Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Turner shuts out TV critics in South Africa as international TBS executives jet in - and then wonders why its not getting the press it wants.

Today Turner Broadcasting System (TBS) had a programming upfront for Turner Africa, but, as it did a programming upfront presentation for new content coming to the Cartoon Network, Boomerang and TCM channels (with  international Turner executives who specially jetted in to South Africa), a lot of the country's notable TV critics in Durban and Cape Town and journalists writing about television nationally, were shut out.

While competitors like Disney and others hold multiple upfront presentations by repeating the same presentation in Johannesburg, Durban and Cape Town - or make sure that the relevant right group of longtime press and national publications covering TV are accomodated at their upfronts - the people responsible for Boomerang, Cartoon Network and TCM on MultiChoice's DStv platform couldn't seem to bother.

If they possibly, probably, wonder why they're not getting the press they want, or more of the press, coverage and exposure for their programming on these channels they (presumably) want, that's the very simple reason.

Let me be clear and say that I was invited to today's upfront event. Let me also add that the PR person appeared clueless that I was based in Cape Town although I - like several others who were not invited - write nationally on a daily basis about the TV industry.

I asked several people over the past weeks and I know that other longtime Cape Town based TV critics, writers and publications with their offices in Cape Town, were not invited and didn't know about the upfront presentation.

My guess would be that none of these people are going to be writing about Cartoon Network, Boomerang and TCM as much during the course of 2014 as they could have or would like to do. That is Turner's fault for not being willing, cognisant or able to do an upfront and do it correctly for all of South Africa's TV covering press (and how really difficult can this be?).

Turner Broadcasting flew in from overseas executives like Tal Hewitt (vice president and general manager for TBS, Turkey, Middle East and Africa), Jemma Yates (director for TBS general entertainment) and Cecilia Persson (vice president acquisitions and co-productions for the EMEA region).

It defies belief and strikes an odd tone that Turner Broadcasting would have its own executives come so very, very far and spend so much money to try and promote its new upcoming programming, but that TBS and its South African public relations company Burson-Marsteller can't then make the final link successfully and actually get all the relevant right press covering its TV channels there.

Or at least do the same programming upfront in Durban and, or in Cape Town like other TV content providers do.

While several other international content and channel distributors who have TV channels in South Africa - from Discovery to BBC Worldwide, from Sony to Universal Networks International and several more - have made the connection and make some effort at actually engaging with relevant press, TV critics and getting them to upfront events, Turner appears asleep at the wheel and behind the times.

Lament the gone-with-the-wind lack of TCM coverage and stories, and the lack of enthusiastic coverage over the next big Scooby-Doo mysteries all you want. 

Its probably because the ordinary South African TV critic and journalist who has so many other TV channels and programming to try and cover and keep track of, can't even be bothered to try and care if the people behind TCM, Boomerang and Cartoon Network seemingly don't.