Saturday, April 4, 2020

Coronavirus: SABC adds the Steven Soderbergh 2011 thriller, Contagion, to SABC3 as the Sunday night film to show South Africa what could happen during a virus pandemic like Covid-19.

by Thinus Ferreira

As part of a quick-turnaround acquisition and programming move the South African public broadcaster on Friday decided to schedule the 2011 Steven Soderbergh horror/thriller film Contagion as the new Sunday night movie for SABC3 on 5 April 2020 at 21:30.

Contagion will start on Sunday at 21:30 on SABC3, with the film The Rewrite that would have started then, pushed to a new starting time of 23:30.

According to insiders who whispered to TVwithThinus, the Contagion scheduling order comes from SABC CEO Madoda Mxakwe himself, who personally requested all of the SABC's channels, including SABC1 and SABC2 to try and broadcast the film as part of an awareness effort to educate all South Africans about Covid-19 and what can happen when people don't heed best advice during a viral pandemic.

The Contagion promo line is "Nothing spreads like fear" and stars Laurence Fishburne, Matt Damon, Kate Winslet, Jude Law and Gwyneth Paltrow.

While average families suddenly fight to try and stay alive as society begins to unravel and collapse because of the onset and rapid spread of an extremely dangerous worldwide disease, desperate political leaders and scientists battle to try and find a vaccine.

Despite being over a decade old but with its newfound relevance, internationally Contagion has suddenly shot up in the charts of most-requested and most-watched films on the list of library movies on Amazon Prime Video and iTunes and is still in the number one spot after two weeks. Sharing on torrent sites of the film has also increased vastly worldwide.

The Contagion screenwriter Scott Z. Burns told Fortune magazine that "The similarities between our contagion and the coronavirus are immaterial, accidental, and really not that important. What is more important and accurate is the societal response and the spread of fear and the knock-on effects of that. That is proving to be accurate."

"When I originally pitched this idea to Steven Soderbergh, I said I wanted Contagion to be as grounded in science as it possibly could be. I I didn’t want to do a Hollywood disaster movie that played loose with the science. The heroes needed to be scientists."

Friday, April 3, 2020

Coronavirus: In new CNN special, Witness to the Pandemic, the TV news channel's correspondents share their personal experiences of covering the global Covid-19 pandemic.

by Thinus Ferreira

CNN International (DStv 401) will broadcast another special Covid-19 coronavirus documentary this weekend, Witness to the Pandemic, that will be broadcast on Saturday 4 April 2020 at 19:00 with a repeat on Sunday 5 April at 18:00 and give the first-hand perspectives on how CNN correspondents across the world have experienced covering the unfolding global medical and economic crisis.

As reports of a mysterious pneumonia-like virus spreading in the Chinese city of Wuhan surfaced in early January 2020, CNN correspondents around the world started tracking what we know today as novel coronavirus or Covid-19.

Now, as the number of confirmed cases of coronavirus infections surpasses 1 million and with more than 50,000 deaths worldwide, Witness to the Pandemic will look at how the world got here through the eyes of the CNN correspondents reporting on this unprecedented global crisis.

"I think it's really hard to compare what is happening now to just about any story that I've covered over the last 20 years," says CNN’s chief medical correspondent Dr Sanjay Gupta, who has been at the forefront of CNN’s coverage of Covid-19.

"Unlike a conflict or a natural disaster, this obviously is continuing for a long time and has fundamentally changed the way of life, I think, for everybody on the planet."

CNN's David Culver, Nectar Gan, Paula Hancocks, Will Ripley, Kristie Lu Stout and Ivan Watson all reported extensively on the spread of this virus across Asia, visiting field hospitals and businesses, interviewing residents, business owners, quarantined cruise passengers and health care workers including the Wuhan whistleblower Dr Li Wenliang shortly before he died from coronavirus.

In January CNN sent a team including David Culver to the epicentre of the coronavirus outbreak in Wuhan before Chinese authorities placed the city of 11 million people on a partial lockdown.

"I remember looking around thinking: 'This feels like the same mood ahead of a hurricane coming, where you're in the projected path. You don't know how bad it's going to be and how long it's going to last. But you know it's coming.' And that's the same sentiment that I felt walking around Wuhan," says David Culver.

As the virus began to spread to Europe, CNN’s Ben Wedeman covered the first major outbreak of coronavirus in northern Italy, while Al Goodman reported on the spike in cases in Spain and Max Foster covered the impact in the United Kingdom.

"What's different about this story is that unlike covering wars where you could see the enemy, with this story it's invisible," says Ben Wedeman. "You cannot see the germs spreading, so it's a whole different level of danger of risk involved."

The first major deadly outbreak of the coronavirus in the United States happened in Washington state, just a few miles down the road from the city of Seattle in a place called Kirkland.

CNN's Sara Sidner travelled to Kirkland not long after it was discovered that someone had died from coronavirus and several more were dealing with some kind of terrible respiratory problem inside of a nursing home, which is now tied to 35 Covid-19 related deaths.

On the global business front, CNN’s Julia Chatterley tracked the stocks, sectors and indicators most affected by the pandemic from New York, speaking to economists, market analysts and business leaders about how people will be able to financially survive this economic crisis.

"I had an early sense that some form of economic crisis would come from the health crisis, once you see that happening all around the world. The risk that it became a financial crisis, and as we're starting to see now, a jobs crisis too," says Julia Chatterley.

"The speed at which this has happened is also what makes this so dramatic. It's unlike anything we've ever seen before. The real heroes are those on the front lines saving lives and we have to do everything we can I think to tell their story and acknowledge these are people that are at times giving their lives to save others."

"They're the heroes of this story, not us. We're just here to tell theirs."

MultiChoice abruptly shuts down and deletes its existing DStv press portal for the media during Covid-19 coronavirus crisis without warning.

by Thinus Ferreira

MultiChoice on Thursday 2 April 2020 abruptly shut down and deleted its DStv press portal where it has been hosted without bothering to warn or tell the media beforehand anything about it or what they need to do now.

TVwithThinus still access MultiChoice's DStv press portal hosted at on Wednesday afternoon, and again on Wednesday night but by Thursday morning it was suddenly gone and deleted.

The login page, saved as a browser favourite simply returning a "404 Not Found" page without any explanation as to what happened or what's going on, causing massive stress and confusion under several in the media who are dependend on using the site to report and communicate about content on DStv's satellite pay-TV platform.

MultiChoice, unilaterally and without bothering to tell the media, dumped its DStv press portal without giving the press in South Africa no advance warning that it's shutting down its press portal, nor what they have to do,or any explanation why.

The user group - including journalists and editors online, working at newspapers, magazines, in radio and TV, and covering television and ranging from TV writers, TV critics, DJs and social media influencers - received no advance warning from MultiChoice that it is shutting down its press portal, nor what they have to do, or any explanation why.

It's unclear whether the DStv press portal contract termination - possibly the latest misguided and short-sighted cost-cutting measure inside MultiChoice - was ordered by Calvo Mawela, MultiChoice Group CEO, or Mark Rayner, MultiChoice South Africa CEO.

The ordered DStv press portal shutdown and resultant shock, fear and chaos under the media who had no idea that it would be happening and got no communication from MultiChoice about it, comes during a particularly sensitive time in South Africa with the growing Covid-19 novel coronavirus pandemic spreading in the country and globally and where the media in all spheres requires better and more communication - not less - than ever before.

The DStv press portal that already migrated to a new site once before, hosts an extremely precious and valuable archive  - constantly updated - that is a precious and highly-functional publicity material reservoir ranging from monthly schedules and highlight documents, show and cast publicity images, press releases and media statements, show and channel logos and a myriad of other useful information for channels ranging from Al Jazeera to Zee World.

Besides the information from third-part channels hosted on DStv, MultiChoice's DStv press portal carried information about all of M-Net's own packaged channels ranging from M-Net and Mzansi Magic, to 1Magic, to the carousels of M-Net Movies and kykNET channels.

In a instant on Thursday MultiChoice ripped it all away from South Africa's press without warning or any indication as to what they are supposed to do.

On Thursday TVwithThinus emailed and asked MultiChoice's corporate communications team headed by Joe Heshu, MultiChoice group executive for corporate affairs, and Reggy Moalusi, executive head of corporate affairs at MultiChoice South Africa, to please restore the DStv press portal.

They were told and reminded that the DStv poress portal is something that is crucially-important and used a lot by a lot of press in South Africa - many of whom won't yet realise that it's gone from where it used to be, with no idea of what's wrong when they suddenly and urgently need to access it.

TVwithThinus asked MultiChoice's communications team on Thursday - including MultiChoice SA CEO Mark Rayner and Yolisa Phahle, MultiChoice CEO for general entertainment, when the decision was made to remove and destroy the DStv press portal where it has been and where it has been hosted, and why this was not communicated to anybody who is highly dependent on it.

MultiChoice was also asked why the pay-TV operator decided to do away with the existing DStv press portal during such an extremely sensitive time and stressful period in South Africa due to the coronavirus pandemic when the South African government and others implored that as much information as possible be kept and made available to the media and the public.

By Friday afternoon at 14:00 there was no response yet from MultiChoice to any of the questions.

On Friday evening a MultiChoice representative in a phone call said that the DStv press portal has been moved to a new website. MultiChoice gave no explanation why this has happened or why it has been done, or why it has been done now.

It's unclear whether media knows they have to go to a new website, or have to take the time to register again. It's also highly unlikely that the richly populated publicity material, the "Latest News" section without having to search containing latest press releases and announcements, or archived material including monthly schedules and the vast collection of high-res images, will be available on a new site.

"If MultiChoice wanted to shut down or move the DStv press portal the very least they could have done would have been to inform the journalists and editors making use of it personally, and at least a month before the time. That is basic," a journalist and TV critic who uses the site constantly told TVwithThinus on Thursday evening.

"MultiChoice is absolutely beyond ridiculous".

Another user remarked: "I don't like the new one it's so empty".

Thursday, April 2, 2020

Coronavirus: Bollywood goes on a break as Indian TV channels Star Life, Zee World and Glow TV switch to series repeats because of Covid-19.

by Thinus Ferreira

With Bollywood in lockdown multiple shows seen in South Africa across several Indian TV channels have been affected by the spreading global Covid-19 novel coronavirus pandemic with series on channels ranging from Star Life, Zee World and Glow TV that have run out of new episodes and been replaced by repeats.

On Star Life (DStv 167  / StarSat 550 / Openview 110) all new shows have the schedule skids since the studios in India and South Africa and their filming, dubbing process and distribution operations have all shuttered as part of national lockdown periods in both countries.

Star Life switched to a binge-block rebroadcast schedule from 1 April 2020 of already-aired series for the next to months until at least the end of May 2020 with A Perfect Lie, Family Affairs, Kulfi, Made for Each Other and The Inseparables that all abruptly stopped airing new episodes.

Once new episodes become available, the last few aired episodes of these shows will repeat again before new episodes are possibly shown. Star Life continues to show daily Bollywood films at 15:00

The Star Life prime time schedule has now changed to two episodes daily of The Crossroads at 18:00 until 19:00, followed by 5 consecutive episodes daily of Forever Yours until 21:30, and then 3 episodes daily of Chasing My Heart between 21:30 and 23:00.

With production and international content distribution from within India shut down, on Zee World (DStv 166) the just-started Jodha & Akbar has been removed from the schedule indefinitely. The telenovela Ring of Fire has also been removed and replaced by a rebroadcast of Gangaa at 20:00 with Jodha & Akbar replaced by a rebroadcast of Twist of Fate at 21:00.

A repeat of Mehek has replaced Lies of the Heart on weekdays at 17:00, while Lies of the Heart at 22:00 is a rebroadcast of the series.

New episodes are still available for the recently started Our Perfect Place broadcast daily at 18:00 in its usual timeslot and the second season of Deception which continue daily in the 19:00 timeslot.

The schedule of Glow TV (StarSat 570 / Openview 140) has also been dramatically impacted by the global Covid-19 national lockdowns and the inability to get content out of India.

Glow TV has switched to a programming strategy for now of repeats of the past two week's episodes of its Indian series True Love, This is Love and Young Love.

Coronavirus: Nat Geo's Genius Aretha postponed, FOX's Empire cut short without proper series finale, and M-Net's Billions and Black Monday getting mid-season breaks.

by Thinus Ferreira

As the impact of the spread of the global Covid-19 novel coronavirus increases in countries from the United States to South Africa more American-produced TV series are having to adjust with the shutdown of the TV industry now impacting National Geographic's Genius: Aretha, Showtime's Billions and Black Monday, and with FOX's Empire that will no longer have a proper series finale.

The biographical series, Genius: Aretha, with Cynthia Erivo in the lead role has been postponed and will no longer start in late-May 2020 on National Geographic (DStv 181 / StarSat 220) since the Fox21 Television Studios and Imagine Television Studios production shut down on 13 March with filming which hadn't completed. No new starting date exists.

"Production on National Geographic’s limited series Genius: Aretha remains suspended and it has become clear that the series will not be completed in time for our previously announced airdate," says National Geographic in a statement.

"We look forward to resuming work as soon as is possible and safe, and at that time will announce a new premiere date for later this year."

"We cannot wait to let Aretha's voice sing, and in the words of the Queen herself, 'Being the Queen is not all about singing, and being a diva is not all about singing. It has much to do with your service to people. And your social contributions to your community and your civic contributions as well.' "

"In that spirit, we wish all of our viewers well in these challenging times, particularly those who are working in our communities to keep us all safe."

Meanwhile FOX (DStv 125 / StarSat 131) already announced that it has been forced to postpone the 10th season finale of The Walking Dead zombie drama series.

AMC already pushed out the starting date of the spinoff series, Walking Dead: World Beyond that would have started on 12 April directly after the 10th season finale of The Walking Dead, also because of the coronavirus pandemic. AMC said that Walking Dead: World Beyond will now start "later this year". This series will be shown on SundanceTV (DStv 108) in South Africa.

Preproduction on the 11th season of The Walking Dead was already postponed as well.

Empire, with episodes of the 6th and final season currently on Thursdays at 20:45 on FOX (DStv 125 / StarSat 131) will also now end two episodes earlier with episode 18 on 7 May 2020 in South Africa instead of episode 20.

South African viewers are two weeks behind the United States and will see the 14th episode next week, with the promo for next week's 16th episode of Empire in America suddenly saying "Get ready for the shocking final three episodes of Empire", meaning that the series with Taraji P. Henson will end with the 18th episode.

The latest season of the Showtime drama series Billions (on M-Net (DStv 101) and Showmax) and Black Monday on 1Magic (DStv 103) haven't completed filming. The 5th season of Billions will show the first 7 episodes, and the second season of Black Monday will start but then end mid-season, with the rest of the episodes of both series that will be broadcast later.

Tuesday, March 31, 2020

Coronavirus: Nickelodeon to broadcast a global KidsTogether: The Nickelodeon Town Hall to offer a kid's-eye view of Covid-19.

by Thinus Ferreira

The Nickelodeon (DStv 305) channel will broadcast a special KidsTogether: The Nickelodeon Town Hall globally including South Africa and across Africa with actress Kristen Bell as the host to give a kid's-eye view of life amidst the growing Covid-19 novel coronavirus pandemic.

The hourlong special includes a performance by Alicia Keys and appearances by Charli D'Amelio, Josh Gad, Kel Mitchell, Kenan Thompson, and Ciara and Russell Wilson, as well as two American doctors.

A broadcast date for KidsTogether: The Nickelodeon Town Hall isn't available yet for ViacomCBS Networks Africa's Nickelodeon channel that runs in South Africa and sub-Saharan Africa.

KidsTogether: The Nickelodeon Town Hall will directly address kids' questions and concerns about the virus, and include tips and insights from medical experts on ways to be healthy. It will also have first-person accounts from kids and families in the United States who are social distancing and making changes to their everyday lives and relationships.

Dr Nadine Burke Harris, California's surgeon general, and Dr Vivek H. Murthy, a former US surgeon general will also appear.

"It's so important to remember that we are all in this together and our kids and loved ones need outlets to help them process and understand what's going on and, most importantly, to still feel connected," says Kristen Bell.

"I hope kids and families come away from this special, feeling a little more comfortable and that they enjoy some much-needed moments of humour during this difficult time."

The KidsTogether: The Nickelodeon Town Hall is part of Nickelodeon's new global initiative that launched on 18 March 2020, using Nickelodeon's most popular characters and talent to engage with kids and families on tips for staying healthy and also ideas for activities to do together while in the home during the Covid-19 pandemic.

Characters used include SpongeBob SquarePants, Blue's Clues & You!, Henry Danger, Bubble Guppies and The Casagrandes.

Coronavirus: National Geographic Society launches an emergency fund for journalists worldwide who want to cover the Covid-19 pandemic within their own communities.

by Thinus Ferreira

The National Geographic Society has launched an international emergency fund for journalists worldwide who want to cover the Covid-19 novel coronavirus pandemic within their own communities.

The National Geographic Society will review proposals that it receives for journalists and people who want to do citizen journalism on an ongoing basis. The work must be in English and journalists need to be at least 18 years old and older.

"In the most difficult of times, journalism can play several roles in supporting communities around the globe. It can disseminate critical information to keep people safe and informed, it can illuminate stories that bring us hope and remind us of our shared human experience, and it can help us find and share solutions to wicked problems," says National Geographic.

"As Covid-19 continues to evolve and impact communities around the globe, the National Geographic Society is launching an emergency fund for journalists all over the world who wish to cover Covid-19 within their own communities."

"This fund will place particular emphasis on delivering news to underserved populations, particularly where there is a dearth of evidence-based information getting to those who need it."

National Geographic says that the fund is designed to quickly deliver support so that both individual stories and longer series of content may be created.

The fund will distribute support ranging from $1000 to $8000 for local coverage of the preparation, response, and impact of this global pandemic as seen through evidence-based reporting.

"Beyond reporting on medical and physical health related to Covid-19, we especially encourage reporting that covers social, emotional, economic and equity issues. Narratives around the pandemic necessarily include facts and numbers, but ultimately, must also go deeper - telling the stories of inequities that Covid-19 has brought to light."

The National Geographic Society is looking for writers, photographers, videographers, audio journalists, cartographers, filmmakers, and data visualization experts who are all welcome to apply for this funding.

"Journalists should seek placement of this work within their local media ecosystems and must attribute their support to the National Geographic Society’s Emergency Fund for Journalists. National Geographic Society or National Geographic Partners may also choose to publish some of this work as part of its global coverage."

The reporting should cover any aspect of the virus and its fallout, including but not limited to, the social consequences of Covid-19 and measures to contain it, particularly related to equity - such as its impact on immigrant communities, domestic violence, and early childhood education.

The society is also looking for stories of resilience and solutions that could be applied on a regional or global scale, novel forms of data visualization or science communication to help communities better understand how to protect themselves, as well as lessons learned from local response(s) to Covid-19 that could be applied to other large-scale challenges, such as climate change or the refugee crisis.

Coronavirus: Ryan Serhant of Million Dollar Listing NY shares Covid-19 advice: 'The world right now is in a storm, go into the waves the same way professional swimmers do'.

by Thinus Ferreira

New York is eerily quiet and from the deserted middle of the city that used to never sleep, the real estate broker Ryan Serhant of the reality series Million Dollar Listing: New York is sharing very important advice as the global Covid-19 pandemic is shutting down the world as we knew it: Don't panic

While production on his show has shut down similar to basically all TV shows in the United States, the United Kingdom and even South Africa, sitting in his empty real estate office in Manhattan, the star of MDL: NY decided to share advice on how he weathers adversity in life for people who are scared, panicked, uncertain and who feel unhinged about what's going on and what they're supposed to do.

"I swim through the waves. Every time there is market movement, ruffles, downturns."

"There are a lot of waves in the oceans. The idea of a professional swimmer, swimming through the open ocean. Everyone swims well when there are no waves. Everyone's a great swimmer. Everyone can make perfect time. Everyone's awesome."

"But all of a sudden there's a storm. All of a sudden there are lots of waves. And a lot of those swimmers bounce out. A lot of those swimmers start flailing, losing energy, and they're going under the water."

"A lot of those swimmers try to go over the waves; they don't know what to do. They go underwater."

"The world right now is in a storm," says Ryan Serhant.

"We're in this insane storm and most people don't know what to do, so most people panic. And they are freaking out. Schools shut down, restaurants shut down, everywhere. People are getting sick. This is very real. This isn't a fake thing."

"Stay productive. The worst thing we can do right now is literally just staying on the couch and watch Netflix," he says.

"Anyone who's going to come out of this storm better than they were before the storm even hit, are going to go into the waves the same way professional swimmers do."

"What do the best professional swimmers do who swim in rough seas in the middle of a storm? They do 3 things. The first thing is they regulate their breathing. They make sure that they're not ha-ha-ha-ha-ha in a panic all the time."

"If the waves are coming from the right, they make sure they breathe to the left. If the waves are coming at them from the left they make sure they breathe to the right."

"They swim in accordance with the waves and they make sure that their breathing is okay - because if their breathing isn't okay, what happens when you're swimming into the waves, swimming into the storm? You end up with a stomach full of salt water."

"The second thing best swimmers do when they swim in a storm with huge waves is staying calm, keeping control of their breathing and treading water slowly, until they can figure out what to do, or until help comes to find them."

"If everyone is flailing their arms, what does that do? You can't control your breathing. Two - you lose all of your energy."

"The third thing is you have to keep moving. Keep control of your breathing, stay calm, and the way you swim through the waves is like a dolphin: You swim under the waves."

"That's what I'm doing here. I'm in the service industry. I'm a real estate broker. How many people do you think want to see homes right now? Not a lot. How many do you think are so excited that interest rates are so low right now that they want to go and spend money that they don't have?"

"How many people do you think are excited to be quarantined at home? Not a whole lot. It's a scary, scary time but I can't panic, I can't flail, I have to swim underneath the waves."

Monday, March 30, 2020

Coronavirus: MultiChoice adds the African Easter pop-up channel for DStv subscribers for the 2020 Easter weekend packaged by TBN Africa.

by Thinus Ferreira

MultiChoice will add a special Easter weekend pop-up TV channel for Christian viewers, packaged for its pay-TV service by TBN Africa that will launch on 9 April.

The African Easter channel will be accessible to DStv Premium, DStv Compact Plus, DStv Family and DStv Access subscribers on DStv channel 343 and will provide religious content to viewers who can't attend physical church services because of the national lockdown period caused by the rapid spread of the Covid-19 virus in South Africa.

The African Easter channel will broadcast content for various Christian denominations who observe and celebrate the Easter period.

The African Easter channel is packaged specifically for the millions of South Africans who have to stay home during the Easter Weekend with the channel that will broadcast music programmes, sermons, church services and religious programming until Easter Monday 13 April 2020.

Gospel artists whose music will feature include Lebo Sekgobela, Dr Tumi, Hillsong, William McDowell and Rebecca Malope, while the schedule will include timeslots for churches ranging from Methodist and Anglican to Catholic.

Pre-recorded faith-based messages submitted by churches will also run on the channel throughout the 4 days.

Lucky Mbiko, TBN managing director, says the channel is "partnering with churches, and some of the biggest gospel artists to bring you the best Easter worship experience to as many viewers as possible. Join us on the African Easter channel 343 on DStv for four days during the Easter Weekend.”

Calvo Mawela, MultiChoice Group CEO, says the pay-TV operator will assist millions of South African worshippers who regard the Easter time as a pivotal period of worship.

"As a responsible broadcaster, we are more than happy to partner with the department of communications and digital technologies as we afford worshippers to observe Easter from the comfort of their homes."

Stella Ndabeni-Abrahams, South Africa's minister of communications and digital technologies, says the department appreciates MultiChoice's response for an industry-wide intervention regarding religious programming on television over the Easter period that is accessible to South African viewers.

Coronavirus: Netflix, DStv Now and Showmax drop their video streaming bitrate in South Africa and across sub-Saharan Africa due to Covid-19 pandemic.

by Thinus Ferreira

Netflix, as well as MultiChoice's DStv and Showmax video streaming services, are dropping their bitrate speeds in South Africa as well as across sub-Saharan Africa to help alleviate bandwidth and internet network congestion during the growing global Covid-19 novel coronavirus pandemic.

Netflix and MultiChoice told TVwithThinus on Monday in response to media enquiries that they're lowering the streaming resolution of their subscription video-on-demand (SVOD) services.

This is similar to what Netflix, Amazon Prime Video, Disney+ and Google's YouTube have done since last week across Europe.

Netflix said it would be reducing the bitrate of its service in South Africa and across the African continent from midnight on Monday night during these uncertain times.

Starting on Monday night 30 March 2020 Netflix is lowering its bitrate delivery across Africa for 30 days to try and help mitigate congestion on the network across the African continent.

Netflix South Africa says that the lowered bitrate will not have an effect on the video streaming quality with users who will continue to be able to watch content in high definition (HD) although the streamer will be reducing the bitrate across the African continent during these uncertain times.

"Given the crisis, we've developed a way to reduce Netflix's traffic on telecommunications networks by 25% while also maintaining the quality of our service," says Ken Florance, Netflix vice president of content delivery.

"Consumers should continue to get the quality that comes with their plan - whether it's ultra-high (UH), high definition (HD) or standard definition (SD). We believe that this will provide significant relief to congested networks and we will be deploying it in Africa for the next 30 days."

MultiChoice said it too is reducing the bitrate on its DStv Now platform and its Showmax apps with the same approach happening in South Africa as well as across all of sub-Saharan Africa.

Richard Boorman, spokesperson, said the pay-TV operator "implemented data traffic reduction measures, focusing specifically on mobile traffic".

"We've limited the maximum resolution for both Showmax and DStv Now live streaming to 576p on our mobile apps. We're also busy with some other measures and are working closely with internet service providers (ISPs) to monitor the situation. If needed we'll step in with further traffic reduction measures."

Showmax and DStv Now usually stream at a maximum of 720p and this continues for users streaming content through their browsers, TV sets or connected DStv Explora decoders.

Coronavirus: MultiChoice adds Toonami kids pop-up channel, drops DStv BoxOffice movie rentals to R25 per film.

by Thinus Ferreira

MultiChoice has added the Toonami kids channel as a pop-up channel to DStv and is enlarging its DStv BoxOffice movie rental selection as it also dropped the price to R25 per rental during South Africa's national lockdown period.

The Toonami kids animation channel that has been available in some African countries on MultiChoice's DStv satellite pay-TV service for the past 3 years has been added as a pop-up channel to DStv in South Africa from Sunday 29 March 2020.

It's part of the pay-TV service's ongoing expanding content offer during the global Covid-19 novel coronavirus pandemic which is affecting South Africa as well.

Toonami, "The Home of Superheroes" channel, is carried and broadcast as a high definition (HD) channel although some of the older animation series on it is in standard definition (SD) since it was produced before the advent of HD.

Toonami, supplied by WarnerMedia which is also responsible for Cartoon Network and Boomerang, has been added on the mystical DStv channel 300 - the most prime and prized kids channel number at the start of the kids channel numbers block where DStv never hosted a TV channel before, with CN starting at 301.

Toonami targets kids between the ages of 8 and 12 and will run for 24-hours per day and has series ranging from DC Comics' Batman, Superman, The Green Lantern, Young Justice and The Justice League, as well as Teen Titans.

"Plenty of pulse-racing, action-packed films have frequently been specially packaged for our African audiences, making Toonami the go-to destination for action and animation enthusiasts of all ages," says Aletta Alberts, MultiChoice's content strategy boss.

"Toonami is an amazing movie channel that will screen a host of animated and action feature films every day from Monday to Sunday at 20:00 and Saturday mornings at 08:30, showcasing popular superheroes' heroic acts and deed in movies like Green Lantern Emerald Knights, Justice League: Throne of Atlantis, Batman: Monster Mayhem and All-Star Superman".

"The MultiChoice Group remains committed to delivering the best entertainment experience to our customers by constantly offering them more choice, great value and great content," says Aletta Alberts.

Besides films Toonami shows episodes from Justice League Unlimited, Justice League, Superman: The Animated Series, Batman: The Animated Series and Green Lantern: The Animated Series.

Guillaume Coffin, WarnerMedia Africa vice president of commercial and business development, says that Toonami will run until 30 April on DStv.

DStv BoxOffice expands
MultiChoice has also quietly expanded the number of films on offer at any given time on its DStv BoxOffice pay-per-view movie rental service to 40 of the latest films.

MultiChoice also reduced the price of these fresh-from-the-cinema movies to R25 for the period of South Africa's national lockdown.

Sunday, March 29, 2020

Coronavirus: INTERVIEW. An expert in Discovery Channel's 'Pandemic: Covid-19' documentary, Christine McDaniel, talks about what the world needs to know now - and how it might change afterwards.

by Thinus Ferreira

Discovery Channel (DStv 121) has added a quickly produced documentary special, Pandemic: Covid-19, that will be broadcast this Sunday night, 29 March 2020 at 20:55 and that will take viewers back to the beginning to show how, within a matter of weeks, the virus spread through China and the world.

The hourlong documentary special is filled with scientists and experts all sharing their insights about the novel coronavirus which has now become the defining global health crisis of our lifetime.

Seemingly overnight Covid-19 has changed not just South Africa and African life but the lives of people globally, right down to the personal way people used to interact with each other.

Christine McDaniel is one of the experts who features in Pandemic: Covid-19 and is a senior research fellow at the Mercatus Center, whose research focuses on international trade, globalisation, and intellectual property rights.

She has held several positions in the United States government, including that of deputy assistant secretary at the Treasury department and senior trade economist in the White House Council of Economic Advisers.

She has also worked in the economic offices of the US. department of Commerce, US Trade Representative, and US International Trade Commission, and has spent 3 years in Australia as deputy chief economist in Australia's patent office.

TVwithThinus got on the phone to ask her a few questions.

Just like a communicable disease that can spread you also have fear that spreads from person to person - you see it in society like now with the Covid-19 coronavirus pandemic and in economic and financial markets. 
What has been interesting or noteworthy for you about how the market fears spread this time?
Christine: The Discovery Channel documentary, Pandemic: Covid-19 goes inside the fight to try and contain the pandemic, with the latest on how governments are coordinating and trying to treat patients and how to prevent the further spread.

In terms of how scared people are the fear factor is why the market dived in early days. We don't know the future. Markets are really good at managing risk but they're not very good with uncertainty. In the early days of the pandemic the markets went from being in very good shape to all of a sudden this hugely uncertain world.

The lack of data made it impossible to weigh the costs and benefits of different strategies. Once we saw that there was this global recognition that all these countries are in this together, that the central banks are ready, I think that did help to calm down people a bit but there's definitely a fear factor and uncertainty that is driving, and that continues to drive, market volatility.

With a global disease like Covid-19 what sections or places in the economy or global economy will benefit, for instance TV ratings in America as well as in South Africa are increasing as more people and kids are staying home for longer. 
There are also data showing that pollution levels are decreasing rapidly in cities and territories worldwide as manufacturing output dropped. What and who will benefit in the short term?
Christine: Businesses that help people to connect digitally seem to be doing very well, for instance Zoom's stock price just just an all-time high.

Video streaming services and entertainment will do well as people are forced to stay inside. But up until a point - and then as unemployment skyrockets then at some point they will stop their subscriptions. For now as places are putting a short-term pause on economies you will see a surge in those services that help people stay connected digitally and keep people entertained when they can't leave the home.

With parallels to 9/11 how airplanes changed and fortified cockpit doors and a limit of liquids - now it's decades later and some systems and how we're required to behave changed permanently. If you look into a crystal ball what changed might there be in human behaviour and how we live, work and travel and the world and economies once the Covid-19 crisis passed?
Christine: Looking into the future, suppose we have a vaccine people will have gotten back to a new normal, we will still have at-risk groups forever - people who are a bit more exposed and a bit more vulnerable that what they were before - living with more caution that what they did before.

We might see different segments of the population acting differently because of that. 9/11 was a different crisis; a different event. This is really more about how this Covid-19 virus is spreading across borders invisible. And we live in a globally connected world. This might cause governments to rethink how prepared they will be in the future for another global pandemic. 

If you listen to the experts, as you'll see in the Pandemic: Covid-19 documentary, many of them have been warning for a long time, many continue to warn about possible pandemics in the future, so you might see governments start to really rethink and increase the amount of resources they put in to prepare for the next pandemic. 

I found it fascinating, I saw one of the British companies who build ventilators gave their intellectual property away by making the blueprints available to other manufacturers. What do you make of this and if a company finds a vaccine should the formula be given to every pharmaceutical?
Christine: That's a really interesting question.

It will depend on the products and services. I've seen several businesses being extra generous with the way they handle their goods and services and make things available. While they're not making extra money off of that, you have to realise that for many businesses their value is their brand.

They know that how they deal with this Covid-19 crisis will be remembered in the future. So it is in their interest to be generous now if they have any hope of surviving the downturn. 

On the intellectual property of pharmaceuticals - the government, depending on the country you're talking about, the government can step in and require pharmaceuticals to take over because of a public health emergency, to take over a company and take over production.

It's really in a company's interest to work with the government in the interest of society. Companies are doing this presumably because they're "good people" but also in the interest of saving their own company. 

What was an interesting observation for you in the making of Pandemic: Covid-19 that either you yourself didn't know, or that you want people to know or why they should make sure that they watch it?
Christine: Two things. Firstly in the immediate term is the urgent need to contain the virus. The one thing that you'll heard from health experts is how quickly, exponentially the virus spreads and once you get to a certain point it becomes nearly impossible to contain.

For economists, we study human behaviour and it's really made us think about human behaviour at a more fundamental level. We're reminded that we wake up every morning thinking that our day is going to be pretty much what it was yesterday. 

When you look at human behaviour through that lens, you can understand why it has taken most societies such a longer time despite what health experts have been saying, to adjust to the reality we're living in now. 

Then I think another thing that came out of it for me was just at the end of the day how humans are social creatures and how we need each other. 

Pandemic: Covid-19 was executive produced by Ian Russell and Sarah Jane Cohen and will broadcast in South Africa on Discovery Channel (DStv 121) on Sunday 29 March 2020 at 20:55 with a repeat on Monday 30 March at 21:45. 

Saturday, March 28, 2020

Coronavirus: A second SABC staffer tests positive for Covid-19 this time at its Auckland Park headquarters in the SABC News research division.

by Thinus Ferreira

A second SABC staffer has tested positive for the Covid-19 virus as the novel coronavirus spreads in South Africa and globally in the pandemic, this time inside the South African public broadcaster's Auckland Park headquarters where the staffer is working for the SABC News research division.

The positive Covid-19 case is the second at the SABC after the first SABC staffer, Ulrich Hendriks, tested positive on Thursday at the SABC's Kimberley provincial office in the Northern Cape office.

All SABC staffers there have been quarantined while the Kimberley office is being disinfected.

The second SABC staffer works inside the SABC News research division and is currently in sick leave in hospital.

All staffers within the same division as the ill and hospitalised worker are already working from home as part of the SABC's back-up plan.

In an internal SABC memo to staffers that was leaked to the press, the SABC tells personnel that the workers is "currently hospitalised" while other staffers were told as part of "a contingency measure" to work from home.

The staffers has a close relative who works in the SABC News digital news division.

The SABC has set up a disaster recovery site away from its Auckland Park headquarters in Johannesburg, consisting out of Outside Broadcast (OB) vans.

This site will take over in case of emergency to ensure that SABC TV and radio broadcasts continue uninterrupted. Two more studios at Auckland Park have been reserved for use by the department of education from which educational programming will be produced during the national lockdown period.

Coronavirus: SABC will now show all government media briefings live on SABC2 or SABC3 as Covid-19 virus spreads in South Africa.

by Thinus Ferreira

The South African public broadcaster will now broadcast all press conferences and media briefings of the South African government live on SABC2 and, or SABC3 as cases of the Covid-19 increase in the country and worldwide during the novel coronavirus pandemic.

The SABC said on Saturday afternoon that there is a growing need for public awareness around the coronavirus outbreak.

"Consistent with nationwide efforts to contain the spread of the Covid-19 pandemic the SABC as the primary source of public service content will continue to provide citizens with valuable, accurate and factual news and information during this period," says the SABC.

"In order to ensure that the whole population urgently gets access to critical public messaging, from today onwards, all relevant media briefings and other communications relating to the coronavirus will be carried live on SABC 2 and/or SABC 3."

The SABC says that the specific channel for transmission will be announced once the information becomes available, or closer to the time.

"It is the SABC's public interest obligation to ensure that all our citizens are appropriately and adequately empowered with credible information, in order to adhere to prescribed precautionary measures and lockdown regulations," says Madoda Mxakwe, SABC CEO.

The SABC has set up a disaster recovery site away from its Auckland Park headquarters in Johannesburg, consisting out of Outside Broadcast (OB) vans.

This site will take over in case of emergency to ensure that SABC TV and radio broadcasts continue uninterrupted. Two more studios at Auckland Park have been reserved for use by the department of education from which educational programming will be produced during the national lockdown period.

Coronavirus: Shuttered Grey’s Anatomy to end its 16th season early over Covid-19.

by Thinus Ferreira

The current 16th season of Grey's Anatomy seen on M-Net (DStv 101) will end as a shortened season on 27 April in South Africa after the ABC network in America and the production company decided not to reopen and resume production on the current season because of the spread of the global Covid-19 novel coronavirus pandemic.

This season of Grey's Anatomy that was supposed to have 25 episodes will now end with the 21st episode on 9 April in America with the "Express from the US" title that is 4 weeks behind the United States.

ABC announced late on Friday that the Shondaland-produced series, already renewed for its 17th season, will not reopen to film and complete the last few 4 episodes.

The 9 April episode is now the "season finale" and the episode synopsis of the episode entitled "Put on a Happy Face" released by ABC reads: "Link tries to convince Amelia to take it easy during the final stage of her pregnancy. Hayes asks Meredith a surprising question, and Owen makes a shocking discovery, on the season finale of Grey's Anatomy".

In mid-March Krista Vernoff, the executive producer and showrunner shuttered the show, saying "We are going home now for at least two weeks and waiting to see how the coronavirus situation evolves".

"This decision was made to ensure the health and safety of the whole cast and crew and the safety of our loved ones outside of work."

Friday, March 27, 2020

Coronavirus: SABC News journalist Ulrich Hendriks tests positive for Covid-19 in Kimberley as public broadcaster shutters Northern Cape office and quarantines staffers.

by Thinus Ferreira

The SABC News journalist Ulrich Hendriks based in Kimberley has tested positive for the Covid-19 virus as cases of the novel coronavirus spreads in South Africa, with the South African public broadcaster that has shuttered its office in the Northern Cape province with the rest of staffers now working from home.

Mmoni Seapolelo, SABC spokesperson, confirmed the broadcaster's first positive Covid-19 case and said staffers will be quarantined. "The SABC can confirm that we have one confirmed case of coronavirus at our Northern Cape provincial office," said Mmoni Seapolelo.

"As a precautionary measure, we will close the Kimberley office and all employees based in that office will also be quarantined. The employee concerned is under quarantine and will be monitored".

Phathiswa Magopeni, SABC News editor-in-chief, says the SABC is in contact with Ulrich Hendriks who is recovering at home.

"We know that he came into contact with two German tourists. Given the close proximity of our news staff in the newsroom - 25 colleagues in the Kimberley office – we decided, as a precautionary measure, to close the office and have all staff quarantined and tested. We are developing contingency plans for the operations there."

"As the SABC, since the start of the disaster, we have taken critical precautionary measures to safe-guard all our staff - with masks and other protective gear and items. But clearly given this scenario it calls for journalists to be extra careful," says Phathiswa Magopeni.

The South African National Editors’ Forum (SANEF) says in a statement on Friday that it "stands in solidarity with our colleagues at the SABC after one of their journalists tested positive for the Covid-19 virus in the Kimberley office in the Northern Cape".

"SANEF understands that the public broadcaster took immediate precautionary steps yesterday and shut down its operations in the region. All staff are working from home."

ALSO READ: Coronavirus: SABC sets up disaster recovery site with Outside Broadcast vans; production of soaps and scripted shows shuttered; news and actuality to continue during 21-day national lockdown.

Coronavirus: MultiChoice sets R80 million aside to pay full salaries of casts, crews and creatives for March and April of local productions, guarantees income of SuperSport freelancers.

by Thinus Ferreira

MultiChoice on Friday afternoon announced that the pay-TV company has set aside R80 million to help production companies to pay the full salaries of casts, crews and creatives for March and April as the growing global Covid-19 novel coronavirus pandemic wreaks havoc on South Africa's local TV and film industry.

MultiChoice says it is also guaranteeing the income of SuperSport freelancers, including those working in its broadcast technology environment.

MultiChoice told TVwithThinus on Friday in response to a media enquiry that the R80 million is centralised for South Africa, as well as for the MultiChoice Group's Southern Africa and East Africa regions, and also including Nigeria to cover salaries where MultiChoice has ongoing productions until the end of April 2020.

MultiChoice says it expects that by May 2020 "hopefully we will have the worst of the disruptions behind us".

Calvo Mawela, MultiChoice Group CEO says "The need to secure salaries of our creatives goes a long way in creating income stability for them and their families. We believe this to be critical for the industry" and that the pay-TV operator "has decided to implement several measures aimed at safe-guarding the incomes of cast, crew and creatives as well as the sustainability of production houses".

"With these measures the group can hopefully steer the industry through this tumultuous time."

MultiChoice says it's also guaranteeing the incomes of freelance workers in its SuperSport division where live sports programming all but disappeared the past two weeks and where staffers have been unable to work due to the suspension of sports events, as well as the national lockdowns that are in effect in South Africa as well as several other African countries.

"This extends to guaranteeing the income of freelancers in our broadcast technology environment."

Calvo Mawela says "Our main concern is to ensure as much as possible that we secure the incomes of creatives, cast and crew over this period. We want to ensure that they and their families are not negatively impacted as work has come to a standstill".

"As an industry made up of thousands of freelance actors, producers, directors and camera operators, Africa’s video entertainment industry is particularly vulnerable at this time. These people play a critical role in keeping viewers and communities informed, entertained and connected. All the whilst contributing significantly to the economy."

Coronavirus: M-Net's Carte Blanche to continue with new episodes through Covid-19 on Sundays, will do 2 stories looking at the growing pandemic in South Africa and globally.

by Thinus Ferreira

The weekly investigate and current affairs programme Carte Blanche on M-Net (DStv 101) will continue on Sunday evenings at 19:00 through the weeks of South Africa's national lockdown period and will this Sunday once again feature stories about the growing impact of the Covid-19 pandemic in South Africa and globally.

While production of the weekly current affairs show produced by Combined Artistic Productions, has been impacted similar to a lot of other locally-produced South Africa TV shows, Carte Blanche has quickly adapted. Some inserts have already been pre-recorded for playout and production staffers are also working remotely as far as possible.

Similar to this past Sunday, Carte Blanche will stay on the Covid-19 pandemic story that's dominating headlines in South Africa and abroad with two inserts - one following its impact in South Africa, and one looking at the global impact so far.

Presenter Claire Mawisa and producer Sophia Phirippides will firstly look at the economic devastation of the national lockdown in South Africa as the panic of the lockdown is beginning to set it for members of the public and businesses forced to close.

As the global community fights to contain the pandemic and already depressed economic activity all but grinds to a halt, Carte Blanche examines how South Africans are bracing for the impact.

Then presenter John Webb who is also producing the second insert is examining how Europe and especially Ireland is trying to prepare for the peak in the steady rise of Covid-19 cases.

With Europe currently the epicentre of the COVID-19 pandemic, experts estimate that Ireland is only likely to see infection rates peak around June and July.

John Webb meet a sports broadcaster, lawyer, tour guide and charity founder from Ireland trying to make sense of life as the Irish government clamps down on free movement and tries to enforce social distancing.

"The Irish I've been speaking to are wathing Italy closely, worried something similar will happen here," he says. "After all, it's only a 2-hour flight away. But they're also determined to see this thing through with a smile on their face."

"Pity the Irish government, though, who have had to get this nation of writers, musicians and raconteurs to stop socialising. Luckily for the most part, the Covid-19 penny has dropped and much of this country has gone quiet."

In other inserts on Sunday evening Carte Blanche will look at the ongoing spate of robberies targeting luxury wristwatches. Presenter Derek Watts and producer Kate Barry speak to the widow of a British tourist who was robbed and killed and investigate what drives the trade in stolen watches and Rolex gangs.

Then Carte Blanche also investigates the dilapidated Bloemfontein zoo where animals have been neglected and some left to die in the months after the provincial department of environment closed the zoo's doors for business.

The Bloemfontein zoo has become the latest casualty of the bankrupt Mangaung municipality with presenter Masa Kekana and producer Stenette Grosskopf investigating.

Coronavirus: Discovery Channel traces its origin in China and global spread in new 'Pandemic: Covid-19' special origin documentary on DStv this Sunday night.

by Thinus Ferreira

Discovery Channel (DStv 121) has added a quickly produced documentary special, Pandemic: Covid-19, that will be broadcast this Sunday night at 20:55 and that will take viewers back to the beginning to show how, within a matter of weeks, the virus spread through China and the world.

The hourlong documentary special is filled with scientists and experts all sharing their insights about the novel coronavirus which has now become the defining global health crisis of our lifetime.

Seemingly overnight Covid-19 has changed not just South Africa and African life but the lives of people globally, right down to the personal way people used to interact with each other.

Origin documentary
Pandemic: Covid-19 gives an in-depth look at the Covid-19 pandemic sweeping the globe and is an "origin documentary" that starts right at the beginning where the virus is believed to have jumped from animals to humans in a food amrket in Wuhan, China.

In Pandemic: Covid-19 experts shed light on its treatment and transmission that which initially baffled doctors and scientists who first encountered early patients who fell ill. The special will also look at how within a matter of weeks, Covid-19 spread throughout China and beyond, alarming healthcare professionals and scientists. 

Pandemic: Covid-19 takes viewers inside the fight to contain the pandemic with the latest news on how governments are coordinating to test and treat patients to try and prevent further spread. Experts reveal why Covid-19 is such a unique virus, why the world was so unprepared for it and what could have been done differently to contain its spread.

The special will also trace the origin of the outbreak in the United States to the first patient, its rapid spread in Seattle and probe the dramatic and unexpected transmission across the country. Viewers will hear from the leading experts in medicine on the frontlines as well as academia, government officials and patients with first-hand accounts.

Despite quarantines in multiple countries such as China, Korea and Italy, in a few short weeks the world has watched as the virus has spread – where countries such as Italy are seeing hundreds die each day, even while the country has gone into lockdown. 

Is the United States prepared to face this global pandemic unrivalled in modern history? Every day the story takes another dramatic turn, as the number of infected and reported dead in the United States continues on an upward trajectory. 

Pandemic: Covid-19 looks at the effects of the drastic measures happening across America as institutions, schools and businesses are shut down to prevent transmission. This timely special will shed insight from those leading the fight to find answers as well as a possible cure.

Pandemic: Covid-19 was executive produced by Ian Russell and Sarah Jane Cohen and will broadcast in South Africa on Discovery Channel (DStv 121) on Sunday 29 March 2020 at 20:55 with a repeat on Monday 30 March at 21:45.

Discovery Channel also has a second coronavirus documentary, Covid-19: Battling the Virus that will broadcast on Sunday 26 April 2020 at 20:55 with a repeat on Monday 27 April at 21:45.

Thursday, March 26, 2020

Coronavirus: MultiChoice and M-Net add a super-stacked pop-up channel 'M-Net Binge - The Home of HBO' to DStv filled with premium HBO series, miniseries and films.

by Thinus Ferreira

M-Net and MultiChoice will be adding an M-Net Binge - The Home of HBO pop-up TV channel to DStv from Friday with the binge-watch TV channel that will be super-stacked with multiple premium old and new American series, miniseries and films, ranging from Game of Thrones and His Dark Materials to Band of Brothers and Sex and the City.

M-Net this week rushed to compile and uplink the channel and okay the licensing rights before South Africa starts its 21-day national lockdown period with to try and curb the rapid spread of the Covid-19 novel coronavirus in the country.

Earlier this week M-Net's top programming executives scrambled after president Cyril Ramaphosa announced a 21-day national lockdown period for the country after hatching the plan to source and put together a premium "box sets" TV channel for top-tier DStv subscribers.

South African TV ratings in both daytime and prime time - similar to what has been happening in the United States - have shown a steady surge, in some cases up double digits up to 30% in some timeslots since last week as schoolkids and adults are staying and working from home and turning on their TV sets more and for longer.

This week M-Net decided to temporarily revive its M-Net Binge channel that was shuttered in October 2018. The new M-Net Binge - The Home of HBO will run on DStv channel 114 from Friday 27 March at 19:00 and will have multiple classic and brand-new HBO series and films.

M-Net Binge - The Home of HBO will be available to DStv Premium and DStv Compact Plus subscribers in high definition although some shows like Sex and the City won't be in HD.

The channel will broadcast full seasons of edgy, award-winning series, as well as a selection of HBO Original films and will run between 18:00 and 06:00 for seven days a week. The channel's 12-hour block is due to the racy nature of the channel's content that makes a lot of the age-restricted material not suitable for daytime broadcast and viewing.

Specially curated super-stacks of shows
M-Net says it carefully curated the M-Net Binge - The Home of HBO channel "to create appointment viewing" and that DStv subscribers will find the same series in the same timeslot, on the hour, with a new episode, from Mondays to Fridays.

The channel will have some brand-new HBO drama series on Sunday nights that until now has only been available on MultiChoice's Showmax video streaming service, like the brand-new British fantasy series His Dark Materials and the contemporary American business dynasty drama, Succession.

The schedule will contain shows like The Newsroom with Jeff Daniels, the fantasy drama series Game of Thrones, The Night Of, Banshee, The Leftovers and Girls, as well as the classic funeral home family drama Six Feet Under.

Tom Hanks and Steven Spielberg's epic war drama, the 10-episode World War II miniseries Band of Brothers will be showcased on M-Net Binge - The Home of HBO, while Saturday nights will have thought-provoking documentaries that have not been readily available to DStv viewers.

A super-stack of 6 episodes of the classic New York sex dramedy series Sex and the City with Carrie Bradshaw and her friends will be broadcast every Sunday night from 22:00.

On Saturdays up until 21:00 the line-up is packed with thought-provoking documentaries. The documentary this Saturday 27 March is Ice and Fire. Narrated by Leonardo DiCaprio, it investigates solutions to try and reverse the effects of climate change while time is ticking.

The film this Sunday is Deadwood, the special made-for-TV that HBO created to conclude the hit series from the 1990s.

M-Net Binge - The Home of HBO will also be available on DStv Catch Up with a connected decoder and on the DStv Now streaming service.

Here is the schedule of how some of the shows on M-Net Binge - The Home of HBO will broadcast:

The Newsroom
Mondays to Fridays at 19:00, repeats the next day at 18:00.
From the imagination of Aaron Sorkin, creator of The West Wing, comes another riveting political drama series, set in the newsroom of the fictional Atlantis Cable News television channel. The Newsroom won a Critics' Choice Television Award for Most Exciting New Series, along with Golden Globe nominations and a string of other accolades. These include a Primetime Emmy for Outstanding Lead Actor in a Drama Series (Jeff Daniels) and Outstanding Guest Actress in a Drama Series (Jane Fonda).

Band of Brothers
Mondays to Fridays at 20:00.
Hollywood legends Steven Spielberg and Tom Hanks, who collaborated on one of the greatest war movies of all time, Saving Private Ryan, teamed up again and revisited World War II as executive producers on a project that won high praise from viewers, and Emmy and Golden Globe awards for Best Miniseries. Based on a non-fiction bestselling book by historian Stephen E Ambrose, it follows the history of a parachute battalion from jump training in the United States through its participation in major actions in Europe.

Game of Thrones
Mondays to Saturdays at 21:00 and 22:00 (two episodes)
The most talked about television series of the new millennium, bar none, took the fantasy genre to a new level. Game of Thrones won a record 58 Emmy Awards, and has a global fan base that long ago surpassed the one billion mark – and keeps growing. If you’ve just returned from another planet and missed it first time around, you’ve got some catching up to do. There are 72 episodes, all told. Set on the fictional continents of Westeros and Essos, it has several plot arcs and a huge ensemble cast. Please remember that the series contains scenes of nudity and violence.

Six Feet Under
Mondays to Fridays at 23:00
A funeral parlour may not sound like the ideal setting for a long-running drama series, but Six Feet Under was a smashing success, named by Time Magazine, The Guardian and Empire as one of the best television series of all time. Nine Emmy Awards, three Screen Actors Guild Awards, three Golden Globe Awards, and a Peabody Award back up those assessments. The story revolves around the trials and tribulations of the Fisher clan, owners of Fisher & Sons Funeral Home. Besides the usual themes of interpersonal relationships, love and loss, it fearlessly tackles the most important philosophical question of our time: the meaning of life.

The Night Of
Saturdays at 23:00
Following a wild night of sex and drugs, Nasir “Naz” Kahn, a Pakistani-American student, wakes up to find that the woman he’d spent the night with has been stabbed to death. He has no recollection of the events of the night. This is the premise of a multiple award-winning crime miniseries starring John Terturro as John Stone, the lawyer who represents the murder suspect. It won four Primetime Emmy Awards and a Directors’ Guild of America Award among a slew of accolades. It has a score of 90 on Metacritic, based on 40 reviews, and 95% on Rotten Tomatoes, indicating universal acclaim.

His Dark Materials
Sundays at 19:00
Strangeness and wonder mark this fantasy drama based on the cult novel series of the same name by Philip Pullman. The action takes place in a multi-world reality, switching from one to the other in an absorbing, unusual narrative. In an alternate world, all humans have animal companions called daemons. As it turns out, they are manifestations of the human soul. The main character is a girl named Lyra, an orphan who discovers a dangerous secret. And then her path crosses with a boy named Will. The series combines live-action and animation and won an Annie, America’s top animation award.

Sundays at 20:00 and 21:00 (two episodes)
An American satirical comedy-drama television series that won the British Academy Television Award for Best International Programme and the Golden Globe Award for Best Television Series – Drama. In addition to that, Brian Cox, one of the lead actors, won the Golden Globe for Best Actor – Television Series Drama. A dysfunctional family battles for control of a global media and hospitality conglomerate – and the patriarch’s health is in steep decline. Who will inherit the throne?

Coronavirus: MultiChoice's Showmax adds linear TV news channels for streaming during Covid-19 pandemic.

by Thinus Ferreira

MultiChoice's video streaming service, Showmax, is adding the live feeds of 7 linear TV news channels to its offering as the world battles the Covid-19 novel coronavirus pandemic which has led to a 21-day national lockdown in South Africa that will start on Friday 27 March.

Showmax says it's adding the TV news channels to help keep subscribers up to date with information, news and developments around Covid-19 for people who want to stream-watch the news channels.

Showmax has added BBC World News, CNN International, Sky News, SABC News, Newzroom Afrika, Al Jazeera and euronews.

Showmax's TV news channels addition follows after MultiChoice made a selection of TV news and some other channels available on its DStv Now video streaming platform available for free to all South Africans including People’s Weather, SuperSport Play, PBS Kids, Channel O, TBN, BBC World News, CNN International, Sky News, eNCA, SABC News, Newzroom Africa and euronews.

StarTimes/StarSat now live streams over 100 international and local TV channels for free through its StarTimes ON app in South Africa and for users elsewhere in Africa, including BBC World News, africanews, NTA News, CGTN, Al Jazeera, France24 and CNC World.

Showmax was asked if it will be opening up access to content for free in the way that Amazon Prime Video this week started giving free access to multiple series from its kids catalogue. Spokesperson Richard Boorman told TVwithThinus that Showmax "is exploring a number of measures".