Wednesday, July 10, 2024

Zee Africa updates Zee World on-air graphics and tagline, moves primetime start time to 5pm.


by Thinus Ferreira

Zee Africa has changed the tagline for Zee World (DStv 166) to "Living every moment" from July and expanded the channel's programming schedule with prime time now starting at 17:00 with 8 shows until 22:00.

Zee Africa says the channel refresh of Zee World for viewers across sub-Saharan Africa and the Indian Ocean islands that includes new graphics and an enhanced programming offering, "honours Zee World's legacy".

"It is important for us to remind our viewers who we are at the core while extending it out to all age groups and cultures across Africa" says Somnath Malakar, CEO of Zee Africa.

"The tagline 'Living Every Moment' represents what Zee has always stood for and continues to be the inspiration that the brand endeavours to deliver to its audiences."

Zee World's programming has expanded with prime time now starting at 17:00. New titles have been added at 19:30 and 20:30. From July, Zee World now broadcasts eight shows between 17:00 and 22:00.

Desiree Pillay, senior vice president for content and marketing at Zee Africa, says "Our channel refresh represents our unwavering commitment to delivering exceptional entertainment that resonates with viewers across the continent, and we are doing it with flair".

"With a brand-new logo, a new tagline, and a whole lot of new shows, we invite our viewers to join us in 'Living Every Moment' on Zee World as we embark on this exhilarating new chapter together."

Samsung unveils Galaxy Z Fold6, Galaxy Z Flip6 and Galaxy Watch Ultra - plus South Africa pricing.


by Thinus Ferreira

Samsung Electronics on Wednesday afternoon in Paris, France unveiled its Samsung Galaxy Z Fold6, Samsung Galaxy Z Flip6 as well as a range of new smartwatches at its next Galaxy Unpacked event. 

The Samsung Galaxy Z Fold6 is available in three colours - silver shadow, pink, as well as navy - with all three colours which will be available in South Africa.

The Samsung Galaxy Flip6 is available in four colours - silver shadow, blue, yellow and mint - with all four colours which will be available in South Africa.

Powered by Samsung's Pro Visual Engine, the Galaxy Z Fold6 and Galaxy Z Flip 6 are equipped with multiple image editing features, and also comes with further enhanced camera features.

Similar to Samsung's recent Galaxy S24 series launch the new devices are centred around Samsung's Galaxy AI with improved versions of Chat Assist, Circle-to-Search, Note Assist and Transcribe Assist, as well as an instant slow-motion feature within photography.

The Pro Visual Engine AI functions are accessed by tapping the Galaxy AI button in the image editor.

"Our foldables meet the unique needs of every user and now enhanced by the power of Galaxy AI, Samsung is delivering an experience like never before," says TM Roh, president and head of mobile exerience business at Samsung Electronics.


The devices have a Qualcomm Snapdragon 8 Gen 3 processor and comes with One UI 6.1.1 and both have 12GM RAM. 

The Galaxy Z Fold6 has either 256GM or 512GB storage with a recommended retail price of R43 500 (256GB) and R46 000 ((512GB), while the Samsung Galaxy Z Flip6 has 256GB of internal storage and a recommended retail price of R26 000.

The Samsung Galaxy Z Fold6 has a slightly larger display that its predecessor: 6.3 inches and an OLED display with a 2 376 x 968 pixel resolution. 

Its internal display remains unchanged from the Samsung Galaxy Z Fold5: a 7.6-inch OLED with 2 160 x 1 856 pixel resolution. Both displays are on a 120Hz refresh rate.

The Galaxy Z Fold6 comes with the same 50 MP f/1.8 main camera with OIS at the back, alongside a 10 MP f/2.4 telephoto unit with 3x optical zoom and a 12 MP f/2.2 ultrawide shooter with a 123-degree field of view.

It also has a 10 MP selfie camera on the cover display with a 4 MP video-chat shooter hidden under the foldable display.

Samsung says the Fold6 "also offers one-way translation, so you can easily understand when listening during lectures or any other type of presentation". 

Live Translate - which requires a network connection and a Samsung account - translates "phone calls directly on your device in real-time, and is also now being extended beyond Samsung’s own native calling app to a selection of popular third-party apps".





The Samsung Galaxy Z 
Flip6 has unchanged display
dimensions from the Flip5 at 7.6-inch for the internal display and a 3.4-inch external screen, with unchanged resolution of 2 640 x 1,080 pixels and 748 x 720 pixels. 

Here the internal display is also a 120Hz refresh rate.

Pre-orders for the Samsung Galaxy Z Fold6 and Samsung Galaxy Z Flip6 are possible from Wednesday 10 July 2024.

Samsung also unveiled its Galaxy Watch Ultra with a recommended retail price of R20 000.

Also new is the Buds3 earbuds (recommended retail price: R4000) available in either silver or white.

The Buds3 Pro has a recommended retail price of R5000), with the new Samsung Galaxy Watch7 that comes with a recommended retail price of R7000 for the 40mm, and R7500 for the 44mm. 

Samsung South Africa will not sell its Samsung Galaxy Ring locally.

MultiChoice's relaunched Showmax does first price increase from August, pricing of bundled packages remains unchanged.


by Thinus Ferreira

After six months the relaunched Showmax is doing its first price increase since the unveiling of the new version of MultiChoice's video streaming service - although the prices of its two bundled packages will remain unchanged.

From August, Showmax Entertainment will increase 11.2% from R89 to R99, while Showmax Entertainment Mobile is going from R39 to R45 - an increase of 15.4%. Both these increases are above the current inflation rate.

The pricing of the Showmax Premier League package will remain unchanged at R69 a month. 

The pricing of the bundled Showmax Entertainment (all devices) + Premier League (mobile) package remains unchanged at R140 and the pricing of the Showmax Entertainment (mobile) + Premier League (mobile) package also remains unchanged at R99. 



Showmax says its Showmax Entertainment Mobile price of R45 is "at the low end of mobile streaming prices globally". It's the first price hike for Showmax since MultiChoice retooled the streamer in partnership with Comcast's NBCUniversal.

Marc Jury, Showmax CEO, says "Pricing is something that all businesses have to review regularly, and we launched with attractive pricing on the new Showmax platform".

"We are thrilled that we've been able to keep Showmax Premier League and bundled Showmax plans unchanged, bringing all 380 Premier League matches to millions of football fans in Africa and continuing to focus on making streaming affordable and effortless."

He says "No other streamer has this range of the best international and local content at an incredible price."

Since its relaunch in February, MultiChoice added 40 Showmax Originals to the streamer, including localised shows produced in Ghana, Kenya, Nigeria and South Africa.   

Showmax Entertainment's R99 price from August is its original launch price in 2015.

MultiChoice that is coming off a disastrous financial year for the year ending end of March 2024, is under immense pressure to grow its Showmax subscriber numbers and to also move the streamer towards a position of profitability. MultiChoice told investors last year that it aims to achieve profitability for Showmax in 2027.

Last month when it released its financial results, MultiChoice noted that Showmax's paying subscriber base grew 16% since the relaunch in February to the end of March but continues to decline to provide any subscriber numbers.
 

   

 

Showmax Entertainment 

All devices    

Showmax Entertainment Mobile   

Showmax Premier League   

Mobile 

Showmax Entertainment Mobile + Premier League Mobile bundle   

Showmax Entertainment All devices + Premier League Mobile bundle   

  

All Premier League   

live matches + extra Premier League content    

 

-   

-   

   

   

   

Series, movies, kids’ shows, documentaries incl. Showmax Originals, MultiChoice Originals, Universal Pictures, NBC, Peacock, Sky, DreamWorks Animation, HBO, Paramount, Lionsgate, Sony, Warner Bros. Discovery, BBC, ITV, Telemundo, Banijay, eOne, Fremantle and more. 

  

 

   

   

-   

   

   

Number of concurrent streams    

 

2   

1   

1   

1 stream Entertainment 

1 stream Premier League 

2 streams Entertainment 

1 stream Premier League 

Mobile apps   

 

   

   

   

   

   

Smart TV, laptop, Android TV, Apple TV apps   

 

   

-   

-   

-   

  (only for Entertainment content, no access to Sport section) 

Maximum video resolution   

 

HD (1080p)  

HD (1080p) 

HD (1080p) 

HD (1080p) 

HD (1080p) 

Downloads available for offline viewing 

 

  (only for VOD content, not live streaming) 

 (only for VOD content, not live streaming) 

 (only for VOD content, not live streaming) 

 

Data saving settings 

 

Tuesday, July 9, 2024

Court dismiss Balobedu Royal Council's urgent interdict to prevent MultiChoice and M-Net's Queen Modjadji drama series from starting Sunday on Mzansi Magic.


by Thinus Ferreira

MultiChoice and M-Net's Queen Modjadji drama series will start this Sunday night on Mzansi Magic (DStv 161) as originally scheduled after the Balobedu Royal Council's court application to interdict its airing failed in court on Tuesday afternoon.

The Balobedu Royal Council tried to block Queen Modjadji from being broadcast, although MultiChoice and M-Net were sure that the interdict would not be granted to keep the Rhythm World Productions drama series from airing. Advocate Louis Kok represented the Balobedu Royal Council.

The Gauteng High Court in Pretoria on Tuesday afternoon dismissed the Balobedu Royal Council's application. Advocate Terry Motau SC represented MultiChoice.

Rain Queen Masalanabo Modjadi is represented by the Balobedu Royal Council who opposes MultiChoice and M-Net's making of the series, although Prince Lekukela Modjadji who is represented by the Modjadji Royal Council decided to work with MultiChoice and M-Net to produce the multi-million rand Queen Modjadji series. 

Although a broadcaster or production company is not obliged to consult or even employ researchers for the creation of a fictional work of art – even if based on, or inspired by real-life people or events – MultiChoice, M-Net and Rhythm World Productions did pay for research and consultation with tribal leaders, academic experts and other stakeholders to make Queen Modjadji.

Queen Modjadji the series is inspired by the first legendary Queen Modjadji, whose bloodline ruled has ruled Southern Africa’s Lobedu clan for centuries.

Motau argued that "even if a fictional drama series based over 200 years ago can be said to engage the rights of the applicants, the applicants have set out no evidence at all that the series will cause any harm".

"If it's not clear to audiences from this alone that the series is a work of fiction, although historically inspired, then also at the start of each episode the following wording is shown: 'HISTORICAL DRAMA INSPIRED BY TRUE EVENTS'. A longer disclaimer also follows at the end of each episode."

Judge Jacques Minnaar who dismissed the Balobedu Royal Council's interdict application, said a work of fiction won't infringe on the rights or dignity of the Balobedu.

"They knew about the series as early as June 2023. Instead, they waited for the production to be completed. It's difficult for the court to comprehend how the rights of the queen will be infringed by this work of fiction and in essence the matter lacks a sense of urgency. The matter is struck off the roll," Judge Jacques Minnaar said.

MultiChoice in response to the court decision, says it "welcomes the ruling from the Pretoria High Court dismissing the urgent application by the Balobedu Royal Council to stop the broadcast of the Queen Modjadji series".

"We undertook the necessary protocols and extensive consultations with cultural experts as part of the production process. The production of Queen Modjadji plays a pivotal role as it impacts the economy, job creation and livelihoods within the industry."

MultiChoice reiterated that "The story is inspired by the Balobedu legendary rainmaker, the first Queen Modjadji, and we are excited for our customers to go on the journey of this thoroughly researched African story."


Paramount Africa's Queendom on BET shut down with cast and crew unpaid by Clive Morris Productions as MultiChoice's Showmax also gives Empini to another producer.


by Thinus Ferreira

With the casts and crews who went unpaid for months, filming has abruptly ended on Paramount Africa's Queendom produced by Clive Morris Productions which is out of money for it, with MultiChoice that has now also taken away Empini done for its Showmax streamer from the same production company over the same issues.

In recent years Clive Morris Productions struggled to pay the cast and crew of the now-cancelled The Estate on SABC3 which led to production shutdowns, as well as the cast and crew of the now-cancelled Isono telenovela for Paramount Africa's BET (DStv 129) channel.

Earlier this year the cast and crew of the new Empini telenovela for MultiChoice's Showmax streamer, as well as the cast and crew of Paramount Africa's Queendom telenovela, also for the BET channel, first went unpaid, and then got paid late by executive producers Khayelihle Dominique and Clive Morris.

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

April was however the last time Clive Morris Productions paid the cast and crew, with TVwithThinus that established that the non-payment eventually led to an entire production shutdown of Queendom a month ago.

With no money available to continue the film the show, or to pay the cast and crew what they're owed, the future of Queendom is now in complete limbo.

While BET Africa is broadcasting new episodes on weekdays of Queendom, the last time the show's cast and crew got paid was 26 April. 

According to insiders "sitting cold" at home, production and filming of Queendom stopped over a month ago. Neither Paramount Africa nor Clive Morris Productions decided to make any announcement in order to try and keep the production shutdown and the reason for it under wraps to limit reputational damage.

Natalie Mdladla on Tuesday, in response to a media query, admitted that "BET is aware of payment delays by Clive Morris Productions to cast and crew of Queendom".

"Queendom is a co-production, with BET responsible for half of the investment, which has been fulfilled by BET Africa."

"However, Clive Morris Productions (CMP) has encountered difficulties in securing their share of the co-funding, resulting in the delayed payments to our valued cast and crew. We are engaging with CMP, including cast and crew, to urgently resolve the matter," she said.

The last time Clive Morris Productions paid the Queendom cast was 26 April. 

According to insiders who worked on the show, they then continued to work during May, expecting payment at the end of May. When that didn't happen, early in June, the cast and crew collectively decided not to report for work from Monday 3 June, which led to the complete production shutdown of Queendom.

The cast and crew are all however all still under contract, have not been released and while they're not getting paid and waiting for months of unpaid salaries to be deposited into their bank accounts to settle their own debts they had to make to buy food and pay bills, they can't accept other work.

BET and Clive Morris Productions owe the Queendom cast and crew at least a May salary and a June salary, with this month's July salary which is also contractually due since Paramount Africa and CMP have signed agreements with the workers.

Clive Morris Productions sent the cast and crew three letters promising payments which never materialised.

"It's been a long time [since we were paid]," a producer said. 

"1 June was a Saturday. Collectively the decision was made that nobody will be reporting for work from 3 June. The status quo at the moment is that we are expecting that the May salary and June salary and how every many days in July that we work until termination of the contract, are still due to be paid," he said.

"It's a precarious situation that we find ourselves in. The heartbreaking part of this is that there are real people at the end of this crisis. One of our crew members has lost a parent and is now unable to participate meaningfully in the burial of the parent because funeral policies have lapsed through no fault of their own."


'Little breathing room' not accepted as rent
Earlier this month Clive Morris sent a message to the Queendom cast and crew, saying "I understand everyone is angry, and deservedly so".

"We have let you down and whatever the reason, doesn't help to put things right or make you feel better. I am happy to take it on the chin and accept the rocks thrown at me."

"What I can tell you is that we're not sitting on the money and deciding not to pay people, we are actively working non-stop to get the funding to pay everyone."

"We may have paid late in the past for various reasons out of our control, but we have never not paid anyone. Everyone will be paid and we are asking for a little breathing room so we can focus on finding the funds as soon as possible."

A Queendom cast member said "unfortunately a little breathing room isn't accepted as rent or as car payments".

Another insider said: "In all my years it's something I've never encountered".

"Typically shows like telenovelas and soaps are commissioned by TV channels and financed 100% by the channel. Queendom wasn't."

"Clive Morris Productions entered into a deal where an onus was on them to raise a significant portion of the production costs, which are far too onerous for most producers."

"The fact that we haven't been paid is a testament to exactly how overly onerous those conditions were. Very few production companies, if any, would be able to raise that capital for a show of this size like Queendom."

"I had never heard of such an arrangement in the context of a telenovela. They exist for films or a very short miniseries. Prior to any minute of any footage being filmed all the money should have been in the bank. That wasn't the case, hence we find ourselves in the position we're in."

Empini that Clive Morris Productions produced for MultiChoice's Showmax has now also been ripped away and reallocated to another production company. 

Showmax confirmed to me on Tuesday that all Empini staff have been paid and that Clive Morris Productions is no longer producing Empini for the streaming service.

"Empini is one of Showmax's most-watched series at the moment," the video streaming service told TVwithThinus on Tuesday in response to a media query.

"We place a high value on the welfare of cast and crew in all our productions. MultiChoice has been in ongoing communication with Clive Morris Productions following production challenges being raised with us."

"To ensure the continuation of Empini, especially given its huge popularity with our subscribers, a new production house is in the process of being appointed. We can confirm that all cast and crew have been paid."

Besides the Queendom cast waiting for payment from BET and Clive Morris Productions, the cast and crew of e.tv's cancelled Nikiwe are also still waiting for payment from the producers of Parental Advisory Productions who have gone to ground. 

Production for the cast and crew of SABC2's Muvhango also abruptly ended on 15 June after the SABC failed to renew the Word of Mouth Productions contract for a 26th season.


Queen Modjadji: Interdict to block MultiChoice from airing rainmaker TV series heard today.


by Thinus Ferreira

MultiChoice and M-Net are confident that the premiere broadcast of the new Balobedu-inspired drama series Queen Modjadji will go ahead this Sunday on Mzansi Magic (DStv 161) and that an urgent interdict won't be granted today to the Balobedu Royal Council trying to block it from airing.




In a Game of Thrones-like political skirmish, Rain Queen Masalanabo Modjadi is represented by the Balobedu Royal Council who opposes MultiChoice and M-Net's making of the series. 

Prince Lekukela Modjadji is however represented by the Modjadji Royal Council and worked with MultiChoice and M-Net to produce the Queen Modjadji series. 

The Balobedu in-fighting and legal battle has been waging for years following the council's decision in 2021 to give Prince Lekukela Modjadji the crown to the kingdom instead of to his sister Princess Masalanabo Modjadji, with this feud which caused a ripple effect on the making of Queen Modjadi as a fictional TV series.

A broadcaster or production company is not obliged to consult or even employ researchers for the creation of a fictional work of art – even if based on, or inspired by real-life people or events – but MultiChoice, M-Net and Rhythm World Productions did pay for research and consultation with tribal leaders, academic experts and other stakeholders to make Queen Modjadji.

Queen Modjadji the series is inspired by the first legendary Queen Modjadji, whose bloodline ruled has ruled Southern Africa’s Lobedu clan for centuries and is produced by Rhythm World Productions.

The drama series stars Makoma Mohale as the title character Maselekwani, as well as an ensemble cast including Mudi Mudau, Putla Sehlapelo, Priscilla Raboroko and Moses Raseleke as the royal healer.

The Balobedu Royal Council in Limpopo has now brought an urgent application for an interdict of the Duma Ndlovu-produced series and claims that Queen Modjadji as a fictional drama series will undermine and marginalise the Khelobedu language and Balobedu people. 

Chief Gabriel Rasebotsa brought an application to the High Court in Pretoria to prevent MultiChoice and M-Net from airing Queen Modjadji.

"The Balobedu Royal Council was not consulted and the Queen was not consulted. We have been undermined by the Apartheid government, " Rasebotsa said to SABC News.

"The attire to be displayed in the documentary does not represent the Balobedu attire. The use of the Ndebele, Zulu and Xhosa attire constitutes a misrepresentation which – within the cultural context, where unique traditions and symbols are pivotal to the cultural heritage – constitute and insults me and the people of the Balobedu Royal Nation."

MultiChoice says "there is no factual or legal basis for the application. We are confident that the court will dismiss the case and that viewers will not be deprived of the opportunity of watching this epic story, inspired by the Balobedu legendary rainmaker, the first Queen Modjadji".

Advocate Terry Motau SC represents MultiChoice.

Similar to the roll-out of the first season of Shaka Ilembe also inspired by the legend of Shaka Zulu and which had a premiere screening and media launch event at Monte Casino in Johannesburg last year, MultiChoice and M-Net are planning a similar premiere screening and media event for Thursday evening for the debut of Queen Modjadji at the same large cinema venue with VIP guests.


Monday, July 8, 2024

e.tv ends Power-UP! rerun channel on Openview it started as a workaround for Eskom electricity blackouts.

by Thinus Ferreira

Openview and e.tv today removed the Power-UP! TV channel from its satellite TV service channel line-up, a year and a half after Power-UP! was started in January 2023 as a rerun channel to give viewers another chance to see content due to South Africa's crippling Eskom electricity blackouts called "loadshedding".

Openview viewers got no advance warning about Power-UP!'s removal. eMedia started Power-UP! as a linear content repeat channel to give viewers a second windowing opportunity to see a repeat of content they would have missed due to a lack of electricity to keep a TV set on.

In an announcement, e.tv said that "With recent improvements in power stability, Openview announces discontinuing the Power-UP! channel (channel 114 on Openview) from Monday 8 July 2024".

Marlon Davids, managing director of channels, says "We are thankful to our viewers for their ongoing support. Your engagement has been invaluable, and we are excited to bring you an even more thrilling prime-time experience. Our commitment to providing nonstop entertainment has always been unwavering and will continue to be so".


Skydance Media to buy Paramount Global.


by Thinus Ferreira

Skydance Media of David Ellison, the son of Oracle founder Larry Ellison, has clinched a deal to buy Paramount Global with David Ellison who will become chairman and CEO while the former NBCUniversal CEO Jeff Shell will become Paramount Global president.

Jeff Shell abruptly left NBCUniversal last year when his inappropriate relationship with a female staffer was revealed. 

The "New Paramount" and Skydance merger deal is subject to American regulatory approval which will take several months to complete, with the deal expected to close in the first half of 2025.

Paramount Global has divisions like CBS, Paramount Pictures, the streaming service Paramount+ and TV channels ranging from BET, MTV, Comedy Central and Nickelodeon. 

It includes regional offices around the world like Paramount Africa with offices in South Africa and Nigeria running regionalised versions of its linear TV channels that carries localised  African content.

In a statement, Shari Redstone says "In 1987, my father, Sumner Redstone, acquired Viacom and began assembling and growing the businesses today known as Paramount Global. He had a vision that 'content was king' and was always committed to delivering great content for all audiences around the world".

"That vision has remained at the core of Paramount's success and our accomplishments are a direct result of the incredibly talented, creative, and dedicated individuals who work at the company. Given the changes in the industry, we want to fortify Paramount for the future while ensuring that content remains king."

"Our hope is that the Skydance transaction will enable Paramount's continued success in this rapidly changing environment. As a longtime production partner to Paramount, Skydance knows Paramount well and has a clear strategic vision and the resources to take it to its next stage of growth. We believe in Paramount and we always will."

David Ellison in the statement says "This is a defining and transformative time for our industry and the storytellers, content creators and financial stakeholders who are invested in the Paramount legacy and the longevity of the entertainment economy."

"I am incredibly grateful to Shari Redstone and her family who have agreed to entrust us with the opportunity to lead Paramount. We are committed to energizing the business and bolstering Paramount with contemporary technology, new leadership and a creative discipline that aims to enrich generations to come."