Friday, May 29, 2015

SABC3's Presenter Search on 3 winners are Zoe Brown, Danilo Acquisto and Jade Hubner; will join Expresso, Afternoon Express and Top Billing.

SABC3's Presenter Search on 3 reality competition show concluded Friday night naming the three Capetonians Zoe Brown, Danilo Acquisto and Jade Hubner as the winners getting dream TV presenting gigs.

Zoe Brown (25) will join breakfast show Expresso, Danilo Acquisto (24) is added to afternoon variety and talk show Afternoon Express, and Jade Hubner (23) is the latest addition to the weekly glamarama magazine show Top Billing.

The 13-part reality show seeking new on-air talent for the three SABC3 TV shows and which previously unearthed Simba Mhere and Jonathan Boynton-Lee, ended with the three telegenic winners being announced in Zanzibar at a pool-side ceremony.

Like the previous two presenter searches also produced by Tswelopele Productions, the third iteration once again saw thousands of hopefuls line up across South Africa for the chance to audition and show their TV presenting skills.

Part of the SABC that works
Even more than before, the Presenter Search on 3 managed to incredibly successfully and in a unique way for South African television, both showcase to great effect other SABC TV shows and personalities.

Presenter Search on 3 promoted other SABC shows incredibly well while giving viewers a fascinating glimpse behind the scenes of these productions ranging from shows like SABC2's Morning Live and Three Talk with Noeleen to SABC3's ExpressoTop Billing and Neill Anthony Private Chef.

While the reality show weekly kept whittling down the number of South Africans dreaming of stardom through becoming TV presenters, the Presenter Search on 3 also managed to show a not often seen and remarkable side of the local and vibrant TV production sector: the part of the SABC that actually works.

Viewers got a glimpse of the production companies and shows that are well-oiled machines, turning out thousands of minutes of TV airtime every year within the South African TV world, as well as another, almost "realer", side of well-known presenters like brilliant guest mentor Ursula Chikane who shined in her advice, hands-on approach and admonishment; and Leanne Manas revealing the secrets of success of doing early morning television.

Ordinary viewers who will never be on TV had the chance to see presenters like Ursula Chikane candidly give away secrets and coax contestants to be better on camera in various TV presenting challenges, making for fascinating Friday night viewing.

Fanning out across the SABC3 schedule
Although the original plan was to add another woman, Danilo Acquisto, the former Hectic Nine-9 presenter on SABC2, will now be added to Afternoon Express on SABC3 to try and boost the ratings of the weekday afternoon gaggle-fest with Bonang Matheba, Jeannie D and Bonnie Mbuli. The show debuted last month with flat viewership and a lukewarm reception from viewers and TV critics.

Zoe Brown with a degree in international relations from the University of Stellenbosch will join SABC3's perky live weekday breakfast show Expresso, while Jade Hubner will be doing recorded inserts for the style and lifestyle show Top Billing.

Besides the presenting work, the three get to each drive a Mercedes-Benz for a year, R10 000 in cash, and a R50 000 Woolworths gift card to buy a better wardrobe.

Excited for the future
"Our top three finalists have really exceeded our expectations this year," says Aisha Mohamed, SABC3 channel head. "It's not easy finding a presenter, let alone three who have all the qualities to appeal to our vast audience.

"We wish Zoe, Jade and Danilo much success as they pursue their dreams on Expresso, Top Billing and Afternoon Express. May their careers continue to grow from strength to strength".

"Winning still feels surreal," says Zoe Brown, thanking viewers for their support. "Never in my wildest dreams did I think I would make it all the way to the end."

"I am grateful to be a new presenter on Afternoon Express," says Danilo Acquisto. "I look forward to making magic on SABC3. A big thank you to all the South Africans from all walks of life who supported and encouraged me."

"It's hard to believe this is actually happening," says Jade Hubner. "I used to joke that if you had to match my personality to a job, it would be as a Top Billing presenter. Well, as it turns out it wasn't a joke. It was my destiny. I'm overwhelmed with joy and humbled and grateful. I'm so excited for the future and can't wait to get started."

StarTimes grabs pay-TV rights of the FIFA Women's World Cup 2015 for StarSat in South Africa, StarTimes in Africa.

StarTimes has secured the exclusive pay-TV rights in a deal with FIFA to broadcast the FIFA Women's World Cup 2015 from 6 June to 5 July in South Africa on StarSat and across sub-Saharan Africa on StarTimes.

StarTimes' broadcasting rights include free-to-air coverage of the FIFA Women's World Cup 2015 in Nigeria.

"We are very excited to have secured these exclusive rights from FIFA to broadcast this prestigious competition," says Gary Rathbone, the head of sport for StarTimes.

"Football remains a very popular choice and continues to gain momentum both as a participatory and spectator experience across Africa.  Millions of people will be watching this prestigious event and we hope that it will inspire young girls in Africa," says Gary Rathbone.

Coverage of the FIFA Women's World Cup 2015 will start on StarTimes Sports 2 (StarSat 241) on 6 June and will end with the final and closing ceremony on 5 July.

Expresso presenter Ewan Strydom a dad again of second son Dominic; 'we were instantly smitten and can't wait to take him home with us'.

Expresso breakfast show presenter Ewan Strydom became a dad again this morning for the second time with the birth of his son Dominic in Cape Town.

Ewan Strydom and wife Adrienn who already have a 2-year old son Kean, welcomed their second child, a boy, this morning at 7:50 at the Panorama Mediclinic hospital through caesarean.

"We are absolutely ecstatic!" says Ewan Strydom. "As soon as baby Dominic made his appearance, we experienced first-hand how elastic love can be. We were instantly smitten and can't wait to take him home with us so we can all spend quality time together as a family".

Newborn Dominic weighed in at 2,87kg at birth and 47cm. Ewan Strydom was by his wife's side in the delivery room and says his wife and Dominic are "doing well" and enjoying their first few hours bonding with their new son.

"He is safe and sound in this world and he is gorgeous. We can't keep our eyes off him and we are thrilled that he is finally here with us."

"The deliver process was so effortless. The staff and doctors at Panorama Mediclinic were absolutely incredible and so professional. We are truly lucky and blessed that baby and Adrienn are both in good health".

Ewan Strydom however might have to return to the hospital soon. Who knows?

He is currently training for an upcoming celebrity boxing match in aid of charity to be held in Cape Town on 4 July. Ewan Strydom will be facing off against TV hunk Janez Vermeiren.

The Daily Show with Trevor Noah set to start on Comedy Central on DStv on 29 September at 21:00 in South Africa.

When South African comedian Trevor Noah takes over from Jon Stewart on 28 September as new host of The Daily Show, episodes will be broadcast on Comedy Central (DStv 122) on DStv on the African channel feed a day later from 29 September.

Viacom International Media Networks Africa (VIMN Africa) which runs Comedy Central Africa says Trevor Noah's first The Daily Show will be broadcast on Tuesday 29 September at 21:00 in South Africa and the rest of Africa.

After that a new episode of The Daily Show with Trevor Noah will be shown Mondays to Fridays at 21:00 on Comedy Central.

It means that South African viewers will be able to follow the show and its topical discussions, interviews and jokes less than 24 hours after an episode is shown in America.

"Trevor Noah's inauguration as The Daily Show host is going to be one of the biggest moments in South African television history, with the whole nation making a date to see this huge local  talent make his debut as host," says Evert van der Veer, the head of Comedy Central Africa.

Jon Stewart last month announced that he will depart with his last show on 6 August after 16 years of hosting.

It incorrectly led to erroneous reports that Trevor Noah would be taking over on 7 August, not keeping in mind the hiatus between seasons and that the new American TV season only kicks off in mid to late September.

The 28 September starting date gives Trevor Noah less than two months to put together his type of The Daily Show.

Meanwhile anticipation and speculation is also building that Trevor Noah might be announced as the host of the 2015 MTV Africa Music Awards (2015 MAMAs) taking place in Durban on 18 July since MTV Base which will broadcast the awards ceremony live is a sister channel of Comedy Central.

Not only is the theme of the 2015 MAMAs "Evolution" - something playing perfectly into Trevor Noah's professional career transition to Comedy Central - but hosting the 5th edition of the African music awards show will put him in front of million of viewers on MTV Base in an unrivaled marketing opportunity shortly before VIMN Africa will want viewers to tune in regularly to Comedy Central from September.

It will presumably also be slightly easier for VIMN Africa to acquire Trevor Noah's buy-in for the 2015 MAMAs hosting gig since as talent he's already inside the Viacom corporate fold.

MultiChoice adds SABC Encore channel to more DStv packages; DStv Access and DStv EasyView now also getting the SABC channel.

MultiChoice has extended the recently launched SABC Encore (DStv 156) channel to more DStv subscribers than who had it when the SABC's rerun channel started on 11 May.

Although the SABC with great fanfare announced that SABC Encore as a TV channel would be available on "all" DStv packages, it wasn't the case - MultiChoice kept SABC Encore off certain packages with DStv Premium, DStv Extra, DStv Compact and DStv Family customers getting the channel.

MultiChoice and the SABC were criticised by DStv subscribers.

Subscribers who pay for cheaper entry-level DStv packages like DStv Access, DStv EasyView, or one of the legacy DStv Select packages, were not given access to the SABC Encore channel by MultiChoice.

"Being a teacher, I sadly do not get enough time to watch TV, so I am only on the DStv EasyView bouquet," a DStv subscriber told TV with Thinus. "I phoned MultiChoice hoping to get SABC Encore if I upgrade to DStv Access. I was then told of the bouquets to find it on," said the subscriber.

MultiChoice on Friday confirmed that SABC Encore has now been given to more DStv customers.

This week MultiChoice extended SABC Encore, making the channel available to all DStv customers on DStv Access and DStv EasyView.

"SABC Encore was extended to DStv Access and EasyView this week to give more of our customers this nostalgic entertainment content," said MultiChoice in response to a media enquiry.

2015 MTV Africa Music Awards set for 18 July in Durban - is Comedy Central's Trevor Noah going to be the 2015 MAMAs' host?

The 2015 MTV Africa Music Awards, or 2015 MAMAs, will take place on 18 July and again in Durban like last year - adding a new Artist of the Decade category as industry buzz is steadily building that possibly Trevor Noah of sister channel Comedy Central Africa could be the host.

While Viacom International Media Networks Africa (VIMN Africa) - which runs both MTV Base (DStv 322) as well as sister channel Comedy Central Africa (DStv 122) and MTV (DStv 130) among its channel set on MultiChoice's DStv satellite pay-TV platform - has made no announcement yet on who will be hosting the 2015 MAMAs, South African TV and music insiders are pointing to Trevor Noah as the perfect front runner to host.

Trevor Noah is set to take over The Daily Show with Jon Stewart, broadcast on Comedy Central Africa on 28 September and since the 31-year old is from South Africa, getting him to host the 2015 MAMAs would be a great synergy coup for Viacom, VIMN and VIMN Africa.

Not only is the theme of the 2015 MAMAs "Evolution" - something playing perfectly into Trevor Noah's professional career transition to Comedy Central - but hosting the 5th edition of the African music awards show will put him in front of million of viewers on MTV Base in an unrivaled marketing opportunity shortly before VIMN Africa will want viewers to tune in regularly to Comedy Central from September.

It will presumably also be slightly easier for VIMN Africa to acquire Trevor Noah's buy-in for the 2015 MAMAs hosting gig since as talent he's already inside the Viacom corporate fold.

The 2015 MAMAs is adding a new "special" category, Artist of the Decade, when it takes place on Mandela Day on 18 July at the Durban International Convention Centre, since VIMN Africa is celebrating its 10th anniversary as a regional offshoot from Viacom International Media Networks.

The Artist of the Decade category will recognise artists whose careers have flourished throughout the last 10 years. Other additional categories in the 17 category line-up include the MAMA Leadership Award and Personality of the Year. Nominations for the awards will be revealed on 11 June.

Alex Okosi, the senior vice president and managing director for VIMN Africa, says the 2015 MAMAs will once again be an "inspirational celebration of African achievement and creativity that showcases Africa's best talent on the world stage" - another hint that Trevor Noah who exemplifies what he's talking about, might end up as the host on the MAMAs stage.

The 2015 MAMAs will be broadcast live on MTV Base and MTV (DStv 130) on Saturday 18 July as well as on VIMN partner channels elsewhere around the world.

The 2015 MTV Africa Music Awards categories are:
1. Best Male
2. Best Female
3. Best Group
4. Best New Act
5. Best Live Act
6. Best Collaboration
7. Best Hip Hop
8. Best Alternative
9. Best Francophone
10. Best Lusophone
11. Best International
12. Video of the Year
13. Artist of the Year
14. Artist of the Decade
15. Song of the Year
16. Personality of the Year
17. MTV Base Leadership Award

BREAKING. eNCA shutting down its Beijing bureau; shunting longtime Asia correspondent John Bailey back to Johannesburg.

You're reading it here first.

I can report that eNCA (DStv 403) is shutting down its Beijing news bureau and shunting its longtime Asia correspondent John Bailey back to Johannesburg.

The shocking Beijing closure forms part of the South African 24-hour TV news channel's ongoing and dramatic international retraction of reporters who were stationed on the ground outside of South Africa's borders.

The baffling Beijing closure ties in to the ongoing and painful shuttering of the Sabido-owned news outfit's offices and news bureaux across the African continent, with the dramatic downsizing which has resulted in retrenchments since April and saw correspondents and on-air talent leave.

While eNCA warned in March that it is leaving Africa because that part of its news service has become unsustainable and that it will cover the rest of the continent with wire news and freelance reporters where big stories warrant it, nothing was said about its other news bureaux like London and Beijing - where the axe is now coming down.

eNCA insiders are scared and upset about the moves caused by budget constraints and fear the "dumbing-down" of the South African 24-hour TV news channel provided to MultiChoice's DStv satellite pay-TV platform and which will celebrate its 7th anniversary next month since it launched in June 2008.

While eNCA's China bureau chief John Bailey is for instance forced to return home, insiders point to eNCA apparently working on a new showbiz programme to be introduced soon to try and lift ratings, presented by Tanya Nefdt and Amy MacIver with Sally Burdett as producer. eNCA has not yet responded to a media enquiry asking about this development.

South African TV news channel rivals already pad their schedules with entertainment shows like ANN7 (DStv 405) with Star Biz and Sizzle and SABC News (DStv 404) with Afro Showbiz News.

In response to a media enquiry eNCA confirms its shutting down its Beijing bureau, saying John Bailey will be returning to South Africa and continue working for eNCA in the Johannesburg office.

"The closing of the Beijing bureau formed part of the reationalisation of the Africa division and will close at the end of June. eNCA will continue to cover China and the region through freelance reporters in the area," says eNCA.

BREAKING. Another SABC3 schedule shake-up: channel rejigs primetime yet again from June as High Rollers is turned into a telenovela.

Yet another dramatic schedule shake-up is coming to the SABC's problem child channel, SABC3, to try and boost ratings for the public broadcaster's only commercial TV channel.

From June programming currently seen at 19:30 is moving half an hour later, while shows like stalwart Top Billing moves earlier. The former hour long drama High Rollers is also returning but is now being turned into a three day a week telenovela at 19:30, with half hour episodes set for Mondays to Wednesdays from 29 June.

SABC3's ratings has remained under pressure and several dramatic schedule changes the past two years have failed to move the viewership needle significantly.

June will see an influx of several new shows on SABC3 - the 8th season of Strictly Come Dancing South Africa, a 2nd season of the comedy Those Who Can't and a new season of the reality show Charly's Cake Angels.

The Cape Town based reality show produced by Cooked in Africa and set in the famous Charly's Bakery saw a first season in a bad afternoon timeslot after which a second season was shown on DStv's Food Network.

Charly's Cake Angels, which got critical praise, has been added back to the schedule and will now be moved to primetime at 21:00 on SABC3 from 18 June for a new season.

Meanwhile American dramas currently at 19:30 will move to 20:30 like the Monday comedies and series like Common Law, The Good Wife and Hostages.

The 21st season of The Amazing Race will start on SABC3 on 6 July at 20:30.

The 8th season of Strictly Come Dancing SA, produced by Rapid Blue, will start on 5 June at 19:30. The dance reality format show will no longer have an additional eviction show on Saturdays but will now eliminate contestants on the Friday programme to try and lift ratings, keep social media abuzz and viewers tuned in for longer as event television.

From 18 June the Tswelopele Productions produced Top Billing which has weathered many channel and timeslot changes over decades is moving yet again (God bless) to 19:30.

It will be followed by the second season of Man Cave, the Janez Vermeiren produced Cheeky Media magazine show geared towards a young male audience and which will see comedian Siv Ngesi joining the existing Lunga Shabalala and Janez Vermeiren as presenters.

The gambling drama High Rollers is turned into a telenovela as SABC3 jumps on the Uzalo, Ashes to Ashes and Isibaya local telenovela bandwagon.

The former hour long drama will be broadcast three times a week at 19:30 and cut down to half hour episodes like a soapie, revolving around three "brothers" - casino kingpin David, his flawed older brother Paul, and David's right-hand man Thato Mogale.

High Rollers will get a mid-morning repeat on SABC3 at 10:30

The local comedy set in the staff room of an elite private school, Those Who Can't will return for a second season on 29 June at 20:00.

While a woman would have been added to SABC3's recently launched new weekday afternoon variety magazine and talk show Afternoon Express which got a lukewarm reception from viewers and critics, it now looks as if one of the male contestants of the Presenter Search on 3 will be added to the trio of Bonang Matheba, Jeannie D and Bonnie Mbuli to try and lift ratings.

Two other contestants of the Presenter Search on 3 will join SABC3's breakfast show Expresso and Top Billing respectively.

Thursday, May 28, 2015

MultiChoice's DStv Explora named 2015 Satellite Television Product of the Year in South Africa.

MultiChoice's DStv Explora decoder manufactured by Pace has been named the 2015 Satellite Television Product of the Year in South Africa.

It's the second big accolade for the latest MultiChoice PVR, which was also named as one of the 12 most beautiful objects in South Africa in 2015 a few months ago at the Design Indaba.

The DStv Explora, nicknamed "the pebble" by MultiChoice insiders for the sleeker design of the latest PVR version, is manufactured by Pace in South Africa.

Designed to try and bridge the gap and bring DStv subscribers a seamless video-on-demand (VOD) service by using satellite due to the limited availability of broadband services which are also slow and expensive in South Africa and across the rest of the African continent, the DStv Explora can record up to 220 hours or programming and gives users access to MultiChoice's DStv BoxOffice and DStv Catch Up services.

Now the DStv Explora has been named the 2015 Satellite Television Product of the Year after Nielsen surveyed over 5 000 South African households when researching candidates for the product of the year award.

Product of the Year is recognised in 28 countries globally and MultiChoice now gets the right to immediately brand its DStv Explora with a "Product of the Year" seal for a year.

"The DStv Explora is our flagship PVR decoder - we're very proud of the product that our teams developed," MultiChoice tells TV with Thinus.

"This is the first DStv decoder that was developed internally by our teams in Broadcast Technology and is entirely manufactured in South Africa. So its truly a South African product."

"Not only is it a great product but it also gives our customers a far superior viewing experience - with an expanded Catch Up and BoxOffice catalogue, a very user-friendly interface, the ability to connect to the internet to remote record and download even more content from our Catch Up catalogue," says MultiChoice.

"Pace is extremely proud to have been selected by MultiChoice to help develop this ground-breaking product, and ultimately enhance the viewing experience of their customers," says Jim Henderson, the president of Pace International.

"Recognition as a key contributor to this award-winning product is a true testament to the strength and longevity of our partnerships in the region."

"With this product, the Pace team has proven that they are fully committed to quality and excellence, while addressing the real needs of the Sub-Saharan marketplace," says Phil Nicholson, the general manager of consumer devices in broadcast technology. "Well done to the teams at Pace and MultiChoice who pulled out all the stops to bring this awesome product to market."

The DStv Explora is the first Pace product to be fully manufactured in South Africa at the Vektronix manufacturing plant in East London, South Africa.  Pace has been supplying DStv decoders to MultiChoice since the launch of DStv in 1995.

SABC lying over having Bafana Bafana TV broadcasting rights say Siyaya TV and SAFA; Siyaya TV says its actually busy negotiating with

The SABC is lying over claims to have secured Bafana Bafana TV rights to show any national team soccer games on television and no valid contract with the SABC exists, pay-TV operator Siyaya TV and SAFA say.

In a joint statement, the South African Football Association (SAFA) and Siyaya TV, the new pay-TV consortium, said the SABC is lying.

It comes after the public broadcaster's famously matricless and highly controversial chief operating officer (COO) Hlaudi Motsoeneng on Wednesday said the SABC and SAFA have reached a 3-year agreement over the broadcasting rights to show all local Bafana Bafana games, Banyana Banyana, as well as the men's under-20 and under-23 games.

Hlaudi Motsoeneng went on SABC2's Morning Live on Wednesday to announce the deal - which Siyaya TV and SAFA say doesn't exist.

Siyaya TV which got its pay-TV licence from the Independent Communications Authority of South Africa (Icasa) in November 2014, now threatens to sue the SABC if for instance the Banyana 2016 Olympic qualifying game on Sunday against Gabon is broadcast.

Siyaya TV owns the rights to all of the national soccer games after the consortium last year signed a R1 billion contract with SAFA in a 6-year deal and says it's actually busy negotiating with Sabido's free-to-air commercial TV channel to show the national soccer games.

After Hlaudi Motsoeneng bragged on Morning Live over securing the rights, the SABC also issued a press statement in which it said the SABC's agreement to show Bafana and other national team games will run from 2015 to 2017, with the SABC giving soccer-loving South Africans "an opportunity to see their national teams in action".

"The SABC will continue to prioritize sports of national importance," said Hlaudi Motsoeneng, while the SABC statement also included a quote from SAFA CEO, Dennis Mumble, saying "We value the loyal audience that the SABC has always delivered to our national teams and have agreed to partner with the SABC to strenghten that bons with our supporters. We thank the SABC for ensuring the South African public enjoys the national teams on live television and radio".

In a joint statement from SAFA and Siyaya TV, the two organisations say "SAFA wishes to place on record that Siyaya TV is and will remain a long-term strategic broadcast partner of SAFA. We emphatically reject any speculation or statements to the contrary."

"The partnership between the two parties [SAFA and Siyaya TV] has enabled SAFA to take its broadcast platform to an entirely new level, which will now enable soccer-loving fans greater access to the beautiful game".

In another separate statement Siyaya TV's founder Aubrey Tau launched a scathing attack on the SABC and Hlaudi Motsoeneng's claims, saying the public broadcaster is lying over having any broadcasting rights.

"The SABC does not hold any of the broadcasting rights to Bafana matches, and therefore cannot claim otherwise. Any position taken by the SABC that it holds the Bafana Bafana broadcast rights is false and misleading," says Siyaya TV.

"Siyaya TV is the sole and exclusive owner of these rights, in terms of its signed contract with SAFA".

Aubrey Tau says Siyaya TV approached the SABC two months ago in order to discuss the granting of free-to-air broadcasting rights to the SABC, but that Siyaya TV was "summarily rejected by the SABC who refused to deal with Siyaya TV on the matter".

"Siyaya TV has since not heard directly from the SABC, but has in the meantime been in talks with SAFA regarding the possible granting of free-to-air broadcast rights to the SABC, and is at the same time also engaged with in similar discussions".

"Siyaya TV has made no commitments to and signed no contracts with any other broadcasters regarding the soccer broadcasting rights, and remains the sole and exclusive owner of these rights at this point in time," says Aubrey Tau.

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

SABC's Hlaudi Motsoeneng slams South African journalism over bad stories and 'propaganda'; says 'sometimes you need a brain'.

At the launch event of the expansion of the SABC News channel's footprint into the rest of Africa the SABC's chief operating officer (COO) Hlaudi Motsoeneng has again took to the podium to slam South African journalism and journalists, threatened that dissenting and disloyal SABC workers will be rooted out, saying that the SABC is doing very well and that the SABC is committed to "positive stories".

As guests drank champagne while the wine flowed at the gold-plated launch event, the controversial Hlaudi Motsoeneng once again berated, bemoaned South African journalists and he said are misleading the country, and said the SABC isn't going to report "propaganda about negative stories".

The SABC was celebrating the expansion of the footprint of the public broadcaster's 24-hour TV news channel SABC News (DStv 404) into the rest of Africa.

SABc News was launched in August 2013 on MultiChoice's DStv satellite pay-TV platform as part of a controversial two channel deal and the SABC's second try at a 24-hour news channel since its first version, SABC News International, folded in March 2010 after three years and a loss of millions of rands.

The SABC's launch event held at Midrand in Johannesburg where the SABC choir sang, was attended by president Jacob Zuma, who was flanked at table 1 by minister of communications, Faith Muthambi and Hlaudi Motsoeneng - all three of whom kept leaning in and chatting excitedly with each other all through the hour and a half long long event.

Other guests spotted included president of the Pan African parliament, Bethel Amadi; acting SABC board chairperson, Prof Mbulaheni Maghuve; the SABC's head of news Jimi MatthewsVeronah Duwarkah, the SABC's group executive in charge of television; Sophie Mokoena, SABC News' foreign news editor, and the few SABC board members who are left following the communication minister's purge of the board earlier this year.

Two weeks after a bizarre speech at the launch of the SABC's rerun channel SABC Encore (DStv 156) on DStv, Hlaudi Motsoeneng once again ran to the podium to deliver another eyebrow-raising speech.

Hlaudi Motsoeneng is currently embroiled in a lengthy court battle after the high court already twice ordered that he be suspended. He is appealing the judgment again.

"SABC, we are different from other media house," said Hlaudi Motsoeneng. "When we report about the news, we are not apologetic about positive stories."

Then, as he did last year, Hlaudi Motsoeneng, again slammed South African journalism with generalisations.

"Our own journalists, they deal with propaganda. When you go abroad, most journalists they don't write bad about their country. But when you come to South Africa, and some of the African countries, our own journalists talk very bad about their own country," said Hlaudi Motsoeneng.

"They don't educate and inform people. If you read, they are always misleading."

"Sometimes you need brain. It's good to have all those qualifications, but you need brain to think. If you analyse when people write - and those people are having all these diplomas and degrees - I'm going to give you example."

"One of the papers said SABC has hide R500 million. If you analyse that what they mean is the CFO of the SABC has hide R5 million [sic], but if you check the books of the SABC, the reality is when we write off all those policies that are not relevant to the business, technically, the auditor-general they will pitch that equals to R500 million."

"But when people talk it seems as if SABC has really hide money. But these are people who are very educated. I wonder, whether they think before they do, whatever they do. That is misleading the country".

"I still believe we need to report good stories; tell South African stories," said Hlaudi Motsoeneng. "SABC is doing very well, financially. We are stable. People who are just talking about SABC collapsing; they are going to collapse themselves. Not SABC."

"Even within the organisation, some of them are not loyal. But we are going to make sure that we deal with people who are not loyal," warned Hlaudi Motsoeneng of SABC workers who he said is sabotaging the public broadcaster. "We are not going to be apologetic."

"In short, SABC we are going to reflect Africa as Africa. We are not going to come with propaganda about negative stories, people killing each other as if we are killing each other."

"If there's no water in Soweto, if you are a good journalist, you will go to Orlando. There's no water in Orlando. But in Diepkloof, there's water. That is what we call balanced story," said Hlaudi Motsoeneng.

President Jacob Zuma said "we are not saying that the SABC News, channel 404, should ignore problems when they arise in the continent."

"What we are saying is that the public broadcaster should balance whatever stories of mayhem, with stories that also show that while there is disaster in one small corner of the continent, the majority there live a normal life."

"It should be stories that tell the full African story, and not the unbalanced, negative scripts that have become the order of the day for years," said president Zuma.

Monday, May 25, 2015

Discovery Networks International looking for the a TV presenter for TLC Entertainment in Next Great Presenter Search which will start in August.

The lifestyle channel TLC Entertainment (DStv 172) is looking for its first South African star – someone who thinks they can be the next Oprah, Buddy Valastro or Randy Fenoli.

Discovery Networks International (DNI) is looking to uncover the first South African presenter to appear on TLC Entertainment, with the competition, TLC Next Great Presenter, which will kick off on Sunday 9 August – Women's Day.

People who consider themselves "super-fans" from across Africa, will be able to enter from 9 August.

DNI hasn't released any more specific details yet, but Lee Hobbs, the vice president of channels for the emerging business division of Discovery Networks for the Central and Eastern Europe, Middle East and Africa (CEEMEA) region, is hoping for a big response.

"South Africa's Women's Day is the perfect opportunity for us to give back to our TLC fans and launch this fantastic campaign which will see one lucky winner get the chance to present a brand-new show on TLC," says Lee Hobbs.

"We know how vocal our TLC fans are and I'm certain we'll get a tremendous response when the competition officially opens on 9 August and look forward to receiving all the brilliant entries".

Will have to make a presenter’s video
Viewers will have to make and submit a video clip of their TV presenting skills. In the short video for TLC Next Great Presenter, contestants will have to explain why they should be chosen and why they will make a great TLC presenter.

Something people should keep in mind is that TLC Entertainment is the number one lifestyle TV channel on MultiChoice's DStv satellite pay-TV platform for adults older than 15, as well as women aged between 20 and 49.

Wannabe presenters have to appeal therefore to this market demographic – these viewers must feel as if the person they're looking at is relatable and is speaking to them and their lives.

A panel of experts will create a shortlist out of all of the entries received, after which it will be up to TLC viewers to choose the lucky winner who will get the chance to present TLC Top 10 – a brand-new series coming to TLC Entertainment later this year.

TLC Top 10 will celebrate the biggest and most popular shows that viewers have seen on the channel in South Africa in 2011.

DNI rebranded its Discovery Travel & Living channel in September 2011 to TLC on On Digital Media's (ODM) StarSat which was then still known as TopTV.

A month later, in October 2011, MultiChoice added TLC as well. In October 2013 DNI changed the schedule and rebranded the MultiChoice channel to TLC Entertainment to create a separate and differentiated channel feed on DStv from the TLC channel running on StarSat. embracing the telenovela genre; next local mining drama telenovela, Gold Diggers, in production; another 2 telenovelas in development. which has found ratings success by embracing the telenovela genre is ramping up to bring viewers the next one entitled Gold Diggers, with another two telenovelas already in development.

South Africa's only free-to-air commercial TV broadcaster has found success with the popular funeral-home set Ashes to Ashes which started in March and which was quickly extended from four to five days a week at 20:00 on the schedule.

So successful has the breakout show been which scooped up several of SABC1's fired Generations actors who've found new love from audiences who've crossed over, that the telenovela – a limited episode soap with a definite ending – might actually now become a primetime drama series.

Set to conclude in early August, all indications are there that Ashes to Ashes will return to the schedule in months.

The Ashes to Ashes cast is going to expand with brand-new characters just months before its August conclusion – something which never happens to a TV production winding down.

Furthermore the end in August is also suddenly quietly, yet noticeable, now being billed by as the "season finale" and not the "series finale" – a subtle yet important difference.

I can reveal that's second locally produced telenovela, Gold Diggers, will follow Ashes to Ashes in the spring schedule and will revolve – very much like when SABC3's soap Isidingo began before it steadily moved away from its roots – around an extended mining community and the complexities of South African miners'

"The locally produced telenovela as genre is here to stay," Monde Twala, the managing director of channels told me.

"Local telenovelas are definitely here to stay.'s got a longterm view on our telenovela slate. We already have another telenovela coming which is Gold Diggers and we already have another additional two telenovelas in development".

"Ashes to Ashes was not an experiment. It's part of a strategy to try win audiences in that 20:00 timeslot and we've managed to do that by a few percentage points. It's a good news story but we have to commit to the strategy," says Monde Twala.

"You can't fool the South African market. We can't fool our audience. The expectation is even greater so we're going to continue doing telenovelas".

Gold Diggers: 'Going to be very exciting'
"Gold Diggers is about what runs this country; this economy. It will represent a part of our country and our economy that's mostly been forgotten – and that is the miner. We're a mining country," says Monde Twala.

"I think the stories and the people who are in that environment – they're forgotten and it needs to be told."

"Gold Diggers revolves around an ambitious man who in his world has different relationships. Typically a miner is polygamous," teases Monde Twala, "he's got a wife in the city and a wife back at home. So you can imagine all of these different levels of relationships."

"We tap into that as well as the realities of our country – we recently had a mining crisis, mining strikes, as well as the whole illegal mining, zama zamas [illegal miners] thing. So we're consolidating all of that in the Gold Diggers universe. It's going to be very exciting," says Monde Twala.

SABC1's first local telenovela Uzalo, also introduced to viewers for the first time earlier this year, has similarly been popular with viewers, while SABC2 last year also promised a yet-to-appear local telenovela for 2015 for that TV channel of the public broadcaster.

MultiChoice, which started with Universal Networks International’s (UNI) Telemundo Africa as a telenovela TV channel sourced from South America, has found great success across the continent since its introduction on DStv.

It's led to the recent introduction of a second South American telenovela channel named Eva on DStv's satellite pay-TV platform earlier this year, as well as a Bollywood channel version, Zee World, also showing locally-dubbed Indian telenovelas.

Friday, May 22, 2015

SABC spends a whopping R3 million a year on its choir - to sing the praises of its famously matricless COO, Hlaudi Motsoeneng.

The SABC spends a whopping R3 million a year on its choir and among their songs is one singing the praises of the crises-riddled public broadcaster’s famously matricless chief operating officer (COO) Hlaudi Motsoeneng.

The minister of communications, Faith Muthambi, told parliament that the SABC spends a massive R3 million per year on its choir.

The SABC choir has 40 choristers, 25 freelancers and 15 permanent SABC staff members. The splurge of R3 million per year by the SABC includes a monthly salary of a massive R10 000 for each of the freelancers, as well as travelling costs.

The SABC choir sings songs of praise in SABC staff meetings for the embattled COO, Hlaudi Motsoeneng with lyrics like “Hlaudi Motsoeneng reya o leboha” (Hlaudi Motsoeneng we thank you.”)

The embattled Hlaudi Motsoeneng is embroiled in a protracted court fight after the Western Cape High Court has already twice ordered the SABC to immediately suspend him – a judgment he's appealing.

Last year the Public Protector in a damning report implicated Hlaudi Motsoeneng in maladministration and corruption at the public broadcaster, finding that "Hlaudi Motsoeneng should never have been appointed at the SABC" and that he should be suspended.

According to the Public Protector, Hlaudi Motsoeneng lied about having a matric certificate and made up symbols for a matric certificate he knew he didn't have and couldn't produce.

Hlaudi Motsoeneng was implicated as having been involved in getting rid of everyone who testified against him in an earlier disciplinary hearing at the SABC, and his salary increased from R1.5 million to R2.4 million at the SABC in one year.

The Public Protector's report advised the SABC to appoint a new COO within 90 days. Instead the SABC appointed Hlaudi Motsoeneng in the position permanently.

Gavin Davis, a member of parliament (MP) of the Democratic Alliance (DA) and a member of the portfolio committee on communications says in a statement that "the question needs to be asked whether the SABC can justify spending R3 million per year on an in-house choir. Surely it would be cheaper to commission the services of a professional choir if and when the need arises?"

"The fact is that the SABC can't afford unnecessary extravagances such as its own choir. As internal SABC financial documents recently brought to light by the Sunday Times show, the public broadcaster faces a loss of R501 million in this financial year," says Gavin Davis.

"The disbandment of the SABC choir should be at the top of the SABC’s list of cost-cutting measures."

Earlier this week, Faith Muthambi told parliament that the SABC is "in a sound financial state" and that "the SABC is on the move".

Faith Muthambi told parliament that during this financial year R173 million from the department of communications’ budget has been allocated to the SABC.

While Faith Muthambi promised parliament that a new SABC CEO would be in place by the end of September 2014, nine months later the position is still vacant.

The unstable SABC board characterised by vicious infighting has been without a permanent board chairperson for months since the resignation of Ellen Tshabalala following the embarrassing revelations that she had lied about her qualifications.

With originally 12 SABC board members but several resignations last year and purging of three further SABC board members – Hope Zinde, Rachel Kalidass and Ronnie Lubisi – earlier this year, the SABC board no longer has a quorum to legally constitute meetings.

Footprint of the SABC's SABC News channel on MultiChoice's DStv extended into the rest of Africa beyond just South Africa from today.

MultiChoice is extending the footprint of the South African public broadcaster's 24-hour TV news channel, SABC News (DStv 404) on its DStv satellite pay-TV platform to the rest of the continent from today.

There's been no official announcement or statement from the SABC, but from today the SABC News channel will now be available to DStv subscribers in several other African countries beyond just South Africa.

The extended footprint for SABC News comes almost two years after the channel finally launched on DStv in August 2013.

SABC News replaced the SABC's first struggling attempt at a 24-hour news channel named SABC News International.

SABC News International was unceremoniously shut down after bleeding millions of rand after just three years in operation at the end of March 2010.

The SABC News channel is part of a highly controversial deal worth millions of rand that the public broadcaster's famously matricless chief operating officer (COO) Hlaudi Motsoeneng signed with MultiChoice.

As part of the deal, SABC News, produced with public broadcaster resources as a public broadcasting TV channel, is exclusively available to DStv only, keeping it off On Digital Media (ODM) and China's StarTimes Media SA's StarSat, as well as Sabido and Platco Digital's OpenView HD satellite TV platforms.

In March the SABC planned to remove all of the half hour bulletins in all of the other official South African languages besides English on the SABC News channel from April, due to the coming extended reach of the channel further into Africa, but then ended up not going through with the change.

"Because the channel [SABC News] is aired in other countries, it only makes sense to keep the channel entirely English," the SABC said at the time.

Asked about the extended footprint further into Africa, MultiChoice confirmed to TV with Thinus that SABC News is becoming available in more African nations on DStv besides just South Africa.

"The SABC News channel is being added to DStv across the Africa continent on 22 May as part of our celebration of Africa Month. We believe this channel will be particularly relevant to the hundreds of thousands of expatriate South Africans who live in other parts of the continent," says MultiChoice.

"Together with approximately 2.4 million DStv customers outside of South Africa, they will now have access to 24-hour South African news, information and opinion," says the satellite pay-TV operator.

In March an SABC insider told TV with Thinus that the SABC News channel is planning and working on "a new daily bulletin with Africa news to compete with the international TV news channels", although that has not yet started.

SABC spokesperson Kaizer Kganyago failed to respond to a media enquiry made Thursday about the continental expansion of SABC News across Africa and what it means for the programming and scheduling currently on the channel.

SABC News will become available as a TV channel to all South Africans as part of the SABC's digital bouquet of five TV channels - including SABC1, SABC2, SABC3 and SABC Encore (DStv 156) currently on DStv - once the South African government's long-delayed switch-on happens of digital terrestrial television (DTT) as part of the country's digital migration process away from analogue broadcasting.

Thursday, May 21, 2015

Today's interesting TV stories to read from TV with Thinus - 21 May 2015.

MUST SEE. The "wallpaper" TV that's so thin, you can roll it up.
And hang it on a wall, using magnets. The LG TV is less than 1mm thick.

MultiChoice launches DStv BoxOffice in Tanzania.
Following the launch in Uganda earlier this week, MultiChoice's movies on demand service is now also expanding to Tanzania.

Turkish TV talent show contestant shot in the head.
Mutlu Kaya was shot on Monday after receiving death threats warning her not to take part in Sesi Cok Guzel.

Why most of the upcoming new TV season's new shows will flop.
Because in America one TV network won't allow a rival to pay advertising money to buy a commercial to promote their own show on another channel - although, ironically, more viewers watching, helps everybody.

Shonda Rhimes tells Grey's Anatomy fans off on Twitter.
Tells fans "Do not waste your time Tweeting me, boo. Go and do something fun that brings u joy!"

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

'SABC is in crisis, the scale of which is only starting to become clear,' says Democratic Alliance's Gavin Davis; SABC 'facing financial ruin'.

South Africa's minister of communications, Faith Muthambi, was slammed on Wednesday as "willfully misunderstanding her role in relation to the SABC" for saying the beleaguered public broadcaster is a state-owned company.

Gavin Davis, a Democratic Alliance (DA) member of parliament and a member of the portfolio committee on communications on Wednesday said the SABC is in crisis, "the scale of which is only starting to become clear" and that "the SABC is facing financial ruin".

He slammed Faith Muthambi, saying she "believes that the SABC is a state-owned company instead of an independent public broadcaster" and that South Africa will face "humiliation on a global scale" in less than a month when the country miss the internationally agreed to deadline to complete the switch from analogue to digital terrestrial television (DTT), a process known as digital migration.

Gavin Davis told parliament that Faith Muthambi has failed in her promise of a new SABC CEO to be appointed by September 2014 and that the SABC is being taken back to an apartheid era tool in the hands of ruling party politicians.

Gavin Davis told parliament that since a year ago "we've had an SABC board chairperson [Ellen Tshabalala] resign because she was caught lying about her qualifications. But this was only after 6 damaging months of postponed hearings, court cases and other delaying tactics".

"We've had an SABC chief operating officer (COO) [Hlaudi Motsoeneng] who has been shielded and promoted when the Public Protector said he should have been fired".

"We have a Government Communication and Information System (GCIS) that is abused to promote the majority party, including the channeling of public money into the coffers of a government-friendly newspaper owned by the president's friends".

"In a few weeks on 17 June, we face humiliation on a global scale because, on that day, we will miss the International Telecommunications Union (ITU) deadline to switch over from analogue to digital television".

"If Faith Muthambi had not spent the last year meddling with the Digital Migration Policy, and waging an obsessive turf war to control the process, it is unlikely that we would be in the embarrassing position we now find ourselves in," said Gavin Davis.

While she promised that a new SABC CEO would be in place by the end of September 2014, nine months later the post is still vacant.

"Faith Muthambi wants to take us back to the apartheid era when the SABC was a tool in the hands of politicians, instead of a resource belonging to the people of this country. This is why Faith Muthambi thinks there is nothing wrong with unilaterally seizing the powers of the SABC board, even though this is in clear contravention of the Broadcasting Act," said Gavin Davis.

He also noted that with Faith Muthambi directly interfering with the governance of the SABC and instrumental in the purging of three SABC board members - Hope Zinde, Rachel Kalidass and Ronnie Lubisi - earlier this year, the unstable SABC board which has had only an acting SABC chairperson for months and originally had 12 board members, no longer has a quorum to legally constitute meetings.

"No wonder the SABC is in crisis, the scale of which is only starting to become clear," said Gavin Davis.

"The SABC faces a projected loss of R501 million for the financial year just ended on March 31. This loss is projected to double to R1 billion in the next financial year. The SABC is not on a 'sound financial footing but facing financial ruin," said Gavin Davis.

"We need to work together to find the most qualified and independently minded candidates to take up positions on the SABC board and then they need to be left alone to do their jobs in the interests of the public we serve. These steps will go some way to get the SABC back on track," said Gavin Davis.

The SABC is a state-owned company and a public broadcaster, claims minister of communications, Faith Muthambi.

The SABC is a state-owned company and a public broadcaster, South Africa's minister of communications, Faith Muthambi said on Wednesday about the beleaguered SABC which continues to rock from crisis to scandal and controversy.

Earlier this year Faith Muthambi controversially annexed the Companies Act, instead of the Broadcasting Act, to directly interfere in the SABC to get rid of at least three SABC board members, to such an extent that the gutted SABC board with an acting chairperson which originally had 12 board members, no longer has a quorum to legally constitute meetings.

Faith Muthambi also applied pressure to force the SABC board to permanently appoint the highly controversial and famously matricless Hlaudi Motsoeneng as the troubled public broadcaster's permanent chief operating officer (COO) in the middle of last year despite a damning report from the Public Protector that he be suspended and be subjected to a disciplinary hearing.

The Public Protector's report last year found that Hlaudi Motsoeneng lied, made up symbols for a matric certificate he knew he couldn't produce and that he "should never have been appointed at the SABC".

Faith Muthambi said she has the right to appoint the SABC's CEO, its COO and chief financial officer (CFO) and to suspend them.

Parliament's portfolio committee on communications earlier this week indicated that following legal opinion, it differs from her view, and will be taking steps about the minister's interference in the workings of the SABC.

On Wednesday Faith Muthambi said that the SABC is a state-owned company and a public broadcaster and that "if the Broadcasting Act does not address an issue, then the Companies Act applies. I did not say say one supersedes the other".

Minister of communications, Faith Muthambi, not concerned about's court clash over a set-top box control system for digital television.

South Africa's minister of communications, Faith Muthambi, says she is not concerned about delays to the roll-out of digital terrestrial television in South Africa which could be caused by the looming court clash between the government and over encryption control.

The country's sole free-to-air commercial TV broadcaster, Sabido's, is taking the government to court in a controversial fight over the control system for the set-top boxes (STB) needed for digital terrestrial television (DTT).

In less than a month - on 17 June 2015 - South Africa and the government will embarrassingly miss the international deadline of the International Telecommunications Unions (ITU) the government agreed to for the switch-off and conclusion of the digital migration process whereby broadcasters switch from analogue TV signals to DTT signals.

South Africa hasn't even started the commercial switch-on of DTT and "dual illumination" period which takes about four to five years to complete and no STBs, which viewers will have to buy at a cost of around R700 to R800 exist for consumers to buy.

Last month decided to take the government to court over the contentious issue of whether the government subsidised STBs should include a control system or not.

Faith Muthambi on Wednesday said the looming court clash in the Gauteng High Court to have aspects of the Broadcasting Digital Migration (BDM) policy reviewed will not delay the process of digital migration.

While the department of communications in March published a new and amended DTT policy stating that government subsidised STBs would contain a control system, says that doesn't mean that all STBs would be able to encrypt TV signals.

While Sabido's and some local decoder manufacturers are for compulsory encryption to be enabled through the STBs, MultiChoice, M-Net, the SABC, community TV stations and some manufacturers are against it. therefore went to court to change the non-mandatory inclusion of a control system.

South Africa's controversial and long-delayed switch from analogue to digital television is years behind schedule due to government bungling and delays, multiple ministers of communications who have come and gone, industry infighting over everything from broadcasting standards to decoders, delays with and the multiple reissue of DTT regulations as well as problems over everything from set-top box standards to drama around the dubious STB tender process worth billions.

Questions are meanwhile being raised over the dramatic underfunding and DTT budget shortfall, with experts asking where the money to enable the subsidising of STBs the government envisions, will be coming from.

With all these ongoing DTT issues swirling, is still adamant that it wants the STBs to have the ability to encrypt broadcast signals and wants a control system in the boxes to be made mandatory. considers it essential to be able to encrypt its broadcast signal "primarily because this would prevent non-compliant STBs from receiving digital broadcast signals, thereby ensuring a uniform and reliable viewing experience". says without this, it is unlikely that the broadcaster in the future will be able to offer high definition (HD) TV channels. argues in its court application that it is unlawful for Faith Muthambi to "make decisions on certain key critical technical issues that affect free-to-air broadcasters".

Carte Blanche on M-Net scoops three awards at The National Press Club's Journalist of the Year 2014 Awards.

Carte Blanche, the weekly investigative magazine show on M-Net (DStv 101), has scooped three awards at The National Press Club's Journalist of the Year 2014 Awards.

Individual Carte Blanche wins included Graham Coetzer, Sasha Schwendenwein and Susan Comrie in the TV features category; Graham Coetzer, Sasha Scwendenwein and Susan Comrie in the Journalist of the year category; and for executive producer George Mazarakis as Editor of the year.

"Carte Blanche not only maintains but exceeds expectations each year, constantly a leader in reporting for 27 years on air," says Anne Davis, M-Net's head of original productions.

"We congratulate the skilled, passionate and tireless executive producer, George Mazarakis, for his 20 years of vision and leadership, evidenced by the recent slew of awards. Carte Blanche embodies the values of M-Net programming: credible, powerful, and relevant local content."

The Oscar Pistorius trial was honoured as the Newsmaker of the Year 2014, a broadcast celebrated for its impact and news value.
Combined Artistic Productions, the production company responsible for Carte Blanche, last year produced The Oscar Pistorius Trial TV channel for MultiChoice's DStv satellite pay-TV platform – a channel of which the viewership some weeks rivaled and surpassed even M-Net (DStv 101) and Mzansi Magic (DStv 161), making it the 4th most watched TV channel on pay-TV in South Africa

"Carte Blanche has been one of M-Net’s best performing productions for almost three decades now, but the fact that it continues winning such prestigious accolades is indication that the content remains relevant and engaging," says Gideon Khobane, M-Net channel director.

"It demonstrates that the programme is growing from strength to strength, meaning that despite the many primetime viewing options available, and M-Net offers award-winning content, consistent in its levels of quality and substance."

SABC's Hlaudi Motsoeneng: SABC will now only launch with 5 TV channels once digital terrestrial television (DTT) starts.

You're reading it here first. 

The SABC's chief operating officer (COO) Hlaudi Motsoeneng says the public broadcaster will now launch with only 5 TV channels once the long-delayed commercial start of South Africa switch from analogue to digital broadcasting begins - a far cry from the almost 20 TV channels the SABC promised the country just four years ago.

The controversial and famously matricless Hlaudi Motsoeneng last week at the launch of the rerun channel SABC Encore on MultiChoice's DStv satellite pay-TV platform, confirmed that the SABC will now start its digital terrestrial television (DTT) transmissions with only 5 TV channels.

When South Africa's TV industry switches from analogue to digital broadcasting, terrestrial TV broadcasters like the SABC, and M-Net are each supposed to grow their own existing analogue channels to bouquets of multiple digital TV channels - just like DStv and StarSat - to entice TV viewers to make the switch and buy a set-top box (STB) to get access to more channels and content.   

The SABC's initial DTT offering will now however only consist out of SABC1, SABC2, SABC3 as well as the SABC News (DStv 404) and SABC Encore (DStv 156) TV channels which are already available on DStv - far from the 18 SABC TV channels the broadcaster promised parliament just a few years ago.

"We are preparing ourselves for [digital television] migration. When minister [Faith Muthambi] announce the date of migration, switching on, SABC will be ready," said Hlaudi Motsoeneng.

"We'll be having 5 channels. For the first time in the history of South Africa. But if we don't pilot these channels on that bouquet of MultiChoice, we will still have 3 channels. What will be the use of migrating if we don't have more channels?" asked Hlaudi Motsoeneng.

It echoes what Lynn Mansfield, the SABC's DTT advisor, said in March on SABC2's Morning Live, saying the SABC will start off with just 5 DTT channels.

In September 2011 SABC executives and the SABC board told parliament that the SABC's DTT offering will consist of 18 TV channels - 17 TV channels (which includes SABC1, SABC2, SABC3) and one interactive video service channel - as well as 18 SABC radio stations plus Channel Africa.

Out of the SABC's envisioned DTT plans, only SABC News and SABC Encore (originally called SABC Entertainment) materialised. 

The SABC won't launch DTT with SABC Sport, a health channel, SABC Education, an SMME and children's channel or the two regional channels, a regional north (SABC4) and regional south (SABC5) channel.

For DTT the SABC also promised parliament new services like closed captioning (on-screen subtitles) in multiple languages that can be accessed by the set top box's remote control, multiple language soundtracks with up to 4 different audio tracks per programme for certain shows, audio description to provide contextual information in programmes, as well as some interactive applications. With the down scaled DTT plans, all of these now look very unlikely to be available at launch.

According to experts, broadcasters will have to offer ordinary terrestrial viewers more with digital TV - more TV channels and services and a better viewing experience and image quality - than what they're currently receiving, in order for the millions of free-to-air TV households in South Africa to feel the need to pay R700 to R800 for a STB to  

Embarrassingly, South Africa will miss next month's global deadline of 17 June of the International Telecommunication Union (ITU) the country agreed to, to fully complete the expensive DTT switch and digital migration process and which takes about five years - and when all analogue TV signals are supposed to be switched off.

With several failed dates announced by the South African government which all came and went, the country hasn't even started the commercial switch-on period which will take a few years - a period known as "dual illumination".

Under "dual illumination" the new and additional digital TV signals are supposed to be broadcast in conjunction with the existing analogue signals to give consumers and viewers time to make the TV transition.

While other African countries have already successfully completed the switch, South Africa's DTT process which will cost billions of rand has been mired in controversy for years, with ongoing embarrassing delays, in-fighting and protracted court cases.

South Africa's DTT process has largely lost sight of who it's really intended to be for and supposed to serve - the ordinary viewer who've been left out of the discussion with basically no public viewer participation.

Instead government has shifted DTT's focus to a "job creation" mechanism instead of a "viewing and content improvement" mechanism - one which has largely been hijacked by local manufacturers - themselves fractured with backstage squabbling over conflicting encryption issues and fighting for slices of the billion rand government tenders to produce digital TV boxes.  

Government inaction and ministerial bungling, multiple ill-informed communications ministers, an ill-equipped and slow-moving broadcasting regulator, the multiple re-issue of constantly changing digital broadcasting regulations and in-fighting over broadcasting standards and conditional access all contributed to the DTT derailment.

Add to it in-fighting between broadcasters, in-fighting between manufacturers over lucrative contracts, delays with manufacturing standards, in-fighting over access-control and encryption, and huge uncertainty over viewer and STB subsidies and distribution which have all contributed to the perfect, disastrous DTT storm that South Africa finds itself in.

While South Africa will miss next month's DTT switch-off date, the government has announced no new "official" switch-on date. It's also not clear how many additional TV channels and M-Net plan to launch with while both broadcasters have seen their originally allocated and available DTT spectrum systematically being reduced as the process drags on.

Today's interesting TV stories to read from TV with Thinus - 20 May 2015.

First trailer for the new drama series, The Magicians, coming in 2016.
A "grown up" version of Harry Potter with a wizarding school.

Parliament to finally act on the minister of communications' interference in the SABC.
Portfolio committee on communications will now apparently proceed and act on Faith Muthambi's alleged undue and illegal direct interference in the SABC board.

South African consumers will keep paying their expensive DStv subscriptions to keep their television ...
... before they pay their water and electricity. Poor people pay for DStv to watch SABC channels on it but can't afford to pay for electricity and water.

Does 2015 mark the beginning of the end of the pay-TV bundle?
There's several danger signs in the American pay-TV business regarding the start of a process of "unbundling" of the traditional bundled pay-TV offering.

A big backlash has started against Game of Thrones shown on M-Net Edge (DStv 102).
Horrific rape scene has viewers wondering whether the explicit fantasy drama has finally gone too far. Game of Thrones forced to go on the defensive over shocking rape scene controversy. HBO suddenly doesn't want to comment about its show. And viewers are saying they're quitting Game of Thrones.

Beleaguered SABC is a soap of its own.
It's a massive 15 months since the SABC last had a permanent CEO and 5 months since the struggling SABC had a permanent SABC board chairperson while the "shambolic state of governance" continues at the South African public broadcaster.

Kendall Jenner in a non-verbal diss of Giuliana Rancic.
The Kardashian spin-off kid blatantly rebuffs the E! Entertainment (DStv 124) red carpet mainstay in an awkward European "mwah-mwah" air kisses moment gone wrong.

The Bachelor Fantasy Suite is a sex nest.
The tawdry reality dating show has "everything you need" for "safe sex" for the contestants, brags host Chris Harrison.

A third of British TV viewers thinks there's too much sex on TV.
Study by British TV regulator finds third of TV viewers think sexually explicit material should never be shown on television - and that there's too much violence and swearing.

New local reality TV show Date my Family coming to Mzansi Magic (DStv 161) from August.
In the dating reality show, people will have impress the families of people they want to date. Very strangely, M-Net South Africa CEO Yolisa Phahle herself talks about the show.

DStv BoxOffice finally launches in Uganda.
MultiChoice's movies on demand service finally unveiled in the Africa country.

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Another embarrassing SABC News live on-air blooper as the news anchor, final control room operator and cameramen all err on the side of awful.

Another week, another embarrassing SABC News (DStv 404) blooper from the public broadcaster's 24-hour TV news channel.

This time not only does the SABC News' control room staff appear to maybe be out to lunch and unable to cut to the right channel feed for play-out while the news anchor fails to keep her eye on the monitor, but a SABC cameraman also seems to be struggling to get the angle of his camera just right.

The latest SABC News snafu was was captured by a viewer and uploaded to YouTube on Sunday, and is the latest embarrassing on-air blooper on the channel as of late.

There was last month's incident where SABC News anchor Eben Jansen went ballistic and confrontational during an interview with the EFF political party spokesperson and was immediately suspended because the SABC said he will only return when he is "emotionally fit enough" to be on air.

That was followed by a dagga smoker activist earlier this month who lit up the studio - literally - and started puffing away on the SABC News' airwaves.

In the latest SABC News production mess-up, the news channel failed to stay with the pre-recorded news package reporting about lions at the Addo elephant national park and mid-way through accidentally switched back to the Your World anchor doing what appeared to be her daily gymkana workout.

That's until she realises she's actually on live television - and starts to look around perturbingly as her behaviour changes and she appears unsure and uncertain of how to behave after being caught out.

From here the SABC News control room doesn't switch back to the news package but instead cuts to the other studio camera - the one filming the front of the anchor desk.

Ironically, the story interviews a national park's game ranger who could just as well have been talking about cooped up news anchors and final editing mix and control room operators: "It's not doing them any good to be in an enclosure that small."