Thursday, December 29, 2011

Kim Kardashian and Kris Humphries wedding coming to E! Entertainment in South Africa as a 2 part special on 15 and 22 January 2012.

E! Entertainment (DStv 124) waited way too long to schedule and show it for South African viewers, but now South Africans will finally (and in retrospect with only big irony and wry smiles left) be able to watch the Kim Kardashian and Kris Humphries wedding on 15 and 22 January in two 2 hour TV specials.

In August I broke the news RIGHT HERE that South African viewers will only see the Kardashian wedding on E! Entertainment in January 2012 and on 15 and 22 January, and E! Entertainment just confirmed these specific dates.

On Saturday 8 January at 23:00 on E! Entertainment in Keeping Up with the Kardashians viewers would be able to see ''The Proposal'' in which ''Kris Humphries decides he's ready to ask for Kim's hand in marriage''. But when Kris and Kim get into an argument, Kris wonders if he is jumping into this way too fast.

Part 1 of Kim's Fairytale Wedding: A Kardashian Event will be shown as a 120 minute special on Sunday 15 January at 22:00. ''The family is crazed when Kim decides to get married right away; Kris J moves up her plastic surgery and Khloe voices concerns about Kris H, who is feeling left out of the wedding plans.''

Part 2 of Kim's Fairytale Wedding: A Kardashian Event is also 120 minutes long and is the actual wedding which will be shown on E! Entertainment on Sunday 22 January at 22:00. ''After a whirlwind engagement filled with wedding planning chaos, family turmoil, bachelor parties and cold feet, Kim and Kris Humphries finally say 'I do' in the wedding of their dreams.''

BREAKING. Kêrels wat Kook a new kykNET dating show coming in 2012 from Penguin Films, now looking for contestants who want to cook.

Kêrels wat Kook (''Guys who Cook'') is a new planned reality show on kykNET (DStv 111) which will be broadcast in 2012, produced for the Afrikaans entertainment channel by Penguin Films.

kykNET has made no announcement about the show to the press or issued a press release regarding entry details and what the show is about, but the Kêrels wat Kook producers are looking for men aged between 22 and 30.

These contestants will have to cook dishes to win a woman's heart. Penguin Films is also looking for women who like to first take a bite before they choose and want to eat and then select a man to go out with. The closing date for Kêrels wat Kook entries is 13 January 2012 and people have to contact before this date.

Kêrels wat Kook will be the second cooking-themed competition show from broadcaster M-Net, which will have MasterChef South Africa running on the M-Net channel from 20 March 2012 and Kêrels wat Kook on kykNET which is an M-Net channel.

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Oprah Winfrey back in South Africa in January 2012 for a very special event - the graduation ceremony of her first class of matric girls.

Oprah Winfrey will jet in to South Africa again in January 2012 for a very special event with a dress she specifically chose and kept for the upcoming occasion five years ago already.

The talk show host who now runs her Oprah Winfrey Network or OWN TV channel in America and who received an educational honourary degree from the Free State University this year, will be back again in January for a special graduation ceremony of her first class of girls to pass matric at The Oprah Winfrey Leadership Academy for Girls at Henley-on-Klip.

Oprah Winfrey who continues to pump millions of her own money into her school, has decided to also pay for the tertiary education of her students. While some have received bursaries, Winfrey is footing the bill for the 72 girls finishing high school this year. All of the school's first matric class will go on to tertiary study at acclaimed universities and colleges across America while a few chose to study in South Africa.

''I know this whether you're a government or just a person: when you invest in a girl, you change a community,'' Oprah Winfrey told Sheryl Lansberg, COO of the social network Facebook in a televised and online interview in September.

While The Oprah Winfrey Show is in the last of its repeat run on SABC3, the webcasts on her Facebook page that can be watched any time, has attracted such a huge following that it's been added to her TV channel to help boost viewership for the struggling channel.

Meanwhile her new talk show, Oprah's Next Chapter will also start in January on OWN as a series of on-location interviews with thought leaders and celebrities.

About the webcasts Oprah Winfrey says ''people are acting and interacting with us at the same time. It's just a fantastic experience. I'm going to build on the success of the connection the the web response so I'm really excited about it.''

MasterChef South Africa fails to add a single woman as a main celebrity chef judge for the upcoming M-Net reality show.

Not a single South African woman appears to be good enough to be a part of MasterChef South Africa as a celebrity judge.

The upcoming reality show starting on 20 March 2012 at 19:30 on M-Net for 13 episodes, will only have 3 male chefs as the main judges. Two of the men will be white.

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Whale Wars on Animal Planet following the icy exploits of the Sea Shepherd, renewed for a 5th season.

Whale Wars on Animal Planet (DStv 264) produced by The Lizard Trading Company has been renewed for a 5th season.

The docu-reality drama follows the exploits of Captain Paul Watson and the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society in the icy Antarctic waters where the crew battle Japanese whalers. The 5th season of Whale Wars will start in America in June 2012.

The latest campaign called Operation Divine Wind is the Sea Shepherd's eighth whale defense campaign, and features three ships with a crew of nearly 100 international volunteers aboard the Steve Irwin, the Bob Barker and the Brigitte Bardot ships.

''Whale Wars has been groundbreaking and riveting television, because each side is willing to risk it all in the Southern Ocean," says Marjorie Kaplan, the president and general manager of Animal Planet in a press release. ''Last year, we all thought the Sea Shepherds had ended whaling but now they are once again preparing to risk much for what they believe in."

''It makes little political or economic sense for the Japanese fleet to return to whale in the Antarctic waters," says Captain Paul Watson. "But it appears their motivation has shifted from hunting whales to refusing to surrender to Sea Shepherd."

Friday, December 23, 2011

As 2011 ends, special festive season messages from South Africa's big broadcasters, TV channels and the pay TV operators.

As the end of 2011 approaches, I've once again asked the biggest broadcasters and TV channels in South Africa, as well as the pay TV platforms and operators, for their festive wishes and if they want to share end-of-the-year messages with their viewers and subscribers.

Here in their own words are the special festive season messages from South Africa's biggest TV players.

''We are very proud and highly encouraged by the continuing support received from our viewers and advertisers during 2011. The constantly evolving television landscape has become both exciting and challenging with all the envisaged changes around digitization of the airwaves that will result in the introduction of new channels in the near future.''

''Viewers can look forward to an interesting New Year with an exciting programming roll-out. The channel would like to take this opportunity to wish the people of Mzansi a Merry Christmas and a New Year full of blessings!''
- Leo Manne, SABC1 acting channel head

''2011 has been a year of pleasurable viewing on SABC2. It's been a year in which we were privileged to bring our viewers some of the big spectaculars for the year. It goes without saying that programmes require support and exposure to reach our target audience. To SABC2's viewers, thank you for taking the time to join us daily and celebrating our great nation in all its wonderful richness and diversity. We wish you a blessed and safe holiday break. We look forward to a 2012 with educational and entertaining experiences, filled with many prosperous opportunities.''
- Pulane Tshabalala, SABC2 acting channel head

''With shows like Top Billing, Dr Oz and Survivor in our portfolio, SABC3 remains associated with the pursuit of excellence, success and style for reflecting people who live life positively and passionately; people who have a real sense that they have arrived.''

''Our audiences have their roots firmly rooted in Africa but they are cosmopolitan with a global outlook. When they move, South Africa moves. Shaped by history, they are now defining the future. So, as wel look forward to 2012 may we wish you a blessed time over the festive period with family and loved ones, and every success in the year to come.''
- Ed Worster, SABC3 acting channel head
''2011 was a challenging year for the channel but once again, teamwork was a common strength throughout, and in true style all the various disciplines pulled together. You've all heard this before – content is king and the right content mix drives audiences. The demand for local content continues to drive our market.''

'' has to stay on top of the ever changing trends, what our audience wants, viewership patterns and what they aspire to. In 2011 the channel launched new reality brands. The content strategy was focused on delivering fresh and entertaining content that is relevant and targeted. Step Up or Step Out was the first street dance reality show produced in South Africa. The dance reality genre delivered solid ratings, achieving crossover appeal throughout the country, and across all age groups and demographics.''

'' also took a bold step to launch three different celebrity reality brands, Blame It On Fame with the Y-FM twins; Rolling with Zola and So What with the ''sushi king'', Kenny Kunene. Let’s also not forget our other local brands – eKasi, eNews, Rhythm City, 3rd Degree and Scandal which continue to shine.''

''Look out for the ''my'' campaign that kicks off in the New Year. On the international front, strives to be the movie channel of choice. We continue to improve our movie slate. Viewers can look out for shows like Fantasia, Modern Family, Love and Hip Hop, Mel B: It's a Scary World and many more new series in the New Year.''

''We continue to find opportunities for growth; together we can make the channel of choice across the African continent. We look forward to 2012 and wish our viewers a festive and safe holiday season, and a successful new year ahead.''
- Monde Twala, group head of the channels division

''2011 was a landmark year for pay-broadcaster, M-Net.''

''We celebrated 25 years of magical entertainment and now proudly have more than 30 channels across Africa.''

''Enjoy this magical time of year by celebrating the festive season with M-Net and M-Net HD. As thanks for sharing the best in entertainment during 2011, M-Net has planned a schedule full of family favourites and fun-filled premiere content to match the holiday spirit. M-Net is also happily planning to move into the New Year with some trusted humdingers such as American Idol XI, new epic adventures like Terra Nova, and the most dramatic original production we have ever seen ... MasterChef SA.''

''To the millions of viewers who enjoy our channels: you are the real stars, the people who are the core of our existence. Enjoy every minute of the festive season and thanks again for sharing the magic with us.''
- Lani Lombard, M-Net corporate communications manager

Mzansi Magic:
''What an amazing year this has been for Mzansi Magic. We would like to thank our viewers for their incredible support, the production companies for their continued contributions and all the people on camera and behind-the-scenes, who have turned our channel into such a big success story. May you have an awesome festive season and prosperous new year.''

''We look forward to providing Mzansi Magic viewers with even more local programming in 2012, including the launch of a series of exciting new shows, building on our promise to bring you proudly South African stories."
- Lebone Maema, Mzansi Magic channel head

''DStv is always looking for ways to add more value to its offering. During 2011, DStv introduced new channels and services such as DStv BoxOffice.''

''We also continued to offer innovative technology solutions such as the USB Drifta and the Walka to access our mobile TV service.''

''As a caring company, DStv continues to impact the lives of those who are less fortunate. We provided a range of assistance to various communities and charities through our various social responsibility projects.''

''DStv would like to wish all its loyal subscribers a safe, happy and joyful festive period. Thank you for making 2011 so much more – we look forward to the year 2012!''

''From everyone at TopTV we'd like to wish you and yours a safe and happy time over the festive season.''

''Also, to our subscribers, thank you for your support in 2011. We've gone from strength to strength and look forward to bringing you even more TVtainment in 2012.''

Thursday, December 22, 2011

BACK FROM BLACK: TopTV channels visible again after TopTV suffered another major technical network problem this year.

Pay TV operator TopTV seems to have finally ''repaired'' whatever malfunctions the South African pay TV operator experienced when multiple TV channels simply went black.

While TopTV subscribers wondered what was going on, TopTV which suffered its latest major technical network problem this year, didn't say a word to the press about it. 

TopTV lost various major channels, including SABC1, SABC2, SABC3 and

Meanwhile TopTV has quietly removed Hi Nolly (TopTV 120) and One Music (TopTV 506) from its channel line-up and electronic programme guide (EPG). Both channels were accessible after their signals were suspended but showed a ''channel suspended message''.

The message on both channels, discontinued due to the bankrupty of the channel distributor Hi TV in Nigeria, said ''a replacement is being obtained''. TopTV haven't said a word for almost a month now about new replacement channels, while the two channels have now been quietly removed and can't be accessed anymore.

When The Showbiz Report on returns with new episodes in 2012 viewers won't see Nicky Greenwall.

You're reading it here first.

I can exclusively break the news that when The Showbiz Report on returns in 2012, viewers won't be seeing the show's longtime presenter Nicky Greenwall.

The Showbiz Report,'s weekly entertainment news magazine show on Saturday nights is currently off the air and replaced with pre-packaged rundown lists. I can reveal however that The Showbiz Report will start again on Saturday 14 January with the first brand-new produced episode. It will however not feature Nicky Greenwall anchoring the episode from a Cape Town locale as has been the case the past few years.

''Nicky Greenwall will not appear on screen when the show returns in January,'' answered after I made several enquiries about the show's return. ''She will do voice-overs,'' says the broadcaster. According to insiders Nicky Greenwall's full return to the show will only really be in mid-February 2012 when she returns from maternity leave. 

She gave birth to her and Robin Fryer's daughter Georgina Fryer on 28 September and has been on maternity leave since after finishing and pre-recording the well-produced and critically-liked profile series, The Close Up.

BREAKING. M-Net creating the new top-executive position of Director: Movie Channels to look after the pay broadcaster's movie channels.

M-Net is creating a brand-new top-level executive position entitled Director: Movie Channels with the person who will be answering and reporting directly to M-Net CEO, Patricia van Rooyen.

The Director: Movie Channels will be overseeing all of the pay TV broadcaster's internal operations across all movie channels and will be responsible for the scheduling, marketing, budgets and staff development of M-Net's movie channels as a separate division as well as driving the success of M-Net's movie offering from the head office in Randburg.

M-Net's movie channels and the movies acquired for its general entertainment TV channels are seen by over 5 million subscribers across Africa.

The Director: Movie Channels will have to lead the internal operations of the movie channels and will have to have a firm grasp of consumer movie tastes, will have an in-depth knowledge and love of movies, full understanding of intellectual property rights, experience in marketing in the movie world as well as experience in television and knowledge of studios structures and offerings.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Programming note: The vastly-improved The Tech Report on the eNews Channel looking back at the tech year on 29 December at 21:30.

The Tech Report, the local weekly magazine show looking at technology, gadgets and cyberspace in all its varied forms, on Thursdays at 21:30 on the eNews Channel (DStv 403) has a special '2011 Year End Special next Thursday, 29 December.

The new second season of The Tech Report on the eNews Channel is suddenly a vastly-improved, well-researched, and a much better presented TV show with a very noticeable improvement in production values that speaks of a much better focus, actual conscious effort and better journalism directed at the technology industry. Everything about it is better, and much better.

The eNews Channel wouldn't go wrong to add The Tech Report - as it's done and produced now - as a permanent all year round weekly magazine show. The show is now informative, more cutting-edge, comes across with a hugely improved look and feel, and suddenly feels much more purposefully driven to be relevant and tech-newsie with just the right consumer slant.

Within a few short episodes the second season of The Tech Report has moved from being largely irrelevant and nice-to-have in its first season to must-see television. It's much more agenda-setting, bringing viewers news and information you haven't yet heard and don't yet know.

Case in point is The Tech Report's 2011 Year End Special next week - a look back at this past year and the role technology played in some of the biggest global stories of the year.

''From revolutions to natural disasters, remembering global icons, to killing global villains. From Cairo's Tahrir Square to the heart of Captalism in New York, from a grieving Cupertino to a world that waited in wrapt anticipation for a slew of new products, innovations and must have gadgets. For sneak-peaks at what can be expected connect with The Tech Report,'' says the show about next week's episode.

This episode of The Tech Report will repeats on 30 December at 10:30, 31 December at 13:30, 1 January at 18:30, 2 January at 21:30 and 3 January at 12:30.

QUITE COOL. They made it: Fox International Channels (FIC) Africa has a cool Christmas card for 2011.

This is the cool Christmas card from Fox International Channel (FIC) Africa, which of course runs the Fox Entertainment, Fox Retro, Fuel and FX channels on South Africa's TopTV pay TV operator (as well as on other platforms elsewhere in Africa).

''Against all odds we made it,'' is the wry, funny and tongue-in-cheek line on the Christmas card, touting the buzz-worthy shows Falling Skies, Dangerous Encounters and of course the zombie show The Walking Dead Fox showed viewers this year.

Programming note: Pasella on SABC2 turns back the clock with the next 2 episodes on Wednesdays looking back at inserts of the past decade.

The weekly entertainment magazine show Pasella on SABC2 on Wednesdays at 19:30 - now a decade old on the channel in its current incantation as produced by Tswelopele Productions - will be going retro for the next two weeks by looking back and replaying inserts from the past 10 years.

In the first of the nostalgia laden two parter this evening, 21 December, Pasella looks back at the years 2001 to 2006. The presenters - as they looked then - shares recipes, visit places across South Africa and do profile pieces.

In the second part of the two parter on Wednesday 28 December, Pasella turns back the clock for the years of 2007 until 2011 and look back at inserts of the past five years.

BREAKING. TopTV's porn plans: Neither Discovery nor Fox has anything to say about it - and here's why it's news and matters.

You're reading it here first.

Neither Discovery Networks International nor Fox International Channels (FIC) Africa has anything to say about the South African pay TV operator TopTV's plans to launch a new stand-alone package of 3 pornographic channels.

Both Discovery Networks International and FIC Africa have multiple channels they provide to TopTV's platform since its commercial launch in May 2010. Discovery has Discovery Science, Investigation Discovery (ID) and TLC as channels on TopTV, while FIC Africa provides Fox Entertainment, FX, Fox Retro and Fuel, and there's the Fox News Channel.

Neither Discovery nor Fox have any comment on TopTV's controversial plans to add R18 rated channels after TopTV signed a carriage agreement with Playboy TV. ''Discovery can not comment on operator packages,'' says Discovery Networks International, while Fox sufficed with an official ''no comment''.

The silence says as much as anything. Both Discovery Networks International and FIC Africa are the biggest content providers to TopTV - in fact their channels, especially Fox, are the most popular, which means they're the strongest drivers of subscriber growth and subscriber retention.

Both Discovery and Fox will have very high CPRs (cost per ratings) which basically means they're very valuable - these channels and the shows such as Falling Skies and The Walking Dead on FX bring subscribers and viewers - and keep them. It's no random fluke that MultiChoice decided to add Discovery's TLC and Investigation Discovery (ID) to their DStv platform this year as well - it would not have happened if MultiChoice did not consider these channels an asset.

With the delicate ecosystem of a pay TV system where a collection of channels create a combined TV content product offering both Discovery and Fox stand to be impacted by TopTV's controversial decision.

With vast resistance against TopTV's porn plans, and growing, including a massive boycott called by various faith groups including Christians, Muslims and Hindus against TopTV as well as TopTV sponsors and advertisers, its likely to have an impact on channel providers such as Discovery and Fox.

If TopTV subscribers cancel their subscriptions because of the boycott or because they no longer want to be associated with TopTV's expanded pornographic TV offering, it will have an impact on the viewership levels of the channels that Discovery Networks International and FIC Africa provide to TopTV.

In essence, TopTV's actions on the one side by starting a new controversial subscription service on its pay TV platform, could have repercussions on the other side of its pay TV platform.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

8 out the top 10 most desired TV shows worldwide are shown on M-Net; TorrentFreak releases its most pirated TV list for 2011.

Dexter (M-Net), followed by Game of Thrones (M-Net) are the most pirated and TV shows illegally downloaded the most during 2011, according to a list just released by TorrentFreak.

With 3,62 million downloads per single episode, Dexter was the most pirated show of this year. Game of Thrones had 3,4 million downloads. The Big Bang Theory (M-Net) with 3,09 million made the 3rd place and House (M-Net) with 2,76 million came 4th. How I Met Your Mother ( was 5th with 2.41 million.

This means that M-Net in South Africa is showing 4 out of the top 5 most desired TV shows that people want to watch and don't want to wait for.

The other 5 rounding out the top 10 also gives M-Net a 4 out of 5 score. The rest include Glee on Vuzu which is an M-Net channel with 2,2 million illegal downloads, The Walking Dead (FX) with 2,06 million, Terra Nova starting in January on M-Net with 1,91 million, True Blood (M-Net) with 1,85 million and Breaking Bad (M-Net) with 1,73 million.

''Despite the fact that Dexter and runner-up Game of Thrones have more downloads than television viewers in the U.S., the overall number of TV show downloads is leveling off," the site reported.

''The percentage of TV show downloaders, from the U.S. in particular, has steadily declined in recent years," the site concluded. "This is in part thanks to alternative viewing options such as Hulu and Netflix. In other regions, such as Australia and Europe, the demand for U.S. TV shows remains strong."

JINGLE WELLS. staffers getting a 14th cheque ... since next year there won't a 13th bonus cheque.

You're reading it here first.

I was told a week or so ago that group CEO Marcel Golding decided to spread some extra cheer this Christmas: staffers are apparently getting a 14th cheque this year - an extra one above the 13th cheque (which is the usual end-of-year) bonus.

But don't get too happy. The additional 14th cheque given to staffers are because there won't be a bonus 13th cheque next year. I'm told by sources that workers at the commercial free-to-air broadcaster was informed that the extra ching-ching cheer is because money will be tight next year.

Due to the commercial introduction and launch of digital terrestrial television (DTT) in South Africa from mid-2012 which will see broadcasters launch additional digital television channels, is telling personnel that the huge investment in this switch-over is going to come at a price. will have to pump a lot of money as capital expenditure into infrastructure, content cost and operations expansion next year.

I asked to please confirm the news about the 14th cheque given to staffers.

'' doesn't comment on employees' salaries and benefits in the media,'' says Vasili Vass,'s group head of corporate affairs.

Monday, December 19, 2011

BREAKING. TopTV's porn plans: South Africa's Muslims, Hindus join Christians as vast resistance grows against pornographic channels.

South African Muslims and Hindus are now adding their voices to 6 major Christian faith based groups as well as the Family Policy Institute (FPI) and South Africa's Film and Publication Board (FPB) as major public pressure and opposition is growing against pay TV operator TopTV's plans to launch pornographic TV channels in South Africa.

TopTV is already getting slammed by criticism through online social networks by TopTV subscribers and the general public about its plans. Now the South African Muslim Network (Samnet) as well as the South African Hindu Maha Sabha in the country are also denoucing TopTV's plans for porn.

The groups are joining a growing movement from civil society as well as faith-based organisations within South Africa supporting a boycott against TopTV as well as TopTV sponsors and advertisers. They're asking subscribers to cancel their TopTV contracts.

TopTV plans to start a stand-alone, separate package of porn channels with an R18 rating, which it calls its Adult Pack, at R199 per month for three 24 hour pornographic channels that will require a separate PIN code and a separate call centre to be called for activation. In a letter to subscribers TopTV told subscribers it will start the porno package on 20 December 2011. A TopTV spokesperson then said the new package will only launch in 2012.

South Africa's Film and Publication Board (FPB) said it will ''strongly oppose'' TopTV's porn application. South Africa's broadcasting authority, the Independent Communications Authority of South Africa (Icasa) has not approved TopTV's porn plans and has not yet called for a public hearing date following the publication of TopTV's ''application for authorisation of channels'' in the Government Gazette on 17 November. TopTV says the pay TV operator has the right to start the channels despite not having an authorisation certificate for the channels from Icasa.

Now the Islamic organisation Samnet says that it too will be boycotting TopTV as well as advertisers and sponsors involved with TopTV.  The South African Hindu Maha Sabha says they reject TopTV's plans for porn channels and will ''continue to protest and object to its introduction''.

ALSO READ: Analysis - The fight for the heart of TopTV: as it ponders and pushes for porn, a pay TV operator comes to a crossroads.
ALSO READ: Analysis - TopTV's porn plans: A deeper look at the bigger problem with the pay TV platform.
ALSO READ: TopTV: From ''strong Christian ethical codes'' and ''not wanting to poison the minds of millions of South African children'' to pushing for porn.

Sunday, December 18, 2011

INTERVIEW. Tony Maddox, managing director of CNN International: 'An incredible year' that 'often feels like a chess board'.

Tony Maddox doesn't run the world. But like a modern era Atlas he does carry a huge responsibility - that of running a 24 hour journalistic media machine that covers the world.

Tony Maddox is the executive vice president and managing director of CNN International (DStv 401) and was in London last week. I had the opportunity to ask Tony Maddox a few questions.

I asked him whether CNN International and the global news operation's resources felt stretched given the massive breaking news and ongoing and unfolding news stories, especially coming from Africa this year. I also wondered about the impact that the explosion of social media is having on CNN, and asked about the many changed the CNN International schedule went through this year.

This has probably been the most tumultuous year for news, and news events, internationally ranging from natural disasters to collective man-made and man-shaped events, as well as resistance to intrusion by governments allowing journalists in places and territories. Has it been harder for CNN International to keep track of it all, to have resources available and get it there, and quickly?
Tony Maddox: It has been an incredible year and extremely hard work for our teams, but actually a lot of the key stories have been rumbling along for a fair amount of time, periodically coming to a head.
If you take the crisis in the European Union (EU), or even the situations in Libya and Egypt, all of those have ebbed and flowed over a period of months and we're able to plan a rotation of crews accordingly.
It's also important to note that we don't just suddenly show up in these places; almost invariably we have a presence on the ground that means we can cover and keep track of breaking stories.
So we're constantly asking ourselves who we need to rotate in or rotate out – it often feels like a chess board, especially this year. But the key is to have a rotation planned around events, so if one story suddenly starts to build, we can easily draft more resources in to cover it.

'we don't just show up in these places; almost invariably we have a presence on the ground'

With the number of magazine news shows specifically devoted to Africa on CNN International growing, there has also been this intense breaking news, as well as on-going hard news narratives this whole year on this continent – civil unrest and now right at the end the climate change conference which CNN all covered in depth.
Did the events taking place in Africa create or cause CNN International to make any permanent or semi-permanent changes in coverage – from how news is gathered and reported to structural changes, for instance more people assigned to Africa on a more permanent or longer basis? How does CNN International see Africa from a news gathering perspective possibly different now than what the case might have been last year or in the past?
Africa is changing all the time, and emerging in stature on the world stage, so I think our investment in our hubs in East Africa and Lagos and increased commitment to Johannesburg have been timely, but they have long been part of our plans.
These hubs have been an enormous help in covering big stories such as Somalia, and I think our COP17 coverage has benefitted greatly from having a strong team on the ground in South Africa, as well as through initiatives such as the CNN Ecosphere, which was a great success.
Our investment in these bureaux means we can react faster to stories in Africa, and deploy additional resources where necessary.
I think, longer term, the key to Africa is to watch closely how it is changing. Investment is coming into the continent all the time from places like China, and there are big home-grown brands in Africa that are making an impact internationally.
I think the perception of the continent has altered for good; if you look at the pace of development I can't see how Africa will fail to increase in global significance, so we see it as a very important part of our newsgathering operation.

'it's important to state that CNN's commitment to Africa is greater than ever'

The CNN International schedule for the Europe, Middle East and Africa (EMEA) region has changed a lot this year – it feels that it's changed a lot more than previous years or in the past. How far is the overall ''plan'' - for instance I would guess that American Morning which we saw, might be replaced by the new show in 2012?
How much might the CNN International schedule for African and South African viewers still change next year because of what CNN is doing at and looking at overall schedule wise? I often hear from people who say they struggle a bit to find out where their show moved to, or if it's still on.
I think it's important to state that CNN's commitment to Africa is greater than ever. Our African programmes have a very loyal following, and are successful for us as a channel, and we're also looking at ways to improve their presence online and on mobile.
I would hope viewers are always able to find out when their favourite show is airing, either from the programme pages on, our on-air promos, or through local listings.
Of course we are always looking at our schedule to make sure it works as well as possible, but the viewers are at the heart of that process.
Naturally we also want to bring our African content to international audiences, but we want to make sure we're bringing our viewers in Africa the programmes they want at the right times, so that will always underpin our philosophy.

What is the feeling about Inside Africa, African Voices, Marketplace Africa and what these shows have been doing so far?
I think all three shows offer something different, not just for audiences in Africa, but also for international viewers looking to find out more about the continent.
They work extremely well as a triumvirate, but also as programmes within their own right. The key for us is to make sure they remain relevant and that is down to the production teams, which I think are among the most committed in the network.
There is real passion there, and I think the stories, the quality of the guests, and the presentation of the shows themselves reflects that. We're also looking at how we add to their presence online and on mobile, both of which are important for audiences in Africa and elsewhere. These programmes are here to stay.

'social media is no substitute for professional journalism'

With social media is it becoming easier for CNN International to report and find and source news, the same, or more difficult, or how is social media changing the news gathering aspect on the one side for CNN and with the news delivery on the other side? How has it changed even this year from previous years?
Social media has become an integral and accepted part of the newsgathering process in a very short period of time; but it has also been central to many stories, from the riots in London to the uprisings in Cairo and Tripoli. We're also seeing governments and police forces using it too.
I think as journalists social media is extremely exciting, but we have to be wary about its use. Firstly, and most importantly, social media is no substitute for professional journalism. In fact, its increasing prominence makes the rigour and experience of professional newsgathering organisations more crucial than ever.

What working in this new environment boils down to, is actually quite simple – it's good journalism.
It's about looking to as many sources as possible – including, but not limited to social media – to get the fullest picture of a story.

That's where the skill, training and professionalism of our editorial staff come in, and those elements remain critical to our approach.
We also use social media to communicate with our audiences – our journalists use Twitter enthusiastically and many have followings in five figures – and we use it alongside TV and online to break stories.
We also have CNN iReport, which is our citizen journalism platform.
iReport now has almost a million registered contributors and submissions from around the world, and the latest version has many features that introduce a social platform too, so that aspect of community is getting closer to the heart of what we do.
So I think we're embracing social media in the right way, giving audiences more of what they would expect from CNN.

The Walt Disney Company Africa shares some Disney magic for the festive season.

The Walt Disney Company Africa sent over this magical Christmas greeting card with festive wishes for the season (I'll share it with you; watch it right here).

The Walt Disney Company of course has a major presence in South Africa through The Walt Disney Company Africa.

The Walt Disney Company runs the Disney Channel (DStv 303), Disney XD (DStv 304) and Disney Junior (DStv 309) through Disney Channels Worldwide, has ESPN (DStv 230), ESPN Classic (DStv 231) and sells a major amount of TV series and movies to M-Net and the SABC through Disney-ABC International Television (DIAT).

And that's just television which is the small little massive bit I'm tracking.

Programming note: State of Denial documentary coming this week to Al Jazeera, concluding its Libyan downfall TV series.

State of Denial, a must-see documentary this coming week produced and directed by Anne Reevell of Moonbeam Films and executive produced by South Africa's Oscar, Emmy and Bafta winner Jon Blair, will end Al Jazeera's (DStv 406 / TopTV 401) series on Libya: Gadaffi: The End Game.

State of Denial will be shown on Thursday 22 December at 22:00 (South African time) with repeats on Friday 23 December at 14:00, Saturday 24 December at 03:00 and Sunday 26 December at 08:00.

State of Denial explains in forensic detail why the Libyan downfall was not straightforward and examines why, in spite of little public support and a massive international military assault, Gaddafi managed to hang on to power for as long as he did.

The documentary charts the disintegration of Gaddafi's brutal regime through the accounts of the insiders, defectors and military advisers who helped bring it about.

New History documentary TV series, Mankind: Story of All of Us, currently being filmed in and around Cape Town.

You're reading it here first.

I'm told that History (DStv 254) is currntly filming a new documentary, Mankind: Story of All of Us here in Cape Town, South Africa.

The new documentary TV series is expected to be shown in South Africa around the 4th quarter of 2012 - about a year from now.

Durban audition of M-Net's MasterChef South Africa brings peppermint cake and lures seafood creations.

Photos: Trevor Crighton/M-Net

The Durban auditions of M-Net's MasterChef South Africa took place yesterday in KwaZulu/Natal, following this past Saturday's MasterChef South Africa auditions in Cape Town.

One of the entries yesterday in Durban for MasterChef South Africa was this caramel and peppermint tart above, completely with MasterChef logo.

The reality show will start on the pay broadcaster on 20 March 2012 at 19:30 for 13 episodes. MasterChef South Africa is produced by Curious Pictures and Lucky Bean Media and the winner will get R8 million worth of prizes including his or her own restaurant.

Another contestant who showed up at Durban's MasterChef South Africa auditions yesterday at the Suncoast Casino was Louise van Balderen (30) from La Mercy. She attempted to wow the MasterChef South Africa judges with her ''inspired'' seafood creation. Contestants travelled from as far as Pretoria and even Port Alfred to bring their food creations to the chefs for a taste.

''We expect MasterChef South Africa will be the most talked-about series of 2012,'' says Lani Lombard, M-Net's communications manager. ''Contestants set a very high standard and we would like to thank everyone who entered for going to such extraordinary lengths and efforts with their culinary creations.''

''In Johannesburg we had the largest number of entries – with some even trying their luck more than once in the day,'' says Lani Lombard. ''Cape Town is undoubtedly the 'foodie' capital of South Africa, and as such the quality of the dishes was incredibly high and the entrants' knowledge about food was extremely impressive. This weekend Durban proved to be the most creative city of them all, with presentation being the focus of the day!''

Curious Pictures and Lucky Bean Media are now in the process of short-listing only the very best contestants from around the country. These contestants will gather in January 2012 to cook a hot dish for the show's judges after which they will be whittled down once more.

THEY'RE BACK, SWEETIES. Absolutely Fabulous trash the Kardash in the first of 3 new episodes coming in 2012 as the sitcom returns.

I've asked but BBC Worldwide Channels running BBC Entertainment (DStv 120) in South Africa and Africa, doesn't yet know if or when the new series of Absolutely Fabulous specials will be shown here.

A set of new Absolutely Fabulous episodes will start in January in America on the BBC America channel and will most probably be shown in South Africa sometime in 2012 as well. There's 3 new episodes of Absolutely Fabulous as part of the 20th anniversary of the hilarious British sitcom.

Jennifer Saunders and Joanna Lumley both reprise their roles as Edina Monsoon and Patsy Stone.

In the clip above - the first teaser - the fashionistas, still going strong in a new decade but wondering about how the world has changed, ponder the phenomenon called ... ''Kardashian''.

''There's a new disease called the Kasdashians, darh-ling,'' says Edina.

''Each one with their own reality show. They're multiplying. Like head lice,'' says a disgusted Patsy as she takes a smoke.

Saturday, December 17, 2011

DINO-DRAMA: Wannabe dino postcards for M-Net's Terra Nova gets an 'outayamind?' tongue-lashing from Dinotopia creator James Gurney.

The highly anticipated Steven Spielberg dinosaur time-travel family drama Terra Nova will start with a special 2 hour double episode premiering on 25 January 2012 at 20:30 on M-Net, and the cheque uhm contentious postcard is proverbially not in the mail.

James Gurney of Gurney Journey has this interesting (and hilarious) and embarrassing tale of Ogilvy Johannesburg allegedly wanting to rip off his idea and use this artist and illustrator who's very well-known for his beautiful Dinotopia illustrations - to help with the marketing campaign for the upcoming dinosaur show in January on M-Net.

In fact, Ogilvy Johannesburg used his illustrations and made a mock-up without his knowledge, and then sent it to him. You have to read it yourself to believe it.

James Gurney published the message he received (read it in full on Gurney Journey) and the mock-up above is the rough layout from Ogilvy Johannesburg he received with it:

''Hi, I'm an art director at Ogilvy Johannesburg. I stumbled across your beautiful illustrations and I would love to use your artwork for a campaign we are working on. I'm working on a campaign for a new show called Terra Nova.

''For the campaign we are using the postcard device the whole "Wish you were here", those postcards you received on holiday from exotic locations, except ours are along the lines of 'Wish you weren't here'.

"There are a few things we still have to work out that's why I would love you to work with us. I have attached a rough layout, I have combined two of your illustrations in this comp. If you have any questions give me a shout."

James Gurney gave them a SHOUT alright. ''WHADDAYA OUTAYAMIND? SURE, I’D BE GLAD TO RIP OFF MY OWN IDEA TO HELP ADVERTISE YOUR DUMB TV SHOW!'' he said and sent them his idea of a TV show (must-read satire which contains young advertising executives no less).

[Editor's note: You cannot just take someone's creative content and (already) use it without their permission - especially not if you're a commercial enterprise. Also, as in this case, if you knew Dinotopia as an art director, you'd know the premise is peaceful co-existence of man an dinosaur - Dinotopia as a ''brand'' would never ''subvert'' itself to be associated with an ''opposite'' idea. An eye-popping lack of research, lack of tact and a lack of knowledge of the sensitivities regarding and governing intellectual property rights.]

Friday, December 16, 2011

The Americans, a new spy drama that will be set in the 80s and showing remarkable similarities to another old show, could pop up on FX in 2012.

Another interesting new TV drama might come to South African viewers in 2012 and go straight to FX (TopTV 110) - The Americans, a brand-new spy drama set in the 1980s with a pilot episode which will be filmed for America's FX channel.

In television everything old is new again, and The Americans shows remarkable similarities to the 80s drama Scarecrow and Mrs King (which South African viewers saw on the SABC's then TV1 and dubbed in Afrikaans as Spioen-Spioen), but in a sense reversed.

The Americans, if picked up in 2012 as a new drama series would most probably go to FX if shown in South Africa. It's made for FX in America and it's produced through Fox TV Studios and FX Productions.

The Americans revolve around a couple of spies, Phillip and Elizabeth Jennings. Like Scarecrow and Mrs King they're working undercover. It's also set in Washington. Similarly, to that hit show the two children are clueless and not aware of their parents' true identity. But in The Americans the two main characters will not be American spies. The roles are reversed and they're KGB spies for the Soviet Union.

As the Cold War intensifies, their cover gets more difficult to maintain, the relationships with informants and spies more intricate and their love of the American way of life actually more real.

''Joe Weisberg has written one of the best pilot scripts we have ever read with two richly drawn and indelible characters embarking on an epically exciting, emotional, and morally complex journey," said Nick Grad, the executive vice president of the FX channel in America in a press release.

Wonder if they're also drive a station wagon ...

BREAKING. DStv BoxOffice Online launches on the internet as MultiChoice rolls out a beta version for its cyber video-on-demand service.

DStv BoxOffice, MultiChoice's video-on-demand (VOD) service that was launched at the end of July with DStv Online promising an online version and roll-out before the end of 2011, has now done so by launching its internet-based DStv BoxOffice service in a beta form at DStv BoxOffice.

Only the first 1 000 people who register for DStv BoxOffice's internet-based VOD service before the end of the month will be able to take part in the Beta testing with another 1 000 that will be allowed to sign up during January 2012; with DStv Online planning an official commercial launch of DStv BoxOffice Online for March 2012.

DStv Online is doing a soft Beta roll-out to test for bugs, possible payment problems and accessibility problems to prevent the public embarassement and disastrous system failure DStv BoxOffice suffered on its commercial launch day on 22 July when it suffered what it termed ''a core systems failure''.

DStv BoxOffice's online version allows registered users of the Beta service to choose and watch from around 50 movies, compared to only the 15 movies stored on DStv PVR decoders' hard drives due to space constraints. Watching DStv BoxOffice Online movies cost R33 (compared to R25 for the current commercial DStv BoxOffice service through decoders).

Customers also don't need to be DStv subscribers. Registered DStv BoxOffice Online users have to first download a special programme that supports both Windows and Apple Mac operating systems which helps with the end-to-end encryption and protection of the content.

Users need at least 3GB of available hard drive space to download the special programme and for space for movies. DStv BoxOffice Online also says users need uncapped ADSL internet of at least 1024kpbs.

Registered users download the movies ranging in size between 850MB to 900 MB to their computers and can watch it for a period of 48 hours after payment has been made with a credit card and approved.

New show Scam Cities commissioned by National Geographic; will look at biggest scams in tourist cities around the world.

National Geographic Channels International (NGCI) has commissioned a new 10 part series entitled Scam Cities about major scams - and how they're being committed - in major tourist cities around the world.

Scam Cities, with hour long episodes, will be a co-production between Zig Zag Productions and Handel Productions and uncover the scams - and how they're perpetrated on tourists visiting the biggest cities and popular tourist destinations worldwide, ranging from Bangkok and Rome to Rio de Janeiro.

MultiChoice's HD PVR 2P decoder again available at its R1 499 price as part of a Christmas period special.

MultiChoice is ''back'' for Christmas with the special retail price of R1 499 for the HD PVR 2P decoder - a lower-price first introduced earlier this year.

The HD PVR 2P retails at a lower price than the R1 999 launch price of this new DStv decoder model when it first came on the market in May 2010.

MultiChoice actually subsidises all of its decoders to help with product and service uptake. MultiChoice in Africa earlier this week complained that in other African countries subscriber growth is actually hampered by too high tax and import duty on decoders making them more expensive than what MultiChoice in Africa would like.

Competitor TopTV doesn't plan launching its own PVR model in South Africa until the end of 2012 at the earliest, which leaves South African TV and pay TV viewers will only one PVR option.

Current TV makes Sunday nights at 23:00 its premiere timeslot for feature length documentaries; new doccie to visit small British town.

Current TV (TopTV 406) has now dedicated Sunday nights at 23:00 (South African time) as the premiere timeslot for feature length documentaries.

Current TV has picked up a film about a northern English town that will be shown in this new dedicated Sunday night documentaries timeslot.

Shed Your Tears and Walk Away looks beneath the surface of an apparently thriving market town but director Jez Lewis returns to his home town to find drink, drugs and suicide are destroying the once peaceful town. The film is produced by Bungalow Town Productions. Shed Your Tears and Walk Away will show sometime in February 2012 in this new Sunday night timeslot on Current TV.

Current TV will also retain its Monday night midnight timeslot for premieres of films of various lengths, such as 30 minutes, one hour or features as well.