Friday, November 16, 2018

eNCA adds puppet show, Almost News with Chester Missing.

eNCA (DStv 403) is adding a puppet show, Almost News with Chester Missing, on Sunday evenings at 19:30 from 25 November as the South African TV news channel ramps up its plans for 2019's election coverage.

Almost News with Chester Missing is a spin-off show from Late Nite News with Loyiso Gola, where the puppet made his first on-air appearance, and is produced by the same production company, Diprente, that did LNN for eNCA until its abrupt cancellation in September 2015.

Chester Missing, created and done by comedian Conrad Koch, has remained upfront in viewers' visage the past three years, with appearances from time to time on eNCA.

Although mercilessly mocked and struggling to get a word in edgewise, South African politicians appear to have a fearful yet awed fascination with the puppet, with politicians from across the political spectrum as well as a variety of public office holders and business high-flyers who have been willing to sit for the satirical, farcical and frenetic interviews with Chester Missing for what they in return crave most: time on television and in the limelight.

eNCA says Almost News with Chester Missing will "take an irreverent look at the current affairs landscape and put high-profile politicians through their paces in interviews only the country's most famous puppet can get away with".

Chester Missing chipped in with a quotable saying "I have my own TV show. I'm a puppet. Have any of you realised how crazy this is? Someone tell Hlaudi. He broke ground for puppets everywhere," referring to the fired former controversial SABC chief operating officer (COO) Hlaudi Motsoeneng who has been a blight on the South African TV industry.

Conrad Koch says "Chester and I are hugely excited to be creating this show with South Africa's best news source, eNCA, and the amazing award-winning team at Diprente".

"South Africa has huge room for incisive, hilarious satire as we move towards elections next year. We want to make Almost News with Chester Missing both well researched and really, really funny."

Mapi Mhlangu, eNCA editor-in-chief says "Over many years Chester has become an integral part of the political firmament and has asked questions of our leaders no one else would dare to".

"And with one or two exceptions, politicians and business leaders love the interchange and are happy to participate. Chester also provides a release valve for South Africans who need to laugh at each other and themselves."

SABC3 schedule disruption due to the Mzansi Super League: Here are the shows getting shelved and how others like Isidingo, Top Billing, the English news bulletin, Bold and the Beautiful and EFC are impacted.

The SABC has had to change the SABC3 schedule to make space for the first Mzansi Super League (MSL) that will be broadcast from today for a month

The Mzansi Super League (MSL) with 6 cricket teams playing in 6 different cities across South Africa will be shown on SABC3 and broadcast on Radio 2000 from 16 November to 16 December.

As a result of the cricket matches a lot of SABC3 shows will be affected including Mela, SafariLive, Afternoon Express, @The Table, The Docket, #WTF Tumi and Trending SA.that are getting shelved.

SABC3 is taking the American weekday soap The Bold and the Beautiful off-air on 21, 28 and 30 November as well as on 5, 7 and 12 December.

The Bold and the Beautiful will remain in its usual timeslot except for these days when it won't be on.

SABC3's local weekday soap Isidingo is moving from 19:00 to 18:00 on 21, 28 and 30 November.

On 5, 7 and 12 December Isidingo will be shown at 18:15 on SABC3.

The English TV news bulletin will move from 21:00 to 20:45 Monday to Saturday and on Sundays to 19:45 for the duration of the tournament.

From 18 November Top Billing is moving to Sundays at 20:00 for the next month.

The EFC Live match on 8 December will be at delayed and will be shown at 23:00 on SABC3.

The Premier League Review Magazine on 27 November, and 4 and 11 December will be broadcast at 23:30.

TV REVIEW. Dynasties on BBC Earth with Sir David Attenborough is agonising, haunting - and painfully beautiful.

Of course, as basically a given, the arrestingly beautiful, masterful new animal series with Sir David Attenborough as narrator starting on Sunday on BBC Earth (DStv 184) at 16:00 will get a score of 5 out of 5 - but here is why you should watch although, yes, it will make you cry: The animals featured in this painfully-beautiful new series needs you to experience their personal struggle for their place in the world.

The sumptuous, poignant and meticulously filmed 5-episode Dynasties is yet another wildlife filmmaking television piece of art from the BBC Studios Natural History unit, this time following 5 animals - a chimpanzee, penguin, lion, painted wolf and a tiger as they struggle to not just defend their place in the world but in what has become man's world.

With a focus on families, an hour of Dynasties flies by with an immersive filmmatic experience and totally engrossing narrative into the animals' epic, daily struggle for survival, captured over hundreds of days and distilled into awe-inspiring stories of an hour each guaranteed to leave you as viewer emotional and moved.

With unexpected - often honestly shocking moments - narrated by Sir David's trusted, tempered and understated tone, beautiful and often heartbreakingly beautiful moments from nature flashes by, detonating emotionally compelling bombs you can't bear to watch, and yet simply can't look away from.

Sunday's first episode covering a troop of chimpanzees in south-east Senegal in West Africa quickly gives the viewer a very clear indication of what's in store in Dynasties: Without the need to antropomorphise, the viewer - consciously or unconsciously - gets a guttural and visceral assault on the senses. You understand what you see as a relatable struggle that humans can identify with.

More than just struggling to live and to stay alive, these animals' survival are intimately and intricately linked to others like them, but also to the (rapidly shrinking) physical space they inhabit and their place in the "hierarchy" within that space.

Unscripted, undiluted animal-world Greek tragedy plays out in Dynasties and just as unpredictable as nature is, so unpredictable is how episodes of the series unfolds. 

As the TV pendulum in Dynasties swings and alternates between heartbreaking and happy moments, the viewer gets a true sense of the never-ending power struggle these iconic animals are tied to every single waking moment of their lives, captured over the course of four years.

Just like the animals, while watching Dynasties, viewers don't dare let their guard down.

It's agonising. It's haunting. It's painfully beautiful. Which is precisely why Dynasties is absolutely must-watch television.

ALSO READ: 5 animals fight for survival in BBC Studios' 'cinematic, unpredictable and compelling' new natural history series Dynasties starting Sunday on BBC Earth.
ALSO READ: IN PHOTOS. The South African media launch of BBC Studios' amazing new natural history animal series, Dynasties, and IMAX press screening.
ALSO READ: 'Sir David Attenborough said he though we were mad': Here are 5 things about BBC Studios' beautiful new natural history series, Dynasties, you want to know. 
ALSO READ: INTERVIEW. 'We had an idea of what might happen. What actually did happen ... ' Rose Thomas, producer and director of the Dynasties chimpanzee episode, talks about her experience making the new BBC Studios 'Game of Thrones'-like natural history series. adds new self-packaged eReality channel for its Openview platform.

eMedia Investments is starting its self-packaged eReality channel on Monday, 19 November on its free-to-air Openview satellite TV service.

eReality will run on channel 108 on Openview, and will broadcast reality shows featuring real-life stories, fascinating personalities and human emotion in its rawest form and include shows themed around crime, paranormal activity, nature, adventure, medical anomalies, outrageous obsessions and bizarre behaviour.

Some of the channel's programmes include Little Women: LA, Cheaters, Hoarding: Buried Alive, Pawn Stars, Botched! and Myth Busters.

Shows like Border Security: America’s Frontline and Untold Stories of the ER will show viewers the worlds of law enforcement and emergency medicine, while fans of extreme adventure reality will be able to tune in for Python Hunters and Running Wild with Bear Grylls

eReality's launch line-up also includes shows like Dating Naked and My Strange Addiction.

eReality will also cater to true crime fans with a number of international crime documentaries and series, including Aaron Hernandez Uncovered, The Case Of Caylee Anthony, The Disappearance of Natalie Holloway, Unspeakable Crime: The Killing Of Jessica Chambers, #killerpost and Buried In The Backyard.

"Reality television shows continue to grow in popularity around the world, and we are thrilled to bring Openview viewers a standalone channel dedicated to showcasing some of the best reality content available," says Marlon Davids, managing director of channels.

"We have paid careful attention to the mix of programming on the channel to make sure that there is something special for all reality TV fans and have no doubt that our viewers will love this channel."

Thursday, November 15, 2018

INTERVIEW. 'We had an idea of what might happen. What actually did happen ... ' Rose Thomas, producer and director of the Dynasties chimpanzee episode, talks about her experience making the new BBC Studios 'Game of Thrones'-like natural history series.

Before the start of the BBC's new Dynasties, with Sir David Attenborough as narrator, starting this Sunday on BBC Earth (DStv 184) for 5 episodes, Rose Thomas, the director and producer of the first episode, sat down to talk about this Game of Thrones-like new natural history series and following chimpanzees in Africa in the first episode, saying that what the camera crew captured, nobody could have foreseen ...

How is it possible for the camera to get so close to the animals and them not appearing to be aware or perturbed?
Rose Thomas: We filmed with long lenses. For our chimpanzee episode we had a new kind of long lens so we could zoom in quite a lot, but also with this troop we worked alongside scientists.

The scientists studying this troop of chimps have been there for nearly 20 years and so have habituated them to the human presence, and we followed their protocols. That allowed us to get very close and to follow them. We would find them in the morning and then follow them through the day.

How close is close?
Rose Thomas: About 12 metres. Unless when we were filming and they came towards us. Then you don't move. You stay still. They're walk past you or sit down. But you don't want to let them think that they're displacing you.

So they sit down; you wait 30 seconds or so, and then you get up and move. But most of the time it was about 12 metres.

What was a typical day like for you?
Rose Thomas: It was probably the most physically and mentally tough project I've ever done.

Out get-up time was 4:15am if we were lucky, 3:30am if we were unlucky and we would travel out, and get out the car and be on foot. And the territory of these chimps are 92 square kilometres, so we would walk anywhere between 5 and 15 miles per day, and we'd have to carry all our own equipment - just 3 people filming the chimps.

So we had to carry about 80 kg between three people. The temperatures were often in the 40 degrees Celcius, so it was physically incredibly demanding but we became quite passionate and obsessive about it. We just really wanted to tell the story. It was just such a unique position to be in.

And the story - we just would never have been able to do it - because it's so unlike the other landmark series that have come before it. It's a very different type of film. We just hunkered down and got on with it.

You're obviously not going to give the ending away of your chimpanzee episode, but if you could allude or expand a little: When you started you yourself didn't know how things would turn out. How did it meet your expectation, did something happen that you didn't expect or couldn't have foreseen?
Rose Thomas: The first thing to note was that it was incredibly high-risk.

I'm surprised the BBC commissioned it actually because all 5 of us producers set off into our own countries and we just had no idea what was going to happen.

We had a sense of what might happen, but we really didn't know how that was going to unfold. Because we were all able to work with scientists, they could give us some insight. For the chimps for example we knew the individuals and their personalities, and we knew who was the alpha male, and we knew who were potential rivals. We knew the hierarchy.

We had an idea of what might happen. What actually did happen ... it definitely was unexpected - and not just in the chimp film but across the board we were able to capture new behaviours.

I hope viewers come away from this one really better understanding chimp society, and just what it takes to be a leader, and to continue to grow your dynasty.

When you work so closely with these animals for such a long period of time, you must become emotionally involved. How as a person do you cope with that?
Rose Thomas: I think that all of the producers on this series are quite obsessive and passionate and that that comes out in our films.

I think you just can't help but to become emotionally attach. For me, in order to tell David the chimpanzee's story, from David's perspective, I just had to understand - in the best possible way I could - what he was experiencing every single day.

So you do become emotionally attached, and I felt as if I went on a real emotional roller-coaster with him but I think that was the only way to bring these real stories to screen.

What would you say is a must-see moment?
Rose Thomas: Because they're all stories that develop over the whole hour, each one is much more like a drama in that way. It's much more Game of Thrones type of story-telling.

I'm thinking like in Blue Planet II the whale carrying her dead baby, and the plastic. I'm sure there's going to be such moments in Dynasties?
Rose Thomas: There are some extraordinary moments of behaviour that are unique and that have never been seen and that will surprise every single viewer during the course of the series.

I think that telling you what they are would be massive spoilers. When you see it you will understand. There are just some extraordinary scenes in every single episode.

What went into the decision of choosing these 5 animals as the subjects?
Rose Thomas: We chose them because they're iconic animals but we tried to find endangered animals to show and help people to understand these animals and why we should work to protect and try to save them.

Did you ever feel in danger?
Rose Thomas: Overall we felt really safe. But the chimps can get quite aggressive when they're having fights within their own troop.

There's nothing aimed at you at all, but you've suddenly got a group of screaming chimps around you. These chimps in Senegal - they throw rocks, and they're pretty heavy. And when they get into a fight and they start hurling those, that was probably the only time I felt let's just go back a little bit.

Other than that I never felt any threat and to be honest I just felt so privileged just to be in that position and get to know them and to get an insight into their different world.

What did you learn from the chimps?
Rose Thomas: I always thought that for the alpha male, life was pretty good you know.

You're at the top and you get the best of everything; life's great. But actually I realised that it's an incredibly difficult position to be in.

David as the alpha male was always in the centre of everything even when he would try to sneak off to the side. The pressure on him was just always immense and I don't think I ever really appreciated that before.

Also chimp society is incredibly intriguing to watch. It's incredibly political. I knew it was complex but I didn't realise just how complex it was.

What makes Dynasties different?
Rose Thomas: With a lot of the other big series you see snapshots and we as filmmakers would go to those locations and spend maybe a month there, maybe 6 weeks,to capture the key piece of behaviour that we want to show.

Dynasties allowed us to go and show what happens the rest of the time and what it actually really takes to be a chimp in this troop in Senegal, or be a lion in the middle of the Masai Mara, and what it takes to stay leader and to keep your family alive and survive in whatever threats are posed to their habitat.

Dynasties on BBC Earth is a very different offering. It's a very different way of making a film as well. It was so high-risk. We started and we had absolutely no idea what was going to happen. Just the whole process was different.

And the camera equipment?
Rose Thomas: We used a RED camera with a 50 to 1 000 lens which allowed us to get a lot of the really stunning close-ups of the chimps that you will see.

We used a Phantom Flex for a lot of the high-speed stuff, and we also used a "movvie" stabilisation gimbal system for a lot of the tracking shots.

I think I maybe killed my cameraman in the process because it's quite tough on your back but I felt that it would be the best way to really give the audience an idea of moving with the troop and what it was like travelling with that troop and I think that's what the movvie brought to it.

ALSO READ: 5 animals fight for survival in BBC Studios' 'cinematic, unpredictable and compelling' new natural history series Dynasties starting Sunday on BBC Earth.
ALSO READ: IN PHOTOS. The South African media launch of BBC Studios' amazing new natural history animal series, Dynasties, and IMAX press screening.
ALSO READ: 'Sir David Attenborough said he though we were mad': Here are 5 things about BBC Studios' beautiful new natural history series, Dynasties, you want to know.
ALSO READ: TV REVIEW. Dynasties on BBC Earth with Sir David Attenborough is agonising, haunting - and painfully beautiful.

'Sir David Attenborough said he though we were mad': Here are 5 things about BBC Studios' beautiful new natural history series, Dynasties, you want to know.

"Sir David Attenborough said he though we were mad."

So says Michael Gunton, executive producer of the new natural history series, Dynasties, from the BBC Studios Natural History Unit.

Dynasties starts this Sunday on BBC Earth (DStv 184) at 16:00, with the first episode that will also be shown at the same time on BBC Brit (DStv 120) and BBC Lifestyle (DStv 174) on MultiChoice's DStv satellite pay-TV service.

The 5 beautiful, harrowing, shocking, delightful, surprising and awe-inspiring episodes of Dynasties each follows a different animal around the world - from a chimpanzee, a lioness and a painted wolf in Africa, to a penguin in Antarctica and a tiger in India.

Here are 5 things about Dynasties you'd like to know.

1. Sir David Attenborough thought it was a mad idea
 "Dynasties is a much grittier journey into the natural world, but it's an important one," says Michael Gunton. "I came up with the idea about 5 years ago. With previous series like Planet Earth or The Blue Planet we normally use a God's eye view of the world."

"I wondered if there was another way of telling the stories of the natural world. We never really focused on seeing this moment in time where the animals are at a fork in the road, where their lives will change fundamentally depending on which direction they take."

"Of course it's quite a dangerous thing to embark on; if nothing of interest happens, you've got nothing to make a film. Say you're making Planet Earth II and you spend 3 months trying to film a lion hunt. If it doesn't work, it doesn't matter because you can go and film a tiger hunt or something instead."

"But if you decide you're going to spend all your efforts on just one particular chimpanzee troop, and specifically one individual, and the animal dies or nothing happens or filming permissions change, you're completely stuck."

"It's quite risky, and Sir David Attenborough said he thought we were mad. But while the risks were high, the potential benefits were also very high because if it sworks, the drama - the potential for true drama - is unprecedented."

2. Moving moments
"Every episode has very moving moments, where you see heroic struggles against the odds," says Michael Gunton.

"There are also extraordinary moments of connectivity where you absolutely empathise with the animals."

3. Animal nobility
"I hope that people will see these great charismatic animals in ways they've never seen them before," says Rupert Barrington, Dynasties series producer.

"By spending vast amounts of time time with each, our teams have been able to record what their whole lives are actually like, as opposed to just a single moment."

"They have watched these animals face up to immense challenges and great change with extraordinary resilience. What really comes through in the episodes is that for these animals, life is really, really hard."

"There's a nobility in how they act, whatever is thrown at them. I think because often they're struggling against universal challenges, you can't help but connect with their struggle. You feel for them - sadness at moments of tragedy and joy when they triumph."

4. Filming facts
Up to 100 km per day driven in search of tigers - 25 000 km in total - over halfway around the Earth.

309 days of filming for just the chimpanzee episode, 402 days filming the lion episode.

-44.3 degrees Celcius was the lowest temperature the crew experienced in Antarctica filming the penguin episode (62 days is how long the crew went without seeing the sun).

22 tyre punctures filming the painted wolf episode.

5. Incredible surprises
Dynasties delivers whopping - and often gut-wrenching - surprises right from the very first episode. Be warned, be delighted; be surprised.

"About the penguin episode says Lindsay McCrae, cameraman: "Over a period of days of a storm, the whole colony of penguins could shift quite a distance because they're constantly peeling off, which pushed them closer and closer to this gully."

"And then we had an almighty storm that prevented us from filming, and we thought, 'Crickey, what are we going to see when we get back there?' What happened next - well, I guess everyone will see when they watch the episode."

ALSO READ: 5 animals fight for survival in BBC Studios' 'cinematic, unpredictable and compelling' new natural history series Dynasties starting Sunday on BBC Earth.
ALSO READ: IN PHOTOS. The South African media launch of BBC Studios' amazing new natural history animal series, Dynasties, and IMAX press screening.
ALSO READ: INTERVIEW. 'We had an idea of what might happen. What actually did happen ... ' Rose Thomas, producer and director of the Dynasties chimpanzee episode, talks about her experience making the new BBC Studios 'Game of Thrones'-like natural history series.
ALSO READ: TV REVIEW. Dynasties on BBC Earth with Sir David Attenborough is agonising, haunting - and painfully beautiful.

IN PHOTOS. The South African media launch of BBC Studios' amazing new natural history animal series, Dynasties, and IMAX press screening.

On Thursday afternoon BBC Studios Africa held a press day in South Africa for its new, upcoming natural history documentary series, Dynasties, starting on Sunday on BBC Earth (DStv 184) at 16:00.

The Dynasties media launch included a roundtable interview session on Thursday afternoon with one of the producer/directors, Rose Thomas, and a press screening at the IMAX cinema at the Mall of Africa in Midrand, Johannesburg, on Thursday evening.

The afternoon kicked off with a press gaggle doing a Q&A with Rose Thomas, who jetted to South Africa and who was the director and producer of the first of the five episodes of Dynasties, entitled "Chimpanzee", and that was filmed in south-east Senegal in West Africa.

The poor Rose is clearly adept at working with animals and being comfortable among them in close proximity in their natural habitat. She diplomatically fielded questions from the diverse media, ranging from climate change to "what do you love about the series?".

Besides the press and celebrities, BBC Africa executives, viewers and fans (several with kids!) showed up for the big-screen press preview of the first episode, that - of course - turned out to be very emotional.

The BBC gave guests drinks and popcorn in Dynasties branded containers, and there were additional lovely snacks with paper straws and paper cups, as well as champagne.

Too dark to photograph (except for one photo) - but lovely, inventive, playful and perfectly scene and theme setting - is how the BBC transformed that dark walk-in corridor leading into the IMAX cinema.

The hallway before you get to your seat was filled plants and an abundance of foliage, little lights and speakers pumping out jungle noises.

Everybody grabbed their snacks and then walked down this Dynasties "jungle tunnel" that felt similar as when you're going through or walking down the queue of an animal theme park "ride" to get to your seat. It was very well done.

I literally and shamelessly walked down this "jungle path" with popcorn, Coca-Cola and a glass of champagne, going to TV safari.

(Keep in mind that the IMAX didn't shut down. It remained a working, commercial space. Afterwards staffers and workers jumped to clean the cinema interior very quickly as guests left, with throngs of people already lined up outside and waiting to enter for their paid-for movie.)

After the screening of the first episode, Joel Churcher, vice-president and general manager of BBC Studios for Africa, talked to Rose Thomas and asked her some questions, as she also took several questions from the extremely interested in-cinema audience with the help of roving mics.

The first episode of Dynasties with Sir David Attenborough as narrator will be on BBC Earth but also be shown on the same time on MultiChoice's DStv on BBC Brit (DStv 120) and BBC Lifestyle (DStv 174) this Sunday at 16:00.

5 animals fight for survival in BBC Studios' 'cinematic, unpredictable and compelling' new natural history series Dynasties starting Sunday on BBC Earth.

BBC Studios' "cinematic, unpredictable and compelling" new natural history series Dynasties starts Sunday on BBC Earth (DStv 184) at 16:00, offering an arresting glimpse into the lives of 5 different animals - a chimpanzee, penguin, lion, painted wolf and a tiger - each locked in a dramatic fight for survival.

Made by the world renowned and multi-award winning BBC Studios Natural History Unit and narrated by Sir David Attenborough, this cinematic and emotionally charged series is a new kind of natural history event that follows five of the most celebrated and endangered animals on the planet.

Dynasties will take viewers to the frontline of the animal world and show what it really takes to survive, thrive and truly be the greatest of their kind.

"Dynasties follows the lives of animals in detail, each fighting for survival and the future of their lineage. These are some of the most dramatic scenes you'll ever see," said Joel Churcher, vice-president and general manager of BBC Studios for Africa.

Joel Churcher spoke on Wednesday evening before the BBC Studios press screening in South Africa of the first episode that took place at the Imax cinema at the Mall of Africa in Midrand, Johannesburg, and where the media, members of the public, advertisers and other guests audibly gasped in surprise and shock at some of the unexpected, emotional and surprising scenes captured in vivid detail in the new documentary series.

"For each episode of Dynasties, the BBC crew spent hundreds of days in iconic locations, home to each of the animals. We join these animals at a critical moment in their lives," said Joel Churcher.

"The first episode follows a chimpanzee leader, David, battling for his position and his live on the each of the Sahara in the Kedougou regions in south-east Senegal in West Africa."

"The series then follows a thousand Emperor penguins gathering on the frozen wastes of the Antarctic in the coldest and cruelest place on Earth; and a powerful lioness in the Kenyan Maasai Mara abandoned by her male protectors leading a family against the greatest dangers of the African savannah."

"On the floodplains of Mana Pools National Park in Northern Zimbabwe there's a feud between a mother and daughter painted wolf threatening the future of one of the last great families of their kind, and in jungles of Bandhavgarh, India there's a tigress attempting to raise a family under the every-growing pressures of rivals and humanity."

"The first episode following David - not named after Sir David Attenborough - and his troop and is a really powerful story."

"It took 309 days to film and started at 04:00 in the morning every day and wrapped up at 19:00 in scorching 40 degrees and the film crew having to walk 24 km every day. The film technique of Dynasties is cinematic, unpredictable and compelling," said Joel Churcher.

"We're so excited about Dynasties that we're not just showing it on BBC Earth (DStv 184) at 16:00 this coming Sunday but also on BBC Brit (DStv 120) and BBC Lifestyle (DStv 174) to ensure that all DStv subscribers can watch it at the same time. And you can watch it on DStv Catch Up, and for those of you with a connected Explora you can watch it on DStv Catch Up Plus."

Rosie Thomas, the producer and director of the first chimpanzee episode was also in attendance on Wednesday evening.

"Filming the chimpanzees for over 300 days out in a remote corner of Senegal, was an experience of a life time," said Rosie Thomas.

"It was tough going, with long days on foot and high heats, but the group took us on an incredible journey of power struggles, friendships and politics, all shot against one of the most unusual landscapes I have ever seen chimps in."

"We worked with a fantastic team of local Senegalese experts, without whom we never would have been able to capture the epic story of David and his group."

Wednesday, November 14, 2018

SPI International signs channels carriage agreements with Telkom, Vodacom and TV2GO in South Africa.

SPI International continues to expand the presence of its channels in South Africa and has signed additional channels carriage agreements with Telkom, Vodacom and the new free streaming service, TV2GO, run by CAST TV/Infinivy SA, for its set of Box channels.

SPI International's channels are already carried on Cell C black, Cell C's subscription video-on-demand (SVOD) service that includes linear channels.

Per SPI International's deals, its channels will now be available through both Telkom and and Vodacom in South Africa.

The available channels include FilmBox Africa, FilmBox ArtHouse, DocuBox, FightBox, Fast & Fun, FashionBox, 360TuneBox and Gametoon.

"To meet growing demand for TV consumption on mobile devices in Africa we wanted to ensure that Telkom and Vodacom mobile subscribers have access to SPI's premium content via CAST TV/Infinivy platform in South Africa," says Amrit Karni, the head of distribution for SPI International in Africa, in a statement.

"We are excited to work with CAST TV/Infinivy, and I am sure that South Africa will only be the start of our cooperation.

Yaron Chen, Infinivy CEO in the statement says "Adding SPI's channels to our TV2GO platform, with its diverse genres and program offerings, allows us to boost our entertainment content line-up in order to meet the demands of our viewers".

Zee Entertainment's general entertainment channel Zee World switches to HD on MultiChoice's DStv.

Zee Entertainment's general entertainment channel Zee World (DStv 166) is switching to a high definition (HD) broadcast on MultiChoice's DStv satellite pay-TV platform from Thursday, 15 November.

"We're extremely excited to bring our most popular shows in high definition to our viewers," says Harish Goyal, CEO of Asia Pacific and Africa at Zee International.

"The crisp viewing will undoubtedly add a level of enjoyment to the shows." 

Zee says its switch to HD reconfirms Zee World's growing popularity in the Southern African marketplace.

The Broadcast Research Council of South Africa's recent results of its brands and services survey (January to June 2018) listed Zee World amongst the "channels that are rapidly gaining traction".

Zee World programming include the drama series, Twist of Fate chronicling the life of Abhi whose accident has turned his life around, causing him and Pragya to be pulled apart. However, despite trials and tribulations standing in the way of their joy they stand firm in their pursuit of happiness.

Gangaa tells the story of a young girl, married off as a child bride. She suddenly becomes a widow and orphan when both her husband and father die on her wedding day. Sent to a home for widows, she finds herself fighting injustice as she is forced to life a mundane life with no future.

Young Dreams celebrates adolescence, depicting the lives of two teenage girls, Gunjan and Rachna.

Netflix South Africa adds new Ultra package at R239 per month with superior sound quality - but there's a catch.

Netflix South Africa has added a new Ultra package at R239 per month with superior sound quality - but there's a catch: It's not available to everyone.

Netflix SA's new Ultra package at R239 per month is the new most expensive Netflix package in rand terms, topping Premium at R169 pm, Standard at R139 pm, and Basic at R99 pm.

Until now Ultra wasn't available in South Africa. Netflix SA's Ultra offers "highest quality audio" besides the same characteristics as Premium and including UHD streaming.

Netflix SA tells TVwithThinus in response to a media enquiry that "We continuously test new things at Netflix with the goal of improving our members' experience".

"In this case, we are testing slightly different price points and features to better understand how consumers value Netflix. Not everyone will see the test, and we may not ever offer the specific price points or features beyond this test."

Netflix started testing Ultra since July internationally with the company that said it will also start to test cheaper packages in specific regions worldwide to discover consumers' appetite for different tiers.

TNT going HD, Ben 10 sold to SABC, Showmax getting content from [adult swim], as Turner holds its first-ever Turner Upfront Africa event.

At Turner's first-ever Turner Upfront Africa event held on Tuesday in Johannesburg, Turner made several announcements and a programming slate, as well as new local partnerships, a pop-up channel coming for 2019 and that TNT (DStv 137) will be upgraded to a high definition channel.

At the Turner Africa Upfront held at The Galleria in Sandton, Turner announced that the TNT channel carried on MultiChoice's DStv satellite pay-TV platform will soon be switched to high definition (HD).

It comes after MultiChoice and Turner replaced the outdated TCM that had little relevance to African audiences in mid-September with TNT. The channel's viewership since September to October jumped by 45%.

Content from Turner's Cartoon Network and Boomerang linear TV channels will also be available from today on an on-demand basis on Naspers' subscription video-on-demand (SVOD) video streaming service, Showmax run by MultiChoice.

In a new distribution deal with Showmax, Turner is also making content from its [adult swim] animation channel available to a millennial audience on Showmax from mid-November. 

[adult swim], one of Turner's TV channels overseas,offers a mix of animation, stop motion and live-action comedy that will be available on Showmax.

Plans are also underway to produce original digital productions to further localise Turner's online platforms. "We are currently in discussions to produce an exclusive local version of our YouTuber, Toony, for our African digital platforms," says Julien Borde, the head of Channels for Africa at Turner.

In a deal with the South African public broadcaster, the animation series Ben 10 will be broadcast on the SABC. It will also help Turner to bring its kids content to South African and African viewers in vernacular languages.

Following the first season Ben 10 premiere in July, Turner will rebroadcast the first season on SABC2 in Afrikaans and on SABC1 in SiSwati before the end of this year.

"Partnering with the SABC reflects our strategy to expand our brands' presence in South Africa," says Guillaume Coffin, the vice-president head of sales and business development at Turner for the Africa region.

"We are thrilled to bring Ben 10 to new fans and audiences across more screens and in new languages. Turner is dedicated to a localisation strategy that adapts to the cultural differences of its African markets," he says, adding that "this effort has helped Turner address the gap in locally-relevant content, drive programming that resonates with African audiences, and boost brand value across the continent".

Turner is also working on a Super Hero HQ animation pop-up channel that will run in MultiChoice's DStv in 2019.

Then Turner also plans to debut Mike and Rob on Cartoon Network in 2019, a new animation series about two witty microbes making jokes with local comedian Trevor Gumbi supplying a localised voice-over.

"As Turner, our audience needs are becoming more pertinent and we're constant challenging ourselves to be more innovative and creative in our offering to keep attracting and entertaining our loyal fan base on-air, online and for real," says Jaime Ondarza, the senior vice-president for Turner Southern Europe & Africa and CEO of Boing SpA.

"We are benefiting from high awareness and a great level of brand recognition with our brands in Africa."

"CNN International is widely known to be the most trusted source for news and information on the continent while our kids' channels, Cartoon Network and Boomerang, have been leading and gaining market share within the pay-TV kids industry for almost 4 years now."

SABC DAY ZERO: Literally crumbling and cracking, SABC now facing Day Zero collapse by March 2019 as it's unable to pay salaries; workers complaining about where the biscuits went.

Fast running out of its last available cash, the SABC is now facing its own "Day Zero": By February 2019 the broadcaster will no longer be able to pay full staff salaries and by March 2019 the SABC will completely collapse and not be able to pay any salaries while workers - facing mass retrenchment amidst drastic cost-cutting measures - are complaining about where the biscuits went that they've always enjoyed.

The SABC board and executives of the commercially insolvent South African public broadcaster appeared before parliament's portfolio committee on Tuesday, telling shocking tales of a dire SABC on the edge of a financial precipice that is literally crumbling away.

SABC restrooms have run out of hand towels that are no longer available, staffers have to appease angry suppliers over the phone and explain why they're not getting paid which wasn't part of their original job description, and a massive chunk of debris recently came falling down at the SABC's Auckland Park headquarters where the building has cracks where the SABC can no longer afford to do basic maintenance.

Chris Maroleng, SABC chief operating officer (COO), told parliament that at the SABC - that the Auditor-General (AG) in September declared a non-going concern - workers are complaining about where their biscuits went, "something they were used to".

Meanwhile the SABC is looking at getting rid of up to a third of its full-time workforce - 891 of its 3 376 workers and half of its freelancers - 1 200 of 2 400 by February 2019 - telling parliament that at the bloated broadcaster up to 4 people are being paid to do the same job.

The SABC told parliament that it urgently needs R3 billion as a government bailout just to continue to pay staff salaries.

"The reality is that without the money being injected into SABC, we are in a dire situation and this SABC will collapse. Come March 2019, it will collapse," Bongumusa Makhathini told parliament.

'March 2019 is our Day Zero.'
In trying to cut back the SABC that has been struggling to pay producers for content, has agreed to paid them less, shifting a massive burden to South Africa's TV production industry now bearing the brunt of the SABC's financial woes.

Mathatha Tsedu, SABC board member told parliament "We have negotiated terms with content suppliers; people who provide the SABC with content like Muvhango, Generations, Uzalo and who produce the content at own expense. They give it to us, we can't even pay them."

"We have negotiated terms, we owe them R20 million a month, but we pay them R5 million. So every month, the accumulation of the debts just keeps increasing. But these producers are using their own money to finance the SABC's operation."

We've negotiated terms with Sentech. Sentech takes us into broadcasting. We provide 60% of Sentech's income. We can't pay them. And when we can't pay them it puts the entire broadcasting industry in jeopardy."

"The same applies to Samro whose music we play on our radio stations, and SuperSport who gives us the PSL games. All those people are not being paid the monies owed to them. We're renegotiating sport rights - all the fiasco around Bafana and SAFA revolves around the fact that we can't pay what SAFA wants us to pay."

"Some days you go into the SABC toilets and there are no hand towels because the cost-cutting have gone that deep."

"We haven't maintained our buildings for a very long time. Last week a huge chunk fell from the reception of the Radio Park building. The people responsible for the maintenance of our buildings have been warning that there are cracks there - something is going to happen. But we don't have the money. We're only dealing with what is broadcast critical," Mathatha Tsedu said.

"If there is a crack up there and it doesn't stop us from going on air, we will not fix it until that rock falls down. And one day, it is going to fall on someone."

Mathatha Tsedu said "now these invoices that we are not honouring are from companies that employ people but from our side we prioritise payment of our staff".

"Our staff every day have to deal with calls from these people who supply us with services, whose companies are going under because we can't pay."

"At every turn I have to say to say to them [SABC staff] 'I apologise', because when we hired them as accountants,it was not one of the key performance indicators (KPIs) that they were going to have with explaining to people why we can't pay. They were supposed to process payments but now we're putting them in a very bad situation."

"At the end of January 2019 we will get to a point where we will be able to pay salaries and a few other things. February 2019 we might not even be able to pay full salaries. March 2019 is our Day Zero."

Madoda Mxakwe, SABC CEO said "we've significantly cut programming and film cost which is our core business. It has not helped us, particularly in terms of attracting audiences".

Chris Maroleng said "investment in programming and film has been reduced by between 30% and 50% which is quite significant".

About cost-cutting at the SABC he said "It's as basic now as reducing the amount of milk, the amount of bottled water, the amount of basic commodities within the business."

"Some of our staff even complain that they don't get biscuits which was one of the things that they used to have," said Chris Maroleng.

IN PHOTOS. Do everything turn, turn, turn: Turner's first-ever (and colourful) Turner Upfront Africa dazzles with a rotary, turntable stage.

On Tuesday Turner held its first-ever Turner Upfront event for Africa, with the international content and channels distributor that showed, and talked about, its current and upcoming content and channel plans.

The media and TV critics, as well as TV, PR and marketing executives, advertisers and ad execs all filled The Galleria in Sandton, Johannesburg as Turner executives from France, responsible for South Africa and Africa, made content announcements and talked about Turner's multi-faceted portfolio and brand strategy for and in the African continent.

Turner distributes channels and content like CNN International, Cartoon Network, Toonami, Boing, Boomerang, [adult swim], Ben 10, The Powerpuff Girls, TNT and others worldwide and throughout 54 of Africa's English, French and Portuguese speaking countries.

Turner's content can be found on operators like satellite pay-TV platforms such as MultiChoice's DStv, Naspers' subscription video-on-demand (SVOD) service Showmax, Cell C's SVOD service Cell C black, broadcasters like the SABC, and others.

Turner clever constructed and used a rotary, turntable stage to "turn" from the one to the next custom-made set for the late afternoon presentation.