Wednesday, April 8, 2020

Coronavirus: South Africa's communications minister Stella Ndabeni-Abrahams placed on 2-months 'special leave' with one month unpaid after dinner-on-Insta event surfaces during Covid-19 national lockdown period.

by Thinus Ferreira

South Africa's recalcitrant communications minister Stella Ndabeni-Abrahams has been placed on 2 months of "special leave" by the country's president with one month which will be unpaid after an image was posted publicly by a former deputy minister of Stella doing dinner at his home during South Africa's 21-day national lockdown period.

South Africa's former deputy minister of higher education and training, Mduduzi Manana, posted a picture to Instagram of Stella Ndabeni-Abrahams and others having a meal at his house, saying "It was great to host a former colleague and dear sister cadre Stella Ndabeni-Abrahams on her way back from executing critical and essential services required for the effective functioning of our country during the nationwide lockdown."

Once criticism started, he deleted the Instagram post which was already shared widely.

Jackson Mthembu, the minister in the presidency will act in Stella Ndabeni-Abrahams' position the presidency announced. Cyril Ramaphosa reprimanded Stella Ndabeni-Abrahams but refused to fire her as other countries like Scotland and New Zealand did, and ordered her to make a public apology to South Africa.

Cyril Ramaphosa accepted Stella Ndabeni-Abrahams' apology for violating the rules of South Africa's national lockdown to try and curb the spread of the Covid-19 novel coronavirus in the country but says that he was "unmoved by mitigating factors she tendered".

"The nationwide lockdown calls for absolute compliance on the part of all South Africans. Members of the national executive carry a special responsibility in setting an example to South Africans, who are having to make great sacrifices," says Cyril Ramaphosa in a statement.

"None of us – not least a member of the national executive – should undermine our national effort to save lives in this very serious situation. I am satisfied that Stella Ndabeni-Abrahams appreciates the seriousness of what she has done and that no-one is above the law."

Cyril Ramaphosa says he disapproves of Stella Ndabeni-Abrahams' actions which he says "undermines the requirement that all citizens stay at home and save South Africa from the spread of the coronavirus".

Tuesday, April 7, 2020

Coronavirus: Netlix announces updated parental controls in South Africa for kids using the video streaming service.

by Thinus Ferreira

Netflix has announced updated parental controls for kids viewing on the video streaming service.

Netflix says parents can now PIN protect individual profiles to prevent kids using them; tailor their kids' Netflix experience by filtering out titles that are not appropriate for their age, and that the streamer has built these filters using South Africa's country age restriction ratings so that they are more intuitive.

Netflix has made it possible to now remove individual series or films from a profile by title.

When this filter is used, the blocked title(s) won't show up anywhere in that specific profile.

It's now also possible to review each profile's setting using the "Profile and Parental Controls" hub within account settings.

Parents can also see what their kids have been watching within the profile created for them; and can also turn off auto-play of episodes in kids profiles.

Netflix says that everyone can now add these new, improved controls to their profile by going to account settings on their mobile or laptop.

"Choice and control have always been important for our members, especially parents. We hope that these additional controls will help parents make the right choices for their families," says Netflix.

Coronavirus: ANC-secretariat slams South Africa's public broadcaster, says SABC not doing enough to fulfill its mandate and must do more educational, informative and consistent broadcasting on Covid-19.

by Thinus Ferreira

The ANC-secretariat in a letter to president Cyril Ramaphosa is slamming the South African public broadcaster, saying that the SABC is not doing enough to fulfill its public broadcasting mandate during the Covid-19 novel coronavirus outbreak and 21-day national lockdown period in the country and that the SABC needs to do more educational, informative and consistent broadcasting on Covid-19.

The letter, signed by Ace Magashule (ANC secretary-general), Solly Mapaila (SACP first deputy general-secretary) and Bheki Ntshalintshali (Cosatu general-secretary), says that the SABC "must marshall all its resources at its disposal and play a more active and leading role in the fight against the pandemic".

"In particular, the people need more educational, informative and consistent broadcasting on Covid-19 including live coverage of key events on SABC free-to-air television stations".

The SABC on Tuesday in response to a media enquiry told TVwithThinus that "As our country is going through trying times, the SABC as the primary carrier of public content and messaging, is firmly committed to adhering to and delivering diligently on its mandate".

"Critically, during this period the public broadcaster's role is to ensure that millions of South Africans are provided with important and credible information regarding Covid-19 across television, radio and digital platforms."

"This is consistent with nationwide efforts to reduce Covid-19 infections and curb the spread of the coronavirus."

"Also worth noting is the SABC's partnership with the department of education (DBE) for a learner support campaign, which is geared at delivering educational programming during the lockdown period. Part of this campaign is underway on SABC1, and the second phase will be rolled out from 8 April 2020 on SABC2 and SABC3." 

"Furthermore, SABC News, current affairs and information programming has been extended on free-to-air television channels and radio stations, to ensure that the public is adequately informed about the coronavirus pandemic."

The SABC says that "In the interest of the country and in fulfilment of its mandate, the SABC has had to displace revenue-generating programming across platforms, to accommodate all public announcements and media briefings relating to the Covid-19 pandemic."

"These are now carried live on the SABC's free-to-air television channels, the SABC News (DStv 404) channel, radio stations and digital platforms. Consistently, SABC News journalists are deployed across the country to deliver the essential service of informing the public about all developments regarding the pandemic."

"As the SABC, we welcome engagement with and feedback from our stakeholders, and we would like to reiterate our unwavering commitment to providing citizens with valuable and factual news and information during this period."

Calls for South Africa's communications minister Stella Ndabeni-Abrahams to be fired as she flouts country's national lockdown rules doing dinner and photographing it for the public.

by Thinus Ferreira

South Africans on Tuesday called for the country's minister of communications, Stella Ndabeni-Abrahams, to be fired following her reckless "lets dinner-and-Insta" approach during South Africa's 21-day national lockdown period during which she went to a friend's house to have a meal and had the image shared on social media.

On Sunday Scotland's chief medical officer Catherine Calderwood was fired and asked to resign after she was spotted breaking her own advice to stay at home to help stop the spread of the Covid-19 coronavirus and visited her second home.

In New Zealand that country's health minister David Clark was demoted after he was caught out for visiting a beach when he drove his family 20km during that country's national lockdown period.

South Africa's former deputy minister of higher education and training, Mduduzi Manana, posted a picture to Instagram of Stella Ndabeni-Abrahams and others having a meal at his house, saying "It was great to host a former colleague and dear sister cadre Stella Ndabeni-Abrahams on her way back from executing critical and essential services required for the effective functioning of our country during the nationwide lockdown."

Once criticism started, he deleted the Instagram post which was already shared widely.

There's been no statement yet from Stella Ndabeni-Abrahams yet through her spokesperson Mish Molakeng.

President Cyril Ramaphosa on Tuesday said that he had seen the picture and what happened and that he had asked Stella Ndabeni-Abrahams to "come and see him so that we can discuss the impact of visuals like these. We want to instill a clear message about social distancing, that you must stay at home and don't go around on visitations," Cyril Ramaphosa said.

The Democratic Alliance (DA) member of parliament, Phumzile Van Damme, said that "I will be writing to president Cyril Ramaphosa this afternoon about Stella Ndabeni-Abrahams breaking lockdown rules. She is a leader and must set an example. I hope he takes strong actions against her."

UPDATE - Tuesday 7 April 2020 16:15: In a statement Phumzile van Damme says that "the statement by president Cyril Ramaphosa this afternoon indicating that he has summoned communications and digital technologies minister, Stella Nbabeni-Abrahams is simply not good enough". 

"He must set an example as the president of South Africa that lawlessness while our country deals with a global pandemic will not be tolerated, regardless of from whom it comes. He therefore ought to lay a criminal complaint against Ndabeni-Abrahams, a person who he appointed as a Minister and member of his Cabinet. And he must go a further step by removing her from his cabinet."

"President Ramaphosa addressed the nation twice asking South Africans to obey the law while containment strategies for Covid-19 were being implemented. The majority of the people of our country have done so with diligence." 

"Many have lost jobs and incomes while staying at home as he requested. Some have been brutalized by security forces for not obeying the law. He cannot expect that in these circumstances a mere slap on the wrist will suffice. Ndabeni-Abrahams must go!"

Behind-the-scenes in-fighting at The Real Housewives of Johannesburg leads to production change as RHOSA shutters but reality show will continue with new production company.

by Thinus Ferreira

In-fighting behind-the-scenes and "irreconcilable differences" has led to the shut down of the production company that has produced The Real Housewives of Johannesburg although M-Net says that the reality show will continue on 1Magic (DStv 103) under a new production banner.

While the women in the reality show remain together, the same no longer holds true for those who produced it, with executive producer Sonia Mbele, Rebone Sesing and Pebble Gqunta who have shuttered RHOSA citing "irreconcilable differences" after the production company made two seasons of The Real Housewives of Johannesburg.

There will however be a third season, and work is also underway on a spinoff for the first season housewife, Evodia Mogase, known as "Madam".

Philly Kubheka, publicity head of M-Net's local entertainment channels, told TVwithThinus that the show will continue for a third season but with a different production company.

"The partners sighted irreconcilable differences for closing the company. As channel we ensured that The Real Housewives of Johannesburg was not affected by the company shutting down hence we were able to produce a great show for the season."

"Season 3 of The Real Housewives of Johannesburg was briefed out, and different companies came to pitch. We will announce the production company once the show gets commissioned."

SABC appoints Merlin Naicker as South African public broadcaster's new TV boss.

by Thinus Ferreira

The South African public broadcaster has appointed Merlin Naicker as its new TV boss.

Merlin Naicker is the SABC's new general executive of its television division since 1 April 2020.

Nomsa Philiso left the SABC in June 2019 after which David Makubyane, took over as acting TV boss, followed by Phathiswa Magopeni who is the broadcaster's head of news.

Merlin Naicker has a career spanning 25 years and was the CEO of Wizard Media Consulting, Southtel VOD chief content officer, headed up the failed Telkom Media's satellite pay-TV attempt, and worked for over a decade at MultiChoice in various roles.

He also worked on projects like the 2018 FIFA Russia broadcast, biometric access and CCTV monitoring projects at the SABC, as well as Parliament TV broadcast infrastructure upgrades.

Merlin Naicker has a MBA from Oxford Brookes, a B.Sc. Hons degree in digital technology, design and innovation from DIT and a certificate in advanced broadcast law from Wits Law.

Monday, April 6, 2020

Coronavirus: Nigerian actress Funke Akindele-Bello and husband Abdul Rasheed Bello arrested; plead guilty in court after holding massive birthday house party with film crew during country's Covid-19 national lockdown period.

by Thinus Ferreira

The police arrested the Nigerian actress Funke Akindele-Bello and her husband Abdul Rasheed Bello after she held a glitzy birthday party for him, streamed on his Instagram live feed on Saturday, while Nigeria is on a national lockdown period because of the growing spread of the Covid-19 novel coronavirus pandemic globally and in that country.

Despite being the face of Dettol Nigeria's "Stay Home" campaign to try and limit the spread of the contagious Covid-19 virus, the star of the series Jenifa's Diary seen on M-Net's Africa Magic channels on MultiChoice's DStv, went ahead with a large and lavish birthday house party for Abdul Rasheed Bello, popularly known as "JJC Skillz", at their Amen Estate gated community that was attended by many people.

Several of the people were her own production crew working on a new film whose lives the couple deliberately placed in danger.

The hypocritical Funke Akindele-Bello has caused massive damage to her brand as well as Dettol, as well as damage to Nigeria's efforts to try and curb the rapid spread of Covid-19 in the West African country with her actions.

The couple appeared in court in Lagos on Monday and are facing charges of breaking the Lagos State Infectious Disease 2020 regulations under the Public Health Law. They pleaded guilty.

Both were sentenced to 14-day, 3-hours per day community service and a N100 000 (R4856) fine each for holding a party in contravention of the national lockdown rules.

Bala Elkana, Lagos police spokesperson, in a statement says the couple was arrested after the police saw the "large number of people" who attended the birthday party despite the 14-day national lockdown period in Nigeria.

In a Insta-video Funke Akindele-Bello said that "I am sorry if I misled you with the video. I appreciate your concerns and I promise to practice what we preach."

Dettol in a statement said that "We have been made aware through social media that Funke Akindele recently, acting in her personal capacity, had a celebration which is against the caution to the public on social distancing during the covid-19 pandemic."

"The Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) partnered with Dettol on a public service message to educate our communities about preventive measures against Covid-19. Funke is not a brand ambassador of the NCDC."

"As a responsible organization and brand Dettol does not condone any breach of the guidelines on Covid-19. As an organisation we are concerned at the turn of events. We will continue to support NCDC and the Nigerian government to fight Covid-19."

Second season of Bone of My Bones on SABC2 starts 9 April 2020 and adds Motlatsi Mafatshe and Simphowe Ngema.

by Thinus Ferreira

The second season of Bone of My Bones is set to start on SABC2 on Thursday 9 April at 21:30 with Motlatsi Mafatshe replacing Aubrey Poo in the role of Karabo and Simphiwe Ngema who will appear as Ruth. 

The series is produced by Sothar Pictures, and chronicles the lives of a group of 4 male friends who have been friends from childhood into adulthood and their struggles with the mundane of everyday life and their relationships with strong-willed and opinionated women.

In the second season the friendship between the men is put to the test while their relationships with their partners also go through the fire. "If you thought season one had all the ingredients of a thrilling drama, wait until you see the second season," says co-executive producer NZB Majola Ka Masuku.

Bone of my Bones is produced by Sothar Pictures, with NZB Majola Ka Masuku and Zandile P. Majola as co-executive producers and Sipho Xolisa Tshapu as head writer.

Simphiwe Ngema who joins from this season as Ruth is a music producer who used to go to high school with everyone in the story. 

She comes back from working overseas for the last decade and settles in with her friends Thembi and Keitumetsi. Before she went overseas, she used to date Kgotso back in high school.

In the first season finale there are three different versions of the truth regarding the night in question - but who does detective Maswanganyi believe?

With Thembi having crossed the line by placing a hit on Neo (Kgaugelo Mosomane), how do they move forward? Battle lines have been crossed and Karabo is caught in the crossfire. 

Keitumetse wakes up in Thabiso’s (Batsile Ramasodi) bed - what does this mean for Kgotso (Solomon Sebothoma) who is meant to be ordained as the senior pastor in a week's time? 

In the first episode of the second season of Bone of My Bones, the story picks up at detective Maswanganyi's house where his body hangs from the roof and the men have since called the cops to the scene.

What everyone wants to know is who could have killed the cop and Matome surprises everyone by naming Mokau (Kabelo Moalusi) as the killer, supported by Thembi as a witness to that fact. 

While everyone is shocked at this startling accusation; Kgotso is adamant there must be a mistake because he believes Mokau is not a killer. While everyone is still trying to come to terms with accusations levelled against Mokau, he finds himself being arrested for a murder that he professes to not know anything about.

Coronavirus: kykNET adds new weekly Afrikaans current affairs show KN Pandemie on Tuesdays anchored by Suzaan Steyn from 7 April 2020 at 9pm to cover Covid-19 pandemic.

by Thinus Ferreira

The growing global spread of the Covid-19 novel coronavirus pandemic with an increase in cases in South Africa that is experiencing a period of national lockdown has prompted kykNET (DStv 144) to alter its schedule from Tuesday 7 April with a new weekly, Afrikaans actuality show KN Pandemie that will be anchored by Suzaan Steyn.

Produced by IdeaCandy that does the rest of the KN Verslag current affairs strand for kykNET, KN Pandemie will run for at least the next 13 weeks from Tuesday, 7 April at 21:00 on the channel to bring Afrikaans DStv subscribers news, information and insight about the growing pandemic.

In KN Pandemie presenter Suzaan Steyn will talk live via Skype to experts in various fields.

Virologists and doctors will discuss the medical aspects of Covid-19 and give practical advice on how to stay safe and healthy. Psychologists will discuss the psychological impact of the virus, giving practical ways to look after your mental wellbeing in this challenging time.

Viewers will also be able to ask questions that experts will answer live on the show. KN Pandemie will also check in through Skype with various professionals who are in direct contact with Covid-19, as well as with people locally and internationally, to find out more about their experience during the current situation.

Various organisations are also aiding others to overcome the challenges brought upon by Covid-19 – KN Pandemie will focus on such an organisation on a weekly basis. 

The programme will also give practical tips that will simplify and enrich viewers' lives – from easy meals to prepare and arts and crafts for young and old, to physical activities, mental exercises and ways to keep body and mind healthy and calm.

KN Pandemie will give an update on good movies and series to watch and recommend which books to read, while technology used during this time to stay connected with colleagues, friends and family will be explored. Interesting things to do together whilst being apart will be discussed.

Coronavirus: Disney delays second season final episodes of Big Hero 6 on Disney XD, new episodes of Fancy Nancy Clancy on Disney Junior delayed and pushed out.

by Thinus Ferreira

Disney has been forced to change the channel schedules of Disney XD (DStv 304) and Disney Junior (DStv 309) with the final set of episodes of the second season of the animation series Big Hero 6: The Series and new episodes of Fancy Nancy Clancy that have been delayed and pushed out.

The final set of episodes of the second season of Big Hero 6: The Series on Disney XD that was meant to premiere from 27 April 2020 to 1 May at 17:00 has been delayed, Disney says.

Instead Disney XD is scheduling a Toon Festival with Phineas and Ferb episodes as well as various other animation series on weekdays until 1 May from 09:00 to 17:00.

On Disney Junior new episodes of Fancy Nancy Clancy which would have premiered episodes on weekdays from Monday 20 April at 17:00 has been pushed out as well.

Instead Disney Junior will now do stacked repeat episodes on weekends of Fancy Nancy Clancy, PJ Masks, Vampirina, Sofia the First and T.O.T.S.

BREAKING. TV icon and former Jam Alley presenter Vinolia Mashego dead at 56.

by Thinus Ferreira

The former Jam Alley presenter Vinolia Mashego, popularly known as "V-Mash" has died. The South African TV icon was 56.

Vinolia Mashego died at her home in Mamelodi, Pretoria. She leaves behind a son, Oratile (20).

Her friend and fellow actor Zola Hashatsi announced on Monday late afternoon on Instagram that Vinolia Mashego had died in her sleep but the cause of death was not revealed.

A funeral is apparently planned for the 1990's "It" girl, who was on Monday called the "Bonang of the 90s" on social media, for Friday 10 April but the funeral will be limited to family.

The Moja Love TV channel on Monday evening told TVwithThinus that the channel head Bokani Moyo was paying the family "a visit in their time of bereavement" and that Moja Love would issue a statement later.

The SABC also said in response to a media enquiry that it would be issuing a statement.

The production company Quizzical Pictures in a statement said that "It is with great sadness to hear that Vinolia Mashego has passed on. We loved working with her on our comedy series Single Galz II."

South Africa's department of arts and culture said that "we are deeply saddened to learn about the passing of a pioneer of South African television, Vinolia Mashego popularly known as V-Mash, who became a leader of popular culture in the 90s and will forever be remembered for breathing life into the soul of our nation".

Nandi Madida on social media said "Just learnt that the lady and Legend who inspired so many of us to be in the TV industry has passed on. What an icon! Thank you."

The TV presenter Andile Ncube remarked that "The Greatest Of All Time has left the one has gone close to her artistry and genius as a host/presenter".

According to Vinolia Mashego's father, Collin Mashego, Vinolia, who lived alone, died in her sleep on Sunday night and was found dead in her bed in Mamelodi on Monday morning.

The award-winning star who opened up in the past about how her TV career flatlined after Jam Alley which she presented on first the CCV channel which changed into SABC1, was quite frank in later years about how she struggled with being broke after her departure from the show that made her a household name.

Yet she endured and overcame years of unemployment, poverty, multiple miscarriages, domestic abuse and even depression.

After her Jam Alley career she became tabloid fodder with a torrent of ongoing headlines about her apparently erratic behaviour - something that also led to her Jam Alley axing..

She was fired from Jam Alley after she was arrested in February 2011 for walking around naked and cursing at a block of flats in Pretoria's Sunnyside suburb. A few months earlier she also caused problems at a Durban beauty pageant when she flashed her underwear at the audience.

Following her role in 2019 as Kwinana in Giyani - Land of Blood (SABC2) Vinolia Mashego was back on South African television earlier this year as the presenter of a new season of the Bheka Sik'bambile show on Moja Love (DStv 157).

In an interview in 2014 with The Star Tonight when she got a new TV gig as the presenter of Pls Call Me on Mzansi Magic (DStv 161), Vinolia Mashego said "Look, I am in my fifties now and of course a lot has happened to transform the TV landscape".

"I think TV has loosened up because in my day people had to work under strict instructions where you could not say certain things or speak in other languages unless instructed to do so. It was harsh, but I defied them then and spoke in Sotho, Zulu and tsotsitaal whenever I felt it applied. Today presenters do just that. From YO.TV to Shiz Niz, those kids are doing as they please and that’s what TV needs; for presenters to be comfortable," she said.

Some of Vinolia Mashego's other TV roles included ad exec Hilda Letlalo in Generations (SABC1) as well as in series ranging from Muvhango (SABC2), to Di Wele Makgolela (CCV-TV), Isibaya (Mzansi Magic) and Mutual Friends (SABC1).

Born in Alexandra, Vinolia Mashego decided at the age of 12 that she wanted to enter the world of showbiz and wanted to follow in her parents' footsteps and become a Latin American dancer, although her dad wanted her to become a lawyer.

From there she started doing commercials with Revlon that was her first. "They made me look so grown up and I was just so flattered appearing on television for the first time," she said in an interview.

A Sepedi TV show followed where she was the co-presenter with Lucky Diale, after which she joined Lillian Dube's casting agency in the 1980s and got a lead role in the Sepedi TV drama series Ditlabonyane ke di tlaboima as her first acting role.

UPDATE - Tuesday 7 April 2020 14:30: The SABC in a statement says that it's sending condolences to the Mashego family following the death of Vinolia Mashego.

"She graced the South African entertainment industry with a unique presenting style that has continued to serve as an inspiration for upcoming as well as established media personalities. Through her outstanding craft, V-Mash won the nation's heart."

"She connected with her audiences in a special way which saw her become a household name and has left an indelible mark in the South African entertainment industry." 

"She will be remembered for her bubbly and energetic personality that changed the outlook of presenting for the better. Her exceptional work has been preserved in the SABC’s archives and will continue to serve as a remembrance for the remarkable legacy she left in the broadcasting industry."

SABC2 adds new April series including drama Melody and dramedy The Riviera; kykNET adds sketch show Cas Oppie Kassie and gospel music talker Koortjies.

by Thinus Ferreira

SABC2 and kykNET (DStv 144) are both rolling out new locally-produced TV shows during April with SABC2 adding Melody and The Riviera that were both filmed in the Western Cape, while kykNET has scheduled comedian Casper de Vries' satirical TV return with Cas Oppie Kassie and the gospel music talk show Koortjies with Jonathan Rubain.

Melody, produced by Gemini Twins Films and The Ergo Company and starting on Tuesday 7 April at 19:30 on SABC2 revolves around a young and talented penny-whistler from Athlone named Melody (Kim Bowers) who uses music as a form of escapism from her impoverished background and abusive father.

She gets an opportunity to audition for a music scholarship but her tyrannical father stands in the way of her dreams. The Melody cast includes Aya Ngobo (as Junior, Melody's brother), Riedwaan Damon (Bevan), Moeniel Jacobs (Jack), Faldela Brown (Mrs Fredericks) and Aeesha Petersen as Nazli.

The 13-episode The Riviera, starting on Wednesday 8 April at 19:30 on SABC2 is a dramedy that explores the complexities of growing up in Cape Town during the 1980s. It was created and is narrated by Quanita Adams and produced and directed by Lucille Blankenberg.

The series is set in the year 1989 around the experiences of a 12-year-old Muslim girl, Riana Isaacs, growing up on the Cape Flats. While South Africa and the world are in dramatic upheaval, Riana innocently sets out to achieve her own personal milestones.

The Riviera cast includes Keenan Arrison (Naz), Kelly Damon (Riana), Abdul Abrahams (Reza) and Margie Pankhurst as Ma B.

"SABC2 is very excited to bring these two dramas to our audiences - stories about people and places not often seen nor heard on our screens. The channel is especially proud of the fact that both dramas have a great balance between established actors and new talent that viewers will fall in love with," says Gerhard Pretorius, SABC2 channel head.

On kykNET the comedian Casper de Vries is making his TV comeback with Cas Oppie Kassie starting on Monday 6 April at 20:00 in his new satirical comedy sketch show.

Similar to his erstwhile satirical soap insert "Haak & Steek" in his Casper Rasper Show that mocked local TV soaps, this time Cas Oppie Kassie will include an ongoing insert mocking competition reality shows like Survivor SA on M-Net, entitled "Die Laager" in which contestants partake in Die Groot Trek.

Besides the 5 to 7 different sketches per episode, there will also be an animated sketch series, "Con se Storie" about a church pastor.

Some iconic Casper characters will return like the beloved Dutch woman Greetje Appelmoes, Oom Kallie Marie, the failed entrepreneur Hanno Gelderblom and the former flight attendant with neckbrace Montelle Jansen van Rensburg, alongside Blertsie du Toit.

New characters include the Swedish Greta Donderberg and Gizelle Serfontein, a former news reader and now pornstar and sex expert.

Koortjies with the gospel musician Jonathan Rubain as host and done from Atlantic Studios in Cape Town kicked off on kykNET & Kie (DStv 145) on 5 April on Sundays at 18:00

Returning shows on kykNET in April include the 5th season of the music-infused talk show Republiek van Zoid Afrika with Karen Zoid, starting Monday 6 April at 20:00, the second season of Maak my Famous from 29 April at 20:00 with Emo Adams, and another season of the agriculture show Megaboere with Kabous Meiring from 7 April at 21:00.

The third and final season of the legal-eagle drama series Fynskrif will start on kykNET on 14 April at 20:00.

Coronavirus: MSNBC adds Craig Melvin Reports Coronavirus Pandemic to its weekday schedule.

by Thinus Ferreira

MSNBC (StarSat 263) is changing Craig Melvin's show MSNBC Live to Craig Melvin Reports: Coronavirus Pandemic from today, Monday 6 April 2020 with the American presenter who will now report from "key locations" covering the impact of the growing Covid-19 coronavirus pandemic in the United States.

Craig Melvin Reports: Coronavirus Pandemic will broadcast on weekdays, starting on Monday, at 17:00 (South African time SAST).

MSNBC says in a statement that Craig Melvin will "safely report with a slim crew from key locations critical to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic starting with the Central Park field hospital on Monday".

Craig Melvin will be joined by a remote video "Doctor on Duty" daily to provide expert insight, with other NBC News correspondents and reporters across the United States who will provide breaking news coverage and analysis as the Covid-19 crisis escalates.

SABC2 shifts its weekly Afrikaans current affairs show Fokus to Wednesdays to get away from 'church time' and to be more topical and news-based.

by Thinus Ferreira

SABC2 is shifting its weekly Sunday evening Afrikaans current affairs show Fokus to Wednesday evenings to get away from "church time" and to be more topical and news-based as part of the channel's latest schedule changes.

Sunday 5 April 2020 was the last Fokus episode with host Lynette Francis on this night with the long-running show shifting to Wednesdays at 19:00 from 8 April.

According to the show the Fokus content will now be a mix of years and the show will continue doing so every Wednesday evening. Our content will be a mix of packaged inserts, live interviews, discussions and debates with news events that will determine the choice of topics and guests.

Fokus producers Karin d’Orville (based in Gauteng), Keith Sayster (based in the Northern Cape) and Euline Reid (based in Gauteng) will also travel to other provinces throughout South Africa to tell people's stories and to cover news events.

The experienced producer Karin d'Orville focuses on a variety of subjects, while Keith Sayster, also an experienced producer, will still travel to remote places that hardly ever make the news.

The Fokus team remains under the leadership of veteran journalist Alet van Rensburg Wright.

"We are looking forward to the move to a weekday as many of our viewers have complained the Sunday evening is church time," says Alet van Rensburg Wright.

"Our aim is to give a voice to those people, who don't have a voice and to keep our leaders accountable. By broadcasting on Wednesdays we can also ensure that our programme is news-driven and give our viewers a more in-depth account on the news of the day."

Coronavirus: Lockdown in South Africa brings Lockdown and Trackers to Mzansi Magic as the M-Net-packaged channel on DStv scrambles to plug scheduling holes left by unfinished seasons of Housekeepers and eHostela.

by Thinus Ferreira

South Africa's national lockdown period has forced M-Net to use Lockdown and other shows to plug sudden holes on its Mzansi Magic (DStv 161) schedule.

The spreading global Covid-19 coronavirus pandemic also affecting South Africa's struggling TV industry, caused a vast number of locally-produced TV series on public television and pay-TV to abruptly shutter in late-March.

M-Net is now replacing schedule gaps left by incomplete shows on its Mzansi Magic channel, packaged for MultiChoice's DStv channel, with various library series.

After broadcasting new promos throughout March for the second season of Housekeepers, produced by Oche Moving Pictures with Portia Gumede as showrunner and starring Thando Thabethe, Mzansi Magic has pulled the season that was scheduled to debut on Monday 6 April at 20:00.

In its place because of the national lockdown, Mzansi Magic is now showing a borrowed "lockdown": the 5th season the local prison series Lockdown, produced by Black Brain Productions, that was moved to MultiChoice's video streaming service Showmax last year and that made its debut in January 2020 on the streamer.

Since filming hasn't yet finished on all of the episodes of Housekeepers with the production that only started filming at the beginning of March, M-Net decided to remove the series for the time being and to postpone its launch.

It has now been replaced with the prison-wall set series starring Dawn Thandeka King, Connie Chuime, Zola Nombona, Linda Sokhulu and Lorcia Cooper.

The second season of Housekeepers will now start at a date that is still to be determined later in 2020 with insiders who told TVwithThinus that the production was affected and shuttered due to the Covid-19 lockdown.

In another stopgap measure Mzansi Magic also replaced the second season of the KwaMashu-set series eHostela.

The Stained Glass TV produced series was also forced to shutter causing unplanned production delays, with Mzansi Magic that replaced it this past Sunday in the 20:00 timeslot with the locally-produced drama series Trackers that made its debut in October 2019 on the M-Net (DStv 101) channel.

Since 17 March MultiChoice, and individually the various M-Net-packaged channel sets, have all been asked numerous times which TV series specifically have been impacted or shut down because of the virus issue and the national lockdown but so far there's been no response.

MultiChoice expands access of NBCUniversal International Networks' E! Entertainment channel to DStv Compact subscribers in South Africa from 14 April 2020.

by Thinus Ferreira

NBCUniversal International Networks' E! Entertainment (DStv 124) channel is getting wider carriage with MultiChoice making the channel available to DStv Compact subscribers in South Africa from Tuesday 14 April 2020.

E! is currently available to DStv Premium and DStv Compact Plus subscribers. E! is already available to DStv subscribers on DStv Compact in the rest of Africa.

"We are delighted that E! will now be available to a broader audience in Africa," says Lee Raftery, the managing director, for the Europe, Middle East and Africa (EMEA) region at NBCUniversal International and chief marketing officer.

"This is an exciting evolution in our partnership with DStv, and new viewers to the channel will be able to enjoy ever-popular series such as Keeping Up With the Kardashians and Botched. We remain committed to bringing African audiences local content, with brand-new episodes of the Safta-nominated Celebrity Game Night."

Thabisa Mkhwanazi, MultiChoice South Africa head of marketing, says "We’re thrilled that our Compact subscribers will now also have access to the wide range of content that the E! Entertainment channel has to offer".

"We continue to strive to bring our customers the best content available so they get the greatest viewing experience possible."

The new season of Keeping Up With the Kardashians just started on E! on Sundays at 20:00with Kourtney's recent revelation that she's no longer happy working with her sisters, while Kris gets creative to encourage a reluctant Khloe to start dating again, while Kylie undergoes a frightening medical procedure.

Meanwhile Anele Mdoda is back as the host of Celebrity Game Night from Sunday 19 April at 21:00 with team captains Jason Goliath and Ayanda Thabethe for brand-new episodes of Celebrity Game Night.

Based on the Primetime Emmy Award-winning series Hollywood Game Night, Anele Mdoda recently received a Safta nomination for Best TV Presenter for hosting the local version of this show, while the production for Celebrity Game Night is also up for an award in the category Best International Format Show.

The E! presenter Jason Kennedy takes E! viewers inside celebrity homes for in-depth interviews in the new series In The Room on Mondays at 21:00 from 11 May as he meets Kourtney Kardashian, Tom Brady and Chris Pratt to discuss their latest projects, products, passions and more.

E! also has new episodes of Botched on Mondays at 20:00 from 8 June revolving around the plastic surgeons Dr Paul Nassif and Dr Terry Dubrow, as well as the latest season of Total Bellas on Sundays at 20:00 from 10 May.

Saturday, April 4, 2020

Coronavirus: SABC adds the Steven Soderbergh 2011 thriller, Contagion, to SABC3 as the Sunday night film to show South Africa what could happen during a virus pandemic like Covid-19.

by Thinus Ferreira

As part of a quick-turnaround acquisition and programming move the South African public broadcaster on Friday decided to schedule the 2011 Steven Soderbergh horror/thriller film Contagion as the new Sunday night movie for SABC3 on 5 April 2020 at 21:30.

Contagion will start on Sunday at 21:30 on SABC3, with the film The Rewrite that would have started then, pushed to a new starting time of 23:30.

According to insiders who whispered to TVwithThinus, the Contagion scheduling order comes from SABC CEO Madoda Mxakwe himself, who personally requested all of the SABC's channels, including SABC1 and SABC2 to try and broadcast the film as part of an awareness effort to educate all South Africans about Covid-19 and what can happen when people don't heed best advice during a viral pandemic.

The Contagion promo line is "Nothing spreads like fear" and stars Laurence Fishburne, Matt Damon, Kate Winslet, Jude Law and Gwyneth Paltrow.

While average families suddenly fight to try and stay alive as society begins to unravel and collapse because of the onset and rapid spread of an extremely dangerous worldwide disease, desperate political leaders and scientists battle to try and find a vaccine.

Despite being over a decade old but with its newfound relevance, internationally Contagion has suddenly shot up in the charts of most-requested and most-watched films on the list of library movies on Amazon Prime Video and iTunes and is still in the number one spot after two weeks. Sharing on torrent sites of the film has also increased vastly worldwide.

The Contagion screenwriter Scott Z. Burns told Fortune magazine that "The similarities between our contagion and the coronavirus are immaterial, accidental, and really not that important. What is more important and accurate is the societal response and the spread of fear and the knock-on effects of that. That is proving to be accurate."

"When I originally pitched this idea to Steven Soderbergh, I said I wanted Contagion to be as grounded in science as it possibly could be. I I didn’t want to do a Hollywood disaster movie that played loose with the science. The heroes needed to be scientists."

Friday, April 3, 2020

Coronavirus: In new CNN special, Witness to the Pandemic, the TV news channel's correspondents share their personal experiences of covering the global Covid-19 pandemic.

by Thinus Ferreira

CNN International (DStv 401) will broadcast another special Covid-19 coronavirus documentary this weekend, Witness to the Pandemic, that will be broadcast on Saturday 4 April 2020 at 19:00 with a repeat on Sunday 5 April at 18:00 and give the first-hand perspectives on how CNN correspondents across the world have experienced covering the unfolding global medical and economic crisis.

As reports of a mysterious pneumonia-like virus spreading in the Chinese city of Wuhan surfaced in early January 2020, CNN correspondents around the world started tracking what we know today as novel coronavirus or Covid-19.

Now, as the number of confirmed cases of coronavirus infections surpasses 1 million and with more than 50,000 deaths worldwide, Witness to the Pandemic will look at how the world got here through the eyes of the CNN correspondents reporting on this unprecedented global crisis.

"I think it's really hard to compare what is happening now to just about any story that I've covered over the last 20 years," says CNN’s chief medical correspondent Dr Sanjay Gupta, who has been at the forefront of CNN’s coverage of Covid-19.

"Unlike a conflict or a natural disaster, this obviously is continuing for a long time and has fundamentally changed the way of life, I think, for everybody on the planet."

CNN's David Culver, Nectar Gan, Paula Hancocks, Will Ripley, Kristie Lu Stout and Ivan Watson all reported extensively on the spread of this virus across Asia, visiting field hospitals and businesses, interviewing residents, business owners, quarantined cruise passengers and health care workers including the Wuhan whistleblower Dr Li Wenliang shortly before he died from coronavirus.

In January CNN sent a team including David Culver to the epicentre of the coronavirus outbreak in Wuhan before Chinese authorities placed the city of 11 million people on a partial lockdown.

"I remember looking around thinking: 'This feels like the same mood ahead of a hurricane coming, where you're in the projected path. You don't know how bad it's going to be and how long it's going to last. But you know it's coming.' And that's the same sentiment that I felt walking around Wuhan," says David Culver.

As the virus began to spread to Europe, CNN’s Ben Wedeman covered the first major outbreak of coronavirus in northern Italy, while Al Goodman reported on the spike in cases in Spain and Max Foster covered the impact in the United Kingdom.

"What's different about this story is that unlike covering wars where you could see the enemy, with this story it's invisible," says Ben Wedeman. "You cannot see the germs spreading, so it's a whole different level of danger of risk involved."

The first major deadly outbreak of the coronavirus in the United States happened in Washington state, just a few miles down the road from the city of Seattle in a place called Kirkland.

CNN's Sara Sidner travelled to Kirkland not long after it was discovered that someone had died from coronavirus and several more were dealing with some kind of terrible respiratory problem inside of a nursing home, which is now tied to 35 Covid-19 related deaths.

On the global business front, CNN’s Julia Chatterley tracked the stocks, sectors and indicators most affected by the pandemic from New York, speaking to economists, market analysts and business leaders about how people will be able to financially survive this economic crisis.

"I had an early sense that some form of economic crisis would come from the health crisis, once you see that happening all around the world. The risk that it became a financial crisis, and as we're starting to see now, a jobs crisis too," says Julia Chatterley.

"The speed at which this has happened is also what makes this so dramatic. It's unlike anything we've ever seen before. The real heroes are those on the front lines saving lives and we have to do everything we can I think to tell their story and acknowledge these are people that are at times giving their lives to save others."

"They're the heroes of this story, not us. We're just here to tell theirs."

MultiChoice abruptly shuts down and deletes its existing DStv press portal for the media during Covid-19 coronavirus crisis without warning.

by Thinus Ferreira

MultiChoice on Thursday 2 April 2020 abruptly shut down and deleted its DStv press portal where it has been hosted without bothering to warn or tell the media beforehand anything about it or what they need to do now.

TVwithThinus still access MultiChoice's DStv press portal hosted at on Wednesday afternoon, and again on Wednesday night but by Thursday morning it was suddenly gone and deleted.

The login page, saved as a browser favourite simply returning a "404 Not Found" page without any explanation as to what happened or what's going on, causing massive stress and confusion under several in the media who are dependend on using the site to report and communicate about content on DStv's satellite pay-TV platform.

MultiChoice, unilaterally and without bothering to tell the media, dumped its DStv press portal without giving the press in South Africa no advance warning that it's shutting down its press portal, nor what they have to do,or any explanation why.

The user group - including journalists and editors online, working at newspapers, magazines, in radio and TV, and covering television and ranging from TV writers, TV critics, DJs and social media influencers - received no advance warning from MultiChoice that it is shutting down its press portal, nor what they have to do, or any explanation why.

It's unclear whether the DStv press portal contract termination - possibly the latest misguided and short-sighted cost-cutting measure inside MultiChoice - was ordered by Calvo Mawela, MultiChoice Group CEO, or Mark Rayner, MultiChoice South Africa CEO.

The ordered DStv press portal shutdown and resultant shock, fear and chaos under the media who had no idea that it would be happening and got no communication from MultiChoice about it, comes during a particularly sensitive time in South Africa with the growing Covid-19 novel coronavirus pandemic spreading in the country and globally and where the media in all spheres requires better and more communication - not less - than ever before.

The DStv press portal that already migrated to a new site once before, hosts an extremely precious and valuable archive  - constantly updated - that is a precious and highly-functional publicity material reservoir ranging from monthly schedules and highlight documents, show and cast publicity images, press releases and media statements, show and channel logos and a myriad of other useful information for channels ranging from Al Jazeera to Zee World.

Besides the information from third-part channels hosted on DStv, MultiChoice's DStv press portal carried information about all of M-Net's own packaged channels ranging from M-Net and Mzansi Magic, to 1Magic, to the carousels of M-Net Movies and kykNET channels.

In a instant on Thursday MultiChoice ripped it all away from South Africa's press without warning or any indication as to what they are supposed to do.

On Thursday TVwithThinus emailed and asked MultiChoice's corporate communications team headed by Joe Heshu, MultiChoice group executive for corporate affairs, and Reggy Moalusi, executive head of corporate affairs at MultiChoice South Africa, to please restore the DStv press portal.

They were told and reminded that the DStv poress portal is something that is crucially-important and used a lot by a lot of press in South Africa - many of whom won't yet realise that it's gone from where it used to be, with no idea of what's wrong when they suddenly and urgently need to access it.

TVwithThinus asked MultiChoice's communications team on Thursday - including MultiChoice SA CEO Mark Rayner and Yolisa Phahle, MultiChoice CEO for general entertainment, when the decision was made to remove and destroy the DStv press portal where it has been and where it has been hosted, and why this was not communicated to anybody who is highly dependent on it.

MultiChoice was also asked why the pay-TV operator decided to do away with the existing DStv press portal during such an extremely sensitive time and stressful period in South Africa due to the coronavirus pandemic when the South African government and others implored that as much information as possible be kept and made available to the media and the public.

By Friday afternoon at 14:00 there was no response yet from MultiChoice to any of the questions.

On Friday evening a MultiChoice representative in a phone call said that the DStv press portal has been moved to a new website. MultiChoice gave no explanation why this has happened or why it has been done, or why it has been done now.

It's unclear whether media knows they have to go to a new website, or have to take the time to register again. It's also highly unlikely that the richly populated publicity material, the "Latest News" section without having to search containing latest press releases and announcements, or archived material including monthly schedules and the vast collection of high-res images, will be available on a new site.

"If MultiChoice wanted to shut down or move the DStv press portal the very least they could have done would have been to inform the journalists and editors making use of it personally, and at least a month before the time. That is basic," a journalist and TV critic who uses the site constantly told TVwithThinus on Thursday evening.

"MultiChoice is absolutely beyond ridiculous".

Another user remarked: "I don't like the new one it's so empty".

Thursday, April 2, 2020

Coronavirus: Bollywood goes on a break as Indian TV channels Star Life, Zee World and Glow TV switch to series repeats because of Covid-19.

by Thinus Ferreira

With Bollywood in lockdown multiple shows seen in South Africa across several Indian TV channels have been affected by the spreading global Covid-19 novel coronavirus pandemic with series on channels ranging from Star Life, Zee World and Glow TV that have run out of new episodes and been replaced by repeats.

On Star Life (DStv 167  / StarSat 550 / Openview 110) all new shows have the schedule skids since the studios in India and South Africa and their filming, dubbing process and distribution operations have all shuttered as part of national lockdown periods in both countries.

Star Life switched to a binge-block rebroadcast schedule from 1 April 2020 of already-aired series for the next to months until at least the end of May 2020 with A Perfect Lie, Family Affairs, Kulfi, Made for Each Other and The Inseparables that all abruptly stopped airing new episodes.

Once new episodes become available, the last few aired episodes of these shows will repeat again before new episodes are possibly shown. Star Life continues to show daily Bollywood films at 15:00

The Star Life prime time schedule has now changed to two episodes daily of The Crossroads at 18:00 until 19:00, followed by 5 consecutive episodes daily of Forever Yours until 21:30, and then 3 episodes daily of Chasing My Heart between 21:30 and 23:00.

With production and international content distribution from within India shut down, on Zee World (DStv 166) the just-started Jodha & Akbar has been removed from the schedule indefinitely. The telenovela Ring of Fire has also been removed and replaced by a rebroadcast of Gangaa at 20:00 with Jodha & Akbar replaced by a rebroadcast of Twist of Fate at 21:00.

A repeat of Mehek has replaced Lies of the Heart on weekdays at 17:00, while Lies of the Heart at 22:00 is a rebroadcast of the series.

New episodes are still available for the recently started Our Perfect Place broadcast daily at 18:00 in its usual timeslot and the second season of Deception which continue daily in the 19:00 timeslot.

The schedule of Glow TV (StarSat 570 / Openview 140) has also been dramatically impacted by the global Covid-19 national lockdowns and the inability to get content out of India.

Glow TV has switched to a programming strategy for now of repeats of the past two week's episodes of its Indian series True Love, This is Love and Young Love.

Coronavirus: Nat Geo's Genius Aretha postponed, FOX's Empire cut short without proper series finale, and M-Net's Billions and Black Monday getting mid-season breaks.

by Thinus Ferreira

As the impact of the spread of the global Covid-19 novel coronavirus increases in countries from the United States to South Africa more American-produced TV series are having to adjust with the shutdown of the TV industry now impacting National Geographic's Genius: Aretha, Showtime's Billions and Black Monday, and with FOX's Empire that will no longer have a proper series finale.

The biographical series, Genius: Aretha, with Cynthia Erivo in the lead role has been postponed and will no longer start in late-May 2020 on National Geographic (DStv 181 / StarSat 220) since the Fox21 Television Studios and Imagine Television Studios production shut down on 13 March with filming which hadn't completed. No new starting date exists.

"Production on National Geographic’s limited series Genius: Aretha remains suspended and it has become clear that the series will not be completed in time for our previously announced airdate," says National Geographic in a statement.

"We look forward to resuming work as soon as is possible and safe, and at that time will announce a new premiere date for later this year."

"We cannot wait to let Aretha's voice sing, and in the words of the Queen herself, 'Being the Queen is not all about singing, and being a diva is not all about singing. It has much to do with your service to people. And your social contributions to your community and your civic contributions as well.' "

"In that spirit, we wish all of our viewers well in these challenging times, particularly those who are working in our communities to keep us all safe."

Meanwhile FOX (DStv 125 / StarSat 131) already announced that it has been forced to postpone the 10th season finale of The Walking Dead zombie drama series.

AMC already pushed out the starting date of the spinoff series, Walking Dead: World Beyond that would have started on 12 April directly after the 10th season finale of The Walking Dead, also because of the coronavirus pandemic. AMC said that Walking Dead: World Beyond will now start "later this year". This series will be shown on SundanceTV (DStv 108) in South Africa.

Preproduction on the 11th season of The Walking Dead was already postponed as well.

Empire, with episodes of the 6th and final season currently on Thursdays at 20:45 on FOX (DStv 125 / StarSat 131) will also now end two episodes earlier with episode 18 on 7 May 2020 in South Africa instead of episode 20.

South African viewers are two weeks behind the United States and will see the 14th episode next week, with the promo for next week's 16th episode of Empire in America suddenly saying "Get ready for the shocking final three episodes of Empire", meaning that the series with Taraji P. Henson will end with the 18th episode.

The latest season of the Showtime drama series Billions (on M-Net (DStv 101) and Showmax) and Black Monday on 1Magic (DStv 103) haven't completed filming. The 5th season of Billions will show the first 7 episodes, and the second season of Black Monday will start but then end mid-season, with the rest of the episodes of both series that will be broadcast later.

Tuesday, March 31, 2020

Coronavirus: Nickelodeon to broadcast a global KidsTogether: The Nickelodeon Town Hall to offer a kid's-eye view of Covid-19.

by Thinus Ferreira

The Nickelodeon (DStv 305) channel will broadcast a special KidsTogether: The Nickelodeon Town Hall globally including South Africa and across Africa with actress Kristen Bell as the host to give a kid's-eye view of life amidst the growing Covid-19 novel coronavirus pandemic.

The hourlong special includes a performance by Alicia Keys and appearances by Charli D'Amelio, Josh Gad, Kel Mitchell, Kenan Thompson, and Ciara and Russell Wilson, as well as two American doctors.

A broadcast date for KidsTogether: The Nickelodeon Town Hall isn't available yet for ViacomCBS Networks Africa's Nickelodeon channel that runs in South Africa and sub-Saharan Africa.

KidsTogether: The Nickelodeon Town Hall will directly address kids' questions and concerns about the virus, and include tips and insights from medical experts on ways to be healthy. It will also have first-person accounts from kids and families in the United States who are social distancing and making changes to their everyday lives and relationships.

Dr Nadine Burke Harris, California's surgeon general, and Dr Vivek H. Murthy, a former US surgeon general will also appear.

"It's so important to remember that we are all in this together and our kids and loved ones need outlets to help them process and understand what's going on and, most importantly, to still feel connected," says Kristen Bell.

"I hope kids and families come away from this special, feeling a little more comfortable and that they enjoy some much-needed moments of humour during this difficult time."

The KidsTogether: The Nickelodeon Town Hall is part of Nickelodeon's new global initiative that launched on 18 March 2020, using Nickelodeon's most popular characters and talent to engage with kids and families on tips for staying healthy and also ideas for activities to do together while in the home during the Covid-19 pandemic.

Characters used include SpongeBob SquarePants, Blue's Clues & You!, Henry Danger, Bubble Guppies and The Casagrandes.

Coronavirus: National Geographic Society launches an emergency fund for journalists worldwide who want to cover the Covid-19 pandemic within their own communities.

by Thinus Ferreira

The National Geographic Society has launched an international emergency fund for journalists worldwide who want to cover the Covid-19 novel coronavirus pandemic within their own communities.

The National Geographic Society will review proposals that it receives for journalists and people who want to do citizen journalism on an ongoing basis. The work must be in English and journalists need to be at least 18 years old and older.

"In the most difficult of times, journalism can play several roles in supporting communities around the globe. It can disseminate critical information to keep people safe and informed, it can illuminate stories that bring us hope and remind us of our shared human experience, and it can help us find and share solutions to wicked problems," says National Geographic.

"As Covid-19 continues to evolve and impact communities around the globe, the National Geographic Society is launching an emergency fund for journalists all over the world who wish to cover Covid-19 within their own communities."

"This fund will place particular emphasis on delivering news to underserved populations, particularly where there is a dearth of evidence-based information getting to those who need it."

National Geographic says that the fund is designed to quickly deliver support so that both individual stories and longer series of content may be created.

The fund will distribute support ranging from $1000 to $8000 for local coverage of the preparation, response, and impact of this global pandemic as seen through evidence-based reporting.

"Beyond reporting on medical and physical health related to Covid-19, we especially encourage reporting that covers social, emotional, economic and equity issues. Narratives around the pandemic necessarily include facts and numbers, but ultimately, must also go deeper - telling the stories of inequities that Covid-19 has brought to light."

The National Geographic Society is looking for writers, photographers, videographers, audio journalists, cartographers, filmmakers, and data visualization experts who are all welcome to apply for this funding.

"Journalists should seek placement of this work within their local media ecosystems and must attribute their support to the National Geographic Society’s Emergency Fund for Journalists. National Geographic Society or National Geographic Partners may also choose to publish some of this work as part of its global coverage."

The reporting should cover any aspect of the virus and its fallout, including but not limited to, the social consequences of Covid-19 and measures to contain it, particularly related to equity - such as its impact on immigrant communities, domestic violence, and early childhood education.

The society is also looking for stories of resilience and solutions that could be applied on a regional or global scale, novel forms of data visualization or science communication to help communities better understand how to protect themselves, as well as lessons learned from local response(s) to Covid-19 that could be applied to other large-scale challenges, such as climate change or the refugee crisis.

Coronavirus: Ryan Serhant of Million Dollar Listing NY shares Covid-19 advice: 'The world right now is in a storm, go into the waves the same way professional swimmers do'.

by Thinus Ferreira

New York is eerily quiet and from the deserted middle of the city that used to never sleep, the real estate broker Ryan Serhant of the reality series Million Dollar Listing: New York is sharing very important advice as the global Covid-19 pandemic is shutting down the world as we knew it: Don't panic

While production on his show has shut down similar to basically all TV shows in the United States, the United Kingdom and even South Africa, sitting in his empty real estate office in Manhattan, the star of MDL: NY decided to share advice on how he weathers adversity in life for people who are scared, panicked, uncertain and who feel unhinged about what's going on and what they're supposed to do.

"I swim through the waves. Every time there is market movement, ruffles, downturns."

"There are a lot of waves in the oceans. The idea of a professional swimmer, swimming through the open ocean. Everyone swims well when there are no waves. Everyone's a great swimmer. Everyone can make perfect time. Everyone's awesome."

"But all of a sudden there's a storm. All of a sudden there are lots of waves. And a lot of those swimmers bounce out. A lot of those swimmers start flailing, losing energy, and they're going under the water."

"A lot of those swimmers try to go over the waves; they don't know what to do. They go underwater."

"The world right now is in a storm," says Ryan Serhant.

"We're in this insane storm and most people don't know what to do, so most people panic. And they are freaking out. Schools shut down, restaurants shut down, everywhere. People are getting sick. This is very real. This isn't a fake thing."

"Stay productive. The worst thing we can do right now is literally just staying on the couch and watch Netflix," he says.

"Anyone who's going to come out of this storm better than they were before the storm even hit, are going to go into the waves the same way professional swimmers do."

"What do the best professional swimmers do who swim in rough seas in the middle of a storm? They do 3 things. The first thing is they regulate their breathing. They make sure that they're not ha-ha-ha-ha-ha in a panic all the time."

"If the waves are coming from the right, they make sure they breathe to the left. If the waves are coming at them from the left they make sure they breathe to the right."

"They swim in accordance with the waves and they make sure that their breathing is okay - because if their breathing isn't okay, what happens when you're swimming into the waves, swimming into the storm? You end up with a stomach full of salt water."

"The second thing best swimmers do when they swim in a storm with huge waves is staying calm, keeping control of their breathing and treading water slowly, until they can figure out what to do, or until help comes to find them."

"If everyone is flailing their arms, what does that do? You can't control your breathing. Two - you lose all of your energy."

"The third thing is you have to keep moving. Keep control of your breathing, stay calm, and the way you swim through the waves is like a dolphin: You swim under the waves."

"That's what I'm doing here. I'm in the service industry. I'm a real estate broker. How many people do you think want to see homes right now? Not a lot. How many do you think are so excited that interest rates are so low right now that they want to go and spend money that they don't have?"

"How many people do you think are excited to be quarantined at home? Not a whole lot. It's a scary, scary time but I can't panic, I can't flail, I have to swim underneath the waves."