Wednesday, June 26, 2019

eNCA is done with Tonight with Jane Dutton, while long-running Maggs on Media is cancelled, as the TV news channel retools its schedule and current affairs offering again after a year.

After 11 months eNCA (DStv 403) is done with Tonight with Jane Dutton, with several other new and long-running programmes - including Maggs on Media - scrapped.

It comes as eNCA is once again working on another scheduling revamp following a lacklustre line-up rejig it unveiled in mid-July 2018 that less than a year later had come apart at the seams.

After luring the former eNews anchor Jane Dutton from Doha where she anchored for the Al Jazeera (DStv 406 / StarSat 257 / Cell C black 503) TV news channel and given her own weeknight prime time show from mid-July 2018, eNCA quietly and abruptly dumped Tonight with Jane Dutton that was last broadcast almost two weeks ago on 13 June.

Since its debut the talk show centred Tonight with Jane Dutton that got the plum and valuable 20:00 prime time slot, received criticism media experts, politicians and most importantly, viewers.

An interview Jane Dutton did with the EFF political party's deputy president Floyd Shivambu during her show's launch month in July 2018 left DStv subscribers wide-eyed.

Since then the show has had to apologise for on-air mistakes, while critics said that Jane often looked aloof, disconnected and uninformed about topics.

Insiders meanwhile noted that it came across as if eNCA producers were out to deliberately sabotage Jane Dutton while viewers looking for news didn't understand why eNCA switched to a talk and interview format at 20:00

An interview on 18 March on eNCA with Lesego Tlhabi during prime time - while South Africa was experiencing Stage 4 load shedding - saw Jane Dutton do a satire interview with the comedian who appeared on-air in character as Coconut Kelz, and that was conducted in a similar vein to what Trevor Noah does on The Daily Show on Comedy Central DStv (122).

Viewers were left confused and angry and under the mistaken impression that Jane Dutton was doing a real interview, not expecting news satire during eNCA's most important prime time hour as Jane asked rehearsed, play-along questions like "I believe you've got a direct line to Eskom. How does that work?"

Jane Dutton last appeared on eNCA on 12 June, with a fellow eNCA anchor suddenly sitting in for her the next night on 13 June and making a bewildering and unexplained appearance, saying "this is Tonight with Jane Dutton, I'm Thembekile Mrototo" after which the programme disappeared from the schedule.

The eMedia Investments channel made no announcement as to what has happened to Jane Dutton and issued no programming advisory, as is customary, to viewers. The timeslot quietly switched to a 2-hour "eNCA Now" branded timeslot.

eNCA was asked in an emailed media enquiry why the decision was taken to dump Tonight with Jane Dutton, whether Dutton will remain with eNCA, and if so in what role and capacity. The channel didn't answer the question.

Current affairs shows ended
eNCA's newly announced schedule and anchors line-up in July 2018 quickly started to unravel after eNCA unveiled its latest on-air shuffle as part of what it then called "reinventing ourselves for the next 10 years".

Little is now left of the schedule as eNCA announced it in July 2018 with the channel that saw a major and ongoing exodus of talent over the past year.

Several stars like the former NewsNight co-anchor Cathy Mohlahlana decided to quit who is now the prime time anchor at new rival news channel Newzroom Afrika (DStv 405).

Mapi Mahlangu who used to be the eNCA editor-in-chief was let go with Jeremy Maggs continuing in the position as acting editor-in-chief.

While eNCA remains the most-watched TV news channel on MultiChoice's DStv satellite pay-TV service, it is feeling the growing competition from SABC News (DStv 404) and Newzroom Afrika.

Now eNCA is busy cobbling together yet another new news and current affairs programming line-up.

Insiders have whispered that Maggs on Media - the longest running continuous show to have remained on the eNCA schedule - is relocating to be done from's Zonnebloem studios in Cape Town.

The truth however is that the media and marketing Sunday morning magazine show has also been cancelled.

"Following in-depth audience research, eNCA has decided to end the productions of three current affairs shows namely Maggs on Media presented by Jeremy Maggs; CrimeWatch with Yusuf Abramjee and Madam Speaker with Iman Rappetti," eNCA told TVwithThinus in a statement in response to the media enquiry asking about the channel's changes.

"These programmes will be replaced in time with new current affairs shows which are currently in development," eNCA said.

The channel said that "eNCA can also confirm that it is revaluating its weekday and weekend line-up. This is carried out on a regular basis with the intention of improving programming and growing the audience of the country’s most watched news channel".

Jeremy Maggs said "Audience needs constantly change and it is our job to recognise these changes and make necessary adjustments".

"My thanks to both Yusuf and Iman for the hard work they both put into compelling programming." 

Jeremy Maggs said that "when changes are made, eNCA will communicate those changes".