M-Net has so far chosen to remained silent over the involvement of its 1Magic (DStv 103) channel, billed as the "official media partner", with 21st Century Group's now-dubious Women in Media Conference 2018.
The event announced to take place on 5 and 6 September in the Sandton Convention Centre, derailed on Wednesday after stars like Taraji P. Henson and Halle Berry who were announced as being part of it, said they won't attend and are not involved with it, and slammed the organisers over "fake advertising", saying it's "shameful that 21st Century Group would advertise this way".
Bonang Matheba has also bailed on the event and Webtickets told TVwithThinus that it has halted all sales.
Taraji P. Henson, who visited South Africa previously as part of a publicity blitz in mid-2016 for Fox Networks Group UK & Africa’s FOX (DStv 125 / StarSat 131 / Cell C black 201) channel, said that she is working on Empire, isn't part of the conference, and that she wants her name and likeness removed from it.
The 21st Century Group in a statement said it is suing and starting a "legal lawsuit" against 42West, a well-known PR firm in the United States, and something called "Superstar Agency".
21st Century Group said that "Superstar Agency is the agency that booked Taraji P. Henson through her management, which is 42West PR. The engagement contract was signed by Susan Bymel on behalf of Superstar Agency. We also have a contract that was signed by John on behalf of 42West (Taraji’s management) confirming the booking. A deposit payment of $120 000 was paid to Superstar Agency."
An internet search couldn’t find a website for Superstar Agency.
The American talent agent Suzan Bymel does exist, but her first name is spelled with a “z” and she is the co-founder of the Management 360 talent agency in the United States.
It's not clear whether 1Magic, one of the M-Net channels supplied to MultiChoice's DStv satellite pay-TV platform, remains the official media partner because M-Net has so far refused to publicly distance itself from the organisers and the event or to affirm its ongoing involvement.
The 1Magic channel logo appears on 21st Century Group's marketing material for the Women in Media Conference 2018, giving the event its "seal of approval".
In the past week M-Net was asked questions specifically pertaining to 1Magic and the Women in Media Conference, as well as the pay-TV broadcaster's attachment as the event's official media partner.
Nondumiso Mabece, head of publicity at M-Net for local entertainment channels, didn't want to respond to the specific questions and instead referred media enquiries, although made specifically about M-Net and 1Magic and its involvement, to the organisers 21st Century Group.
Nondumiso Mabece said M-Net and 1Magic will not be issuing any statement on the conference.
As the South African public is wondering what exactly is going on, the pay-TV broadcaster was asked how M-Net checked and what steps were taken to verify that it's a legitimate event and what 1Magic's involvement in and with the event is.
M-Net was asked whether 1Magic will continue to be the official media partner of 21st Century Group's Women in Media Conference 2018, and whether M-Net is now looking into what went wrong.
M-Net was also asked whether it helped to secure talent for the event and whether M-Net and 1Magic is still fine for some of the talent like the Carte Blanche presenter Claire Mawisa and Mzansi Magic producer and actress Connie Ferguson to appear and be attached to the event.
M-Net was asked what M-Net and 1Magic wants to communicate and say to the public in regard to the Women in Media Conference 2018 over its involvement with the event and what has transpired so far.
Meanwhile the fallout and public reputation damage around 21st Century Group and its Women in Media Conference 2018 continues.
This reputational damage is also impacting M-Net's 1Magic as an attached partner, with the channel also incurring brand damage as the pay-TV brand remains unwilling to tell the public where it stands and what is going on regarding its involvement.