Thursday, July 9, 2020

American TV news channel MSNBC moves Joy Reid to a primetime slot with The ReidOut replacing Hardball.

by Thinus Ferreira

The American TV news channel MSNBC (StarSat 263) is moving anchor Joy Reid to a primetime slot in the United States with her new nightly news programme, The ReidOut that will replace Hardball from 20 July.

Viewers in South Africa and across sub-Saharan Africa will be able to watch Joy Reid and The ReidOut at 01:00 in the mornings South African time on MSNBC.

Joy Reid joined MSNBC in 2011 as a contributor and started as the presenter of AM Joy in 2016 on weekends.

The New York Times reports that The ReidOut will be done from Washington and focus on political analysis but will also "address race, class, policing and other cataclysmic social issues we need to reckon with".

In an interview with The Washington Post Joy Reid explained that The ReidOut show name is a reference to a "readout" in politics, when a summary of a call or meeting is provided.

"I really thought a lot about the name because it’s got a good little hashtag capability, and I think it speaks to my love of politics."

MSNBC in a prepared statement only released by MSNBC on Thursday afternoon after the two newspaper interviews serving as the announcement, Phil Griffin, MSNBC president, said that "I’m thrilled to have Joy on five nights a week".

In the statement, Joy Reid said that "I’m honoured and thankful for this opportunity. I’ll always be proud of the work we did on AM Joy by pushing the envelope and tackling pragmatic conversations."

"I’m eager to carry that same energy into primetime where we can continue to build on bringing in diverse, smart, and accomplished voices to the table on topics that are important to our viewers."

CNBC hires Shepard Smith as new general news anchor, will do new nightly news show, The News With Shepard Smith.

by Thinus Ferreira

The American TV news anchor Shepard Smith who abruptly left FOX News (StarSat 261) in October 2019 is joining CNBC from 13 July where he will be anchoring The News with Shepard Smith timeslot on weekdays, starting later this year.

It's not yet clear whether The News with Shepard Smith will be broadcast in South Africa and Africa on CNBC Africa (DStv 410) but if it is, it will be on at 01:00 in the mornings South African time, following The NBC Night News with Lester Holt at 00:30.

The News with Shepard Smith will be a general news show on the TV financial news channel that Shepard Smith says will be "fact-based, hour-long evening news program with the mission to cut through the static to deliver facts, in context and with perspective".

The show will serve as "the perfect bridge between CNBC's daytime investor-focused news programming and the network's aspirational business-oriented entertainment programs in primetime".

Shepard Smith will work from CNBC's headquarters in Engelwood Cliffs, New Jersey.

Shepard Smith will serve as CNBC's chief general news anchor and chief breaking general news anchor, as well as the executive producer of The News with Shepard Smith.

"Information is coming at us from every direction. If we're not careful, life-altering decisions will be made based on half-truth, rumour, misdirection or worse," says Mark Hoffman, CNBC chairperson, in a statement announcing Shepard Smith's addition.

Smith Shepard says in the statement that "Gathering and reporting the news has been my life’s work. I am honoured to continue to pursue the truth, both for CNBC’s loyal viewers and for those who have been following my reporting for decades in good times and in bad".

"Mark Hoffman presented me with CNBC’s vision for a fact-based, hour-long evening news program with the mission to cut through the static to deliver facts, in context and with perspective."

"I know I found a great home for my newscast. I am excited to be working with the exceptional talent at CNBC and eager to build a team focused on uncovering the news behind the headlines."

ALSO READ: Original FOX News anchor Shepard Smith shocks and abruptly quits after 23 years with the American channel.

Glee star Naya Rivera missing after boat excursion on California lake, 4-year old son found alone - reports.

American media are reporting that the Glee-star Naya Rivera is missing after she went on a boat excursion with her 4-year old son on Lake Piru on California. 

Her little boy was found alone on the boat in the lake on Wednesday afternoon.

Ventura County's sheriff's department launched a search with helicopters and dive teams for Naya Rivera, best known for her role as Santana Lopez on FOX's Glee, who rented a boat on Wednesday afternoon.

Another person found the boat with just the 4-year old boy inside who said that he and his mom had been swimming.

Naya Rivera's son said that his mom jumped into the water but didn't resurface.

TV NEWS ROUND-UP. Today's interesting TV stories to read - 9 July 2020.

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

■ MUST READ. "I was on a British TV diversity scheme - and saw why they don't change anything."

■ Hamilton, The Simpsons, and the problem with colourblind casting.
Animated shows are finally moving away from letting white actors play characters of colour. But even well-intentioned efforts at increasing diversity create complications.

■ Lithuania bans Russia's propaganda TV channel RT (DStv 407).
Follows Latvia and Baltic countries who sees Russia Today as a Kremlin propaganda tool aiming to influence the region’s ethnic Russian minority.

■ MultiChoice continues to fall even further and further behind with its DStv Explora decoder as Sky launches massive decoder upgrade.
Sky's Sky Q in the United Kingdom announces a raft of feature improvements for its decoder with an even better user interface (UI), so-called "show centres" where every TV show will now have a go-to destination for every available episode; and with all seasons, episodes, recordings, broadcast schedules and on-demand links together in one place.

■ Amazon Prime Video will finally offer one of Netflix's most basic and desired features.
Subscribers can now create different user profiles for multiple people sharing an Amazon Prime subscription to maintain separate watch histories and watch lists - along with parental controls.

■ Uganda censorship continues as Urban TV's Scoop on Scoop show is yanked from the air.
The Uganda Communications Commission (UCC) got complaints that the shallow gossip show presented by Tina Fierce is "abusive, demeaning and inciting; opinionated and not attributed to any reliable source".

■ Peak Comfort TV.
Coronavirus and political anxiety in the United States have accelerated the shift toward comfort TV.

■ Blow-up dolls for The Bold and the Beautiful sex scenes.
Because of Covid-19 the American daytime soap is now using life-like dummies for intimate on-camera sex scenes where actors have to look like they're "in the throes of passion".

Wednesday, July 8, 2020

TV NEWS ROUND-UP. Today's interesting TV stories to read - 8 July 2020.

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

■ Why Critics worry about Criticism.
Criticism as a form is in trouble.

■ American TV critic Bruce Fretts dead at 54.
The "godfather" of Entertainment Weekly's TV coverage has died; played a pivotal role in developing EW’s approach to television coverage with his in-depth reporting, discerning analysis, and incisive wit.

■ Production cliff-edge forces the TV industry to plunder the past.
The Covid-19 coronavirus pandemic is making archive TV content more valuable again.

■ SABC must try everything else before firing staffers.
The Save Our SABC (SOS Coalition) says South Africa's public broadcaster must first exhaust all other avenues to stabilise its financial situation before retrenching employees.

■ CNN's Richard Quest on his life after Covid-19.
The financial reporter and anchor on CNN International (DStv 401) reflects on the coronavirus 2 months after he was diagnosed as Covid-19 positive: "one surveys the damage to the human landscape and realizes that it's much greater than first thought."

■ How J.K. Rowling became Voldemort.
To preserve their love of Harry Potter, its fans must erase its author. Rowling, like Voldemort, is so evil that even mentioning her violates a taboo: She Who Must Not Be Named. Dumbledore would not have approved of this practice.

■ Magda Wierzycka to join The Apprentice South Africa TV show as CEO in 2021.
The long-dormant The Apprentice SA gets another chance at the TV boardroom with Gray Matter Media producing.

■ Floor Is Lava: how Netflix's health and safety nightmare became a reality (subscription required).

■ Newscorp CEO Robert Thomson: "Journalism around the world is unsustainable".

■ Some of the hottest shows on Netflix right now are the dark and gloomy ones.

Coronavirus: 21 SABC staffers have tested positive for Covid-19 over the last 2 weeks since 20 June 2020.

by Thinus Ferreira

The South African public broadcaster says that 21 SABC staffers in total have so far tested positive for the Covid-19 coronavirus over the past two weeks since 20 June 2020.

The SABC has seen a rising count of staff infected with Covid-19, similar to other broadcasters, South African TV news channels like eNCA (DStv 403) and Newzroom Afrika (DStv 405), and a growing number of locally-produced South African TV series which have been forced to shut down production.

Between 20 June and 6 July 2020 the SABC had tested 65 people in total, with 5 people showing mild symptoms and 16 being asymptomatic.

According to the SABC 20 Covid-19 cases were reported at the broadcaster's Auckland Park headquarters in Johannesburg, with 1 in its Eastern Cape office.

MultiChoice acquires and moves ITV programming like Coronation Street, Emmerdale and The Chase to its M-Net channels on DStv after ending the ITV Choice channel.

by Thinus Ferreira

MultiChoice has acquired a raft of British programming from ITV that is has decided to allocate to two M-Net channels.

MultiChoice ended the ITV Choice channel on DStv at the end of May after 5 years following low ratings but decided to separately acquire some of the channel's choicest content from ITV Studios directly including the two British soaps Coronation Street and Emmerdale that were carried on ITV Choice.

The 13th season of the game show The Chase with presenter Bradley Walsh has now been added to a 12:30 weekday slot on M-Net (DStv 101).

Emmerdale and Coronation Street will both be added to the schedule of M-Net City (DStv 115) from later this year and M-Net will show the latest episodes from both soaps.

The new 7-episode first season of the World War II drama series World on Fire that has been renewed for a second season, will either be slotted in on the M-Net or M-Net City (DStv 115) channel.

The 6th season of the Brit-reality show Love Island that was filmed in Constantia, Cape Town with presenter Laura Whitmore will be shown on M-Net from the first week in August.

"Our hand-picked selection of the best of the best British reality shows have been audience favourites for many years," says Jan du Plessis, director of M-Net channels.

"We've learnt that the viewers of our M-Net’s general entertainment channels are global citizens who enjoy a variety of stories from different countries and cultures. Adding a wider selection of British genres will not only enable us to bring more fresh content to African shores but also spice up some of our day-time schedules."

Jan du Plessis says that the M-Net channels will continue to build on its British offering in future, while also acquiring the "crème de la crème of European series". "These international productions will complement our existing first-rate schedules."

After 22 years SABC1 loses the South African Music Awards to M-Net's Mzansi Magic with virtual event 26th SAMAs that switches to a 5-episode, 5-night broadcast from 3 August 2020.

by Thinus Ferreira

SABC1 has lost another televised awards show with the South African Music Awards (SAMAs) that is switching to M-Net's Mzansi Magic (DStv 161) channel and changing to a 5-night, 5-episode broadcast in a new permutation because of the Covid-19 coronavirus pandemic.

After having been on the South African public broadcaster's SABC1 channel for 22 years, the Recording Industry of South Africa (RISA) is switching the 26th SAMAs to Mzansi Magic and Vodacom's MyMuze video streaming app.

Under the theme of "ForThaKultcha", the 26th SAMAs will be broadcast from 3 to 7 August at 21:30 on Mzansi Magic as 30-minute nightly episodes with a 45-minute episode on 7 August.

The "red carpet" is moved to Twitter. The 26th SAMAs will have two hosts who will still be announced, along with performers and panellists.

"We look forward to the 26th SAMAs virtual experience. Our teams are hard at work to deliver a show that we will all be proud of given the current state the world is in," says Nhlanhla Sibisi, RISA CEO, in a statement.

Nomsa Philiso, the director of local entertainment channels at M-Net, in the statement says that "The South African Music Awards have always been a platform where talented Mzansi artists have been recognised for their excellence".

"As a channel that has a track record of showcasing local talent across several platforms, we are very proud to be partnering up with the 26th SAMAs to give our viewers front row seats to this virtual showpiece".

Tuesday, July 7, 2020

CBS fires MacGyver and Magnum P.I. showrunner Peter Lenkov for creating toxic work environment.

by Thinus Ferreira

CBS has fired Peter Lenkov who was the executive producer and showrunner for Hawaii Five-0, MacGyver and Magnum P.I. following an investigation into allegations that he created a toxic work environment.

Peter Lenov was allegedly manipulative and sexist on-set and would belittle women and writers making misogynistic and crude jokes.

Monica Macer will take over as showrunner for MacGyver and Eric Guggenheim will take over as showrunner for Magnum P.I. for both American series seen in South Africa and across sub-Saharan Africa on M-Net (DStv 101) on MultiChoice's DStv satellite pay-TV service.

"Peter Lenkov is no longer the executive producer overseeing MacGyver and Magnum P.I., and the studio has ended its relationship with him," says CBS Studios in a statement.

"Monica Macer will be the showrunner on MacGyver and Eric Guggenheim will run Magnum P.I. Both are currently executive producers on their respective series."

"Our studio is committed to ensuring safe and respectful production environments. Over the past year, we have assigned human resource production partners to every show, expanded staff training and increased reporting options."

"We will continue to evolve our practices with a continued focus on building trust with all who work on our sets. Every complaint is taken seriously, every claim is investigated, and when evidence is clear that policies were violated and values not upheld, we take decisive action."

Coronavirus: Another eNCA staffer dies, longtime graphic designer Michael Wilson had Covid-19.

by Thinus Ferreira

Another eNCA (DStv 403) staffer has died from Covid-19, with the eMedia TV news channel that said that graphic designer Michael Wilson had passed away from the coronavirus.

Michael Wilson's death on Monday comes almost two-months after the eNCA cameraman Lungile Tom died in mid-May.

Michael Wilson was diagnosed with Covid-19 on Thursday and he died 4 days later in hospital. He was admitted to hospital on Tuesday 30 June 2020 with Covid-19 related symptoms from possible exposure.

Since then eNCA anchors and reporters like Shahan Ramkissoon and Heidi Giokis have tested positive for Covid-19 and eMedia has had to shutters studio space in Zonnebloem in Cape Town and Hyde Park in Johannesburg for deep-cleaning with workers who had to stay home and self-isolate and its eNuus edition done for kykNET (DStv 144) that had to broadcast a pre-recorded episode in late-June.

Similar to eNCA, rivals SABC News (DStv 404) and Newzroom Afrika (DStv 405) have battled to balance covering the news as colleagues at both TV news channels across South Africa fell ill with Covid-19.

Michael Wilson who was part of eNCA's graphics team who joined 14 years ago in August 2006. Over the years Michael Wilson had worked on Morning News,'s Sunrise morning show, and various eNCA's shows.

eNCA anchor Sally Burdett told viewers that "Mike, we will remember you for your dry sense of humour, and your commitment to your craft. Condolences go out to his family and friends."

In a statement on Tuesday eMedia Investments said that it "saddened by the loss of one of our graphic designers, Michael Wilson, our colleague and friend, working for eNCA, based in Johannesburg.

Jody Jacobs, eNCA's operations manager, says "Michael, known to many as Mike, joined eNCA in August 2006 and has dedicated his craft to our business with passion and diligence in the last 14 years".

"Michael will be remembered for his dry sense of humour and personable nature. His presence in the newsroom will be missed. Our thoughts are with his Fiancée, Reinette, family, and friends during this difficult time".

eMedia says that it will follow government regulations and safeguard staff by taking the necessary precautions, including disinfecting common use areas and equipment in the Johannesburg office.

"We have also instituted a tracing and tracking process. All employees who had contact with Michael have been advised to stay at home pending testing. They will be tested and subsequently go into self-isolation."

EbonyLife TV from Nigeria's Mo Abudu scrapped from MultiChoice's DStv in the rest of Africa from 31 July 2020.

by Thinus Ferreira

The relationship is over between MultiChoice and Nigeria's Mosunmola Abudu, known as Mo Abudu, with her linear TV channel, EbonyLife TV, that will terminate on DStv on 31 July 2020, and possibly not remain for longer on China's StarTimes and StarSat.

Mo Abudu has teamed up with the Netflix video streaming service that her EbonyLife production company now wants to produce content for, and she also wants to channel content through the video-on-demand service, EbonyLife ON.

EbonyLife will no longer get channel carriage revenue from MultiChoice.

MultiChoice has not made any announcement about the axing of EbonyLife TV from its DStv satellite pay-TV platform in the rest of Africa from the end of July after EbonyLife TV already got dumped in South Africa in June 2018.

In a social media announcement, Mo Abudu said: "Remember when we used to wait a whole week to watch our favourite TV shows? Well, those days are gone forever! Now, we can binge on the whole series if we want to. Therefore, we have decided that EbonyLife TV will no longer be available on DStv from 31 July 2020."

MultiChoice added EbonyLife TV in 2013 on DStv across Africa outside of South Africa, with the channel that was added a year later in 2014 to DStv for South African and Southern African DStv subscribers as well.

MultiChoice then dumped EbonyLife TV dumped it after 4 years at the end of June 2018 in South Africa and several other countries across Southern Africa because of its lackluster viewership and being a ratings failure after the content didn't resonate with pay-TV subscribers.

EbonyLife TV continued to be available as a TV channel on DStv in East and West African countries but the exclusivity clause lapsed and EbonyLife TV that switched and added carriage on StarTimes since August 2018.

With EbonyLife TV getting completely erased from MultiChoice Africa at the end of July 2020, it's not yet clear whether, or for how long, EbonyLife TV will remain available as a linear TV channel on the pay-TV platform of China's StarSat in South Africa and on StarTimes across the rest of Africa.

No more Hope for Days of Our Lives as Kristian Alfonso is done with the American daytime soap after 37 years.

by Thinus Ferreira

Kristian Alfonso has exited the American daytime soap Days of Our Lives after 37 years and will not return to the studio when production restarts on September on the new season.

Kristian Alfonso has been a mainstay on the American daytime soap, with season 51 of Days of Our Lives currently seen on on weekdays at 16:45.

She has played the character of Hope Williams Brady since 1983 with just two breaks over the decades when she left in 1987 and returned in April 1990, and again left in July 1990 until 1994 when she returned again.

"I feel blessed and honoured to have been invited into people's homes for over 3 decades. However, it is now time for me to write my next chapter," Kristian Alfonso says in a statement about her exit.

"I will not be returning to Days when it resumes production in September. I've already filmed my last episode several months ago."

"Days of Our Lives has been a vital part of both my personal and professional journey. I am forever grateful to NBC and the late [co-creator] Betty Corday, who took a chance on me many years ago and changed my life."

"I have built some lifelong friendships with my extraordinarily talented castmates. Days has one of the hardest working crews in all of television, many of whom have become part of my extended family."

"Finally to the incredibly loyal fans of Days, many of you have been with me on this journey from the beginning. I cannot thank you enough for your generosity, love and support. I could not have done it without you."

MultiChoice's video streaming service Showmax expands with Showmax Pro providing a live sports offering from SuperSport.

by Thinus Ferreira

MultiChoice's subscription video-on-demand (SVOD) service Showmax is expanding to offer Showmax Pro that will provide a live sports content streaming offering in addition to its general entertainment content carousel.

The Showmax Pro offering is the end-result of the sport beta test on Showmax that has been running since June 2019.

Showmax Pro is launching across sub-Saharan Africa with roll-out in Nigeria and Kenya first, with other countries - likely including South Africa - later. The entire pricess is expected to be completed with 6 to 8 weeks. 

Showmax Pro bundles the existing Showmax entertainment service together with music channels, news, and live sport streaming from SuperSport, and is the first major brand delineation since Showmax launched in 2015.

The additional content offered through Showmax Pro features all Premier League, Serie A, La Liga and PSL games, and other live sport events. 

Showmax Pro
Showmax Mobile
Showmax Pro
Showmax Pro Mobile
Series, movies, kids’ shows, documentaries
IAAF Athletics, pro boxing, major international marathons, & more
Music channels Trace Urban, Trace Gospel
News channels Africa News, Euronews, Newzroom Afrika
Football: all Premier League, Serie A, PSL and La Liga games 
Number of concurrent streams
Smartphone and tablet apps
Smart TV, laptop, Android TV, Apple TV apps
Maximum video resolution
14-day trial
*Supported smart TVs: Samsung Tizen (2017-2020), LG WebOS (2014-2020)

Niclas Ekdahl, CEO of the Connected Video division of MultiChoice, says in a statement that  "Showmax is an African video on-demand service with many years' experience operating on this continent".

"We're local-first, which means listening to our customers and delivering African stories told in familiar voices as well as the best that Hollywood has to offer. Our local-first strategy is an advantage because it allows us to tailor our content, apps, packages, and partnerships specifically to what’s most important in Africa."

In June 2019, Showmax began testing sport live-streaming, and the new Showmax Pro service is based on the results of this. 

"The live sport test we ran on Showmax in conjunction with SuperSport has been well received, so that’s forming an integral part of our new Showmax Pro service."

Besides the standard version of Showmax Pro, Showmax will also offer a "mobile-only" version at half the price. 

About the mobile-only option in Africa Niclas Ekdahl says "Mobile usage is mainstream, so having a one-size-fits-all big screen service may not be the best solution here".

"With the mobile-only version of Showmax Pro, anyone with a smartphone in sub-Saharan Africa will be able to get the best African content, the best of Hollywood, and all of the best sporting action. This is something no other service is doing and we think it’s a game-changer.”

The pricing for Showmax and Showmax Pro in Kenya and Nigeria is as follows:

Showmax Pro
Showmax Mobile
Showmax Pro
Showmax Pro Mobile
KSh 760
KSh 380
KSh 2100
KSh 1050
NGN 2900
NGN 1450
NGN 6300
NGN 3200

Coronavirus: Media24 plans massive print publication cut, culling 5 magazines and 2 newspapers as South Africa's print extinction-level event accelerates because of Covid-19.

by Thinus Ferreira

The media and print extinction-level event in South Africa is accelerating because of the Covid-19 coronavirus pandemic with Media24 that plans to cull the printing of 5 magazines and 2 newspapers from its portfolio that will roughly see 660 positions axed.

Already at the beginning of May Associated Media Publishing folded that used to publish Cosmopolitan, Women on WheelsGood Housekeeping, Goeie Huishouding and House and Leisure in South Africa.

Then Caxton & CTP Publishers & Printers announced in May that it's closing down the print magazines of Bona, Country Life, Essentials, Food & Home, Garden & Home, People SA, Rooi RoseVrouekeur, Woman & Home and Your Family.

On Tuesday morning Media24 in a statement announced that it plans to shutter 5 magazines and 2 newspapers, to outsource and reduce the frequency of its remaining monthly magazines and to go digital-only with some titles.

"The pandemic has accelerated the pre-existing and long-term structural decline in print media, resulting in a devastating impact on our own already fragile print media operations with significant declines in both circulation and advertising since April," says Ishmet Davidson, Media24 CEO.

"For many of our print titles the benefits of prior interventions to offset the structural declines and keep them on the shelf no longer exist and they’ve run out of options in this regard."

"We are fully committed to managing this highly sensitive consultation with compassion while following the process as prescribed by law. Unfortunately, we cannot share any further details until the process has been concluded."

Media24's publication cuts will affect 510 staffers, with a planned closure of proposed reduction of close of 660 positions out of 2 971.

Media24 plans to close Move! and the Hearst portfolio publications that include Men’s Health SA, Women’s Health SA, Bicycling, Runner’s World.

Media24 is ending the print run of DRUM that will be published as a digital title only. Media24 plans to enter into a licensing agreement with editor Helen Schöer to publish the parenting titles Baba & Kleuter and Your Pregnancy independently.

Media24 will outsource the editorial production of the remaining monthly portfolio of Fairlady, SARIE, SA Hunter/Jagter, True Love, tuis | home, Weg! | go! and Weg! Ry & Sleep | go! Drive & Camp, as well as the fortnightly Kuier.

Media24 will also reduce the frequency of the monthly magazines to 6issues per year, and 8 issues for tuis | home, SA Hunter/Jagter and Man Magnum.

The magazines Huisgenoot, YOU and Landbouweekblad will continue to be produced and published in-house. TV Plus magazine is not currently affected and the Afrikaans print version of Finweek has already been scrapped and is only available digitally.

Within the newspaper portfolio Media24 will shut down Son op Sondag and Sunday Sun, shut down the Eastern Cape edition of Son, publish Volksblad and Die Burger Oos-Kaap as weekday digital editions only that will only be available on Netwerk24. Volksblad will cease print publication on 8 August 2020.

Four community newspapers in KwaZulu-Natal are axed: Amanzimtoti Fever, East Griqualand Fever, Hillcrest Fever and Maritzburg Fever.

Media24 will also combine Noordkaap and Kalahari Bulletin into a single newspaper, and Noordkaap Bulletin, and Kroonnuus and Vrystaat Nuus into Vrystaat Kroonnuus. Meanwhile the Theewaterskloof Gazette and Hermanus Times will be combined.

The Witness newspaper in KwaZulu-Natal will "accelerate" into a digital newspaper.

Media24 also plans to get rid of workers in its media distribution business as well as in divisional and corporate services departments related to the proposed reduced print media operations.

The South African National Editors' Forum (SANEF) in a statement late on Tuesday said that it is concerned that the continuing closure of media houses will have a detrimental effect on South Africa's democracy "as it limits the number of sources of information for the public, leads to regression in media diversity and multiplicity of voices".

"In April alone we saw the closure of two magazine publishers and 80 small print publications operating across the country, leading to the loss of over 700 jobs for journalists."

"We appeal to South African cooperates to spend their advertising budgets with South African media consciously, and that the public should take up subscriptions and continue to buy local papers."

ALSO READ: TV CRITIC's NOTEBOOK. The closure of Caxton's magazines amidst Covid-19 is catastrophic for South Africa TV industry - here's why.

Sunday, July 5, 2020

The ANC political party tells South African public broadcaster it doesn't want the bloated SABC to get rid of staffers.

The ANC summoned the top executives of the South African public broadcaster for a meeting at the ANC's headquarters in Johannesburg and told them that the political party doesn't want the bloated and over-staffed SABC to fire any workers.

The SABC has started for a second time to try and cut its enormous wage bill and to get rid of unnecessary personnel after the SABC was forced to end a first attempt in late-2018 because of political pressure in 2019 that was an election year in South Africa.

Currently, 40 cents in every R1 spent by the SABC goes to wages and salaries of its thousands of workers, dragging down the financial situation of the embattled broadcaster that got a R3.2 billion bailout earlier in 2020 and is projecting a loss of over R1 billion on its projected revenue for the year because of the Covid-19 coronavirus.

Now the SABC wants to fire 600 workers and told parliament's portfolio committee on communications and the ANC that if the broadcasting corporation is prevented from getting rid of workers the government will have to provide another bailout of over R1 billion to pay wages.

Currently the SABC spends over R270 million per month just on paying salaries.

On Sunday the City Press newspaper reported that Madoda Mxakwe, SABC CEO, and Bongumusa Makhathini, SABC chairperson were both summoned to the ANC's Luthuli House for a private meeting where ANC leaders told the SABC that it doesn't want and won't support the layoff of SABC staff since that would embarrass the political party which is also currently the governing party in South Africa.

The ANC was represented in the meeting with the SABC by Jessie Duarte (ANC deputy secretary general), Pinky Kekana (deputy minister of communication), as well as Solly Mapaila (SACP deputy leader).

South Africa's department of communications, currently run by the disgraced Stella Ndabeni-Abrahams, was initially for layoffs at the SABC but has now made a sudden turnaround.

Pule Mabe, ANC spokesperson, told City Press that it was a private meeting.

Saturday, July 4, 2020

Coronavirus: Actor-director and Kom Ons Jol co-host Hammie Wessels on kykNET reveals 'I've tested positive for the Covid-19 coronavirus' as music video call-in show switches to presenters' homes.

by Thinus Ferreira

The actor-director Hamilton Wessels popularly known as "Hammie" who is currently the co-presenter of Kom Ons Jol on kykNET (DStv 144) has tested Covid-19 positive with the weekly music video call-in show that switched from its studio setting to be done from the presenters' home on Saturday night.

Kom Ons Jol, produced by C-SAW Media, is one of a growing string of shows on M-Net's Afrikaans language division kykNET channels, as well as the broader South African TV and film industry, all affected by increasing Covid-19 positive cases under their casts and crews and that has seen productions shut down for studio and set deep-cleaning and staff self-isolation.

"It's my fault that tonight we come to you from our homes tonight - it's not our new set - it's our homes. I've tested positive for the coronavirus, I've picked it up from somewhere. I have no symptoms at this stage. I hope it remains that way," Hammie Wessels told DStv subscribers on Saturday night.

"M-Net and MultiChoice told us to get tested, there's been a few viruses where we work. Co-host Leandie du Randt luckily tested negative. I'm staying positive. Now it's safety first."

Hammie Wessels said that he will now have to self-isolate for 14 days of which he's "already been a few days into it. I'm now staying home."

When South Africa's Covid-19 national lockdown period started, kykNET quickly created Kom Ons Jol as a Saturday night replacement for its traditional Afrikaans film slot, inviting viewers and artists to interact through their mobile devices with dedications, messages and performances as the use of consumer video conferencing technology exploded because of the shutdown.

Leandie Du Randt said "People need to realise that this thing is really real and not something to toy with. So if you think you've been in contact with someone who has Covid-19, stay home, stay in isolation, get tested. It's uncomfortable but we will get through it."

kykNET's Afrikaans Friday night sports variety talk show, Toks & Tjops, also produced by C-SAW Media, also switched back to the various presenters' homes for Friday's edition after it had returned to the studio for just 2 weeks after Toks & Tjops was recorded remotely from the 4 presenters' homes for the past 3 months.

PROGRAMMING NOTE. 2020 Sharkfest on National Geographic starting 4 July has month-long shark documentaries including the South African filmed Shark vs Whale.

by Thinus Ferreira

The 2020 Sharkfest programming strand returns to National Geographic (DStv 181 / StarSat 220) starting on Saturday 4 July from 14:00 to 19:00 and on Nat Geo WILD (DStv 182 / StarSat 221) starting on Monday 6 July, from 18:00.

National Geographic and Nat Geo WILD will broadcast 4 weeks of shark programming with 17 original premieres until the end of July during its 8th Sharkfest event.

"For the past 8 years, National Geographic and National Geographic Wild have been the destination for viewers to get up close and personal with one of the world’s most awe-inspiring creatures, and this year we’re eating up the competition with an unprecedented line-up of action-packed shark shows" says Geoff Daniels, executive vice president of global unscripted entertainment at National Geographic.

"Over 4 full weeks, our viewers will get the ultimate home-field advantage to witness the ocean's superstars in their prime, so pull up your beach chairs and get ready for some Sharkfest."

Evert van der Veer, vice president, media networks at The Walt Disney Company Africa, says "This year's Sharkfest is going to hit a grand-slam with entertaining, heart-pounding content that showcases the ocean's fiercest and often most misunderstood predators".

One of the documentaries, Shark vs Whale was filmed off the coast of South Africa.

When Sharks Attack
Saturday 4 July 16:30 National Geographic, from 5 July 18:00 Nat Geo WILD
For families on beaches across the world, a split second is all it takes to turn a dream vacation into a nightmare. Sudden shark attacks frequently occur, and the motive behind the bite often puzzles locals and scientists alike. When Sharks Attack investigates these incidences to shed light on why and where shark encounters take place with the hope that if we understand the behaviour, we might be able to limit the number of attacks.

America’s Deadliest Sharks
Monday 6 July 18:00 Nat Geo WILD
Up to 175 species of shark live in the oceans around the United States but only a handful of those have been known to attack humans. Despite that, they have more shark attacks there every year than the rest of the world combined.

What the Shark
Tuesday 7 July 18:00 Nat Geo WILD
This film is a deep dive - from the sunny beach to the 8000-foot abyss, where extreme adaptation is critical to survival. 
For sharks in this dark void, pressure, or a lack of it, could blow flesh to pieces, and inky darkness could mean never finding prey. But these weirdsters have their act together. They're a ghostly cast of living monsters that defy the convention of life on Earth as we know it.

Shark vs. Surfer 
Tuesday 14 July 18:00 Nat Geo WILD
Surfers aren’t the only athletes in the water; they share the playing field with the most powerful players below surface, and often, they’re no match for the real danger among the waves. 
This documentary travels to the most shark-infested surf spots around the world to hear harrowing shark-and-surfer stories told by the survivors, along with insight from the world’s leading marine biologists, Ryan Johnson and Dr. Steven Kajuira.

World’s Biggest Tiger Shark
Wednesday 15 July 18:00 Nat Geo WILD
Cinematographer Andy Casagrande and marine biologist Kori Garza journey to a remote lagoon in French Polynesia to dive with the “tigers of Tahiti” in search of the world’s largest living tiger shark, Kamakai. While there, they capture cooperative hunting tactics between two juvenile tiger sharks for the first time ever on film.

Shark vs Whale
Friday 17 July 18:00 Nat Geo WILD
A routine drone survey turns deadly when Ryan Johnson, a marine biologist based in South Africa, films a humpback whale being attacked and strategically drowned by a great white shark. 
The never-before-seen behaviour causes a complete perspective shift on a creature Johnson has spent his life studying. To make sense of the event, he follows humpback whales on their migration, mapping places that may make them vulnerable, and takes a new look at great white sharks to discover how and why they become whale killers.

Most Wanted Sharks
Monday 20 July 18:00 Nat Geo WILD
Of the millions of sharks in our oceans, a select few are so fascinating, they’ve become worldwide celebrities with legions of fans and followers. Marine biologist and shark-suit inventor Jeremiah Sullivan dives into the stories of the most sensational shark stars of all time.

Tuesday 21 July 18:00 Nat Geo WILD
Sharks and volcanoes, across the globe: where you find one, you find the other. Researchers have not figured out what attracts sharks to the hotspots, but world-renowned shark scientist Dr Michael Heithaus is on a mission to figure out the answer. He crisscrosses the globe and risks life and limb to uncover the shocking real-life link between these two fearsome forces of nature.

Sharks vs. Dolphins: Blood Battle
Sunday 28 July 18:00 Nat Geo WILD
The ultimate feud is waged beneath the waves: sharks versus dolphins. 
They’ve shared the ocean for millennia, but scientists have only just begun to understand the complex relationship between the two. The special follows a team of experts as they travel to the epicentre of this savage struggle - Shark Bay, Australia - to unlock the secrets of shark and dolphin combat.

Veteran actress Mary Twala dead at 80; 'Lala Ma,' says son Somizi Mhlongo.

by Thinus Ferreira

The veteran actor Mary Twala has died at the age of 80 with her son, the choreographer, reality TV star and Idols judge Somizi Mhlongo who said "Lala Ma".

Mary Twala had been admitted at Netcare’s Park Lane hospital in Johannesburg for several days with an undisclosed illness where she died on Saturday morning.

On Instagram on Saturday Somizi Mhlongo wrote: "Today's my late father's birthday and my mom decided to respond to his call to join him in heaven. The tree has fallen."

"I'm shattered to the core but I'd be very selfish if I don't release her. My mom lived to the fullest, achieved beyond her dreams. It hurts like hell, I won't lie. A day without her calling to either say I love you or give me money."

"Thank you South Africa for loving the phenomenal superstar that is my mother. She left us peacefully around 11:00 at Parklane private hospital as I was on my way to drop off her gown and a few minutes earlier the doctor called to say, 'Come she's up and jolly now'. I arrived a few minutes late. Lala Ma".

Born in Soweto on 14 September 1939, Mary Twala who was married to actor Ndaba Mhlongo until his death, had roles in many South African films, TV series and theatre in a career spanning over 6 decades, including a guest role during the first season of SABC1's Generations.

In 2007 Mary Twala appeared in the local supernatural miniseries Ubizo: The Calling on SABC1 and in 2009 she played Ma Dolly in a supporting role in the SABC2 miniseries Hopeville for which she was nominated at the 6th Africa Movie Academy Awards in the category of Best Supporting Actress.

In 2010 she starred as MaKhumanule in the SABC2 sitcom Skwizas and in 2015 won the award for Best actress in a TV comedy at the SAFTAs.

In 2015 she appeared in the film Vaya and in 2016 in the film Comatose. In 2017 she appeared in the film Beyond the River.

Other films include Life, Above All, Beat the Drum, Leading Lady, Ghost Son, Mapantsula, SarafinaState of Violence, A Love in Africa, Malunde, Dr Lucille, Nyaka-Nyaka, Ngaka, Deliwe, Friends, Game for Vultures, Taxi to Soweto (for which she won a Best Supporting Actress award), Waati, Science Classic and Score.

On television Mary Twala also appeared in series like Undenzani Melwane, Iqhawe, Die SonKriel, Hlala Kwabafileyo, Soul Buddyz, Child Of Soweto, Khululeka, Yizo-Yizo, SOS and SABC2's Muvhango.

She also had TV roles in Ambitions, Hard Copy, Home Affairs, iNkaba, Roots, Scandal!, Sokhulu & Partners, Stokvel, The No.1 Ladies' Detective Agency, Zero Tolerance and Zone 14.

For her performances in Hlala Kwabafileyo and Molo Fish she won awards.

In 2019 Mary Twala received the Order of Ikhamanga for her contribution to the performing arts in South Africa.

South Africa's department of sport, arts and culture in a statement on Saturday evening said that Mary Twala "will best be remembered for her excellent contribution to the performing arts and for creatively raising awareness of women’s health issues through storytelling".

"Her sense of humour and humility on and off stage have endeared her to the nation at large."

"Mary Twala was an icon who left a gigantic footprint in the arts industry as well as on the hearts of the millions of South Africans who loved her. She lived a full life. May her soul rest in peace and may her son, her granddaughter, her family and friends be comforted in this time. Take a bow, Ma’Twala."

Friday, July 3, 2020

Sky News presenter Jacquie Beltrao battling breast cancer again, says 'last 4 weeks myself and my family have been walking through a living nightmare'.

by Thinus Ferreira

The Sky News (DStv 402) presenter Jacquie Beltrao is battling breast cancer again after she discovered a new lump during the lockdown period in the United Kingdom.

Jacquie Beltrao (55) was first diagnosed with breast cancer during Christmas 2013, said that she is determined to win her fight against cancer and returned to work at Sky News in mid-2014 after she had completed her cancer treatment.

Now Jacquie Beltrao revealed that she has once again been diagnosed with breast cancer and this time grade 3 breast cancer which is worse than what she experienced before.

Jacquie Beltrao has undergone two chemotherapy sessions already with 14 more to undergo.

In a Twitter video message she says the cancer is "much nastier than the first one I had". She says it "felt weird going back to work on Sky and being on social media and acting like everything was shiny and perfect and fun when it wasn't."

"And for the last 4 weeks myself and my family have been walking through a living nightmare. But I am where I am."

Coronavirus: Growing collection of kykNET shows impacted by positive Covid-19 cases; current affairs show KN Verslag and primetime soaps to remain on-air.

by Thinus Ferreira

Multiple shows on M-Net's Afrikaans division channels kykNET (DStv 144) and kykNET & Kie (DStv 145) are now also affected by Covid-19 positive cast and crew cases behind-the-scenes.

Positive Covid-19 cases are now impacting the production of a growing number of kykNET programming.

This stretches from weekday primetime soaps and series like Suidooster and Arendsvlei produced in Cape Town, to Johannesburg where the soap Binnelanders, the call-in music show Kom Ons Jol, and even its current affairs strand KN Verslag are all done from; as well as Pretoria where the hybrid radio-on-TV shows like Die GROOT Ontbyt, GROOTPlaas and Kom Ons Praat Daaroor are produced.

After just two episodes back on the Johannesburg set following months of doing remote episodes from home, the Friday night sports variety show Toks & Tjops produced by CSAW Media is abruptly back to doing Zoom episodes from the various presenters' homes after Covid-19 positive cases at the Randburg studio.

This coming Saturday evening the weekly edition of the Kom Ons Jol call-in music video programme - already making heavy use of video conferencing technology because of Covid-19 - will now be done from the presenters' homes after co-host Hamilton "Hammie" Wessels tested Covid-19 positive.

This week Die GROOT Ontbyt went into repeats while kykNET altered the schedule for the other two shows after The Pretoria community radio station shuttered for a deep-clean after Covid-19 in the studio.

It follows after eMedia's eNuus done from Hyde Park on Saturday evening had to broadcast a pre-recorded episode and had to shut the studio for a deep-clean also because of Covid-19.

Die GROOT Ontbyt will resume with a new episode on Monday 6 July.

Both Suidooster filmed at Atlantic Studios in Cape Town and produced by Suidooster Films and Arendsvlei produced by Penguin Films have now had positive Covid-19 cases.

Covid-19 is also affecting Binnelanders produced by Stark Films at Stark Studios in Johannesburg, as well as KN Verslag produced by Idea Candy and also making use of Stark Studios floorspace.

Binnelanders, Suidooster and Arendsvlei will however continue to broadcast new episodes.

kykNET couldn't immediately tell TVwithThinus on Friday afternoon when Binnelanders, Suidooster and Arendsvlei individually shut down production because of Covid-19 cases but said it would source the information.

kykNET that says "No disruption of daily dramas and telenovelas is expected because these programmes are filmed months in advance. Since the start of level 3 regulations, some of these productions have also adjusted their shooting schedules to six working days a week, using smaller, rotating crews."

The current affairs show KN Verslag will also continue.

Anchor Waldimar Pelser will continue to present the show either from his home in Cape Town or the studio in Johannesburg. The other KN Verslag anchors, Lourensa Eckard and Heindrich Wyngaard, will broadcast from the studio in Johannesburg.

"kykNET is committed to the safety of all crew and cast on productions, as well as that of our viewers. We wish to thank crew and cast members who are working hard under trying circumstances to keep kykNET viewers informed and entertained," says the channel.

South Africa's struggling TV and film industry has already shed thousands of jobs in the three months since April that cameras were first turned off and studio doors closed and now haltingly try to make a go of it as Covid-19 cases keep popping up everywhere forcing new shutdowns.

The kykNET Covid-19affected shows join a growing list of other South African local TV productions that had also already shut down and been negatively impacted by the coronavirus.'s Imbewu produced by Grapevine Productions in KwaZulu-Natal has now also shut down because of a Covid-19 positive case.

M-Net's The River (produced by Tshedza Pictures) on 1Magic (DStv 103) was the first show to shut down in May after local productions geared up again following the 2-months shutdown because of the national lockdown period which started in late-March.

That was followed by Skeem Saam on SABC1. Both The River and Skeem Saam are back in production again.

After them followed Muvhango (produced by Word of Mouth Productions) on SABC2; as well as Rhythm City (Produced by Quizzical Pictures) and Scandal! (produced by Ochre Media) both on and will all three of these who are still shut down.

7de Laan (produced by Danie Odendaal Productions) on SABC2 also shut down because of Covid-19 but is now back in production. Generations - The Legacy (produced Morula Pictures) on SABC1 and Lithapo (produced by Quizzical Pictures) on SABC2 were the next two shows to shut down and both are still closed.