Friday, August 9, 2019

TV CRITIC's NOTEBOOK. As TVwithThinus today marks 10 years of telling about television, a thank you to You and a reflection on the future.

This site you're reading has reached the 10-year anniversary of its existence today - 9 August 2019.

As TVwithThinus marks a decade of reporting on, and analyses about, South Africa and Africa's wonderful, growing and ever-expanding television industry, I want to firstly say a very big and sincere thank you to every reader over the past decade for engaging, reading and wanting to know more and understand better about the TV world.

Secondly, I want to reaffirm my commitment to continue this journalism journey - reporting about South Africa and Africa's TV sphere and providing context about why it matters - right here, into the next 10 years as far as that might be.

The milestone of 10 years of rolling coverage and reporting specifically about South Africa's TV industry - what's on it and happening behind-the-scenes of it - would not have been possible if there were not readers who supported and who continue to support it.

The tremendous amount of time it takes and the immense amount of effort that goes into it I do because there are people who love to know, who care to know, and who want to know more and everything about it - just like I do. 

Millions of unique readers - from ordinary viewers who just want to know what's going on with their favourite show or channel, to TV producers, publicists, TV channel executives, programmers, advertising execs and broader broadcasting execs and presenters - have found TVwithThinus over the past 10 years and with it the information shared and the reporting done here.

For your time, for your reading, for your clicks and your attention, I thank you.

Watching television, tracking television and wanting to know everything about what is shown on it and how it's made behind-the-scenes has been - and remains - my passion.

The journalist in me wants to tell others about it, and when we know better, we do better and the television we get from it, becomes better.

When I left tvplus magazine as news editor after exactly 5 years and decided to start this site ten years ago it was because I saw a growing need for a place where people interested in knowing more and getting more information on a daily basis about the South African TV industry, could find that.

Unlike America, South Africa doesn't have any daily trade publications reporting specifically about the burgeoning local TV sphere, holding channels, shows and executives to account, celebrating their achievements, telling viewers what's going on, and doing introspection when things go wrong.

The local TV space in South Africa is now even more crowded than in August 2009 when TVwithThinus began.

Now, like then, the South African public broadcaster faced extreme difficulty with the SABC urgently needing a government-backed bailout to survive. Producers and content suppliers were not being paid. It's a crisis that lead to the establishment of what is the SOS Coalition public pressure group today.

MultiChoice, DStv, M-Net, SuperSport,, TopTV that turned into StarTimes's StarSat have all been evolving as streaming services like Netflix South Africa, Showmax, Amazon Prime Video and many others who started and died made their appearance.

The number of TV channels and the hours of local content - some great, some terribly bad - kept increasing over the past 10 years, and will continue to grow.

The South African TV production industry - including people fulfilling a myriad of jobs inside it from writers and script editors to camera operators, editors, directors, stage-hands and on-screen talent - continues to enlarge, transform and evolve.

Every day is jam-packed with TV things happening, people and shows and channels doing things and getting things right and getting things wrong.

I sincerely believe that it's more important than ever for incisive, comprehensive coverage of all of this.

My aim has been and remains to try and help people gain a better understanding of what's going on, both on and behind the TV screen - to champion it, to hold people and companies working within it accountable, to help viewers and industry-workers know what's going on, and to not just help it grow through the availability of information, but to track and record its progress as part of a type of public record.

While TV times are everchanging some things never change: For me as a journalist covering television and as a TV critic it's a legacy issue - not my legacy but an industry legacy and an attempt to help create and build a better South African TV landscape by reporting what's happening with, and inside, it.

As the next 10 years loom ahead, I will continue to try and go there, to be there, and to be a witness instead of regurgitating press releases on behalf of PR companies and publicist and doing desk journalism.

Not a day goes by where I don't put myself, first and foremost, in the most important person's eyes - the ordinary viewer - who isn't being communicated with properly, who often doesn't have a voice, and who just wants to know: "What's happening with my show?", "What happened to my show?" and "Where is what specifically happening on and in television, and why does it matter?"

I do tons and tons of research.

I watch tons and tons of television of every conceivable kind because I truly love it all. I try my best to find answers and to ask the right, relevant questions that will hopefully yield more insight and understanding. And even more than watching countless hours of TV - both recorded shows as well as tracking live TV, I constantly read about it.

Reporting about the business of TV broadcasting in South Africa right here where you are reading it, has been an honour and a privilege for me over the past 10 years - with many ups and downs, rough patches and moments of great joy about things I've been able to bear witness to.

It's something I take extremely seriously.

Being able to engage with and cover television generally, and South Africa's TV industry specifically as a powerful and hugely influential medium that I have a deep love for and respect tremendously, is not a responsibility that I take lightly.

An informed TV industry and informed TV viewers help to make television, the TV biz and the quality and scope of what we all get to see on it, better.

With the rise of social media, "influencers", lazy journalists and lazy journalism, commentators and fame-seeking hangers-on, this scourge has also started to invade and damage what goes for "reporting" about South Africa's TV landscape.

As more and more people and places covering South African television give their platforms and voices to affirmation - telling those who want to hear how good and wonderful they are, how good and wonderful they are - TVwithThinus will continue to provide information - as detailed, as accurate, as fair, and as honest as possible.

As I embark on the next decade of this site, I will continue to report all of the most important news about TV within the South African context and try my best to explain why it matters.

I'll try and show you people and places in television doing great things; and people and places in TV making mistakes and doing bad things.

Nobody can predict what we'll see on what we know as Television over the next 10 years or how South Africa's TV industry will grow and change.

Right here however, TVwithThinus will stick with it and continue to tell and track the real story of it all as the wonderful cathode-coloured world of television continues to unfold before our eyes.