Thursday, May 26, 2022

kykNET cancels Afrikaans kletch Tussen Ons on kykNET & Kie after 4 years.


by Thinus Ferreira

kykNET has cancelled its Afrikaans female talk show Tussen Ons after four years with the last episode that will be broadcast on kykNET & Kie (DStv 145) on Thursday 30 June at 20:00.

Tussen Ons, from Homebrew Films, made its debut in July 2018, modelled on American TV talk shows like The View, with a coterie of female talkers - Tracey Lange, Zelda le Grange, Kay Karriem, Success Lekabe and Ingrid Jones - discussing various topics.

Episodes of Tussen Ons were filmed at Atlantic Studios in Cape Town where the kykNET & Kie soap Suidooster is also shot.

In other kykNET & Kie schedule changes Kô, Lat Ons Praat, better known as KLOP! with Kaapse Forum activist and chairperson Heindrich Wyngaard as presenter, moves from Wednesdays at 20:30 to Sundays at 19:30.

African content creators should be empowered with skills to tell African stories, says MultiChoice content strategy boss Georginah Machiridza.


by Thinus Ferreira

As a buffer against the video ocean of Western streaming content now flooding Africa, the African continent's content creators should be empowered with the skills to tell African stories.

So says Georginah Machiridza, MultiChoice's head of content strategy and third party channels and who is now heading up the Randburg pay-TV operator's balancing act and ongoing efforts in commissioning, curating and funnelling content from dozens of sources globally and locally to DStv subscribers in South Africa and across sub-Saharan Africa. 

"We're all aware of how rapidly the media landscape is changing," says Georginah Machiridza, sharing her opinion as Netflix, Amazon Prime Video, AppleTV+ and others are flooding Africa with their offerings where Disney+ has now also launched in South Africa last week, and as consumers now share their available time not just between watching TV and consuming video content and social media, but even making and sharing their own content on platforms like TikTok.

"Audiences have been migrating to digital and online channels for more than a decade, and even established media such as broadcast, film, and radio are using hybrid platforms that reach audiences across multiple channels," she says.

"A modern media company would likely use a combination of broadcast media, social media, written content, video clips, as well as animation and physical activations to share content and market their brand."

"This constantly evolving media terrain requires a diverse range of skills. Storytelling lies at the heart of most media messaging, but specific technical knowledge is required to translate compelling stories for every channel."

"Writing, cinematography, video editing, TV, radio and online presenting, animation, coding and content management are just some of the specialised skills of the modern media landscape – many of which are evolving in real-time as their respective media fields develop."

"Africa is at the coalface of these developments," says Georginah Machiridza. "New media provides enormous opportunities to reach more of our people, with more compelling content, and to do it more efficiently and cost-effectively."

"The challenge, though, is that we must continue to tell African stories, even while many technology innovations and Big Tech companies originate outside Africa. Digital media evolution comes with a very real threat of cultural imperialism."

"The solution to avoiding this Western cultural hegemony is twofold. Firstly, we must empower African content creators with the skills to tell African stories. Secondly, we must create viable, profitable markets for African content, and grow demand for that content."

"Fortunately, Africa has long been a hub of creativity and innovation. We have found our voice in the digital economy, and there are many creators telling African stories for African, as well as global audiences."

"These include people like Kenyan comedienne Elsa Majimbo, Ghanaian internet personality Wode Maya, Ghanaian visual artist Prince Gyasi, Kenyan journalist Brian Otieno, South African illustrator and artist Slaying Goliath, SA comic Donovan Goliath and others. These innovators are Expressing Africa through compelling content using digital and social media platforms."


Investing in authentic African stories
"African media platforms such as DStv and Showmax are also enabling this trend," says Georginah Machiridza, "creating platforms across the continent tailor-made to showcase African stories for audiences hungry for stories about themselves and their culture."

In 2018, M-Net and MultiChoice spent R2.5 billion developing local movies and series and bringing them to screens across Africa.

"By investing in original productions of authentic stories and talent across the continent, M-Net is helping to launch acting, writing and filmmaking careers, both locally and internationally."

In Ethiopia, the MultiChoice channel Abol TV provides premium, 100% Ethiopian general entertainment 24 hours a day, she says.

In Uganda, Pearl Magic provides a similar offering, while in Nigeria, MultiChoice Nigeria and Africa Magic provide channels in Igbo, Yoruba and Hausa.

"Customised hyperlocal MultiChoice offerings are also available in Ghana, Angola, Mozambique and Kenya and a third party channel launching in Zimbabwe recently."

Georginah Machiridza says emerging platforms – whether broadcast, streaming or digital – have created enormous opportunities for African media workers and content creators.

"Creating the skills that enable young creatives to grasp these opportunities is the other way Africa will find its voice in the digital era."

"Helping to provide this, by building a pipeline of skilled African content professionals is the MultiChoice Talent Factory (MTF).

"The MTF plays a critical role in building and strengthening the TV and film industry across Africa, and was born out of a need to solve for representation, local content, and higher production quality and value."

"MTF is a shared-value platform and strives to be Africa’s leading training ground for content creators."

She explains that MTF Masterclasses give working film and television professionals and those who aspire to be content creators exclusive access to practical, industry expert-led skills workshops, where they interact and learn from the best in Africa and the world.

The online portal already has more than 40 000 registered users who have access to a growing library of masterclass content.

"These initiatives are all part of Africa's cultural and technological resurgence, creating opportunities and building capacity, allowing Africa's creative output to stand proud on the world stage."

Over 70 illegally-activated Openview decoders, 203 DStv remote controls seized in Zimbabwe.


by Thinus Ferreira

The Zimbabwe police have confiscated and seized over 70 illegally-activated Openview decoders in the country and over 200 DStv remote controls, once again focusing attention on the massive and growing problem of TV content piracy in Southern Africa fuelled from out of South Africa.

While eMedia Investments continues to tout the strong growth of its Openview free-to-air satellite service, it's an open secret that some of that growth is fuelled by content starved consumers in neighbouring countries around South Africa, buying illegally-activated Openview decoders smuggled out of South Africa and watching content and TV channels like e.tv and SABC channels which are actually only licenced for viewing within South Africa.

Openview decoders are legitimately bought in South Africa, activated once, inside South Africa using South African cellphone numbers, and then taken over the borders to neighbouring countries like Zimbabwe where consumers buy the "bootleg" Openview decoders and DStv equipment from vendors who are illegally selling the already-activated equipment.

This week Zimbabwe's The Herald newspaper reported that the Zimbabwe police seized 72 Openview decoders, 203 DStv remote controls, as well as 95 counterfeit DStv power units, in addition to 5 receipt books from 8 shops in Harare selling these illegally. 

Pirate viewers and pirate sellers are a growing problem for video content suppliers doing business in Africa like eMedia and MultiChoice who are seeing the value of their services damaged by pirates who get access and illegally resell what they offer.

Antonio Lee, eMedia COO, in a statement, says "Police are having success in breaking up decoder smuggling operations and arresting their local associates, who are bringing Openview decoders from South Africa into Zimbabwe, in contravention of customs, trademark and copyright laws".

"Raids and seizures are happening across the SADC region, as part of a broader piracy crackdown. Coming on the heels of the earlier busts, it shows that we are turning the tide on the illegal decoder trade and content theft."

"We are grateful to have the Zimbabwe police as our partners in this war on piracy. Anyone purchasing these products in Zimbabwe is robbing the country of customs duties and Zimbabwe's TV professionals suffer when viewers watch foreign content instead of homemade Zimbabwean shows."

'This is not the digital review screener you've been looking for': Disney+ not making Obi-Wan Kenobi available to media for review purposes before its launch.


by Thinus Ferreira

Disney PR and marketing is not making the new Lucasfilm miniseries Obi-Wan Kenobi available to media for review purposes before it launches with a double episode on Friday 27 May - at least not for South Africa's "regional" press where Disney+ just launched last week.

After multiple requests to Disney South Africa media reps for access to a digital screener of the series, Disney PR finally responded on Wednesday evening, saying that "feedback from regional" is that "unfortunately no screeners will be available until the day of launch".

It means that Disney doesn't want to show the media Obi-Wan Kenobi on Disney+ and any of the actual content, despite doing media junkets and interviews globally and within America for it.

There are various reasons as to why Disney doesn't want to show the upcoming show to media - and it could be that just journalists and TV critics outside of the US are locked out, or that American media are also not privy to a preview to do reviews.

It could be that Obi-Wan Kenobi on Disney+ is bad. Studios and distributors notoriously don't do media previews or a screener for content they don't believe in, perceive themselves to be sub-par or want to limit exposure to, fearing, or trying to limit bad reviews, articles or media coverage.

It could be that Obi-Wan Kenobi on Disney+ is good or excellent or that Disney considers it themselves to be of such quality that it doesn't feel it needs to do publicity or show the content. 

In this case, Disney's calculus would be: We don't care about the professional critics, Disney+ subscribers will watch it and word-of-mouth about its quality will carry the viral workload that media reviews would have performed.

It could be that Obi-Wan Kenobi on Disney+ contains so many, or some, spoilers that Disney PR decides that in order to limit spoilers, it's keeping the show away from any prior preview/review by media.

If this is the case, it raises another important issue: With journalists and media signing strict non-disclosure agreements (NDAs) beforehand before digital screeners and links are issued - used by everyone for series and certain films from Netflix to whoever (and specifically stating from when reviews and articles can run) does Disney not trust the media it is dealing with?

If Disney doesn't feel it can trust the media with whom the Mouse House has press relationships with to keep content secrets and spoilers a secret, what does it say about Disney's media management and depth and quality of the commercial and transactional PR relationships with the press it is dealing with?

Surely, if Disney asks media "please agree not to spoil this inclusion, appearance, surprise or plot twist", Disney's PR and marketing reps and publicists in regions the world over should be able to say with certainty and confidence that these media and journalists' behaviour are above reproach and that they can really be trusted to keep to agreements?

A lot of Disney+ subscribers and pirate viewers are going to watch Star Wars Obi-Wan Kenobi from Friday the moment it becomes available globally, irrespective of reviews or what the TV critics have to opine about it.

What is interesting, and important, is that Disney, when it sells content through marketing and publicity efforts, actually shows that Disney itself believes in that content by showcasing it and making it available to the various which Disney deems trustworthy enough. 

Launching a show with a PR effort but not actually showing the media the show, is like opening a restaurant and having food critics over, without actually serving any food, or doing a car show for motoring journalists without having any car in the showroom.

New star-studded 13th season of Talakani Sesame on SABC2 from 6 June will help kids and parents to understand and talk about different feelings.


by Thinus Ferreira

The new star-studded 13th season of Takalani Sesame which will start on SABC2 on 6 June with new episodes on weekdays at 15:30 will feature guest appearances by Sho Madjozi, Prev Reddy, Holly and Mimi Rey, Farieda Metsileng, David Kau, the Goliath brothers and others, and help parents and kids to understand and talk about different feelings.

The new 13th season of Takalani Sesame will focus on helping people understand "big feelings" ranging from sadness and frustration, to recognising when you're scared and angry and what to do about it.

Takalani Sesame episodes are available in English on Mondays, isiZulu on Tuesdays, Sesotho on Wednesdays, isiNdebele on Thursdays and Afrikaans on Fridays.

Innocent Nkata, managing director of Sesame Workshop South Africa managing director, says the focus of the 13th season of Takalani Sesame is on helping children and parents recognise emotions and how to process them - especially when something feels overwhelming.

"The season's lessons will help children identify and name big feelings and provide strategies to manage these emotions."

"Big feelings can be difficult for young children to handle or overcome and that's why in the brand-new 13th season of Takalani Sesame, our beloved Muppets are focusing on what to do when your emotions feel like they're about to burst out of your body."

"The season's lessons will help children identify and name Big Feelings and provide strategies to manage these emotions, skills that are critical in the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic."

"Kids learn best when they're playing and having fun. That's why Elmo, Zuzu, Moshe, Zikwe, Kami and animated friends like Basma, Jad and Grover come up with games and songs that let children explore different emotions and how to deal with them."

"This could be like feeling left out when someone else is chosen to play a game first or feeling frustrated if you don't get something right the first time, and the Takalani Sesame friends learn techniques to help them cope with big feelings, like belly breathing, counting to five or drawing it out."

Mari Payne, Sesame Workshop South Africa director of education and outreach, says "Recent developments have proved to us the importance of building resilience and overcoming trauma by developing critical social-emotional skills".

"By helping children build social-emotional skills, we're giving them the tools they need to thrive both in school and in life."

Danie Swart, SABC head of education, says "SABC2 and SABC Education have been long-standing champions of edutainment as part of our drive to entertain and inform our viewers and we are so happy to see a diverse contingent of South African celebrities joining a well-loved, proudly local show".

Another former MultiChoicer is now at Netflix with Efosa Aiyevbomwan heading up Netflix PR and publicity for sub-Saharan Africa.


by Thinus Ferreira

Yet another former MultiChoice staffer who worked in communication and publicity there has found greener pastures at Netflix, with Efosa Aiyevbomwan who is now the public relations and publicity manager for Netflix in sub-Saharan Africa.

Efosa Aiyevbomwan from Nigeria, together with Marang Setshwaelo from South Africa as Netflix Originals publicity director for sub-Saharan Africa, now oversees the publicity initiatives for Netflix content in Africa and in South Africa.

Netflix has been and is currently using the Eclipse Communications and DNA Brand Architects PR companies for various publicity initiatives around new content, or when there are eventing attempts to try and create buzz around certain shows and films like Bridgerton or Silverton Siege.  

Efosa Aiyevbomwan, who previously also worked at MultiChoice, is the latest staffer from the pan-African pay-TV service to join the red N in the Netherlands in Amsterdam.

Efosa Aiyevbomwan's appointment follows after the former MultiChoice communications manager Sbu Mpungose also jumped from MultiChoice South Africa to Netflix earlier this year. 

Francois Rank also abruptly and quietly exited MultiChoice earlier this year after just 9 months at the pay-TV operator as MultiChoice senior manager for corporate communications without any goodbye and MultiChoice not saying a word to the media about either of their departures or alerting that they're gone.  

Before joining Netflix as new PR boss for Africa Efosa Aiyevbomwan was chief marketing officer at Appzone in Lagos, Nigeria for a year, and before that headed up communications at Uber in West Africa.

He was at MultiChoice Nigeria and M-Net West Africa for 4 years since mid-June 2014 heading up public relations and talent first for M-Net West Africa and its Africa Magic channels on MultiChoice's DStv in Nigeria, before adding and becoming DStv Nigeria's PR manager in September 2017 to his responsibilities.

Wednesday, May 25, 2022

After 4 years, filming finally starts on M-Net's Shaka Ilembe drama series from MultiChoice and Bomb Productions, Lemogang Tsipa to portray adult Zulu king.


by Thinus Ferreira

Four years after announcing it in May 2018 and languishing in a seemingly protracted pre-production doldrum, filming has finally started on MultiChoice and Bomb Productions' TV drama series Shaka Ilembe in South Africa's Gauteng and KwaZulu-Natal provinces, with Lemogang Tsipa who will portray the adult king and newcomer Ntando Zondi as the boy Zulu warrior boy.

Besides Lemogang Tsipa, Nomzamo Mbatha will play Queen Nandi, Shaka's mother with Nomzamo who is also an executive producer of Shaka Ilembe.

Years after announcing Shaka Ilembe but struggling to move forward with filming of the project, MultiChoice and Bomb Productions are now finally filming scenes of the series on which work had already started two years before MultiChoice and M-Net publicly announced it in May 2018.

The production has consulted historians, academics and family descendants, including the late King Goodwill Zwelithini and Prince Mangosuthu Buthelezi. 

So far Shaka Ilembe has provided work for 8 000 people, MultiChoice said on Wednesday of the series which will debut in 2023.

While Shaka Ilembe was initially earmarked for linear playout on M-Net's Mzansi Magic (DStv 161) channel, it's likely that the show has now been shifted to M-Net's 1Magic (DStv 103) channel to go to DStv Premium subscribers first.

The Shaka Ilembe cast also includes Thembinkosi Mthembu as King Dingisway and Wiseman Mncube as King Zwide.

Angus Gibson, Bomb Productions creative director, says "It is magical witnessing these performers bring life to characters we only know from the history books. When the cast arrive on set, fully dressed in wardrobe and hair from the period, I am blown away."

Lemogang Tsipa


Nomzamo Mbatha

Thembinkosi Mthembu


Senzo Radebe

"Being able to bring this important story to the screen with such stellar talent speaks to the heart of MultiChoice's ongoing commitment and investment in our local entertainment industry," said Yolisa Phahle, MultiChoice CEO of general entertainment and connected video, in a prepared statement on Wednesday.

"We are committed to telling great African stories and this is a proudly African series told through the lens of Africans for the very first time."

"We want people to learn about our history and culture, but we also want to keep viewers glued in anticipation. This drama seeks to uncover nuggets of history, but creates narrative in the gaps by putting known characters alongside fictional characters in order to keep the story moving."

In the statement, Nomzamo Mbatha says "I am honoured to bring the giant that is Queen Nandi to life. History will remember those who informed its people of where we come from, to better understand who we are. I am fortunate to be part of a project that is much bigger than ourselves and to tell this story in our own language".

Nhlanhla Mtaka, an executive and cultural advisor on the series, says "This is our appointment with history; we want to capture the authenticity and deepen the understanding of this era".

MultiChoice dumps iTV Islamic community channel from DStv after a decade.

by Thinus Ferreira

MultiChoice is dumping the iTV (DStv 347) Islamic community TV channel from 17 June after a decade.

MultiChoice added iTV in June 2012 to DStv for Muslim viewers when iTV itself replaced the Islam Channel.

MultiChoice says it's planning to replace iTV with another Islamic TV channel on DStv.

"MultiChoice constantly reviews its channel offering to ensure we continue to bring our customers the best quality local and international content," the Randburg-based pay-TV operator says in a statement.

"We continue to look for fresh content that resonates with our viewers and an announcement for a channel to replace iTV will be made in due course."

MultiChoice says although it's taking iTV away that DStv subscribers will still have access to Radio Islam (DStv 826) and Channel Islam Internationale (DStv 865).

In 2022 MultiChoice already lost or removed TV channels including Russia's RT and A+E Network's Lifetime, and announced that it decided to get rid of several of eMedia's e-packaged TV channels - eMovies, eMovies Extra, eExtra and eToonz - which is still on DStv pending the outcome of a case before South Africa's Competition Tribunal. 


TV news anchor Shahan Ramkissoon exits eNCA.


by Thinus Ferreira

Shahan Ramkissoon is exiting eNCA (DStv 403) today after over 7 years with sources who told TVwithThinus that the experienced TV news anchor is leaving his post as prime time anchor at the eMedia TV news channel and with tonight which will be his final broadcast.

In response to a media query, an eNCA spokesperson confirmed that Shahan Ramkissoon is exiting, saying "he has resigned and his last day will be 25 May". Asked what it wants to say about Shahan Ramkissoon the channel had no other comment.

Shahan Ramkissoon has been co-anchoring eNCA's 3-hour South Africa Tonight timeslot with Sally Burdett on weekdays from 17:00 to 20:00 the past 7 months. The first half of the 19:00-hour of South Africa Tonight, simulcast on e.tv, has seen strong ratings growth the past few months, luring 1.67 million viewers during April.

Shahan Ramkissoon moved to anchor eNCA prime time in mid-October 2021 from an afternoon timeslot, after he had also anchored other day and late night parts across the eNCA schedule.

Today marks Shahan Ramkissoon's second exit from eNCA where he's been for over seven years. 

He previously was at eNews and eNCA (then known as the eNews Channel on DStv) for 6 years between 2007 and 2013 after which he went to the Arise News TV channel for a 3-year stint, and then returned to eNCA.