Monday, February 28, 2011

BREAKING. Discovery Channel to celebrate the Royal Wedding of 29 April with a week of shows; doccie about the actual events team.

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Great for the Discovery Channel (DStv 121) for joining the range of TV channels having a field day with the upcoming Royal Wedding of Prince William and Kate Middleton on 29 April and for the Discovery Channel also celebrating this day with wonderful  and clever channel-unique special programming that viewers can look forward to that will already start the Monday of that ''wedding week''.

The Discovery Channel has a range of TV specials from Monday 25 April at 18:10. Shows include The Biggest Day, a behind-the-scenes documentary that interviews key members of the events team who will work together on the day of Prince William and Kate Middleton's actual wedding day to ensure that it's a success.

Wild about Harry is a documentary that contains archive footage and interviews with those people closest to Prince Harry and documenting his war service amongst other things. 30 Years in 30 Days is a magnificent show highlighting the stories of the royal weddings, births, funerals and the scandals from the past 30 years and looks at how the British royal family have emerged more compassionate than ever before in the history of the monarchy.

Finally there's Royal Hoarding - a funny, fascinating foray into royal collectors and their hobby who allow cameras inside their homes to film their royal collections. From high end items to tacky trash, watch in amazement at just what people would collect and treasure.

ALSO READ: BBC Knowledge to celebrate Royal Wedding on 29 April with fantastic range of documentaries about British monarchy.
ALSO READ: BBC Lifestyle to celebrate Royal Wedding on 29 April with marathons of Don't Tell the Bride and Undercover Princesses.
ALSO READ: The Food Network prepares a wedding feat of unbelievably great TV specials for the Royal Wedding on 29 April.
ALSO READ: MSNBC's Martin Bashir to do a whole week of shows from London to cover the Royal Wedding on 29 April.
ALSO READ: History to celebrate the Royal Wedding on 29 April with two TV specials.
ALSO READ: E! Entertainment to cover the Royal Wedding on 29 April with a live pre-arrivals special and Giuliana Rancic in London.
ALSO READ: SABC3 working on securing a live broadcast of the Royal Wedding on 29 April.
ALSO READ: considering broadcasting the Royal Wedding on 29 April.
ALSO READ: BBC World News will broadcast the Royal Wedding live on 29 April with massive additional coverage.

BREAKING. BBC Knowledge to celebrate the Royal Wedding on 29 April with fantastic documentaries about the British monarchy.

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I can reveal that BBC Knowledge (DStv 251) is now on the bandwagon too and will celebrate the Royal Wedding of Prince William and Kate Middleton on 29 April by changing the whole day's programming line-up and filling the schedule on this day with varied documentaries about royalty and the British monarchy.

The BBC Knowledge special programming already starts on Thursday, 28 April.
11:10 Charles At 60: The Passionate Prince
Marking Prince Charles' 60th birthday in November 2008, this documentary gives exclusive access to the Prince's life, his work and his passions.
12:40 Infamous Assassinations: The Attempt On Princess Anne
In 1974, a gunman opened fire on Princess Anne's vehicle, injuring several passers-by, her chauffeur, and a policeman.
16:05 The Queen: 1986 - The World's Most Powerful Woman
The deteriorating relationship between Queen Elizabeth II and Margaret Thatcher that went into meltdown after rows over sanctions and the Commonwealth.
17:00 Monarchy: The Royal Family at Work: The Queen and Us.
22:30 Programme celebrating the Royal Wedding (as yet untitled special)

On Friday, 29 April BBC Knowledge is blazing with incredible documentary content about the British monarchy. If you love this, start clearing space on that DStv PVR right now already!
08:20 The Queen - 1992: Family Under Fire
The world focused on Charles and Diana's divorce while Queen Elizabeth II had to contend with the fire at Windsor Castle.
09:15 Monarchy: The Royal Family At Work: Inside The Firm
Queen Elizabeth II's four children talk frankly for the very first time about their working roles, and the life-long jobs they were born into.
12:05 Special programme celebrating the Royal Wedding (untitled special)
20:30 Monarchy: The Royal Family At Work: The Household
Meet the Royal Household, a dedicated and diligent staff of over 300 people who provide support to the Queen and her family.
21:30 The Queen: 2005: Charles & Camilla – Future Royals
In 2005, the Queen had a tough decision to make. Should she accept Charles and Camilla's engagement, knowing one day Camilla would be Queen?
22:30 The Queen's Coronation
Revealing the secret tension between the Queen Mother and Prince Philip in the days before Princess Elizabeth's coronation in 1953.

BREAKING. BBC Lifestyle celebrating the Royal Wedding with marathons of Don't Tell the Bride and Undercover Princesses.

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With the Royal Wedding of Prince William and Kate Middleton taking place on 29 April I can be first to reveal that BBC Lifestyle (DStv 180) is planning to turn its whole day into a wedding and princess programming extravaganza in tribute to the auspicious British occasion that will be garnering global media attention.

On 29 April BBC Lifestyle will broadcast TV marathons of the lifestyle reality show Don't Tell the Bride, sprinkled with multiple Glamour Puds: Weddings episodes, as well as marathon episodes of the first season of the British reality show Undercover Princesses that follows three real-life princessess looking for love.

A Don't Tell the Bride marathon kicks off on 29 April at 06:25 until 11:55, when it's followed by an Undercover Princessess marathon from 11:55 until 15:45. Glamour Puds: Weddings episodes are shown on 29 April at 17:40 until 18:35 and again at 22:15 and 02:10.

BREAKING. The Food Network prepares a wedding feast with great TV specials for the Royal Wedding of Prince William on 29 April.

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I can reveal that The Food Network (DStv 185) is now also onboard with a major one day special programming focus on celebrating the Royal Wedding of Prince William and Kate Middleton on 29 April with a special programming line-up on this day celebrating weddings, food, wedding cakes, battling brides as well as a spectacular wedding special of over-the-top weddings.

I asked for the channel's schedule, worked through it and The Food Network has what can only be described as an utterly awe-inspiring line-up of wedding themed shows planned for 29 April, basically turning the day into an extended television party of epic scope.

On 29 April at 17:40 The Food Network has a Fantasy Weddings special which is a one hour TV special ''featuring the most over-the-top weddings you've ever seen''. The show follows three unique, utterly lavish weddings you have to see to believe. The day however kicks off at 06:50 with two Food Network Caters Your Wedding specials follow each other. That is followed by Food Network Challenge episodes devoted to a ''wedding cakes special'' (09:20), ''ultimate wedding cakes'' (11:00), ''wedding cake surprise'' (12:15), ''surprise engagement cakes'' (16:00), ''extreme wedding cakes'' (18:30), ''national wedding cakes competition'' (20:10) and ''battle of the brides'' (23:30).

Then The Food Network plans special wedding episodes of both Paula's Best Dishes as well as Barefoot Contessa right through the day that's all too brilliantly much to cope with. Paula's Best Dishes looks at ''backyard weddings'' (8:30), ''tie the knot parties'' (10:10) and ''let's party'' (23:00).
Barefoot Contessa's multiple episodes looks at ''Anniversary Dinner'' (8:55 and repeated 19:20) and ''Wedding Anniversary'' (19:45 and repeated 00:20).

M-Net's Idols seems to be having a pretty awesome time in Polokwane where 10 contestants made it through today.

Cobus Bodenstein/M-Net

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Here's two images I can show you first from today's Idols recording which is on its second leg of its nationwide audition process for the 7th season which will be shown on M-Net from June.

The second stop this past weekend was in Polokwane (see my Saturday story RIGHT HERE) and today those contestants invited back after the initial registration and auditioning process in front of the producers got their chance in front of the Idols judges' panel today. Guest judge Yvonne Chaka Chaka is clearly having fun right here as she shares a laugh with the really, wonderful, really awesome new Idols judge Unathi Msengana who's really just a perfect addition to this reality show.

The ''thumb's up'' dude below is Jean-Pierre (''JP'') Zeelie (24) - the first of ten aspiring superstars to walk away with a coveted Golden Ticket that will see them compete with singers from all around the country in Sun City this April for the gruelling Theatre Round of Idols. Next on the nationwide audition process is Durban (Moses Mabhida stadium, Saturday, 5 March), Soweto (Dobsonville stadium, Saturday, 26 March) and Johannesburg (Montecasino, Saturday, 2 April).

Programming notes: CNBC Africa launches new On the Couch talk show with Jacqui Nel as business channel changes it schedule.

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As the local business channel CNBC Africa (DStv 410) welcomes the return of The Tonight Show with Jay Leno (more about this story which i broke RIGHT HERE) from tomorrow, Tuesday, 1 March at 21:00, the CNBC Africa schedule is changing as the channel also launches a brand-new talk show On the Couch with Jacqui Nel.

On the Couch, presented by the veteran CNBC Africa reporter who's been with the channel since 2007 and is also responsible for the horse racing show Bloodline, will start on Friday, 4 March at 20:30. The primetime talk show will have golf legend Gary Player as Jacqui Nel's first guest. According to CNBC Africa On the Couch ''will give viewers an in-depth look into some of the most well-known personalities not only in Africa but also internationally''. Some of the On the Couch guests already confirmed and interviewed include Dr Robert Ray (Dr 90210), Mfundi Vundla, Jordan Belfort and Pieter-Dirk Uys known for his alter ego of Evita Bezuidenhout.

As a part of CNBC Africa's schedule change from tomorrow Mansfield's Money Sense and Captain's of Industry moves to an earlier time slot of 20:30 on Wednesdays and Thursdays respectively. In March Tech@Work returns to the CNBC Africa schedule as well as Mad Markets, Hot Stoxx and Portfolio Construction.

Oprah's realization: ''Oprah viewers don't like repeats'' - and now for the first time you can email Oprah directly too.

Just like South African Oprah viewers, talk show host and now TV network owner Oprah Winfrey says she has discovered viewers - especially Oprah ones - don't like watching repeats.

''What everyone told me about the satellite TV business is the way you do it is you start with a couple of shows, people are used to repeats," Oprah Winfrey told The Hollywood Reporter trade publication.

"Oprah viewers were not!" she says after her Oprah Winfrey Network (OWN) TV channel is now two months old. Oprah Winfrey has now for the first time ever signed up for an email address that she herself will check regularly to see what viewers of OWN and Oprah fans are saying, feeling and thinking. People can now email Oprah Winfrey at with their thoughts.

The 25th and final season of The Oprah Winfrey Show is still on at 21:30 this week (repeats at 00:30) on SABC3 instead of the usual 17:35. SABC3 released the week's line-up earlier today. Today (Monday) is ''Waiting for Superman follow-up on the American school system''. Tuesday (1 March) is ''Tony Danza, Serena Williams: Celebrities take on their dream jobs''. Wednesday (2 March) is ''The cast of Modern Family''. Thursday (3 March) is ''Aging beautiful: Cybill Shepherd, Dynasty's Linda Evans and Desperate Housewives' Ter Hatcher.''

SHOCKING! Saftas ban journalists from entering the award show; suddenly hand out a best actor trophy for non-existent category.

As if the South African TV industry needs another example of how inept, pathetic, irrelevant, obtuse, mute and incredibly lacking in credibility the National Film and Video Foundation's (NFVF) ''annual'' South African Film and Television Awards (Saftas) are, laugh (please laugh!) at them for not having a best actor in a drama category or nominees for the 5th Saftas but suddenly last night awarding a trophy in this category. And the Saftas banned the media from entering the actual awards event (despite containing the words ''film'' and ''television'' in its title). It would all be crap-tastic hilarious if it wasn't just plain sad and utterly disgusting.

The second half of the sad and sorry Saftas took place last night for fiction categories after the non-fiction prizes were handed out on 21 February... and the Saftas kept being a national embarrassement in itself (done with tax payers' money) as well as for the TV industry.

After initially saying there's no best actor category this year or any nominees worthy enough (I remarked on that RIGHT HERE) the 5th Saftas incredibly, unexpectedly, suddenly handed out an award to Vusi Kunene from SABC1's Soul City. The NFVF failed to respond to my media enquiry as to when the realization suddenly dawned to maybe include a best actor category after all, where the nominees suddenly came from, and how it was possible to suddenly vote for someone in basically no time.

This jaw-dropping ridiculous awards travesty needs to go away or be seriously retooled and every single element of it relooked. Whether the NFVF is willing to do that remains doubtful. It couldn't even find a broadcaster willing to touch this mess this year.

The 5th Saftas TV winners include:
 Erfsondes as best TV drama, Maggie Benedict (best actress in a TV drama, The Mating Game, SABC2), Vusi Kunene (best actor in a TV drama, Soul City, SABC1), Kere Nyawo and Thulani Didi (both for best supporting actor in a TV drama, Zone 14, SABC1), Therese Benade (best supporting actress in a TV drama, Home Affairs, SABC1), The Mating Game (best TV ensemble, SABC2), Amanda Lane (best director in a TV drama, 4Play,, Henriette Gryffenberg (best writer in a TV drama, Erfsondes, SABC2), Melanie Janks Golden (best editor in a TV drama, 4Play,, Marlene Ming (best production design in a TV drama, 4Play,, Rory O'Grady (best cinematographer in a TV drama, One Love, SABC1).

7de Laan (viewers' vote for best soap, SABC2), Isidingo (best directing team and best writing team, SABC3), Rhythm City (best ensemble cast,, Tshepo Maseko (best lead actor in a TV soap, Isidingo, SABC3), Moshidi Motshegwa (best actress in a TV soap, Rhythm City,, Thami Mngqolo (best supporting actor in a TV soap, Generations, SABC1), Tebogo Khalo (best supporting actress in a TV soap, Rhythm City,

Bobby Heaney (best director in a TV comedy, Konsternasie Oppie Stasie, SABC2), Meren Reddy, Luke Rous (best writing team in a TV comedy, City Ses'la, SABC1), David Clatworthy (best actor in a TV comedy, Konsternasie Oppie Stasie, SABC2), Busi Lurayi, best actress in a TV comedy, City Ses'la, SABC1), Proesstraat (beste TV comedy ensemble cast, SABC2).

Sentech aims to have a DVB-T2 digital TV signal covering 96% of South Africa by 2013.

The state signal distributor Sentech plans to have a digital DVB-T2 signal covering 96% of South Africa by 2013 and will get R622 million from the South African government over the next three years until 2014 to do South Africa's coversion from terrestrial television signal distribution to a new digital terrestrial television (DTT) system.

According to the National Treasury Sentech's target is to have 60% of South Africa covered for a digital television by the end of March 2011 and achieve 80% coverage by the end of the year. The National Treasury is giving the South African public broadcaster R441 million for the next financial year (2012/2013) and R463 million for 2013/2014 for the SABC's conversion project to DTT.

Overall the National Treasury is giving the South African department of communications that is supposed to spearhead the DTT conversion R1,192 billion over the next three years. This amount includes the money that will go to the end consumer and normal TV viewer in the department's as yet unannounced national subsidy scheme of digital DVB-T2 set-top boxes (STB's) that viewers will have buy. The subsidy portion for STB's for DTT in South Africa is R690 million over the next three years. The department already ''lost'' R180 million earmarked for subsidies for STB's that have to be used by the end of March 2011, and since no mass market consumer STB's exist for the 10 million households who will have to switch-over or any subsidy programme, the department will forfeit this R180 million.

The current switch-off date for terrestrial television signal distribution in South Africa, as set by the department of communications, is December 2013.

TopTV not launching new TV channels; pay TV operator actively negotiating but needs some more time to sign new channels.

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TV with Thinus can exclusively reveal that pay TV operator On Digital Media (ODM) will not be announcing or launching new TV channels on its TopTV platform for the time being, although it's actively negotiating to sign new channels in the future.

TopTV that launched its commercial operations in May last year gave me a call to discuss the situation regarding TV channels after a perception was created a few months ago in an article (not mine) that the operator would be announcing or launching further channels on its bouquet by the end of February or the beginning of March. It created an expectation under TopTV subscribers that the company cannot fulfill just yet, but is trying hard to.

''We know that everyone has been anxiously awaiting new channels since the announcement by our CEO, Vino Govender,'' TopTV tells TV with Thinus exclusively. ''Unfortunately the finalizing and agreeing of contracts has taken longer than was hoped and we will not be in a position to launch these by the end of February (today) or by 1 March. However we would like to inform our subscribers that we are actively negotiating the finer details and will have new and exciting channels on the platform soon.''

''We would prefer not to give timelines, but we can assure you that when everything is signed and sealed, we will deliver the news.''

The next new TV channel now that South African viewers will see (I know what it is), will be one launched by DStv towards the end of March just before April.

ALSO READ: TopTV to launch HD channels and a PVR by early 2012 by the earliest.
ALSO READ: TopTV pushes back the possible launch of its first real sports channel to the third quarter of 2011 by the earliest.
ALSO READ: Analysis - what TopTV's 200 000 subscribers really mean.

Sunday, February 27, 2011

BREAKING. Martin Bashir's new MSNBC show starts tomorrow; will be done from London for a week in April to cover the Royal Wedding.

Martin Bashir's brand-new weekday show (my story RIGHT HERE) on MSNBC (TopTV 410) that will start tomorrow at 22:00 South African time will be done from London for an entire week from 25 April with comprehensive coverage of the Royal Wedding of Prince William and Kate Middleton taking place on 29 April. (MSNBC's Chris Jansing will also be traveling to Britain to cover the Royal Wedding in April.)

Martin Bashir told Jimmy Fallon on Late Night with Jimmy Fallon that that his new hourlong weekday show will be ''covering the Royal Wedding in its entirety''.

ALSO READ: History to celebrate the Royal Wedding with 2 TV specials on the wedding day of 29 April.
ALSO READ: E! Entertainment to cover the Royal Wedding of Prince William live from London with Giuliana Rancic and a pre-wedding arrivals show.
ALSO READ: SABC3 working on securing the broadcasting rights to the Royal Wedding of Prince William.
ALSO READ: considering broadcasting the Royal Wedding of Prince William.
ALSO READ: BBC World News will be broadcasting the Royal Wedding of Prince William live on 29 April with added massive coverage.

BREAKING. History to celebrate the Royal Wedding of Prince William with two TV specials on the 29 April wedding day.

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History (DStv 254) is planning two TV specials on the day for viewers to co-incide with the Royal Wedding of Prince William and Kate Middleton taking place on 29 April.

History will broadcast two doccies, How to Marry a Prince as well as Princesses of the World on Friday, 29 April, the day of the big wedding, the channel tells me.

How to Marry a Prince on 29 April at 17:50 is narrated by Christopher Biggins and featuring interviews with women who've dated royalty, worked within the royal household and the friends and confidantes of princesses. The programme lifts the lid on what it takes to become royalty and presents a ''how to'' guide for finding your real-life man with a crown.

Princesses of the World on 29 April at 18:45 will present a fascinating portrait of the most beautiful and beloved royal women of the past. History looks back 50 years with a regal tour of the romance, happiness, heartache, tragedy and controversy that is the life of these modern-day fairytale princesses. In this royal world, social pressure and family expectations conspire to make the lives of these princesses far more diverse and engaging than any fictional tale could offer. Princess Grace of Monaco moved from the silver screen to blue blood, while Princess Diana rose from humble beginnings to become the world's most photographed woman. And then there's ''black sheep'' Princess Stephanie...

ALSO READ: E! Entertainment to cover the Royal Wedding of Prince William live from London with Giuliana Rancic and a special pre-wedding arrival show.
ALSO READ: SABC3 working on securing the broadcasting rights to the Royal Wedding of Prince William.
ALSO READ: considering a live broadcast of the Royal Wedding of Prince William.
ALSO READ: BBC World News planning a live broadcast and massive coverage of the Royal Wedding of Prince William.

REVIEW. 2011 MK Awards an epic fail in kiefness; badly produced show that overran was riddled with technical mistakes, problems.

M-Net, kykNET and music channel mk needs to seriously rethink what it's purpose is with the MK Awards since a proud showcase it is definitely not and with the deplorably shoddy production values on display at the 2011 MK Awards I attended last night, it's either being short changed by a lack of money, attention and focus by channel execs or not given proper production support by the Magic Factory that produced this low budget mess. Or all of the above.

The 2011 MK Awards broadcast live on mk (DStv 324) on Saturday night was not the Parow kus of Kiefness. The badly-run, badly-produced, award show that ran longer by more than half an hour was riddled with mistakes, errors, empty seats, incoherent production, barely there musicians to accept awards and technical sound and light problems which is more on par with the kind of award shows that you'd actually expect from a SABC produced award show like the Saftas or the Metro's. In a big sense of irony the 2011 MK Awards contained sketches during ad breaks denoting sardonic ''epic fail'' situational comedy moments that actually, unintentionally, could refer to what this award show itself was: an epic fail.

How bad is it when you win an award like Die Tuindwergies did, and you can't get to the stage because the security don't know who you are and weren't briefed to let you through and grab you, and you try to break free (viewer's didn't see him flip the moronic security guard the bird) to just get to the stage?
How bad is it when a model (like for instance the one with the ''antler branches'' that was also the brand image of this year's awards) bringing the trophy can't get back through the door opening (not shown on TV) which shows there clearly haven't been a dress rehearsal with their avant garde creations on?
Is it normal for presenters having to struggle to find the winners' names since they haven't been told its on the trophies themselves? And can you blame the empty seats and the audience leaving when they realized that basically none of the winners are there in person to accept their awards (which is why people showed up in the first place - to see the winners in person) but are reduced to watching pre-taped acceptance speeches?

The lighting and sound was bad but since I sat in the audience I have no idea whether like Idols, its better when watched from home. The 2011 MK Awards that was broadcast live was supposed to end at 21:30 but went over to after 22:00. Where is the director of this mess and wasn't this show scripted, dry-runned, plotted and timed before hand? Why did presenters struggle to read the autocue and several blatantly reading it so badly that it was clear that they didn't get their script before and was reading it for the very first time during the live show? Magazine shows Jip from kykNET (DStv 111) and Studio 1 from mk attended and will probably gush with sinergistic praise about this award show that deserves more than the shoddy production that marred it.

Getting 550 000 votes in total shows that there definitely is an audience for something like the MK Awards, but it doesn't seem as if M-Net/kykNET/mk wanted to actually put a decent amount of money, or attention into this show to at least produced a passing grade show. Producing a low-rent award show like this but aimed at actually trying to show how good local Afrikaans rock video production is, is just not Die Antwoord. Having a black carpet is a great idea though and a unique selling value proposition for this award show. Corne and Twakkie as hosts of the 2011 MK Awards were funny and did a remarkably good job of entertaining the audience both during the show and during ad breaks but even they couldn't hold up the limping production (and can't be expected to). Rock band Die Heuwels Fantasties - clearly a big draw in terms of the live audience who showed up and were probably their fans - performed admirably in the live performance at the 2011 MK Awards that had the least mistakes. If the passed away former MK presenter Herman Pretorius were invoked in barely everything, why did the producers not have a pre-taped tribute insert?

You can be low-cost without coming across as low-budget and that's how the 2011 MK Awards looked: Zef but sadly not cool zef. Somewhere Jack Parow cannot be thinking that this mess was quite piele.

BREAKING. SABC1 channel head Ray Nkwe is getting the boot and shown the door by the public broadcaster.

In a shocking ouster SABC1 channel head Ray Nkwe is getting the boot, with the South African public broadcaster firing the general manager of South Africa's biggest TV channel.

Numerous insider sources are telling me that the SABC is planning to get rid of all channel heads to possibly be replaced by just one executive that will be overseeing SABC1, SABC2 and SABC3. As yet, I haven't heard of any ''you're fired'' letters being given to SABC2 channel head Bessie Tugwane or SABC3 channel head Mate Mosito-Okaba.

Ray Nkwe however has been advised by letter that his services as channel head of SABC1 will no longer be needed as the SABC's acting group CEO Robin Nicholson is going on a major firing spree to rid the broadcaster of top structure managers. The longtime Ray Nkwe being shown the door as SABC1 channel head is set to send shockwaves through the TV industry in the week to come. I have asked Ray Nkwe and SABC1 for comment about his coming retrenchment and I'm waiting for a response.

Ray Nkwe presided over the attempt to improve the SABC1 primetime line-up this past August branded as ''Mzansi Fo Sho Reloaded'' with mixed success. Under Ray Nkwe's tenure as chanel head SABC1 embarked on a push to more low quality glam entertainment magazine shows, titilating trash like Intersexions and banal reality shows like Dance Your Butt Off and the advertiser-funded Class Act that's not really in line with the SABC's supposed ethos of being a public broadcaster. And then there's Relentless - a new ''R10 million'' reality show that SABC1 is supposedly working on. The disastrous 1st Annual Stars of Mzansi Awards in 2008, the public broadcaster's attempt to create an award show if its own, also happened under Ray Nkwe's watch and never went beyond ''1st annual''.

BREAKING. SABC1 producing a new comedy entitled Jabba Time starring rap artist HHP as a ''Fresh Prince of Bel-Air'' type character.

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I can break the news that SABC1 (that already did a controversial reality show with him) is again in business with the rap artist Hip Hop Pantsula (known as HHP and Jabba and who's real name is Jabulani Tsambo) - this time giving him his own half hour TV comedy entitled Jabba Time. Jabba Time has a premise not very unlike The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air in which HHP plays a fish-out-of-water, rags-to-riches character moving from poverty in Mafikeng to a Johannesburg mansion.

I can tell you that Jabba Time with HHP in the lead role has started filming at Sasani Studios in Johannesburg and is being produced by Rous House Productions.

Just like rap artist Will Smith who moved to Bel-Air in The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air, HHP will play a character called Jabba that's a car mechanic and an aspiring rap artist in ''Maf-town'' Mafikeng. Jabba's long-lost uncle dies of cancer and he moves to Johannesburg after he inherits a fortune and a massive mansion to live in. He gets a 15 year old niece, Sisi, that he has to care of and look after and also bring his aged grandmother with him as well as his wisecracking friend Soloman with him to share in his newfound wealth and upscale surroundings.

Jabba Time follows exactly a year after HHP and SABC1's first TV collaboration entitled Respect, a production that became controversial quickly after a producer complained that HHP and SABC1 ''stole'' the idea from him. Respect that had a rocky start with SABC1 that pushed out the starting date and episodes being broadcast haphazardly (most probably due to the legal entanglements behind the scenes) has now obviously made way for a new HHP TV vehicle for the rap star.

MultiChoice running a pilot test study for a SMS call centre to resolve basic customer enquiries and clear error messages.

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MultiChoice is embarking on an interesting pilot study to set up an SMS call centre for basic account related enquiries that DStv subscribers of the pay TV operator can use for things such as balance enquiries and payment details and to clear error messages. MultiChoice envisions the SMS call centre extension as a possible way to alleviate its normal call centre volume.

MultiChoice intends to correspond with DStv subscribers by also using ''SMS lingo'' as is apt for this medium with the pilot study. The SMS call centre pilot study is running for 60 days and is only geared for Vodacom users for now, who can SMS the shortcode 37411 and can ask questions like ''What's my balance?'', ''How much must I pay?'' or ''Clear E17 error'' or any onscreen error code together with their ID number and customer or smartcard number.

Customers with a Vodacom number making use of MultiChoice's SMS call centre will get an SMS back. The SMS call centre pilot is running Mondys to Fridays between 07:00 and 20:00, Saturdays between 07:00 to 14:00 and on Sundays between 08:00 to 14:00.

Saturday, February 26, 2011

FIRST LOOK! The first trailer for the new ThunderCats cartoon reboot on The Cartoon Network.

Here's the first and just released trailer for the new ThunderCats cartoon that will start later this year on The Cartoon Network (DStv 301) in America and which will hopefully be shown in South Africa by the end of 2011 or the beginning of 2012 (judging by the set lag time the channel European feed currently has).

The new ThunderCats trailer doesn't have any dialogue so we have no idea yet about how they will sound. It also looks way more anime that the classic eighties original ThunderCats series.

ALSO READ: The first official look at the new ThuderCats cartoon that will start on The Cartoon Network later in 2011.
ALSO READ: The first glimpse of the new Lion-O in the planned update of the new ThunderCats on The Cartoon Network.
ALSO READ: Mumm-Ra will not be happy. The Cartoon Network reviving the classic 80's animation series ThunderCats.

BREAKING. M-Net's Idols power full-steam ahead to Polokwane where the mayor welcomes the reality show and the crowd.

Cobus Bodenstein/M-Net

The executive mayor of Polokwane Freddy Greaver showed up earlier today at the Idols auditions when the M-Net reality show had its second leg of nationwide auditions and visited the Limpopo province for the first time ever.

''This province has so much talent to offer, said Freddy Greaver. ''If we are really serious about giving people opportunities, then it is wise for M-Net to have come here. If only one person was good enough,” he said, ''it will have been worth it''. Also on hand at the auditions was the new Miss South Africa, Bokang Montjane who is from Polokwane, while Yvonne Chaka Chaka will be the guest judge for this second leg of the show.

Speaking about Bokang Montjane, Freddy Greaver said, ''she is living proof that if you really believe in yourself and you do your best, you can make it. Just be yourself and be true and loyal to who you are.''

According to M-Net hordes of potential Idols contestants came from all over the province to take their shot at fame and fortune. On Monday they will come face to face with the Idols judges Randall Abrahams, Gareth CliffUnathi Msengana, as well as Yvonne Chaka Chaka.

One of the Idols contestants who will be singing in front of the judges this Monday will be Peter Oliver (20), hoping that the home court advantage will make all the difference this time. He audition for the 6th season of Idols last year in Durban and made it all the way through to the Theatre Week in Sun City.

''I'm feeling very confident this year, in my own home town,'' Peter Oliver said after making it through the preliminary audition round this morning. After Polokwane Idols will be moving along with the nationwide audition process to Durban (Moses Mabhida stadium, Saturday, 5 March), Soweto (Donsonville stadium, Saturday, 26 March) and Johannesburg (Montecasino, Saturday, 2 April).

ALSO READ: A heap of hopefuls show up as the 7th season of Idols kicks off its audition phase in Cape Town.
ALSO READ: Behind the scenes of the audition process of the 7th season of Idols.
ALSO READ: Wonderful! The new Idols judge Unathi Msengana is brilliant and the perfect addition to the judges' table in Idols.

Friday, February 25, 2011

BREAKING. Is Viasat, Sweden's biggest pay TV satellite operator, planning to enter the South African television market?

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A reliable source is telling me that Viasat, Sweden's biggest free-to-air TV and satellite pay TV operator in Scandinavia and the Baltics are planning to come to South Africa.

Whether that means that Viasat is planning to invest in making its signal with several free-to-air TV channels widely available to be received by satellite decoders in South Africa, or is planning to provide TV channels to existing TV channels or pay TV platforms, or is possibly linking and working behind the scenes with Shenzhen Media SA to make use of their dormant pay TV licence, I do not know and isn't clear yet. However, South African communication law dictates that the Independent Communications Authority of South Africa (Icasa) regulates the satellite television industry. The regulatory body also regulates signals originating from outside of South Africa and has to ''approve'' that.

Since Icasa has neither issued pay TV licences since 4 years ago (Shenzhen Media SA, and Walking on Water (WOW) have licences but have failed to start commercial pay TV services), nor approved external new TV signals, it would be illegal for Viasat to beam free-to-air TV channels into South Africa to commence a satellite television service.

The only two currently legal options - should Viasat indeed be looking at South Africa - would be to supply pay as well as free-to-air TV channels to MultiChoice's DStv or On Digital Media's (ODM) TopTV - an intricate maneuvre and business deal which seems unlikely. Secondly Viasat could be working with the dormant Shenzhen Media SA (previously Telkom Media) who still has a valid pay TV licence. Viasat is owned by the Swedish conglomerate Modern Times Group. Viasat carries a range of its own channels but also transnational (what the TV industry call ''3rd party channels'') like the MTV's and Discoveries as well as the international news, music, erotic, nature, business and kids channels.

More about this development as I find out more.

BREAKING. Back, it will be! The 3rd season of Star Wars The Clone Wars set to start on The Cartoon Network on 14 April.

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The 3rd season of Star Wars The Clone Wars will start on The Cartoon Network (DStv 301) on Thursday, 14 April at 17:55 the channel just told me.

There will be 22 new episodes that is set to unspool in the 3rd season of Star Wars The Clone Wars, as well as a marathon showing of the 1st and the 2nd seasons on Saturdays, 9 and 10 April at 07:55. Star Wars fans will enjoy the season entitled ''Secrets Revealed'' as more secrets are definitely revealed, filling in hiherto-unknown arcana and backstory regarding some of the characters and events only alluded to within the set of films.

ALSO READ: Whoopee! Star Wars The Clone Wars welcomes a Whookiee. Chewbacca to appear in the 3rd season finale of Star Wars The Clone Wars.

BREAKING. Terence Bridget and Michelle Pienaar staying on in Binneland when the soap moves to kykNET from April.

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On the heels of the news about Elma Postma returning to a soap when the actress joins Binneland from April when the weekday soap moves to kykNET (DStv 111), I can exclusively reveal that actors Terence Bridget and Michelle Pienaar will both remain and be taken over to the ''new'' soap when the rest of the Binneland Sub Judice cast are dropped in lieu with M-Net's downsizing rquirements.

According to various sources Binneland is set to announce this evening at a party the handover of the soap (that gets cut in half regarding airtime and moves to a niche channel) that Terence Bridget and Michelle Pienaar will remain from the ''law side''. The Sub Judice ''law side'' of the show is being jettisoned in a month's time. At this evening's get-together of the cast to which only select TV press were invited, the third name change in the soap's history to Binneland will be officially ''announced'' which is news I revealed last year in November already. According to kykNET the channel isn't ''announcing'' anything or announcing the new name and won't be issuing a press release about this evening's event or the producers who will be speaking, but is looking at doing a ''campaign'' later to inform would-be viewers that the show has a new name and is moving to kykNET.

I've known about Elma Postma for a while after sources spilled the news to me, but when I asked the soap earlier in the week that I've heard she's joining the show, the soap officially played coy since the news was apparently given to a gossip rag. With a few enquiries I've confirmed that Terence Bridget and Michelle Pienaar will remain as their characters join the hospital staff. Meanwhile numerous on-set sources have told me that several cast members are not happy with a lot of things - (mostly cast members who won't be continuing with the show, I have to clarify, which is probably to be expected) and it relates to the way they were handled, and how the news and the process of the downsizing of the soap were handled - from the various TV channels' side.

And another bit of schadenfreude trivia: One of the Binneland actors (I'm not going to name names) who remains in the show will probably get a bit antsy (again). Maybe he'll try to apologize again. He didn't know - and made a big fool of himself - by doing crazy talk and not knowing a high level channel exec last year and wasn't really respectful in her presence I was told last year. That person is the channel boss of the exact channel Binneland is now going to be on. Akward.

BREAKING. SuperSport fires presenter Andrew Lanning after breach of confidential information.

SuperSport has fired the SuperSport presenter Andrew Lanning with lightning speed citing a breach of confidential information.

In a statement SuperSport says Andrew Lanning, ''while attending a commentators' workshop at SuperSport on Wednesday [February 23], chose to tweet regarding various confidential matters pertaining to both SuperSport and SA Rugby.''

SuperSport says Andrew Lanning's actions were ''contrary to company policy'' and that Andrew Lanning ''was admonished for his conduct''. ''In response to this, Andrew Lanning expressed the opinion that SuperSport was conducting itself in a childish manner and proposed that he part ways with SuperSport. SuperSport, in the circumstances, accepted Andrew Lanning's suggestion to part ways.''

BREAKING. SABC gives Phumelele Ntombela-Mzimande, its ''chief people officer'' the boot after making her job redundant.

Phumelele Ntombela-Nzimande is out at the SABC with the South African public broadcaster's ''chief people officer'' who got the boot.

Phumelele Ntombela-Nzimande, one of the highest paid employees of the SABC, was told that her position is being made redundant and that her position no longer fits in with the SABC's new strategic turnaround plan. She is the wife of the minister of higher education, Blade Nzimande. Mail & Guardian was first to report Phumelele Ntombela-Nzimande's retrenchment who earned R1,7 million per year according to the SABC's annual report.

The SABC is still deeply in the red and is projecting a loss of R103 million for the year ending March 2011.

KITCHEN NIGHTMARE? Is a big food battle brewing between The Food Network and The Home Channel adding a new food slot?

Is a food fight looming? The kitchen knives could be coming out in a food fight for viewers between the newly added Food Network (DStv 185) and The Home Channel (DStv 182) both on MultiChoice's DStv platform that will be targeting the same viewers: the food lovers' market.

I broke the news RIGHT HERE earlier the month that caterer extraordinaire Vicky Crease is getting her own food show on The Home Channel. The show is part of The Home Channel's bigger plan which has been working hard at dishing up a new menu: a dedicated home cooking slot. And The Home Channel is planning even more. That means that The Home Channel will be trying to reach viewers who are also interested in the newly launched Food Network that just got a place at the DStv table.

The Home Channel even acquired programming that was/is part of The Food Network stable in the form of chef Emeril Green and his self-named show Emeril Green that promises to be ''the ultimate guide to green cooking with a gourmet touch''. Besides Emeril Green The Home Channel is dishing up Fresh & Simple with Vicky Crease, and the New Zealand production The Free Range Cook with Annabel Langbein - a sumptuous show about wholesome food and which is shot at her lakeside home. Five Ingredient Fix is presented by Claire Robinson preparing dishes using only 5 ingredients.

''For our viewers, food is at the heart of the home,'' says Vernon Matzopoulos, The Home Channel's managing director. ''It's about family and friends. Homely, fresh and simple.'' Vernon Matzopoulos says viewers can ''look out for lots more shows about real food, for real people.''

ALSO READ: Caterer extraordinaire Vicky Crease to get cooking on The Home Channel.

Thursday, February 24, 2011

BREAKING. E! Entertainment planning to cover the Royal Wedding with a live pre wedding arrival show in London.

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I can spill that E! Entertainment (DStv 124) will be covering the upcoming Royal Wedding of Prince William and Kate Middleton on 29 April live from London in the form of a live pre wedding arrival show and that E! Entertainment will have at least one TV special broadcast on the day of the wedding, 29 April, or the next.

The E! News anchor Giuliana Rancic will be in London I'm told by E! Entertainment after I asked what the channel's Royal Wedding coverage might entail in April. Giuliana Rancic will be doing a live pre wedding show focusing on the arrivals. Although E! Entertainment won't broadcast the actual wedding that will be shown on BBC World News (DStv 400 / TopTV 400) as well as possibly, SABC3 and BBC Entertainment (DStv 120) (all 3 these channels are working on this), E! Entertainment plans to have definitive coverage of the arrival of all the celebrity guests.

E! Entertainment will also broadcast a E! special, Road to the Altar which is a 30 minute special focusing on Prince William and Kate Middleton. Road to the Altar is preliminary scheduled for either the wedding day of 29 April or 30 April.

Judge rules M-Net's Carte Blanche story on Gold Reef City ''blatantly one-sided''; Carte Blanche and broadcaster to appeal.

Although a judge in the South Gauteng High Court has ruled that the investigative magazine Carte Blanche's 2005 insert about alleged negligence at Gold Reef City's theme park was ''blatantly one-sided'', M-Net and Carte Blanche plans to appeal.

In the biggest defamation case in South African history Gold Reef City is claiming R47 million from Carte Blanche and M-Net for the story that alleges rusty, and unsafw steel rails at Gold Reef City's theme park at the time.

Judge Caroline Nicholls ruled that the Carte Blanche story that was broadcast on Sunday, 6 March 2005 was ''blatantly one-sided''. This judgement dealt only with liability, not damages. Judge Caroline Nicholls found that the relevant insert was defamatory but she did not rule on damages, holding that Gold Reef City is entitled to "such damages as they may in due course prove". That stage of the litigation has yet to take place.

''Carte Blanche and M-Net note the judgement and respect the legal process,'' M-Net says in a press release, saying that the show and the pay broadcaster plan to appeal. ''After studying the details of the ruling, we have decided to appeal. We will do so presently.''

Carte Blanche that turned 22 last year and is produced by Combined Artists is South Africa's premier weekly investigative magazine show and has won 126 local and international awards over 23 years of credible and well-done investigative journalism. Carte Blanche has never beofre lost a court case. ''Legal action comes with the territory,'' says M-Net. ''The show provides some of the most valuable journalism in the country and will continue to serve its viewers in this way.

SABC readying 2011 election coverage with televised debates, a new magazine and an election week results show.

The SABC is getting ready to produce election programming for the 2011 South African election that will include broadcasting a TV series of weekly election debates, a weekly magazine show that will be giving viewers' view on service delivery, and a live daily election show during election week.

The first set of election TV coverage will be a show entitled 2011 Election Debates that will run weekly and start on Sunday, 27 February on SABC1 at 18:30 and which will have Vuyo Mvoko as moderator. The hour long show of 12 episodes will feature political parties as well as analysts and is done with the help of the SABC's SABC News division.

The SABC is also planning to produce a 2011 pre election magazine show that will start to run weekly, 6 weeks before the election week. SABC2' Morning Live presenter Leanne Manas and Thabiso Sithole will be the presenters of this show. Political analysts will also appear on this show that will focus on service delivery in South Africa and viewers will get the chance to call in and say how they feel about service delivery in their area.

During election week the SABC plans what the broadcaster says ''90% live show crossing'' to all regions with regard to the 2011 elections. The election coverage will be studio driven with an anchor and some analysts as studio guests.

Logan Naidoo appointed as the new chairperson of the beleaguered state owned signal distributor Sentech.

Logan Naidoo has been appointed as the new chairperson of Sentech, the debt-ridden and beleaguered state owned signal distributor, Sentech.

Joining Logan Naidoo as new Sentech board members are Paris Mashile, the former chairperson of the Independent Communications Authority of South Africa (Icasa) and Sindi Mabaso-Koyana.

The appointment of Logan Naidoo comes after the resignation of Quraysh Patel last year after serving barely six months as Sentech chairperson.

Actor Sam Worthington's production company Full Clip Productions signs a TV deal with NBCUniversal International

Full Clip Productions that belongs to Avatar actor Sam Worthington and NBCUniversal International have signed a development and ''first look'' deal.

This means that Full Clip Productions will make original TV content with NBCUniversal International getting the first look at it and chance to decide to take these shows. Through this deal NBCUniversal International expands its production capacity that already includes Carnival, Monkey and Chocolate Media in Britain and Lark Productions in Canada.

''Sam Worthington has great commercial instincts and a passion for telling original, character-driven stories,'' says Michael Edelstein, president of NBCUniversal International Television Production in a press release. ''We are excited to work with Sam, John and Michael [co-owners of Full Clip Productions] and look forward to helping them develop their extraordinary ideas for audiences around the world.''

''Telling compelling, exciting, stories through characters we feel a deep connection with is what I love about my industry,'' says Sam Worthington in the same press release. ''We have a great opportunity to develop these stories with NBCUniversal International. Television is a terrific medium to captivate an audience.''

Full Clip Productions will executive produce any projects greenlit and produced by NBCUniversal International through the deal.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

BREAKING. M-Net's brand-new Carte Blanche Extra is over. New show will get the boot after just 10 episodes.

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How is this for extra ... short? Following on the heels of M-Net's All Access getting canceled after (story RIGHT HERE) two years on the air I'm told by reliable sources that M-Net is also dumping the brand-new Carte Blanche Extra that will be gone after just 10 episodes.

Carte Blanche Extra on Mondays on the pay broadcaster debuted at the beginning of January this year replacing the weekly Carte Blanche Medical and Carte Blanche Consumer. Both those shows from Combined Artists got the chop and were unceremoniously dumped after just a year on M-Net at the end of last year. Combined Artists also produce the longrunning flagship Sunday Carte Blanche show but that award-winning production is currently in no danger of moving anywhere.

Now I'm told that the local production industry that don't know what to make of this, is starting to get anxious and angry. And nervous. Well informed insiders tell me that ''Carte Blanche Extra will most likely also not be renewed''. Says another source to me exclusively: ''Carte Blanche Extra is only shooting to episode 10. It's sad because our ratings have been good from after the 2nd episode''.

I asked M-Net over the weekend for comment and since then several times this week about the fate and future of Carte Blanche Extra. Similar to All Access M-Net is not saying anything about cancelation. Earlier today, responding about All Access, M-Net said: ''All locally produced content like the Carte Blanche Extra and All Access contracts are for a fixed period of time,'' says M-Net who is now placing an emphasis on local reality shows on the main M-Net channel. ''This does not necessarily mean that All Access and Carte Blanche Extra will fall away from the schedule permanently,'' says M-Net.

ALSO READ: Is it all over for All Access on M-Net?
ALSO READ: M-Net planning to move most of its local content off of the main M-Net channel.