competitive eaters, former NBA players, models and IndyCar drivers.

Steven Spielberg working on a new series, Spielberg After Dark, that viewers will only be able to watch when it's dark.

Taking advantage of some of the newly afforded options of producing TV content in a video streaming world, the legendary filmmaker and director Steven Spielberg is working on a new series that viewers will only be able to watch when it's dark.

With the working title of Spielberg After Dark, the series that Steven Spielberg is creating as "a super scary story" for yet another upcoming new streaming called Quibi that will be launched in April 2020 by Jeffrey Katzenberg, will only work and play on people's digital devices during night time.

The in-built clocks on mobile devices will allow Spielberg After Dark to play or not.

The series - essentially one long movie - like other content on Quibi - will be released in 10-minute mini-sodes.

"He's writing it himself," Jeffrey Katzenberg said of the show at a press conference on Sunday at the Banff World Media Festival in Canada. "He hasn't written anything in a while so getting him to write something is fantastic."

Viacom's BET getting ready to launch BET+ as a new streaming service in late-2019.

Viacom's BET channel is getting ready to launch its own subscription video-on-demand service (SVOD), BET+ that is set to launch around September this year.

The Wall Street Journal reports that BET+, aimed at black viewers in America, will include original movies and original scripted TV shows, along with content from other Viacom channels like Comedy Central, MTV and VH1.

Shows on BET+ will include the drama series First Wives Club based on the movie, and Peachtree Place, a 10-episode comedy that follows five 30-somethings living in Atlanta as they try to build their personal and professional lives.

At launch, BET+ will be available on Android devices, Amazon Fire, Roku and Apple TV.

Commercials for BET+ are expected to appear during the 2019 BET Awards taking place on 23 June in the United States and one will feature Tyler Perry in conversation about BET+ with his film ater ego Madea.

BET in the United States declined to comment.

Tyler Perry is onboard to promote and supply programming for BET+.

It's not clear if or when BET+ would be made available in South Africa and across sub-Saharan Africa by Viacom International Media Networks Africa (VIMN Africa).

The Walt Disney Company will launch its Disney+ streaming service in November, excluding South Africa and Africa, and WarnerMedia will also launch its as-yet-unnamed streaming service during the fourth quarter of 2019 in the United States as well.

Apple is also planning on launching Apple TV+ at the end of 2019.

Animation series, Lamput, renewed for a third and longer season on Boomerang for 2020.

Turner's Cartoon Network has renewed the animation series, Laput, for a third season that will be broadcast on its sister channel Boomerang (DStv 302) in South Africa and across Africa.

Lamput, a non-dialogue, slapstick chase animation series, follows Lamput, a gooey orange substance who has escaped from a secret laboratory.

Despite the best efforts of scientists Specs Doc and Skinny Doc, Lamput manages to evade them at every turn. It's produced by the Mumbai-based Vaibhav Studios in India and the third season will start in 2020.

Lamput originally started as a 15-second and two-minute shorts, but the new third season will be a mixture of 21 five minute episodes and 21 two minute episodes.

Vaibhav Kumaresh, creator of Lamput and founder of Vaibhav Studios, says "It's great to know that the crazy adventures of Lamput will continue and it’s completely heartening to see the amazing viewership the show has received so far across the globe."

Leslie Lee, the vice president of Cartoon Network and Boomerang in the Asia Pacific, says "From their studio in Mumbai, Vaibhav and his team pour enormous amounts of energy into this creation and it’s awesome to see the results. It’s an excellent achievement for Lamputa homegrown Indian series, to reach a global audience".

TAC Studios co-producing 4 new TV series across Africa including My Design Rules in South Africa with Cape Town's Cardova Productions.

TAC Studios, the production arm of the Africa Channel based in America, is co-producing 4 new TV series across Africa, including My Design Rules with Cape Town's Cardova Productions that will likely be broadcast on the South African public broadcaster's SABC3 channel.

In a statement TAC Studios says that "building on its commitment to invest in talent and foster quality and excellence in media production on the continent, the company is excited to announce new partnerships and productions from across Africa to add to its already extensive and diverse slate of Africa-influenced content".

My Design Rules is a new reality series featuring three interior design duos who represent emerging new creative talent in South Africa who will compete to transform three empty white-box spaces into designer dream homes, one room at a time.

TAC Studios is also producing The Yard with Currency MEDIA in Kenya that tells the story of Dash, a struggling hip-hop artist trying to make it big in Nairobi’s rap scene.

Dash ends up geting caught between his dual lives as a musician and a drug dealer and his loyalties are tested when the authorities come after him and his father.

Second Husband is a scripted drama series based on the Nigerian film of the same name. Second Husband is a co-production between TAC Studios and Biola Alabi Media in Nigeria and will explore the complexities of monogamy as a scorned wife tests the boundaries of marriage and polygamy.

In Cairo in Egypt, TAC Studios is working with Filmedia Productions on the cooking show May’s Kitchen, featuring celebrity chef May Yacoubi who puts her take on North African and Arab Gulf cuisine.

"We are really excited to continue to evolve our network of relationships across the continent cementing our studio as a key hub for pan-African content creation," says Brendan Gabriel, Johannesburg-based head of Creative and Production for TAC Studios.

"The producers and talent - both established and new - who we are working with bring an authentic voice to their storytelling and we want to ensure that their stories are now distributed globally and reach vast new audiences."

Patience Stevens, executive producer at Cardova Productions says "We are pleased to work with TAC Studios on our series, My Design Rules as a first of many future collaborations, building on our prior relationship with its sister company, The Africa Channel, who have successfully introduced our  highly-rated daily show Expresso to audiences in North America and the Caribbean".