Thursday, August 9, 2012

TERRIFIC. Tech Report on the eNews Channel turns out its 50th episode tonight at 21:30.

Although publicity does flat-out nothing for this extremely well-produced weekly show and which is actually a feather in the cap for the eNews Channel (DStv 403), the second season of Tech Report (Thursdays, 21:30) is turning out its 50th episode of the series tonight - a quite remarkable achievement.

Tech Report - which in my view should become a permanent year-round show on the eNews Channel (with Late Nite News with Loyiso Gola which is another well-produced local production getting renewed for limited seasons) - are made by people who clearly know the field of expertise, in this case technology and gadgets, and translate it to television very well.

Tech Report (as is Late Nite News with Loyiso Gola) is quality television and fills a distinct niche with distinction. Because the production values are so high, it adds and enhances the weekly TV programming value proposition of this 24 hour South African news channel - it gives and provides the South African TV viewer something which you can't find anywhere else.

It's clever, it's smart, it's funny, it's well researched, it's spot-on with current news and developments and it's out front with consumer breaking news on the tech and gadget front wonderfully customised with South African context.

With Tech Report marking the milestone of 50 episodes tonight, hopefully the extended episode running order of this weekly half hour show, produced by Homebrew Films in Cape Town, indicates that Debbie Meyer, the eNews Channel's executive producer for current affairs and the eNews Channel powers-that-be have realized the value, quality and smarts that this programme brings to the eNews Channel stable.

I can't say for sure whether Tech Report has indeed become a year round show, or how many episodes there will still be, or how long its current extended season will continue, since is doing nothing to promote or publicize the show - not with weekly episode synopsis, not with any regular updates, or any talk about the show's ongoing future.

According to an on-air promo Thursday night's episode of Tech Report on the eNews Channel - it's 50th - will have "a kaleidoscope of tech with something for everyone. We'll take you behind the scenes of the Square Kilometre Array project with a visit to the engineering hub. Then we're off to a green building in the heart of the winelands and we go shopping with news on the latest 3D tech."

Tech Report, the weekly tech-news show which has given the South African 24 hour news channel an added edge when it comes to news about technology was originally conceived by André-Pierre du Plessis, who pitched the show to Greenwall Productions back in July 2009. Nicky Greenwall changed the original working title Web Report to The Tech Report to form part of her collection of current affairs programmes produced for e.Sat such as The Showbiz Report and The Style Report. It took the team 6 months to put the show's pilot together, but after a successful pitch they only had another 6 months to produce the show's first 10 episodes.

Celia Ncalane, who was the presenter of the original pilot (which was never aired), was only seen presenting the first episode after which Bongo Mbutuma became the presenter for the first season.

After Nicky Greenwall fell pregnant, Greenwall Productions declined to produce another season and various production companies pitched to take the show further. The current second season is the result, with the The dropped from Tech Report.

Since 10 November 2011, when Homebrew Films' Tech Report premiered, Ndoni Khanyile has been presenting the show which has been renewed for further episodes continuously. Tonight will be the new team's 40th episode bringing its total to a small TV milestone of 50 episodes.

Correspondents who have been part of show since its inception are Jonathan Allan-Barrett, who's based in Johannesburg and is assisted by producer JP Pienaar. Juliet McGuire and Seth Rotherham, both based in Cape Town, have also been with the show since the start. Simon Hartley assists Seth Rotherham on his often hilarious scripts while Liebe Calitz produce their inserts and acts as the show's very competent production manager. Rusty du Preez, also a full-time Homebrew Films employee, shoots these inserts as well as the studio links at their Gardens offices, with Ben Heyns assisting as co-producer.

Contributions since the current second season of Tech Report include presenter Jason Maneveld and radio DJ Tapfuma Makina.

With the eNews Channel that will soon be available on the Sky satellite TV platform in Europe, it will be interesting to see how European audiences respond to Tech Report which will now be seen beyond Africa.

The eNews Channel would make a wise decision to keep this show as an all-rounder weekly programme on the schedule. Despite limited and no publicity, Tech Report is a consistent, well done addition to the news channel's TV programming brand.