Tuesday, July 31, 2012

MSNBC and its lazy, trashy-rehashy, 'vanilla feed' for South African and international viewers during the entire Olympics in August.

Another "dead" TV channel for South African TV viewers in August is MSNBC (TopTV 410) which is showing viewers in South African and internationally, a self-described "vanilla-feed" - trashy-rehashy rebroadcast blocks of filler programming.

MSNBC is doing what it refers to as a "vanilla feed" in South Africa and elsewhere internationally, since MSNBC shows 2012 Olympic Games coverage in America which is doesn't have the rights to broadcast in South Africa or elsewhere.

In May I reported RIGHT HERE that MSNBC will have to find replacement programming for the 155,5 hours which the 24 hour American news channel planned to show from the end of July and in August in America. Since it's not feasible to have long stretches of a blacked out screen, MSNBC is substituting the massive Olympic Games broadcasting timeslots with other content for South Africa and other countries.

It's now clear why MSNBC wasn't willing to divulge and tell upfront what programming exactly it was going to be substituting its Olympic Games coverage with in South Africa and elsewhere - because it's rebroadcast TV trash.

MSNBC calls its alternative non-Olympics feed seen in South Africa its "vanilla feed" - meaning bland, basic ... and basically boring.

In August the MSNBC "vanilla feed" schedule is filled with countless hours of mindless programming.

Wednesday 1 August boasts 9 consecutive hours of MSNBC Investigates - The Squeeze, a documentary series about crime in Chicago.

Thursday 2 August has another 9 consecutive hours of filler content and another one hour stand-alone documentary ranging from Born in the Wrong Body to Runaways.

Friday 3 August has another hour of filler and another 9 hours of consecutive filler content made up out of Lockup: Pendleton (a prison documentary series) and Lockup: Raw (another incarnation of the prison series).

On Saturday 4 August MSNBC takes trash-rehash to a whole new level. South African viewers are dished up 11 consecutive hours of Lockup: Wabash, Lockup: Raw and then another 10 consecutive hours of Caught on Camera and more Lockup. Basically the whole day besides two hours will not be news coverage (and those two news hours - Rachel Maddow and Chris Matthews will be repeats as well) and consist out of repeat third rate documentaries.

Sunday 5 August has more "vanilla feed"for South Africa from MSNBC: Another 11 consecutive hours of MSNBC DocuMystery investigating perplexing non-relatable trash with subtitles such as "Death and the dentist", "Vegas Undercover", "Reality Undercover", "The Kindness of Strangers" and "Crime Never Sleeps". Later Sunday there's another 10 consecutive hours of Caught on Camera, Lockup and MSNBC Undercover.

This weekly pattern of terrible substitute programming on MSNBC will continue for the duration of the 2012 Olympic Games, making MSNBC - supposedly a TV news channel - excrusiatingly unwatchable in South Africa and entirely missable without missing out on anything.

Discovery strongly focusing on international expansion through broadening its content offering.

Discovery Communications today reported net income of $293 million for the second quarter, 15,4% more than for the same period last year - but the interesting story lies in what Discovery is doing internationally, where revenues for the same period was up by 10% since the same period last year to $405 million.

Discovery told investors today that the company is broadening its TV content offering internationally. "The steps we have taken to broadening our international content offerings, along with the continued evolution of pay TV globally, are driving international expansion," said Discovery CEO, David Zaslav.

BREAKING. Disney most at risk if pay TV operators unbundle bouquets and provide TV channels separately - study.

Disney will be most at risk as a TV content provider should pay TV operators (be forced to) "unbundle" their bouquets and provide separate TV channels to pay TV subscribers according to a so-called a la carte model, according to new research from the investor research market firm, Lazard Capital Markets, in America.

MultiChoice in South Africa carries several TV channels from The Walt Disney Company on its DStv pay TV platform, The Disney Channel (DStv 303), Disney XD (DStv 304), Disney Junior (DStv 309) with the Disney offering performing incredibly well for the Disney/MultiChoice partnership here.

According to the study, while other TV channels have a loyal enough following, Lazard Capital Markets concluded that the Disney TV channels from The Walt Disney Company in America doesn't have enough popularity, given the pricing of the channels in termsof programming fees.

Should pay TV subscribers be given the choice, Lazard Capital Markets came to the conclusion that Disney's programming fees would drop in America since a lot less pay TV subscribers would be choosing those channels voluntarily.

Other TV content providers such as Scripps, Discovery, NBCUniversal and Viacom - all who supply numerous TV channels to South African pay TV subscribers through MultiChoice's DStv and On Digital Media's (ODM) TopTV - however stand to gain, since they run more "in demand" TV channels. Payment for programming fees for their channels would increase, according to Lazard Capital Markets.

BREAKING. Olympic boon for MultiChoice as DStv subscribers upgrade to better bouquets to watch the 2012 Olympic Games.

You're reading it here first. 

MultiChoice is experiencing an Olympic boon as DStv subscribers are upgrading their lower-tiered bouquets for a month to catch the sporting action of the 2012 Olympic Games which the pay TV platform is showing on multiple TV channels during August.

With SuperSport having the exclusive pay TV rights for South Africa for the Olympic Games in London with 24 hour television coverage across 8 TV channels -4 high definition (HD) and 4 standard definition (SD) channels - DStv subscribers have started to upgrade last week and this past weekend to higher-tiered and more expensive bouquets in order to follow the rolling sport coverage on television.

MultiChoice allows DStv subscribers to upgrade to a bigger package with more TV channels anytime, for a minimum period of a month. According to insiders, the MultiChoice call centre received numerous requests for bouquet upgrades for the coming month. It's most probably due to the additional sport content shown on DStv during August and the Olympic Games, with the Olympic coverage shown on more channels which become available to subscribers on higher-tiered DStv packages.

"DStv subscribers want to see more of it [Olympic Games] and are willing to pay a bit more for a month than what they usually do since it's 'event television' for them," an insider told me. "It's add-on television which they're willing to pay for and which isn't always available, but is now."

MultiChoice, asked how many DStv subscribers have already upgraded or requested upgrades to bigger DStv packages from lower-tiered bouquets for the month of August declined to provide numbers and said MultiChoice "only share figures that are published in the Naspers financial results".

MultiChoice was asked what in terms of content or an additional value-added proposition DStv is providing to subscribers now which is possibly making subscribers requesting upgrades. MultiChoice declined an answer but the pay TV platform did say that the process to upgrade to a bigger DStv bouquet is easy. "Customers can log on to the self-service section of DStv.com and complete the process online. Or they can simply phone the call centre."

According to MultiChoice subscribers can upgrade at any time. A single downgrade is allowed in a month.

Special Assignment on SABC3 apologizes for the channel's technical problems; promises Baragwanath expose for this Thursday night.

Technical problems at SABC3 on Thursday night stopped the broadcast of Special Assignment but that episode about atrocious conditions at the Chris Hani Baragwanath Hospital in Soweto will be shown this Thursday night.

"Special Assignment would like to apologise to you, our viewers, for the problems experienced just after our programme started on Thursday night. Our programme could not continue due to the technical glitches that the channel experienced," says the show.

"No Place for the Critical" produced by Adel van Niekerk which looks at the Baragwanath Hospital in Soweto will now be shown this Thursday, 2 August at 21:00 on SABC3 in Special Assignment.

Shakes Kungwane drops the SABC; joins SuperSport as a soccer commentator.

Shakes Kungwane has dropped the SABC and joined pay TV sports broadcaster SuperSport.

64 nations can watch the 2012 Olympic Games in London live and free on YouTube - South Africa of course isn't one of them.

While viewers in Lesotho, Namibia, Mozambique, Swaziland, Botswana - even Swaziland and Zimbabwe - can all watch the 2012 Olympic Games from London live on YouTube, South African viewers can't.

While 64 nations including the Basotho can watch the 2012 Olympic Games live on the internet on YouTube, South Africans don't get this privilege and are not allowed. South African viewers can however watch some recorded events uploaded and made available later, as well as highlights, trailers and Olympic Games archive material. But nothing live on YouTube.

South African viewers have to watch it either on MultiChoice's SuperSport channels or some coverage on the South African public broadcaster's SABC1, SABC2 and SABC3.

So why are some African countries (along with a myriad of Asian countries and other across the globe) allowed to watch a live free stream from the Official Olympic Channel run by the International Olympic Committee (IOC) - although some of these African countries' public broadcasters also show some Olympic coverage and they also have an overlap of several SuperSport channels also showing the Olympic Games?

It's because most of these other countries lack big media companies who've bid for the exclusive rights with the aim of monetising that coverage and deriving revenue from getting people to watch it. Thanks to simple economics, they're too poor to care or unable to make a profit, or don't have the infrastructure or inclination to want to do so.

In an ironic sense, South Africa's media landscape is too well developed - balancing on the tip of the uncomfortable middle ground: Not quite dark Africa, yet not quite first world - yet first world enough when it comes to the Olympic Games.

So instead of being one of the 64, South Africa is part of the United States of America (NBC), Australia (Foxtel, Nine Network), the United Kingdom (BBC), Canada and New Zealand (Sky Sport) where viewers  are not allowed to watch the 2012 Olympic Games live on the IOC's YouTube channel.

Enjoy those Turin 2006 Olympic Winter Games Cross Country Skiiing archived highlight clips. Amazing. Amazing.

Monday, July 30, 2012

TopTV's new pre-paid voucher programme is still a no-show but possibly coming mid-August; people left wondering what it means.

It's latest new scheme is getting criticism before it's even been unveiled and started: TopTV's new pre-paid voucher scheme On Digital Media (ODM) wanted to introduce - then suddenly didn't, and now apparently plan to introduce sometime in August.

On its website TopTV "announced" its new TopTV pre-paid voucher, only to say "that further information on TopTV's new pre-paid option coming soon! Watch this space!"

That was in June and on 27 June TopTV said: "All will be revealed later next week". Now, more than a month later, TopTV has not revealed anything, leading people to slam the pay TV operator.

"Dear TopTV, why are you not responding to any of our questions? I think it's stupid to set up a chat forum but not respond when people whoa re excited about your product ask questions. Very irresponsible," wrote one user.

I'm told that TopTV's new pre-paid voucher programme was supposed to be launched earlier but now looks to be set for a launch in mid-August.

M-NET VS CITIZEN. M-Net in new metamedia firestorm as MasterChef SA scandal now involves The Citizen newspaper and Radio 702.

Too many cooks ... have ignited a firestorm of controversy, engulfing yet another M-Net reality show in reputation-impacting (and a growing number of negative) headlines the pay TV broadcaster didn't foresee - and definitely don't want - for MasterChef South Africa.

While pay TV broadcaster M-Net and The Citizen newspaper are now having fighting words over what Deena Naidoo, the winner of MasterChef SA told the newspaper regarding his total prizes (or lack thereof) - and what M-Net and Tsogo Sun slammed as "inaccurate", has now also spread to engulf Radio 702.

Radio 702 has now entered into the fray and is being taken to the Broadcasting Complaints Commission of South Africa (BCCSA) by The Citizen after John Robbie on Friday on Radio 702 allegedly called The Citizen's story misleading ( an article which ironically was about the Citizen interviewing Deena Naidoo who said impressions that he won R8 million is actually misleading) and allegedly didn't give The Citizen the right of reply. Talk about a massive metamedia mess!

The Citizen says its stands by its story and that Deena Naidoo said what he said - which is, from The Citizen, amongst other things that: "it has been presented as though I have acquired ... a new restaurant as part of the main prize. But this is far from true. I will only run the restaurant for two years."

The Citizen says in a statement that: "promotional material for the series stated that the winner would receive their very own restaurant. The value of the restaurant, not the use thereof, was included in the value of the prize, creating a false impression.''

Meanwhile M-Net and Tsogo Sun issued their own statement Friday evening containing drop-in quotes from Deena Naidoo saying in that statement: "I never expected to have R8 million in my bank account and any reports that suggest this are simply untrue. I wanted to clear up the misconception that this might be the case, and in the process, it was asserted that I've been let down by M-Net and Tsogo Sun. This is inaccurate."

[Basically The Citizen on one hand and M-Net and Tsogo Sun on the other have their own statements - and versions if you want, of Deena Naidoo quotes - which now to believe of these widely differing comments all attributed to Deena Naidoo?]

Now Radio 702 is also embroiled in the growing broo-ha-ha, leading to even more coverage and more stories as well as more viewers and readers venting their feelings. Many say a perception was created that the winner of MasterChef South Africa on M-Net would get - meaning own - his or her own restaurant, and which is now clearly not the case.

M-Net and Tsogo Sun in the statement on Friday evening said "The total restaurant prize included (amongst other things) the full-time running and rebranding of the floor space. The arrangement was rent free, for two years." M-Net said "Deena Naidoo elected a joint venture operation where he will share in the restaurant profits and partake in the rebranding and relaunch of the restaurant.This will run for two years."

"Everyone in the country, including the contestants, was under the impression that the winner will be getting a restaurant," posted a user on Food24.

"So he still does not own a restaurant and he is a manager in a R7 million establishment. Wow. Lets all give up our day jobs to become a manager in someone's restaurant that will use your name to get clientele... pathetic and misleading advertising by M-Net and the MasterChef SA franchise," posted a user on Channel24.

BSkyB to create a content distribution arm to sell its British TV content internationally.

BSkyB has bought the independent international distribution and multimedia rights management company Parthenon Media Group in order for BSkyB to aggressive start marketing and selling the international rights to its original British content.

With heavy investment in local production for several of the Sky TV channels, BSkyB has been mulling either the creation of its own distribution arm or the acquisition of an existing one. It chose the latter.

BSkyB wants to increase its investment in local and original content, and can do so if its revenue from selling this new content wider, increases. Productions on TV channels such as Sky Living and Sky Arts are just two of the several TV channels in the Sky stable which has seen significant investment in production content, and has shows and content which could easily be shown in South Africa if sold to broadcasters here.

"As we continue to increase investment in UK production, this is a natural step in the evolution of Sky's content business," says Sophie Turner Laing, Sky's managing director for entertainment, news and broadcast operations in a statement announcing the acquisition of Parthenon Media Group.

"We are producing world class television - innovative, creatively ambitious and, in many cases, on an epic scale. It's only right that we match this with world class aspirations for how we rake this content to as wide an international audience as possible," says Sophie Turner Laing.

South African Advertising Research Foundation changes its name to South African Audience Research Foundation; Saarf acronymn remains.

The South African Advertising Research Foundation (Saarf) has changed its name to South African Audience Research Foundation - the Saarf acronymn remains the same, although the wording has changed.

Saarf is the research foundation behind the TAMS, or the TV viewership measurement currency South Africa uses to compile and track television viewership in South Africa.

In a statement Saard says the name change is because "Saarf is the custodian of the industry's media audience currencies, and sets the standard for audience research in South Africa - the new name better reflects this."

Judgement coming soon from labour court over SABC's unfair dismissal of its international news editor, Motlenyane Diphoko.

Judgement is coming soon from the Johannesburg Labour Court on the protracted battle between the SABC and its former editor of international news, Motlenyane Diphoko, who claims he was "simply fired".

The Commission for Conciliation, Mediation and Arbitration (CCMA) has already ruled that Motlenyane Diphoko's dismissal was "substantially and procedurally unfair".

The SABC which didn't agree with the CCMA's ruling, took the case to the Johannesburg Labour Court, which will now be ruling on the case and the CCMA findings. According to the SABC, Motlenyane Diphoko was dismissed over alleged "wasteful and fruitless expenditure" which resulted in financial loss to the South African public broadcaster.

The SABC charged that Motlenyane Diphoko authorised payments to independent contractors without checking and verifying their claims of services and work rendered. He was given the option to be demoted to a position of a producer, but refused and was fired.

Sunday, July 29, 2012

The Young and the Restless fires its head writer Maria Erena Bell after 5 years, husband has to tell her.

The Young and the Restless (weekdays, e.tv, 16:40) fired its head writer Maria Erena Bell whose father-in-law created the America soap.

Daytime Confidential first reported that Maria Erena Bell is suddenly out after she joined as head writer in 2007.

The shocked Maria Erena Bell says she has no idea why Sony Pictures Television which produces the soap fired her.

She immediately vented on her Facebook page, saying "I was not given a reason and in fact I have heard nothing from Sony or CBS. They sent me a message through my husband Bill who had the terrible job of conveying that they'd gone around him and were letting me go".

Maria Erena Bell said "I fought hard for my vision and to keep the show on track with the characters that matter to the audience". She said "there have been a lot of tears shed in the last few days."

Mark Steines done with Entertainment Tonight; bids farewell after 17 years with the entertainment news magazine show.

After word came in March that Mark Steines will be leaving Entertainment Tonight he finally bid farewell on Friday after 17 years and did his last show as co-anchor of "the world's most watched entertainment news magazine show".

It now leaves Nancy O'Dell as the sole anchor of Entertainment Tonight (seen in South Africa on SABC3) who herself took over from Mary Hart in 2011. Unlike Mary Hart there wasn't a special episode dedicated to Mark Steines, just an insert looking back at moments and interviews over the years, and then an in-studio goodbye by Nancy O'Dell.

Nancy O'Dell told Mark Steines that he had done 2 516 shows for Entertainment Tonight"I have a lifetime of memories to go with all of them," Mark Steines said.

CNN Worldwide president, Jim Walton, is out. Has resigned and will leave CNN by the end of the year.

CNN Worldwide president, Jim Walton is out. He has been in charge of overseeing all of CNN's properties including the CNN and HLN channels in America, CNN International (DStv 401) and CNN Digital.

He sent email to employees that he has resigned and that his last day will be 31 December 2012.

 Jim Walton became president of CNN Worldwide in 2003. According to Broadcasting & Cable citing sources, Jim Walton's resignation was not voluntary.

While CNN International is doing better, CNN in America is struggling and is the 3rd placed news channel behind Fox News and MSNBC viewership numbers wise. In May CNN's viewership in America was the lowest its been in 20 years.

SuperSport, ESPN, SABC, BBC World News, CNN International bring South African viewers 2012 Olympic Games coverage.

Only SuperSport has encompassing exclusive coverage of the 2012 Olympic Games in terms of showing actual sporting events for South African TV viewers, although the SABC is also trying on television by broadcasting a smidgeon of the coverage of what's available - as is CNN International (DStv 401), ESPN (DStv 230) and the eNews Channel (DStv 403) with non-event showing news coverage.

BBC World News (TopTV 400 / DStv 400) is also bringing South African TV viewers 2012 Olympic Games coverage and is less excluded (meaning better coverage) that the other 24 hour news channels, since the BBC is an official broadcaster and can funnel coverage through its news division.

SABC1 will show men and women's soccer as well as men's and women's basketball. SABC3 will show tennis. SABC2 which has magazine shows Hello London and Good Evening London will "opt-in" to show "key moments of the Olympic Games as they happen".

Neither CNN International, ESPN, or the eNews Channel  - since they don't have exclusive rights - are allowed to broadcast from inside any of the Olympic Games venues.

Meanwhile BBC World News has switched to a new red seat studio since Thursday overlooking the Olympic Park (below).

The eNews Channel has reporter Peter Stemmet filing stories on location from London.

CNN International's coverage include Piers Morgan in London to do the weekday Piers Morgan Tonight from there and the daily World Sport is also heavily covering the Olympics. CNN International also has a studio overlokking the Olympic Park.

Friday, July 27, 2012

CUE the CUSHIONS. Dali Thambo back on TV as his talk show, People of the South, gets resurrected by the SABC - this time on SABC3.

19 years after he first started handing out embroidered cushions to guests after subjecting them on his SABC2 talk show with his oh-so-elocuted enunciation and effusive, pandering praise, Dali Thambo is getting resurrected by the SABC and SABC3 which is returning his talk show People of the South to South African television.

Dear Dali will once again mingle, tĂȘte-a-tĂȘte, and chat to South Africa's well-heeled - preferably politicians, stylanistas and pedantic popculturati in 26 brand-new episodes of his new talk show which SABC3 is describing as "an eclectic mix of personalities, politicians and icons".

"Dali's sensitive yet probing questions are distinctly emotive and informative," says SABC3. This time episodes of People of the South which will now be on SABC3 instead of SABC2, will culminate not in a cornucopia of cushion giving, hugs, air-kisses and praise singers, but "a celebratory dinner - a new feature of the series - where Dali encourages reminiscing, good humour, and a great sense of occasion".

People of the South is once again programmed for a Sunday evening where People of the South originally started off just after the SABC when through a tumultuous transformation at the end of apartheid and commissioned Dali's first effusive talk show go-around on South African television. The new People of the South will start on SABC3 on Sunday 12 August at 20:30.

Thursday, July 26, 2012

ISIDINGO to become a special miniseries for at least a month after the devastating fire which destroyed the set in June.

Isidingo, the weekday soap on SABC3 which just turned 14 years old, will soon become a special "miniseries" for at least a month as the show shifts to one specific storyline filmed entirely on location while Endemol SA and the SABC work on finding new studio space and rebuilding sets after the devastating fire on 13 June.

The fire which engulfed Henley Studios at the SABC's Aucklandpark headquarters completely destroyed the Isidingo set housed in Studio 6, although some in Studio 7 survived. A sound control room, vision control booth, recording light control desk, video wall, vision mixing bed and cabling running through the entire studio complex were destroyed and walls caved in.

After multiple enquiries a month and a half since the destructive fire which also took SABC3 off the air for some time on 13 June and destroyed the sets of the Duncan Hotel and the Sibeko penthouse, the SABC still refuses to give an estimated value for the damage done to Henley Studios overall, as well as to Isidingo specifically. Estimates run into millions of rands.

Now the soap will once again become a miniseries - for the third time in the show's history, and for at least a month in primetime on SABC3. Where two previous Isidingo miniseries in the past however ran concurrently during the December festive periods as additional episodes to the daily soap broadcast, the new "miniseries" will effectively replace the normal soap with a newly developed storyline shot on location.

Although a more expensive option than in-studio filming, the new Isidingo miniseries will give the production time to regroup and rebuild before the show returns to its familiar studio format.

Endemol SA and SABC3 also plans to have a media session to present the way forward in terms of storyline and studios. "The fire has set the production into a different course; the cast and crew are optimistic that the new storylines are going to make for great television," Endemol SA tells me.

"Our 14th birthday will be celebrated towards the end of the year as the fire has disrupted all our plans. However, we are excited as plans are going ahead to celebrate this important milestone with our viewers."

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

CNBC Africa opens its 8th African bureau in Zambia; plans 2 further bureaus in Rwanda and Ethiopia before the end of 2012.

CNBC Africa (Dstv 410) opened its 8th African bureau on the continent today in Zambia, following Mozambique in May earlier this year.

CNBC Africa's Zambian news bureau will be run as a joint venture with Zambia's national broadcaster, ZNBC from the capital Lusaka. Besides Mozambique and Zambia CNBC Africa wants to open two further news bureaus before the end of the year in Rwanda and Ethiopia.

CNBC Africa already has offices in South Africa, Nigeria, Kenya, Gabon and Mozambique.

"THe new bureau is continuing testimony to our vision to provide comprehensive coverage of Africa's growing markets," says Godfrey Mutizwa, CNBC Africa chief editor in a statement.

"CNBC Africa has been active in Zambia for the past three months, conducting live interviews on Zambian markets, business and economic news," says Debbie Baillie, CNBC Africa's country bureau chief.

Scripps Networks restructures its London operation from where South African viewers get The Food Network, FLN and Travel.

Scripps Networks Interactive has restructured its operations in the United Kingdom from where South African pay TV viewers receive several TV channels such as The Food Network (DStv 185) and Travel Channel International (DStv 181) on MultiChoice and Fine Living Network (FLN) (TopTV 451) on On Digital Media (ODM).

Jonathan Sichel has been appointed as the managing director for the business and will be in charge, based in London, for these channels' day-to-day operations across Europe, the Middle East and Africa or so-called EMEA region.

His job will be to expand distribution, further develop the brands in the region and to boost viewership and revenue of The Food Network, Travel Channel International and FLN. He will be reporting to Bob Baskerville, the chief international operating officer for Scripps Networks Interactive.

Meanwhile Nick Thorogood, previously the managing director of Food Network EMEA has been named senior vice president of content and marketing for the UK and EMEA, reporting to Jonathan Sichel.

Programming note: Top Trader set to start on CNBC Africa on 10 September at 20:30 with new presenter Samantha Loring.

You're reading it here first.

Top Trader, the new local reality CNBC Africa (DStv 410) announced in November last year finally has a broadcasting date and will start on Monday 10 September at 20:30 and run until 29 October.

CNBC Africa which initially announced Eleni Giokos as the presenter of Top Trader has replaced her (since Eleni Giokos jumped ship and joined the eNews Channel since July) with Samantha Loring.

In Top Trader eight contestants will compete and get eliminated weekly, having to endure different challenges and tasks. The winner will be the contestant with the best performing portfolio in the final episode of the show which will take place around Sandton and Johannesburg.

Earlier this week CNBC in America announced that it's also entering the reality and unscripted genre with 7 new TV shows ranging from a real-life antiques detective to a concierge service. These shows - or at least some or them, should be making their way to South African viewers in due course.

"The reality shows from CNBC - if we receive them as part of the feed from CNBC Europe in London, will be screened on CNBC Africa. We have not yet been notified about when these shows can be expected, but we will inform the media as soon as we do," CNBC Africa tells me.

Jonathan Rhys Meyers to play Count Dracula in 10 episode, Victorian Era set drama, Dracula.

On the heels of the new pilot episode which the Starz TV channel in America will be filming and which could become a new TV series, Vlad Dracula, comes an announcement from NBC in America today there will be a second TV project about Dracula, simply entitled ... Dracula.

Jonathan Rhys Meyers will play the iconic Count Dracula in the straight-to-series Dracula which will have 10 episodes and which will be shown on NBC in America later this year. He was previously seen in The Tudors which was shown in South Africa on M-Net.

In Dracula, Jonathan Rhys Meyers' character will arrive in Victorian Era London, posing as an American entrepreneur who maintains that he wants to bring modern science to Victorian society.

In reality, he hopes to wreak revenge on the people who've ruined his life centuries earlier - but he falls hopelessly in love with a woman who seems to be a reincarnation of his dead wife.

FIRST LOOK. SuperSport debuts a brand-new look ... but one only tweaked ever so slightly.

The blue chip sports broadcaster SuperSport quietly debuted a new refreshed logo and look this week - not because of the 2012 London Olympic Games, although SuperSport tells me the "Olympics is pure coincidence, but we aren't unhappy".

The refined SuperSport logo which is making its soft launch this week comes with a new fatter font.

Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert both extend their contracts with Comedy Central for 2 more years.

Jon Stewart of The Daily Show and Stephen Colbert of The Colbert Report both on Comedy Central (DStv 122), have extended their contracts with the satellite comedy TV channel to 2015 and 2014 respectively.

Jon Stewart will remain the executive producer, writer and host of The Daily Show until the middle of 2015 in a further 2 year extension. Stephen Colbert will remain the executive producer, writer and host of The Colbert Report until 2014 in a further 2 year contract extension. The Colbert Report is also produced by Jon Stewart's company.

Both shows have just received four Emmy nominations.

MultiChoice to spend R2,55 billion to grow its GOtv digital terrestrial television offering across Africa.

MultiChoice which has rolled out its GOtv digital terrestrial television (DTT) service in Zambia last week, bringing to 4 the number of African countries since Namibia was 3rd last month where GOtv is now operational, plans to spend more than R2,55 billion over the next few years investing in this specific offering across the African continent.

The South African pay TV platform is operational in 50 African territories and has started to roll out GOtv in August last year and has since expanded from Kenia and Nigeria to Namibia since last month and now also Zambia. GOtv offers two bouquets, priced in American dollar, of between $6,50 and $9 per month and offering between 22 to 32 TV channels.

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

PATIENCE STEVENS SAYS: 'Top Billing is a business, television is a business and we need people to be part of a team.'

Patience Stevens, executive producer of SABC3's Top Billing, the record holder of longest running uninterrupted local TV show on South Africa television and a judge in the My Top Billing Dream reality show had some extremely true words about the TV industry for a contestant who got the boot after she forgot her ID when it was time to check-in for a flight at the airport.

Contestant Kerusha got booted for other reasons but also because she forgot her ID - discovered when the contestants and production team had to check in at the airport. Her driver's licence had to be rushed from the hotel.

Patience Stevens explained why it's such a massive mistake - and how and why it impacts the actual making of television, which is something a lot of viewers never realize or think about.

"A pageant winner knows the importance of travel documents. When we heard that you had left your ID book behind, we thought it was a joke," said Patience Stevens. We thought it was you doing the comedy bit. And then we discovered it was serious. It was real and we had to sort out the problem."

"Now it wastes time, money and resources sorting out unnecessary problems. Top Billing is a business, television is a business and we need people to be part of a team who functions efficiently and where we don't  need to pick up unneccesary errors, because it costs money - and that's the reality."

eNews Channel reporter Narissa Subramoney keeps her cheerful pencil case always close by.

Narissa Subramoney is a hard news reporter for the eNews Channel (DStv) but she's not that hard - she still takes what appears to be her Winnie the Pooh tin pencil case with her wherever she goes.

On a story regarding police reservists on the eNews Channel, Narissa Subramoney was clearly seen with her nice, bright and cheerful little toddler friendly pen case close by her side in several shots.

'Cause it's like Winnie says: "When you go out into the world, it's best to hold hands and stick together."

Witches of East End, The Secret Lives of Wives to become possible new TV dramas.

Witches of East End as well as The Secret Lives of Wives are possible two brand new TV dramas viewers might get to indulge in soon - both shows were ordered to pilot.

The American TV channel Lifetime has ordered a pilot episode of The Secret Lives of Wives (a working title) inspired by the book of Iris Krasnow. The Secret Lives of Wives will follow four different women and be "an honest portrayal of the ultimate challenge every relationship faces - emotional and sexual longevity", says the TV channel in a press release.

The channel has also ordered a pilot episode of Witches of East End which is based on Melissa de la Cruz's novel. Witches of East End centres around the adventures of a mother and her two daughters. The daughters however are not aware that they're actually their family's next generation of witches in Long Island's secluded seaside town of North Hampton.

When one of the daughters becomes engaged to a young, wealthy newcomer, a series of events forces the mother to admit to her daughters that they are, in fact, powerful and immortal witches.

eNews Channel looking for a new news anchor for African news from its Johannesburg news room.

The eNews Channel (DStv 403) is looking for a news anchor in the 24 hour South African news channel's Johannesburg news room.

The new news anchor will report to the Africa editor at the eNews Channel and will be presenting news bulletins from Johannesburg, conduct interviews with in-studio guests and present special news events live from location where warranted.

The closing date for the position is 26 July and candidates need to send a CV, qualifications and an application to jobs@etv.co.za.

CNBC orders 7 unscripted projects ranging from a real-life antiques detective to reality cameras following a concierge service.

While a starting date is not yet known for the new local South African reality show Top Trader on CNBC Africa (DStv 410) supposed to start sometime in August, CNBC Africa's sister CNBC in America announced today 7 unscripted projects in development.

These 7 new shows which will be on CNBC - and could possibly later make their way to the CNBC Africa schedule as well - ranges from a real-life antiques detective working the high-end world of art forgeries using crime lab technology, to a life-changing competition that each week will give one person a chance to win his or her own franchise, and even cameras following a concierge service which makes the impossible possible for extravagant and very demanding clients.

The CNBC Africa schedule often include most of the CNBC special programming such as documentaries a few months later.

The new CNBC TV shows include the following:

Fakes and Forgeries (working title)
Produced by Endemol USA. Is that Warhol print worth millions or is it just a beautifully rendered fake? That $100,000 bottle of wine may be a great investment or it could be a cheap merlot with a carefully reproduced antique label. Welcome to the fascinating world of Curtis Dowling and his team of art investigators who work with clients that just may be the victims of a counterfeiter's elaborate scheme.

Franchised (working title)
Produced by Eyeworks USA. In each episode, Franchised gives five deserving contestants ─ high in qualifications but short on cash ─ a chance to win a nationally recognized franchise. It's an emotional once-in-a-lifetime opportunity and a shot at the American Dream.

At Your Service (working title)
Produced by Zodiak  This show follows a high-end international concierge service that caters to a clientele that never needs to ask "how much". They are dream makers who take on the most outrageous requests. 

Outstanding (working title)
Produced by RelativityReal. Four four high-achieving teenagers who excel in sports, the arts and academics. It's an inside look at the gifted and talented and the parents who will stop at nothing to help their kids achieve their dreams. We see the glory, but we also witness the sacrifice, hardship and pressures.

Venture Men (working title)
Produced by Sharp Entertainment. Inventors, dreamers and thinkers a chance to pitch out their business ideas, get instant funding and then bring their products to market, all within a 72-hour period.

American Steel (working title)
Produced by Ellman Entertainment. American Steel takes you deep inside the world of competitive car flippers where motorhead Joe Petralia and moneyhead Jay Weinberg find, fix and flip classic and muscle cars. With the economy struggling, each transaction represents one more big risk for the owners who have to fight to keep their once multi-million dollar business afloat.

Flipping Wars: Vegas (working title)
Produced by MorningStar Entertainment. The housing market plunge has created big opportunities for folks who are willing to strap on a tool belt and take a gamble. Flipping Wars: Vegas set in the city hardest hit by the housing crisis, follows four teams of wheeler dealers who see dollar signs every time they bid on a foreclosed home.

TLC has a new reality show, United Bates of America, about a family with 19 children.

TLC (TopTV 453 / DStv 186) in America will start a new reality show, United Bates of America, in August, following Gil and Kelly Jo Bates and their large brood of 19 children.

The Bates have 19 kids, ranging in age from 6 months to 23 years. According to a TLC press release "each 30 minute episode of United Bates of America explores a new adventure with the Bates family as they manage everyday life in the hills of Tenessee - and the inevitable chaos that ensues with 10 girls and 9 boys running around under one roof".

The first season of United Bates of America will have 8 episodes and will start with newborn Jeb's emotional homecoming from the hospital, and the unavoidable adjustment of adding another child to the family. "Over the course of the season, Kelly Jo and Gil share their love of music and family values - from homeschooling their children, to goofing off while building chicken coops and whitewater rafting."

Canada enters unchartered territory as TV regulator okays the so-called 'unbundling' of pay TV operator bouquets.

Be careful what you wish for South African consumer and pay TV subscriber - foaming at the mouth and wanting pay TV operators to "unbundle" their bouquets so that you can just get the TV channels you want (and I'm telling you this as a completely independent journalist, TV writer and TV critic having covered the TV industry for years).

While South Africa's National Consumer Commission backed off from a totally botched and uninformed decision to send MultiChoice, TopTV and the SABC laughable "compliance notices" to so-call "unbundle" their services, Canada's TV regulator has taken a big step in the same direction.

Although not ordering pay TV operators in Canada to "unbundle" TV channels, the Canadian Radio-Television and Telecommunications Commission just told that country's pay TV operator Bell Media that it would be allowed to do a so-called "unbundling" of services.

While pay TV subscribers would be allowed to order - and Bell Media be allowed to offer - just a limited number of TV channels, Bell Media also gets the right to ask subscribers to pay more for each of the individual TV channels the subscriber wants, if they opt out of a specific bouquet.

The CRTC's decision isn't forcing pay TV operators to "unbundle", although pay TV operators say it will lead to pay TV subscribers actually pay more for less television. Bell Media said that if it unbundled its TV bouquets, individual TV channels' prices will fluctuate based on the number of subscribers who sign up for a specific channel - or don't.

"Fewer TV channels will mean unit costs for those channels will be higher than if you buy a bigger package," said Kevin Krull, the head of Bell Media. "There's a volume discount for viewers who take bigger TV tiers with more channels."

Logic and the structure of the entire TV ecosystem and the pay TV industry dictates that niche TV channels would disappear under such a dispensation - operators won't carry and offer TV channels which incur an operating and bandwidth cost but don't attract enough subscribers to make the effort worth the trouble.

Less TV channels mean less demand for programming; therefore less TV production companies, less people employed, less variety and ironically - less choice (or is it more choice?) and making pay TV more expensive. The fewer TV channel which consumers are subscribed to, the fewer channels there will be, and the more expensive each will become.

Monday, July 23, 2012

eNews Channel chief meteorologist Derek van Dam on medical leave following hand surgery; will be back on 2 August.

You're reading it here first. 

Derek van Dam, the chief meteorologist of the eNews Channel and eNews will be back on TV on Thursday 2 August.

Last week I've been the only journalist covering television to report that Derek van Dam has had successful surgery in hospital on his left hand, following a second physical injury this year - this time playing soccer during which he seriously injured his finger a few weeks ago.

Derek van Dam is currently on medical leave following last week's operation, if all goes well he should be back at work in Cape Town in about a week and a half's time.

Showdown between the SABC's CEO Lulama Mokhobo, and its head of news Phil Molefe, cancelled and suddenly postponed.

The showdown between the SABC's CEO Lulama Mokhobo who has hauled the South African public broadcaster's head of news and current affairs, Phil Molefe before a disciplinary hearing was postponed at the last minute on Friday.

The disciplinary hearing of Phil Molefe - the SABC officially refuses to divulge charges, and previously stated that he was placed on "special leave" due to "human resources issues" - was scheduled to take place this past Friday and Saturday, but was suddenly postponed on Friday.

No official statement was made by the SABC regarding the disciplinary hearing or its unexpected postponement (Phil Molefe is represented by a previous SABC CEO Dali Mpofu) but according to insiders Lulama Mokhobo is the one who cancelled, citing health reasons.

The disciplinary hearing which was postponed; has no set new date. Meanwhile Phil Molefe remains on "special leave" since April.

Friday, July 20, 2012

DISGUSTING RIP-OFF! Comedy Central and VIMN Africa dare ask audience members R350 per ticket for the recording of the Steve Hofmery Roast.

In a scandalous and highly disgusting rip-off Comedy Central (DStv 122) and VIMN Africa dares to ask audience members a massive R350 per person to be part of the TV audience for the Comedy Roast of Steve Hofmeyr which will be recorded on 11 September in Johannesburg in front of a live TV audience. 

The Comedy Central Roast of Steve Hofmeyr is ultimately a made-for-TV event. It will be broadcast on television. Similar to the public who should not be asked to pay to audition for reality TV shows, how models should not be asked to pay a fee to audition, members of a TV studio audience SHOULD NOT be asked and forced to pay exorbitant amounts of money to form a studio audience.

Comedy Central and VIMN Africa is in my opinion massively taking advantage of an uninformed and unsuspecting public who are not aware of the gentleman's agreement and rules as far as TV production in terms of television studio audience use is concerned.

Any TV production - and Comedy Central and VIMN Africa should know better - should be grateful that a people are willing to show up in the first place and be a part of the audience. Several TV shows making use of a live TV audience actually give tickets away for FREE to lure audience members, as well as other incentives like free food at a craft table, or charge a very nominal fee for a sitting audience.

Comedy Central and VIMN Africa has orchestrated a massive rip-off by wanting to charge a massive R350 for what is essential a TV production with which they're supposed to recoup their production cost from sponsorship, advertising and other industry fees. What a disgusting and shocking shame!

Remember that Comedy Central as a TV channel gets paid, remember that the TV production gets paid. Remember that this TV production would happen whether there is an actual studio audience or not. Which begs the question: why want to make money of the studio audience who actually shows up and helps to - as a production element - make the dynamic of your TV show better? If anything, its the studio audience who should be paid instead of having to pay.

This is not a live music performance, theatrical concert or stage production where an artist does it primarily to make money our of a stage run or tour. It's a production originally created for television.

Idols on M-Net, the most high-profile TV show in South Africa filmed locally and making use of a TV studio audience, charges R20 to R40 per person to please be a part of the audience for a recording duration of one hour to an hour and a half. Audience members are able to win prizes and hand-out merchandise tied to the show and are able to meet and greet the Idols contestants.

The massive R350 per ticket per TV studio member for the Comedy Central Roast of Steve Hofmeyr is completely unprecedented, wholly unacceptable, disgusting and frankly beyond shocking.

A TV show should actually be thankful that people are willing to come, attend, and sit through a TV production and give their time for what will ultimately benefit the TV show and the TV channel. Shame on you Comedy Central and VIMN Africa for the blatant money-grabbing exploitation of your TV audience!

I've asked Comedy Central for a response as to why potential studio audience members have to pay R350 for this "privilege".

"The Comedy Central Roast of Steve Hofmeyr is a first for South Africa and a much-anticipated live comedy event and TV show that builds on the heritage of Comedy Central Roasts from the USA," says Alison Reid, VIMN Africa spokesperson.

"The Comedy Central Roast of Steve Hofmeyr is a once-off, never-to-be-repeated event and while most of the tickets to the live event will be reserved for invited guests and competition winners, Comedy Central has responded to overwhelming public demand to release a small number of tickets for sale. The premium price is a simple reflection of the well-known laws of supply and demand," says Comedy Central.

"The ticket price of R350 is in keeping with what consumers pay for other premium events in South Africa. Lady Gaga tour top price tickets are more than double what Comedy Central is asking for the Roast. If people do not want to pay the price we have set, then that is their right and we will be delighted for them to watch the show on Comedy Central on 24 September free of charge (as part of their DStv subscription)."

BLADE RUNNER. SA athlete Oscar Pistorius profiled on Trace Sports on Monday 23 July at 21:05 in Fighting Spirit.

South Africa's athlete Oscar Pistorius who will be competing in the 2012 London Olympic Games will be profiled on Trace Sports (DStv 129) this coming Monday 23 July at 21:05 in Fighting Spirit.

In Fighting Spirit, the so-called "Blade Runner" looks back at his beginnings and his journey overcoming adversity to become a sports champion. As a South African athlete he is the "fastest man on no legs" and the first one to compete against able-bodied athletes.

ESSEXMAS. First season of The Only Way is Essex on BBC Entertainment concludes with a Christmas special, followed by the new second season.


The first season of The Only Way is Essex on BBC Entertainment (DStv 120) will conclude with a special Christmas episode, "The Only Way is Essexmas" on Thursday, 26 July at 20:30 (South African time) but the second season of the hilarious British reality show will start and continue straight after from Thursday, 2 July at 20:30.

In next week's The Only Way is Essex Christmas special, Mark, Amy, Kirk, Sam and the rest of the orange coloured gang enjoy Christmas together, but of course it comes with a whole lot of drama.

The second season of The Only Way is Essex starts on 2 August at 20:30 with 14 episodes.

CLASH OF THE EGOs, UHM, CEOs: Former CEO, current CEO and former acting CEO at the SABC square off today for an epic battle.

Talk about a multi-pronged approach at the SABC! Squaring off for a titanic clash, starting today at the South African public broadcaster, is the SABC's current CEO Lulama Mokhobo, the SABC's former acting CEO Phil Molefe, and the SABC's former CEO Dali Mpofu.

Talk about SABC CEO overload - all ready to do battle with each other! This is like Transformers - Dark Side of the Moon, but just in real life.

After denying a growing rift, the fact that there is a two day disciplinary hearing for Phil Molefe starting today at the SABC, seems to suggest that indeed there's more than just a "human resources issue" as to why Phil Molefe, the SABC's head of news and current affairs was placed on "special leave" earlier this year - now for almost 3 months already.

A disciplinary hearing means someone is of the opinion that someone did something wrong. Meanwhile the SABC isn't talking.

The SABC's CEO Lulama Mokhobo on the one side is squaring off, starting today (and continuing Monday) with Phil Molefe - who used to be the acting CEO of the SABC before Lulama Mokhobo got the job.

To make things even more interesting and to add spice to the mix of the latest SABC drama, is that Dali Mpofu is Phil Molefe's legal council. Now, Dali Mpofu is a former SABC CEO as well, besides being a lawyer. So basically there is at least three people in a room who've served in the office of SABC CEO. Will the room be big enough?

Of course CEO is just one letter away from EGO, and today's start of an epic clash about news diaries and authority and allegedly leaking information to the press should be as interesting as a Transformers movie: "I am Megatron! But I am Optimus Prime! You're all pathetic; I am Sentinel Prime! (said with Spock's voice)".

Thursday, July 19, 2012

PICTORIAL. The My Top Billing Dream reality show on SABC3 has a fashion show challenge.

The My Top Billing Dream reality show Tuesdays at 20:00 on SABC3 had a fashion show challenge which took place this evening at Canal Walk in Cape Town. With 8 contestants left (but one on a secret assignment after she won, leaving  for this challenge) the episode will be broadcast on 31 July.

The charming Top Billing presenter Jeannie D, also a judge on My Top Billing Dream looked stunning and dazzled the crowd with her MC'ing skills, even making a thinly-veiled reference to her called off engagement, saying "everyone knows when you work for Top Billing your work is your marriage".

She even joked by walking over and blatantly grabbing contestant Jonathan Boynton-Lee's pecs who wore an open cut T-shirt, saying "Jonathan, on this show everyone knows I'm the one who has and shows off the cleavage!"

The remaining contestants in the reality show looking for a new presenter, as well as models, modelled everything from casual wear, evening wear and swimwear on the red carpet as opera singer constestant Linelle sang; Good Luck provided techno-disco infused music; and the gumboot dancing troupe Happy Feet made a surprise appearance. 

The Top Billing presenters Jo-Ann Strauss and Lorna Maseko were terrific. The duo's constant delightful and really funny banter was wonderful to witness - well-experienced public speakers who know exactly how to move a show along, keep the audience focused, and make hard work look like play.

At one point all three were on the stage together holding handheld microphones. During feedback due to monitors and with Jeannie D flanked by Jo-Ann Strauss and Lorna Maseko on either side she instantly retorted to a laughing crowd: "As you can see we can't really stand too close to each other - it's not the microphones, its the ego's!"

Most heartfelt moment was when an audience member asked Zama Ncgobo a question on who inspires her. "I'm just standing here. I'm just dreaming. I was actually an orphan for a large part of my life. I was raised an orphan. I try to live an inspiring life and to keep on dreaming. I'm my biggest fan and motivator. I had to motivate myself. You can do anything if you believe in yourself."