Tuesday, April 16, 2024

LG launches the LG 77 OLED M3 as the world's first wireless OLED television.

by Thinus Ferreira

LG Electronics has launched the world's the world's first completely wireless OLED television with its LG 77 OLED M3 that only requires a power cable connection to the TV screen to work, as well as a Zero Connect Box.

LG says the LG 77 OLEM M3 "will revolutionise the way consumers experience audiovisual technology, offering an unparalleled home entertainment experience".

LG's 77 OLED M3 comes with an entirely wireless design and eliminates the need for cumbersome cables that clutter the space and limit placement options. 

"This is made possible by including the Zero Connect Box, an innovative appliance that serves as the central hub for all input and component devices," LG explains.

"The rear of a TV panel is typically a maze of cables and connections, often leading to an unsightly and inconvenient setup, especially when the TV is wall-mounted. However, the LG 77 OLED evo M3, with the Zero Connect Box, eliminates these issues by wirelessly transmitting content to and from the screen, offering a clutter-free, seamless experience," LG says.

"This approach not only enhances the aesthetic appeal of the TV but also streamlines the installation process, making it a hassle-free, future-facing solution," says Lance Berger, head of sales in home entertainment at LG Electronics South Africa.

"It is important to note that consumers do not need to purchase the M3 and a separate Zero Connect Box; the M3 comes bundled with this premium accessory. This underscores the M3's status as the most premium TV in LG's lineup, offering a truly cutting-edge, non-clutter, high-tech innovation that is unparalleled in the industry."

"The LG completely wireless OLED evo M3 television represents the pinnacle of home entertainment technology, offering unmatched visual and audio experiences. It showcases LG's commitment to pushing the boundaries of what is possible, and our dedication to delivering innovative solutions that enhance the lives of consumers."

The LG 77 OLED M3 Specifications:

EcoFlow launches the RIVER 2 Pro and DELTA 2 Max in South Africa.

by Thinus Ferreira

EcoFlow has launched its new RIVER 2 Pro and DELTA 2 Max in South Africa.

The RIVER 2 Pro features an upgraded capacity and faster charging that the company says is the best portable power station to withstand Eskom's Stage 6 loadshedding level of electricity blackouts in South Africa.

EcoFlow's DELTA 2 Max has a UPS (Uninterrupted Power Supply) transfer time of 20ms and a capacity of 2048Wh.

"As loadshedding continues to grow, the EcoFlow RIVER 2 Pro and DELTA 2 Max ensure our consumers have access to a simple, flexible and reliable energy source wherever and whenever they should need it," says Bradley Chetty, B2C sales director at EcoFlow South Africa, in a statement.

"We are proud to bring more lifestyle solutions to the market. EcoFlow is committed to making life better through meaningful innovation."

The EcoFlow RIVER 2 Pro boasts a capacity of 768Wh. It has X-Stream technology, meaning that it can be fully recharged through AC charging in 70 minutes.

With a maximum AC output of 800W and EcoFlow's X-Boost technology, the RIVER 2 Pro can run devices of up to 1600W. It is sufficient for 80% of heavy-duty appliances such as hair dryers, microwaves and electric kettles, covering almost all daily essentials in a household.

The RIVER 2 Pro is able to provide emergency power supply (EPS) and in case of a sudden blackout, it can automatically switch to the battery-powered supply mode within 30ms. When unexpected power outages happen it instantly becomes a reliable energy source, preventing disruptions in consumers' daily activities or work.

Equipped with advanced LiFePO4 (LFP) batteries that can operate under extreme temperatures, the RIVER 2 Pro possesses a lifespan of 3 000 cycles. The RIVER 2 Pro comes with a 5-year warranty.

The EcoFlow DELTA 2 Max supports 20ms auto-switch to Uninterrupted Power Supply (UPS) mode when unexpected power cuts hit.

With a base capacity of 2,048Wh, which can be expanded up to 6,144Wh with two extra batteries, users can customise their energy solutions based on their specific energy needs.

It also has EcoFlow's X-Stream technology, meaning the DELTA 2 Max can recharge really fast. 

With an AC input of 2300W and a maximum solar input of 1000W, the DELTA 2 Max can be charged by AC from 0 to 100% in 81 minutes or by solar from 0 to 100% in 2.3 hours. 

Meanwhile, the DELTA 2 Max can be charged from 0 to 80% in 43 minutes with AC and solar dual charging.

The DELTA 2 Max is equipped with a 2400W AC output that can power almost all essential home appliances. Even while charging, it can still power up to 13 devices simultaneously. 

With the X-Boost technology, the DELTA 2 Max can even power some appliances up to 3100W. In the face of potential severe power outages such as Stage 13 loadshedding, the DELTA 2 Max can serve as a powerful and reliable energy backup device.

Both the RIVER 2 Pro and DELTA 2 Max are available in South Africa from 15 April. The EcoFlow RIVER 2 Pro is priced at R 11,999 and the EcoFlow DELTA 2 Max is priced at R 25,999.

BET Africa's Queendom crew and cast paid late by Clive Morris Productions.

by Thinus Ferreira

The crew and cast of Paramount Africa's upcoming Queendom series were forced to stay home due to non-payment even before the first episode of the upcoming new telenovela starts airing next week, once again due to non-payment by Clive Morris Productions.

Queendom is set to start on BET Africa (DStv 129) on 22 April.

Natalie Mdladla, Paramount senior director of communications, told IOL that the Queendom cast and crew were eventually paid but confirmed that the payments were late. 

According to the Zimoja online publication, work on Queendom recently came to a standstill over non-payment of the show's cast and crew.

The publication quotes insiders who said that executive producers Khayelihle Dominique and Clive Morris visited the Queendom set and that "Clive was crying there. But we don't understand the story. We last got paid before Easter and we are relying on the weekly salaries for our families".

The cast and crew on another show, Empini for MultiChoice and M-Net's Mzansi Magic (DStv 161) channel, reportedly similarly went unpaid by Clive Morris Productions. 

It's also Clive Morris that in the past failed to pay the cast and crew of shows like SABC3's The Estate and Paramount Africa and BET Africa's Isono on time.

Khayelihle Dominique told Zimoja that payment delays were being sorted out and that "MultiChoice is in very good standing, they paid us. Empini specifically had nothing to do with the broadcaster".

The Queendom cast includes Linda Mtoba, Sindi Dlathu, Hamilton Dlamini, Mduduzi Mabaso, Pallance Dladla, Dawn Thandeka King, as well as Jabulani Hadebe known as Sjava.

Queendom revolves around the character of Nthandokayise Mthombeni, portrayed by Linda Mtoba, who is a community leader in Tsakane who discovers that she is the rightful heir to the throne of the Khahlamba kingdom.

Paramount Africa and BET Africa have an in-person media launch event on Tuesday for Queendom for Johannesburg media. No virtual roundtable interviews with the cast and crew have been organised for media by Paramount Africa and its PR company with no digital screeners issued.

e.tv's cancelled Nikiwe cast and crew still unpaid after months.

by Thinus Ferreira

The cast and crew of e.tv's cancelled Nikiwe are still struggling to get paid months after the show got canned and stopped production by Parental Advisory Productions which has since gone to ground.

In January TVwithThinus reported how Parental Advisory Productions co-owned by Thomas Gumede and Lungelo Radu imploded with huge amounts of debt with e.tv that cancelled the low-rated Nikiwe amidst serious financial problems inside the production and production company.

Hundreds of staffers who worked on the cancelled Nikiwe are still owed hundreds of thousands of rand in payment from Parental Advisory Productions months after the final scene was filmed.

Last year Thapelo Ramatsui, e.tv publicist, told the online publication ZiMoja that e.tv cancelled Nikiwe and the contract with Parental Advisory Productions due to the show's bad viewership and that PAP was paid what it was owed. 

The final episode of Nikiwe was broadcast on e.tv on 5 January 2024.

Cast and crew told City Press they haven't heard from either Tomas Gumede or Lungelo Radu since December 2023, with the final communication which was three days before Christmas Day in the form of an email on 22 December.

One Nikiwe actor told the newspaper "These people are failing us in that they spent the money instead of paying us. They are basically making fools out of us".

The corporate communications manager of e.tv, Bennum van Jaarsveld told City Press that Nikiwe was old news and that e.tv didn't want to comment but noted that e.tv had paid Parental Advisory Productions what the show was owed.

"It's just an old thing and we've moved on. There are so many other things happening; Nikiwe is an old story for us to comment on. Also, a lot of the stuff there was between the production and the cast, we were not involved in that."

"We had our contract and agreement with the production house and the production house had an agreement with the talent. We did what we needed to do, we met our obligations and the rest was on the production and that's where I think things sort of went wrong."

Monday, April 15, 2024

Competition Tribunal grants eMedia's Openview interim relief in MultiChoice sports sublicensing fight: SuperSport ordered to allow content to be seen on SABC channels on Openview.

by Thinus Ferreira

South Africa's Competition Tribunal has granted interim relief to eMedia's Openview satellite service in its sports rights sublicensing fight with MultiChoice, ordering MultiChoice and SuperSport to allow SuperSport content to be carried and seen on the SABC's TV channels on Openview in cases where the SABC acquired and unlicensed sports content from SuperSport.

MultiChoice and SuperSport ordered the SABC in 2023 to either black out or replace SuperSport sports content that the SABC acquired through sublicensing, for the version of the SABC's TV channels carried on eMedia's Openview.

In an acrimonious legal case, eMedia took MultiChoice to the Competition Commission in 2023, after MultiChoice and SuperSport blocked the SABC from making Rugby World Cup and Cricket World Cup content that the SABC sublicensed from SuperSport, available on the SABC's TV channels carried on Openview.

Instead of live international sports tournaments, the SABC had to programme old filler content for its SABC1, SABC2 and SABC3 channels carried on Openview, while SABC1, SABC2 and SABC3 carried on MultiChoice's DStv and as free-to-air terrestrial channels, showed SuperSport content.

In an ongoing case before the Competition Tribunal, eMedia claims that MultiChoice has been abusing its alleged dominant position "by concluding anticompetitive and restrictive sublicensing agreements with the SABC".

Besides the overall case, eMedia also sought interim relief over the issue. MultiChoice opposed eMedia's application for interim relief, noting that "none of eMedia's complaints had any basis in competition law or fact".

On Monday, South Africa's Competition Tribunal in a media statement said "The tribunal has granted eMedia interim relief pending the final determination of its complaint to the commission, or for a period of 6 months, whichever occurs first".

"MultiChoice, including its subsidiary SuperSport, and the SABC are interdicted from implementing and enforcing any restriction in the (existing) sub-licensing agreements entered into between them."

"MultiChoice, including its subsidiary SuperSport, and the SABC are further interdicted from including restrictions which prohibit the SABC from transmitting or making available sub-licensed broadcasts on platforms owned or operated by eMedia (through Openview) in future sub-licensing agreements concluded between them relating to the broadcasting of sporting events."

"The tribunal's reasons for its decision will be issued in due course."

The interim relief means that in cases where the SABC, for the remainder of 2024, acquires content from SuperSport through sublicensing agreements, that content will be seen on the SABC's channels on Openview as well - in other words, there will no longer be one version of SABC channels for DStv and another blacked-out version of SABC channels for Openview when the SABC shows SuperSport sports content.

Late on Monday afternoon eMedia in a statement said "Today, Multichoice was dealt a blow when the Competition Tribunal granted interim relief to eMedia to lift all restrictions to broadcast sporting events of national interest (soccer, rugby and cricket) on its Openview channels, effective immediately".

"We are satisfied that our perseverance to stop MultiChoice'ss anti-competitive behaviour has paid off."

"More so, we are delighted that the interest of the hundreds of thousands of viewers that rely on Openview for purposes of accessing the SABC's channels and who were precluded from viewing the World Cup Rugby and Cricket matches because of the restriction imposed by SuperSport has been heard."

Wednesday, April 10, 2024

Mzansi Magic adds father-son drama series Ha Molefi from June.

by Thinus Ferreira

M-Net has commissioned a new drama series Ha Molefi for Mzansi Magic (DStv 161) as a father-and-son story which will debut on the channel on Monday 17 June at 20:00 as the two grapple with grief after the loss of a wife and mother.

Ha Molefe is produced by Clive Morris Productions and will have 13 episodes.

Ha Molefi is headlined by TJ Mokhuane, portraying the gay teenager Thabang Molefi from Pimville, Soweto who has lost his mother Mam' Linda.

He lives with his father Ntate Molefi, portrayed by Dingaan Khumalo/DSK who is grieving the loss of his wife. According to Mzansi Magic "Together they set off on a journey of discovery that lays bare their fears and hopes while honoring Mam'Linda's memory".

Within the series, Thabang dreams of winning the all-round category at the annual Ballroom/Vogue Nights and he draws inspiration from his late mother, who was a musical sensation in the 90s and who always encouraged Thabang to live his truth and follow his dreams. 

Ntate Molefi, on the other hand, loves his son and has accepted him as he is. "However, the recently widowed father has to learn that he must go beyond just loving his son but also make the effort to open up to him," Mzansi Magic says.

Shirley Adonisi, M-Net director of local entertainment channels, says "Ha Molefi is an emotional story about a relationship between a grieving father and son, focusing on the raw and honest emotional turmoil that both face, especially concerning the son's identity".

"As the home of local, Mzansi Magic is proud to bring this inspirational story to our audiences and we hope that it will inspire. We hope viewers will recognise and appreciate how a parent's love can manifest in fear and how that can either grow or destroy a relationship."

Isiphetho: How e.tv communicated poorly for another new local show's launch.

by Thinus Ferreira

Similar to its inadequate PR communication a year ago for two new shows (one of which already tanked and got cancelled) e.tv once again seemed to have failed with a haphazard PR communication strategy for its new show Isiphetho that started on Monday night.

With e.tv once again not properly communicating with media before, and in the lead-up to, a local production, it again raises questions as to whether this is a bug or a recurring feature.

It doesn't appear that e.tv knows how to rope in and have a dynamic communication process or strategy around PR for new big-budget productions, wants to learn how other broadcasters and streamers do it, or has a desire to figure out the standard practice of doing media for a show launch where it benefits both the broadcaster and media in a way that unlocks value for the TV channel, press and the specific show.

Several South African media and journalists covering television and shows like e.tv and Isiphetho were once again left completely gobsmacked about what they consider to be very badly done and borderline non-existent communication in the lead-up to this show. 

On 4 March, Thapelo Ramatsui, then e.tv marketing and communications specialist according to an email signature and now e.tv brand specialist according to the latest email signature, did an email blast at 2:42pm to tell media to watch e.tv that night at 9:28pm for a "special announcement" that would be made on-air.

Keep in mind that most journalists and media no longer work at 9:28pm, that some travel, have families, and that some are not at TV sets, or have access to a TV set at that time due to travel or other arrangements and engagements - and were not able to watch at 9:28pm.

The special announcement turned out to be a short e.tv video promo to announce that e.tv has commissioned a new telenovela called Isiphetho from Black Brain Pictures, produced by Mandla Ngcongwane ("Mandla N") which would start soon on the channel. 

On both that day, as well as again on 6 March, TVwithThinus asked e.tv to please send information about the telenovela announcement and Isiphetho - since e.tv didn't bother to do another email blast after the first one on 4 March asking the media to watch, to actually tell the media what the announcement was.

e.tv ignored both requests.

It took the clock to tick until 11 March for e.tv to do another email blast - in all caps and with a typo - to send out a press release "INTORDUCING ISIPHETHO". This press release noted that Isiphetho would start on e.tv on 15 April at 18:30.

After this, there were no further press releases received around Isiphetho until the series suddenly started on 8 April on e.tv - a week earlier. 

Several media TVwithThinus asked, knew nothing about the date change. 

They were also not made aware if or whether any media launch event for Isiphetho would take place, whether there would be any press day with either in-person or virtual one-on-one interviews with the cast and crew, or any virtual one-on-ones or roundtable sessions done on Zoom before the show would start airing.

No digital screeners were sent to media for possible review or background purposes - something that has become common the last few yeas for both new local and international series. 

On Sunday - a weekend and just a day before the moved-up TX launch of Isiphetho - e.tv and Isiphetho held what could be termed a media launch event at the Cradle of Humankind World Heritage Site in Muldersdrift, Gauteng. 

Out of the various so-called influencers and media that e.tv and Isiphetho did tell and invite and who managed to attended, the return on the investment was one online print article that was published by City Press newspaper on Monday 8 April and that comes up in a google search. 

An online search doesn't yield any other article results of the day.

Several media asked, had no idea that e.tv would do this Isiphetho media launch, were not invited, not told and not communicated with and not told whether there would be any virtual media day before the show's start on e.tv. 

Besides the physical event, e.tv PR and Isiphetho apparently did nothing virtual, with none of the information or speeches at the event which were shared if there were any, with no transcripts of what was said, and no press release afterwards on either the Sunday or Monday for the show.

On Tuesday TVwithThinus became aware that Isiphetho actually started on e.tv the night before. 

Asking other media on Tuesday, out of the group polled, only one knew of the show's date change from 15 April to 8 April. The rest didn't know and had no communication or PR interaction from e.tv around Isiphetho at all.

UPDATE Wednesday 10 April 16:24 - On Wednesday afternoon, e.tv issued a press release about Isiphetho, noting that "ISIPHTHO - DESTINY KICKS OF WITH 3.3 MILLION VIEWERS!" with the mistake in the all-caps subject-line repeated in the body copy of the press release.

Tuesday, April 9, 2024

MultiChoice wishes WildEarth well away from DStv as channel will get yanked from its pay-TV service at the end of April.

by Thinus Ferreira

MultiChoice wishes the WildEarth channel well in its future endeavours away from DStv but says it's disappointed that WildEarth tried to publicly force it to pay for the channel, while WildEarth has decided to yank the channel from MultiChoice's pay-TV service at the end of this month.

WildEarth which was added to DStv with the understanding that the channel won't be paid for channel carriage, recently demanded that MultiChoice start paying for WildEarth to be carried on DStv. 

WildEarth (DStv 183) continued to slam MultiChoice in interviews over the past two weeks, claiming that MultiChoice doesn't support the creation of local content because it doesn't want to pay WildEarth and has its "head in the sand", yet also said the channel does want to be on MultiChoice's DStv. 

WildEarth chairman AndrĂ© Crawford-Brunt also cast aspersions on South Africa's TV ratings system, claiming that the measurement of viewership in South Africa is "archaic". 

At the end of this month, WildEarth will be the 10th linear TV channel going dark on DStv coming as MultiChoice's board considers a takeover bid from Vivendi's Canal+ in France.

WildEarth was originally added in August 2020 as a temporary pop-up channel but was then kept on DStv over the past three years.

WildEarth currently employs 72 people and originally entered into a contract with MultiChoice whereby WildEarth would not be getting paid by MultiChoice for carriage on the DStv platform. It did get the space on the DStv channel line-up to raise viewership with DStv subscribers and through that get possible advertising revenue and sponsorships.

Crawford-Brunt told Biznews "I made the call that if they weren't prepared to pay us, we needed to come off DStv. It was just too easy to keep providing something to them for free".

He claimed that WildEarth is getting "binned by a big corporate because someone sitting in an ivory tower or sitting in an office in London can make a decision that this doesn't fit the short-term goals and needs of a big corporate". MultiChoice's third-party content decisions and acquisition is made in Randburg.

According to Crawford-Brunt, MultiChoice "got away with paying us nothing for three odd years. After applying a huge amount of pressure they then agreed to come through with a notional amount of R6 million a year".

"They hope we're just going to go away. I've told them we're going to take it off DStv because we can't afford to be on DStv and not get rewarded in some way." 

Crawford-Brunt told 702 that MultiChoice "has put their head in the sand". He said MultiChoice "having just increased prices - when you read the comments across the numerous petitions, people are particularly unhappy with them, and they need to pay attention to them in our view". 

MultiChoice told News24 in response to a media query it's disappointed that WildEarth management decided to publicly force MultiChoice to financially support the channel. 

"WildEarth, a private enterprise, initially approached MultiChoice in 2020 regarding channel distribution. After thorough discussions, MultiChoice entered into a channel distribution agreement, providing both support and guidance to WildEarth."

"This non-exclusive agreement allowed WildEarth to showcase its content across various platforms beyond DStv, including YouTube and its own website."

"However, WildEarth has expressed dissatisfaction with the existing arrangements and has informed MultiChoice of its decision to remove the channel from DStv services as of 30 April 2024. While we respect WildEarth's decision regarding platform availability, it is disappointing that WildEarth is seeking to publicly pressurise MultiChoice into providing additional commercial support."

MultiChoice says that it "will not comment further on this matter and wishes WildEarth success in its future endeavours. We remain dedicated to offering our subscribers a diverse range of entertainment content, including significant investments in local African content."

Canal+ to circumvent South Africa's strict foreign media ownership rules in its MultiChoice takeover bid through stock exchange double-listing.

by Bloomberg

Canal+ will try to circumvent South Africa's foreign media ownership regulations in its takeover attempt of MultiChoice through a stock exchange double-listing of the new entity in both South Africa as well as in Europe.

Canal+ formally made an upped offer of R35 billion for MultiChoice as it tries a buyout of the powerful pan-African pay-TV operator. Canal+ values MultiChoice at $2.9 billion (R54.02 billion).

Vivendi SE's Canal+ plans to use its all-cash offer for the MultiChoice Group to create a global media company listed in Europe and South Africa that will compete with American entertainment giants.

"A combined entity will be double listed in Europe and Johannesburg," Canal+ chief executive officer Maxime Saada said in an interview on Monday.

The plan to keep a local listing comes as the French company must navigate South Africa's strict limits on foreign media ownership in order to close the deal.

South African billionaire Patrice Motsepe could join Canal+ to get a deal done, although discussions are at an early stage, Bloomberg previously reported citing people familiar with the matter.

"We are confident that we can address the foreign ownership topic, as we are present in 50 countries and there are a number of countries where this type of rule is in place, including in France," said Saada.

Vivendi is preparing a plan to split into four publicly traded units, including Canal+, as it seeks better value from its assets after it listed its most valuable business, Universal Music Group NV.

Saada said the deal was intended to boost scale and purchasing power when going up against competitors to buy US content.

"To extract value from that, and invest in African content and help it reach global audiences, it only makes sense to be part of a global company," Saada said.

MultiChoice balked at the initial offer of R105 per share and Canal+ since raised its bid to R125.

Canal+ began buying shares in MultiChoice in 2020 and surpassed a 35% holding in the company this year, triggering a mandatory takeover offer.

Vivendi has developed a strong presence in high-growth regions in Africa and Asia. Vivendi said previously that it plans to keep MultiChoice listed on the Johannesburg Stock Exchange (JSE).

The latest deal could see a combination of Canal+ operations with MultiChoice creating a group with almost 50 million subscribers.