M-Net's The Voice South Africa reality singing show is recalling the last two ditched contestants back for Sunday's episode and also won't be voting any contestant out this coming Sunday after yet another voting fiasco has derailed the carefully planned structure of the pay-TV broadcaster's second season.
In the third voting misfire to hit and negatively impact the South African version of the African Media & Production Network (AMPN) produced show based on the international Talpa format - two during the fateful first season and now also marring the second season - M-Net has been forced to halt this week's voting.
Hours before Tuesday night's 22:00 cut off, M-Net abruptly scuppered the viewer voting for this week and decided to disregard hundreds of thousands of viewers votes due to irregularities regarding alleged paid-for marketing votes that could potentially skew the results.
Not only did M-Net discover that the paid for social media posting from some of the contestants' personal social media accounts could affect who gets jettisoned this week, but that it also stretches back and impacts the past two weeks' results.
Voting for The Voice South Africa can only be done through SMS - limited to 100 votes per user - and WeChat - also limited to 100 votes per user.
At the moment M-Net (DStv 101) and AMPN - that is also concurrently producing a second season of The Voice Nigeria done in South Africa's Sasani Studios - isn't planning to push out the live second season finale of the South Africa show set for 9 July that would be more fair for the remaining contestants, rather opting for a jumble-filled finale with a bumper line-up of contestants.
M-Net is inviting the booted contestants Luke Lovemore and PJ Pretorius back who must still indicate in writing if they want to return to The Voice SA for Sunday's live show in which nobody will leave.
The remaining five The Voice South Africa contestants will perform, along with Luke Lovemore and PJ Pretorius if one or both opt to return.
After carefully working to steer clear of the voting problems of the first season of The Voice SA that first saw 8 000 SMS votes not delivered in time and counted and then the voting platform collapse during the live finale, M-Net and AMPN that added more episodes to the second season, is once again being confronted with a show not going according to plan.
At 19:01 on Tuesday evening M-Net issued a statement saying The Voice South Africa that has been drawing packed crowds to the weekly Sunday shows is discarding the hundreds of thousands of votes of the past week and asking the last two voted out contestants back "in the interest of fairness and transparency".
M-Net says paid-for marketing, which is against the rules of The Voice SA competition, "can cause voting spikes which could provide an unfair advantage".
M-Net didn't say how it will bypass, filter out, or circumvent the undue voting influence in The Voice SA for the foreseeable future. M-Net also didn't disclose which of the contestants' social media accounts contain alleged paid-for activity.
M-Net said an investigation showed that paid-for social media marketing "could have affected the outcome of the voting results" the last few weeks of The Voice South Africa and that Luke Lovemore and PJ Pretorius who were voted out, could possibly have remained in the show.
M-Net says it's unable to know with certainty what The Voice South Africa's accurate and credible voting tallies for the past few weeks are supposed to be.
"Despite our best efforts, we could not determine with certainty whether misconduct took place and what the impact was on the voting results," says Nkateko Mabaso, M-Net South Africa's general manager in the statement.
"We believe the fairest solution under these circumstances is to give all the affected talent another chance".
Despite discarding thousands of viewers' votes, M-Net wants viewers to continue to vote.
"The Voice SA has proved to be an excellent platform for launching the careers of new singing talent and we would like to encourage our viewers to continue to vote for their favourites," he says.
Lani Lombard, M-Net's head of publicity says The Voice SA is so far sticking to its Sunday 9 July date for the second season's live finale.
It’s not yet clear if the voting issue could impact M-Net and MultiChoice’s just-launched DStv Mzansi Viewers’ Choice Awards set for 26 August. The live awards show also asking the public to vote, is also making use of WeChat, SMS and USSD for votes.