Thursday, February 28, 2013

BREAKING. SABC2 announces starting dates of further seasons of existing TV shows on the channel in March, April and May.

You're reading it here first. 

SABC2 has some new programming - all further seasons of existing shows - which will start in March, April and May on the newly rebranded public broadcaster's second largest TV channel.

Voetspore III, starting Monday 18 March, 18:00
Adventure documentary series exploring the African continent.

Afro Cafe IX, starting Wednesday 13 March, 22:00
The music programme comes from a new studio with a tweaked format, showcasing local musical artists.

It's Gospel Time, starting Sunday 17 March, 20:00

When Duty Calls IV, starting Monday 14 April, 18:00
A factual look at South Africa's law enforcement, also profiling missing and wanted people.

Konings, starting Tuesday 30 April, 19:30
Afrikaans drama series which is a fictional account of a poor boy's rise to become a supermarket chain store mogul.

American Idol XI, starting Thursday 4 April, 19:30

Noot vir Noot 38, starting Friday 5 April, 19:30

Monk XIII, starting Sunday 28 April, 22:00

Without a Trace VII, starting Friday 3 May, 22:00
The American procedural drama series' final season.

BREAKING. SABC2 personalities appearing in a brand-new promo to help tell viewers about the new SABC2 on-air look.

To help raise awareness for SABC2's brand-new on-air identity and rebranding, SABC2 will be running a brand-new on-air promo with several of the channel's local stars.

The brand-new channel identity, logo and slogan of the SABC's second largest TV channel comes into effect on Friday 1 March after more than a year in the making, with the new slogan of "you belong".

BREAKING. SABC2 launches a brand-new on-air look, logo, and new slogan of 'you belong' in major TV channel rebranding effort.

You're reading it here first. 

The long-awaited on-air channel rebranding of SABC2 as the South African public broadcaster's "family channel" was launched on Thursday night, with viewers who will see a new-looking SABC2 on-air identity and imaging kicking in from Friday 1 March for all the channel promos, idents and a new slogan of "You Belong" in an inviting font, replacing the long-used "Feel at Home".

Local TV productions on SABC2 will also debut new title cards and looks to fit the new SABC2 corporate livery which now sees the SABC2 channel logo retiring the blue, orange and yellow, making way for a newer, simplified and cleaner SABC2 logo.

The new SABC2 logo and branding, developed over a year ago by the branding agency Masters & Savant, will now take on numerous one-tone colours, ranging from just red, and just yellow, to just green and just blue. The "2" now "bubbles" within a perky white-only sphere.

It's SABC2's first major on-air rebranding in years. 

A textual analysis of the new "you belong" slogan is notable in that it indicates a progression of SABC2's identity construction. Whereas the channel in the previous two decades placed a bigger overt emphasis on cultural diversity and the celebration of diversity, the "you belong" signals a much stronger emphasis on"inclusion" now. 

"You belong" speaks at the same time to both the individual and to the group - and to the individual's social inclusivity in the group. The different colours will continue to unconsciously support the mythos of South Africa as a "rainbow nation".

The new SABC2 channel logo - part of a channel rebranding exercise which has been more than a year in the making - will now be able to mimic what The Universal Channel on MultiChoice's DStv is able to do since it relaunched in May 2010: present the same logo in various multi-coloured tints depending on mood, genre and programming as well as marketing requirements in highly functional colour flexibility.

The new overall look for SABC2 might only help to go so far however since the programming is mostly still the same for South Africa's second most watched TV channel which attracts around 18,8 million weekly viewers. 

The rebranding comes as SABC2 is somewhat struggling with its programming offering both in appeal and datedness of series and is facing an uphill battle to find and place more quality television across its schedule. 

SABC2 sits with major afternoon programming problems for instance - the longrunning Dr. Phil simply disappeared without a trace earlier this month and Without a Trace is almost all that's left of it's once vibrant international set of premium TV shows.

The new SABC2 look does look pretty however, and the multi-coloured, interchangeable mechanism ensures longevity of the new livery without becoming dated. 

SABC2 will also be employing the new logo and look with it's photo negative - whereas the background is white with either red, blue, yellow or green lettering, the opposite is also possible with a red, blue, green and yellow background and the font in white.

SABC2 calls the new on-air identity part of its "major brand refresh".

"The new identity is very clean, simple, modern and stands out amongst all the channel clutter,'' says Zandile Nkonyeni, SABC2's publicity manager. She says the "pillars" of family, identity, health, education, jobs and careers, and world exposure will "underpin all of our channel decisions and drive our programming mandate."

SABC2 will continue to be the South African public broadcaster's "carrier of events of national importance".

SABC2's new on-air look will debut on 1 March and SABC2 also created special promos with the channel's personalities involved.

SABC2's rebranding comes exactly 17 years after it was created in the rebranding exercise of 4 February 1996. SABC2 was created in 1996 when what was then CCV, TV1 and NNTV were rebranded as SABC1, SABC2 and SABC3 respectively.

Notable past SABC2 branding and slogans included "Come Alive with Us" shortened to "Come Alive", the "Feel at Home" and some minor tweaks and changes to that over the past couple of years.

SABC channel head changes at the South African public broadcaster's television division: who is now where, doing what exactly.

You're reading it here first. 

Channel head changes at the Television division of South Africa's public broadcaster is once again creating sweeping new management dynamics within the TV section of the SABC as executive musical chairs shuffling continues.

All three of the SABC's TV channels have acting channel heads.

Verona Duwarkah remains the group executive for television at the SABC.

Leo Manne formerly the channel head of SABC1, is now the general manager for television channels at the SABC. This position under Verona Duwarkah is the executive management post tasked to look directly after, and oversee, the trifecta of the public broadcasters three TV channels - SABC1, SABC2 and SABC3.

At SABC1 (with Leo Manne vacating that position) Sam Mpherwane, previously the acting programming manager, is now the new acting SABC1 channel head.

At SABC2 Pulane Tshabalala is the acting channel head.

At SABC3 Lefa Afrika, previously the programming manager, is now the new acting SABC3 channel head. TV with Thinus broke that news earlier this month when Ed Worster, the acting SABC3 channel head suddenly and unexpectedly left with early retirement.

What is means: Essentially SABC1, SABC2 and SABC3 kicks off 2013 with new and acting channel heads, as well as a new general manager for television at the SABC overseeing all three channels. It's a huge change for the SABC's television division as a whole which is supposed to stabilise and solidify.

It also begs the question as to why the SABC remains completely unable to find and appoint permanent channel heads for its TV channels despite having had years now to do that. There's also not any new blood coming in from the outside and infusing the struggling broadcaster with new talent, new vision and new impetus from South Africa's wider television industry.

Once again the SABC rolls over a new year and start a new financial year with brand-new acting television channel heads.

The SABC as a television broadcaster can do better television, and deliver a better public broadcasting service if it can solidify and settle its executive ranks. Not only does it reflect better on the broadcaster, it also helps South Africa's wider television industry and TV community with knowing who to deal with (and who they're dealing with).

The constantly, almost yearly, and unexpected and ongoing shuffling and turnover at the top executive ranks within television at the SABC is not condusive to the service, quality, perception of dependability and image of the SABC's Television division.

Establish your princes for your provinces, and settle down so the hard-working peasants from the TV industry making the stuff you broadcast, not only know where to bring their labour to, but whose name to call at the gate.

7th South African Film and Television Awards shown on SABC3 on 16 March - contracts with DStv's Mzansi Magic and TopTV still negotiated.

The 7th South African Film and Television Awards (Saftas) will be broadcast on SABC3 on Saturday 16 March at 19:30 - but while the National Film and Video Foundation (NFVF) which runs this award ceremony says the 7th Saftas will also be broadcast on TopTV and on the M-Net run Mzansi Magic channel on DStv, I can reveal that both satellite channels are still negotiating.

I've spoken to both Mzansi Magic and TopTV and both say they don't have broadcasting dates and times yet two weeks before the actual event is going to take place, since nothing regarding the 7th South African Film and Television Awards (Saftas) have been concluded yet.

"Mzansi Magic and TopTV will broadcast an edited version of the awards," says the NFVF in a statement on its website.

Mzansi Magic told me there isn't a date yet because it's not finalized yet; TopTV told me today "the agreement is still in the process of being finalised" and broadcasting details don't exist.

Meanwhile the TV broadcast of two and a half hours until 22:00 will be a delayed live broadcast from Gallagher Estate at Midrand on SABC3 on 16 March. Highlights from the technical categories awarded on the previous night, 15 March, will be included in the broadcast on 16 March on SABC3.

The event production for the award ceremony will be done by Vibe 2000 Entertainment and Vertical Limit Production.

ALSO READ: 7de Laan as a TV soap back in for the 7th Saftas; Binneland and Villa Rosa on kykNET shut out.

BREAKING. SABC2 to unveil its new channel brand identity and new on-screen look, changing 1 March.

SABC2 will introduce brand-new on-air imaging tomorrow, 1 March, as the South African public broadcaster's second public TV channel refreshes it's look.

SABC2's new on-screen look and SABC2's new channel brand indentity and imaging will be unveiled this evening at a SABC2 launch event in Johannesburg.

I can reveal that artists Zakes Bantwini, Kobomo, Kwela Tebeza, Claire Johnson, Thembisile, Kurt Darren, Micasa and DJ Lulocafe are all set to perform.

SABC2's slogan previously was "Come Alive with Us", then "Feel At Home". Is it now changing to "We Belong"?

Peter Spencer of Sky News retires as a reporter from the British 24-hour TV news channel.

Peter Spencer which South African viewers often saw on Sky News (DStv 402) "live from Westminster" has just retired from reporting.

He joined Sky News in 1991 as a political reporter.

The flamboyant Peter Spencer who was Sky News' eccentric Westminster correspondent was one of the last remaining "character" reporters on news television, and worked on weekends for Sky News.

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

AWKWARD. Hlaudi Motsoeneng isn't acting COO at the SABC anymore. But yes, he's still issuing press releases.

You won't ever see this from "real" companies, but there were eye rolls today when Hlaudi Motsoeneng, the SABC's general executive for stakeholder relationships and provinces issued a press statement today, thanking "the SABC board for recognising his strengths" as acting chief operating officer (COO).

It was cringeworthy.

Why the statement from Hlaudi Motsoeneng issued today wasn't combined in the statement yesterday when the South African public broadcaster announced that Hlaudi Motsoeneng has been removed with immediate effect and been replaced with Mike Siluma as the new acting COO is not clear.

The statement today quoting Hlaudi Motsoeneng following a day after yesterday when the broadcaster said Hlaudi Motsoeneng is no longer acting COO "with immediate effect", came across as amateur and embarrassing. Companies simply just don't do that.

"Hlaudi Motsoeneng would like to thank the SABC board for recognising his strength and affording him the opportunity to act as the chief operating officer of the SABC from 18 November 2011 to 26 February 2013," said the statement.

"The most appreciation is to the group executive committee and the SABC staff at large, for supporting his vision and commitment to the business of the public broadcaster."

"Mr. Motsoeneng calls upon all stakeholders, and staff to support the newly appointed acting chief operations officer, Mike Siluma."

Cringe, cringe, cringe.

M-Net Movies rips the Oscars off from M-Net Stars after promising to give it to DStv Compact viewers.

After first promising it, DStv Compact subscribers will no longer get to see The 85th Annual Academy Awards, with M-Net's M-Net Movies division which suddenly - and with no reason - is yanking the awards ceremony from M-Net Stars (DStv 111) on Saturday.

M-Net Movies and DStv initially said The 85th Annual Academy Awards would be shown (for the first time ever) on DStv Compact and the M-Net Stars channel, making Hollywood's annual biggest award night available to more viewers in South Africa than ever before. But no more.

The broadcast scheduled for 2 March at 18:00 on M-Net Stars is no longer happening which means the promised broadcast for DStv subscribers and M-Net Stars' viewers is not happening anymore.

The 85th Annual Academy Awards were shown on M-Net (DStv 101), M-Net Movies Premiere (DStv 102) and is also available on DStv on Demand.

"The M-Net Stars broadcast has, unfortunately, been dropped from the line-up," is all that M-Net Movies says - no explanation, no reason and no consolation to DStv Compact viewers.

M-Net's Pierre Cloete explains why it immediately pulled its '28 Days of Oscar' marketing campaign after Oscar Pistorius shooting scandal.

Pierre Cloete, M-Net's director of channels explained on M-Net's weekly current affairs magazine show Carte Blanche why the pay-TV broadcaster very quickly pulled the commercial advertising campaign "28 Days of Oscar" with Oscar Pistorius  after he shot and killed his girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp.

In contrast, SABC1 and Samantha Moon, the executive producer of Tropika Island of Treasure 5: Jamaica kept the commercial advertiser-funded production (AFP) on the air on the public broadcaster  as scheduled which now shows the dead Reeva Steenkamp as one of the contestants.

"We were also shocked like the rest of South Africa, but we needed to show some respect, firstly for the families, but also its a very sensitive situation that we've found ourselves in," Pierre Cloete said to Carte Blanche. "The campaign that we launched was quite humorous, it was lighthearted."

He was asked whether there was any consideration to keep the campaign going. "Definitely not. It was the best decision in our opinion to pull the campaign as soon as possible," said Pierre Cloete.

"Research typically suggest they've [sponsors and advertisers] typically got 10 days. As shareholders look at consumer response to sponsorship relationships, those typically play out after 5 to 6 days," Michael Goldman, a senior lecturer at GIBS told Carte Blanche.

When Tiger Woods fell from grace it took some sponsors a few weeks to react.

"Brands that were associated with Tiger Woods that did not withdraw immediately, within 10 days lost $12 billion of their share value in the first 10 days that they continued to be associated with the athlete," said Michael Goldman.

WHO LET THE DOGS OUT? Carte Blanche on M-Net goes barkers during interview with Reeva Steenkamp's parents.

In the worst production values in many years, M-Net's weekly current affairs magazine show Carte Blanche on Sunday at 19:00 had more dogs barking than what you could almost actually hear people talk, when Derek Watts interviewed the parents of the killed Reeva Steenkamp, Barry and June Steenkamp.

In the terribly bad interview from a production point of view, spliced into a bigger story about Oscar Pistorius killing Reeva Steenkamp, Derek Watts made it into the living room of the Sea View home in Port Elizabeth of Barry and June Steenkamp last Wednesday.

There was clearly no "do overs" here, with incessant barking of dogs which for me terribly spoiled the interview. A South African journalist based in New York who saw it on Sunday also incredulously, without me even talking about it, SMS'ed me and asked: "What on Earth is up with all of the dogs and the barking? It's so bad."

The interview itself wasn't very long. Is that all Carte Blanche got or was the rest simply unusable I wondered to myself. Carte Blanche even faded out over Barry Steenkamp talking and his mouth moving. What he was saying was completely inaudible to the viewer.

This latest Carte Blanche episode is available to view on DStv on Demand until Sunday afternoon in which a grim-faced Derek Watts talks to a very emotional Barry Steenkamp who can hardly speak and June Steenkamp who is also emotionally distraught and on the verge of crying judged by her vocal tone.

As a TV critic I didn't get any forewarning or notification before Sunday from M-Net - and I asked others and neither did they - that Carte Blanche had the Steenkamp parents' first TV interview exclusive. In fact the whole episode and even a Twitter insert was all about the Oscar Pistorius killing scandal saga.

I noticed it late on Sunday afternoon on the DStv EPG but by then it was to late to try and write something or do anything about it.

Of course as the world works, then the BBC and the New York Post suddenly called me on Sunday about it. I was out with friends, but luckily had set a recording, and rushed home to watch it in order to talk on the BBC about the Carte Blanche must-watch footage I almost didn't even know about and to help the newspaper.

BREAKING. Restructuring looming for the struggling SABC in the coming year, says finance minister Pravin Gordhan.

Restructuring is looming for the struggling South African public broadcaster, said the minister of finance, Pravin Gordhan in his budget speech delivered in parliament today.

Pravin Gordhan said restructuring is coming in the coming year to all state supported public enterprises who are not performing and bleeding cash, such as the SABC, South African Airways, the South African post Office and a litany of others ranging from Denel and Alexkor to SA Xpress and others.

Pravin Gordhan said in parliament today that "some form of restructuring" is coming for all of these loss-making entities mired in trouble with dysfunctional boards who are not adequately co-ordinating with the government and who are rocked by ongoing management instability.

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

The ESPN channel as South Africans see it to stay on air; ESPN Classic under consideration to 'wind down' and exit South Africa.

More clarity is finally emerging: ESPN (DStv 230) as the version of the American sports channel viewers are seeing in South Africa and in Africa on MultiChoice's DStv pay-TV platform remains safe for now despite major changes to the channel's international ownership structure in the United Kingdom; ESPN Classic (DStv 231) could cease to be seen by July.

Yesterday I reported that the days are numbered for the main ESPN American sports channel and ESPN Classic as TV channels in Africa after The Walt Disney Company which owns ESPN sold off ESPN to BT in the United Kingdom.

ESPN Classic was not a part of the deal with BT and that channel is likely going to be "wind down" which means closed.

The part of ESPN which BT got will just be focused on the United Kingdom. Yesterday ESPN said that ESPN America won't be distributed anymore in Europe, Africa and the Middle East (EMEA) region (in which South Africa falls).

ESPN in London today responded to media enquiries I made yesterday when the news of the BT deal broke. ESPN told me that as it pertains to Africa "that it's not definite" that ESPN Classic is leaving Africa and South Africa as a TV channel, and that ESPN is not affected.

How can that be? Here is what is going on and ESPN is explaining further - so hopefully this gives more clarity about these American sports channels as seen in South Africa and their future:

ESPN: (in South Africa and elsewhere sub-Saharan Africa) is the channel which shows ESPN live sports in South Africa and elsewhere in the sub-Saharan region. "Neither the agreement with BT, nor the proposal around ESPN Classic in the EMEA region" will be impacting this channel, ESPN tells me.

ESPN Classic: ESPN says that "separate from the agreement with BT in the United Kingdom, there is a proposal to wind down ESPN Classic across Europe, the Middle East and Africa region". This is therefore the TV channel which is in danger of ceasing to exist on DStv.

(Keep in mind that Disney chairman and chief executive officer said in May 2012 that it's considering existing ESPN from a number of international TV markets.)

ESPN America: ESPN tells me this is a separate channel brand name. The channel is named ESPN America - for a channel that operates in the United Kingdom and Europe. "ESPN America is not a channel available in Africa. It has several feeds which are available in different parts of Europe and a portion of the Middle East," says ESPN.

When ESPN said it will stop distributing its ESPN America TV channel in international markets and in the EMEA region in its press statement, it's referring to the 3rd channel. 

That is why ESPN (number one) is "not affected" and why ESPN Classic (number two) will likely go the way of the dodo - although it's not a 100% certainty yet.

It's an intricate arrangement which leaves a lot of questions. Does ESPN Classic have any real chance of survival? Is ESPN as a brand in Africa and South Africa getting stronger or weaker or treading water?

Why did ESPN not yesterday communicate pro-actively the huge changes of ownership and the nuanced implications of, and to the various channels, to South Africa's press covering television within an African context? If ESPN Classic bites the dust will it be by July or sooner or later? Will ESPN (number one; the channel shown in South Africa) remain viable as a channel?

It's going to be very interesting over the coming months to keep track of ESPN Classic which is on life-support. Because it's not ESPN America but only ESPN, the ESPN TV channel is out of the woods. But what now?

The next few months is definitely going to yield a very interesting play-by-play when it comes to ESPN and ESPN Classic.

Hlaudi Motsoeneng removed as acting chief operating officer at the SABC, replaced with Mike Siluma as new acting COO.

The matric-less Hlaudi Motsoeneng has been removed as the acting chief operating officer (COO) at the SABC with immediate effect with the public broadcaster giving no reasons as to why.

The controversial Hlaudi Motsoeneng will be replaced by Mike Siluma, who is suddenly taking over at the SABC as the acting chief operating officer "until further notice" according to the SABC.

The SABC announced today that Hlaudi Motsoeneng is "released from his duties" as acting COO "as of today" Tuesday 26 February.

Hlaudi Motsoeneng will go back to being a general executive looking after provinces at the SABC. "The SABC board would like to thank Hlaudi Motsoeneng for his contribution during his time as acting chief operating officer," the SABC said in a press statement released this afternoon.

"The SABC board would like to assure the public that the process of appointing a permanent chief operating officer will be concluded once all the legal impediments that has thus far prevented them from making the appointment is resolved," says the broadcaster.

SADNESS. As the husband of one of South Africa's TV critics unexpectedly passes away. You're in our hearts, Gen.

Today was a difficult day. For a lot of us. The husband of a longtime (and way underappreciated!) South African TV writer and critics sadly passed away in the very early hours of this morning. It's very hard when someone you share a history with and who is a joy in life, hurts. And this hurts a lot.

Robert - the dearly beloved husband of Genevieve Terblanche who is a TV writer, soap gossip getter and all-round true true lover of all things television at tvplus magazine - very sadly and unexpectedly passed away in the early hours of this morning from possibly a heart attack in his sleep.

To say that publishers, editors, assistant editors, TV critics and writers, publicists and longtime friends across South Africa were shocked when they heard the news early this morning would be an understatement. Gen truly loved that man, that I can tell you. And a lot of people love Gen, which makes the news of her husband's very unexpected passing very difficult news.

When I was at tvplus magazine as senior writer and later news editor I would often daily hourly run to Gen's desk to share a latest TV titbit, scoop or story.

There really is a place, and there really do exist people, where you show up at work (imagine!) in the mornings and you talk about Bold and Days and Brooke and whatever TV shows and the characters in TV shows as if they really exist. It never grew old for me.

You talk about them on a first name basis as if they're our friends (because, actually, they are) and you talk about them with people like Gen. Because she truly gets it. Gen knows them all, and she knows what they've done and what they're going to do and she loves them, and I love her for loving that.

Gen loves and have seen every single episode of Star Trek The Next Generation. In the same vein we cannot wait for the start of Honey Boo Boo on TLC in March because we're not above trash. We're about television.

In the half a decade I've spent at tvplus magazine, that woman was a veritable fountain of news about television and full of laughter and excitement about all of it. I would get to work in the morning to hurry over and tell her that fat-again Sammy is having Austin's baby, secretly impregnated by aliens!

Gen would just smile, because not only does she know it already, she already chucked stuff of pages, have downloaded exclusive photos, tossed copy out on page 56 and the new copy and gossip was already on the page. It never seized to amaze me.

Besides our love for television, Gen and I also share an oh so crazy delight in (and we had many laughs) TV Guide magazine adverts. The overseas magazines about television came to the office for our perusal (an awesome but now gone perk). TV Guide has schmaltzy trinkets, often adorned with fake jewellery bedazzling that takes your breath away. Oh what would the world be without Zarconite!

What's not to love about a gold-plated porcelain plate of a Native American boy praying on a cliff at nightime with stars above as smoke rises from a wigwam in the background and a true and guaranteed real cubic zarconium "star of Bethlehem" in the sky above? (Easy payments of $1,99 over 88 months, customer satisfaction guaranteed - unless you want a figurine and not a plate).

Or baby dolphins jumping and leaping for joy in the moonlight on faux crystal waves? During work Gen and I would constantly make jokes or reference those trash trinkets and honestly just be amazed at what adverts every new issue had inside it.

If you love television and like to read about it in South Africa, chances are you've read something Genevieve Terblanche wrote, got an answer to something television because she asked it, got are get quality All My Children information (because she loves that soap!) or just know more about the medium because she demands to know more and then tells about it.

Thank you Gen for loving television. Thank you for always, always getting excited about it. For knowing about it. For being as curious as I am when we run into each other at press junkets for shows and channels and launches and laughing hysterically when we hear that Honey Boo Boo and her pet pig Glitzy is finally coming to South African TV screens.

I'm incredibly sorry for your loss. A lot of people really deeply are. I don't have words. Not even really great Honey Boo Boo ones. But a lot of people are thinking of you, and we're really sorry and sad and distraught at your loss. You're in our hearts.

ESPN: 'Not a definite' that ESPN Classic is leaving Africa as channel by July, main ESPN not affected by deal.

ESPN says it's "not a definite" that ESPN Classic as a TV channel will not be seen anymore in Africa and that the main ESPN will remain.

Yesterday a deal was announced - to close at the end of July - by which BT in the United Kingdom takes over the running of an ESPN TV channel which belonged to the The Walt Disney Company. ESPN as far as TV channels are concerned, is considering retracting from the Europe, Middle East and Africa (EMEA) region.

UPDATE Tuesday 25 Feb 22:40 - ESPN explains what exactly is going on and happening with each of the ESPN channels as seen in South Africa and its future.

ESPN Classic which is seen on DStv on MultiChoice does not form a part of this deal and ESPN is said to consider close down that channel. The ESPN channel's deal with BT does not extend to Africa, but what exactly that means for Africa and South Africa, is also not very clear.

The Disney-owned ESPN said in May 2012 that it was considering exiting a number of international TV markets as a result of the growing costs of acquiring live sporting rights.

Yesterday ESPN said that the main ESPN America TV channel will no longer be distributed anymore outside of America in Europe, Africa and the Middle East (only a version of it and only in the United Kingdom).

Now ESPN is clarifying somewhat what it means for the South African and Africa market.

Yesterday ESPN issued no statement to spell out and clarify exactly what the implications are for both of these American sports channels within and from an African context, and ESPN did not respond to media enquiries asking specifically about the implications of the BT deal, and how that is affecting viewers in Africa.

But now ESPN is responding. Paul Melvin, the director of communications for ESPN for the Europe, Middle East and Africa region (EMEA) says: "Separate from the agreement with BT in the United Kingdom, there is a proposal to wind down ESPN Classic across Europe, the Middle East and Africa region and the non-UK ESPN America channel feeds across Europe."

"However at this stage that is a proposal, and is subject to the appropriate review and consultation process - so there is no definite outcome. Neither the agreement with BT or the proposal around ESPN Classic affect the ESPN channel in South Africa," according to Paul Melvin.

What this means: So the decision to close down ESPN Classic and not show that channel in Africa anymore is a proposal, meaning it could, or could not happen.
ESPN, the main American channel ... is being withdrawn from this region of which Africa forms part, although ESPN also says it is not affected.

Monday, February 25, 2013

BREAKING. The end of ESPN and ESPN Classic on MultiChoice's DStv; channels set to go dark by July in South Africa and Africa.

DStv and DStv subscribers are losing the ESPN (DStv 230) and ESPN Classic (DStv 231) channels from the MultiChoice pay-TV platform in South Africa and Africa since ESPN Classic will soon cease to exist as a channel and ESPN America will no longer be distributed outside of America, except for the United Kingdom.

UPDATE: ESPN responds: ''Not a definite that  ESPN Classic is leaving, ESPN "not affected".

2ND UPDATE Tuesday 25 Feb 22:40: ESPN explains what exactly is happening with each of its ESPN channels as seen in South Africa and their possible futures.

The apparent loss of the channels follow a deal in which Disney, which owns ESPN, sold ESPN in the United Kingdom to BT in a transaction set to be concluded by the end of July.

That deal excludes ESPN Classic which will likely be killed off by ESPN across Africa as a TV channel, and at the same time the main ESPN will no longer be made available outside of America in international markets except for in Britain. [UPDATE: A day later ESPN says that as it pertains for specifically Africa, this is not necessarily what will be happening.]

Disney no longer saw value in ESPN Classic and didn't regard the channel as a core focus of value outside of America. While ESPN America remain valuable, that channel won't be distributed anymore in Europe, Africa and the Middle East (only a version of it and only in the United Kingdom).

While the BT Group which will continue to operate one ESPN-branded channel with NASCAR, NCAA college football, and NCAA college basketball, that is only for the United Kingdom. ESPN will stop distributing its ESPN America TV channel in international markets.

I sought clarity on the matter but an ESPN spokesperson did not respond to my media enquiry today asking for confirmation and what is happening to ESPN and ESPN Classic in South Africa and Africa on MultiChoice.

In May last year I reported that the Disney-owned ESPN is considering exiting a number of international TV markets as a result of the growing cost of acquiring live sports rights. Then ESPN also didn't respond when I asked what this means for Africa and South Africa.

The Disney-owned ESPN said in May that it was considering exiting a number of international TV markets as a result of the growing costs of acquiring live sporting rights. In May 2012 it was the Disney Company's chairman and chief executive officer, Bob Iger himself who told investors "that the opportunities for ESPN are limited internationally."

"ESPN's international business has never been particularly large, nor has it been a huge priority for the company," Bob Iger said.

That was shockingly harsh and unexpected words - words that signalled (what has now happened) which is that Disney and ESPN doesn't really care that much for ESPN as a channel or channels outside of America.

"We could not be more proud of the TV channel built and nurtured by our talented team over the past four years," said Ross Hair, the managing director of ESPN for the Europe, Middle East and Africa (EMEA) region in a statement. "The value of that hard work is reflected in this deal with BT and the continuation of ESPN on television screens across the UK and Ireland."

BREAKING. DStv down nationwide with an E-45 error message; subscribers wondering what's going on.

E-45 is the error message DStv subscribers got nationwide this morning; many wondering why their DStv signal went down in cities across South Africa ranging from Johannesburg to Cape Town - an error code that didn't want to go away.

MultiChoice says the South African pay-TV giant added a new transponder to its DStv platform this morning to accomodate future service - but that switch didn't happen as unobtrusively as DStv subscribers started to react when a technical problem caused their DStv signal to be cut with an E-45 code.

I not only heard from a lot of DStv subscribers instantly but also a South African TV channel executive whose own TV channel is on MultiChoice's DStv bouquet, and wondered what's gone wrong.

A lot of DStv subscribers are reporting E-45 error message on their TV screens and the 011 289 2222 call centre number and 083 900 DSTV (3788) numbers are not available.

I also tried calling both numbers numerous times and couldn't get anything other than a not available tone (I've tried several times now - it could be due to line congestion). I was unable to get through to MultiChoice's Cape Town branch and service centre as well.

In addition to DStv subscribers who couldn't get through on the telephone numbers to MultiChoice, MultiChoice's self-service portal was also down for some reason.

It's not clear what the extend of the technical problem is, or how widespread - although it's occured nationally, but I've asked MultiChoice on email is there's any explanation as to why the service went down, what DStv subscribers are affected and how widespread the problem is and what caused it.

There wasn't an immediate response from MultiChoice but if I receive one from the pay-TV operator I will bring it to you immediately.

DStv subscribers are complaining about an "E-45 Service not Authorised" on-screen message instead of their DStv channel they wanted to watch on Monday morning. "I cannot use any of the self-service channels so widely advertised," a DStv subscriber said, trying to clear the error code.

UPDATE: 10:54 - I just heard from MultiChoice, the pay-TV operator says it's will get back to me in about 30 minutes.

UPDATE: 11:20 - "MultiChoice added a new transponder to its DStv platform this morning to accomodate future services. This process was intended to happen seamlessly without any customer interference," says MultiChoice. "Unfortunately some of the decoders didn't automatically acquire the new transponder. We have since addressed the issue and our customers should be able to continue enjoying their viewing. Our sincerest apologies," says MultiChoice.

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Oscar Pistorius makes the main news again on the CBS Evening News with correspondent Emma Hurd reporting on the bail hearing.

Oscar Pistorius who shot and killed his girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp who's a contestant in Tropika Island of Treasure 5: Jamaica on SABC1 keeps making the main news and was a story again on America's main news bulletin, the CBS Evening News with Scott Pelley.

Emma Hurd, previously correspondent for Sky News (DStv 402) is now reporting for the CBS Evening News (which can be seen in South African on Sky News on weekdays) about the Oscar Pistorius bail application in Pretoria.

Tropika Island of Treasure and Oscar Pistorius remain news on E! News on E! Entertainment; reveals Reeva Steenkamp's 'chilling last words'.

Tropika Island of Treasure 5: Jamaica with the dead model shot in the head Reeva Steenkamp and the Olympic and paralympic athlete Oscar Pistorius facing a charge of premeditated murder, again made the news on E! News on E! Entertainment (DStv 124) on Wednesday night.

Jason Kennedy reported on Oscar Pistorius bail hearing as E! News also featured Reeva Steenkamp's "chilling last words" on Tropika Island of Treasure 5.

E! News which showed Tropika Island of Treasure 5 footage again said Oscar Pistorius who shot his girlfriend repeatedly could get a life sentence if convicted of murdering Reeva Steenkamp.

"And chilling words from the reality star herself after Saturday's debut of Tropika Island of Treasure on SABC1," said Jason Kennedy.

"I think the way that you go out, not just your journey in life, but the way that you go out and make your exit is so important," says Reeva Steenkamp in the clip played on E! News. "And I'm going to miss you all so much."

DRAMA WRACKING THE RAINBOW NATION. Amanpour on CNN International and the story which 'transfix the world'.

The murder case against the star athlete Oscar Pistorius who shot and killed his girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp remains and dominant story worldwide; it was the main story on Christiane Amanpour's Amanpour on Wednesday night on CNN International (DStv 401).

Interestingly, Debora Patta of 3rd Degree on appeared on Amanpour to talk about the Oscar Pistorius murder case, with the story which took up the entire first half of Amanpour on Wednesday night.

"[The story] continues to rattle South Africa and transfix much of the world," said Christiane Amanpour live from New York. "The story of the heroic, disabled athlete who overcame adversity to compete in the Olympic games - his fall from grace is all playing out like a Greek tragedy."

"Meantime South Africa looks on in stupefied disbelief against a mounting series of blows to the national psyche - what one political commentator calls a 'war against women' culminating recently in the horrific gang rape and death of a 17 year old girl which had many South Africans calling for a change of culture even before the Oscar Pistorius case."

Christiane Amanpour called it the "drama wracking the rainbow nation".

Debora Patta was Christiane Amanpour's guest tonight. "Part of the probem is that South African wants its heroes to be flawless. We want to believe so badly in this metaphor of inspiration."

"We look at this specimen of humanity who overcame incredible odds. We're so in love with that narrative that we don't look enough and not deeply enough at the person behind it."