Friday, January 28, 2022

BREAKING. In shocking move the South African public broadcaster fires SABC News boss Phathiswa Magopeni - plus reaction:


by Thinus Ferreira

In a shocking move that's incredibly damaging for what remains of its credibility as a public broadcaster and its struggling news division, the SABC on Friday abruptly fired its SABC News boss Phathiswa Magopeni.

Scroll down for reaction.

The SABC CEO Madoda Mxakwe told Phathiswa Magopeni in a letter on Friday that she has been fired, writing, "The SABC finds that there is a breakdown in the trust relationship between you and the SABC".

The SABC ordered Phathiswa Magopeni to hand in all of the broadcaster's property in her possession no later than 12:00 on 31 January. 

Following her appointment in 2016 as SABC News boss, Phathiswa Magopeni has been instrumental in trying to rebuild the credibility and editorial independence of the SABC's struggling news division with her firing that is not just a massive loss for the broadcaster, but hugely damaging for its image and SABC News brand.

After Phathiswa Magopeni's abrupt axing on Friday, all the SABC News bulletins on SABC radio and SABC TV channels instantly switched to propaganda-style "reporting" about it, with very badly-done, one-sided "reporting" in which SABC radio and television news readers only read out what is actually the SABC press statement, without saying so to readers and viewers.

None of the SABC News so-called "news reports" about Phathiswa Pagopeni's firing included any comments from Phathiswa Magopeni herself although it exists, or any facts about what led to the situation, or that Phathiswa Magopeni had accused the SABC CEO and SABC chairperson of gross political interference into the broadcaster's news division, or any actual facts of what's happening now.

Following a disciplinary hearing in late-2021 that found Phathiswa Magopeni guilty on one charge of misconduct for the failure to stop the broadcasting of an episode of the current affairs programme Special Assignment, the SABC has quietly been trying to get rid of Phathiswa Magopeni by trying to get her to accept a massive financial payout to leave - something she has rejected.

The chairperson of the disciplinary hearing recommended a warning for Phathiswa Magopeni, not that she be fired.

The City Press newspaper reported earlier this month that while Phathiswa Magopeni continued to oversee the SABC News division, she had shunned a massive financial offer to leave the troubled SABC that is once again suffering reputational and credibility damage over its news coverage.

According to sources, SABC CEO Madoda Mxakwe and SABC chairperson Bongumusa Makhathini were ordered by ANC politicians to get rid of Phathiswa Magopeni.

Phathiswa Magopeni said that Madoda Mxakwe is resolute in "hounding" her out of the public broadcaster and that both Madoda Mxakwe and Bongumusa Makhathini called her on 24 October last year and tried to force her to approve and schedule an interview with ANC president Cyril Ramaphosa.

If true, this is a clear transgression of SABC rules against editorial interference by SABC top execs and the SABC board into the operations of the SABC newsroom.

The SABC in a terse statement late on Friday afternoon at 17:22, said that Phathiswa Magopeni "was was afforded an opportunity to submit mitigating factors and to address aggravating factors identified by the SABC, in line with the rule of natural justice and the audi alteram partem principle".

"After several requests for extensions, instead of taking up the opportunity to submit her mitigating factors and distance herself from the remarks in, amongst other things, the heads of argument submitted on her behalf, she elected not to submit her mitigating factors. Thus, she waived her right to do so."

"In the absence of Phathiswa Magopeni’s mitigating factors, the SABC concluded that there is a breakdown in the trust relationship between her and the SABC."

"Consequently, Phathiswa Magopeni’s services have been terminated with immediate effect and she has been informed accordingly."

Gugu Ntuli, SABC spokesperson, didn't say who is the acting SABC News boss in the statement.

Phathiswa Magopeni told the SABC in a letter she wrote earlier this week on 27 January 2022 that "I have been severely prejudiced in the disciplinary hearing process as not only have I been denied the opportunity to provide my mitigating factors to the chairperson for his consideration in relation to sanction, in addition, the SABC intends to consider its own factors in aggravation for purposes of reaching a decision on sanction".

Phathiswa Magopeni told the SABC that she "takes issue with the chairperson's findings and will in due course challenge his findings at the appropriate time and forum".

Exactly as TVwithThinus predicted and noted earlier this year, the completely untenable David vs Goliath battle that has been playing out at the SABC between Phathiswa Magopeni against Madoda Mxakwe and Bongumusa Makhathini, meant that either she or they would very likely be getting fired before 2022 was over.

That has now happened.

With the ANC's next national elective conference taking place at the end of this year, the ANC through Madoda Mxakwe and Bongumusa Makhathini have been revealed to have applied immense pressure and political interference to get rid of Phathiswa Magopeni.

Reaction:

Media Monitoring Africa
Media Monitoring Africa (MMA) director William Bird in interviews on Newzroom Afrika and SABC News on Friday night said that the firing of Phathiswa Pagopeni is "a very, very sad day for the SABC and for South Africa".

"There are certain people who will obviously be rejoicing at the turn of events. I think it's sad because thanks to Phathiswa Magopeni, the SABC executive team and of course the SABC board that have been able to restore the credibility and independence of the SABC over the last couple of years."

"If you look at where it was in 2016, Phathiswa came in and she has been able to do an incredible job. For her tenure at the SABC to end in this particular manner is really an unfortunate way for things to be going at the SABC."


Bemawu
The Bemawu trade union at the SABC of which Phathiswa Magopeni was not a member, on Friday night said that Bemawu "is utterly shocked by the decision of the SABC to fire her".

Hannes du Buisson, Bemawu president, told SABC News in an interview at 20:20 that "Phathiswa Magopeni is the first person ever in the history at the SABC who got fired because she did not distance herself from heads of argument that were submitted by her lawyer, because that is essentially what she's being fired for".

"Phathiswa Magopeni is not a member of Bemawu but we are concerned about the state of affairs and the way that disciplinary action has been taken against her as an SABC employee, regardless of whether that person is a member or not."


South African National Editors' Forum (Sanef)
Sbu Ngalwa, chairperson of the South African National Editors' Forum (Sanef), said that the organisation "is extremely disappointed by this SABC decision to terminate the employment of Phathiswa Pagopeni".

He told SABC News in an interview on Friday night that "we had hoped that sanity would prevail and in the end the SABC would follow the direction of the disciplinary hearing which was to give a hearing to Phathiswa Magopeni."

"What muddies the water is that Phathiswa Magopeni has an existing complaint against the SABC CEO Madoda Mxakwe and SABC board chairperson Bongumusa Makhathini. Given that state of affairs, obviously, you don't expect that the very same people she is complaining against, would give her a fair hearing."

Sbu Ngalwa said "one would have expected, at the very least, that her complaint is heard and adjudicated before you have a decision taken by SABC CEO Madoda Mxakwe. In this instance Madoda Mxakwe is pretty much referee and player given the fact that he has a pending complaint against him."

"The optics of Phathiswa Magopeni's dismissal actually do not look good for the SABC and I think it takes the SABC a few steps backwards."

"The SABC comes from the sad era of Hlaudi Motsoeneng who mismanaged the SABC. We know the ratings of the SABC in recent months and years have shown when it took a decision to turn around to be an independent and impartial public broadcaster, the results are there for everyone to see. It is about the work that we have seen for years."


Democratic Alliance (DA) political party
The Democratic Alliance (DA) political party in a statement late on Friday night said "Today's decision to fire SABC News boss Phathiswa Magopeni does not come as a complete surprise in light of recent worrying signs of efforts to politically capture the SABC".

The DA's member of parliament (MP) Zakhele Mbhele said "today's outcome tells us that the stench of state capture and political interference still lingers in the fabric of our public broadcaster, echoing the Hlaudi Motsoeneng era".

The DA said it would ask for the portfolio committee on communications and digital technologies in parliament to convene for a meeting as soon as possible "to have the SABC board and senior management account to parliament for Phathiswa Magopeni's firing, the severity of which is a patently disproportionate sanction in relation to the findings of her disciplinary process, and points in the wrong direction about the protection of editorial independence at the SABC going forward".


Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) political party
The EFF political party's member of parliament (MP) Mbuyiseni Ndlozi on Friday night said that "the dismissal of Phathiswa Magopeni from SABC must be welcome [sic]. Her mission was to turn SABC into an eNCA lite. She did not appreciate the centrality of SABC's mandate to the entire South African public. At all material times she sought to dwarf it's public mandate. Good riddance!"


2022 Big Cat Month on Nat Geo WILD in February roars with local filmmaking labour like Dereck and Beverly Joubert's first cheetah documentary.


by Thinus Ferreira

National Geographic has released the programming rundown for its annual Big Cat Month for 2022 that roars with legendary local filmmaking labour and that will run on weekends during February on the Nat Geo WILD (DStv 182 / StarSat 221) channel.

Nat Geo's WILD's 11th annual Big Cat Month will once again showcase visually impressive and powerful stories from around the world about lions, tigers, cheetahs and leopards on Saturdays and Sundays at 18:00 during February, including the premiere of legendary big cat filmmakers Dereck and Beverly Joubert's first film on cheetahs.

Narrated by the award-winning actor Jeremy Irons, The Way of the Cheetah will premiere on Nat Geo WILD on Sunday 6 February at 18:00, following Immani, a cheetah female with 4 new cubs who must navigate the plains of the Mara ecosystem.

Living here is also a coalition of 5 males, and to save her cubs, Immani must avoid them. The Way of the Cheetah goes under the cover of darkness with thermal cameras, and the Joubert’s capture the lush colours of Africa. However, when it comes to the hunting scenes, these shape-shifting cats appear from nowhere in a blur, captured in ultra-high-speed motion and the battles turn epic. 

In Big Cat Odyssey (Revealed), premiering on Sunday 6 February at 18:45, Dereck and Beverly Joubert dive deeper into the issues that surround big cats, specifically African lions and leopards.

What struggles do these iconic big cats face? How have these lions and leopards survived and adapted over the decades? The Joubert’s lead viewers on a journey through the lives of big cats and their most iconic moments.

On Saturday 5 February on the day that Nat Geo WILD's 2022 Big Cat Month starts, Relentless Enemies will be the first show of the month-long event. It chronicles an epic story of how buffalo and lions survive and adapt to each other. 

A buffalo herd of over 1 200 is forced to move through three lion territories while being confined by the floodwaters on a small island in the Okavango. As the buffalo strategize their advancements, the lions react every move they make, all captured through the Joubert's lens from their home base in Botswana.

The Big Cat content continues throughout February with various premieres, culminating in War of the Lions on Sunday 27 February at 18:45. From Savannahs bursting with game to deserts with not a drop to drink, all lion kingdoms are not created equal - so who is the real king of the beasts?

"Big Cat Month continues to be an exciting annual television event, and certainly a firm fan-favourite. This year we are delighted to honour prolific local filmmakers Beverly and Dereck Joubert, whose lifetime of impactful and thought-provoking documentaries have brought viewers a greater appreciation for Africa’s big cats," says Christine Service, senior vice president and general manager of The Walt Disney Company Africa.

"Families can look forward to a month of fascinating, premiere, in-depth programming that reveals astounding new insights into these remarkable creatures, as well as highlighting the threats they face and the urgent action needed to conserve and protect our big cats for future generations."


Here is the 2022 Big Cat Month programming line-up:



Relentless Enemies, Saturday 5 February, 18:00
A buffalo herd of over 1 200 is forced to move through three lion territories while being confined by the floodwaters on a small island in the Okavango. As the buffalo strategize their advancements, the lions react to each and every move they make. From the Joubert's home base in Botswana, comes the epic story of buffalo and lions surviving and adapting to each other. Narrated by Jeremy Irons.



The Way of the Cheetah, Sunday 6 February, 18:00
There really is no other big cat on the planet that is like a cheetah. These are the most fragile cats physically and in numbers, now under 7 000 left in the world. Our story tells of Immani, a sleek female with 4 new cubs as they navigate the vast plains of the Mara ecosystem. But living here is also a coalition of 5 males, and to save her cubs Immani must avoid them.


Big Cat Odyssey (Revealed)Sunday 6 February, 18:45
Dereck and Beverly Joubert, dive deeper into the issues that surround big cats, specifically African lions and leopards. What challenges do these iconic big cats face? How have these lions and leopards survived and adapted over the decades? The Joubert’s lead viewers on an epic journey through the lives of big cats and their most iconic moments.



Ultimate Enemies, Saturday, 12 February, 18:00
Dereck and Beverly Joubert explore how some animals are thrust together by the forces of nature - sometimes through a millennium of evolution or even last year’s drought. In the aftermath of strange elephant deaths, they piece together a visually stunning story that confirms their theory that lions were hunting elephants. Narrated by Jeremy Irons.



Russia's Wild TigerSunday, 13 February, 18:00
Russia's Wild Tiger records the battle for survival of the big cats and reveals intimate details of their lives. The animals they prey on are also in the film: tigers couldn't survive without sika deer, Altai wapiti, wild boars and Asian black bears. A young tiger, born in a conservation area, will guide the viewer through the film. Russia's Wild Tiger accompanies him throughout the year after he leaves his mother. The young tiger takes the viewer to places where the fate of Siberian tigers will be decided: vast forests, remote villages and the cities at the edge of the wilderness.



Living with Big CatsSunday 13 February, 18:45
Dereck and Beverly Joubert lead viewers on their incredible journey with big cats - from the first time big cats captured their hearts, through their boundless dedication to protecting these iconic predators. This story explores how the Jouberts got started and delves into their personal lives as National Geographic filmmakers and explorers.


Thailand’s Wild CatsSaturday 19 February, 18:00
Hidden in the jungles of Thailand lies an ancient kingdom, a last refuge for Thailand’s wild cats. Apex hunters, nearly invisible, they bide their time as they search for prey, pursue mates and protect their young. Within this tangled forest, a world of drama and unbridled power awaits the clouded leopard, the Asian fishing cat and the king of the jungle, the Tiger.


Eye of the Leopard (Revealed)Sunday 20 February, 18:00
Dereck and Beverly Joubert set out to create a film on leopards but never imagined they would be seduced by a small, eight-day-old cub named Legadema. Eye of the Leopard follows Legadema's journey from a playful cub to a skilled huntress. Narrated by Jeremy Irons.


Shadow CatsSaturday 26 February, 18:00
The serval, caracal and black-footed cat prove they are just as extraordinary as their African wildcat counterparts, the cheetah, lion and leopard.


Eternal Enemies (Revealed)Sunday 27 February, 18:00
The Joubert's Emmy winning film is back with stunning remastered footage. Propelled by Jeremy Irons gripping narration, Eternal Enemies reveals the story of conflict between lions and hyenas, relatively unknown or even suspected in the scientific world before this. The intense relationship and enduring rivalry between the two species play out in a battle of survival.


War of the LionsSunday 27 February, 18:45
From savannahs bursting with game to deserts with not a drop to drink, all lion kingdoms are not created equal - so who is the real King of the Beasts?

Thursday, January 27, 2022

2022's 10th Silwerskermfees: This year's film festival to showcase everything from offbeat love stories to Cape Flats vampires and lockdown loadshedding family dramas.


by Thinus Ferreira

kykNET's 10th Silwerskermfees bouncing back as a hybrid film festival in Camps Bay this year between 23 and 26 March will cost R190 for four days, offering a collection of feature films and short films influenced by Covid, loadshedding and including vampires on the Cape Flats, off-beat love stories and South Africa's first Afrikaans eco-horror movie.

Taking place at The Bay Hotel in Cape Town and accessible online through the Silwerskermfees website at https://silwerskermfees.co.za, the film festival's registration fee of R190 will give participants access to four days of film premieres, with the revenue that will go towards the Tribuo fund supporting South African artists in financial need because of the Covid-19 pandemic.

The 10th Silwerskermfees include 9 feature films in contention for various Silwerskermfees awards, as well as 17 short films produced with kykNET's support for this year's Silwerskermfees film festival.

Besides the feature films and short films, people attending the film festival physically or virtually, will also be able to attend and listen in on various industry talks, question-and-answer sessions with producers, and interviews with on-screen talent.

While the feature films in this year's competition are exclusively ones making their world of South African debut at the film festival, this year's Silwerskermfees line-up also includes feature films that were funded by kykNET and M-Net that already premiered on MultiChoice's DStv BoxOffice because 2021's Silwerskermfees had to be postponed last year due to Covid-19.

These three films are Kaalgat Karel, Klein Karoo 2 and Barakat that was South Africa's official film entry for the Oscars this year. These three films will respectively be screened on 3, 10 and 17 March before the 10th Silwerskermfees starts on its official film festival website.


The 10th Silwerskermfees has a feature film line-up that will be screened between 23 and 26 March that includes Beurkrag (23 March, 17:30), Indemnity (23 March, 20:00), Down So Long (24 March, 17:30), Stiekyt (24 March, 20:00), Vlugtig (25 March, 17:30), as well as Gaia (25 March, 20:00).

The 10th Silwerskermfees is Beurtkrag's world premiere, starring Ivan Botha and DonnaLee Roberts who teamed up with director Jozua Malherbe to develop a feature-length script from the 2015 Silwerskermfees short film.

Indemnity is Travis Taute's tense action film starring Gail Mabalane and Hlomla Dandala, with Jarrid Geduld playing a firefighter who flees after he becomes the prime suspect in the murder of his wife.

Down So Long is an experimental satirical comedy-drama revolving around Joseph Mabena living with his wife and extended family in a full house in the informal settlement of Hangberg, with Angie Mills directing and Damir Rodonic producing.

In Stiekyt, Etienne Fourie, a former Silwerskermfees winner, is in the director's chair for this thriller produced by Homebrew Films.

Vlugtig is another reworking of a former Silwerskermfees short film, with the same director, Marinus Gubitz. Several of the cast reprise their roles, adding Jane de Wet.

Gaia, the first eco-horror film in Afrikaans, is also on show at the 2022 Silwerskermfees after its premiere at the South by South West film festival.


Short film diversity
The subject matter of the short film category at the 10th Silwerskermfees is diverse and range from science fiction and superheroes battling tik, to Cape Flats vampires, pregnancy stories and figurative and real-world family journeys.

Barber is set in a macabre barbershop on the Cape Flats where the owner and his daughter are planning on taking revenge. 

It stars Irshaad Ally of Suidooster in the role of a client, and he's also starring in Verstikking as a wealthy businessman intent on taking revenge in a weird way after a robbery in an underground parking area.

For the first time ever the Silwerskermfees features a post-apocalyptic science fiction film in Afrikaaps. Murderous machines are hunting the last humans in the Cape in the boundary-pushing My Beskermer.

In the action short film Nagvoƫl, a superhero tackles tik addicts in the hope of becoming a member of the South African Superheroes League.

Twintig Tone is an off-beat romance story set inside a physical closet, while Net ons revolves around two centuries-old vampires on the Cape Flats. The concept in Die Horries is that there are secret agents with the singular mission of making you go crazy after a late night's partying. But what happens when a Horrie develops feelings for a Horrie-colleague?

Vrywater set within a fantasy realm tells the story of a cult of seawater worshippers with their unique set of rituals, hoping for a long-awaited prophecy to be fulfilled. It however depends on a rebellious chosen one more intent on following her heart than a prophecy.

In Bergie an official tasked with removing homeless people are confronted with the suffering of others, in Die Groensone a son and his elderly dad are forced to live together during the Covid lockdown period in a flat, and in Leemtes en leegheid a widow in her 70s struggle to come to terms with the death of her husband.

In Aan/Af an ordinary guy finds himself in the flat of his elderly German neighbour and discovers that everything in her place is definitely not what it appears to be.

Family relationships are the subject matter of Bennie Bingo, Bittersoet and Sporadies Nomadies - with stories ranging from a lost son whose transformation causes chaos at the family's annual bingo tournament, a grandfather with Alzheimer's who suddenly remembers something while attending the Christmas lunch where the mother already has a problem with her son's gay romance, and a struggling rocker dad who's estranged matric daughter joins him for a road trip.

Pregnancy is the theme of the short films Katvis and Skyn. In Katvis a couple makes an unusual decision and in Skyn a struggling waitress ends up with a bun in the oven after a drunken night with a stranger in her bed.


MultiChoice and Mzansi Magic's latest Big Brother Mzansi on DStv criticised over its lack if diversity.


by Thinus Ferreira

Almost a year after MultiChoice and M-Net were castigated for the shocking lack of South African diversity and representation in its Love Island SA reality show version, the pay-TV operator is once again coming under fire from DStv subscribers criticising the latest season of Big Brother Mzansi for its lack of diversity.

After the 5th season of Big Brother Mzansi started on Sunday night as a MultiChoice pop-up channel on DStv with 18 new housemates - one of whom quit three days later on Wednesday - DStv subscribers want to know why the reality show's cast excluded South Africans from other races and why it's a predominantly Gauteng-based cast.

Big Brother Mzansi, revived as a Covid-19 safe show and produced inside a so-called "Covid-19 safe production bubble", is done by Red Pepper Productions as a South African adaptation of the Banijay format with Dineo Phantshang as series producer, OJ Meketsi as series director, Gbenga Kayode as consulting series director, Jessica Setati as production manager, and with Cecil Barry and Natalie Bleksley as the co-executive producers.

After MultiChoice and M-Net came under severe criticism for its botched Love Island SA version last year, sponsor LottoStar withdrew, with the pay-TV operator that apologised.

MultiChoice and M-Net said "You called us out on the lack of diversity and production quality" and that it's "working hard to fix things and to deliver the Magic you deserve" after not meeting its "our usual standard on both counts".

A year later DStv subscribers are once again criticising a format reality show for its production values after Big Brother Mzansi, once again sponsored by LottoStar, suffered sound problems and audio mistakes, while the producers excluded coloured, white, Indian and other races from the all-black cast.

Out of the 18 housemates who entered the Big Brother Mzansi house and chosen from over 9 000 entries received, the majority have been picked from Johannesburg with only 4 coming from provinces outside of Gauteng and the majority of provinces excluded.

Comments from DStv viewers range from: "I thought I'll see different races, tribes and religions to make the game more open and entertaining" to "Where are the other ethnicities? Where are other provinces? Where are coloured people and the other races? It seems like Big Brother Mzansi said 'Diversity? We don't know her!" and "For a rainbow nation this is disappointing diversity wise".

"Where are the white and coloured housemates? Where's the diversity?" asked Chazz on Twitter, with Shakes saying "Representation is very important and Big Brother Mzansi has failed to show the true diversity of South Africa here."  

"This season lacks diversity where are people from the Eastern Cape or Northern Cape? Did coloured people and Indians not audition?" 

In a media query earlier this week MultiChoice was asked for comment specifically about the lack of diversity in race in the included contestants and why coloured, white and Indian people were excluded in the casting process; as well as whether Covid-19 played a role in the lack of diversity in the concentration of the majority of contestants being from Johannesburg and Pretoria.

MultiChoice didn't answer the individual questions to explain the specific concerns but in a statement says the housemates are originally from many places around South Africa and that Mzansi Magic prides itself on reflecting diversity.

Shirley Adonisi, M-Net director of local entertainment channels, says "As Mzansi Magic, we pride ourselves in reflecting our audiences' diversity whether it be their race, culture, language, religion, creed and gender orientation".

"The selection of housemates for Big Brother was no different.  Out of the thousands of entries we received, each candidate had to pass through a mix of milestones including psychometric tests, medicals and background checks."

"The aim being to create an ensemble of housemates that were diverse in age, archetype, personality traits, whose combination would give us the best entertainment value for the show."

"Entries were open to all South Africans via an online process and a subsequent audition process.  The final choice for this season's housemates reside or are originally from many places around the country and we are confident that our audience will find them relatable, authentic and entertaining."

Big Brother Mzansi runs daily and weekly highlight shows on the Mzansi Magic (DStv 161) and as a 24-hour pop-up channel on MultiChoice's DStv channel 198 until the winner is announced during a 2-hour live finale on Sunday 3 April at 18:00.


Wednesday, January 26, 2022

Abrupt walkout: QV with psychologist after she quits MultiChoice's Big Brother Mzansi.


by Thinus Ferreira

Keamogetswe Motlhale from Mahikeng known as "QV" lasted just over 48 hours before deciding that she's had enough and walked out of the 5th season of Mzansi Magic's Big Brother Mzansi that started on Sunday night and is now getting psychological counselling.

On Wednesday afternoon Mzansi Magic confirmed that QV decided to leave, citing "personal reasons".

QV's exit comes a day after the housemates were tasked to share their life stories. Keamogetswe Motlhale spoke about how she was raped multiple times when she was 6 years old.

"Keamogetswe Motlhale, one of the Big Brother Mzansi housemates known as QV, has taken the decision to leave the Big Brother house for personal reasons," Shirley Adonisi, M-Net director for local entertainment channels, says in a statement.

QV bid farewell to the remaining housemates and left, and a psychologist is now working with her to "ensure a smooth transition back into the outside world and guide her through her journey forward".

"We wish her all the best on her journey and she has our full support," Shirley Adonisi says.

Big Brother Mzansi, revived for a 5th season after 7 years as a Covid-19 safe show and produced inside a so-called "Covid-19 safe production bubble", is done by Red Pepper Productions as a South African adaptation of the Banijay format with Dineo Phantshang as series producer, OJ Meketsi as series director, Gbenga Kayode as consulting series director, Jessica Setati as production manager, and with Cecil Barry and Natalie Bleksley as the co-executive producers.

Big Brother Mzansi runs daily and weekly highlight shows on the Mzansi Magic (DStv 161) and as a 24-hour pop-up channel on MultiChoice's DStv channel 198.


The TV critic, journalist and producer Terence Pillay has died. Goodbye my friend.


by Thinus Ferreira

This is extremely difficult, since it's once again not just someone I personally got to know and knew for decades, but someone who was a friend, funny, very smart and always ready with super-sharp witty comments: The veteran investigative and media journalist, producer, radio presenter and TV critic Terence Pillay has died from renal failure.

The Durban-based journalist died peacefully on Wednesday morning at home from renal failure after a long illness that started last year.

I spoke with Terrence Pillay last, two weeks ago. 

We ended the phone call promising that we will definitely go do champagne in-person in 2022 and gossip, laugh and just toast life, after two years of being stuck at home as the media and TV industry in South Africa largely did away with any in-person gatherings because of the Covid-19 pandemic.

I ask tough questions as a journalist trying to cover television in South Africa and yet I've never felt alone because Terence Pillay, who would often sit beside me in the front row at media briefings, would always ask tough questions too.

I chase scoops and breaking news and interviews and I never rest, because I smile when someone like Terence Pillay would for instance scoop who the host of The Bachelor SA on M-Net would be.

Terence Pillay was an ever-present reminder that news media is a highly-competitive business and that you constantly need to put energy, drive and passion into your job to be at the top of your game.

Terence Pillay made me insane, but it was the good insane. On media junkets for TV shows I would always think: What is Terence doing now again? Who is Terence speaking to again, now

When we were not working during breaks, together we were incorrigible gossips. I want to blame Terence because it was really him. He would tell me stuff, and then I would have to tell him stuff, and then we would laugh.

No matter where we were together, we would say phrases and things that would be complete in-jokes that only the two of us would get of things we had witnessed, experienced and had to endure on set visits, media trips and TV junkets.

Terence Pillay was one of the absolute best at roundtable interviews, press conferences and media events. Terence worked the room. He knew people, and he made work of it to study up and knew what people did, their characters, and everything else.

Terence Pillay always put in the time and did the work, and entering any room, if Terence was there, you knew you could ask him. While the rest ran for a drink, Terence made a bee-line to go talk to someone to get a next scoop.

Terence was a germaphobe and when we had lunch or dinner in a hotel or had to climb into some bus or shuttle I would try and scare him by deliberately trying to make as if germs from some or other surface were going to touch him just to see him recoil in some-real, some-mock horror expression.

The hilarious and shocking stuff the two of us experienced and had to live through and endure could fill a book. And here's the funny thing: It's not just the two of us. Terence had that with lots of people.

In terms of South African television, Terence Pillay was brutally honest about what was good, and what was bad; what worked and what didn't. He didn't hold back to spare people's feelings and the South African television industry is better today because of that.

As others did, he shaped me in his approach in numerous ways and what I had learnt from him over many years I practise practically as a journalist covering television in South Africa. It's part of his legacy.

Over decades Terrence Pillay made TV shows, was a presenter of TV shows, wrote about TV, and talked on radio about TV. 

He was also my friend and I will miss him.

Disney+ to launch in South Africa, St. Helena and a few North African countries as part of 42-country roll-out this winter.


by Thinus Ferreira

Disney+ will launch within a few months in another 42 countries including South Africa, Algeria, Egypt, Libya, Morocco, Tunisia and St. Helena the video streaming service confirmed on Wednesday.

As the most developed and sophisticated video streaming market in Africa, South Africa is the first and only country in sub-Saharan Africa to get Disney+, with the streaming service also launching this year in Algeria, Egypt, Libya, Morocco and Tunisia in North Africa.

St. Helena, part of the British Overseas Territory in the South Atlantic Ocean is also getting Disney+ this winter.


The past two years South African video consumers have been extremely vocal about being excluded from access to Disney+ as the Mouse House launched its streamer in the United States, Canada, the United Kingdom, Australia and other comparable markets.

Meanwhile, South African consumers have been snapping up Disney-branded merchandise from content only available on Disney+, showing a high awareness and brand recognition of shows and characters like The Mandalorian, likely due to pirate viewing of Disney+ content in the territory.

On Wednesday Disney confirmed that Disney+ will launch in 42 countries and 11 new territories this winter that will include South Africa where Netflix, MultiChoice's Showmax, Amazon Prime Video and Apple TV+ are competing for scale and subscribers.

Netflix SA, MultiChoice, Amazon Prime Video and Apple TV+ are all ramping up investment and their plans to increase their local market presence in South Africa and across sub-Saharan Africa as they try to snap up video consumers and to get them to sample their subscription video-on-demand (SVOD) services. 

With the oversaturated American market, streamers like Netflix as well as ones that haven't yet launched in South Africa like Disney+, WarnerMedia's HBO Max, ViacomCBS' Paramount+, NBCUniversal's Peacock, Discovery+ and others, are finally feeling the pressure to look internationally to expand their subscriber bases.

There is no firm date yet for the launch of Disney+ in South Africa this winter, but it will be any time from June. 

Disney is also staying tight-lipped about the cost, although it's likely that The Walt Disney Company will try to make a splash as a late-market entry in South Africa, and to quickly gain ground on Netflix SA and Showmax with an introductory price offer that would undercut and come in below the current Netflix and Showmax pricing.

The full list of countries that Disney+ will launch in this winter include:
1.    Albania
2.    Algeria
3.    Andorra
4.    Bahrain
5.    Bosnia and Herzegovina
6.    Bulgaria
7.    Croatia
8.    Czech Republic
9.    Egypt
10.  Estonia
11.  Greece
12.  Hungary
13.  Iraq
14.  Israel
15.  Jordan
16.  Kosovo
17.  Kuwait
18.  Latvia
19.  Lebanon
20.  Libya
21.  Liechtenstein
22.  Lithuania
23.  Malta
24.  Montenegro
25.  Morocco
26.  North Macedonia
27.  Oman
28.  Palestine
29.  Poland
30.  Qatar
31.  Romania
32.  San Marino
33.  Saudi Arabia
34.  Serbia
35.  Slovakia
36.  Slovenia
37.  South Africa
38.  Tunisia
39.  Turkey
40.  United Arab Emirates
41.  Vatican City
42.  Yemen


Tuesday, January 25, 2022

Sky News announces a raft of new programmes for 2022, Sophy Ridge returning mid-March from maternity to resume Sunday show and adding Wednesday night show.

by Thinus Ferreira

On Tuesday afternoon Sky News (DStv 402) announced a raft of new programmes

Following the announcement that the Sky News political editor Beth Rigby willhost a new prime time interview show Beth Rigby Interviews from 10 March, Sky News is also returning The Great Debate with Trevor Phillips from Monday 7 February at 23:00 (South African time).

The weekly discussion programme will, once again, give viewers the opportunity to question the decisions that are made about their lives and interrogate the people who make them. 

In addition to this, from early March on Tuesdays at 23:00, Trevor Phillips will try to find Common Ground between two protagonists with entrenched opinions on a topic in the news. 

"At a time when opinion seems noisier and more extreme than ever, Phillips will work to find the middle ground to see what can unite the two opponents," Sky News says.

Sophy Ridge is set to return to Sky News from maternity leave mid-March and will once again welcome viewers at her regular slot of 10:30 every Sunday for her weekly political talk show Sophy Ridge on Sunday

Later in 2022 she will also host a new show The Take with Sophy Ridge at 23:00 on Wednesdays. 

Sky News says that The Take is designed to take a mid-week political pulse "As well as hearing from members of parliament, the show will also invite viewers to give their take on the political headlines."

John Ryley, head of Sky News, says in a statement that "Sky News prides itself on its impartial journalism. We see it as our responsibility to present our viewers with dynamic, engaging and balanced programming, offering clarity in an uncertain world".

"These new programmes are designed to highlight the lively debate, discussion and opinion that is a vital part of the Sky News brand. From holding politicians to account to hearing directly from the people at the heart of the stories, our news organisation puts the British public at the heart of what we do."

Environmental activists take eNCA to Broadcasting Complaints, alleges eNCA news bias in Shell seismic tests reporting for not disclosing interests and that Johnny Copelyn is chairperson of eMedia and Shell partner Impact Oil and Gas.


by Thinus Ferreira

Environmental activists have laid a complaint at the Broadcasting Complaints Commission of South Africa (BCCSA) against eNCA (DStv 403), alleging that the South African TV news channel from eMedia is biased in its news coverage about Shell's seismic ocean tests.

The environmental group says in its complaint that eNCA is in the wrong as a TV news channel for not declaring its corporate interests, and also has a conflict of interest since Johnny Copelyn is eMedia Holding's non-executive chairperson and the non-executive chairperson of Impact Oil and Gas, that is a Shell partner. 

eMedia in response to a media query seeking comment told TVwithThinus that "The matter is currently with the BCCSA so we are not in a position to comment yet until the ruling on the matter".

The environmental group in its complaint alleges that eNCA has been doing one-sided reporting on Shell and Impact Oil and Gas' seismic shock plans on the South African coast.

Johnny Copelyn is the non-executive chairperson of eMedia Holdings with eNCA that falls under eMedia.

Johnny Copelyn is also the non-executive chairperson of Hoskins Consolidated Investments (HCI) with HCI the majority shareholder in eMedia. 

Furthermore Johnny Copelyn is the non-executive chairperson of Impact Oil and Gas, a partner of Shell. HCI is also the biggest shareholder in Impact Oil and Gas.

In its complaint, the environmental group wants eNCA to apologise to DStv subscribers for not declaring eNCA's conflict of interest in the Shell seismic shock reporting, and to explain Johnny Copelyn's corporate involvement. 

The group also wants the BCCSA to level a fine of R80 000 against eNCA.

This past Friday members of the Extinction Rebellion public pressure group held a protest at the eNCA headquarters in Dunkeld-West in Johannesburg, demanding that the TV news channel report on eNCA's alleged conflict of interest in the Shell seismic shock operations "without fear or favour".