Saturday, November 30, 2013

A decade on, the sexist Channel O Africa Music Video Awards 2013 demeans women, showing a terrible view of females to the continent.

As Channel O (DStv 320) broadcast its 10th Africa Music Video Awards 2013 on MultiChoice's DStv platform across the African continent on Saturday night, Channel O's apparent ongoing sexist and gender demeaning view of females was again on display.

Viewers tuning in across the African continent to the music channel, run by M-Net, and this year's ceremony taking place in Soweto on Saturday night, would have seen Channel O showing women on stage shaking their asses and demeaning themselves - apparently in the name of performance art.

Since Channel O has no qualms about "showcasing" women in such a way, one has to assume that Channel O is okay with, and endorses, this chauvinistic, terrible view of women. Women who are almost not even their faces, but mere sex objects and body parts employed to "enhance" a musical performance.

Trash like this belongs in a seedy Nigerian strip club. Not on a TV channel which is supposed to show the best of Africa.

As a TV critic I believe that M-Net, Channel O and MultiChoice with it's continent-wide DStv service have a corporate and a social responsibility to uplift women - not to show them with their faces down to the ground and their asses in the air.

There is no respect and dignity in showing women in the way they were shown by Channel O on Saturday night.

At the Channel O 2013 Africa Music Video Awards Dineo Mokoetsi's words sounded ironic and hollow when she said that the entire point behind these music awards is to "showcase the best of our continent on one night, for everybody to see".

If these visuals of women everybody got to see are the "best" of Africa, then I have a major problem with Channel O.

During Zimbabwe's Buffalo Souljah performance for instance at the 2013 Africa Music Video Awards, viewers saw women bent over and shaking their asses.

Viewers saw women then go down on all fours shaking their asses in the air and pumping their behinds right into the camera. Then Channel O "treated" Africa's viewers to the women laying down on the floor with their legs open and in the air, and then even showing them upside down on their backs, their bottoms once again in the air.

So why is Channel O sexist? Strangely, ironically, the 2013 Africa Music Video Awards on Channel O on Saturday night featured no men bending over and shaking their asses, no men going down on all fours shaking their asses in the air, no men laying down on the floor with their legs open, and no men on their backs on the stage with their asses jutted into the air.

Only African women were sexualised and demeaned in what any sociologist will tell you is subservient, sexually submissive trash on television.

It's unbecoming and frankly a disgusting "reflection" back to the majority of the African continent's women of who television wants to show them that they are.

Africa's women on average have to walk 13km per day just to get access to clear drinking water for their families. They work for their children, they work for the homes and they try to build better lives. In my view Channel O's depiction does nothing but tear women down.

Did people like Yolisa Phahle, M-Net's director of local interest channels who oversees Channel O, Leslie Kasumba, Channel O Africa manager, and other executives at M-Net and Channel O watch the cringe-inducing sexism and demeaning female objectification included in the 2013 Africa Music Video Awards before stuff like this gets broadcast?

If they saw it during rehearsals or are informed about the content beforehand, are they okay with this?

If it were TV executives' own daughters who were gyrating on, and dry-hump a man's loins on a stage as happened at Channel O, would they be fine with that? I would guess not. Why then must viewers be subjected to this trash? 

Television as a powerful medium - and Channel O - has a responsibility to help promote women and to promote them by not showing them in this way on, and to, a continent still suffering and struggling hugely with equality for women and with sexism.

It's sad and terrible that Channel O continues to aid and abet such terrible stereotypes about women. And if it has to happen, why only to one gender? 

Why does Channel O feel that its okay for a women to be on her back with her behind and her legs in the air? An African man certainly won't ever be "allowed" to be shown like this. But for Channel O and the Africa Music Video Awards 2013 it's clearly "okay" to have women be portrayed in this way for the sake of superficial entertainment. 

African television, Channel O and award shows like the Africa Music Video Awards, show that it still has a lot of growing up to do. They need to start taking responsibility for every minute, and for every act, and for every event during which they reflect Africa's women and young females back to the continent itself. It's 2013.

Besides the bad stuff there were the other usual bad stuff at the Channel O Africa Music Video Awards 2013.

Viewers had sound problems throughout - a production and broadcasting problem which is especially painful when it happens during a music show.

As usual the show ran long over. DStv viewers who've set their PVR will discover they're missing the most important awards which will be cut off - the show which was supposed to be 2 hours long according to the EPG and was supposed to end at 22:00 only ended at 22:22.

On Digital Media (ODM) dumping the British pop music TV channel, Smash Hits; says channel no longer fits with its StarSat line-up.

On Digital Media (ODM) and its Chinese backer StarTimes are dumping another channel from the TopTV (soon to be StarSat) channel line-up with the British pop music TV channel, Smash Hits, which will abruptly end today and be gone by 1 December.

ODM says Smash Hits as a music TV channel no longer fits in with its new StarSat branded channel line-up.

TopTV subscribers are not impressed by ODM's latest channel removal, one of several which went missing during 2013 from the struggling South African pay-TV platform's line-up.

ODM says Smash Hits, which is provided by Box Television, is being removed from TopTV/StarSat, given the new package structures, bouquets and channels' overhaul which ODM and StarTimes are making available under the rebranded StarSat name.

ODM says StarSat subscribers will have access to other music channels which are available on the various packages, such as Star Music, Kiss, Kerrang, Box, Magic, Nigezie, One Music.

ODM says StarSat also carries 25 audio music channels.

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

BREAKING. steaming over a satirical article announcing Zuma's Housewives; says will take 'legal action as soon as we are able'.

Broadcaster plans to take legal action "as soon as we are able" over a funny, satirical article which claims is "defamatory" and which says, tongue-in-cheek, that is doing a new reality show just before the elections, entitled Zuma's Housewives and following the wives of president Jacob Zuma.

The South African free-to-air commercial broadcaster which should be championing freedom of speech, now appears as if can't handle a satirical joke when that joke is on is slamming the piece "announcing" Zuma's Housewives as coming to as "malicious, false and mischievous" and says will be taking legal action - although its a satirical news story which isn't real and isn't meant to be taken as real. appears clueless about the nature of the article on website Lifestyle Tabloids which first appeared yesterday - although its marked "satirical" at the end of the article, and also states that "the publication of this article is protected by our disclaimer policy".

Lifestyle Tabloids says in that disclaimer policy that its satirical articles should be viewed as "only a parody" and that these articles are "written to highlight the state of nations, celebrity and current affairs and should therefore be regarded as humour".

Lifestyle Tabloids does satirical news stories similar to The Onion in America.

In the satirical article, it is said that will be doing a "housewives reality show set against the backdrop of president Jacob Zuma's Nkandla village "profiling the pleasure and pressures which four women encounter as wives of a South African president" and that it will start on just before 2014's general elections.

Media savvy readers, industry experts and qualified journalists know that no broadcaster anywhere in the world would ever do a show with high political exposure just before an election of specific people linked to that election out of fear of possible favouritism.

In the funny article, Lifestyle Tabloids' breathlessly report on what is to become "Africa's most watched television show", with creator and series producer Shaka Sisulu promising that "the dramatics, footage of the housewives' jealous rivalry and jaw-dropping cat-fights will remain unedited, reassuring Bonang Matheba and Kelly Khumalo that they are not the only straatmates alive.", which seems unaware that the article is satirical in nature is blasting the article - incorrectly calling it Lifestyle Tabloid without the "s" in an official statement - and saying " is not associated with a programme such as this". says the article is "defamatory and also undermines the channel’s integrity". is currently broadcasting shows such as Cheaters in which people are shown who cheat on each other, Ripley's Believe it or Not, Totally Outrageous Behavior Caught on Tape well as Playboy Playmates and Bikini Babes. appears to have taken the article on the website at face value, thinking that it is real reporting on a website where other articles carry headlines such as "Editor arrested for publishing photos of Nkandla", "President Robert Mugabe's son reveals his homosexuality" and "Quick & Easy Mobile Abortion Clinics Proposed" - all stories which are clearly satirical in nature and marked as such.

"We do not understand the motive for its publication and do not wish to speculate," says in a statement about Zuma's Housewives

"We do not know if it is a publicity stunt with an ulterior motive or whether it was published with a more malicious intent, but wishes to express its disappointment and concern at the publication. will seek to find the company or individuals responsible for the publication and will most certainly take legal action as soon as we are able." 

The broadcaster also feels it necessary to say in its press statement that an press conference didn't take place in Craighall to announce the show. The satirical article says held a press conference in Craighall to announce the housewives of Nkandla reality show. declined to respond to specific questions TV with Thinus made in response to's media statement, asking what sees as defamatory, who exactly is being defamed and whether regards such a possible show about presidential housewives as bad.

TV with Thinus also asked whether its correct to say that plans to take legal action against a satirical article. 

Legal action against any form of satire from in South Africa would be strange, given that's sister channel eNCA, the 24-hour news channel on MultiChoice's DStv platform has the satirical TV news show Late Nite News with Loyiso Gola which features Nkandla on a weekly basis in its own satirical references.

TV with Thinus also asked why the broadcaster says that "we do not understand the motive for its publication" if the Lifestyle Tabloids site clearly states that it does political satire under the "About Us" category. Anyone can quickly access what the site is about to find out more about the website. 

Did research the site before issued the press statement on the article? The broadcaster didn't answer.

Did read the disclaimer which is published at the end of the article where it says no party should rely on the information and act on the contents of the stories, especially satirical stories?'s spokesperson Matla Ragoasha tells TV with Thinus in a general response that the article in question "was not being seen as satirical by a number of journalists who were asking questions regarding the show."

"Given this, the channel felt that the article could be easily misinterpreted as genuine. The publicity department received numerous queries from journalists throughout the day. The reader of the website would need to look into other pages to work out that it is satirical," Matla Ragoasha tells TV with Thinus. " feels that the article misrepresents our brand and content strategy."

Lifestyle Tabloids' editor-in-chief Kenneth Bassito Mahloane, didn't respond to a media enquiry made regarding's reaction to the satirical piece. 

It's unclear whether contacted or tried to contact Kenneth Bassito Mahloane and Lifestyle Tabloids before the broadcaster released today's press statement.

BREAKING. wants to take legal action over a satirical article saying that has a new reality show about housewives of Nkandla.

More on this developing story  later today. which broadcasts satirical shows such as Late Nite News with Loyiso Gola appears unable to handle a joke. believes that an article - published as satire - is real, and says the broadcaster will be taking legal action over the article which jokes that is doing Zuma's Housewives.

According to the satirical article which appeared yesterday on Lifestyle Tabloids, the new reality show will start just before the elections.

The website says the satirical articles published on the site under the category of satire should not be taken seriously but is commentary on the state of nations and celebrity. appears clueless that the article is satire, and appears to have not just been taken in and fooled by it, but also to have lost its sense of humour.

"We do not understand the motive for the publication and do not wish to speculate," says which seems to have missed that the article is filed under satire. says "we do not know if its a publicity stunt with an ulterior purpose or whether it was published with a more malicious intent".

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

BREAKING. Up Late with Alec Baldwin pulled and cancelled by MSNBC after actor's public tirade.

Up Late with Alec Baldwin on MSNBC (TopTV 410) won't be back after it was temporarily; Up Late has been pulled from the MSNBC schedule permanently and the actor's show cancelled.

MSNBC and Alec Baldwin's publicist Matthew Hiltzik say in a joint statement that "We are jointly confirming that Up Late will not continue on MSNBC." The show started on MSNBC in October.

Earlier this month Up Late was pulled off MSNBC's schedule and Alec Baldwin suspended from appearing on the American news channel following his derogatory outburst at New York paparazzi.

MSNBC then said that Up Late would return to the schedule on 29 November but the show has now been cancelled.

BREAKING. A 10th season for Idols on M-Net and Mzansi Magic in 2014 as Musa Sukwene from Mpumalanga wins the 9th season.

There will be a 10th season of reality show Idols on M-Net and Mzansi Magic in 2014 the South African pay-TV broadcaster announced tonight as Musa Sukwene (26) became the winner of the 9th season of Idols and the first winner from the Mpumalanga province.

Auditions for the 10th season of Idols will start in February 2014 with preliminary auditions which will take place on 15 February in Johannesburg (Carnival City), 22 February in Durban (Playhouse Theatre), 7 March in Cape Town (GrandWest Casino) and 22 March in Pretoria (State Theatre).

Musa Sukwene won - according to M-Net (no voting statistics were released) - with a narrow margin of just over 1 000 votes over runner-up Brendan Ledwaba (19) from Graskop, also in Mpumalanga.

Idols is a co-production between the M-Net and Mzansi Magic channels.

MultiChoice downloading software upgrades to DStv Explora; upgrades vastly improve the new decoder's interface and on-screen usefulness.

MultiChoice is downloading additional new software upgrades for its DStv Explora decoder launched in August which vastly improves the on-screen experience and usefulness and gives DStv subscribers "episode stacking", better functionality on the electronic programme guide (EPG) and other improvements.

MultiChoice will download upgrades to the DStv Explora software this week which will now give subscribers the season as well as specific episode number of a particular episode within the Playlist.

The first of two major improvements is that in the EPG subscribers will now be able to jump directly to a channel in the guide instead of having to scroll, by simply pressing the channel number. (If you type in a channel number which doesn't exist, it will take you to the closest channel number.)

A second major improvement is that individual episodes of the same TV series in DStv Catchup will be automatically grouped in one folder.

Instead of episodes of a specific TV series - where each has its own poster art being displayed separately, they will now be stacked one behind the other in a way that shows how many episodes are on offer.

By highlighting the series and pressing OK, information on all the episodes in the stack will become available to the viewer.

Other improvements include the option of 5 colour-coded channel groups which will allow different users such as people in a family to each set up a unique group of favourite TV channels.

DStv Catchup content also gets a new "Kids" category, as well as sub-genres which are listed.

The Movies, Sport and Series categories will now get sub-genres which are listed, like "Animation", "Drama", "Adventure" and many more for Movies for instance. Sport gets "Rugby", "Soccer", "Boxing" etc.

With the new software also comes an updated SuperSport Active app as well as the Easy Info app. The Easy Info app contains information regarding payments, self-service which includes trouble-shooting problems and FAQ's, agencies, decoder products and features.

MultiChoice's programming cost for the DStv platform keeps soaring with significant increases; DStv Compact bouquet shows strong growth.

MultiChoice's programming cost for its DStv satellite pay-TV platform keeps rising significantly - and at a much higher percentage than South Africa's inflation rate of 5,5% - driven by more, and the rising cost of, local TV content, the weaker rand as well as additional satellite uplinking costs.

Programming cost has soared to 17% year-on year (YoY) from September 2012 to September 2013, reaching almost R7 billion (R6,935 billion) by the end of March this year.

This programming cost includes the cost associated with acquiring TV shows and movies exclusively and in a first-run window for territories; as well as the sports rights to major sporting events.

MultiChoice's DStv Compact bouquet has shown strong growth in the financial half year to end September 2013.

Naspers announced today that its pay-TV revenue from its MultiChoice arm grew 18% to R17,1 billion for the 6 months to end September 2013 and that DStv subscribers grew another 560 000 during the same period across Africa.

BREAKING. Don Mlangeni, Zeb from SABC3's Isidingo, has NOT been fired; is still with Isidingo and will continue to be working on the show.

You're reading it here first. 

Because South Africa's mostly pathetic, unqualified, and tabloid pandering crop of so-called "entertainment journalists" are not doing their job, let TV with Thinus report facts: Isidingo actor Don Mlangeni HAS NOT BEEN FIRED from SABC3's soap Isidingo.

Daily Sun reported that Don Mlangeni, playing Zeb Matabane, has been fired.

Multiple, MULTIPLE publications picked up the tabloid report and went with it yesterday - zero of them digging back to find and verify the trurh from original sources, zero of them talking to pivotal, relevant executives (probably because they don't even have the deep contacts needed for this work), and all of them jumping gleefully on the wholly-ho wholly-wrong bandwagon to breathlessly "report"... well, essentially trash.

TV with Thinus didn't report anything. The only thing I do with trash is to throw it out when the bin is full.

So let TV with Thinus tell you that Don Mlangeni has not been fired from Isidingo.

Don Mlangeni has also not left Isidingo.

Don Mlangeni will continue to be in Isidingo, and Don Mlangeni will continue to work and appear as his character.

The tabloid tornado of utter sh*t reporting and litany of fake stories where fake trash is build upon more fake trash like a trash layer cake of common - because nobody in the hollow echo chamber cares to actually check with original sources - once again highlights the major problem(s) with entertainment journalism reporting in South Africa.

Sadly South Africa lacks accurate, decisive and fact-based original reporting, or original-sourced stories (from the television industry which is the subset within entertainment reporting which I try to cover diligently) - scared to do real stories, unable to find real news and largely untrained and unskilled in basic journalistic know-how.

Entertainment journalists are quick to go to events, drink and grab 'em goodie bags. Where are the stories afterwards? You see a trickle of the cesspool of so-called "entertainment journalists" and "columnists" who actually write or do anything. I know. I'm there. I see them. I read everything. And I'm constantly amazed at the bad or non-existent coverage of what passes for "entertainment stories" in South Africa.

The bulk of journalists covering the entertainment beat in South Africa in my opinion serves as an extension of PR companies' publicity machine - self-indulgent and extremely self-entitled so-called "journalists" in it for themselves; seemingly there to publish selfies with celebrities, to post "look where I was events", to twitter on social media instead of carefully crafting correct fact-based sentences for real publication of record articles and to listen and to ask relevant, informed questions during press conferences.

And let's not talk about the wholly running press releases and photos as is phenomenon - as if they're not really working for media institutions but for the companies who get uncritical coverage; serving not the reader and the public but corporations whose spin is passed on as "news".

South Africa largely sits with the entertainment and TV industry we have because our media and 4th estate covering it is so lame-ass weak, if not non-existent. When critical, accurate, in-time feedback exists within any industry, it gets better.

When you sit with a pandering press without backbone you get what we have.

Our industry struggles to get better because the reporting about it rarely consistently goes deeper than the superficial (and them mostly fake) fluff.

(Read the fake fluff elsewhere (and smile). Warning: When you read TV with Thinus you get no-spin truth and facts which might give you heartburn.)

Naspers' pay-TV business revenues grow 18% to R17,1 billion; MultiChoice subscribers increase by 560 000 across Africa.

Naspers' pay-TV business revenue grew 18% to R17,1 billion for the 6 months ended September 2013 and MultiChoice added 560 000 subscribers across the African continent during this time - now totaling 7,3 million households across 48 countries on the African continent.

Naspers says in its half year report that due to expanding digital terrestrial television (DTT) services - as well as the costs of launching new channels and services - that trading profits nudged up by only 11% to R4,5 billion for the pay-TV business.

M-Net has Dracula, with the new drama series reinventing the vampire legend, tentatively set for March 2014 and M-Net Series Showcase.

You're reading it here first. 

I can reveal that M-Net has the uber-ooh Dracula - and I can spill that the South African pay-TV broadcaster has tentatively earmarked the fantastic new drama series for the M-Net Series Showcase (DStv 113) channel.

TV with Thinus can also reveal a tentative starting date for Dracula on M-Net Series Showcase of 24 March 2014.

The brand-new (and awesome) American drama series starring the real life sex-drugs-bite-you Jonathan Rhys Meyers.

Dracula is exceptional in the clever cool way in which it plays with the Dracula legend and for the way in which it up-ends nearly every single thing you thought you knew about vampire and the vampire - besides the rules of drinking human blood and of not being able to cope with direct sunlight which remain true to the rules.

What if Dracula was actually a good guy? What if Van Helsing was actually not such a good guy? What if Dracula wanted to help (save) the world? What if an evil and nefarious secret society was destroying the world and Dracula was fighting them and their evil deeds?

What if Dracula was a clever inventor and was really in love with a girl who was killed and who he somehow just found again? This great new drama and must-see television gives viewers just that.

It's set in the Victorian era and the look is simply sumptuous. Dracula comes with  a lot of great special effects, cool scary moments, great story, action, costumes and just impressive scale.

Monday, November 25, 2013

Jo Sherlock appointed as the vice president: commercial for emerging markets at Universal Networks International.

Jo Sherlock has been appointed as the vice president: commercial, for emerging markets at Universal Networks International (UNI).

Jo Sherlock will now be directly tasked in leading, overseeing and growing UNBCUniversal's international pay-TV channels available in South Africa and across Africa, as well as other territories.

Several of NBCUniversal's TV channels are available in South Africa and throughout Africa on the DStv satellite pay-TV platform through carriage deals with MultiChoice.

Those range from the Universal Channel to Telemundo which was launched in Africa this year, to Studio Universal, Style and E! Entertainment.

Jo Sherlock, based in London, will now be focused in her new role on driving the ongoing expansion of NBCUniversal's and will oversee the commercial development of the various channel brands of UNI in South Africa, Africa, as well as the Benelux region, Central Europe and Scandinavia.

She will also be responsible for further enhancing UNI's presence on affiliate platforms and driving advertising sales revenue and to maximise growth opportunities across the rapidly evolving emerging markets region within which South Africa falls.

"We are delighted to welcome Jo to the team. her wealth of experience will be enormously beneficial in aligning the affiliate and advertising sales strategy," says Colin McLeod, the managing director for emerging markets, UNI.

"This is an incredibly exciting opportunity for me to join UNI's dynamic emerging markets business and further develop its high-quality portfolio of international channel brands," says Jo Sherlock.

Samsung launches a NewsON panel for Smart TV's in South Africa with local news and weather reports for all main South African cities.

Samsung has launched a NewsON panel, bringing on-screen content to Samsung Smart TV sets in South Africa, enabling viewers to get access even in a low bandwidth set-up to things like popular news and weather reports.

The new NewsON feature is freely available for Samsung Smart TV owners through the Samsung Smart Hub, which allows users to read news stories and see weather reports which they can click through, see story summaries or full articles, as well as stream news video clips.

The new interactive interface funnels the local stories as well as weather reports for all the main cities in South Africa, with Flickr photos in the background.

Smart TV users can get access to the new NewsON panel by upgrading the Smart TV firmware to version 112.6.

"NewsON gives users a more connected life by providing readily accessible and relevant local content," says Lance Berger, the head of product marketing TV/AV at Samsung Electronics South Africa.

"This new feature is part of Samsung's commitment to expanding the TV experience beyond simply watching television and movies, and to bring knowledge, news and the most immersive entertainment experience to everyone, everywhere," says Lance Berger.

BREAKING. Food Network producing a local South African version of Chopped; 10 episodes of Chopped South Africa coming in 2014.

You're reading it here first. 

Food Network (DStv 175) is producing a local version of its international reality food hit Chopped for South Africa, with Chopped South Africa which will start on the Food Network during the second quarter of 2014 in South Africa.

In the 10 hour long episodes of Chopped South Africa with presenter Denvor Phokaners and judges and fellow Food Network personality Jenny Morris and Siba Mtongana, as well as David van Staden, Lindsay Venn, Rebecca Hurst and Reuben Riffel, four chefs will be tasked to try and try make a three-course meal out of everyday ingredients.

After every course a contestant gets "chopped", until the last person wins R40 000.

The first season of Chopped South Africa follows the growing slate of local South African productions on the Food Network such as Jenny Morris Cooks Morocco, Siba's Table and Reza's African Kitchen.

Chopped South Africa is produced by Food Network in response to the growing and passionate foodie scene which has seen other broadcasters finding continued success with shows such as MasterChef South Africa on M-Net, and Come Dine with Me South Africa on BBC Entertainment.

According to sources, M-Net is for instance working on not just a third season of MasterChef South Africa for 2014, but also a MasterChef South Africa Celebrity version, doubling up on the MasterChef SA content due to the success of the show for the South African pay-TV broadcaster.

Chopped South Africa is produced by Snelco Prod. with Sue Nell as executive producer, in association with Ukhamba Communications. Eugene Naidoo is the director of Chopped South Africa.

"Chopped is the most highly rated and popular series on Food Network in South Africa and this new local commission will give more than 40 home grown chefs the chance to compete for victory in South Africa's very own Chopped kitchen," says Nick Thorogood, the senior vice president for content and marketing at Scripps for the Europe, Middle East and Africa (EMEA) region.

Sources say South African viewers are getting two MasterChef SA's in 2014 - a third season, and a celebrity South African version.

You're reading it here first. 

What's better than MasterChef South Africa on M-Net? Apparently a double helping, with sources telling TV with Thinus that the South African pay-TV broadcaster is apparently working on not just one but two MasterChef South Africa versions for 2014.

According to reliable sources who spoke on condition of anonymity, M-Net is planning a third season of MasterChef South Africa, as well as a first MasterChef South Africa Celebrity edition filled with local TV stars.

M-Net tried to put together a MasterChef South Africa Celebrity edition during the first part of 2012 which didn't work out due to contractual and time issues.

Now M-Net is apparently trying the celebrity version again similar to BBC Entertainment's celebrity episode during the first season of Come Dine with Me SA which included M-Net and SuperSport personalities.

Meanwhile buzz and viewership for the ordinary second season of MasterChef South Africa was so strong in 2013 that a third season of MasterChef SA on M-Net is basically guaranteed.

I asked M-Net last week if the pay-TV broadcaster can confirm that M-Net is doing a 3rd season of MasterChef South Africa, and a first season of Celebrity MasterChef South Africa.

I asked M-Net whether - if this is the case that there will be two shows - the two shows would run concurrently or would be broadcast separately.

"M-Net is looking into doing a number of blockbuster reality shows soon, but no contracts have been signed yet, and we will only make announcements at a later stage," says M-Net in response.

SABC3 marketing manager, Risuna Mayimele, suddenly gone from the SABC3 after 3 years.

You're reading it here first. 

Risuna Mayimele, SABC3's marketing manager is gone at the SABC after just over 3 years, where staffers at the public broadcaster's only commercial TV channel told TV with Thinus that they were only told that the marketing executive "has been relieved with immediate effect".

Risuna Mayimele was last seen on South African television last month sipping wine on SABC3's Top Billing at a De Grendel wine estate event in Cape Town - the Tswelopele Productions programme on which she's made numerous appearances over the years.

The SABC and the wider South African TV industry have been abuzz about the executive's departure, with several TV executives, ad executives, and former SABC staffers discussing the news at Discovery Network's Upfront event last week in Johannesburg after word spread about the executive no longer being with SABC3.

Risuna Mayimele joined SABC3 as marketing manager in July 2010. TV critics noted that Risuna Mayimele became the sole drop-in quotable in SABC3's press releases regarding local shows and programming over the last year and a half.

SABC3 has so far not yet responded to media enquiries and specific questions made last week regarding Risuna Mayimele's sudden departure from the channel.

The SABC has so far not yet responded to media enquiries and specific questions made last week regarding the executive's departure.

Sunday, November 24, 2013

On Digital Media and Chinese backer StarTimes open some new TV channels on its new StarSat service to subscribers for sampling.

On Digital Media (ODM) and Chinese backer StarTimes running the StarSat satellite pay-TV service in South Africa, on Friday opened some new TV channels for "sampling" to all current TopTV subscribers.

The heavily Chinese content infused channels which have been opened to all subscribers on TopTV, soon to be StarSat, have been plagued by technical and sound problems, as well as episode programme guide (EPG) unavailability and errors.

Several of the opened new StarSat channels don't have sound, soft sound and visual problems.

ODM and StarTimes are rebranding the damaged TopTV name to StarSat and repositioning the available monthly subscriber packages from December with a heavy emphasis on Chinese and Nigerian content.

ODM and Startimes promised at the end of October that existing TopTV subscribers on lower packages will be getting access to the new StarSat branded and acquired TV channels in November, to "sample" before the channels are encoded on more expensive packages.

ODM and StarTimes have now enabled the Star Africa 2 channel, Star E1, Novela E1, Novela E3, Star Chinese 2, Kung Fu 1, Star Bollywood, Nat Geo Gold, Star Sino Drama and CTI Asia.

Trevor Noah American sitcom project sold to FOX, half hour show will take its inspiration from growing up with parents from different countries.

Legendary TV, the television arm of Legendary Entertainment, and Overbrook Entertainment are teaming up with the South African stand-up comedian Trevor Noah for a new TV sitcom for American television.

Sameer Gardezi will executive produce, with Trevor Noah as a producer of the half hour sitcom which will take its inspiration from Trevor Noah's life growing up with parents from different countries.

Overbrook Entertainment is a joint venture between James Lassiter as well as Will Smith and wife Jada Pinkett Smith.

The as yet untitled Trevor Noah sitcom project is earmarked for FOX.

Maria Bartiromo signs off on CNBC and CNBC Africa on her final day: 'It's very emotional. I've been crying all day.'

Maria Bartiromo signed off on Friday night South African time in her final Closing Bell show on CNBC and CNBC Africa (DStv 410) in a huge loss for the financial news channel as she gets ready to jump to competitor Fox Business News and Fox News Channel (StarSat 405), telling viewers "this is my last day on CNBC. It's very emotional. I've been crying all day".

"I am coming back you know," said Maria Bartiromo. "I'm not going that far. I'm going to be back. Soon."

Business Insider details the insider reasons as to why South African viewers will no longer see the "money Honey" on CNBC and CNBC Africa after 20 years.

According to Business Insider sources its because Maria Bartiromo is getting more money at Fox Business News and Fox News Channel which CNBC wasn't willing to match, because she is getting her own Sunday show on Fox News Channel increasing her visibility, and the chance to again build something at a new financial news channel.

Some of Maria Bartiromo's colleagues at CNBC weighed in at the end of news segments during Closing Bell.

"Maria, I have to say in addition to all the contributions you've made to CNBC, I will most remember everything you've done to improve financial literacy for all ages, for everybody, outside of CNBC on your own time. I know you'll continue to do and I really have to say, it's been such a pleasure to work with you," said Sharon Epperson.

"I just want to say, it has been a privilege and a pleasure to be your colleague," said Bertha Coombs.

"Maria, good luck and we'll miss you," said Courtney Reagan.

"Maria, back to you for the last time, and best wishes," said Kayla Tausche.

Friday, November 22, 2013

CNN International TV special, Witness to Courage, on Saturday will see reporters share their personal stories of covering Typhoon Haiyan.

CNN International (DStv 401) will take viewers behind the scenes this Saturday (with repeats on Sunday and Monday) as reporters for CNN International share their personal stories about covering the aftermath of the Super Typhoon Haiyan which devastated the Phillipines in Witness of Courage: The Heartbreak & Hope of Super Typhoon Haiyan.

Witness of Courage: The Heartbreak & Hope of Super Typhoon Haiyan will be shown on CNN International on Saturday 23 November at 07:00 (with repeats at 11:30, 15:30 and 00:30 (all South African times).

The half hour special will be repeated on Sunday 24 November at 05:00, 12:00 and 16:30 as well as on Monday 25 November at 02:00 and 12:00.

In the midst of the tragedy there were stories of heartbreak but also of hope.

In Witness of Courage the team of correspondents who reported live from across the Philippines share their first-hand accounts of what they've experienced and tell the stories of ruin and resilience, as communities start to piece back together their shattered lives.

Thursday, November 21, 2013

QUESTION. Why is Top Billing on SABC3 showing a girl's panties as she jumps for the bridal bouquet at a wedding?

Why is Top Billing on SABC3 showing viewers in prime time a girl showing her panties as she jumps up trying to catch the bridal bouquet at a celebrity wedding?

The usually high brow weekly magazine show from Tswelope Productions (which is not a Girls Gone Wild video) showed viewers an insert on Thursday evening covering the wedding of Free State Cheetah's rugby player Robert Ebersohn and bride Mariza.

The programme decided to show female wedding guests jump for the bridal bouquet as it is thrown.

Bizarrely Top Billing decided to deliberately leave in and show viewers how the dress of the girl standing in the front lifts up while she jumps, exposing her polka dot underwear to the whole nation. 

The wedding guest is seen fixing and pulling her dress back down again after the unintended overexposure.

A good laugh while showing some of the good life, or trashy pandering?

Every TV show has an unspoken pact with its audience - the programme makes an offering of what it is, its values, what it stands for and what it will show you, and the viewer has an expectation of what you are going to get, and decide to accept it or not by watching or tuning away.

If you watch Big Brother Africa you know the more risque, seedier type of television to expect. If you watch Top Billing you know the type of television to expect.

Showing a wedding guest's panties in Top Billing in a bad moment is not what Top Billing sells itself to the viewer of what it is and the type of show it tries to be, yet that is exactly the lowbrow television is stooped to on Thursday evening.

If this was the wedding of the daughter of a Top Billing producer, ask yourself, would you have seen something like this on television if it happened from that wedding, or would it not make it to broadcast as it did here?

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

BREAKING. Discovery Channel HD coming to MultiChoice's DStv as Discovery gets upgraded to a high definition channel from 2014.

You're reading it here first.

Discovery Channel (DStv 121) on MultiChoice's DStv satellite pay-TV platform is getting upgraded to a high definition (HD) channel as HD Discovery Channel, within Q1 - or the first three months - of 2014.

The current Discovery HD Showcase - the only Discovery Networks International channel which was in HD on DStv and one of the few HD channels besides sport channels which were HD in DStv - will be discontinued as it is effectively replaced by the new HD Discovery Channel.

MultiChoice says it will replace Discovery HD Showcase with something else. Viewers without access to high definition television will see a standard definition (SD) version of the HD Discovery Channel.

The content which was on Discovery HD Showcase will be funneled to DStv subscribers through the DStv Explora decoder which is HD enabled, as DStv on Demand content.

DStv subscribers with DStv Explora access will therefore get more HD content not otherwise available and which wasn't first broadcast on a linear basis.

DStv Premium subscribers will now however be able to watch the factual entertainment Discovery Channel in high definition which means that brand-new programming will become in HD much quicker for South African viewers such as Magician Impossible, Bear Grylls, River Monsters, Wheeler Dealers and Gold Rush Alaska.

A lot of Discovery Channel programming was only viewable in HD during a second run on Discovery HD showcase after its been on the Discovery Channel. Now DStv subscribers will be able to see it originally in HD during its first broadcast.

The Discovery Channel HD version for South Africa and the rest of sub-Saharan Africa will be what is known in the trade as a "bespoke" or uniquely packaged and programmed channel similar to what Discovery HD Showcase was.

The Discovery Channel HD feed is specifically tailored and scheduled for DStv subscribers in South Africa and sub-Saharan Africa.

"The launch of the new dedicated HD Discovery Channel is an important milestone for our services in Africa and represents our continued committment to offering DStv viewers the best, high quality programming experience possible," says James Gibbons, the senior vice president for emerging business for Discovery Networks for the Central and Eastern Europe, Middle East and Africa (CEEMEA) region.

"We're sure that our DStv viewers and South African advertisers will relish the chance to watch their favourite Discovery Channel programmes in unbeatable high definition quality. We're also planning more new shows targeted at our DStv viewers starting with the launch of the epic Klondike drama," says James Gibbons.

Mark Rayner, the new chief operating officer (COO) of MultiChoice South Africa says "we want DStv to be our customers' home for great entertainment. Offering the adventurous and life-affirming content on Discovery as HD simulcast to our customers gives DStv Premium customers access to the best HD content in the world."

SHOW THAT VOLUME, GIRL. StarTimes, as the conditioner, adding new volume to ODM's StarSat offering, now at R2.45 per channel.

China's StarTimes is clearly the new conditioner, bringing brand-new volume - although not perhaps necessarily higher quality - to the content provided by On Digital Media's (ODM) new StarSat satellite pay-TV offering in South Africa.

With the support of StarTimes - the media and TV conglomerate which came to On Digital Media's (ODM) rescue with a capital injection for its struggling TopTV service - ODM plans to offer 81 TV channels on its StarSat Super package for R199 per month.

That gives a ratio of R2.45 per TV channel on StarSat per month. StarTimes and ODM is planning to increase the number of TV channels to "over 100" early in 2014 which will better the ratio of cost per channel for a StarSat subscriber even further to under R1.99 per channel.

No TV schedules or new TV channel descriptors or information have been released by ODM and StarTimes for the new StarSat packages yet.

That makes it difficult if not impossible to ascertain the amount of original new content, the repeat ratios on channels and the incidence of programming already seen.

On the face of it though (and yes, there is and will be new and newer content on StarSat channels) the more total hours of programming on StarSat per month means more TV for money for subscribers.

Whether a replacement channel like Star One will prove to be a same-for-same, better, or worse, channel content wise as Top One which it is replacing once the real schedule kicks in remains to be seen.

Top One was supposed to be TopTV's flagship general entertainment channel, but never managed to achieved that status and failed in local content promises, repeats, and by having too few premium international shows.

Star One is described by StarSat as containing "strong, international and local programming". If it does, subscribers won't complain.

The same example is and will be applicable for all of the other new StarSat channels. FOX Crime which replaces FOX Retro and Top Crime is for instance a much better channel although it's not even a premium channel.

FOX Crime carries first-run international drama series, so this one bird in the hand definitely makes up for the two gonners in the bush as far as TV content goes.

Nat Geo Gold is a good addition, the great Discovery Science channel remains; the solid BET, FOX, JimJam, FX and BabyTV all remain, and the credible Bloomberg Television is added with a few additional news channels.

The addition of 3 out of the 4 new's channels - eAfrica+, eKasi+ and eMovies+  - is a great development. The channels will grow as builds those content pipes and StarSat subscribers will benefit.

The amount of Nigerian content on StarSat seems problematic. South African culture is not just on a physical map just a tad too far removed from Nigeria. Kung Fu 1 as a channel seems a bit ... odd.

A pay-TV subscriber will sometimes settle for less channels if its better content-funneling channels. Perhaps two less Nigerian channels for one better other type of channel would make for a better proposition?

With not a lot of new sport besides basketball, pay-TV subscribers will gravitate towards StarSat for its general entertainment offering. How that selection of channels stack up in terms of what content they carry, remains to be seen.

There's definitely more general entertainment and movies channels - which means an increase in volume - but  the big question will be what the content on those channels are and whether South African subscribers will feel it appropriate, like it, and feel compelled to watch it.

The additional add-on StarSat Chinese package which contains 17 TV channels for R149 per month comes across as somewhat of a vanity project pushed by StarTimes.

How many Chinese interested subscribers or Chinese subscribers are available on South Africa who would sign up for this service is doubtful.

The Indian packages on both MultiChoice's DStv and the former TopTV are already niche offerings which don't attract large subscriber numbers. Yet the Indian community in South Africa is much larger than the total Chinese community. Will StarSat Chinese be able to turn profitable as an add-on package?

The StarTimes intervention has added some new shine to TopTV, or now StarSat.

What the true extent of this volumising effect is - both in terms of subscriber satisfaction reaction and content quality - can't yet be determined.

The next test will come when StarSat steps out of the salon after having worked through the new conditioner the past few months in the makeover chair.

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

REVIEW. The 'old' Nicky Greenwall is back on in more ways than one with her new movie magazine show, The Big Picture.

The "old" Nicky Greenwall is back on in terms of style and delivery in her new movie magazine show The Big Picture which comes across as taking a lot of its cues from her erstwhile entertainment magazine show The Showbiz Report which she started in 2005 and ended in 2012.

Viewers will instantly be able to relate to the presentation style, voice and pacing of Nicky Greenwall in her new show which is the familiar Nicky Greenwall as viewers will remember her from The Showbiz Report, but who now - as a mother of two - is building out and focusing a whole half hour show just around movies.

The Big Picture is the next show from Greenwall Productions for, following The Ten, Behind the NameThe Close-Up and her black backdrop studio talk show, ScreenTime with Nicky Greenwall which will be back for another season on in 2014.

Splicing in iconic film leaders iconography from the movies' celluloid era as breakers between inserts, together with a throwback film noir opening theme, and clever silent movie end credit title cards, Nicky Greenwall - who now frames herself in black-and white in the show - guides viewers with voice-overs through the week's film news and releases.

Covered in The Big Picture is movie trailers and snippets, red carpet appearances and a countdown of what is showing at the South African box office.

Feeling somewhat forced is the end insert in which Nicky Greenwall takes a look at upcoming films on television by playing those trailers with trivia voice-overs.

In reality this bit only covers movies which will be shown on, in the way the similar too-quickly-cancelled M-Net Movies Show only covered movies on M-Net's DStv movie channels.

Nicky Greenwall is once again presenter and executive producer, and The Big Picture compares well to what film critic Barry Ronge successfully did with his movie magazine shows Screenplay for SABC3 and Cinemagic for M-Net.

Strangely started and slotted The Big Picture in on the schedule to start on Tuesday, although the new show will instantly be taking a break and be gone from the line-up next Tuesday, 26 November, when it gets pre-empted for soccer coverage.

Why channel bosses didn't just postpone The Big Picture to start on 3 December isn't clear.

Communication minister Yunus Carrim want to update parliament on corruption and criminal investigations at the SABC in a closed briefing.

Communication minister Yunus Carrim wants to update parliament's portfolio committee on communications on the corruption uncovered at the SABC and what has happened with criminal investigations and prosecutions related to the SABC in a secret briefing behind closed doors.

Yunis Carrim wants to keep the briefing confidential.

Opposition parties are demanding that it be an open briefing so that the public can hear about the SABC's R19,5 million criminal investigation into the South African public broadcaster's own behaviour.

Earlier this year, the Special Investigation Unit (SIU) submitted a report to president Jacob Zuma on multitude allegations of corruption at the SABC which allegedly took place between 2005 and 2009.

The report which has not been handed to parliament, could see former and current SABC employees be charged with criminal charges as well as civil claims.

"Our legal advice is that the information that is asked is by its nature confidential and may not be disclosed," said Yunus Carrim.

Opposition parties say they will boycott any briefing if its held behind closed door and if its done in secret.

"Minister Yunus Carrim should be as frank as possible on the years-long investigation without infringing on the legal rights of those not yet criminally charged," says the DA in a statement.

"Anything else will be deemed to be a cover-up or lethargy on the part of the SIU and the SABC to adequately deal with the wide-ranging corruption that brought the SABC to its knees four years ago."

"In order to root out corruption at the public broadcaster, it is necessary that the appropriate action is taken against any and all employees guilty of corrupt activities. A frank discussion in an open committee is the surest way to go."

ASTOUNDING. With the first episode of The Big Debate now on eNCA it is suddenly crystal clear why the SABC canned the show.

It's astounding in its revealing, truthful, straight talk and debating, and with its first episode it instantly became clear why The Big Debate on eNCA (DStv 403) with Siki Mgabadeli was censored and yanked off of the SABC by the famously matricless and acting chief operating officer Hlaudi Motsoeneng.

Three new episodes of the fifth season of The Big Debate was already produced, although none yet shown, when the SABC dumped The Big Debate off the SABC2 schedule.

The SABC gave a convoluted, confusing reason why The Big Debate has been pulled and wasn't willing to elaborate or explain in detail what exactly happened, other than to say that The Big Debate was "incorrectly commissioned and compromised the editorial oversight of the SABC newsroom".

Siki Mgabadeli was simply brilliant in the first episode of The Big Debate on eNCA on Tuesday night, the first of a 10 episode season which centred around the theme of "workers' rights".

Perhaps the SABC pulled The Big Debate off SABC2 because the show dared to mention and use the words "Marikana Massacre" repeatedly during the show and in voice-overs. In November 2012 the SABC banned the words "Marikana Massacre".

Perhaps the SABC pulled The Big Debate off SABC2 because victims and bereaved family members of the Marikana Massacre were bussed in for the first episode of the town hall style debating show, sharing their emotional stories.

Perhaps the SABC pulled The Big Debate off SABC2 because the ruling party, the ANC, received multiple rebukes from a cross-section of debating panel members across the spectrum which included trade union representatives and ordinary South African citizens.

Perhaps the SABC pulled The Big Debate off SABC2 because in the audience spoke a women, Primrose Sonti from the Wonderkop Marikana community with her red EFF party beret.

So emotionally and with so much conviction, she talked about an entire widowed community left without husbands and men and any form of income. (The SABC has allegedly placed a limit on coverage of Julius Malema.)

The Big Debate episode touched on goverment institutions and parastatals who are all a failure.

The Big Debate touched on the high levels of poverty in South Africa, the high jobless rate and unemployment and the people who are suffering because of what happened at the Marikana Massacre.

The Big Debate also gave screen time to Dali Mpofu (the Marikana miners' lawyer and the SABC's former CEO who got R13,4 million in August 2009 when he took the SABC to court following his suspension and subsequent firing.)

It was perhaps too much of a stretch to think that a show such as The Big Debate with critical and thought-provoking debate could still be seen on South Africa's public broadcaster given the level of top-down political interference and ongoing cadre deployment at the SABC.