Tuesday, January 12, 2016

M-Net blindsided Gareth Cliff by announcing he's fired; the dropped Idols judge slams 'M-Net PR machine', says Idols was only 'an extramural activity'.

Gareth Cliff was blindsided by M-Net announcing that he has been dropped as an Idols judge and wasn't told M-Net is going to make the announcement; the fired radio DJ is also slamming the "M-Net PR machine", and now says Idols wasn't his real job, just an extramural activity.

M-Net abruptly axed Gareth Cliff from his perch as an Idols judge for the upcoming 12th season - a position he's held since joining Idols in the second season.

M-Net is also dumping Idols from the premium M-Net (DStv 101) channel, and making it a Mzansi Magic (DStv 161) show only - a move that was expected since November last year as audience demographics and viewership for the [SIC] Entertainment produced show changed over the past four seasons.

The swift removal of Gareth Cliff comes in the wake of the Idols judge who waded into the debate over the shocking racists remarks made by the KwaZulu-Natal real estate agent Penny Sparrow she wrote two weeks ago.

After Penny Sparrow sparked a massive race debate in South Africa for calling black people "monkeys", Gareth Cliff remarked that "People really don't understand free speech at all."

A barrage of criticism followed, with people calling for the boycott of M-Net, Idols and CliffCentral - something which immediately became a very big concern for M-Net and its channels and started to damage and negatively impact the Idols brand.

"Gareth Cliff was not aware that M-Net would issue a media statement in the middle of the night," says Rina Broomberg, Gareth Cliff's public relations manager.

In an open letter to readers on his blog, Gareth Cliff slams the "M-Net PR machine" that was "up at midnight crafting their announcement", saying he "woke up to calls on Saturday morning from various newspapers for comment".

Gareth Cliff writes that Idols is a reality TV talent show with singers "to get ratings" and that it was only "an extramural activity" and that "I have felt my time was up a good couple of years ago".

Gareth Cliff writes that "I may have played a role in finding talent but not in developing it as far as this show goes - I just have to arrive, listen and comment. Then I go home. When it's over, it's over. It's entertainment."

"My response on Twitter was not to Penny Sparrow but to a tweet about a survey on freedom of speech which spiralled out of control."

"Instead of constructive dialogue, it's a call for the blood of little-known people and one loud-mouthed and sometimes insensitive broadcaster," writes Gareth Cliff, who says that after being fired from M-Net's Idols, he is now "fully unencumbered by any other master and solely an entrepreneur".

Gareth Cliff writes he will continue to build his online radio platform CliffCentral.