Thursday, August 5, 2021

'Tied destinies' predicts nothing but danger for remaining Survivor SA Immunity Island castaways.

by Thinus Ferreira

Another never-seen-before, must-see-it-to-believe-it moment awaits at tribal council in tonight's eye-popping episode of Survivor South Africa: Immunity Island on M-Net (DStv 101) at 19:30 that TVwithThinus has seen and that is as explosive as unexpected.

Tonight's episode has the title of "Tied Destinies" and it means nothing good for the 10 remaining castaways as a random draw will pair them up. 

Whatever advantage a castaway might win, will also benefit their partner - but when a castaway is voted out, their partner will be getting their torch snuffed by Nico Panagio as well.

This means that at least two castaways are leaving Survivor SA: Immunity Island in tonight's episode and what will happen at a furious and fractured tribal council and what one castaway do is something that has never been seen on the show before. 

TVwithThinus watched the media screener of tonight's episode and had to press pause several times to just process and take everything in - especially during the jaw-dropping tribal council. Did that really happen? 

Viewers are advised to either record the episode while they watch live, or to keep the remote control nearby to pause and rewind - you're very likely going to want to go back and want to watch a very specific scene again. 

Discovery Inc. pulls all of its TV channels from StarTimes in Africa and StarSat in South Africa in unresolved contract conflict.

by Thinus Ferreira

Pay-TV customers of StarTimes across Africa, including StarSat subscribers in South Africa, abruptly lost all of the Discovery TV channels on Monday without warning because of an unexplained and unresolved contract conflict.

StarTimes and StarSat subscribers woke up on Monday to discover that their Discovery channels - StarTimes Real Time, Investigation Discovery, Investigation Discovery French, Discovery Science and Discovery Science French - were all gone. 

The end of the channels come after Discovery Inc. cut its Discovery Family channel in late-January from channel 222 on StarTimes and StarSat after just two years on the Chinese pay-TV platform even before it was supposed to go dark on 31 January.

Discovery Family went dark after the Fine Living Network (FLN), that is also from the Discovery Inc. stable, abruptly disappeared in December 2020 after more than a decade on the air on StarSat, with the move that also angering subscribers.

StarTimes and StarSat subscribers are fuming over the fact that they were only told in August, and after it happened that the channels are gone, saying they would have cancelled their subscriptions had they known in July or with a month's notice.

Discovery Inc. in response to a media enquiry, told TVwithThinus on Wednesday that "StarTimes Real Time, Investigation Discovery, and Discovery Science will no longer be available through the provider as of 2 August. However, lovers of real-life entertainment can still enjoy a plethora of world-class content from Discovery on DStv."

Discovery didn't answer why customers and viewers of its channels were not told or warned beforehand about the loss of the TV channels.

Luyanda Cele, StarSat spokesperson, told TVwithThinus in response to a media enquiry on Thursday morning that "Please note that the channels are removed due to contractual issues and communication was sent immediately to our customer via bmail, SMS and on our social medial pages".

On Facebook StarSat only posted a notification on Wednesday morning, long after 2 August, while subscribers say even the StarSat call centre knew nothing about the axed Discovery channels.

On Facebook when StarSat subscriber Daphne Brown asked why StarSat keeps discontinuing channels and if it's because StarTimes is not paying the distributors, StarSat said "it is due to contractual reasons and nothing to do with payment".

Nadia Crowie said "Surely someone should have known earlier, not a few days after debit orders went off and payment made. Even if we were notified, it should have been before debit orders went off or payments were made".

Nduduzo Gape said "I joined StarSat because of those channels. I am giving you one month to resolve this issue else I'm disconnecting".

Subscriber Zanele Ngcongo said "Wow, you guys are not good to your customers. You only tell today but I've noticed on Monday that Real Time was off. You need to change the way you do things".

Wednesday, August 4, 2021

Comic Con Cape Town revived as a one-day pop-up event set for 2 October 2021.

by Thinus Ferreira

The organisers of Comic Con Cape Town, a planned parallel spin-off of Comic-Con Africa in Johannesburg with both events that went physically dormant because of the global Covid-19 coronavirus pandemic, has revived the Cape Town get-together as a one-day pop-up event that will be held on 2 October 2021.

In June Reed Exhibitions Africa announced that it has set 22 September 2022 as the return date for Comic-Con Africa 2022 that will take place at a new venue, the Johannesburg Expo Centre.

The inaugural Comic Con Cape Town was again delayed in 2021 due to the continuing Covid-19 pandemic. 

"While a traditional Con is not possible in 2021, Comic Con Cape Town, in partnership with the City of Cape Town are excited to announce that they will be bringing a taste of Comic Con to the city this October," the organisers said in a statement released on Wednesday.

Comic Con Cape Town will be hosting a series of pop culture pop-up activities at different locations around the city for one day only on 2 October 2021.

According to the organisers fans can look forward to exploring pop-up activities like cosplay competitions for professionals, casuals and kids; the Comic Art Drink & Draw & Sketch-off competitions, pop culture quiz sessions, fandom meet-ups across the city, gaming and tabletop competitions and film watch parties.

"There will be a strong focus on connecting the geek and pop culture communities of Cape Town, with these pop-up activations at various locations with Covid-19 regulated capacities," the organisers say.

The Comic Con Cape Town pop-up around Cape Town will run alongside the renowned Cape Town International Animation Festival and the FAME Africa Week.

"We have been navigating the landscape of the pandemic with caution and creativity, and the pop-up activities during this one-day-only fan day gives us the opportunity to connect with the Cape Town Comic Con fans, while we wait for a full force festival," says Carla Massmann, show director.

"It allows for us to stay true to Comic Con's spirit, which is to bring people of all fandoms and interests together and facilitate friendship and connection, all whilst celebrating the love of all things pop culture."

Alderman JP Smith, mayoral committee member for safety and security, says "Cape Town is Africa's premier film and media destination, and the city is fast becoming recognised as the continent's game development hub with more than half of South Africa's game development studios based in the Mother City".

"Combine that up with an enthusiastic geek scene, Cape Town is the perfect city to bring the comic book culture alive."

"For the City, we believe providing support to film and media events such as Comic Con enables the creative sector to grow and the industries can work towards recovery post the pandemic."

TV CRITIC's NOTEBOOK. 'Let them eat designer cake': A tone-deaf SABC at 85: How a masks-off, cash-strapped public broadcaster ate, drank and partied up a storm in Covid like it's 1999.

 by Thinus Ferreira

While the board members and top executives of the South African public broadcaster constantly pleads poverty in front of the country's parliament that didn't stop the cash-strapped SABC from throwing a highly distasteful and morally wrong in-person party during a Covid-19 pandemic on Monday evening.

Lovingly broadcast to the nation, complete with an expensive, three-tier designer-ordered cake, the SABC decided to show South Africa how its top execs, presenters, politicians, actors and even some hanger-on socialites just there for selfies, ate, drank and celebrated as if Covid-19 is a distant memory and not the dangerous current-day pandemic that is engulfing the country.

Like Animal Farm, the South African public broadcaster wants viewers and its audience not to do as it does but as it says.

While the SABC showed millions of viewers on Monday night how it partied up a no-socially distanced storm in a studio, the SABC wants you to do as it says in its Covid-19 public service announcements and to stay home, not attend gatherings and to wear a mask.

Keeping your distance, wearing a mask and not having unnecessary public gatherings of any kind are however not rules that apparently apply to the South African public broadcaster. Those are just for you, dear reader sitting at home watching. 

Pity that the SABC can't even seem to try and follow its own PSAs.

The SABC will feed, drink and be merry maskless as its staffers recklessly entertain the masses with money that the broadcaster doesn't have and shouldn't be spending. 

You eat bread. Let them - and watch them - eat (designer) cake.

Earlier this year the SABC fired and got rid of 621 staffers from its bloated payroll by the end of March because the broadcaster said it can't afford to pay them all anymore.

The SABC owes millions of rand in unpaid royalties to recording artists and collection agencies that it's simply not paying. 

Production companies have been suffering with the SABC that has told parliament it's been unable and has problems paying all of its suppliers.

This is how the South African public broadcaster's properties across South Africa looks from the outside:

But let's order three-tier designer cake and make merry, hugging and literally rubbing shoulders with each other during Covid-19 and then broadcast that to our viewers who we are struggling to persuade to pay their SABC TV Licences.

As a thankful nation, viewers should be grateful to the SABC for the party content they're getting and being shown. 

At least viewers can see that some people are not restricted by Covid-19 safety regulations like the rest of us and will get together and party up a callously dangerous "superspreader" Delta-storm for the delight of all of those stuck at home.

Who at the SABC okay'ed this utter disgraceful mess of an in-person arbitrary party and a non-essential event to celebrate the SABC's random 85th anniversary? 

Why was it held in-person instead of organising a small studio-based, professional broadcast with minimum headcount?

Why is the SABC once again wasting SABC TV Licence fee payers' money on drinks and food and a shocking Marie Antoinette-like designer cake when staffers in provincial bureaus are told that the SABC doesn't have money to fix roofs or chairs or to buy basic broadcast equipment? 

How much did this shameful, irresponsible, in-person money-waste event, done during Covid, cost? How tone-deaf, irresponsible, disgusting and shockingly distasteful.

However that expensive SABC 85th anniversary cake tasted, be sure of one thing: The SABC's latest distasteful mess made a very bad impression and leaves a very bad taste behind.

Somizi Mhlongo out at SABC's Metro FM after serious allegations of violent physical abuse, Idols role on M-Net's Mzansi Magic in jeopardy.

by Thinus Ferreira

The socialite Somizi Mhlongo who is once again swirling in controversy following allegations of violent physical abuse is out of his gig as a presenter on the SABC's Metro FM radio station, with his seat as a judge on Idols on Mzansi Magic that is also in serious jeopardy.

The scandal-riddled star is once again in the tabloid headlines for all the wrong reasons, following leaked BarLeaderTV production recordings from his now-estranged lover, Mohale Motaung.

Mohale Motaung claims that Somizi Mhlongo broke his ribs and almost knocked out teeth in a violent physical abuse incident in 2020; allegedly threatened Mohale with a kitchen knife, saying he would kill them both; and allegedly even tried to drive him off the road after an Idols afterparty.

Mohale Motaung and Somizi Mhlongo's tempestuous relationship has been marred by persistent rumours of infidelity and breakup ever since their over-the-top and tacky reality TV wedding series, Somizi & Mohale: The Union that was filmed for MultiChoice's Showmax video streamer in 2020.

Somizi Mhlongo and MultiChoice are also mired in drama over allegations that he allegedly stole and plagiarised the idea for the Dinner at Somizi's TV series from another creative, Hastings Moeng.

Neither Mohale Motaung nor Somizi Mhlongo responded with any public statement by the time of publishing over the violent physical abuse claims.

On Wednesday morning the SABC in a statement confirmed that Somizi Mhlongo is gone from the Metro FM airwaves for now.

"The SABC can confirm that Metro FM management met with Somizi Mhlongo and he has requested to take some time off from work. Management has granted Somizi Mhlongo permission to do so. The corporation has also noted comments on social media about Somizi Mhlongo and we would like to point out that the public broadcaster does not condone any acts of abuse and violence."

Meanwhile Somizi Mhlongo's continued participation as an Idols judge on M-Net's Mzansi Magic (DStv 161) channel is also becoming increasingly untenable given the serious nature of the allegations that have surfaced.

If Somizi Mhlongo is removed or leaves, viewers will however see him for a few weeks longer on-air, since several episodes of the current 17th season have been filmed by the [SIC] Entertainment production company already.

MultiChoice on Tuesday told TVwithThinus in a statement in response to a media enquiry that "We are aware of the allegations made against Somizi Mhlongo. As a strong proponent of a violence-free South Africa, we view these allegations seriously and are giving them the attention they deserve".

In January the South African National Editors' Forum (SANEF) slammed Somizi Mhlongo in a strongly-worded statement over his insults levelled against journalists.

Somizi attacked journalists after reports about his alleged infidelity and crumbling relationship and a legal battle over the canned Dinner at Somizi's TV show, after he was approached for comment but declined to comment.

SANEF said that Somizi's "actions have aggravated what is already a hostile working environment, especially for women journalists. This is a direct attack on media freedom in the country. Worldwide similar attacks are being meted out on journalists with the intent to silence their voices, especially that of women and the stories they tell."

"SANEF calls on Somizi Mhlongo to unreservedly apologise to these journalists and the public on all his social platforms for his unbecoming behaviour. He must call on his followers to stop harassing and intimidating them. Further, we call on the journalists to lay charges of intimidation and for MultiChoice to officially distance themselves from Mhlongo's comments."

The SABC finally responds (without answering questions) about SABC1's latest wrong Generations content and the channel's ongoing problem to get its primetime playout right: 'Thanks for tuning in?'

by Thinus Ferreira

After more ongoing problems and mistakes with the playout of Generations on SABC1 last week, the South African public broadcaster took days to respond and belatedly just saying "the situation has been rectified".

SABC1 has ongoing problems and errors with broadcast episodes correctly, and in the correct order during primetime of its Skeem Saam and Generations soaps and last week once again messed up Generations for viewers, so much so that viewers - who didn't get any answers - couldn't make sense of what was going on.

SABC1's latest Generations mess where Phumzile Zonke is SABC1 channel head, is indicative of an ongoing issue that SABC1 and Phumzile Zonke either won't or can't fix. 

Just before the latest mistakes of Generations last week, SABC1 bungled the playout of Skeem Saam earlier in July.

TVwithThinus asked the SABC in an urgent media enquiry last week on Friday morning for an explanation as to why wrong Generations content was shown last week.

SABC1 was also asked for why it keeps happening, in light of what happened with the errors with Skeem Saam earlier this month again, and before that with both Skeem Saam and Generations again.

The SABC didn't respond with any answer.

The SABC was also asked why SABC1 is unable to fix the recurring problem and why the public broadcaster's TV channel isn't able to introduce effective measures to prevent the same problem or issue from recurring. 

Again the SABC didn't bother with any answer.

The SABC was also asked how the playout of Generations will work going forward from Friday in terms of episodes. The SABC also didn't bother to answer this question.

On Tuesday, TVwithThinus asked SABC1 again about the Generations mess.

Dichaba Phalatse, SABC video entertainment marketing manager in an emailed statement addressing none of the questions posed, said: "There was an error on our side resulting in the wrong episode being played , however the situation has been rectified and the correct episodes are now playing. Thank you for tuning in?"

MultiChoice's Showmax once again make an unsubstantiated viewership record claim, this time for Devilsdorp - here's what Showmax and some other streamers don't want to tell and don't want you to know.

by Thinus Ferreira

On Tuesday, MultiChoice's video streaming service Showmax once again made an unsubstantiated claim about viewership figures in a press release without providing any actual viewership numbers or viewer data, this time about its well-received documentary series Devilsdorp - but the devil's in the details and in this case, a streamer conspiracy that Showmax is part of.

MultiChoice's Showmax made a similar unproven viewership claim in February this year with The Real Housewives of Durban, providing no actual first-day viewing numbers.

Showmax also fake-release ratings about top titles' performance at the end of a year with vague and nebulous claims like "30% increase" and "21% up compared to normal activity" in press statements, without supporting it with any actual numbers.

Some media republish these press releases without any substance or numbers as is, with no critical approach as to what the meaning - and value - of nothing to South Africa's film and TV industry is when hollow press releases don't actually contain any empirical viewership statistics.

This time, in a hyped press release, Showmax is touting how Devilsdorp, commissioned under Showmax head of content Candice Fangueiro and produced by IdeaCandy, has "set a Showmax record for most hours watched in its first four days of launch".

It's more of the same vague viewership nonsense hyped up to sound like a monumental achievement.

Showmax claims that Devilsdorp is "setting a new record for the most hours watched in its first four days of launch of any film or series ever on Showmax, outperforming the likes of Game of ThronesThe Real Housewives of Durban and The River".

The press release contains absolutely no numbers to substantiate anything - nothing about the viewership or views that represent this claimed record, and nothing about the numbers of hours to substantiate the claim of "most hours".

TVwithThinus asked Showmax in response to, and prompted by, the press release, the simple question: What is the record, and the hours watched?"

A Showmax spokesperson replied and said: "Unfortunately we're not able to share stats at this stage".

Yolisa Phahle is the boss of Showmax as the MultiChoice Group CEO for general entertainment and connected video, which is where the decision had been made not to release any actual real viewership statistics about any Showmax content or titles to the press or the media industry.

The reality is that MultiChoice and Showmax are cultivating a cult of video streaming views secrecy.

Make no mistake: It's very deliberately not being transparent about how many customers are watching Showmax because it doesn't want to be.

But why this "devilish conspiracy"?

Last week The Observer published a must-read article explaining why some companies and streaming services, like your MultiChoice and Showmax, don't want to release any actual, real viewership information publicly.

The article quotes Dietrich von Behren, chief business officer at Reelgood that tracks TV shows and films available online, who says that some streamers don't want the public and industry to know its viewership numbers because "It allows the service to control the narrative, and outsiders don't really know the actual wins versus losses around programming".

"With the proliferation of more services in an increasingly competitive space, streamers may believe that's the way to stay ahead."

Media exec Andrew Rosen says "For every streaming service not named Netflix, streaming is neither the only line item nor a significant line item contributing to operating income or EBITDA."

The Observer article notes that "the benefits of accurate viewership statistics would be to inform the industry and drive more informed decision making overall".

"In establishing credibility, audiences and consumers are more likely to trust the brand and any subsequent reveals the company makes public. This is particularly true as the SVOD industry moves out of its infancy and into maturity."

Dietrich von Behren says "Viewership itself is not a secret formula or silver bullet, it's just a measure of success".

"Strong viewership is simply an indicator of popular content and the opposite holds true, so let the market learn from it and not hide from it. Streaming services will benefit and so will consumers."

Tuesday, August 3, 2021

FOX News fires Andrew Napolitano as on-air analyst after male producer accused him of stroking his arm in an elevator while making sexually suggestive comments.

by Thinus Ferreira

The American channel Fox News (StarSat 261) has fired Andrew Napolitano after a male producer (27) has accused him of stroking his arm in an elevator while making sexually suggestive comments.

According to American media reports, John Fawcett, who works on another show on the FOX Business Network with presenter Larry Kudlow, is suing the company and claims that he was sexually harassed by judge Andrew Napolitano who he claims stroked his arm and made suggestive comments while they were on an elevator together.

John Fawcett also claims in his lawsuit that "'sexual harassment, sex discrimination, and racial discrimination are still tolerated at Fox".

FOX News fired Andrew Napolitano on Monday.

"Upon first learning of John Fawcett's allegations against Judge Andrew Napolitano, FOX News Media immediately investigated the claims and addressed the matter with both parties," FOX News says in a statement.

"The network and Andrew Napolitano have since parted ways. We take all allegations of misconduct seriously, are committed to providing a safe, transparent, and collaborative workplace environment for all our employees and took immediate, appropriate action."

John Fawcett started working at FOX News in March 2019.

In the filing of his lawsuit he claims that Andrew Napolitano was with him in an elevator in 2020 when Andrew Napolitano stroked his arm and made sexually suggestive comments.

"You see these hands? They look clean, but they get really dirty,' Andrew Napolitano allegedly said to John Fawcett who tried to extract him from the conversation and elevator ride with Andrew Napolitano who continued to invite John Fawcett to his New York apartment and New Jersey farm.

When John Fawcett reached his office, he told his co-workers who then laughed.

"It was common knowledge that Andrew Napolitano sexually harassed young men at FOX News, and it had even happened to one of the plaintiff's co-workers," the lawsuit states.

A 'zero tolerance' policy for sexual misconduct preached by Fox News CEO Suzanne Scott is 'a fraud,' Fawcett says. 

"Sexual harassment, sex discrimination and racial discrimination are still tolerated at FOX and Suzanne Scott and her executive team will bend over backwards to protect such behaviour," the lawsuit states.

FOX News says that the additional allegations in John Fawcett's lawsuit are "completely baseless and nothing more than a desperate attempt at a payday by trying the case in the court of public opinion as the complaint does not meet the standards of the law. We will defend the matter vigorously in court".

MultiChoice's DStv hit by unexplained outage because of 'system issue' as DStv subscribers fume over lack of communication: 'It's almost 2 hours now'.

by Thinus Ferreira

Angry DStv subscribers are slammed MultiChoice over its lack of communication for hours after an unexplained outage of the pay-TV company's DStv service on Tuesday with MultiChoice that decided not to answer specific media questions sent to the company that represent questions from its DStv subscribers.

DStv subscribers started venting on social media on Tuesday after they lost service, with many saying that they are unable to watch anything on DStv since all DStv channels are down.

DStv subscribers only got the E32-4 error message on their TV screens of: "Smartcard and subscription validation in progress. This may take a few minutes. Do not change channels or press any buttons on the remote. If the error continues after 5 minutes, clear this error using our Self Service channels."

Just before midday on Tuesday, MultiChoice finally acknowledged its unexplained "system issue" publicly, saying on Twitter that "We are experiencing a system issue which has impacted some DStv customers attempting to view programming."

"We are working to resolve the problem. Due to the nature of the issue our service agents will not be able to assist with reconnections until it has been resolved."

Meanwhile, DStv subscribers slammed MultiChoice for not responding to messages, calls messages on Whatsapp or any of the helplines, saying that they've been waiting for hours to hear from MultiChoice.

TVwithThinus asked MultiChoice several specific questions - all received from concerned DStv subscribers, many who tried to watch the 2020 Tokyo Olympic Games on SuperSport - in a media enquiry to the pay-TV's corporate affairs division, headed up by Joe Heshu as MultiChoice's group executive for corporate affairs.

Can MultiChoice please say what led to the "system issue" that caused DStv subscribers to lose their DStv? MultiChoice has no response to the question.

Can MultiChoice please say specifically why it has taken hours to communicate and to speak to DStv subscribers to acknowledge the problem? Again, MultiChoice had no response to the question.

Some DStv customers are asking if they will get a refund for losing out on access and viewing, and people saying that they can't trust that DStv will show them the content they want to watch in terms of the Olympic Games when it's on. Does MultiChoice have any answers for these viewers?

Again MultiChoice offered no answer to this question from its corporate affairs division tasked to communicate with media.

MultiChoice only had a terse response, not addressing any questions specifically as asked, saying: "We are currently experiencing a system issue, which has impacted some DStv customers attempting to view programming. DStv has communicated the issue to our customers across our platforms and our teams are currently working on restoring our service to those customers who were affected."

The Home Channel adds The Property Game with Koketso Sylvia Milosevic as a new local weekly series looking at South Africa's property investment market.

by Thinus Ferreira

The Home Channel (DStv 176) has added The Property Game as a new, local weekly series with Koketso Sylvia Milosevic as a co-host on Mondays at 20:30.

The Property Game looks at the world of South African property investment with novice real estate investors who have been successful at getting onto the property ladder who share their stories and show viewers how they did it.

The Property Game features "regular people with regular careers who wanted a piece of the property market for their own, and have achieved that ambition" and who discuss how they went about learning the ropes and equipping themselves, and their trials and tribulations along the way.

Koketso Sylvia Milosevic who was added as a co-host on season 4 of All About Property on The Home Channel, sheds more light on their ventures as a multi-million-rand property investment entrepreneur, mentor and guru.

She shares her insights and helps viewers from an expert point of view, the various property investment strategies with The Property Game that has information for everyone from those who want to get a foot into the property ladder, to those who might want to diversify their existing property portfolio.