Wednesday, November 21, 2018

Pay-TV operator Azam TV adds A+E Networks' History channel from December.

The pay-TV operator Azam TV will be adding A+E Networks' History channel to its channels line-up from December.

History that has been popular on MultiChoice's DStv satellite pay-TV platform in South Africa since it was added in 2003, will be become available on Azam on channel 505 in Tanzania, Kenya, Uganda, Rwanda, Burundi, Malawi and Zimbabwe.

"A+E Networks Africa is excited to be adding History to the Azam platform," says Yusuf Nabee, A+E Networks Africa general manager.

" Over the past year History has launched a series of new services including two pop-up channels and H-Vault, a video-on-demand service that offers viewers a broad array of curated collections."

Jacob Joseph, Azam TV CEO, says "We are glad to partner with A+E Networks. We know the pulse of our customers and for sure, History channel will be a game changer".

SABC: Better prepared for Black Friday 2018 and increased TV set sales after last year’s TV licence validation server crash.


The SABC says it will be ready and its SABC TV licence department better prepared for Black Friday 2018 to prevent a recurrence of last year where the frustrated retailers across South Africa couldn't sell the TV sets it wanted to and angry customers couldn't buy hugely discounted TV sets after the massive demand caused the SABC's TV licence verification system to collapse.

To buy a TV set in South Africa retailers need to verify an existing SABC TV licence holders's TV holder and add the new TV set to be sold to the existing details, or have a customer take out a new TV licence.

This can however only happen if the SABC's TV licence division is online and working but on Black Friday 2017 the SABC's TV licence validation server collapsed from the overload in validation requests.

The SABC's inability to verify and register new SABC TV licences cost not just the South African public broadcaster dearly which is struggling to add new TV licence fee payers, but also retailers who couldn't make all the sales on the promotion day.

Customers who wanted to buy TV sets couldn't, and South Africa's TV industry also got a knock since the TV sets sold means an increase in the eyeballs watching and an expansion of the existing TV audience.

Last year the SABC said in a statement that its "TV Licence validation server was overwhelmed by the abnormal increase in validation requests from retailers due to the Black Friday deals which resulted in the server timing out between 07:00 and 10:30".

TVwithThinus asked the SABC what steps the public broadcaster has taken to prevent a recurrence of 2018's Black Friday system crash, if it has been planning for the increase in demand that will arise again, if it has been liaising with retailers, and if any pressure tests has been done at the SABC's TV Licence department.

The SABC says "we would like to correct the statement that the SABC system crashed during the 2017 Black Friday".

"The system error experienced within the SABC was as a result of external services which crashed and had an effect on SABC systems. However the retailers were given alternative processes to sell TV sets offline during that time."

"The SABC can confirm that we have been planning for the 2018 Black Friday with the retailers," says Neo Momodu, SABC spokesperson.

"These preparations began internally in March 2018 which resulted in the SABC upgrading and configuring its TV Licence system to manage Black Friday volumes."

"Load testing discussions with all major retailers started in August 2018 and is ongoing. Testing exercises continue weekly until mid-November 2018".

The SABC said that a "backup process" was also tested with retailers, "in the event of a blackout of the TV Licence system and or external services that support the SABC".

Tuesday, November 20, 2018

There's an amazing M-Net golden decoder locked in a transparent box inside the MultiChoice City headquarters - and if you're lucky you might just get to see it.


It's no urban myth - there's a golden decoder inside the MultiChoice City headquarters in Randburg and if you're lucky, really lucky, you might just get a chance to see it as part of an excellent interactive exhibition about the history of pay-TV in South Africa that is truly Smithsonian level great.

MultiChoice recently - and quietly - repurposed one of its ground floor meeting rooms in its MultiChoice City headquarters in Bram Fischer Drive in Johannesburg into an astounding walk-through exhibition detailing the history of subscription television broadcasting in South Africa that has of course been spearheaded by Naspers, and its pay-TV arms M-Net and MultiChoice.

Tucked away to the right behind the MultiChoice City reception desk and access gates of the airy lobby, the astounding exhibition isn't open to the general public or DStv subscribers although visitors, business people and MultiChoice, SuperSport and M-Net staffers can visit and experience the incredibly detailed and wonderfully interactive exhibition.

Few people at first glance will realise or even recognise that the "premium museum"-level standard of this TV history exhibition, tucked away in the southern most country of Africa, is actually as good, informative, and as well conceptualised as the best of American TV exhibitions that you get and is being done by the Smithsonian in the United States.

True lovers of television and television history in South Africa will get a huge kick out of entering the cleverly conceptualised, windy pathway whisking people past a colourful array of newspaper clippings, TV screens looping endless and memorable South African video-nostalgia, M-Net and DStv decoders, and walls adorned with fascinating facts.

The amazing audio-visual exhibition offers a look back at past and current iconic TV shows from across M-Net's range of TV channels since the starting days of Front Row, Carte Blanche, Egoli and others, and visitors can even enter an interactive booth to experience a virtual 4D TV satellite launch experience.

"Welcome! This is our story" beckons the front wall of the exhibit, that exits at the end with a "cast" photo mosaic wall of MultiChoice staffers' faces.

Along the walls are mounted transparent perspex cases each with various M-Net and DStv decoders showing the rapid evolution over the past two decades of the various set-top boxes since M-Net introduced the very first one in 1986  (yes, it's part of the exhibition too!).

Included and on show in the exhibition is a "C-3PO" decoder - M-Net's millionth decoder it made in 1993.

This 24-carat gold plated beauty can't translate languages as part of human-cyborg relations, but once upon a time unscrambled satellite signals into a profusion of M-Net TV channel choices.

In mid-October TVwithThinus was inside MultiChoice City for the media event of one of M-Net's new shows, when an M-Net publicist asked if I was aware of it, and maybe wanted to walk through - which I did along with another journalist. We were both astounded and completely blown away.

Afterwards I asked MultiChoice about the beautiful exhibition.

MultiChoice says that due to security reasons people can unfortunately not just walk in and see and experience the exhibition but that MultiChoice does have "open days" for various groups like DStv installers, agencies and customers during which it might be possible to experience the exhibition.







BBC STUDIOS AFRICA SUMMER UPFRONT 2018: The BBC Lifestyle channel on DStv gets a gold-tone makeover; adds reality dating series, Farmer Wants a Wife Australia.

The BBC Lifestyle (DStv 174) channel from BBC Studios Africa has undergone an on-screen makeover from today, 20 November, introducing a new gold tone logo and meshed, pastel-coloured food and lifestyle objects for its on-air ident look.

BBC Lifestyle that remains the number one international lifestyle channel on MultiChoice's DStv satellite pay-TV platform, is getting spruced up with a preview of the new on-air look that was unveiled to the press and TV critics, advertisers and TV executives as well as producers who attended the BBC Studios Africa's Summer Upfront 2018 event held last month at Summer Place in Hyde Park, Johannesburg.

BBC Studios Africa says the new BBC Lifestyle look is "chic and contemporary" and features a fresh set of palates, designs and objects based around BBC Lifestyle's aspirational and entertaining lifestyle content.




With the BBC Lifestyle on-air makeover the channel will roll out a new season of Give it a Year with presenter Karren Brady.

BBC Lifestyle is also adding the Australian version of The Farmer Wants a Wife Australia.

The 9th season that was broadcast in 2016 in Australia will start on Sunday 2 December at 20:00, and is similar to the Afrikaans version, Boer Soek 'n Vrou on kykNET (DStv 144).

At the BBC Africa Summer Upfront advertisers and the media "ooh"-ed and "aah"-ed when the BBC played a sizzle reel of the season, an early indication that DStv subscribers will likely find the show as compelling and watch-worthy.


Farmer Wants a Wife Australia has led to 8 marriages so far and sheds light on how it can be for farmers living in the "Aussie outback" as rural guys are looking for love.

"In this ever competitive world of TV, our BBC channels continue to deliver strong audience growth as our programming line up showcases the very best creativity the United Kingdom has to offer, alongside hugely successful local formats and international stars," says Joel Churcher, the vice president and general manager for BBC Studios Africa.




ALSO READ: BBC STUDIOS AFRICA SUMMER UPFRONT 2018: In photos.

142 million votes: Why the record-breaking Idols keeps growing as the [sic] Entertainment produced singing reality competition show on Mzansi Magic prepares for its 15th season.


Renewed for a 15th season in 2019, the record-breaking Idols on Mzansi Magic (DStv 161) keeps barreling full-steam ahead with TV ratings surging and surreal growth in voting numbers as the singing reality competition show surpassed 142 million votes - a new overall record - for the just-concluded 14th season.

After 16 years and 14 seasons since 2002, turn over the can labelled Idols and you won't find an expiry date listing any sell-by year in its second decade on the air.

In fact, Idols that's keeping up its simply phenomenal growth in ratings, voting and social media viewer engagement, has become a true tone example of how a carefully-crafted TV show, slowly but steadily nurturing its audience, can increase and leverage the power of that viewership to greater and greater commercial success.

Idols, a Fremantle format show produced by [sic] Entertainment with co-executive producers Gavin Wratten and ProVerb (Tebogo Thekosho who is also the presenter), continues to ride the crest of the combined waves of growth in pay-TV households, the ongoing expansion of the black middle class in South Africa, smartphone ownership and increased broadband data penetration.

All combined - and through knowing the audience and giving them exactly what they want - Idols has established itself as true tentpole television, making viewers not just feel as if they have a real voice in its democracy-in-action voting mechanics but by literally shaping a carefully choreographed secular version of a Sunday evening church-going experience - one where "pastor" ProVerb as presenter holds sway.

With its now firmly-established formulaic fame-making liturgy set down to the smallest unwavering details - viewers for instance getting equal-parts frustrated and elated in anticipation over things like ProVerb dragging out dramatic announcements with "after the commercial break" and with just enough minor variance in-between to keep things ever-unpredictable - Idols has created the template for a communal shared TV experience in the social media age.

The big Idols winners are M-Net, Mzansi Magic, and the in-show advertisers and sponsors who not only get a dedicated, captive audience but a growing and dynamically active captive audience. Idols viewers don't just watch the show - they live it, and as they live it, they spread it.

"Idols is the biggest talent platform in the country and keeps producing amazing talent. Gavin and ProVerb have done an amazing job. I look forward to Idols' 15th season," said Reneilwe Sema, the director of local entertainment channels at M-Net, just after Sunday's 2-hour 14th season Idols live finale that was broadcast on Mzansi Magic.

TVwithThinus asked Gavin Wratten right after Sunday's finale broadcast what he makes of the show's massive ongoing voting growth, for context about the latest Idols voting records and how he feels about Idols going from 83 million votes in 2016, to 98 million in 2017, and 142 million votes in 2018.

"Last year we were all blown away when we got 98 million votes and I don't think we ever thought we would get anywhere close to that for the season. 98 million was amazing," said Gavin Wratten.

"So ProVerb and I chatted and we said at the beginning of the 14th season let's just throw it out there, let's just try break a 100 million."

"And now, 142 million votes later, really I have no words. It's just unbelievable."

Idols already surpassed the total 98 million votes of the entire previous 13th season by the penultimate Sunday broadcast last week. That was when the total votes cast reached 110 million. What it means it that by Sunday a week ago, Idols already had 12 million votes more than the entire previous season. And the final week was still to come.

Then viewers cast another additional 32.5 million votes during the final broadcast week of Idols, that brought the total to just over 142 million votes for the entire 14th season.

Meanwhile viewership for Idols' 14th season is up by roughly half a million viewers over the previous 13th season - an astounding achievement for a show that viewers have to pay to watch.

Rating wise Idols at 1.55 million viewers during October for its most-watched episode on Mzansi Magic for the month lured more total viewers to the pay-TV channel than what the entire SABC3 as a free-to-air channel get: In October SABC3's top show was its weekday soap Isidingo with 1 020 712 viewers.

In fact, on the entire MultiChoice DStv pay-TV service Idols is the 3rd highest-rated show, behind just The Queen and Our Perfect Wedding - both Mzansi Magic shows on the same channel that's available to just DStv Premium, DStv Compact Plus and DStv Compact subscribers.

Idols that has been renewed for its 15th season, will start auditions in January 2019.

Auditions will take place on:
26 January 2019 – Pretoria, State Theatre
9 February 2019 – Durban, North Beach Amphitheatre
16 February 2019 – Johannesburg, Ellis Park
2 March 2019 – Cape Town, Century City

Several factors work together that could likely see Idols viewership and voting increase again.

From March 2019 an "unused roll-over data" rule will come into effect for cellular operators that could see consumers have access to more of their not yet used data before they lose it.

Elections will be held in South Africa in mid-2019, with the heightened social awareness around the importance of voting that could lead to an uptick in general voting behaviour elsewhere, for instance Idols.

Meanwhile smartphone sales, smartphone use, data use, and DStv subscriptions - especially of DStv Compact - in South Africa all keep growing despite a struggling economy, adding to the base elements fuelling Idols success.

Lastly, almost unnoticeably, Idols is ticking younger in winners - and that undoubtedly means an ongoing broadening of the audience.

It doesn't mean that the Idols audience is getting younger, but it means that more younger viewers are watching, and those younger viewers act as a tether to bring more other viewers with them, making the audience larger.

As viewers relate to, and identify with who they see on screen and reflect them, the inclusion of more younger top participants and steadily getting younger winners means that it's drawing in more younger viewers.

These younger viewers cause other family members to tune in as well for the viewing experience - people who might not have watched Idols but then follow the show.

Parents and older family members tend to watch what their children and younger family members watch, choose the TV to be tuned to and consider to be cool - a viewing trend that doesn't work the other way around.

Over the past four years since the show's transition to Mzansi Magic the Idols winner's age has steadily crept downwards from 30 (2014), 24 (2015), 22 (2016), 17 (2017) and 17 (2018) - an unmistakable trend line if you look closely.


ALSO READ: Idols winner Yanga Sobetwa on her life’s vision, big dreams including a PhD and starting a music academy – and 'freezing' her R1 million prize money.
ALSO READ: Idols runner-up Thato Makape: 'All of us in Postmasburg are winners because we came second in the greatest music competition show.'
ALSO READ: Yanga Sobetwa (17) from Delft the season 14 Idols winner as the show pulls a record-setting 142 million votes.
ALSO READ: Season 13: As Idols on Mzansi Magic continues to grow its viewership and voting, M-Net says Idols' voting engagement is now as important as ratings.

Monday, November 19, 2018

The producer answers your burning questions about what you saw in in the first episode of BBC Earth’s Dynasties, and what happened to David the chimpanzee.


Here are the answers to the burning question you most probably have after having watched the first episode of the striking new BBC Studios natural history series, Dynasties, that kicked off on Sunday on BBC Earth (DStv 184) at 16:00, featuring David the chimpanzee, the alpha male of his troop in south-east Senegal.

Viewers were shocked after David got viciously attacked by some of the other males in the troop, leaving him for dead ... but then his one finger moved.

Despite massive injuries and deep gashes, David recovered and travelled many kilometres to rejoin his troop that also faced a wildfire.

TVwithThinus spoke to Rose Thomas, the director and producer of the first episode to get answers to some of the must-know stuff viewers would want to know after you've watched the first episode.


Did you intervene when you discovered that David was attacked and left for dead?
Rose Thomas: No, we can't actually. It was incredibly emotionally difficult for me to see that happen.

Ultimately, by getting involved, we would affect their society and how their society works and their natural behaviour. The scientists studying them don't ever step in and we can't go against what they would normally do.

Also, even though he was injured he was still an incredibly strong and aggressive chimp, and it would have been dangerous for us to. And I'm also not sure what I could have done anyway, even if I had been able to help. So for all of those reasons we can't do anything, but yes it was very difficult to watch.


Were you surprised?
Rose Thomas: It's real, it's what happened.

I'm was as surprised as I think viewers seeing it when it all happened. The fact that he came back in that way was just extraordinary because we all thought he had died. As a crew we thought he had died. And we thought we were searching for a dead body.

Then we found him and he was alive it was just extraordinary.


Why do we see you wearing facemasks?
Rose Thomas: The facemasks are actually to protect the chimps.

Because they share over 90% of our DNA, they are also susceptible to our diseases but they don't have the immune system to fight them, so a common cold could kill a chimp. So we wear the face masks to prevent any disease transmission.


Did you set the wildfire?
Rose Thomas: They weren't set by us. No. The whole area burns every year and some are natural fires.

The chimps actually live on a lot of farmland. A lot of farmland is in their territory and a lot of farmers burn their farmland for crops. There were a lot of fires just naturally.


Then there's tragic news that David died recently.
Rose Thomas: There was the same scenario - the younger males attacked him at night and sadly this time he wasn't strong enough to survive. And Jumkin is actually now alpha male and Luther is second in the hierarchy, and still battling for that top spot.


ALSO READ: 5 animals fight for survival in BBC Studios' 'cinematic, unpredictable and compelling' new natural history series Dynasties starting Sunday on BBC Earth.
ALSO READ: IN PHOTOS. The South African media launch of BBC Studios' amazing new natural history animal series, Dynasties, and IMAX press screening.
ALSO READ: 'Sir David Attenborough said he though we were mad': Here are 5 things about BBC Studios' beautiful new natural history series, Dynasties, you want to know. 
ALSO READ: INTERVIEW. 'We had an idea of what might happen. What actually did happen ... ' Rose Thomas, producer and director of the Dynasties chimpanzee episode, talks about her experience making the new BBC Studios 'Game of Thrones'-like natural history series. 
ALSO READ: TV REVIEW. Dynasties on BBC Earth with Sir David Attenborough is agonising, haunting - and painfully beautiful. 

Idols winner Yanga Sobetwa on her life’s vision, big dreams including a PhD and starting a music academy – and 'freezing' her R1 million prize money.


The season 14 winner of Idols, Yanga Sobetwa (17) has big plans for her life that includes going into entertainment law, getting her PhD in music, opening her own production company, and starting a music academy - but first she's going to "freeze" her R1 million winnings, work on releasing her debut album with Gallo and go on tour.

In the record-breaking 14th season of the show produced by [sic] Entertainment that once again saw huge ratings on M-Net's Mzansi Magic channel on MultiChoice's DStv satellite pay-TV service on Sunday nights and again shattered the voting-record with more than 142 million overall votes cast, Yanga Sobetwa as the youngest contestant this season, faced off against Thato Makape as the oldest.

The young woman from Delft, living close to the 13th season's winner Paxton Fielies - who have found huge success the past year, continue to sing to sellout crowds and even performed for the queen of Sweden in April - went on to clinch the title on Sunday night in front of a a packed audience at Carnival City in the live broadcast.

"I'm a girl from locations - very simple - and I feel I don't deserve to be here at all. I did nothing to deserve to be here but I feel really blessed that people feel that I deserve to be here. And I feel really privileged and really blessed and it's really humbling," said Yanga Sobetwa at the Idols finale post-show press conference on Sunday night.

TVwithThinus asked her why she got along so well with Thato Makape.

"Thato and I weren't so close at the beginning of the competition but as Idols continued as we both worked together with the duets and everything, I got to know him more and we both shared about our lives, and it's been nice he's a great guys and he deserves to be wherever he is now."

Asked about her plans and what's coming next she said "I'm planning to continue with my studies. I am a book girl. I have so many skills and dreams that I want to fulfill, like entertainment law. So I'm planning on continuing my studies. I'm planning on freezing the money for up to a year and to just live off of the gig money and possible sponsorships."

"My 10 year plan that I've planned way before Idols is that I'd like to have a PhD degree in music, and I'd like to open my own production company and a music academy as well - that's what I definitely still want to do," said Yanga Sobetwa.

"I've always had a vision for myself. My vision is to bring teenagers closer to God through music, so it's been the vision before Idols and it doesn't have to change now. So gospel all the way and gospel pop".


TVwithThinus asked Yanga Sobetwa what her family has meant to her during the competition and how it felt bringing them with her into this new TV and entertainment industry that she has now become part of.

"I went to the audition and I was alone with my big sister and my dad," she explains.

"They're were very supportive from the get-go. And then as the competition went on, I ended up in the Top 16, then my mom came into play as well and she was like 'This is actually working!'. And every Sunday when I saw them in the crowd I felt like my heart was melting because not many 17-year old get to make their parents proud."

"The other day I saw my parents in a photo in the newspaper and my dad was smiling. And I felt my heart just melting and I cried. I feel really humbled to have been in Idols as a competition because my parents are really proud."


ALSO READ: Idols runner-up Thato Makape: 'All of us in Postmasburg are winners because we came second in the greatest music competition show.'
ALSO READ: Yanga Sobetwa (17) from Delft the season 14 Idols winner as the show pulls a record-setting 142 million votes. 
ALSO READ: 142 million votes: Why the record-breaking Idols keeps growing as the [sic] Entertainment produced singing reality competition show on Mzansi Magic prepares for its 15th season.

Idols runner-up Thato Makape: 'All of us in Postmasburg are winners because we came second in the greatest music competition show.'


Thato Makape (23) the runner-up of the 14th season of Idols that ended on Sunday night on Mzansi Magic (DStv 161) has a big dream to create an arts academy for his small town of Postmasburg in the Northern Cape and is planning to go on a nationwide tour in April 2019.

In the record-breaking 14th season of the show produced by [sic] Entertainment that once again saw huge ratings on M-Net's Mzansi Magic channel on MultiChoice's DStv satellite pay-TV service on Sunday nights and again shattered the voting-record with more than 142 million overall votes cast, Thato Makape as the oldest contestant this season in the Top 10, faced off against Yanga Sobetswa as the youngest.

Thato Makape from the small town of Postmasburg in the Northern Cape, is a young barber who left school in Grade 11 to help his sick mom and probably holds the record for longest traveller to an Idols audition after he journeyed a staggering 1 250km over days - using buses and taxis and all his money - to get to Cape Town for the auditions in February after also doing a try-out in Durban.

On Sunday night the level-headed and well-liked Thato Makape restored the tradition when he appeared before the media at the Idols finale post-show press conference with the winner, to answer questions.

In the previous 13th season the runner-up balked and for the first time in the history of Idols refused to face the media or do participate in the prize handover ceremony, leading to controversy.

On Sunday night however Thato Makepe had a bright smile and spoke about his big plans for the future - and for his town of Postmasburg.

"Taking the first prize doesn't say you're the only winner. The runner-up who came second out of thousands of people in the country is also a winner," said Thato Makape.

To fans and people living in Postmasburg and everywhere else who believed in him and supported him, he had a message.

"I want to tell everybody in my small town of Postmasburg - I remember my first audition and in it I was asked does a place like Postmasburg even exist. Now I believe everybody knows Postmasburg."

"And all of us in Postmasburg are winners because we came second in the greatest music show platform in the country."

"Postmasburg being the small town that it is - and the R1 million that I didn't win but it is coming - it was always my aim to uplift Postmasburg and the young stars in Postmasburg."

"I've always seen this arts academy in Postmasburg, not just in music but in arts where everybody can showcase their craft in whatever they're talented and gifted in."

"People would be able to come there, learn more about it, like a school, you get a certificate. That's my plan for Postmasburg and it's coming."

TVwithThinus asked Thato Makape why he got on so well with everybody and with Yanga Sobetwa.

"When you get among people you compete with, you all in one house. A house is a place for family. The stage is a place for competition. So when you're on stage you compete, but at the house I'm family to everybody."

"It doesn't help I stay with you all and I'm all mean with everybody. I mean, who's going to put some Epson salt in the food? Yanga and I ended up being like brother and sister," he said.

"To Gavin Wratten, the director and co-executive producer, I would like to say thank you very much for the opportunity of this greatest music platform in the country. My performance tour is going to start in April 2019 to various provinces and hopefully some Southern African country or countries outside South Africa."

TVwithThinus also asked Thato Makape what his family has meant to him during the competition and how it felt bringing them with him into this new TV and entertainment industry he became part of.

"Going to the Idols auditions in Durban was okay, but going to Cape Town was a problem. My mom said 'Who's going to pay for your transport? It's super far from here. So at your own risk boetie.' But then making it to the Idols Top 16 and I'm an only child, it became a job for her to support me."

"She would travel every Sunday to come to Idols. That's why you would always have seen me looking to my left when I was on stage because I was always looking to this beautiful woman that I know and love so much - my mom - who makes me carry all that joy on stage."

"Seeing my family support me from the beginning of this competition until the end, I can't even explain how it feel to me because it's beyond happiness, joy, honour and privilege, I can't express it in words. I'm so proud that they're proud of me."


ALSO READ: Idols winner Yanga Sobetwa on her life’s vision, big dreams including a PhD and starting a music academy – and 'freezing' her R1 million prize money.
ALSO READ: Yanga Sobetwa (17) from Delft the season 14 Idols winner as the show pulls a record-setting 142 million votes. 
ALSO READ: 142 million votes: Why the record-breaking Idols keeps growing as the [sic] Entertainment produced singing reality competition show on Mzansi Magic prepares for its 15th season.

Yanga Sobetwa (17) from Delft the season 14 Idols winner as the show pulls a record-setting 142 million votes.


Yanga Sobetwa (17) from Delft in Cape Town on Sunday night was announced the winner of the 14th season of Idols on Mzansi Magic (DStv 161) with the hit series produced by [sic] Entertainment that was renewed for a 15th season and pulled a new record-setting 142 million votes for the season.

Yanga Sobetwa becomes the second consecutive contestant from the Western Cape to win the title after last year's Paxton Fielies.

"I can't put into words how I feel right now, but I can say it in song," said a shocked Yanga Sobetwa a few seconds after her name was called, before bursting into a gratitude chorus in the 14th season finale that was a live broadcast done from Carnival City, Johannesburg.

The Big Top Arena music spectacular included pyrotechnics, motorbikes, a jungle feel, protests, a riot of colour and a glimpse of an Africa reimagined with guest performances by DJ Black Coffee, DJ Tira, AKA, Okmalumkoolkat, Prince Bulo, Kid X, Kwesta, Mlindo, Kwesta, Thabsie and Sfeesoh performed, along with Paxton Fielies.

Friday, November 16, 2018

eNCA adds puppet show, Almost News with Chester Missing.


eNCA (DStv 403) is adding a puppet show, Almost News with Chester Missing, on Sunday evenings at 19:30 from 25 November as the South African TV news channel ramps up its plans for 2019's election coverage.

Almost News with Chester Missing is a spin-off show from Late Nite News with Loyiso Gola, where the puppet made his first on-air appearance, and is produced by the same production company, Diprente, that did LNN for eNCA until its abrupt cancellation in September 2015.

Chester Missing, created and done by comedian Conrad Koch, has remained upfront in viewers' visage the past three years, with appearances from time to time on eNCA.

Although mercilessly mocked and struggling to get a word in edgewise, South African politicians appear to have a fearful yet awed fascination with the puppet, with politicians from across the political spectrum as well as a variety of public office holders and business high-flyers who have been willing to sit for the satirical, farcical and frenetic interviews with Chester Missing for what they in return crave most: time on television and in the limelight.

eNCA says Almost News with Chester Missing will "take an irreverent look at the current affairs landscape and put high-profile politicians through their paces in interviews only the country's most famous puppet can get away with".

Chester Missing chipped in with a quotable saying "I have my own TV show. I'm a puppet. Have any of you realised how crazy this is? Someone tell Hlaudi. He broke ground for puppets everywhere," referring to the fired former controversial SABC chief operating officer (COO) Hlaudi Motsoeneng who has been a blight on the South African TV industry.

Conrad Koch says "Chester and I are hugely excited to be creating this show with South Africa's best news source, eNCA, and the amazing award-winning team at Diprente".

"South Africa has huge room for incisive, hilarious satire as we move towards elections next year. We want to make Almost News with Chester Missing both well researched and really, really funny."

Mapi Mhlangu, eNCA editor-in-chief says "Over many years Chester has become an integral part of the political firmament and has asked questions of our leaders no one else would dare to".

"And with one or two exceptions, politicians and business leaders love the interchange and are happy to participate. Chester also provides a release valve for South Africans who need to laugh at each other and themselves."

SABC3 schedule disruption due to the Mzansi Super League: Here are the shows getting shelved and how others like Isidingo, Top Billing, the English news bulletin, Bold and the Beautiful and EFC are impacted.

The SABC has had to change the SABC3 schedule to make space for the first Mzansi Super League (MSL) that will be broadcast from today for a month

The Mzansi Super League (MSL) with 6 cricket teams playing in 6 different cities across South Africa will be shown on SABC3 and broadcast on Radio 2000 from 16 November to 16 December.

As a result of the cricket matches a lot of SABC3 shows will be affected including Mela, SafariLive, Afternoon Express, @The Table, The Docket, #WTF Tumi and Trending SA.that are getting shelved.

SABC3 is taking the American weekday soap The Bold and the Beautiful off-air on 21, 28 and 30 November as well as on 5, 7 and 12 December.

The Bold and the Beautiful will remain in its usual timeslot except for these days when it won't be on.

SABC3's local weekday soap Isidingo is moving from 19:00 to 18:00 on 21, 28 and 30 November.

On 5, 7 and 12 December Isidingo will be shown at 18:15 on SABC3.

The English TV news bulletin will move from 21:00 to 20:45 Monday to Saturday and on Sundays to 19:45 for the duration of the tournament.

From 18 November Top Billing is moving to Sundays at 20:00 for the next month.

The EFC Live match on 8 December will be at delayed and will be shown at 23:00 on SABC3.

The Premier League Review Magazine on 27 November, and 4 and 11 December will be broadcast at 23:30.

TV REVIEW. Dynasties on BBC Earth with Sir David Attenborough is agonising, haunting - and painfully beautiful.


Of course, as basically a given, the arrestingly beautiful, masterful new animal series with Sir David Attenborough as narrator starting on Sunday on BBC Earth (DStv 184) at 16:00 will get a score of 5 out of 5 - but here is why you should watch although, yes, it will make you cry: The animals featured in this painfully-beautiful new series needs you to experience their personal struggle for their place in the world.

The sumptuous, poignant and meticulously filmed 5-episode Dynasties is yet another wildlife filmmaking television piece of art from the BBC Studios Natural History unit, this time following 5 animals - a chimpanzee, penguin, lion, painted wolf and a tiger as they struggle to not just defend their place in the world but in what has become man's world.

With a focus on families, an hour of Dynasties flies by with an immersive filmmatic experience and totally engrossing narrative into the animals' epic, daily struggle for survival, captured over hundreds of days and distilled into awe-inspiring stories of an hour each guaranteed to leave you as viewer emotional and moved.


With unexpected - often honestly shocking moments - narrated by Sir David's trusted, tempered and understated tone, beautiful and often heartbreakingly beautiful moments from nature flashes by, detonating emotionally compelling bombs you can't bear to watch, and yet simply can't look away from.

Sunday's first episode covering a troop of chimpanzees in south-east Senegal in West Africa quickly gives the viewer a very clear indication of what's in store in Dynasties: Without the need to antropomorphise, the viewer - consciously or unconsciously - gets a guttural and visceral assault on the senses. You understand what you see as a relatable struggle that humans can identify with.

More than just struggling to live and to stay alive, these animals' survival are intimately and intricately linked to others like them, but also to the (rapidly shrinking) physical space they inhabit and their place in the "hierarchy" within that space.

Unscripted, undiluted animal-world Greek tragedy plays out in Dynasties and just as unpredictable as nature is, so unpredictable is how episodes of the series unfolds. 

As the TV pendulum in Dynasties swings and alternates between heartbreaking and happy moments, the viewer gets a true sense of the never-ending power struggle these iconic animals are tied to every single waking moment of their lives, captured over the course of four years.

Just like the animals, while watching Dynasties, viewers don't dare let their guard down.

It's agonising. It's haunting. It's painfully beautiful. Which is precisely why Dynasties is absolutely must-watch television.


ALSO READ: 5 animals fight for survival in BBC Studios' 'cinematic, unpredictable and compelling' new natural history series Dynasties starting Sunday on BBC Earth.
ALSO READ: IN PHOTOS. The South African media launch of BBC Studios' amazing new natural history animal series, Dynasties, and IMAX press screening.
ALSO READ: 'Sir David Attenborough said he though we were mad': Here are 5 things about BBC Studios' beautiful new natural history series, Dynasties, you want to know. 
ALSO READ: INTERVIEW. 'We had an idea of what might happen. What actually did happen ... ' Rose Thomas, producer and director of the Dynasties chimpanzee episode, talks about her experience making the new BBC Studios 'Game of Thrones'-like natural history series. 
ALSO READ: The producer answers your burning questions about what you saw in in the first episode of BBC Earth’s Dynasties, and what happened to David the chimpanzee.

e.tv adds new self-packaged eReality channel for its Openview platform.


eMedia Investments is starting its self-packaged eReality channel on Monday, 19 November on its free-to-air Openview satellite TV service.

eReality will run on channel 108 on Openview, and will broadcast reality shows featuring real-life stories, fascinating personalities and human emotion in its rawest form and include shows themed around crime, paranormal activity, nature, adventure, medical anomalies, outrageous obsessions and bizarre behaviour.

Some of the channel's programmes include Little Women: LA, Cheaters, Hoarding: Buried Alive, Pawn Stars, Botched! and Myth Busters.

Shows like Border Security: America’s Frontline and Untold Stories of the ER will show viewers the worlds of law enforcement and emergency medicine, while fans of extreme adventure reality will be able to tune in for Python Hunters and Running Wild with Bear Grylls


eReality's launch line-up also includes shows like Dating Naked and My Strange Addiction.

eReality will also cater to true crime fans with a number of international crime documentaries and series, including Aaron Hernandez Uncovered, The Case Of Caylee Anthony, The Disappearance of Natalie Holloway, Unspeakable Crime: The Killing Of Jessica Chambers, #killerpost and Buried In The Backyard.


"Reality television shows continue to grow in popularity around the world, and we are thrilled to bring Openview viewers a standalone channel dedicated to showcasing some of the best reality content available," says Marlon Davids, managing director of e.tv channels.

"We have paid careful attention to the mix of programming on the channel to make sure that there is something special for all reality TV fans and have no doubt that our viewers will love this channel."

Thursday, November 15, 2018

INTERVIEW. 'We had an idea of what might happen. What actually did happen ... ' Rose Thomas, producer and director of the Dynasties chimpanzee episode, talks about her experience making the new BBC Studios 'Game of Thrones'-like natural history series.




Before the start of the BBC's new Dynasties, with Sir David Attenborough as narrator, starting this Sunday on BBC Earth (DStv 184) for 5 episodes, Rose Thomas, the director and producer of the first episode, sat down to talk about this Game of Thrones-like new natural history series and following chimpanzees in Africa in the first episode, saying that what the camera crew captured, nobody could have foreseen ...


How is it possible for the camera to get so close to the animals and them not appearing to be aware or perturbed?
Rose Thomas: We filmed with long lenses. For our chimpanzee episode we had a new kind of long lens so we could zoom in quite a lot, but also with this troop we worked alongside scientists.

The scientists studying this troop of chimps have been there for nearly 20 years and so have habituated them to the human presence, and we followed their protocols. That allowed us to get very close and to follow them. We would find them in the morning and then follow them through the day.


How close is close?
Rose Thomas: About 12 metres. Unless when we were filming and they came towards us. Then you don't move. You stay still. They're walk past you or sit down. But you don't want to let them think that they're displacing you.

So they sit down; you wait 30 seconds or so, and then you get up and move. But most of the time it was about 12 metres.


What was a typical day like for you?
Rose Thomas: It was probably the most physically and mentally tough project I've ever done.

Out get-up time was 4:15am if we were lucky, 3:30am if we were unlucky and we would travel out, and get out the car and be on foot. And the territory of these chimps are 92 square kilometres, so we would walk anywhere between 5 and 15 miles per day, and we'd have to carry all our own equipment - just 3 people filming the chimps.

So we had to carry about 80 kg between three people. The temperatures were often in the 40 degrees Celcius, so it was physically incredibly demanding but we became quite passionate and obsessive about it. We just really wanted to tell the story. It was just such a unique position to be in.

And the story - we just would never have been able to do it - because it's so unlike the other landmark series that have come before it. It's a very different type of film. We just hunkered down and got on with it.




You're obviously not going to give the ending away of your chimpanzee episode, but if you could allude or expand a little: When you started you yourself didn't know how things would turn out. How did it meet your expectation, did something happen that you didn't expect or couldn't have foreseen?
Rose Thomas: The first thing to note was that it was incredibly high-risk.

I'm surprised the BBC commissioned it actually because all 5 of us producers set off into our own countries and we just had no idea what was going to happen.

We had a sense of what might happen, but we really didn't know how that was going to unfold. Because we were all able to work with scientists, they could give us some insight. For the chimps for example we knew the individuals and their personalities, and we knew who was the alpha male, and we knew who were potential rivals. We knew the hierarchy.

We had an idea of what might happen. What actually did happen ... it definitely was unexpected - and not just in the chimp film but across the board we were able to capture new behaviours.

I hope viewers come away from this one really better understanding chimp society, and just what it takes to be a leader, and to continue to grow your dynasty.


When you work so closely with these animals for such a long period of time, you must become emotionally involved. How as a person do you cope with that?
Rose Thomas: I think that all of the producers on this series are quite obsessive and passionate and that that comes out in our films.

I think you just can't help but to become emotionally attach. For me, in order to tell David the chimpanzee's story, from David's perspective, I just had to understand - in the best possible way I could - what he was experiencing every single day.

So you do become emotionally attached, and I felt as if I went on a real emotional roller-coaster with him but I think that was the only way to bring these real stories to screen.


What would you say is a must-see moment?
Rose Thomas: Because they're all stories that develop over the whole hour, each one is much more like a drama in that way. It's much more Game of Thrones type of story-telling.


I'm thinking like in Blue Planet II the whale carrying her dead baby, and the plastic. I'm sure there's going to be such moments in Dynasties?
Rose Thomas: There are some extraordinary moments of behaviour that are unique and that have never been seen and that will surprise every single viewer during the course of the series.

I think that telling you what they are would be massive spoilers. When you see it you will understand. There are just some extraordinary scenes in every single episode.




What went into the decision of choosing these 5 animals as the subjects?
Rose Thomas: We chose them because they're iconic animals but we tried to find endangered animals to show and help people to understand these animals and why we should work to protect and try to save them.


Did you ever feel in danger?
Rose Thomas: Overall we felt really safe. But the chimps can get quite aggressive when they're having fights within their own troop.

There's nothing aimed at you at all, but you've suddenly got a group of screaming chimps around you. These chimps in Senegal - they throw rocks, and they're pretty heavy. And when they get into a fight and they start hurling those, that was probably the only time I felt let's just go back a little bit.

Other than that I never felt any threat and to be honest I just felt so privileged just to be in that position and get to know them and to get an insight into their different world.


What did you learn from the chimps?
Rose Thomas: I always thought that for the alpha male, life was pretty good you know.

You're at the top and you get the best of everything; life's great. But actually I realised that it's an incredibly difficult position to be in.

David as the alpha male was always in the centre of everything even when he would try to sneak off to the side. The pressure on him was just always immense and I don't think I ever really appreciated that before.

Also chimp society is incredibly intriguing to watch. It's incredibly political. I knew it was complex but I didn't realise just how complex it was.



What makes Dynasties different?
Rose Thomas: With a lot of the other big series you see snapshots and we as filmmakers would go to those locations and spend maybe a month there, maybe 6 weeks,to capture the key piece of behaviour that we want to show.

Dynasties allowed us to go and show what happens the rest of the time and what it actually really takes to be a chimp in this troop in Senegal, or be a lion in the middle of the Masai Mara, and what it takes to stay leader and to keep your family alive and survive in whatever threats are posed to their habitat.

Dynasties on BBC Earth is a very different offering. It's a very different way of making a film as well. It was so high-risk. We started and we had absolutely no idea what was going to happen. Just the whole process was different.


And the camera equipment?
Rose Thomas: We used a RED camera with a 50 to 1 000 lens which allowed us to get a lot of the really stunning close-ups of the chimps that you will see.

We used a Phantom Flex for a lot of the high-speed stuff, and we also used a "movvie" stabilisation gimbal system for a lot of the tracking shots.

I think I maybe killed my cameraman in the process because it's quite tough on your back but I felt that it would be the best way to really give the audience an idea of moving with the troop and what it was like travelling with that troop and I think that's what the movvie brought to it.


ALSO READ: 5 animals fight for survival in BBC Studios' 'cinematic, unpredictable and compelling' new natural history series Dynasties starting Sunday on BBC Earth.
ALSO READ: IN PHOTOS. The South African media launch of BBC Studios' amazing new natural history animal series, Dynasties, and IMAX press screening.
ALSO READ: 'Sir David Attenborough said he though we were mad': Here are 5 things about BBC Studios' beautiful new natural history series, Dynasties, you want to know.
ALSO READ: TV REVIEW. Dynasties on BBC Earth with Sir David Attenborough is agonising, haunting - and painfully beautiful.
ALSO READ: The producer answers your burning questions about what you saw in in the first episode of BBC Earth’s Dynasties, and what happened to David the chimpanzee.

'Sir David Attenborough said he though we were mad': Here are 5 things about BBC Studios' beautiful new natural history series, Dynasties, you want to know.


"Sir David Attenborough said he though we were mad."

So says Michael Gunton, executive producer of the new natural history series, Dynasties, from the BBC Studios Natural History Unit.

Dynasties starts this Sunday on BBC Earth (DStv 184) at 16:00, with the first episode that will also be shown at the same time on BBC Brit (DStv 120) and BBC Lifestyle (DStv 174) on MultiChoice's DStv satellite pay-TV service.

The 5 beautiful, harrowing, shocking, delightful, surprising and awe-inspiring episodes of Dynasties each follows a different animal around the world - from a chimpanzee, a lioness and a painted wolf in Africa, to a penguin in Antarctica and a tiger in India.

Here are 5 things about Dynasties you'd like to know.


1. Sir David Attenborough thought it was a mad idea
 "Dynasties is a much grittier journey into the natural world, but it's an important one," says Michael Gunton. "I came up with the idea about 5 years ago. With previous series like Planet Earth or The Blue Planet we normally use a God's eye view of the world."

"I wondered if there was another way of telling the stories of the natural world. We never really focused on seeing this moment in time where the animals are at a fork in the road, where their lives will change fundamentally depending on which direction they take."

"Of course it's quite a dangerous thing to embark on; if nothing of interest happens, you've got nothing to make a film. Say you're making Planet Earth II and you spend 3 months trying to film a lion hunt. If it doesn't work, it doesn't matter because you can go and film a tiger hunt or something instead."

"But if you decide you're going to spend all your efforts on just one particular chimpanzee troop, and specifically one individual, and the animal dies or nothing happens or filming permissions change, you're completely stuck."

"It's quite risky, and Sir David Attenborough said he thought we were mad. But while the risks were high, the potential benefits were also very high because if it sworks, the drama - the potential for true drama - is unprecedented."


2. Moving moments
"Every episode has very moving moments, where you see heroic struggles against the odds," says Michael Gunton.

"There are also extraordinary moments of connectivity where you absolutely empathise with the animals."


3. Animal nobility
"I hope that people will see these great charismatic animals in ways they've never seen them before," says Rupert Barrington, Dynasties series producer.

"By spending vast amounts of time time with each, our teams have been able to record what their whole lives are actually like, as opposed to just a single moment."

"They have watched these animals face up to immense challenges and great change with extraordinary resilience. What really comes through in the episodes is that for these animals, life is really, really hard."

"There's a nobility in how they act, whatever is thrown at them. I think because often they're struggling against universal challenges, you can't help but connect with their struggle. You feel for them - sadness at moments of tragedy and joy when they triumph."


4. Filming facts
Up to 100 km per day driven in search of tigers - 25 000 km in total - over halfway around the Earth.

309 days of filming for just the chimpanzee episode, 402 days filming the lion episode.

-44.3 degrees Celcius was the lowest temperature the crew experienced in Antarctica filming the penguin episode (62 days is how long the crew went without seeing the sun).

22 tyre punctures filming the painted wolf episode.


5. Incredible surprises
Dynasties delivers whopping - and often gut-wrenching - surprises right from the very first episode. Be warned, be delighted; be surprised.

"About the penguin episode says Lindsay McCrae, cameraman: "Over a period of days of a storm, the whole colony of penguins could shift quite a distance because they're constantly peeling off, which pushed them closer and closer to this gully."

"And then we had an almighty storm that prevented us from filming, and we thought, 'Crickey, what are we going to see when we get back there?' What happened next - well, I guess everyone will see when they watch the episode."


ALSO READ: 5 animals fight for survival in BBC Studios' 'cinematic, unpredictable and compelling' new natural history series Dynasties starting Sunday on BBC Earth.
ALSO READ: IN PHOTOS. The South African media launch of BBC Studios' amazing new natural history animal series, Dynasties, and IMAX press screening.
ALSO READ: INTERVIEW. 'We had an idea of what might happen. What actually did happen ... ' Rose Thomas, producer and director of the Dynasties chimpanzee episode, talks about her experience making the new BBC Studios 'Game of Thrones'-like natural history series.
ALSO READ: TV REVIEW. Dynasties on BBC Earth with Sir David Attenborough is agonising, haunting - and painfully beautiful.
ALSO READ: The producer answers your burning questions about what you saw in in the first episode of BBC Earth’s Dynasties, and what happened to David the chimpanzee.

IN PHOTOS. The South African media launch of BBC Studios' amazing new natural history animal series, Dynasties, and IMAX press screening.


On Thursday afternoon BBC Studios Africa held a press day in South Africa for its new, upcoming natural history documentary series, Dynasties, starting on Sunday on BBC Earth (DStv 184) at 16:00.

The Dynasties media launch included a roundtable interview session on Thursday afternoon with one of the producer/directors, Rose Thomas, and a press screening at the IMAX cinema at the Mall of Africa in Midrand, Johannesburg, on Thursday evening.

The afternoon kicked off with a press gaggle doing a Q&A with Rose Thomas, who jetted to South Africa and who was the director and producer of the first of the five episodes of Dynasties, entitled "Chimpanzee", and that was filmed in south-east Senegal in West Africa.




The poor Rose is clearly adept at working with animals and being comfortable among them in close proximity in their natural habitat. She diplomatically fielded questions from the diverse media, ranging from climate change to "what do you love about the series?".

Besides the press and celebrities, BBC Africa executives, viewers and fans (several with kids!) showed up for the big-screen press preview of the first episode, that - of course - turned out to be very emotional.

The BBC gave guests drinks and popcorn in Dynasties branded containers, and there were additional lovely snacks with paper straws and paper cups, as well as champagne.

Too dark to photograph (except for one photo) - but lovely, inventive, playful and perfectly scene and theme setting - is how the BBC transformed that dark walk-in corridor leading into the IMAX cinema.

The hallway before you get to your seat was filled plants and an abundance of foliage, little lights and speakers pumping out jungle noises.

Everybody grabbed their snacks and then walked down this Dynasties "jungle tunnel" that felt similar as when you're going through or walking down the queue of an animal theme park "ride" to get to your seat. It was very well done.

I literally and shamelessly walked down this "jungle path" with popcorn, Coca-Cola and a glass of champagne, going to TV safari.

(Keep in mind that the IMAX didn't shut down. It remained a working, commercial space. Afterwards staffers and workers jumped to clean the cinema interior very quickly as guests left, with throngs of people already lined up outside and waiting to enter for their paid-for movie.)

After the screening of the first episode, Joel Churcher, vice-president and general manager of BBC Studios for Africa, talked to Rose Thomas and asked her some questions, as she also took several questions from the extremely interested in-cinema audience with the help of roving mics.

The first episode of Dynasties with Sir David Attenborough as narrator will be on BBC Earth but also be shown on the same time on MultiChoice's DStv on BBC Brit (DStv 120) and BBC Lifestyle (DStv 174) this Sunday at 16:00.