Wednesday, September 27, 2023

7de Laan actor David Rees 'bravely battling on in ICU' after return to hospital following lung infection.

by Thinus Ferreira

The 7de Laan actor David Rees is back in hospital just a week after he was released, following another setback after a heart operation.

His spokesperson Corlia Strauss says David Rees is "bravely battling on in ICU" - back in an intensive care unit at hospital after his quadruple heart surgery and this time due to a lung infection and an irregular heartbeat.

"David Rees remains in ICU, persistently battling towards recovery. The road has been arduous and David is keenly anticipating his return home," she says.

The actor, known for his role as Chris Welman in the SABC2 soap 7de Laan and Niek Naude in M-Net's Egoli, suffered a heart attack on 30 July and underwent quadruple heart bypass surgery a week later on 7 August.

It's unlikely that he'll be back to film 7de Laan's final episodes, with the cancelled long-running soap which is currently filming the last of its episodes and will shutter on 24 October at Sasani Studios. The final episode will air on SABC2 on the day after Christmas on 26 December.

The actor doesn't have a medical aid. 

His sister Monique Buttle created a "David Rees Medical Expenses" page on BackaBuddy that has reached a total of close to R90 000 to help pay for his massive medical expenses.

"David's journey to full recovery is still underway, making the need for financial assistance more critical than ever," Corlia says. "Each donation, no matter the amount, is a precious act of kindness with profound significance."

Tuesday, September 26, 2023

Storms: TV presenter forced to flee Franschhoek mudslide.

by Thinus Ferreira

The TV presenter Marciel Hopkins and her husband Handrรจ Lourens had to flee from a massive mudslide together with the other guests staying at the Mont Martre estate next to the Franschhoek pass after the mudslide engulfed their chalet and the wedding venue.

Due to the extremely adverse weather coupled with torrential rain affecting the Western and Eastern Cape provinces, water and mud started to flood into Mont Martre high on the northern slopes of the Franschhoek Mountains, with Marciel and her husband who had to evacuate their chalet, along with other guests at the estate at 06:00 yesterday morning. 

Marciel is known as the face of the Afrikaans reality farmer matchmaking show Boer Soek 'n Vrou on kykNET (DStv 144) and is also a presenter on the weekly entertainment magazine show Bravo!.

Marciel, now staying at another guest house in Franschhoek, explains that the couple had to escape over the balcony with their bags just before 06:00 "when we had to evacuate our accommodation in Franchhoek when the water and mud started flowing through our little homes".

"The owner informed us that a mudslide is going through the chalets. We had to climb over the balcony with bags in PT shorts since the front doors were shut from mud. Not how you plan on starting your public holiday. My heart breaks for people whose homes and businesses have been totally flooded and destroyed by water coming from the river mountains."

"Just last night it rained 100mm and doesn't stop. Every road in Franschhoek has been flooded so nobody can get in or out of the town - everyone's stuck! We're drinking coffee barefoot at the cooperation and praying hard that the rain subsides and that those in dire need will find safety!" 

Showing photos of the couple's Mont Martre chalet on her Instagram page, Marciel says the mudslide from the mountain slammed through every chalet and Mont Martre's wedding venue. 

"My heart is so unbelievably broken for the owners. The Robertsvlei road is now open to drive in and out of Franschhoek but the main road is still closed and flooded."

Angry SABC2 viewers joining public protest to demand reversal of 7de Laan cancellation.

by Thinus Ferreira

Furious 7de Laan fans will protest this coming Thursday over the SABC's shocking decision to cancel the long-running SABC2 soap with a petition which will be handed to SABC executives demanding that the public broadcaster keep the show on the air.

The 7de Laan MyNou - Amptelik group, which has more than half a million followers on Facebook, is organising a public protest for 28 September at 10:00 at Campus Square Auckland Park in Johannesburg saying that 7de Laan "cannot pay for corruption at the SABC".

The public protest against the SABC's cancellation of 7de Laan will be supported by the GOOD political party.

The SABC abruptly cancelled the Danie Odendaal Productions show in July, saying that it can no longer pay to keep SABC2's second most-watched show on the air, with the final episodes being filmed until 24 October at Sasani Studios in Johannesburg. 

The final 7de Laan episode is set to air on SABC2 the day after Christmas - 26 December.

7de Laan was forced to shut down production earlier this month for three days over non-payment from the SABC. 

The SABC made another partial payment after news of the production shutdown became known, but the broadcaster still owes Danie Odendaal Productions millions of rand. The SABC posted another annual loss of R1.1 billion for the 2022/2023 financial year.

According to the SABC, 7de Laan needs double the viewers and should cost half the money the production costs to make, to remain on the air.

7de Laan had 1.052 million viewers in August on SABC2. That was more viewers than anything watched on MultiChoice's DStv last month, as well as more viewers and a higher TV ratings and audience share than anything watched on SABC3 last month 

According to Caroline Phalakatshela, SABC publicist, "We have received news about a petition but the decision taken is a business decision aligned to audience viewership and the financial state of the business".

"The fact that SABC2 cannot afford to continue carrying a drama such as 7de Laan due to the accumulative costs and the dropped viewership numbers still remains. The show would need to double in audience numbers and also drop in the production costs to realise a positive return on investment. This we don’t see happening in the next few months as the channel has been monitoring this programme for the past years."

A "Red 7de Laan" petition on has racked up over 38 000 signatories and comments by Monday since it was started in July by Jermaine Christians, urging the SABC to renew 7de Laan, and saying that its cancellation would lead to job losses, and that "shutting the door of an award-winning soap with millions of viewers doesn't make sense".

Kayleen Bessit, 7de Laan publicist, told me that the show is aware of the public protest action being planned over the SABC's cancellation of the show.

"The planned protest of 7de Laan fans shows 7de Laan's significant impact on South Africa. We're deeply touched by their determination and conviction to get the SABC to reverse its cancellation decision and immensely thankful for the unwavering support of all the fans."

SABC's cutting down of shows not the way to go
In response to a media query about 7de Laan's cancellation, the SOS Coalition, a public pressure group supporting public broadcasting in South Africa, told TVwithThinus that the "SABC's audience growth is dependent on compelling content that speaks to the needs and interests of the people of South Africa".

"Good and quality locally produced shows are the only way it will be able to retain a good audience base that will also be beneficial for increasing revenue - given that advertising is the only stream that is currently sustaining the SABC," says Uyanda Siyotula, SOS Coalition national coordinator.

"The cutting down of shows that showcase South Africa's diversity and build social cohesion is not the way to go. The SABC needs to reappropriate its budgeting accordingly. More money needs to be invested into the production of local content. Currently, that is not the case - salaries have a bigger budget than content." 

"Commercial and community broadcasters, pay-TV and on-demand platforms are competing for the same audiences and also produce local content. If these audiences leave the SABC, there is no coming back. It is not ideal for the SABC to be cutting down on shows that set it apart."

"If the SABC continues on this trail it will risk losing the loyal viewers that it has. Once the SABC loses more viewers, it will plunge into an even bigger loss. This will also indicate failure to deliver on its mandate as this show brings people of different ethnic groups and races together".

Wednesday, September 20, 2023

Idols, The Voice SA, SA's Got Talent and Strictly revived for SA's free-to-air viewers, Masked Singer SA renewed for 2 more seasons.

by Thinus Ferreira

Strictly Come Dancing SA and SA's Got Talent are being revived for new free-to-air audiences, with The Masked Singer SA renewed for a further two seasons, Deal or No Deal SA getting a second season, while both The Voice SA and the long-running Idols that ran out of steam on pay-TV is getting free-to-air oxygen.

Like it did last September for the first time, Primedia on Monday held another of its so-called "PrimeX" events where it touted some format reality shows that its expanding Primedia Studios is planning to bring to South African television.

As part of its growing entertainment content slate of reality competition and shiny floor shows, Primedia Studios has renewed The Masked Singer SA on SABC3 for another two seasons, renewed Deal or No Deal SA for a second season, is reviving SA's Got Talent that was on, is reviving The Voice SA that was on M-Net for a free-to-air audience, and is also taking over Idols that was cancelled as a pay-TV show and bringing it to free-to-air viewers.

Similar to The Masked Singer SA and the revived Deal or No Deal SA that Primedia brought to SABC1 and SABC3 over the past year and announced in September last year, Primedia now plans to bring back and revilatise Strictly Come Dancing SA, SA's Got Talent, The Voice SA and also Idols that stalled on Mzansi Magic (DStv 161) and is in its final season on pay-TV.

Primedia only told some media about its PrimeX event held at Montecasino in Johannesburg with Primedia CEO Jonathan Procter and issued no press release on Monday after the event. 

According to insiders, while several shows were touted on stage, some of the contracts are not yet in place.

As part of the second PrimeX presentation, Anele Mdoda who produced The Masked Singer SA under her Rose and Oaks Media production banner, also did an interview on-stage with comedian Trevor Noah, while Deal or No Deal SA host Katlego Maboe also made an on-stage appearance.

Production company Rapid Blue did eight seasons of Strictly Come Dancing that aired on SABC2 and later SABC3 until 2015. In 2018 the format was revived and taken over by M-Net with Rapid Blue producing a single season for M-Net but rebranding it under the show's American moniker of Dancing with the Stars SA.

Now the show will return to free-to-air - very likely SABC3 - and again as Strictly Come Dancing as the British version is also known as.

After 18 seasons on M-Net, then on M-Net and Mzansi Magic jointly and then on Mzansi Magic, Idols will also move from pay-TV where the show got cancelled, to free-to-air - very likely SABC1 in order to give it the biggest potential new talent pool and TV audience. 

With massively declining audience ratings, on pay-TV, Idols that has run out of viewership steam, has barely reached 403 818 DStv subscribers who tuned in during August. 

In earlier seasons before a dramatic viewership decline set in that co-incided with judge Somizi Mhlongo who was engulfed in scandals, Idols brought close to and over a million viewers on Sunday evenings to DStv.

SA's Got Talent, also produced by Rapid Blue, saw eight very successful seasons  between 2009 and 2017 - the first two of which were on SABC2 after moving to from the third season onwards. It's likely that SA's Got Talent could now re-emerge on SABC2.

The Voice SA will also jump to cater to a new free-to-air audience after M-Net had the reality talent competition for three seasons between 2016 and 2019 and where Anele Mdoda served as host for the third and last season.

M-Net announces yet another rhino poaching South African drama series, Endangered - sends press release to South African media last.

by Thinus Ferreira

M-Net on Tuesday announced that it's doing yet another South African crime drama series and yet another South African rhino poaching drama series but South Africa's film and TV industry and the wider public had to read that in American media, with M-Net's media liaison PR division that sent the press release of the general announcement about a South African show to South African media last.

South African media covering television had to read in Variety, an American publication, that M-Net is doing another crime drama series, Endangered, based on the South African crime writer Rudie van Rensburg's novel, Piranha.

Variety touted the information from the general press release that was given to it, as "exclusive".

M-Net and MultiChoice will produce Endangered - yet another rhino drama like its Trackers - together with Strong Studios, Convergent Media and ForLan Films.

From just a very quick check-in with various journalists and publications on Tuesday, many said they don't feel like reporting about Endangered or using M-Net's general press release.

Several noted immediately that they felt M-Net is disrespecting them and that M-Net shows through its actions that it doesn't value media relationships or want to build and properly maintain South African media relationships with journalists, editors and publications.

"We all have the internet. We have internet in Africa. We see what's happening," one person said.

I also asked M-Net why it only sent out the press release - a general show announcement - only after the press release had already been given to and published by Variety

Nadine Moonsamy, M-Net publicist, confirmed that the press release was given to Variety as an exclusive. M-Net then sent the general press release to South African journalists after it was already published.

Nadine Moonsamy says M-Net was "only able to go live at 15:30". It's not clear why M-Net has apparently relegated South African media to second-tier status when general press releases about new South African shows are published in overseas media first. 

Like Trackers which M-Net has already done, Endangered will also "explore controversial rhino poaching, the crime syndicates that control it and police and conservationists trying to stop it". 

Endangered will be filmed in 2024.

Jake Riddell is the screenwriter of Endangered tracking veteran detective Kassie Kasselman, who aggressively pursues rhino poachers from the Cape ganglands to the Kruger national park and Pretoria, trying to stop a syndicate of criminal gangs and poachers.

Endangered is produced by ForLan Films' Steve Lanning and Jake Lanning, Advantage Entertainment's Vlokkie Gordon, Strong Global Entertainment's Kyle Cerminara, Strong Studios' David Ozer and Scott Weinstock; Convergent Media's Dan Reardon and Santosh Govindaraju, as well as M-Net's Nicola van Niekerk, and Wikus du Toit.

Georginah Machiridza, MultiChoice's head of general entertainment, in a supplied quote in the general press statement, says "Endangered represents a unique opportunity for MultiChoice to support a project that not only promises gripping storytelling but also addresses a pressing global concern. It's a testament to the power of storytelling to make a positive impact, and we're excited to share it with our audience."

Tuesday, September 19, 2023

Vodacom's new Enhance allows adding of game consoles and streamers to unified bill.

by Thinus Ferreira

Vodacom has launched "Enhance" for subscribers as a means to add things like gaming consoles, video streaming services and even phones and TV sets to their contracts in a unified monthly bill, whether it's for a subscriber or family members or friends.

According to Vodacom, Enhance allows contract customers to consolidate their bills by adding "as many products and services as possible" onto one unified bill. It's available to Vodacom customers and their families and friends, allowing them to pay it off over 24 or 36-month terms.

Vodacom says it is fast morphing from a pure telecommunications to a technology services company and is allowing customers to customise their contracts according to their lifestyle needs, especially in a world connected to the internet.

"As we transition from a telco to a technology player, we are bringing technological solutions that empower customers with a seamless and effortless experience, allowing them to focus on what truly matters in their lives," says Rishaad Tayob, Vodacom South Africa's consumer director.

"We are cognisant of the fact that in today's fast-paced world, consumers seek seamless solutions that make managing their daily lives easy. We believe that convenience is the ultimate sophistication.  In response, we have carefully designed Enhance to respond to the constant evolving lifestyle needs and behaviours of our customers."

Vodacom customers can add video streaming services like Netflix, MultiChoice's Showmax, Amazon Prime Video and Apple Music through the add-to-bill capability, can add Plug & Play Wifi and add UPS back-up offers to stay online during Eskom's loadshedding.

With Enhance it's also possible to add Sony PlayStations or a Microsoft Xbox for gamers, while fitness enthusiasts can add smart wearables to track and monitor their sports performance and health.

Warner Bros. Discovery's TNT ripped from StarTimes Media's StarSat without warning or any explanation.

by Thinus Ferreira

Warner Bros. Discovery's TNT channel has been ripped from subscribers of StarTimes Media's StarSat satellite pay-TV service without any prior warning, in the middle of a month, without any explanation.

TNT - one of the Warner Bros. Discovery TV channels available in South Africa to pay-TV subscribers of MultiChoice's DStv and StarTimes Media SA's StarSat - was abruptly taken down on StarSat last week on Thursday without any prior warning to subscribers who had already paid for it for the month, and without any explanation from Warner Bros. Discovery Africa, or StarSat.

Warner Bros. Discovery EMEA, through the BCW PR company representing WBD in Africa, was asked repeatedly since last week why its TNT channel was removed from StarTimes and StarSat in South Africa, but hasn't responded with any answer or explanation at the time of publication of this report on Tuesday morning.

StarSat was also asked why WBD's TNT channel went dark and why StarSat subscribers who had paid for the channel for September, got no warning that the channel was going to be removed. 

StarSat publicist Luyanda Cele didn't answer any of the questions but sent an image which StarSat posted to its Facebook social media page and said "please see the attached for your referral".

The image simply says "Unfortunately due to a sudden change in broadcasting rights, TNT is now exclusive to a competitor. StarSat may no longer broadcast the TNT channel to its viewers."

"StarSat would like to apologise to its customers for the inconvenience and regrets to inform them that the situation is beyond our control. StarSat is assessing options to replace the channel as soon as possible."

StarSat failed to respond to the question as to why paying StarSat subscribers were not given any prior warning or notification, since, if the reason is true, StarSat itself would have received prior notification from Warner Bros. Discovery that TNT was getting removed.

Pay-TV channels are hardly ever scrapped mid-month with channel distributors and pay-TV operators removing axed TV channels at the end of the month. 

Warner Bros. Discovery's silence and inability to answer a basic question about something that its executives looking after Africa knew was going to happen is also disgusting and shows a completely lack of respect and disdain to paying pay-TV customers. 

It would also be extremely weird if TNT did become an "exclusive" TV channel to MultiChoice's DStv platform since TNT isn't a premium category TV channel - it's an average general entertainment and movie channel with a lot of non-premium and repeat content and those types of TV channels on pay-TV line-ups are hardly ever exclusive.

Monday, September 18, 2023

Showmax adds Boetie Boer as 5-episode true-crime doc series from October about Port Elizabeth's notorious 1990s serial killer.

by Thinus Ferreira

MultiChoice's video streaming service Showmax continues to load up on true-crime documentary South African content and commissioned Boetie Boer: Inside the Mind of a Monster about a Gqeberha serial killer. 

The 5-episode documentary series is from Stage 5 Films and Fifth Floor Films, follows after true-crime documentaries like Devilsdorp and Rosemary's Hitlist.

Showmax once again gave the general show announcement press release about the series to the American outlet Deadline as an "exclusive" press release, before it will send the same general information to "announce" it to South African media in the coming week.

Boetie Boer: Inside the Mind of a Monster which will debut on 18 October, tells the story of the South African serial killer Stewart Wilken who murdered young children and prostitutes in the Port Elizabeth area during the 1990s and who was arrested in 1997.

Allan Sperling, Showmax head of content, says "Even if you are over 18 and a fan of true-crime documentaries, we strongly advise viewer discretion. This is not for sensitive viewers, especially hearing the description of the crimes in the killer's own words".

Monday, September 11, 2023

SOS Coalition: SABC's axing of multicultural 7de Laan damaging to democracy.

by Thinus Ferreira

The SOS Coalition says the South African public broadcaster's axing of the multicultural soap 7de Laan on SABC2 is bad for democracy and that the SABC's inability to pay local productions is a very big problem.

The SABC that is deep in the red financially and made another annual loss of R1.1 billion for the 2022/2023 financial year is struggling and juggling the payment of all its biggest shows, known as the "Big Five" - Uzalo, Generations, Skeem Saam, Muvhango and 7de Laan - with 7de Laan that got axed in July after the broadcaster can no longer afford to keep it on the air.

Last week Monday, Danie Odendaal Productions abruptly shut down filming of the show at Sasani Studios on the outstanding 45 episodes still to be delivered to the SABC over the broadcaster's failure to pay the producers which are owed millions of rand.

After the SABC found some more money to pay the show on Wednesday, production resumed on Thursday last week for the show that lost three whole production days in the time left on the contract until 24 October to film the remaining episodes. 

The final 7de Laan episode will be broadcast on SABC2 on 26 December but if the production loses more days before 24 October the show will have to end sooner due to fewer episodes.

"As the SOS Coalition we are deeply concerned that the financial crisis at the SABC is unfortunately affecting the production of local content," says Uyanda Siyotula, SOS Coalition coordinator.

"The grim state of the public broadcaster's finances has been made apparent by reports of the immediate shutdown of production on one of South Africa's longest-running television programmes, 7de Laan."

"Even though it has been reported that following partial payment by the SABC, Danie Odendaal Productions will resume production of 7de Laan until the final season is concluded in December as intended - the financial crisis remains worrisome."

"Media reports also revealed that the SABC is struggling to pay producers of some of their popular shows," Siyotula says.

"As the SOS Coalition, we are concerned about the impact this financial crisis will have on the local production sector. When the SABC cuts down on local content production, the detriments are not only limited to local producers but the creative industry at large, including actors and writers."

"Further, cutting down on programmes such as 7de Laan that kept citizens entertained by playing a critical role in promoting cultural diversity and fostering social cohesion, is a threat to our democracy."

The SOS Coalition says that "we have recently also witnessed how these financial constraints affected securing of the 2023 Rugby World Cup broadcasting rights."

"The SABC board must communicate with the public its plan to pull the SABC out of the financial crisis it finds itself in. There must be transparency and accountability from the SABC along with a way forward."