Thursday, June 19, 2014

The business of Bonang: Why Bonang Matheba will remain to be seen on SABC television and pay-TV both - and what REALLY happened recently.

The recent deal (and deal-breaking) of Bonang Matheba with the SABC's MetroFM and a new presenting job involving SuperSport stems from a radio contract (radio which I don't cover) but TV with Thinus decided to bring the real facts, the real background and the real implications and perspective since the majority of South Africa's entertainment journalists appear unable to do proper journalism.

And because the erroneous tabloid brouhaha raises questions regarding whether the so-called South African "Queen of Media" will remain seen on SABC television.

The short and factual answer nobody has bothered to report on is: Yes.

Bonang Matheba will remain to be seen on both SABC television, like SABC3's Top Billing, as well as doing shows on South African pay-TV like Mzansi Magic's Clash of the Choirs and presenting SuperSport's magazine show World Cup Live.

In fact, I can reveal that Bonang Matheba will be doing more television later in the year (and on the public broadcaster) if TV production currently in development keeps goes according to plan.

So, total tabloid trash reporting, never corrected, that "SuperSport and SABC bosses are grabbing each other by the throats fighting over Queen B" is and has never been true.

Sadly, unlike political, economic and hard news reporting, erroneous entertainment news reporting is never corrected (as if getting the facts right with this industry matters less?).

Here is the real fact going unreported: Bonang Matheba could have kept doing her MetroFM work and show and could have done her new SuperSport presenting job both.

Here is the real fact going unreported: The problem and parting of ways between Bonang Matheba and MetroFM stemmed from the MetroFM radio contract specifically - which is directly with the SABC and not a production company. (On most TV shows like Top Billing and World Cup Live TV talent work as buy-in freelance talent with specific contracts with specific production companies).

The truth is neither what the SABC said: that TV talent can only work for the SABC or only for a competitor and that the SABC is clamping down on people working for both public and pay-TV - nor what Bonang Matheba said: That MetroFM is limiting her growth and stood in her way.

The closest approximation of what happened is maybe like when Oprah Winfrey and Iyanla Vanzant parted ways because Oprah wanted to give Iyanla Vanzant appearing on her show her own show, but Iyanla Vanzant took a meeting with Barbara Walters and made Oprah feel that she wanted her own talk show now.

What happened was more the breakdown of trust and communication specifically between Bonang Matheba and the SABC - something which could "easily" have been prevented with communication (again: the inroy of a lack of communication in an industry where "communicating" is the product and service).

Real sources both in the corridors of Auckland Park and Randburg, speaking to background on the issue, tells TV with Thinus that all that was required, because the MetroFM contract stipulated it so, was for Bonang Matheba to "just make the request" that she got the SuperSport offer and whether she could do it.

It's not true that the SABC wants to clamp down or limit freelance on-air talent, but the SABC also cannot have people working on directly competitive products and properties.

What was required was for Bonang Matheba and her representation to simply be open enough with the potential additional new contract on the table and to have made it clear to the SABC and MetroFM that it wouldn't have been direct competition to any of her existing responsibilities and satisfy the usual "non-compete clause".

"That would have been enough. That's all they really wanted to hear and to feel is really the case. MetroFM would in all probability not have had a problem," says a source. The problem was that everybody - the SABC and MetroFM and even SuperSport were kept in the dark.

Indeed TV with Thinus already asked SuperSport back in May - long before the tabloid started smelling a story (and constantly getting it wrong) - whether Bonang Matheba would become a TV presenter on one of the new magazine shows for the 2014 World Cup.

SuperSport didn't know then and indeed, even days before the start of the 2014 World Cup in the beginning of June, Bonang Matheba was inside Randburg when rehearsals started, still with no definite final word on whether she would or wouldn't present.

"This is so silly," a well-placed and informed insider told me at the time, when asked if Bonang Matheba is, or isn't going to be a presenter.

The hype created by tabloid trash like SundayWorld and Sunday Sun (with ironically completely opposing stories on the same day and both mistake-riddled) didn't help matters either, whipping up a froth behind-the-scenes while Bonang Matheba found herself at the 2014 MTV Africa Music Awards in Durban and not in Johannesburg.

(And why South Africa's sexist entertainment reporting has to constantly pit only female would-be TV presenters against each other as if they're battling or feuding and if that's the cause for people fronting certain shows or not, is laughable and wrong and pathetic.)

Bonang Matheba and "her people" should have been more open and forthright sooner, specifically with MetroFM and the SABC.

Not to excuse it, but bringing the issue to a head and further convoluting matters, was the lack of time (also for deal making and contracts, as well as uncertainty of the nitty-gritty specifics, like for instance scheduled required time in what deal signers known is often a "hurry up and wait" game).

What happened here is akin to the ordinary salaried office worker getting an enticing new job offer.

There is no contract yet, they always want you to start "immediately", you're still in two minds about whether to go or stay, but you still have to actually resign with a formal letter, but then also work out a notice period - although there is no longer enough days left to work out a full notice period and you already said kinda-almost-overtly said yes to the new employer.

Cue the stress and trying to juggle a somewhat impossible situation by trying to satisfy new people you want to work with, and existing people you feel you cannot trust so fully anymore because you're scared of how they will react.

It's not impossible for Bonang Matheba to work in radio for the SABC again; it will just be harder due to business relationships now damaged.

And the fall-out with MetroFM won't affect her existing and future TV work contractually.

"I am an independent freelancer and have been working peacefully with all broadcasters over the years. My future potential cannot be jeopardised by accepting terms that will not grow my career," said Bonang Matheba in a statement to fans.

The bit of irony and real truth is this instance is that the person who primarily jeopardised Bonang Matheba's specific radio job was Bonang Matheba, who remains a sought-after electronic media talent.

"Free agent talent can continue to work for multiple media outlets, there just needs to be clarity and upfront agreement that there's a non-compete [clause or understanding or agreement]," explains an insider working in television but not connected to this specific flare-up and not working at a broadcaster.

"If there's a lesson [to be learnt] it's to be as upfront and open and honest as soon as possible when other offers come in that you're considering".

"Then everyone moves forward instead of people who feel, rightly or wrongly, left out and feel left behind - which is when distrust and resentment sets in. Uncertainty breeds confusion and fear - especially in this [show]biz".

Wise words for Bonang Matheba and all the would-be, future Queen B's.