Friday, May 31, 2013

BREAKING. Sky News scoops Oscar Pistorius blood-filled exclusive images of death scene; CNN International gets exclusive interviews.

Sky News (DStv 402) is the to-tune-to 24-hour news channel of the day today with a massive exclusive: stark blood-filled black-and-white images of the death scene where the paralympic South African Oscar Pistorius shot and killed his girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp earlier this year.

Ironically CNN International (DStv 401) today is a close second as have to-watch news channel - the Oscar Pistorius spin doctor PR machine masterminded exclusive sit-down interviews with CNN International's Robyn Curnow.

Ironically Team Oscar most probably didn't know, and never could have anticipated, that the exclusive interviews with Oscar's uncle and Oscar's agent on CNN International would be running on the same day and at the same time as Sky News is splashing its huge TV exclusive of gory images taken by police of the scene where gruesome shots rang out from Oscar Pistorius' weapon who has now been charged with murder.

Add to that the new splashy tawdry tabloid coverage from South Africa's biggest tabloid weekly magazine which ramped and hyped up its Oscar Pistorius Reeva Steenkamp melodrama again in the latest issue out again today.

Sky News isn't specifying where it got the images of Alex Crawford's story. "Sky News has obtained exclusive pictures from inside the home of the paralympic medalist Oscar Pistorius including of the blood-stained bathroom where he shot his girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp," is how Sky News prefaces its exclusive today.

BREAKING. Hannibal on Sony Entertainment Television renewed for a second season in America.

The horror thriller crime drama Hannibal currently seen in South Africa on Sony Entertainment Television (DStv 127) with episodes following a few weeks after the Unites States broadcasting date has just been officially renewed for a second season.

The Silence of the Lambs TV drama prequel from Bryan Fuller as writer and executive producer and produced by Gaumont International Television and Sony Pictures Television will see a second season despite struggling somewhat with viewership in the United States as a so-called "bubble series" where it's being shown on the NBC network.

Hannibal is a co-commissioned international show by Sony Pictures Television Networks making this type of American drama series much cheaper to produce than what it would normally cost and now the drama with Hugh Dancy (Will Graham) and Mads Mikkelsel (Hannibal Lecter) will have a second season of 13 episodes in 2014.

"We're so proud of Bryan's vision for a show that is richly textured, psychologically complex, and very compelling," says Jennifer Salke, NBC entertainment president in a just issued press statement. "There are many great stories still to be told."

The second season of Hannibal will focus on the strained relationship between Dr. Hannibal and the criminal profiler Will.

GATEWAY TO HELL. M-Net plans to show The Hole at 09:30 in the morning on 21 June; watch it with you Chucky doll, kids.

M-Net plans to show The Hole, a horror movie with an age restriction of 13 and containing scenes of violence, "frightening images" and a monster dad amongst other things, at 09:30 in the morning on Friday 21 June.

In The Hole a pair of brothers stumble upon a mysterious hole in their basement which could be the gateway to hell and which leads to the darkest corridors of their fears and nightmares.

In The Hole a scary clown-puppet attacks a young boy, a boy describes how his dad used to get drunk and beat his family, a little girl died after falling off a rollercoaster, a boy is dragged underwater, someone's brains are seen through a cracked skull and M-Net deems it appropriate to show this movie early in the morning to its subscribers in South Africa.

I asked M-Net if the South African pay-TV broadcaster can please verify if this movie is indeed going to be shown at 09:30 on 21 June when I went through weekly TV channels' schedules.

"That is correct," M-Net tells me.

At the end of last year M-Net incurred a massive fine of R40 000 for showing completely inappropriate adult content during the daytime. Then M-Net told the Broadcasting Complaints Commission of South Africa (BCCSA) that "the screening of inappropriate content on any of our channels before the watershed is an anomaly and serious offence within the company, which always necessitates immediate internal investigations."

M-Net said in November last year "we are doing our utmost to ensure that an incident like this is not repeated".

Thursday, May 30, 2013

CNN International closes its news bureau in Baghdad; last American TV news channel to no longer have a permanent bureau in the city.

CNN International (DStv 401) has closed its news bureau in Baghdad, Iraq and no longer has a permanent news bureau there.

TVNewser first reported the closure of the 24-hour news channel's news bureau in the city; the last American TV news channel to have had a real news bureau in Baghdad.

In a statement CNN says "while CNN is departing its current brick-and-mortar location in Baghdad, the network continues to maintain an editorial presence in Iraq through a dedicated team of CNN stringers and correspondent assignments as news warrants."'s naked breasts 'smutty rubbish': 'Do we really need such content broadcast on national free-to-view television?' complainant asks BCCSA. which continues to fill its airwaves with explicit erotic programming such as Playboy Playmates and Bikini Babes on weekends accompanied by advertising for mobile porn, prompted a complaint to the Broadcasting Complaints Commission of South Africa (BCCSA), with the complainant asking: "Do we really need such content being broadcast on national free-to-view television"?

The complaint filed the complaint saying an movie was recorded and the recording also ended up recorded some of the  titillating television.

The BCCSA dismissed the complaint saying it "is not our task to decide whether the material is has a positive moral message or not, but whether there is any cogent reason for stopping this kind of material being broadcast after midnight."

The complaint to the BCCSA is casting the spotlight once again on what South African television is and want to be, given that the struggling pay-TV operator TopTV also wants to start pumping pornography over television in the form of a new bouquet of pornographic TV channels.

"The complainant is certainly not alone in her concerns," the BCCSA said in its judgement about's erotic nudity the channel is broadcasting and the BCCSA said it was "valuable for us to hear her view". "Ultimately the freedom of choice of adults to watch this kind of programme late at night decides the matter. TV licences are generally held by adults who must take the necessary measures to ensure that children do not watch this kind of programme." in its defence said Playboy Playmates "contains no explicit sex, only niduty with the naughty parts blurred. it carried an 18NL advisory at the start and after each advert break." said the episode was aired at 00:15.

"What has South Africa come to that the rights of a TV channel to broadcast any smutty rubbish takes precedence over good taste?" the complainant asked. "If people want this smutty rubbish let them pay for it at a sex shop - not have it broadcast into ALL our homes."

"Let people who want this type of content PAY for it and view it in the privacy of their homesor elsewhere anot not expose the rest of the country to this smutty rubbish."

"I disagree strongly with it being available FOR FREE and accessible ("unsupervised" and uncontrolled) by anyone with a television and adequate reception."

"Instead of a 'watershed period' this timeslot should be called a 'free for all and anything' timeslot!" said the complainant. "What is has to do with shedding of water is truly obscure and though I understand that it is a 'term', by addressing this timeslot as such with a term it whitewashes what is being permitted to be broadcast during this timeslot."

Derek van Dam,'s chief meteorologist to run the Comrades for charity; 'every day represents a new opportunity to touch someone's life'.

Derek van Dam,'s chief meteorologist and weather guy who's veritably omnipresent and third in line just after God and then Oprah when it comes to being everywhere and doing everything, is taking part in Durban's Comrades Marathon this Sunday, running 89km for charity.

Yes. He doesn't just sail, and travel the world, and attend events early in the morning, and attend events late at night, and travel through South Africa ans strike fear into even the Energiser bunny (why haven't an energy drink place approached him yet as a sponsor!?), he also runs people.

The Type A, Bob-the-Builder, Roadrunner "meep-meep" guy who is a sports fanatic will run the Comrades Marathon with the aim to raise money for The Compassion Life Foundation. Oh, Derek van Dam sits on the board of this foundation too. (He's also helped with their Feed-a-Family project for 7 years.)

"I have run several races before but this one will be a very rewarding one, so I plan to give it my best shot," says Derek van Dam who is not perfect I must add. He for instance only completed his first ultra-marathon this year doing the Old Mutual Two Oceans in Cape Town. (Also as of yet, not able to talk to puppies.)

"It will be a great honour to be able to fuse two of the things I am most passionate about, my love for extreme sports and giving back to the community."

Derek van Dam started running long distances in his twenties and has since participated in various races throughout the world.

"There are many ways to make a contribution in our society. Every step counts, every day represents a new opportunity to touch someone's life," says Derek van Dam.

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

BREAKING. M-Net Series talk shows moving from 9 July to the brand-new M-Net Series Reality channel.

The existing talk shows on M-Net Series (DStv 114) will be moving to the brand-new M-Net Series Reality (DStv 115) channel from 9 July when the new M-Net Series Showcase, M-Net Series Reality and M-Net Series Zone channels launch on MultiChoice's DStv satellite pay-TV service.

It's part of the big news story I warned yesterday is coming today, and the headline making news story TV with Thinus brought you first and which I've been tracking all day.

ALSO READ: As M-Net's M-Net Series cluster channel brand finally breaks out if its shell, its finally able to grow and soar.
ALSO READ: DStv and M-Net missing out on a golden opportunity to start M-Net Series Sci-Fi as a separate new TV channel.

Current M-Net Series talkers such as Ellen, Jerry Springer and The Doctors are set for a channel hop. "The very best in talk shows will also be scheduled on the channel," says M-Net in a statement. This means that viewers will be able to find two of the most popular genres on global television - reality and talk shows - all in one place."

M-Net says M-Net Series Showcase which will be in HD on DStv for DStv Premium subscribers, "will be the high-definition playground of the series world's latest big-name shows with all its flamboyant characters. The channel will feature fresh, superior quality content in all popular genres - from comedy and drama to fantasy, crime and suspense."

M-Net Series Showcase which will be on channel 113 from 9 July on DStv "will also be the channel where fans of series can devour all their favourites in one sitting, with marathons of back-to-back weekend screenings."

M-Net Series Zone, a rerun series channel which will be available on the lower-tiered DStv Compact bouquet "will include content specifically catering to DStv Compact customers. The shows will also be packaged in such a way that back-to-back screenings, especially over weekends, will make it easy for everyone to catch up on all the series action they may have missed."

M-Net Series Zone will "boast special festivals and themes, and much more. This will be series 'heaven'," says M-Net.

"M-Net's fantastic reputation in broadcasting is built on screening the world's best movies and series," says Pierre Cloete, director of M-Net channels at the pay-TV broadcaster.

"These new channels allow us to do it even better, with well-designed tailor-made schedules for every taste. In line with our very successful defined channel offerings in the movie arena, we are now collating our incredible series portfolio in an easy to find, well structured, channel offering. We are specifically catering to the varying tastes of our DStv Premium and DStv Compact viewers," says Pierre Cloete.

FINALLY HATCHED. M-Net Series, M-Net's second channel cluster brand name finally breaks out of its shell; now finally able to grow and soar.

With M-Net Series - once the home of Mary Tyler Moore reruns (we still love you, Mary), The Wonder Years and Little House on the Prairie when it started on MultiChoice's DStv - now finally pecking through its shell in a transformative expansion event, the M-Net Series brand within the realm of subscription television in South Africa and Africa is finally released from its confined existence and able to grow.

Earlier today M-Net at its media roadshow in Durban that the existing M-Net Series channel is expanding and folding out from 9 July on DStv into a trio of channels - a premium M-Net Series Showcase channel which will be in high definition (HD), as well as M-Net Series Reality for "conversational reality" shows, and a M-Net Series Zone, a rerun type channel giving viewers who haven't seen a show or season to catch up.

Not only do the new M-Net Series channel logos (above) share a striking resemblance to the flip folder "mini bouquet" of M-Net Movies channels rolled out by the South African pay-TV broadcaster in October last year, it also ties and brings the existing M-Net Series channel as well as the new channel expansions closer in terms of brand look to the blue ribbon device M-Net mothership. M-Net Series is an M-Net product - and don't you forget it.

Similar to the many more M-Net Movies channels in existence - M-Net Movies Zone which was just added and with M-Net Movies Showcase and M-Net Movies Zone now both sharing channel moniker suffixes with M-Net Series channels - its tantalisingly clear, although still speculative, that even more M-Net Series channels could possibly be added by M-Net and DStv in the future.

Mmm. How about a M-Net Series Sci-Fi, the absence of which I just lamented?

The more structured and "zoned" approach for M-Net Series as a brand and as separate content pipes is a great thing and a natural evolution for both M-Net as well as DStv.

Pay-TV subscribers to services like MultiChoice's DStv want channels where the channel proposition is clearly defined, metered and provides a satisfying viewer pay-off. (Some channels are not - History is for instance more "Ancient Aliens Channel" thesedays.).

M-Net Series Reality will for instance, like CBS Reality, provide a buffet of all-you-can-eat reality shows falling within a certain niche if you look closely. M-Net calls it "conversational reality shows". The channel will now also be carrying all the talk shows.

More M-Net Series channels also means the possibility that more foreign TV shows can be shown quicker and closer to the American and British broadcasting dates - the TV series plate which is now bigger can now carry more content.

With M-Net Series "set free" so to speak, the gain is for the South African TV viewer. Although currently the gain is in essence only one channel - since M-Net Series really only changed into M-Net Series Showcase and M-Net Series Reality was added (M-net Series Zone is a rerun channel) - the beginning of M-Net Series branching out, is a welcome start.

BREAKING. M-Net Series channel finally going HD on MultiChoice's DStv; M-Net Series expanding as a channel subset with Reality and Zone.

You're reading it here first. 

The long-gestating plan to turn the M-Net Series (DStv 114) channel into a high definition (HD) TV channel on MultiChoice's DStv satellite pay-TV platform and to expand the M-Net Series brand into an expanded TV channels subset is finally happening with M-Net Series turning into M-Net Series Showcase as an HD channel, and M-Net Series Reality and M-Net Series Zone being added as two further standard definition (SD) TV channels.

TV industry insiders knowledgeable about the M-Net Series plans and TV with Thinus have steadily tracked it, and today the pay-TV broadcaster made it official by revealed the major upgrade to its M-Net Series channel brand.

The flagship M-Net Series channel will change to M-Net Series Showcase in name and become a HD channel on the new DStv channel number 113, M-Net Series Reality will show reality shows on channel  115 and M-Net Series Zone on channel 114 will be a rerun channel with previously shown seasons of shows seen on the M-Net channel and elsewhere.

The channels will go live on 9 July on DStv during the primetime evening. DStv Premium subscribers will get all three M-Net Series channels. DStv Compact subscribers will get M-Net Series Zone.

M-Net Series has been on a constant evolutionary change since the channel - provided by M-Net to MultiChoice - started as The Series Channel on DStv showing only old library titles of American shows similar to TopTV's Fox Retro channel.

At M-Net's media roadshow currently underway at the Fairmont Zimbali Resort in Durban, M-Net talked about the upcoming changes.

Plans more than a year ago to turn M-Net Series into a high definition (HD) channel and to start further additional M-Net Series channels on the DStv bouquet which went through various permutations and was postponed in favour of first launching, extending and structurally realigning M-Net movie channel offering under the M-Net Movies umbrella and boosting DStv's movie channel offering in the process.

Now the M-Net Series channel is following the same pattern, also with a showcase channel and additional channels.

M-Net Series Showcase on channel 113 will have Defiance I, True Blood VI, Castle V, Criminal Minds VIII, The Carrie Diaries, Pretty Little Liars III, Mad Men VI, Army Wives VIII, Teen Wolf II, Grimm I and Supernatural VIII.

M-Net Series Reality will have "the best conversational reality series depicting real talent, real people and real stories on channel 115. Shows on this channel will be Real Housewives of New York, Real Housewives of Orange County, Junior MasterChef II, Life After Top Chef, America's Got Talent, The Face I, Ready for Love I and Fashion Star.

M-Net Series Reality will also be the channel carrying the talk shows from now on.

The schedule for M-Net Series Zone has not been locked down yet I'm told but the channel on channel 114 will "offer the best in uninterrupted bundled episodes of series' that viewers may have missed."

ALSO READ: DStv and M-Net missing the opportunity to start M-Net Series Sci-Fi as a specific, bundled, genre channel.
ALSO READ: M-Net Series, M-Net's second channel cluster brand name finally breaks out of its shell, now finally able to grow and soar.

BREAKING. Larry King joins RT with a brand-new talk show from June, Politics with Larry King, and add his other new talk show Larry King Now.

Larry King is joining RT (DStv 405), Russia's 24-hour English language news channel with his new talk show Larry King Now which will be shown on RT four times per week from June, and Larry King also starting a second talk show, Politics with Larry King, which will also be shown on RT.

Both Larry King's new talk shows are recorded from RT America's Washington DC studios and Ora TV's studio in Los Angeles.

"I have always been passionate about government and issues that impact the public, and I'm thrilled at the opportunity to talk politics with some of the most influential people in Washington and around the country," says Larry King.

"I look forward to bringing these invigorating conversations as well as my Larry King Now interviews to television audiences." Larry King Now will start on RT on 1 June.

Politics with Larry King will bring Larry King's signature interview style back to Washington and to topics of government, public affairs, policies and politics.

Larry King will interview world leaders, political and cultural figures and other newsmakers and personalities who will lend their perspective on the most critical and controversial issues of the day.

"We are thrilled to work with Larry King who is a true media legend," says Margarita Simonyan, RT's editor-in-chief, calling him"a terrific fit for our network".

OPINION. DStv and M-Net missing the golden window of opportunity to start M-Net Series Sci-Fi as a specific, bundled, genre channel.

MultiChoice and channel provider M-Net are missing the opportunity to start a self-compiled and dedicated science fiction and fantasy TV channel like M-Net Series Sci-Fi or M-Net Series Fantasy - an ongoing and glaring genre channel ommission from the DStv bouquet as the quantity and quality of these very specific shows proliferate.

South African viewers have to scour various TV channels to find what the industry refers to as "genre programming": science fiction and fantasy littered across as vast videorama diaspora which can - with a little work - be brought all together under one channel with one name clearly indicating its science fiction and fantasy.

I want to watch Defiance, the new buzzy TV science fiction TV drama in high definition (HD) on one channel together with just shows about wonderful worlds both spacey and crazy like Metal Hurlant Chronicles and the new werewolf vampire evil mamma drama Hemlock Grove (yes, TV people need to start buying internet shows now).

I want a place where Fridays and Saturdays are kinda tongue-in cheek nerd heaven with a "retro" timeslot for silly movies like Sharknado (go look it up!) and library titles such as old Doctor Who and that very final season of Sliders we never saw and new cool stuff like the new animation two part Batman movies currently on M-Net (DStv 101).

Sadly Beauty and the Beast is on one channel, The Vampire Diaries is on another channel, Arrow is here, Revolution is there, Grimm is here, Teen Wolf 's first season was on Vuzu and neither M-Net nor MTV the past year could tell me what is going on and where that werewolf drama is going next.

Last Resort was dismissed and jettissoned by M-Net and will now be on Sony Entertainment Television, Once Upon a Time, Zero Hour and 666 Park Avenue thankfully showed up on M-Net Series (but first lets watch some Ellen and The Doctors). Fox Retro on TopTV serves up a bit of psychedelic sci-fi like Star Trek and Space 1999 on an ongoing basis while FOX has Falling Skies and The Walking Dead.

Yet there's a massive amount of new fantasy and science fiction shows coming. Granted, not all will be successful, but several will. Several already are and are even having babies in the form of spin-offs. Interestingly in a landscape where TV shows' ratings are falling, its the supernatural and science fictioney shows which saw their ratings grow the past TV season (Supernatural, The Vampire Diaries, Grimm all up.)

Earlier this month MultiChoice explained that the Syfy channel will not be added to DStv for the foreseeable future. So why can't South African viewers get a channel with a distinct name, where they know they will always find the fantasy and science fiction shows they seek, and just that? All together of the same type of television.

Why is the massive viewership success which is having with science fiction schlockfest movies such as Anaconda Ostrich babies XIV not making TV executives realise that there's possibly really a dedicated and big enough audience for such a channel?

In the year ahead on television get ready for shows like The Vampire Diaries spin-off The Originals, the Once Upon a Time spin-off Once Upon a Time in Wonderland, Agents of SHIELD, Almost Human, The Last Ship, Dracula, Sleepy Hollow, Reign, Tomorrow People, The 100, Star-Crossed, Intelligence and more.

And that's besides new seasons of existing science fiction and fantasy shows. (Go foreign content acquisition people, buy, buy, buy.)

It's all 100% science fiction and fantasy shows, as opposed to crime procedurals like NCIS, dramedies, dramas or reality. Yet, you're not going to see all of these science fiction and fantasy shows bundled together and played out over time on the same channel. Although they clearly belong together just like those puppies rescued from the gutter on CBS Reality.

While there's TV channels in South Africa for reality, channels for crime, channels for food and sport (even just martial arts within sport) (and yes, I also love all of them), its a disservice non-service to not lump the possible fantasy and possible science fiction together on one dedicated channel for just that.

Under the Dome is here, True Blood has been everywhere, Spartacus has been nowhere, and Terra Nova went extinct while we were still waiting to see it in South Africa. And what's that sitcom with suburban aliens doing on M-Net Series and then Vuzu? Surely this can all be managed much better.

Where is that Jean-Luc Picard when needed to simply give the command: Make it so ...

Glambition with Jo-Ann Strauss on now the 3th most watched TV talk show in South Africa.

Jo-Ann Strauss now fronting her own primetime talk show on, Glambition on Mondays, is smiling to camera - she's been tele-trained that way. But she's also probably smiling for another less known reason: I can reveal that Glambition as her break-out TV venture is now the 3th most watched TV talk show on South African television.

With virtually no pre-launch publicity support from and basically zilch in terms of ongoing publicity support from the channel, the weekly Glambition, from Spaghetti Meatballs Productionsexecutive produced by Jo-Ann Strauss, Mike Varalla and Gerry Jennings is racking up a respectable viewership of around 340 000 viewers.

Glambition is only outnumbered by Motswako (SABC2) and Three Talk with Noeleen (SABC3) in the talk show genre - both co-incidentally also female-skewed and female presented talk shows.

Since it's launch a few weeks ago on, Glambition has consistenly ranked as the 3rd largest talk show in terms of audience on South African television every week - one episode surpassed the 600 000 audience mark.

The talker centered around topics of health and beauty pulls close to similar numbers of an international reality show such as Skin Deep on about cosmetic procedures.

Jo-Ann Strauss left SABC3's Top Billing where she was a TV brand name as one of the revolving corps of telegenic presenters, to try her hand at her own local TV foray in a format playing to her strengths and experience as a sought-after South African MC and public speaker and globe-travelled media maven.

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Working in a Warzone on the eNCA as a special once-off documentary this week, details TV reporter Yusuf Omar's visit to Syria.

Working in a Warzone is a brand-new and special once-off documentary viewers are able to see this week on the eNCA (DStv 403) in which eNCA reporter Yusuf Omar documents the Syrian conflict through South African eyes.

The 24 year old Yusuf Omar recently travelled across northern Syria, ducking mortar fire and meeting victims of the Syrian war while he shared meals with members of the Free Syria Army. Yusuf Omar accompanied the disaster relief group Gift of the Givers and kept the cameras rolling.

Working in a Warzone can be seen this week on the eNCA on Tuesday (28 May) at 10:30 and 21:30, Wednesday (29 May) at 15:30, Thursday (30 May) at 09:30, Friday (31 May) at 12:30 and Saturday (1 June) at 09:30).

In a eNCA press statement the 24-hour news channel says Working in a Warzone offers a raw and personal account of what it takes to tell a story from the edge of a civil war and "gives unique behind-the-scenes insight into life on the ground in battle-ravaged Syria - with all its ruined cities, refugee camps and deserted schools."

"Yusuf Omar's documentary introduces farmers-turned-fighters and their children who are caught in the crossfire."

"There's nothing romantic about being a war correspondent. The only thing that keeps you sane is finding the moments of humanity in all the madness," says Yusuf Omar.

Editor's note: Full disclosure - I HATE photos in which people can be seen holding guns. Nothing against weapons. However, several fictional TV shows and drama series issue publicity material in which stars are holding or pointing weapons. Those storylines are not about euthanising puppies. It's a tool for violence against other humans.

Low-class (and often uninformed or oblivious editors) editors of celebrity, consumer and tabloid magazines shamelessly fall for it and use these photos - often soap stars in "dramatic" storylines - be media savvy and look out for it - you'll see it more often than you actually should.

I've had several battles and heated meetings in the past 13 years at places where I've worked to not have an image of a gun in the hands of a soap star or NCIS hero or new local drama on a magazine cover or carried on inside pages. I believe it normalises violence. I had pages made over and guns cropped out.

I'm publishing the publicity photo above only (and still with reservation) because its real people and not fake characters glamourising weapons, the guns speak to the core of what the documentary is actually about, and the photo illustrates some of the circumstances the TV reporter physically found himself in.

Chello Zone grabs all 9 seasons of Hardcore Pawn for CBS Reality starting from 1 July with double bill episodes.

Chello Zone which runs CBS Reality (DStv 132) has acquired all nine seasons of the American reality show Hardcore Pawn for the channel.

I can reveal that the first to the fourth season of Hardcore Pawn will start and run from 1 to the 31 July with double bill episodes on weekdays between 13:00 and 19:00 on CBS Reality.

Hardcore Pawn follows the Gold family as they buy and sell goods in one of America's most troubled cities and the goods brought to the American Jewellery and Loan premises are as outrageous and complex as the extraordinary customers themselves - ranging from alligators to prosthetic limbs.

Hardcore Pawn is distributed by Zodiak Rights.

BIG NEWS coming tomorrow, keep checking back whole day Wednesday for news and analysis on a story I've been tracking for over a year.

I will have some exclusive information and rolling coverage of news regarding television you want to know, on Wednesday.

Whether your the South African TV executive who keeps in the now, the TV industry veteran keeping tabs on the latest news, or the TV viewer who likes to read about this mighty medium, keep checking TV with Thinus for perspective, analysis and news tomorrow.

You know you won't find the minutiae you need, the finest details, the full background info, quotes straight from the deepest sources, and the bigger perspective on how it all fits into the larger picture, anywhere else because tracking television is my obsession and I obsess about finding out everything about it.

BREAKING. Church demands a public apology from SABC3's Special Assignment; church livid over visuals and 'irresponsible coverage'.

The Universal Church of the Kingdom of God (UCKG) is demanding a public apology from SABC3 and the  TV channel's weekly investigative and current affairs programme, Special Assignment, after the church says it was "astonished" to see visuals of its churches included in a Special Assignment episode about illegal drug activities.

In this past Thursday's episode entitled "Praise the Drug lord" produced by Richelle Seton-RogersSpecial Assignment on SABC3 reported on informal churches and ministries popping up, loosely regulated, and with pastors being involved in drug dealing.

The programme looked a innocent people who "just want to attend a place of worship and who are being unwittingly pulled into the plots of criminal pastors."

"By association viewers would assume that as images of UCKG were included in the content, it was involved in the activities mentioned. This is completely false and wrongful!" says the UCKG in a strongly worded statement. The episode in question of Special Assignment was shown on SABC3 on Thursday 23 May.

The UCKG says "thousands of members were astonished to see visuals of two UCKG churches in a Special Assignment programme".

"The leadership of the church objects in the strongest terms to this inaccurate and irresponsible coverage which has damaged the reputation of the organisation and created untrue and incorrect impressions in the minds of millions of viewers," says the UCKG.

The UCKG demands a public apology "as a matter of urgency, failing which further action will be taken," says the church.

I've reached out to SABC3 to hear whether the broadcaster has any comment.

DStv subscriber sues MultiChoice for R300 000 and demands an apology after being wrongfully disconnected.

A DStv subscriber in Nigeria is suing the satellite pay-TV operator MultiChoice for R300 000 (N5 000 000) and an apology, after being disconnected although his account wasn’t in arrears.

In a case before the high court in Abuja, a DStv subscriber is suing DStv over alleged breach of contract, claiming he was disconnected although his subscription to the pay-TV giant was fully paid up. As evidence he submitted payment receipts and even his DStv decoder smartcard.

Chuks Udo-Kalu now demands an apology from MultiChoice as well as exemplary damages. "My subscription was still running for more than a month in advance and they disrupted my services. I went in person several times to their offices, they did not do anything about it," he told The Daily Trust.

Chuks Udo-Kalu says he wants the high court to declare MultiChoice in breach of contract, to pay over R300 000 in damages, to reconnect him, and to apologise. "What they posted on my screen was that my account has been suspended. To my mind it's like your banker refusing to pay you when you know you have money in your account."

"I asked my lawyers to write, they wrote, they replied promising to fix it and they did not, so I came to court."

So far MultiChoice Nigeria has not filed any documents and MultiChoice's lawyer also failed to show up on May 23 in court despite agreeing on the court date. Judge Yusuf Halilu has now postponed the case to June 11.

I've asked MultiChoice Africa for comment on the case; by the end of Monday's business day there hasn't been a response.

Monday, May 27, 2013

DEFINITELY ARTICULATE. Comedy Central has Eddie Izzard and the comedic genius' best stand-up every Thursday in June at 20:55.

The guy 3rd on the list of the 100 Greatest British National Comedians - Eddie Izzard - is not only in South Africa next month to do some of his brilliant stand-up live on stage, he will also be on you're television thanks to Comedy Central (DStv 122).

Calm down, everyone. No need to blow up Death Stars and things like that. All you need to do, is to tune in to Comedy Central every Thursday night from 6 June at 20:55 every Thursday in June right through early July for epic humour from this comedic genius. 

Keep in mind that Eddie Izzard's stand-up routines are not often shown on television (apparently by Overload Izzard's decree from long ago) and you will realize how truly special this Eddie Izzard month of June on Comedy Central is going to be. 

Eddie Izzard's highly acclaimed comedy masterpieces - a treasured anthology of his best stand-up stuff - is coming to viewers on Comedy Central from 6 June at 20:55 with Eddie Izzard: Circle, followed by Eddie Izzard: Definite Article (13 June, 20:55), Eddie Izzard: Dress to Kill (20 June, 20:55), Eddie Izzard: Glorious (27 June, 20:55) and onwards into July.

Eddie Izzard who did 43 marathons in 51 days in 2009 for charity although he describes himself as "a sack of potatoes on a mission", of course recently attempted to do 27 marathons in 27 days in South Africa to honour Nelson Mandela's legacy by running past places of significance in Madiba's life. 

That new documentary series will be shown on DStv in July I can reveal. But back to the Comedy Central stuff.

The guy who've famously described himself as "a lesbian in a man's body" is friends with Robin Williams, and Eddie Izzard: Dress to Kill on 20 June on Comedy Central won him two Emmy Awards when it was shown on HBO in the United States in 2000.

He's also won British Comedy Awards and yes, there will be Star Wars, there will be Harry Potter, there will be stream-of-consciousness whimsical monologues and a multitude of pop culture references and mumblings and ramblings. It's the Eddie way.

BREAKING. Downton Abbey's third season coming to BBC Entertainment from Sunday 11 August at 21:00.

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The third season of Downton Abbey will start on BBC Entertainment (DStv 120) on Sunday 11 August at 21:00 almost a year after it was shown in the United Kingdom.

The August starting date means it will almost be a year since the third season of Downton Abbey season was first shown in the United Kingdom where it started in September 2012 and eight months since January when it was shown in the United States.

The fourth season of Downton Abbey is already set to start in January in the United States.  BBC Worldwide will rerun the first two seasons on BBC Entertainment before the third season starts on the channel in August.

"Running the full first and second series to create a special Downton Weekend, culminating in the launch of series three means fans can get a major fix of great British drama series," says Ian McDonough, the executive vice-president for BBC Worldwide for the Central Europe, Middle East and Africa (CEMA) region.

BREAKING. All Access Mzansi 'uncancelled'; Mzansi Magic channel bringing the 'revamped' local magazine show back.

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I can break the news that the cancelled magazine show All Access Mzansi is "uncancelled" and will return to Mzansi Magic (DStv 161) after M-Net dumped the weekly glamarama magazine show at the end of last year because according to the channel it had run its course.

M-Net and Mzansi Magic axed All Access Mzansi after just two years on the air on the channel, after it was revamped from being All Access on M-Net (DStv 101). All Access got dumped from that channel initially and was retooled for a black urban TV audience and renamed All Access Mzansi.

Mzansi Magic blamed budget contraints and said it was moving towards "more exciting content". Now the "more exciting content" for its future is apparently more of what Mzansi Magic had in its past.

Mzansi Magic channel executives have now apparently had a change of heart and decided to make a U-turn on last year's decision.

I can reveal that All Access Mzansi, produced by Homebrew Films, is now set to suddenly return to Mzansi Magic on Thursday 20 June at 19:30 to once again cover celebrity news, interviews, music, sport and social events across South Africa.

It's not clear whether any of the former All Access Mzansi presenters such as Pabi Moloi, Bridget Masinga and Jason Greer will return.

ProVerb however will be back according to sources and All Access Mzansi interestingly also gets revived just in time to tie in again as a behind-the-scenes on-air exposure vehicle for the new 9th season of Idols which will start on the M-Net and Mzansi Magic channels in July of which ProVerb is of course also the presenter.

It's not clear in what way All Access Mzansi will be revamped in terms of look and feel and logo and presenter corps in order to serve Mzansi Magic's black viewership better or more in the way channel executives now have in mind when it debuts in a new way in June. Mzansi Magic's publicity person refused to answer the most basic questions about All Access Mzansi last week after a media enquiry.

I wanted to know why All Access Mzansi is resurrected after Mzanzi Magic said it was cancelled. What was the process behind deciding to return All Access Mzansi to the air, and what happened to bring it back? These and several other questions Mzansi Magic doesn't want to answer.

"We have revamped the show and further details on the new look will be made available to the media in the next few weeks," a Mzansi Magic rep tells me.

Sunday, May 26, 2013

BREAKING. Under the Dome coming to M-Net; new sci fi horror series from Stephen King starting on Friday 26 July at 20:30.

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I can break the news and reveal that M-Net has picked up the new Stephen King science fiction drama Under the Dome and I can reveal that M-Net plans to start showing the new American drama series from Friday 26 July at 20:30 on the M-Net channel DStv 101).

In January 2013 I reported on Under the Dome coming to TV this year as one of a new avalanche of science fiction series - this one based on Stephen King's book and produced by Steven Spielberg and Dreamworks Television.

In Under the Dome a small town called Chester's Mill is suddenly cut off from the rest of the world (some actually gory as the transparent "shield" went up right as people crossed the line).

The residents inside the town in Maine and the people outside has to figure out what is going on and why it happened and how - and then try to figure out how to escape.

Under the Dome will start on 24 June in America, meaning that South Africa will be exactly a month (or 4 episodes) behind the broadcasting dates in the United States. Under the Dome will definitely have a full 13 episodes as part of the first season.

Saturday, May 25, 2013

Leanna Manas on Vuyo Mbuli's death and Morning Live: 'When I walked on set on Monday morning there was a silence I've never heard.'

"When I walked on set on Monday morning there was a silence I've never heard," Leanne Manas, the co-host on the SABC's flagship breakfast show Morning Live told SABC Television news after the sudden and unexpected death of her co-host Vuyo Mbuli.

"I put on a black suit to come to work. I didn't ever think that the black suit that I'd be putting on was for my co-host. It was devastating. A really sad day," said Leanne Manas.

She told of how the Morning Live set is always bustling with noise, chatter and excitement and how terribly quiet it was this past Monday after Vuyo Mbuli passed away on Saturday night.

It's never quiet. We get up so early but when we walk into the building it's like its the middle of the afternoon because there's so much activity and there's so much vibe. But Monday morning it was quiet. There was nothing. Everybody was devastated. We didn't know how we were going to do this."

"I made sure I got to set half an hour early. The minute I got there, there's an earpiece and a microphone. And whenever I get there, the team have already put an earpiece for me and earpiece for Vuyo, and a mic for me and a mic for Vuyo. And our scripts are there. There's two of everything."

"Monday I walked in and there was one of everything. And I just broke down. And then I really realized he was gone. And I think the realization set into the team. So we're taking it badly but we need to move on. We are the national broadcaster and everybody is behind us. We're going to continue going; and be strong. And he would want us to do this. He would do it for me, and I know we're going to do it for him."

"We had an amazing relationship. It was an amazing friendship and an amazing relationship on-air. My mourning is in front of the camera but this closest friends and family members, their mourning is behind the camera and I can't imagine what they're going through."

"I've done so many incredible things next to Vuyo," said Leanne Manas. "I've learned so much from him. There wasn't a day that went by where I didn't take a lesson from him. He was a consummate professional. I would sit down next to him and I would watch him in awe. One of my fondest memories of him was my first broadcast with him. He made me feel relaxed; at ease. He made me feel at at home because I was a guests in his studio. And from that very first day he held my hand and we've never stop holding hands."

MultiChoice now definitely losing the ESPN Classic channel on DStv; ESPN Classic likely to go dark by end of July.

The ESPN Classic (DStv 231) TV channel on MultiChoice's DStv satellite pay-TV platform is set to vanish soon as the channel will no longer be supplied to Africa.

In February TV with Thinus reported that ESPN said it's "not a definite" that ESPN Classic will be removed, but now ESPN's presence on television in South Africa and Africa will definitely be scaled back and decrease as ESPN decided to can and remove ESPN Classic from pay-TV operator's channel line-ups like DStv.

"Following the agreement with BT, and after further review and consultation, ESPN has decided to cease broadcasting the ESPN America channel across Europe and the Middle East and ESPN Classic channels across Europe, the Middle East and Africa,' says ESPN in a statement.

No specific date is available on when ESPN Classic will go dark on MultiChoice, but its likely - as I previously reported - to be the end of July.

"The date that the channels go off air will be different across different markets, based upon distribution agreements. However, in most markets, both channels will continue exactly as they are, unchanged, until 31 July, 2013 and you will continue to get the exact same sports content and coverage until that time."

For a specific date on when ESPN Classic is terminated, ESPN says subscribers need to contact the TV provider with whom they have a subscription.

James Stephenson appointed as the head of news at BBC World News; says the British 24-hour news channel 'is strongest it has ever been'.

James Stephenson has been appointed as the head of news at BBC World News (TopTV 400 / DStv 400).

"I'm absolutely delighted that James will be leading the next phase of development for our news output," says Richard Porter, the controller of English, BBC Global News. "This is a very big year for BBC World News, with investment in new studios and in our journalism."

"James is ideally suited to take us forward, with huge experience of journalism and production and his understanding of the competitive landscape."

"I'm delighted to have been asked to run BBC World News," says James Stephenson in a statement. "The channel is the strongest it has ever been and this year's move to Broadcasting House has placed it at the heart of the BBC newsroom. I look forward to working with the World News team and the whole of BBC News to make the most of all we can offer to our global audience."

Worldwide pay-TV subscriber households grow by 8% in 2012; consumer remain 'ready and willing to pay for television'.

Worldwide pay-TV subscriber households incresed by 8% in 2012, according to the latest tracking from the Multimedia Research Group (MRG), helped in part by pay-TV growth in emerging markets such as Africa.

In 2012 pay-TV growth was the fastest in the Asia-Pacific region. The total number of pay-TV subscribers worldwide is now 800 million households.
"Even with the ongoing debate about the value of pay-TV services versus the cost of pay-TV services, one thing remains clear: Consumers around the world love to watch TV, and they remain both ready and willing to pay for it," says MRG.

"Despite the threats of “cord cutting” or alternative TV distribution technologies, we expect pay-TV service providers will, for the foreseeable future, continue to be the leading players in the delivery of TV services to the home."

"Looking out over the next few years, we expect to see sustained growth in demand for pay-TV services. In fact, by 2017, we are projecting worldwide pay-TV subscriber households to pass the 1 billion mark."

Friday, May 24, 2013

Liam J. Stratton appointed as the new head writer of SABC3 soap Isidingo, wants to 'recapture the magic' that Isidingo once had.

Liam J. Stratton has been appointed as the new head writer for Isidingo, the weekday soap on SABC3 produced by Endemol South Africa at Sasani Studios in Johannesburg.

The Briton from the United Kingdom says he wants to "recapture the magic" Isidingo once had and build on  the talent "and go back to the days where people rushed home to catch up with what's happening down at Horizon Deep".

Liam J. Stratton will now be leading the soap's creative team and focus the direction of the soap's future storylines which suffered a temporary disruption a year ago after a blaze swept through the soap's studios at the SABC's Henley Studios forcing rewrites, outside shoots and new temporary sets.

Liam J. Stratton who arrived in South Africa in 2011 and majored in writing for TV drama, sitcoms, soaps and theatre was script editor for M-Net Africa and Mzansi Magic's Nigerian soap Tinsel.

He created, wrote and developed a Mzansi Magic mini-series and wrote the sitcom Let Heaven Wait which just started on SABC3. He's also been a story consultant on's soap Rhythm City.

He is currently working with producers and broadcasters on a training initiative for comedy writers and performers set to start next year and is also a journalist and copywriter.

BREAKING. Last Resort picked up by Sony Entertainment Television; great submarine drama set to start on 23 July at 20:50.


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I can exclusively reveal that the excellent Last Resort has been picked up by Sony Entertainment Television (DStv ccc) and break the news that the American submarine island drama will start on SET on Tuesday 23 July at 20:50 for a first season of episodees.

In November 2012 I reported that pay-TV broadcaster M-Net actually picked up the broadcast rights to Last Resort which would have started in January 2013 on M-Net (DStv 101). Then ratings started to fall for the subbmarine drama which had an unwinnable crazy timeslot in America - shown too early and up against massive entenched shows.

M-Net quietly removed the show from M-Net's schedule line-up and Last Resort remained in limo. 

The good news is that this terrific drama - at least two episodes are like amazing movies in their own right, including the pilot episode - is now coming to Sony Entertainment Television after I asked Sony yesterday about it. 

In the drama an American nuclear submarine, the USS Colorado, goes rogue, their is an ongoing mystery as to why and lots of political intrigued, as well as on the island, Sainte Marina, which they're temporarily calling their own where the local inhabitants are not too pleased.

Last Resort is a great and compelling drama series with Andre Braugher as Captain Marcus Chaplin and Scott Speedman as executive officer Sam Kendal.

Thursday, May 23, 2013

BREAKING. MultiChoice suspends with immediate effect the expanded viewer panel measuring viewership of DStv's high definition TV channels.

MultiChoice is immediately suspending the expanded viewer panel which is used to measure the viewership of the high definition (HD) channels which form a part of its DStv satellite pay-TV bouquet.

After an audit on television audience measurement in South Africa - done in South Africa by Nielsen Media Research under contract from the South African Audience Research Foundation (Saarf) - the audit found "factors that could possibly have affected the statistical efficiency" of the viewer panel.

Because the viewing panel could incorrectly skew viewership results, MultiChoice has decided to temporarily suspend the expanded panel which was instituted at the end of July 2012. The decision to suspend the expanded panel will be for at least three months and is effective immediately. The HD tracking portion could be reinstituted later and "will be reviewed at a later date". MultiChoice will now look for whether there is any changes in viewership reporting without the expanded panel.

While DStv does not believe the panel boost affected the statistical efficiency of the information, and has an independent audit report to support this, it fully supports all initiatives to improve the accuracy and reliability of audience measurement in South Africa," is said in a statement.

The HD extended panel boost was necessary since HD viewership has steadily grown in South Africa as the number of HD channels continues to expand. "The number of naturally occuring HD subscriber homes in the TAMS sample was insufficient to provide meaningful data. The additional homes not only allowed measurement of HD channels but measured allviewing behaviour within HD households."

The boost added 170 households with HD-PVR decoders to the 30 existing homes in the TAMS measuring panel. "While the expanded panel remains suspended, naturally occuring HD households will remain in the database but the sample size will be far reduced."

"Saarf plans to expand the TAMS panel from about 1 700 households to approximately 3 000 households over the next few months. The larger TAMS panel will eliminate many of the current shortcomings, ensure greater accuracy in audience measurement and provide broadcasters and advertisers with the reliable numbers that they need," says the statement.