Sunday, January 21, 2018

Communications Minister Mmamoloko Kubayi-Ngubane blocks the appointment of Chris Maroleng as SABC's new chief operating officer because the ANC didn't know - report


South Africa's minister of communications, Mmamoloko Kubayi-Ngubane, has reportedly blocked the appointment of Chris Maroleng as the new permanent chief operating officer (COO) of the embattled South African public broadcaster because she wasn't told beforehand and because the ANC political party didn't know.

The SABC board now acting more independently when it comes to the making of top executive appointments at the SABC, told Chris Maroleng they want him as the SABC's new COO to replace the controversial and destructive Hlaudi Motsoeneng.

Chris Maroleng, formerly an eNCA (DStv 403) TV news anchor, has already resigned from the telecommunications company MTN where he was MTN's group executive for corporate affairs until the end of December 2017. 

The SABC and the SABC board wants Chris Maroleng to start as new SABC COO from 1 February 2018.

On Sunday the City Press newspaper reported that Mmamoloko Kubayi-Ngubane refuses to accept the appointment of Chris Maroleng as SABC COO.

Meanwhile leadership of the ruling ANC political party in South Africa are reportedly upset that they were out of the loop regarding the appointment and not knowing beforehand that Chris Maroleng was to be appointed as SABC COO.

Apparently ABC leaders became used to "be the first to know about key appointments in the SABC" - something that is suddenly no longer happening. 

On Monday Mmamoloko Kubayi-Ngubane will reportedly have to appear before the ANC's top 6 officials to explain what is going on and why the ANC didn't know sooner.

The ANC political party is reportedly "concerned that some of those who made it onto the new SABC board were aligned with organisations seen to be opposed to the ANC".

In the new Discovery Channel series, Mutiny: Survival on the Oceans, 9 men will try to navigate the Pacific Ocean as they recreate the journey after Mutiny of the Bounty.


A new series, Mutiny: Survival on the Oceans, starts on Tuesday 30 January on Discovery Channel (DStv 121) at 20:00 in which 9 men will recreate, and see how they can survive, one of history's greatest feats of endurance and navigation.

In Mutiny: Survival on the Oceans, 9 men, drifting in the Pacific Ocean on a wooden boat, will attempt the 4 000 mile journey of Lieutenant William Bligh after the Mutiny on the HMS Bounty in 1789 during which he and his men spent 7 weeks in the boat.

With a combination of experienced sailors and complete novices, Anthony Middleton will lead the group across the ocean in a replica 23-foot wooden boat, using Bligh's diary as a guide and inspiration on their journey.


The 9 men will face the unpredictable weather of the Pacific Ocean and suffer the whims of sudden storms and treacherous hidden reefs.

They will stop on isolated islands in the hunt for desperately needed food, water and supplies and work together to try and make it all the way to Timor.

Mutiny: Survival on the Oceans was broadcast on Channel 4 in the United Kingdom a year ago.


Anthony Middleton told The Telegraph newspaper at the time that he was "that trying to get the crew out of the mind-set that this was a sailing adventure. It wasn't; it was a survival journey. If we  had treated this as a sailing project, not one of us would have made it halfway through."

When nature called the men would squat over the side of the boat. "If you did piss, it would be a foul-smelling liquid that looked like Guinness and there would be about a thimble full," said cameraman Sam Brown.

SABC says it will ensure that designer Kuena Moshoeshoe who won David Tlale's fash-trash reality show, The Intern, on SABC3 gets her promised prizes.


The SABC says it will ensure that Kuena Moshoeshoe, the winner of David Tlale's slated fash-trash show The Intern on SABC3 gets her promised prizes that the fashion designer has so far failed to provide since she was announced as the winner 3 months ago in October 2017.

Kuena Moshoeshoe in media interviews revealed that she has not gotten her promised prizes from David Tlale and as promised by SABC3's The Intern show, and that she's "tired of being treated like shit" by David Tlale and waiting on her prizes.

The Intern on SABC3 that struggled with bad production values and a rushed production schedule promised the winner beforehand a new Mercedez Benz CLA, R200 000 in cash, studio equipment to the value of R250 000, and a chance to be an assistant designer for David Tlale for one year.

Kuena Moshoeshoe, originally from Lesotho, has already had to wait 3 months to get what she had won.

The SABC says  it "has noted the reported dispute between David Tlale and the winner of The Intern, Kuena Moshoeshoe" and that the South African public broadcaster has "since made interventions between the two parties in an attempt to find a workable solution on the matter."

"Currently the situation is still under continuous discussions between the winner and David Tlale with SABC3 as the mediator."

"The SABC will ensure that the delivery of prizes to the winner will be honoured within the contractual stipulated time frame."

The fashion designer wannabe contestants who took part in the reality show previously spoke out about the allegedly horrific conditions during filming of The Intern, claiming that David Tlale failed to give them the R3 000 S&T they were meant to get while being a part of the show and saying "he didn’t give us a cent. We were suffering, we didn’t have food at the apartment and we had no toiletries”.

Contestants who said they felt betrayed, slammed David Tlale as "horrible" and "rude". Some of the interns who have been living in David Tlale's flat in Johannesburg have also been fired and evicted.

David Tlale said they were fired but wouldn't take about it, saying “I can’t really comment about the guys who have been fired".

New Turkish telenovela, You Are Mine, starting on FOX Life on 1 February at 6:25pm.


A new Turkish telenovela, You Are Mine, dubbed into English, is starting on FOX Life FOX Life (DStv 126 / StarSat 133 / Cell C black 202) on Thursday 1 February at 18:25 for 35 hour long episodes.

You Are Mine (Sen Benimsin), produced by Pastel Film in 2015, will run from Mondays to Fridays and in Mexico had the funny title in Spanish of "Nest of Vipers".

Edjer (Gökhan Keser) is the youngest son of the wealthy Yenilmez family in Bursa who doesn't care about money and goes to Istanbul.

Of course the handsome man meets the beautiful girl Nağme (Rüveyda Öksüz) who is a concert pianist because of an accident. They want to get married but their families don't approve - so they elope.

Edjer takes Nağme back to his family’s impressive mansion but this is not a happy home. His family does everything they can to split them up. 

Love prevails, at least for a while - until life-changing secrets and major revelations are about to put their relationship to the ultimate test.

Independent Producers’ Organisation (IPO) pays tribute to former SABC board member Libby Lloyd: 'She was a passionate advocate for a true public broadcaster and made a sterling contribution to the broadcasting industry'.

Several organisations are paying tribute to the former SABC board member and former broadcasting regulator councillor Libby Lloyd (56) who died on Thursday after her 2-year battle with cancer, saying that she was one of the most influential policy and regulatory specialists in South Africa and a passionate advocate for a true public broadcaster in South Africa.

Libby Lloyd passed away on Thursday after a 2-year battle with throat cancer.

She was a committed activist, journalist and researcher on freedom of expression and media policy and worked for both mainstream and alternative newspapers, radio stations, and magazines in South Africa in the 1980s and early 1990s after she started out as a journalist working for the former Capital Radio, National Public Radio (NPR) in the United States and BBC Ireland.

Libby Lloyd helped to establish the journalists’ union, the Association for Democratic Journalists, during that period and was the head of radio at the Institute for the Advancement of Journalism (IAJ) in the mid-1990s before moving into media policy development.

During South Africa's first democratic elections in 1994 she was appointed on the Independent Media Commission to ensure that all political parties received fair coverage, she was a councillor with the Independent Broadcasting Authority (the predecessor of the Independent Communications Authority of South Africa) working on setting up the regulatory framework for new radio and TV stations, and became a member of the inaugural Icasa board in 2000.

Libby Lloyd took up her position as the first CEO of the Media Development and Diversity Agency (MDDA) in 2003 and was a member of one of the SABC interim boards.

“Libby was a passionate advocate for a true public broadcaster in South Africa and made a sterling contribution to the broadcast industry, including especially in pioneering the progressive local content and commissioning regulations at the dawn of democracy,” says producer Feizel Mamdoo on behalf of the Independent Producers' Organisation (IPO).

“The Independent Producers’ Organisation has learned with great sadness of the passing of Libby Lloyd on Thursday 18 January 2018.”

“She also applied her deep insight into and knowledge of our sector as a consultant and lobbyist, working on projects including media and development issues and policy, focusing on gender and communications.”

Among other things, she developed the SABC language policy conducted research into public broadcasting regulation in South Africa, funding models for community radio, the impact of the criminalisation of journalism in Africa, media codes for elections, and mainstreaming gender issues into ICT laws and policies.”

Icasa in a statement says it is mourning the passing of Libby Lloyd that the regulator described as "one of the most influential policy and regulatory specialists within South Africa's information and communication technologies sector".

"The ICT sector and South Africa has lost a selfless cadre, committed and disciplined individual in Libby Lloyd, " says Rubben Mohlaloga, Icasa chairperson.

"Her positive contribution on policy and regulation will be missed."

Al Jazeera's weekly current affairs interview show, Upfront, with Mehdi Hasan, back for a new season from Friday 2 February.


Upfront, the weekly current affairs interview show on Al Jazeera (DStv 406 / StarSat 257 / Cell C black 503) returns on Friday 2 February at 21:30 with further interviews and debates with presenter Mehdi Hasan.

The British journalist and author will explore further hot topics that are setting the news agenda, with repeats on Al Jazeera on Saturdays at 16:30, Sundays at 06:30 and Mondays at 10:30.

Besides the weekly provocative interview, Upfront has a 2-minute "Reality Check" segment using graphics and statistics to expose some commonly-held media myths and inconsistent messages.

Saturday, January 20, 2018

Netflix adds new weekly Joel McHale topical series looking at the week in pop culture and news, starting globally on Sunday 18 February.


Netflix has added a new weekly, topical series from Joel McHale that will start globally on Netflix on Sunday 18 February.

The new half hour The Joel McHale Show with Joel McHale will take a "sharp, absurdist look at pop culture, as well as news around the world" with Netflix describing it as "a fast and funny distillation of everything people are talking about that week"

The Joel McHale Show with Joel McHale is produced by Lionsgate TV with Joel McHale as executive producer of the first ordered 13 episodes, along with his KP Anderson who used to be the head writer of his previous series The Soup on E! Entertainment (DStv 124).

Episodes of The Joel McHale Show with Joel McHale will be recorded on Thursdays at the Sunset Bronson studio in Los Angeles and then be made available globally on Sundays. The show will include celebrity guests, comedy sketches and just like what he did in The Soup, hilarious clips from the world of sports, politics and celebrity.

Special Assignment on Sunday on Monday 22 January at 9pm looking at 'The Balaclava Rapists' of Alexandra and their decade long rape reign of terror.

Special Assignment on SABC3 on Monday 22 January at 21:00 will look at "The Balaclava Rapists" in a story produced by Lindile Mpanza.

For years in South Africa's Alexandra township, girls as young as 14 years old, as well as women and couples, fell prey to two serial rapists hiding in balaclavas.

These men would rob, rape, kidnap and force couples to have sex with each other at gunpoint. Late last year, the men – Josias Xaniseka Mkansi and Sinja Robin Mabitsela - were sentenced to 14 life terms and 185 years, and 32 life sentences plus 270 years respectively, bringing their almost decade long reign of rape terror to an end.

In Monday's episode of Special Assignment the spotlight is placed on this painful chapter that the community of Alexandra has finally been able to close.

However, the men leave behind a trail of destruction where some victims have never been able to recover from their ordeal. The families of the two perpetrators are left in disbelief and cannot fathom who the rapists really were. 

The episode also focuses on the phenomenon of serial rape, its modus operandi and how the South African law deals with it.

Another 90 minute extended Carte Blanche episode on M-Net on Sunday at 7pm looking at the Guptas, highway rock throwing and dictator Robert Mugabe's playboy sons.

There will be another 90 minute extended Carte Blanche episode on M-Net (DStv 101) on Sunday at 19:00 of the broadcaster's weekly investigative magazine show due to the higher than usual age restriction of the film following afterwards.

This week's Carte Blanche episode on M-Net has a fascinating look at the playboy sons of the Zimbabwe dictator Robert Mugabe, and further explores the Eskom state capture saga involving the controversial Gupta family.

Carte Blanche also profiles the young train rescue heroes from Kroonstad, looks at the apparent disarray within South Africa's opposition Democratic Alliance (DA) political party, investigates the shocking highway rock throwing crime, and why telemarketing in South Africa has become out of control.   


First Strike From The AFU
This week the Asset Forfeiture Unit launched their first strike against international consulting company McKinsey and the Gupta-linked company, Trillian. Their preservation order freezes R1.6 billion, but that is just the beginning, says the NPA. They hope to recover another R50- billion. In an exclusive interview, Carte Blanche sits down with Suzanne Daniels, the Eskom executive, who was the first to recommend these companies pay back the money, but was suspended shortly afterwards.
Producer: Joy Summers
Presenter: Devi Sankaree Govender
Researcher: Tony Beamish
                         
Young Heroes
At just 12 years old, their selfless efforts to assist victims of the Kroonstad train crash have earned them the admiration of the entire nation. After witnessing the incident, the two boys fearlessly rushed to the scene to help the injured, pulling babies and the elderly from the train. Carte Blanche meets young South African heroes Evert du Preez and Mokoni Chaka.
Producer: Mart-Marie Faure
Presenter: Macfarlane Moleli

DA Future
As the governing party, the ANC is experiencing resurgence under the new leadership of Cyril Ramaphosa, trouble is brewing in the opposition camps of the Democratic Alliance. From Cape Town, to Port Elizabeth, to Johannesburg, major internal power struggles plague the DA.  Can the official opposition survive the political fallout in the Western Cape and its key metropoles throughout the country?  Carte Blanche analyses a party, seemingly in disarray.
Producer: Liz Fish
Presenter: John Webb

Highway Rock Throwing
It’s a deadly practice, often with fatal consequences. Gauteng and KZN have seen a renewed spate of rock throwing from highway bridges, causing serious damage to vehicles, claiming lives and injuring several motorists. But are these just reckless pranks or part of a devious plan to rob injured motorists of their valuables?
Producer: Nicky Troll
Presenter: Claire Mawisa

Telemarketing: Your Rights
We all loath those persistent telemarketing calls offering anything form insurance policies to cellphone contracts. Locally, it’s big business and when it comes to marketing phone calls, South Africa now ranks among the top 5 most spammed countries in the world. But is it legal to offer unsolicited credit or to keep your private contact details on a database after you’ve asked for it to be removed? Carte Blanche finds out what your rights are as a consumer.
Producer: Sophia Phirippides
Presenter: Macfarlane Moleli

Mugabe Boys
Pouring expensive champagne over a luxury watch to prove it's real is the kind of excessive behaviour that enraged Zimbabweans, but it’s also how Robert Mugabe’s sons, earned themselves an international reputation for party excess and big spending.  After years of splurging on lavish hotel rooms and designer clothes in South Africa, will Mugabe's fall from power put an end to his sons' jet-setting lifestyles?
Producer: Journeyman Pictures

BBC Brit will again broadcast The BRIT Awards 2018 in London as a live broadcast on Wednesday 21 January at 9:30pm.

BBC Brit (DStv 120) will once again be broadcasting The BRIT Awards 2018 taking place in London in the United Kingdom as a live broadcast on Wednesday night at 21:30 for viewers in South Africa and across Africa.

The BRIT Awards 2018 will be hosted by the comedian Jack Whitehall and will include live performances by Ed Sheeran, Sam Smith, Stormzy, Dua Lipa, the Foo Fighters and Rag 'n' Bone Man.

The BRIT Awards is a music awards ceremony in the United Kingdom that celebrates British and international music artists,similar to the Grammy awards in America. Category winners are voted for by industry experts.

Dua Lipa leads the charge with nominations for British Female, British Breakthrough, British Single, British Artist Video of the Year and the British Album of the Year.

Friday, January 19, 2018

IT'S NOT EVEN SHARK WEEK. Discovery Channel responds after American president Donald Trump says he wants all sharks to die: 'Sharks are important to the ecosystem'.


When will this long international nightmare be over?

The Discovery Channel (DStv 121) has decided to respond and weigh in after the American president Donald Trump has said he wants all sharks to die.

The Discovery Channel that annually celebrates "Shark Week" decided to comment after a new comment of Donald Trump became public that he made, from a 2011 interview that until now hasn't been published publicly.

According to reports the porn star Stormy Daniels was paid off by Donald Trump's lawyer Michael Cohen with $130 000 to stay silent after a sexual encounter that she allegedly had with Donald Trump.

In a 2011 interview that was done with Stormy Daniels, Donald Trump - according to her - revealed his hatred of sharks.

Stormy Daniels says Donald Trump said he wants all sharks to die.

“Shark Week celebrates the wonder of these majestic creatures and their critical importance to the ecosystem. Their safety and conservation is the most important message conveyed throughout the week," said Discovery Channel in a statement.

America's In Touch magazine published the interview with Stormy Daniels (whose real name is Stephanie Clifford), who said she and Donald Trump were having dinner while a shark episode was on television that formed part of the Discovery Channel's Shark Week.

Donald Trump then said that he hoped “all the sharks die.”

“You could see the television from the little dining room table and he was watching Shark Week and he was watching a special about the USS something and it sank and it was like the worst shark attack in history”.

“He is obsessed with sharks,” Stormy Daniels told In Touch. “Terrified of sharks. He was like, 'I donate to all these charities, and I would never donate to any charity that helps sharks. I hope all the sharks die.’ … It’s so strange, I know.”

BREAKING. SABC admits scandalous Bathabile Dlamini pay-for-play interview on Real Talk on SABC3 contravened its editorial code, Anele Mdoda and Cheeky Media 'acted based on SABC's instructions'.


The SABC on Friday admitted that the South African public broadcaster contravened its own editorial policy with a scandalous pay-for-play interview for a politician - the minister of social development Bathabile Dlamini - on Real Talk with Anele on SABC3 and said the lapses were due to its policy not being properly "integrated" at the broadcaster's entertainment division.

The SABC said it would no longer be invoicing the social development department for R149 000.

The SABC didn't specify who is being held accountable and who would be fired, suspended or receive disciplinary warnings.

The SABC did say that talk show host Anele Mdoda and the production company of Real Talk with Anele, Cheeky Media and the executive producers of the show Yusuf Stevens and Janez Vermeiren, "acted based on SABC's instructions".

The SABC in a statement confirmed that the SABC board had met over the growing scandal that has seriously damaged the SABC's credibility, and admitted that "the SABC did not comply with its own editorial policies on sponsorship of programmes, which requires that the sponsor's association with the programme has to be stated clearly, both before and after the programme".

"In this case, this was not done," the SABC said.

The SABC said that "the SABC does not charge for interviews, and this was a breach of organisational practice", and that "there has been a breakdown in internal controls and processes in this specific instance".

In order to ensure that this does not happen again, the SABC says that "as part of the current SABC editorial policy review, we will ensure that any grey areas with respect to sponsorship of programming are clarified and strengthened".

"Secondly the board news and editorial committee has instructed management to immediately look at strengthening upward referrals, and ensure that measures are taken that staff across different genres, including entertainment, are well-versed and compliant with editorial policies and Icasa regulations".

"Thirdly, management will inform GCIS that the SABC will not be invoicing for the R149 000, which was to be paid for the interview".

"The SABC takes full responsibility for these lapses and breaches in editorial control and wishes to communicate that the presenter and production company of Real Talk with Anele acted based on the SABC's instructions".

"The SABC is conducting an ongoing review to ensure that our policies are complied with across the organisation. We are committed to cooperating with regulatory and other bodies to ensure that we remain complaint," says the SABC.

"The SABC remains committed to restoring the integrity of the public broadcaster and all its services, and will continue to act where there are breaches".

The SABC says the "lapses" were "as a result of our editorial policies not being sufficiently integrated in our entertainment division and that the breaches were not intentional. As stated, we will ensure that standards are lifted across divisions".

"The SABC News and current affairs division was in no way involved in this matter. We assure the public that our news and current affairs division adheres to our policy of journalistic integrity and editorial independence".

ALSO READ: After pay-for-play scandal, here what Anele Mdoda needs to do right now to save her show.

SABC board has become involved and has been meeting over Bathabile Dlamini's scandalous pay-for-play Real Talk with Anele interview on SABC3.


The SABC board has now become involved and has met over the scandalous pay-for-play interview that the public broadcaster did with social development minister Bathabile Dlamini on the SABC3 talk show Real Talk with Anele and that took place because the minister paid for it.

Controversy is swirling around the SABC, Bathabile Dlamini, Real Talk with Anele and its production company Cheeky Media, as well as SABC3, after the South African public broadcaster confirmed that the minister's interviews were actually expensive paid-for "talkfomercials" from the social development department's budget.

That the interviews were paid content were never disclosed to viewers. Politicians should also not be paying for interviews - least of all on the SABC.

Both are a transgression of the SABC's own editorial policy as well as the broadcasting regulations set down by the Independent Communications Authority of South Africa (Icasa) that acts as South Africa's broadcasting regulator.

The SABC's acting CEO Nomsa Philiso called Bathabile Dlamini's pay-for-play interview "not normal" and an internal investigation has started as to how it happened that hundreds of thousands of rand were paid to the SABC in return for a TV talk show puff-piece to profile the minister and her family in glowing terms.

The shocking incident that has once again damaged the SABC's credibility as well as that of the Real Talk with Anele show, making it difficult for audiences to know what of what they're watching are actually paid-for commercials disguised as editorial content and what is "real" editorial.

News expert Anton Harber wrote for The Daily Maverick on Friday saying the Bathabile Dlamini paid interview has destroyed "the public broadcaster's journalistic credibility, undermined its integrity, and compromised its professionalism".

"She has certainly destroyed the credibility of the SABC's Real Talk show and its presenter Anele Mdoda. Even if Mdoda was not instructed to go soft on Dlamini, who was after all a client rather than an interviewee, her credibility is blown".

The SABC is now reporting that the SABC board is aware of the issue and has been meeting to discuss it.

The SABC has not yet issued any official press statement about the growing scandal and neither has Real Talk with Anele.  

SABC3 referred all media enquiries about the Real Talk debacle to Kaizer Kganyago. 

Refilwe Moiloa at the production company Cheeky Media where Yusuf Stevens and Janez Vermeiren are the executive producers on Real Talk with Anele, when asked who can talk about the issue, on Thursday said it won't answer questions and also referred media enquiries to the SABC's Kaizer Kganyago.

Yusuf Stevens earlier told News24 that it is not uncommon for people to pay for exposure on Real Talk with Anele.

SABC spokesperson Kaizer Kganyago said the SABC plans to issue an official response on Friday.

Real Talk with Anele, Cheeky Media, the SABC and SABC3 appear to be in breach of the SABC's own editorial policy that states that "where there is programme sponsorship, the sponsor's association with the programme has to be stated clearly, both before and after the programme".

They also appear to have contravened the SABC's editorial policy in terms of "information programming" that states that the SABC should "disclose all the essential facts and not suppress relevant, available facts".

Likewise infomercials and paid-for content in programmes on the SABC "must be labelled in such a way as to make clear that they are not programme material" the SABC's editorial policy states.

CNN International strengthens its Moscow bureau, appoints Nathan Hodges as CNN Moscow bureau chief, moves Fred Pleitgen to Moscow.


As Russia grows as a global news focal point - no less because of the "Russia collusion" investigations in the United States - CNN International (DStv 401) is strengthening its Moscow bureau with the appointment of Nathan Hodge as CNN Moscow bureau chief and moving international correspondent Fred Pleitgen there as well.

Nathan Hodge is joining Turner Broadcasting's CNN International from The Wall Street Journal as CNN Moscow bureau chief.

Nathan Hodge has been The Wall Street Journal's bureau chief in Moscow from 2015 until now.

The CNN senior international correspondent Fred Pleitgen is also relocating to Moscow from CNN's Europe, Middle East and Africa (EMEA) headquarters in London.

The CNN senior international correspondent Matthew Chance, who has covered several Russia stories for CNN International for over a decade will remain in Moscow.

“It’s hard to overstate the importance of Russia internationally, whether that pertains to its own upcoming elections, its alleged role in the recent US elections, or issues relating to Ukraine, Europe, China, Iran, and Syria,” says Deborah Rayner, CNN's senior vice president of international newsgathering, TV and digital in a statement.

“Vladimir Putin is a uniquely compelling figure, and his agenda at home and abroad is fascinating for audiences worldwide. No-one is better placed to tell those stories than Matthew and Fred, and we could not wish for a better person to head up our Moscow operation than Nathan.”

Nathan Hodge says “The fact that CNN is doubling down on its commitment to Russia was a big factor in me taking on this role.

 I know Fred personally from working alongside him in Syria, and I have followed Matthew’s career for a long time; both are exceptional journalists, and the whole team at the Moscow bureau is formidable.

This is a crucial year for Russia, and the passion I have seen for the story at CNN makes me very excited about what’s ahead.”

Thursday, January 18, 2018

Viacom Africa on the new Paramount Network pay-TV channel launched in America: 'We will explore opportunities to build the brand in the African market'.


Viacom Africa says its thrilled about the launch of Viacom's flagship new premium, general entertainment pay-TV channel - the Paramount Network going live today in the United States - with Viacom Africa's boss telling TVwithThinus that it will look at opportunities to build the brand in the African market.

While not saying it in specific words, these opportunities could include launching the Paramount Network as a linear TV channel in South Africa and Africa on direct-to-home (DTH) pay-TV satellite services like MultiChoice's DStv, StarSat or Kwesé TV, or on over-the-top (OTT) streaming services like Cell C black or DEOD that carry linear TV channels.

A year ago, in February 2017, Viacom announced that it will be creating the Paramount Network in 2018 through scrapping its one channel, Spike TV, and that it will remake, rebrand and relaunch Spike TV in early 2018 as The Paramount Network - it's most important new channel.

The Paramount channel as a premium, general entertainment channel will carry "bold original scripted and non-scripted series" with Viacom that's moving its best shows to this channel and rolling out several brand-new scripted series and drama series on this channel.

Programming on the Paramount Network will include brand-new programming and series like Waco, Heathers (pictured), American Woman, Yellowstone, First Wives Club, Velvet and Accused along with shows like Lip Sync Battle, Ink Master, Bar Rescue, Bellator MMA and more.

Viacom International Media Networks already operates a Paramount Channel (a film channel) in some parts of the world - but not in South Africa and Africa - and will likely just morph and change these placeholder channels (Paramount Channel and Spike TV) in other territories into The Paramount Network over time to align it with the premium American brand that is now being created.

How exactly does VIMN Africa see the Paramount Network's importance and relevance for South Africa and Africa?

"We are thrilled for the launch of Paramount Network in the United States and will explore opportunities to build the brand in the African market," says Alex Okosi, VIMN Africa and BET International executive vice-president and managing director.

"VIMN Africa is always looking at ways to optimize our business and brands to appeal to the broad, diverse audience on the continent."

"Inspired by over a century of cinema, Paramount is a powerful brand that resonates with audiences globally. With 12 locally scheduled versions around the world, the Paramount Channel is Viacom International Media Network’s fastest growing brand."

"We are thrilled for the launch of Paramount Network in the United States and will explore opportunities to build the brand in the African market.”

Kevin Kay, Paramount Network president, said that the new channel wants "to be the definitive new home for premium storytelling", and that "our goal is to change the game of how viewers experience high-end scripted" TV content.

Paramount Network president of development Keith Cox said that Paramount Network is going to be famous for big bold originals. We want to make linear TV urgent again."

CNN wins the most awards in American president Donald Trump's Fakies.


The American president Donald Trump finally announced his inaugural “The Most Dishonest & Corrupt Media Awards of the Year” with TV news channel CNN (DStv 401) winning the most "categories" and with mentions also going to The New York Times, ABC News and The Washington Post.

The Fox News channel, Breitbart and Drudge got shut out and won no mentions at the "awards" that was quickly nicknamed the "Fakies".

The American GOP political party's website crashed on Thursday where the list was published while Donald Trump failed to have a ceremony or hand out actual awards.

Donald Trump originally announced that his 2017 Fake News Awards would be taking place after the Golden Globe Awards.

The American late night host Stephen Colbert immediately started a "For Your Consideration" campaign like what producers and studios do for the Emmys, Globes and Oscars, and created and rented a massive Times Square billboard in New York for his The Late Show, promoting the show to win in categories like “Fakest Dishonesty,” “Smallest Button” and “Least Breitbarty”.

He had competition.

The South African comedian Trevor Noah of The Daily Show on Comedy Central (DStv 122) responded by taking out a full-page ad in The New York Times and canvassing for The Daily Show as "most deserving" of a Fakie.

Then Donald Trump inexplicably postponed his Fakies to Wednesday, January 17. He explained that his fake news awards were moved since “interest in, and importance of, these awards is far greater than anyone could have anticipated!”

Wednesday also came and went and finally on Thursday a list was published. It had no categories and was just a badly done 11-point list:


1. The New York Times' Paul Krugman for claiming on the day of Donald Trump's election victory that the economy would never recover.

2. Brian Ross who was suspended and demoted by ABC News after inaccurately reporting that the ousted National Security Adviser Michael Flynn was going to testify that Donald Trump, while still a candidate, ordered Flynn to make contact with Russians.

3. CNN wrongly reporting that candidate Donald Trump and his son Donald Trump Jr. had access to hacked documents from WikiLeaks.

4. TIME magazine reporting that Donald Trump had removed the bust of Martin Luther King Jr. from the Oval office in the White House.

5.The Washington Post reporter Dave Weigel's photo of a Donald Trump rally suggesting low turnout.

6. CNN video showing Donald Trump overfeeding fish while visiting the Japanese prime minister Shinzo Abe.

7. CNN wrongly reporting that Donald Trump's aide Anthony Scaramucci met with the chief executive at a Russian investment fund.

8. Newsweek reporting that the Polish first lady Agata Kornhauser-Duda declined to shake Donald Trump’s hand.

9. CNN reporting that the former FBI director James Comey would dispute Donald Trump’s claim of being told he’s not under investigation.

10. The New York Times article on Donald Trump's administration's climate report.

11. "And last, but not least: "RUSSIA COLLUSION!" Russian collusion is perhaps the greatest hoax perpetrated on the American people. THERE IS NO COLLUSION," says Donald Trump.


No laughing matter
In reality "awards" trashing the press are no laughing matter - a record number of journalists were jailed or killed worldwide in 2017, while journalists continue to be censored, abused, arrested, jailed and killed for their reporting around the globe.

The number of journalists globally in prison is at a record high.

In response to Donald Trump's "Fakies", The Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) announced their own CPJ Global Press Oppressors Awards.

The Global Press Oppressors Awards recognise world leaders who have gone out of their way to attack the press and undermine the norms that support freedom of the media.

They are:

1. Most think-skinned: Turkey's president Recep Tayyip Erdoğan.
Runner-up: American president Donald Trump.

2.Most outrageous use of terror laws against the press: Turkey's president Recep Tayyip Erdoğan.
Runner-up: Egypt president Abdel Fattah el-Sisi.

3. Tighest grip on media: China's president Xi Jinping.
Runner-up: Russia's president Vladimir Putin.

4. Biggest backslider in press freedom: Myanmar de facto leader Aung San Suu Kyi.
Runner-up: Polish president Andrzej Duda.

5. Overall Achievement in Undermining Global Press Freedom: American president Donald Trump.

MultiChoice finally switches E! Entertainment from NBCUniversal International Networks to a high definition on DStv in South Africa.


MultiChoice has finally also switched E! Entertainment (DStv 124) to a high definition (HD) channel feed on DStv in South Africa and Southern Africa from today.

It's a month later than what MultiChoice originally announced it would happen from.

"As of 18 January 2018, DStv’s home of pop culture E! Entertainment will be broadcast in HD," said MultiChoice in an advisory.

MultiChoice announced in September 2017 at its DStv content showcase that the channel supplied by NBCUniversal International Networks would be switched to an HD channel from December 2017 - but that didn't happen and was pushed out until mid-January 2018.

Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) political party demands the SABC 'pay back the money' after minister Bathabile Dlamini's scandalous pay-for-play interview on Real Talk with Anele on SABC3.


The Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) political party is demanding that the SABC "pay back the money as it is complicit in the corruption of the minister" after the scandalous pay-for-play revelation that the minister of social development Bathabile Dlamini paid thousands of rands to the broadcaster so that she could be interviewed on Real Talk with Anele on SABC3.

The shocking revelation on Wednesday that the SABC accepts money for a politician to be interviewed on its airwaves - and not even disclosing it - has inflicted massive further reputational and brand damage on the SABC's credibility as a public broadcaster.

The scandal is also doing damage to the image of talk show host Anele Mdoda, the production company Cheeky Media and the show's executive producers Yusuf Stevens and Janez Vermeiren, as well as SABC3.

So far there been no official statements from the SABC, Cheeky Media, SABC3 or Anele Mdoda, with Cheeky Media that referred media enquiries to the SABC, and the SABC that hasn't responded with answers to media enquiries made on Wednesday.

The report from Daily Maverick exposed a horrific lapse of SABC editorial control and safeguards, standards and ethics.

Real Talk with Anele, Cheeky Media and the SABC, are in breach of the SABC's own editorial policy that clearly states that "where there is programme sponsorship, the sponsor's association with the programme has to be stated clearly, both before and after the programme".

They are also in breach of the SABC's editorial policy in terms of "information programming" that states that the SABC should "disclose all the essential facts and not suppress relevant, available facts".

Likewise infomercials and paid-for content in programmes on the SABC "must be labelled in such a way as to make clear that they are not programme material" the SABC's editorial policy states.

"We call on the SABC board to immediately institute an investigation and all who are guilty must face prosecution," said the EFF in a statement on Thursday.

"In addition, we call on parliament to also take the necessary steps to discipline the minister of social development, Bathabile Dlamini."

"The EFF condemns the department of social development and SABC for exchanging R500 000 of taxpayers’ money for Bathabile Dlamini to talk about herself on the SABC3 programme Real Talk with Anele."

"This is consistent with how ministers in general have been paying Gupta Business Breakfast briefings on SABC for interviews. Here, not only have departments paid The New Age, also SABC has itself done so."

"The EFF rejects the justification that Bathabile Dlamini’s interview was an advert for the work she does in government."

"The 80% of the interview was about herself and the ANC Women's League. In essence, taxpayers’ money was used to profile Bathabile Dlamini and not government social development work."

The EFF statement comes after the Democratic Alliance (DA) political party that in a statement also said Bathabile Dlamini must pay back the R500 000 that "could have paid more than 300 social grants. It is shocking that the department had the audacity to supposedly use public money for an interview".

"It is mandated to serve the poor, needy and vulnerable within our society, it is not mandated to use taxpayers' money to make floundering ministers look good." The DA said it would submit a range of parliamentary questions to "get to the bottom of this likely abuse of taxpayers' money".

So far the SABC board has been silent over the scandal.

There's been no comment or statement from SABC board chairperson Bongumusa Makhathini.

The SABC board also has journalists serving on it in the form of Mathatha Tsedu and John Matisonn with neither who have said anything so far about the latest scandal rocking the South African public broadcaster's credibility.

In July 2017 the SABC interim board member Mathatha Tsedu (now a permanent SABC board member) addressed the SABC's damaged credibility problem in South Africa's parliament and said "every time there is a cycle of bad news around the SABC, the revenues from the SABC TV licences dip."

"How do you get credibility back into the products that the SABC produces? The credibility of the SABC is not just judged by how Muvhango's story line is going or how 7de Laan's story line is going. The major credibility point of the SABC is its news output."

History channel to broadcast History of Football from May ahead of the 2018 World Cup as part of a special programming strand with over 40 hours of content.


The History (DStv 186) channel will broadcast History of Football from 28 May to 10 June in South Africa and across Africa as part of a 14-day programming strand that A+E Networks will run globally in the run-up to the 2018 World Cup.

History of Football will be broadcast in 160 territories and countries, including South Africa and across Africa and include over 40 hours of content that will be a blend of global and local programming.

History will broadcast a slate of original, globally-focused, premium documentary series as well as short-form specials, complemented by a careful curation of World Cup films, as well as locally-sourced TV series and documentaries that will offer a unique lens into each country’s particular passions for football.

“We conceived History of Football as a deeply immersive television event capitalising on one of those rare moments in our global culture, the World Cup, when a huge segment of the world population becomes so passionately connected,” says Patrick Vien, A+E Networks International’s executive managing director.

“History’s world-class storytelling has produced and curated a unique combination of global and local programming, long-form and short-form, to give viewers a wide swath of football content that, all combined, will tell the many phenomenal stories that define the game. It’s the biggest international programming initiative History has undertaken and I could not be prouder of our team.”

“With opinions on football so strong among fans worldwide, History’s vast programming slate for this event will aim to engage and ignite an entertaining debate on exactly what were the ultimate historic moments of the sport, who stands as the best player in history, which coaches most shaped the game and so much more,” says Dan Korn, the executive producer of History of Football and the vice president of programming for A+E UK.

“For both the most intense and the more casual fans, History will present 14 days of nothing but the story of the game.”

Sky News does a logo change again, making 'news' all small caps, as the British TV news channel it leaves its old Studio A for a final time.


Sky News (DStv 402) has changed its logo again, switching the word "news" to small caps, as it also ended its broadcast in its Studio A after 12 years, switching to its new studio.

The new Sky News logo was introduced on Wednesday evening, when Sky News switched back to broadcasting from its new, so-called "glass box", Studio 21, when it finally moved all its news operations over to its new studio in Sky Studios.

The Sky News logo and graphics were refreshed as part of the final switch-over to the new studio.

On Wednesday Sky News' morning segment, Sky News Sunrise, began broadcasting from the new second studio at Sky Central.

Sky News temporarily switched back to the old studios in November 2017 to do maintenance and rewiring of the "glass box" to link it to the new automated gallery in the new studio complex.

Actress Leleti Khumalo swops KwaZulu-Natal drama series as she switches from SABC1's Uzalo to e.tv's new Imbewu and add executive producer credit.

Actress Leleti Khumalo is jumping from one KwaZulu/Natal drama series to another and adding an executive producer title as she switches from the SABC's Uzalo to e.tv's new Imbewu: The Seed starting in April.

After contract negotiations to remain on the show for the 4th season didn't work out, Leleto Khumalo has left Stained Glass TV's Uzalo on SABC1 that is filmed on location in KwaMashu, Durban for a new drama series, Imbewu: The Seed - starting in April on e.tv and also filmed in the KwaZulu/Natal province.

Leleti Khumalo's original character MaNzuza that she's portrayed since the first season is being killed off by Stained Glass TV, but Leleti will live again as a brand-new character in Imbewu: The Seed that will tell a new story set in the humble streets in eNquthu and the township of Chatsworth as well as the most-affluent parts of Umlazi.

Leleti Khumalo won't just appear as a character in the show, she is also an executive producer behind the scenes, teaming up with with TV veteran Duma Ndlovu producing Muvhango for SABC2 and the South African film producer veteran Anant Singh.

Imbewu: The Seed is produced for e.tv by Grapevine Productions, a joint venture between Videovision Entertainment, Word Of Mouth Pictures and Luyks Productions.

Anant Singh from Videovision Entertainment and Duma Ndlovu from Word Of Mouth Pictures will be at the helm of the production of the drama series. e.tv hasn't yet announced a timeslot for Imbewu, with speculation now swirling that the show might be scheduled at 20:30 on e.tv as counter-programming for the SABC1 ratings juggernaut.

Imbewu: The Seed will revolve around the family dynasties and two brothers in KwaZulu/Natal - interestingly just like how Uzalo started out in late-2015. "Imbewu focuses on the ties that bind families through blood and spirit, asking sobering and controversial questions that are relevant to all South African cultures," says e.tv.

"A deep and unspoken truth, representing the cultural legacy between two brothers, is at the centre of the series’ captivating plot," says e.tv that says brand-new talent are part of the cast, alongside veteran actors.

“One of e.tv's commitments in 2018 is to invest in provinces beyond Gauteng. KwaZulu-Natal is the country’s fastest-growing province with a strong focus on the entertainment industry,” says Ziyanda Mngomezulu, general manager of e.tv's local content division.

“We are honoured to be partnering with film, television and theatre greats in Anant Singh, Duma Ndlovu and Leleti Khumalo, from the newly formed Grapevine Productions, and look forward to presenting viewers with a fresh reflection of KZN that is all encompassing”.

Anant Singh says that Imbewu: The Seed will reflect the multi-cultural environment which makes Durban and the province of KwaZulu-Natal unique.

The show has the ability to cross the cultural divide and promote social cohesion in South Africa, showcasing a hybrid of cultures in South Africa today. We are extremely excited to be embarking on this amazing television series in KwaZulu-Natal with our partners, e.tv”. 

Duma Ndlovu says he is 
very excited for this opportunity to tell an authentic South African story. I am excited to be partnering with Anant Singh and Leleti Khumalo as we prepare to give South Africans a new and unique story.

In South Africa, we have not yet had the opportunity to see Indians and Africans come together to tell a story with a social cohesion message and Imbewu: The Seed will deliver this to audiences.

PAID TALK WITH ANELE? As scandal engulfs Real Talk on SABC3 after the SABC takes money to interview a politician, here's what Anele Mdoda needs to do right now to try and save her show.


Plunged right into the middle of a pay-for-play scandal that has engulfed her talk show, Anele Mdoda has very little time as the face of Real Talk with Anele to try and limit not just the damage to her name and personal brand, but also the fall-out that has destroyed the credibility of the SABC3 talk show.

Here is what she needs to do right now:

Twelve years ago in January 2006, The Oprah Winfrey Show and talk show host Oprah Winfrey suddenly found herself in the middle of a crisis.

The book, A Million Little Pieces by author James Frey - supposedly biographical - and that Winfrey endorsed as a pick for her hugely popular Oprah's Book Club, was exposed as a fraud and fiction.

After Oprah Winfrey first told Larry King "it's much ado about nothing" she quickly changed and took to her own show to apologise to her viewers and for letting down her fans, saying to James Frey that "I feel duped. But more importantly, I feel that you betrayed millions of readers".

Oprah showed her anger on TV at not knowing. Oprah admitted a mistake. Oprah apologised. And Oprah said never again with my show, and under my name.

By taking payment amounting to thousands of rand to interview Bathabile Dlamini as a politician and keeping it a secret to viewers without any kind of disclosure that the 2 hour-long episodes in December were actually "talkfomercials", Anele Mdoda, the SABC, SABC3, Real Talk and the Cheeky Media production company producing the show, have now all been exposed for something that's seriously damaging their integrity, image, and overall credibility and trust in their brands.

How will anyone, any viewer, ever again believe anyone, anything - any brand or product or service - that appear on Real Talk with Anele? And what about who and what had appeared on the show in the past and were promoted - did that happen because money exchanged hands?

Anele Mdoda - the face of the show that is called Real Talk with Anele and that carries her name - will have to act fast and do all the right things.

Anele Mdoda will have to go on her own show - as fast as possible and preferably on Thursday's episode on SABC3 - and address the issue head-on in a brutally honest and forthright way. Anything less will permanently damage her, the show and its ongoing presence on the SABC3 schedule.

Anele Mdoda needs to be truthful, she needs to speak from the heart, she needs to come across as sincere, remorseful, needs to explain what she knew or didn't knew, what she was part of or not part of, and how what happened, happened.

Above all she needs to apologise and promise that nothing like this will happen ever again as long as she sits under the SteynCity arch.

So far there's been no official statement from Anele Mdoda or Cheeky Media.

It doesn't feel as if there's any crisis communication happening around the shocking pay-for-play expose and the longer it goes without explanations and apologies, the more harm is being inflicted.

Capacity Relations that repped Real Talk with Anele told TVwithThinus that the SABC took over the PR of the show late last year. Where is the SABC's and SABC3 statement about what happened and the show?

It's absolutely crucial that Real Talk and the SABC is seen being open - and talking - about its own talk show.

People can forgive, but not in the absence of a face that looks sorry. People, after they've been disappointed, can show compassion - but only when they are apologised to for having been deliberately misled and purposefully kept in the dark.

And people can learn to love again, to embrace again, when they've been dumped. That however requires honestly, openness and a contrite mea culpa - an acknowledgement of having done wrong.

If Anele Mdoda, Cheeky Media, Real Talk and SABC3 value their brands - and of course they do - nothing but a brutally honest apology will do.

Just like Oprah, a full disclosure, an explanation, and those two little very big words -"I'm sorry" - is of the utmost importance if Real Talk with Anele and Anele Mdoda has any chance of being taken seriously in the future.

PAY FOR PLAY. Horrific lapse of SABC's editorial policy as broadcaster admits payment for Real Talk with Anele Mdoda on SABC3 to do a 2 hour interview with minister Bathabile Mdoda.


A shocking pay for play scandal has engulfed talk show host Anele Mdoda, her talk show Real Talk with Anele produced by Cheeky Media, the SABC and SABC3; as well as the minister of social development Bathabile Dlamini, following revelations that the government department she is supposed to run, paid thousands of rand for Bathabile Dlamini to be interviewed for two hour long episodes on the SABC.

The report from Daily Maverick exposed a horrific lapse of SABC editorial control and safeguards, standards and ethics, as well as at the production company and talk show host whose face and name is the brand of the show.


ALSO READ: After pay-for-play scandal, here what Anele Mdoda needs to do right now to save her show.


Neither Real Talk with Anele, nor the SABC or SABC3 ever told viewers that the 2 hour softball interview broadcast in December - and repeated - is paid-for content and essentially a talkfomercial instead of an honest and legitimate interview.

The shocking revelations are destroying the credibility and inflicting seriously reputational damage on the image, credibility and brands of Anele Mdoda, the SABC, its SABC3 channel, as well as the Cheeky Media production company.

Viewers no longer know what exactly, and to what degree they can trust Real Talk with Anele or anything - or anyone - that appears on that show.

Lumka Oliphant, publicist for Bathabile Dlamini who also appeared on Real Talk with Anele during the paid-for interviews, told the Daily Maverick that the department is allowed to pay for interviews with the press with public funds supposed to help the old, frail and poor, for Bathabile Dlamini to get media exposure.

Lumka Oliphant initially denied the claim of a R500 000 payment for Bathabile Dlamini to be interviewed on Real Talk with Anele and said "The  reports, which are completely untrue, are a display of gutter journalism to destroy anyone who dares to give a different narrative on minister Bathabile Dlamini."

TVwithThinus made a media enquiry on Wednesday to the SABC regarding the payment of R500 000 by a politician to be interviewed for 2 hours on the South African public broadcaster without the fact being disclosed and told to viewers.

The SABC was also asked for comment about the show in light of what the SABC's editorial policy says and the stipulations of the broadcasting regulator, the Independent Communications Authority of South Africa (Icasa).

When the SABC responds with answers to the media enquiry, this report will update with it.


Real Talk with Anele and Cheeky Media, and the SABC, are in breach of the SABC's own editorial policy that clearly states that "where there is programme sponsorship, the sponsor's association with the programme has to be stated clearly, both before and after the programme".

They are also in breach of the SABC's editorial policy in terms of "information programming" that states that the SABC should "disclose all the essential facts and not suppress relevant, available facts".

Likewise infomercials and paid-for content in programmes on the SABC "must be labelled in such a way as to make clear that they are not programme material" the SABC's editorial policy states.

Meanwhile the SABC acting CEO Nomsa Philiso admitted that payment took place for a politician to be interviewed on the SABC and told News24 that it was "not normal" for the SABC to sell interviews, saying "there was payment, from what my team tells me".

Yusuf Stevens and Janez Vermeiren are both listed and carry executive producer credits on Real Talk with Anele.

Yusuf Stevens, Real Talk with Anele executive producer, told News24 that it is not uncommon for people to pay for exposure on Real Talk with Anele and that reportedly "mostly brands pay to be on the show".

Yusuf Stevens said that it is handled by the SABC’s sales representatives who also determine the rate. "We still control the interview, do the research and make it interesting to the viewers. Nobody interferes with our scriptwriting or research process."

Yusuf Stevens has so far not said why Cheeky Media and SABC3 didn't disclose to viewers and told them that Anele Mdoda did paid-for interviews and that viewers are watching a paid-for 2 hours.

Also not explained yet is what other episodes and segments are actually promotional, paid-for content, and how payment impacts how brands, people and services are being featured on Real Talk with Anele or not.

Refilwe Moiloa at Cheeky Media in response to a media enquiry asking who is speaking on behalf of the show and who can answer questions pertaining to what happened and how it happened, said Cheeky Media won't be talking and referred all media enquiries to SABC spokesperson Kaizer Kganyago.


Anele Mdoda whose name is carried on Real Talk with Anele and who is the face and brand of the show claimed that she knew nothing of the R500 000 payment and that "it is commissioned by the SABC. I am the presenter. I have nothing to do with them".

"For them to insinuate I took money [to do the interview] is ludicrous. I have no dealings with what happens with the Department of Social Development or the SABC. I get a directive of who they would like on the show and that is who we research."

Anele Mdoda also lashed out at the Daily Maverick, using her social media account on Twitter to slam the report, saying "Understanding how TV works would be the first step here. Keep my name out your damn rubbish".

The Democratic Alliance (DA) political party in a statement said Bathabile Dlamini must pay back the R500 000 that "could have paid more than 300 social grants. It is shocking that the department had the audacity to supposedly use public money for an interview".

"It is mandated to serve the poor, needy and vulnerable within our society, it is not mandated to use taxpayers' money to make floundering ministers look good." The DA said it would submit a range of parliamentary questions to "get to the bottom of this likely abuse of taxpayers' money".

Wednesday, January 17, 2018

EXCLUSIVE. Dancing with the Stars SA on M-Net will take place in the Dancing with the Stars SA Dome that Rapid Blue is literally building on the rooftop of the Hyde Park Corner shopping centre and will seat an audience of 350.

Lionel Ritchie might have been dancing on the ceiling but when the celebrity contestants of Dancing with the Stars South Africa waltz across the floor to strut their stuff on M-Net from next month, TVwithThinus can exclusively reveal that they'll do so on a roof.

Rapid Blue, producing Dancing with the Stars South Africa for M-Net (DStv 101) that will be beamed to viewers from Sunday 4 February, has been constructing a massive, purpose-built, brand-new ballroom on a rooftop - the Dancing with the Stars SA Dome on the rooftop of the Hyde Park Corner shopping centre in Johannesburg.

The newly constructed ballroom dome on top of Hyde Park Corner at the corner of Jan Smuts Avenue and William Nicol Drive in the wealthy Johannesburg suburb is both literally and figuratively very far removed from the Carlton Centre Ballroom in downtown Johannesburg where Strictly Come Dancing SA started more than a decade ago on SABC2 in February 2006.

After 8 seasons on SABC2 and SABC3 that ended in 2015, M-Net and Rapid Blue decided to revive the BBC Worldwide format show and in the process also decided to shed the old name, taking on the American moniker of Dancing with the Stars to usher in a new TV era for the glitter floor format show on South African television.

A centrepiece as part of that pasodoble TV makeover is the brand-new rooftop ballroom, as the show moves from free-to-air to a pay-TV broadcaster and also into a social media milieu where viewers will now weigh in instantaneously as on-the-couch dance critics.

"M-Net and Rapid Blue kept an open mind while scouting all over South Africa for a suitable venue," explains Kee-Leen Irvine, Rapid Blue owner and the South African uber producer who will be executive producing the show from the Dancing with the Stars SA Dome.

"Having seen the Sanlam Handmade Contemporary Fair on the Hyde Park Corner rooftop, we had a conversation with Jill Grogor, who handles all the publicity and events for Hyde Park Corner about whether we couldn’t erect a dome at the top of the centre."

"Hyde Park Corner Centre Management loved the idea," says Kee-Leen, "but safety and logistics was a huge consideration for us. After extensive engineering investigation and assessment, we established that we could go ahead.


Unique ballroom seating 350 in horse-shoe configuration
Being done from a ballroom under a dome will be an African first for Dancing with the Stars that besides the Carlton Centre Ballroom in the past, is hosted in a variety of different venues all over the world - from full sound stage studios, like those at Elstree in London, to massive warehouses.

The new Dancing with the Stars SA will be using about 2 500 square metres of floor space for the production. With the show being done from a rooftop, means that Rapid Blue and M-Net are again recording another footnote in the record book of South Africa's television history.

"TV shows are generally produced in standard studios, but finding a studio space that is large enough, centrally located and able to accommodate the required parking is always a huge challenge," says Kee-Leen Irvine. "Being able to work from a Dome at the top of Hyde Park Corner is really unique and interesting."

The Dancing with the Stars SA Dome will seat approximately 350 people as part of the show's audience where co-presenters Chris Jaftha and Tracey Lange will hold sway. Construction of the dome and ballroom started just over a week ago on 8 January.

"Often the architecture of a show of this nature resembles that of a theatre, for instance a stage and raked seating."

"Dancing With The Stars SA is unique in that we're essentially recreating a ballroom, and all the action takes place on a competition standard, 15 x 9 ballroom floor, with the audience seated around it on either side and at the front of the house – almost like a horse-shoe."

And how will the actual ballroom floor be tested? "Every season gets a brand new ballroom floor and being sturdy and non-slip, these floors are naturally more than equipped to handle the impact of the dances," says Kee-Leen Irvine.

"We're really pleased that Hyde Park Corner is such a prestigious, easily accessible venue for Rapid Blue, M-Net, and the cast and audience. It comes with great parking facilities and a variety of restaurants where guests can enjoy a snack before or after the show."

Fantasy youth drama series, The Shannara Chronicles, on Netflix cancelled by Viacom; producers Sonar Entertainment looking for a new TV channel to take it over.


Sometimes even an elfstone ain't enough to save the world (or your show): The Shannara Chronicles available on Netflix in South Africa and Africa has been cancelled after two seasons, with Viacom opting not to renew the fantasy series.

The Shannara Chronicles that was on MTV and made for MTV in America, is one of the victims in the fallout of the massive restructuring in getting rid of scripted and drama series on all of Viacom's channels besides Viacom's new flagship and premium general entertainment channel, the Paramount Network launching in America tomorrow.

If The Shannara Chronicles did get a third season from Viacom, the show would have had to move to the Paramount Network, exactly as TVwithThinus speculated would likely be the case a year ago, in February 2017 - only the new Paramount Network didn't want the show, feeling that it doesn't fit in with what the new channel wants to be.

No word yet on when South African viewers will will get to see the Paramount Network on possibly MultiChoice's DStv satellite pay-TV service, or StarSat or perhaps one of the new streaming services.

The Shannara Chronicles was renewed for a second season in 2016 but then episodes were suddenly burnt off in a roll-out of 2 episodes per week in October and November of 2017 as Viacom raced to get rid of it.

The fantasy drama series produced by Sonar Entertainment and based on the fantasy novels of the famed fantasy author Terry Brooks could still be picked up by another TV channel or streaming service like Netflix or Amazon Prime Video for instance, but the chances are slim.

Netflix has been showing The Shannara Chronicles outside of America and starred Austin Butler (Wil), Ivana Baquero (Eretria), Manu Bennett (Allanon), Aaron Jakubenko (Ander) and Marcus Vanco (Bandon).

Sonar Entertainment is now looking for a new TV channel or streaming service to possibly take over the show that filmed in New Zealand.

America's TV Guide was first to report the cancellation of The Shannara Chronicles, quoting Kevin Kay, the new Paramount Network president as saying "We have officially passed on making any more. Maybe Sonar Entertainment is going to take it somewhere else. For us, we passed on the future of that".

Tuesday, January 16, 2018

In February on Fine Living a new season of Giada at Home will start, along with new show, Rustic Renovation, and continue with double episodes of Million Dollar Contractor and We Bought the Farm.


In February on Fine Living (StarSat 281 / Cell C black 251) a new season of Giada at Home will start, and the channel will continue with double episodes of Million Dollar Contractor and We Bought the Farm, and a new show Rustic Renovation will look at cabin renovations.


■ A brand-new season of Giada at Home starts on Fine Living on Sunday 11 February at 22:00 with double episodes featuring home-cooked Italian recipes with a Californian twist, prepared by Fine Living’s favourite chef Giada Di Laurentiis.


■ Rustic Renovation starts on Wednesday 14 February at 22:00 with double episodes.

The brothers Chase and Brock Jurgensen have built a construction company based in Minnesota, where just about everyone has a cabin, whether on the water or deep in the woods – and the brothers are on hand to renovate and modernise those that have been badly built or neglected.

With Chase’s expertise as a contractor and Brock’s skill in woodwork, together they creatively
transform worn-out, broken-down spaces into beautiful, functional homes.

This season, Chase and Brock update a fourth-generation family cabin on Lake Charlotte, adding barnwood-framed windows to brighten up the space. Plus, using salvaged items and reclaimed materials, the brothers transform an original World War II Quonset hut into a bright, unique guest house with custom beds.



■ Million Dollar Contractor on Thursdays at 22:00 gives a behind-the-scenes look at the construction of Manhattan’s most elite homes with contractor to the stars Stephen Fanuka.

Along with his expert crew, Stephen works on some incredible high-end projects as the series continues in February, including his biggest challenge yet: the building of a solarium on the roof of a Central Park West apartment building.

With the help of a team of audio engineers, Stephen builds a room that’s perfectly suited to listening to music, while also pleasing to the eye. Throughout the series Stephen also shares some top tips and tricks that may be of use to first-time DIY-ers, and anyone who’s thinking of renovating their own home.


We Bought the Farm will continue on Fine Living in February on Sundays at 21:00 with double episodes.

In the first season of We Bought the Farm viewers can join outdoor-loving families looking for a simpler lifestyle as they search for their dream luxury farmhouse.

In each episode, real estate professionals help them pick their ideal property, whether it’s a quaint
country farmhouse or luxury properties on hundreds of sprawling acres.

As the first season continues in February, a Miami family with 8 kids looks for a simpler lifestyle in Martin County – but can they find a farm that has plenty of land, a spacious house, and farm animals?

Meanwhile, North Carolina couple Mike and Holly are tired of keeping their two horses in a boarding facility, so they’re searching for a farmhouse with a barn and large pastures to keep their horses happy.