Monday, February 29, 2016

NCIS renewed for a 14th and 15th season as Mark Harmon signs a new 2-year contract extension with CBS Studios.

The forensic procedural drama NCIS seen in South Africa on pay-TV broadcaster M-Net, free-to-air public broadcaster SABC2 and the Universal Channel (DStv 117) is getting renewed for a 14th and a 15th season following a new two-year deal CBS Studios signed with star Mark Harmon.

NCIS - the most watched TV drama in the world - is distributed worldwide by CBS Studios International and will now remain on television screens until at least 2018.

Ensemble cast member Michael Weatherly is of course exiting NCIS at the end of the 13th season.

Mark Harmon, besides being in NCIS, is also an executive producer of the spin-off NCIS: New Orleans on M-Net (DStv 101).

"It's extraordinary that in its 13th season and with over 300 episodes to its credit, NCIS continues to excel at such a high level on a global scale," says Glenn Geller, CBS Entertainment president in a statement.

"It is testimony to an amazing cast, led on and off the screen by the exceptional Mark Harmon, for skillfully bringing this universally appealing team of heroes to life; and to Gary Glasberg and his writers for crafting compelling stories that feature NCIS's signature blend of mystery, quirk, drama and comedy every single week".

E! Entertainment's embarrassing Diet Coke embedded ads on DStv during its 2016 Oscars Live from the Red Carpet coverage was cringe-worthy to watch.

It didn't feel remotely "like the real thing" or as if E! Entertainment's (DStv 124) Brad Goreski puts his mouth on stuff like that, but that didn't stop the Fashion Police panelist to embarrassingly go along on Sunday night to sell Diet Coke in cringe-worthy embedded ads during E!'s Oscar 2016 Live from the Red Carpet coverage.

Censorship zealous E! Entertainment didn't blur or black out the Diet Coke native ads that Brad Goreski - who wasn't the only one to do the shameless live reads - did during E!'s hours of Oscar coverage that wasn't actually that "live" nor "on" the Oscar red carpet for the hour before the awards ceremony.

E! didn't blur the crass in-show commercials for South African viewers although according to its own rules it's actually inappropriate, in the way E! censors other content like media mentions, magazine covers and brand logos that's apparently not "suitable" for South Africans.

The Diet Coke bottles that were pushed in the tasteless in-show commercials on E! are not relevant to South Africa or Africa, and are not sold by Coca-Cola or currently even available to buy in South Africa.

The NBCUniversal International Networks' channel's shameless Diet Coke shilling complete with fake hyperbole felt as fake and as wrong as DStv Media Sales currently trying to sell commercials and sponsorships for Disney's upcoming The Lion Guard on Disney Junior (DStv 309), targeting little pre-school toddlers with commercial messages.

Neither feels appropriate for what the content of the actual TV show is - like its being invaded by crass and unnecessary advertorial selling in a type of underhanded way - both in a sense targeting viewers who don't and won't really know better or be able to distinguish between "show" and "commercial".

Isn't it enough that in terms of E!'s awards show pre-coverage, that designers, cosmetic brands and luxury goods already get mentions within the editorial context as they give products in exchange for free on-air exposure and for mentions that's already stretching the lines of editorial integrity?

It was unintentionally hilarious when Brad Goreski, now a Diet Coke spokesman, talked about the "limited edition" Diet Coke bottles with "literally millions of unique designs".

A disbelieving Giuliana Rancic immediately questioned him live on-air about the seemingly over-hyped Diet Coke language - text that Coca-Cola most likely provided and Brad Goreski of course gladly read.

"Millions, Brad?" asked Giuliana Rancic, pulling a face and looking as if she was shading Diet Coke in their own embedded advert.

"Millions, Giuliana".

In the end the Diet Coke product placement and live reads, E!'s embedded allowance of it that detracted its Oscars coverage, as well as Brad Goreski, all had one thing in common.

All three felt fake and flat.

Melissa Harris-Perry's show at MSNBC cancelled after she lashes out at MSNBC: 'I am not a token little brown bobble head'.

Melissa Harris-Perry is out at MSNBC (StarSat 263) and her Melissa Harris-Perry weekend show cancelled at the American TV news channel after she wrote a scathing email saying she won't be doing her weekend show this past weekend and trashing MSNBC saying she's not their "little brown bobble head".

A furious Melissa Harris-Perry attacked MSNBC for taking her show off the air the past few weeks for political coverage of the upcoming American elections, and she walked off her show The New York Times reported.

In a scathing email, Melissa Harris-Perry, wrote to MSNBC co-workers, slamming MSNBC for making her feel "worthless" and having "utterly silenced her", saying that "our show was taken - without comment or discussion or notice - in the midst of an election season".

"After four years of building an audience, developing a brand and developing trust with our viewers, we were effectively silenced".

Melissa Harris-Perry vowed to not set foot inside MSNBC's studios this past Saturday and Sunday, saying in the email she's not owned by MSNBC and that "I will not be used as a tool for their purposes. I am not a token, mammy, or little brown bobble head".

"Undoubtedly television nurtures the egos of those of us who find ourselves in front of bright lights and big cameras. I am sure egois informing my own pain at the moment, but there is a level of professional decency, respect, and communication that has been denied this show for years".

"It is profoundly hurtful to realize that I work for people who find my considerable expertise and editorial judgment valueless to the coverage they are creating."

MSNBC called Melissa Harris-Perry's outburst "really surprising, confusing and disappointing".

Then The Washington Post reported that Melissa Harris-Perry's show will definitely be cancelled after her critical email.

Now Melissa Harris-Perry is in talks with MSNBC about severance pay, "not reconciliation" according to The New York Times. Her current contract with MSNBC only expires in October.

Urban Brew Studios promotes three: Herbert Hadebe, Adelaide Joshua-Hill and Joanne Lurie appointed to senior management positions.

Urban Brew Studios that belongs to Kagiso Media has promoted three staff members to senior management positions.

Herbert Hadebe has been appointed as the head of scripted productions, Adelaide Joshua-Hill is now the head of unscripted productions and Joanne Lurie is now the head of creative at Urban Brew Studios.

Herbert Hadebe has over 15 years of experience in the film and television industry and currently works on two drama series for Urban Brew Studios, Mzansi Magic's (DStv 161) Zabalaza and's Gold Diggers.

Adelaide Joshua-Hill started her career at Urban Brew seven years ago as an education consultant for SABC1's YOTV.  She then became head of YOTV mini and went on to head up the entire YOTV portfolio.

Adelaide Joshua-Hill's new role will include overseeing and managing production teams and providing leadership across all productions in the unscripted portfolio at Urban Brew Studios.

Joanne Lurie, who has been in the TV industry for 13 years, spent eight of her nine years at Urban Brew Studios producing 3Talk with Noeleen for SABC3. Before joining the company, she worked on international formats, including The Weakest Link, The Biggest Loser and Big Brother.

Sony on Gogglebox South Africa on the Sony Channel: 'All channels and all programmes' on South African television will be considered for the local series.

All TV channels and all programmes on South African television will be considered for the Sony Channel's (DStv 127) first locally produced show, Gogglebox South Africa, that will start on 3 March.

Sony Pictures Television is allaying fears that Gogglebox SA, based on the British series that films ordinary couch potatoes watching television, would miss out on accurately capturing the true South African television zeitgeist by excluding shows on channels from the South African public broadcaster's SABC channels for instance, or broadcasters like

Earlier Sony Pictures Television was vague when asked specifically what channels Gogglebox South Africa - which will be seen on the Sony Channel on MultiChoice's DStv satellite pay-TV platform - would potentially consider and include and if it would include the SABC and

Sony Pictures Television says "all channels and all programmes are potential material because Gogglebox is about drawing on the biggest TV moments and watching the nation's response to them".

Sony Pictures Television says "Gogglebox goes into the lounges of some of the country's most avid and opinionated television viewers to watch them discuss, laugh and cry about some of the biggest, current and most talked about television moments in the seven days preceding an episode".

"It captures a cultural response to something that's happening in the world," said Farah Ramzan Golant, format producer from All3Media International.

What it means it that when a big moment happens in Uzalo, The Bold and the Beautiful, Majakathata, Isidingo, WWE wrestling, Selimathunzi, 7de Laan or Scandal! - all the biggest top-rated shows representing tens of millions of viewers on their respective channels - it will be possible for viewers' reactions to those shows to show up in Gogglebox South Africa on the Sony Channel.

"Gogglebox is a fantastic show and we believe that its humour and diversity makes it perfect for South African audiences," says Sonja Underwood, Sony Pictures Television Networks' territory director for Sony's Africa channels.

"It is not your typical television show and we believe our first local production will become a firm viewer favourite."

Gogglebox South Africa will have 10 episodes and is produced by Eject Media's Stephan Le Roux and Picture Tree's Gary King.

"We believe that we have created a show that will create debate among people," says Stephan Le Roux. "Gogglebox South Africa reflects the current state of society and will stimulate viewers to share their opinions and thoughts".

OPINION. Idiotic Nigerian lawmakers are dangerously playing with fire in their desire to break down MultiChoice, instead of creating competition for DStv.

The idiotic Nigerian senate as well as Nigeria's moronic Consumer Protection Council (CPC) are playing with fire with their belligerent and misguided assault this past week on MultiChoice in Nigeria - exposing their uninformed attacks as more uninformed witch-hunt than actual consumer protection.

Too inept and stupid to rather open Nigeria's pay-TV market up to more actual competition and better market conditions, the Nigerian senate and the CPC's clamp-down on MultiChoice is going to make it much more difficult, if not impossible, for MultiChoice to continue to operate its DStv and GOtv services there.

And when MultiChoice in Nigeria no longer feels its worth its while - or possible to adhere to crazy Nigerian legislation, guess what?

MultiChoice will leave Nigeria or dramatically cut back its business, just like companies like Truworths, Woolworths, Tiger Brands, Brunel and Virgin Atlantic just  to name a few have done through ceasing their operations and disinvesting in the West African country in the past year.

Here's the bottom line: If Nigerians lose their DStv it won't be due to MultiChoice Africa CEO Tim Jacobs making such a fateful decision - it will be the fault of Nigeria's clueless lawmakers.

For Nigeria's CPC to order and force MultiChoice to offer "pay per view"  - terribly inept and erroneous language for "let individual subscribers pick only their channels" and forcing it to make "good channels" (meaning premium content channels) available on all (meaning cheaper) bouquets, reveals the mind-boggling stupidity of the CPC and how uninformed they are about how the satellite pay-TV model works.

Neither MultiChoice nor other pay-TV operators buy their/the content (or can buy the content) in that way, which makes it impossible to sell the content to the end-consumer in that way, and nowhere else in Africa - not even South Africa - does MultiChoice operate such a "pay-per-view" service.

Nigeria's consumer body and its senate are slamming MultiChoice for "incessant and unreasonable subscription hikes".

Guess what Nigeria? It's your weak and plummeting naira that's to blame due to Nigeria's weakened economy.

Pay-TV operators like MultiChoice are not charities, they're companies. And they have to buy their content in dollar. And companies are out to make profit, not chasing rainbows.

Nigeria's CPC ordered MultiChoice to allow DStv subscribers to "suspend their service" for between one to two weeks for at least two times a year.

Does the CPC and Nigerian lawmakers think MultiChoice buy their content and channels themselves for two weeks at a time? That MultiChoice is able to give "back [unused] chunks of content in short intervals as well?

The CPC and the Nigerian government won't order its Lagos airport to shut down over the weekend when nobody is using it, but has the audacity to order a company to shut down its service at the beck and call of individual subscribers.

If DStv subscribers get the right to effectively "cancel" their service for half a month, twice a year, will the CPC and the Nigerian legislature also force other like-for-like businesses to do the same?

Can the CPC order its commuter train service to please "put on hold" that already bought monthly train ticket if a commuter is suddenly not using it for a week or two weeks and give them another "extra" two weeks later?

Can the daycare centre where you leave your child please give you a "good-for" extension on your monthly payment if your didn't drop your child there for a week or two because of illness, or vacation?

Can the CPC please tell the milk you've already paid for in your fridge to remain at exactly the same level of freshness if you go away for a few days and are not home to drink it?

Some of the orders the CPC forced MultiChoice Nigeria to make this week are good and positive.

Instructing MultiChoice to make toll free customer care line telephone numbers available, for customer care service to be available for longer periods over weekends and public holidays, and for a DStv subscription billing cycle to only start once a person actually has an activated DStv subscription are great and positive sanctions.

Instead of going after MultiChoice like rabid dogs, Nigerian lawmakers and the CPC should work at opening up the Nigerian pay-TV market to more, and true, competition.

The moronic Nigerian senate president Bukola Saraki had the audacity in a motion entitled "Concern on unwholesome practices by MultiChoice Nigeria" entered on Wednesday in Nigeria's senate to say "we must play our role to ensure that we protect Nigerians and ensure that the best global practices are what is happening in our own country".

Well dear Bukola, protecting Nigerians and "ensuring best global practices" is actually not to go after individual companies [who simply does what companies does] but to open up markets and economies.

"Best global practices" are to foster bigger competition by allowing and supporting competition through policies that allow entrepreneurship, businesses and companies to operate and flourish and makes it easy(ier) for them to exist and to provide products and services.

The Nigerian legislature and the CPC wants MultiChoice to do things it cannot, and to be things it can't - not even as a perfect company in a perfect world - instead of allowing there to be more companies within the pay-TV sphere who will compete harder for consumers which will increase choice, quality, service and drive prices down.

The laughable imbeciles in the Nigerian government and the CPC are clueless when they say they want to "break DStv's monopoly" by attacking MultiChoice.

You "break" - ironically a bad word to use for a country that actually needs and should welcome more foreign investment and companies - a monopoly by opening up a market through licensing and allowing more companies and competition.

MultiChoice also hardly has a "monopoly" in Nigeria - something Nigeria's senators would know if they had even the faintest grasp on Economy 101 or look out the window.

MultiChoice is simply running the better or best pay-TV service in Nigeria, but China's StarTimes, African Cable Television (ACTV), CONSAT, MyTV and Montage Cable Network exist there. Even HiTV existed as a Nigerian pay-TV operator before it spectacularly imploded at the end of 2011.

This coming weekend M-Net and MultiChoice are ironically holding the 5th AfricaMagic Viewers' Choice Awards in Lagos, Nigeria, an awards initiative aimed at improving and growing Nigeria and Africa's film industry.

Without MultiChoice, and with a shackled MultiChoice, would Nigeria be fine if there is no further AfricaMagic Viewers' Choice Awards, or if its moved to another African country?

How about the other side benefits and corporate social investment (CSI) flowing into, and happening in Nigeria due to MultiChoice's existence there?

The unjust and myopic view of the CPC and Nigeria's lawmakers now risk forcing MultiChoice to be "more" - which will ironically force MultiChoice in that country to perhaps become, offer and be less.

If MultiChoice is forced to offer "good channels" across all of its DStv bouquets - channels that cost more to buy on which it can't make a return on lower-tiered packages - guess what? MultiChoice will likely shut down and decrease the number of available DStv packages its offering.

If MultiChoice is forced to allow DStv subscribers to "shut down their service" for at least 28 days per year, per DStv subscriber, guess what?

MultiChoice will raise the general price individual subscribers pay in Nigeria even more to make up for that loss - it will work in the estimated loss and tack it on to the overall annual money it needs to get per individual subscriber. It's basic economic principles.

If MultiChoice is forced to make free-to-air channels available to "subscribers" so they can watch it on DStv even after they're no longer DStv susbcribers, guess what? MultiChoice will over time stop carrying those free-to-air channels to begin with as existing carriage contracts expire, so that there's no free-to-air channels on its system anyway.

Are people allowed to go and sit at a restaurant and order just a glass of water for free with no intention of ordering anything and of being a customer there? Of course not. So why is the CPC ordering MultiChoice to accommodate people who are not its clients in such a way?

Nigeria's consumer "protection" council and that country's senate need to stop bitching about MultiChoice and start to allow and put in place more choice and to create pay-TV operators and more pay-TV operators to grow.

That is what will really serve Nigeria's pay-TV consumers - not attacking and wanting to diminish a successful company that wants to invest and try and operate and run a consumer-oriented business in West Africa.

Why E! on DStv and its E! Live from the Red Carpet is no longer actually on and next to the red carpet just before the Oscars - E! isn't allowed to.

For DStv subscribers in South Africa and Africa watching E! Entertainment (DStv 124) for its billed E! Live from the Red Carpet coverage and wondering why E! is not actually on the red carpet for the Academy Awards for the time period just before the Oscars, it's because another TV channel has the exclusive rights to it and it's not E!.

For the last hour before the annual Oscars, E! isn't on the red carpet and it's because the NBCUniversal International Networks channel isn't allowed to be there.

America's ABC TV network has exclusive access to the red carpet for the final hour before the Oscars starts at 03:00 South African time every year.

E! and other channels like CNN International (DStv 401) all lined up alongside the red carpet can continue to do interviews but they can only show any of it later as recorded interviews, not live, after the Oscar ceremony has started.

ABC and its entertainment reporters are the only channel and reporters allowed to do live interviews, which is why people tuning in to channels like E! Entertainment are not really getting any real "live from the red carpet" coverage the hour before the Oscars.

While Leonardo DiCaprio therefore talks to ABC on the red carpet - something South African viewers don't get to see on E! Entertainment - E! that is forced to cut away, suddenly showed DStv subscribers a badly done talk show panel that included Kardashian momager Kris Jenner and things like celebrity fashion photos.

This state of affairs with E! not actually being (allowed) on the red carpet before the Oscars for viewers is going to continue until at least 2020 - that's for how long the ABC deal goes.

Friday, February 26, 2016

MultiChoice adds the fashion channel Fashion One already available on StarSat to DStv to replace the dumped FashionTV from March.

MultiChoice is adding Fashion One to DStv from March as a new fashion travel to replace the dumped FashionTV that's going dark on Sunday.

Rival satellite pay-TV platform StarSat, operated by On Digital Media (ODM) and StarTimes Media SA added Fashion One two years ago in February 2013.

Now the fashion channel from Fashion One LLC that was started by Michael Gleissner in 2010 will be available on DStv as well.

Fashion One will be on channel 178, on the same DStv Premium, DStv Extra, DStv Compact, DStv Family and DStv Access packages that FashionTV was available on. MultiChoice will show Fashion One in 48 countries.

"We are thrilled about the collaboration with MultiChoice which brings us to the position of number one fashion channel in Africa," says Fashion One. "The channel will introduce African audiences to fashion like they've never seen it before, as well as great stories about local fashion and lifestyles".

"Fashion One will give our DStv customers front row seats to the biggest international fashion shows and runways that they've become used to seeing," says Aletta Alberts, MultiChoice's head of content.

"They'll also be introduced to a rich blend of local fashion, entertainment and lifestyle shows."

Programming on Fashion One include Style Wars, Eco Fashion and Fashion on a Plate.

The Listening Post on Al Jazeera on Saturday looks at whether and how South Africa's news media has transformed in the past two decades.

The Listening Post on Al Jazeera (DStv 406 / StarSat 257) on Saturday (27 February) at 10:30 is looking at whether, and if so how, the news media has transformed in South Africa since the end of apartheid 20 years ago.

Nicholas Muirhead say media transformation was a key priority for the African National Congress (ANC) after it came to power in 1994 and on Saturday the show interviews various editors and media figures to find out how news media in South Africa changed the past two decades.

Nicholas Muirhead spoke to City Press editor Ferial Haffajee, who wrote the book, What If There Were No Whites In South Africa?

Ferial Haffajee warned of the "cappuccino effect" in South African industries – where the workforce is brown at the bottom, but with a white layer on top and a few chocolate sprinkles. She argues that newsrooms are now transformed in South Africa, but upper management and ownership remain an issue.

Rachel Jafta, chairperson of Media24 tells Nicholas Muirhead in The Listening Post that "I have the sense here that perception still has to catch up with reality. Of the four big media houses, Caxton remains the only one that in ownership hasn't transformed. Independent, Times Media Group and Media24 have black ownership. For Media24, it's 47%".

Then there's the SABC that critics say has been used as a government tool to dilute political output.

"Is the SABC serving the purpose for which it is conceived in the democratic era?" asks Songezo Zibi, the outgoing BusinessDay editor.

"My answer is it's got a very questionable performance. Is it therefore transformed from what it was or have we had one form of political culture being replaced by another? I think it's largely the latter.  And in that sense, SABC has not been transformed for me".

"Media reflects society and if the country has not transformed, then nor will the media," says Nicholas Muirhead.

Al Jazeera self-censors and pulls its own content after a satirical article that's critical of Al Jazeera America that's shutting down.

Al Jazeera (DStv 406  /StarSat 257) has self-censored itself and deleted a critical and satirical article about Al Jazeera America that is shutting down at the end of April.

Al Jazeera self-censored, by pulling the article "Six Hot Media Startups to Watch in 2016" and replacing it with an editor's note.

The editor's note says that Al Jazeera "has removed the satirical piece originally posted on this link, which included commentary on our company that we believe was not appropriate given its imminent closure".

The satirical story which talked about various media companies, included Al Jazeera America "as the top one to watch".

The little watched version of Al Jazeera in America never managed to pull in enough viewers to justify its existence

A SPOON FULL OF SUGAR: eNCA takes and uses News24's Sugar Scale graphic without bothering to give any credit to who did it first.

On Thursday night eNCA (DStv 403) took News24's Sugar Scale graphic of Theuns Kruger from 2015 and blatantly plagiarised it without giving any credit.

eNCA was so lazy in its blatant on-air graphic theft that it couldn't even bother to even slightly amend or change the graphic, using the same graphic even down to the grey teaspoons full of white sugar on yellow columns.

With Prof. Anton Harber taking over as editor-in-chief at eNCA from March, he would be perfectly placed to lecture eNCA staff about plagiarism, and why it's not right to take other journalist's work and showcasing it without giving proper credit.

M-Net's Carte Blanche did a sugar story in 2015 and used the same graphic in 2015, and Combined Artistic Productions gave proper credit in May last year.

The graphic created by Theuns Kruger is of course from last year's story and information gathered by journalist Grethe Koen in what took a long time to find, search, put together and then showcase in an investigative article.

eNCA would (rightly) complain and likely scream blue murder if some other news outlet took its news clips or content or exclusively generated news and repurposed or used it without due credit.

Sport clips of course get "courtesy: SuperSport", but that didn't happen with Graphics24's "The Sugar Scale".

Thursday, February 25, 2016

'THE MENACE OF MULTICHOICE': Nigeria ramps up its hate towards MultiChoice; senate orders a probe, slams DStv service over 'unhealthy and unwholesome practices'.

The public hatred towards MultiChoice in Nigeria is building with the Nigerian senate that has now also politically spewed venomous outrage at the satellite pay-TV platform, slamming "the menace of MultiChoice" for apparent "arbitrary DStv price hikes" and calling the company out for what it calls unhealthy and "unwholesome practices".

Just days after MultiChoice Nigeria was slammed by that country's Consumer Protection Council (CPC) and ordered to effect multiple changes to its services, refund DStv subscribers and change how it structures channels in various DStv packages, the Nigerian government also slammed DStv in its senate.

The CPC in October 2015 raided MultiChoice Nigeria's head office, a subsidiary of the South African based MultiChoice Africa, and seized computers as journalists looked on.

Later in October Nigerian censorship through its National Broadcasting Commission (NBC) forced MultiChoice and Discovery Networks International to pull a transgender teen documentary series from the TLC Entertainment (DStv 172) channel which impacted the entire Africa and prevented the whole continent from seeing the show since the channel has only one feed to the continent.

In a motion tabled on Wednesday in the Nigerian senate entitled "Concern on unwholesome practices by MultiChoice Nigeria", the Nigerian government now has MultiChoice as that country's dominant pay-TV operator in its cross-hairs and said it's going to probe the operator and what it labelled "the menace of MultiChoice".

MultiChoice's Nigerian troubles follow after cellphone operator MTN was slammed with a massive fine in the West African country, and clothing retailer Truworths closed up shop over draconian regulations and foreign exchange controls it said was making it virtually impossible for the South African retailer to do continue to do business in that African country.

On Wednesday the deputy senate leader Ibu Na'Allah slammed MultiChoice Nigeria in the senate motion, saying DStv "must not be allowed to take what is not due to them irrespective of where they operate" and that "Nigerians must be protected on the way and manner people operate their business in this country".

Senator Isa Misau leading the motion on Wednesday and constantly referring to MultiChoice as "a menace", slammed MultiChoice Nigeria for refusing to adopt a pay-as-you-go model, saying MultiChoice frequently gets loads of subscriber complaints, and is abusing DStv subscribers through consumer rights' violations.

Nigeria's committees on Information and Trade and Investment were ordered to now also investigate MultiChoice Nigeria in Wednesday's motion, to have public hearings, and to report back over four weeks.

Isa Misau said MultiChoice, due to its dominance of the Nigerian satellite pay-TV market, is busy with "negative and unhealthy practices".

On Tuesday this week MultiChoice Nigeria suddenly slashed DStc Explora prices and made the English Premier League (EPL) and La Liga available to DStv Compact subscribers in that country.

On Monday Nigeria's CPC ordered MultiChoice Nigeria to unlock free-to-air channels to make these channels watchable on the DStv system even if people are no longer DStv subscribers.

The CPC also ordered MultiChoice to provide toll-free call centre numbers to its clients and that MultiChoice Nigeria must pay DStv subscribers compensation for lost viewing time.

The CPC said MultiChoice Nigeria must make sport and other "good channels" available on all DStv packages and not just on DStv Premium as "part of a "reasonable, equitable spread".

The CPC found that MultiChoice Nigeria's DStv service agreement that subscribers must sign is "grossly unfair, unjust and one-sided" and said MultiChoice needs to redraft and change it and resubmit it to the consumer protection body.

The CPC also says MultiChoice Nigeria's billing system is not in the best interest of consumers. The CPC ordered MultiChoice Nigeria to "install a billing system that ensures billing starts with the provision of service".

The CPC also ordered MultiChoice Nigeria to give DStv subscribers the option within 180 days to temporarily suspend their subscriptions "when subscribers are otherwise unable to enjoy their service on account of being away for a limited period of time".

These "service suspensions" should be for between 7 to 14 days (a week to two weeks), and DStv subscribers should be able to make use of it twice a year with a 72-hour notice period to MultiChoice.

MultiChoice was also ordered to pay out compensation to subscribers within 90 days across the board to DStv subscribers who "over time lost legitimate and paid viewing time by its conduct of not restoring service contemporaneously after payment, as well as other instances of disruptions".

The CPC also ordered MultiChoice Nigeria's call centres to be open and operate for longer hours during public holidays and over weekends.

The ramped up consumer body sanctions and political rhetoric against MultiChoice comes as the 4th AfricaMagic Viewers' Choice Awards (AMVCAs) is set to take place in  Lagos, Nigeria hosted by Minnie Dlamini and the Nigerian IK Osakioduwa.

The AfricaMagic Viewers' Choice Awards is an initiative by M-Net, that supplies the various AfricaMagic channels to MultiChoice's DStv, to celebrate, recognise and improve the reputation of Nigerian and African films and again has MultiChoice as one of the sponsors this year.

Tuesday, February 23, 2016

OVERHEARD. Is Monde Twala leaving as boss? Sources say Monde Twala has resigned and is exiting the broadcaster as channels managing director.

Has's Monde Twala resigned? SEE THE UPDATE TO THIS STORY BELOW.

That's what I've been hearing and what staff are wondering.

So far is quiet and hasn't responded to a media enquiry I made about it yesterday, asking if what the grapevine is buzzing about is indeed true.

A few days ago sources told TVwithThinus that Monde Twala, an accomplished and well-liked TV executive who is the managing director for channels division, has tendered his resignation at the red letter free-to-air broadcaster.

"It basically leaves Marlon Davids in charge," quipped a source. [The talented Marlon Davids has been's general manager for content, strategy and planning for the past year and a half.]

No word from on who would be replacing Monde Twala if the talented televisionary is moving on, that would add to the top management changes at eMedia Investments with Patrick Conroy becoming the new managing director of the OpenView HD satellite TV platform and prof. Anton Harber heading up eNCA (DStv 403) as editor-in-chief from March.

If Monde Twala leaves - where the last few years he's been overseeing a growing slate of channels, popular local soaps and a collection of steadily expanding local programming that strongly resonates with viewers - his exit will follow closely after the jump of Gideon Khobane who is leaving his Randburg office as the director of M-Net's general entertainment channels to become the new SuperSport CEO from March.

M-Net hasn't yet said who is replacing Gideon Khobane as M-Net's new director for its entertainment channels, telling me an announcement will be made soon.

The experienced Monde Twala joined from the SABC and was first the executive producer for the channel's soaps Backstage and Rhythm City, its now defunct breakfast show Morning Edition and eSibobo, before becoming group head for's channels and then getting the managing director title.

UPDATE: tells that Monde Twala has not resigned. He has received a possible job offer and is considering it.

MultiChoice Nigeria says it will try and 'meet the order and deadlines' of the onerous new service sanctions, changes demanded by Nigeria's consumer body.

MultiChoice says it will try and meet the order and deadlines of heavy-handed service delivery sanctions that were imposed by Nigeria's Consumer Protection Council (CPC) in that country on the large satellite pay-TV operator.

The CPC again slammed MultiChoice in Nigeria over service delivery in an ongoing strained relationship between the pay-TV operator and that country's consumer protection body, with the CPC ordering MultiChoice to make a flurry of sweeping, extremely onerous and wide-ranging changes to its DStv service.

It's not clear how MultiChoice in Nigeria will be able to affect several of the service and structural product adjustments and what the impact on MultiChoice in that country will be - as well as what it might mean for MultiChoice across the rest of the African continent.

Most notably, the CPC ordered MultiChoice to not contain "good sport and other channels" in the DStv Premium package - the most expensive one where subscribers pay for the best content - but to spread "good channels" in an "reasonable, equatable spread" across all packages for all DStv subscribers.

As onerous and uninformed about the economics of the bundled pay-TV model that makes a service like DStv possible in the first place, is the CPC's order that MultiChoice allow for "service suspensions".

According to this, DStv subscribers should be allowed to switch off their DStv service for between 7 to 14 days and not have to pay, and DStv subscribers should be able to make use of it twice a year with a 72-hour notice period to MultiChoice.

Furthermore the CPC ordered MultiChoice Nigeria to unlock free-to-air channels to make these channels watchable on the DStv system even if people are no longer DStv subscribers.

The CPC ordered MultiChoice to provide toll-free call centre numbers to DStv subscribers in Nigeria; to improve and redo its "grossly unfair, unjust and one-sided" service agreement contract; and that MultiChoice is only allowed to bill DStv subscribers once they actually get a DStv signal, and not from when they order the service and wait for it to be installed or fixed.

The CPC is also ordering MultiChoice Nigeria to pay out compensation within 90 days across the board to DStv subscribers who "over time lost legitimate and paid viewing time by its conduct of not restoring service contemporaneously after payment, as well as other instances of disruptions".

"We wish to assure subscribers of our commitment to continue to co-operate fully with the CPC on the order of the council, and will endeavour by all means to meet the order and deadlines, where possible," says John Ugbe, MultiChoice Nigeria's managing director in a statement.

"Unlike free-to-air operators, pay-TV businesses are dependent on subscriptions. If we lose subscribers, it negatively impacts our revenue and ultimately the sustainability of our business," says John Ugbe.

"It is therefore in our best interest to ensure that customer complaints are attended to and all efforts made to resolve queries in the interest of the subscriber".

Monday, February 22, 2016

FOX on demand content finally coming to DStv Catch Up; FOX channel opened to DStv Compact subscribers for 2 weeks from 26 February.

On demand content from FOX shows are finally coming to MultiChoice's DStv Catch Up service, with MultiChoice also opening up FOX to DStv Compact subscribers from 26 February for two weeks.

The FOX (DStv 125 / StarSat 131) channel that's only available to DStv Premium and DStv Extra subscribers, as well as on StarSat's satellite pay-TV platform, will be opened up for two weeks to DStv Compact subscribers from 26 February until 11 March.

The move will enable FOX, supplied to DStv by FOX International Channels that is restructuring as the Fox Networks Group, to give new viewers a glimpse of its hit shows.

Empire that is also now shown on the free-to-air channel, will start a rebroadcast of the first season with double episodes nightly from Sunday 28 February at 21:50.

A rebroadcast of episodes of The People vs OJ Simpson: American Crime Story will also start on Saturday 5 March at 19:20, as well as a rebroadcast of The X-Files from Saturday 27 February at 19:20.

DStv Compact viewers will also be able to watch the pilot episodes of Tyrant, Wayward Pines, The Strain, Scream Queens and You're the Worst.

On-demand content from all these shows on FOX have not been available on MultiChoice's DStv Catch Up service with FOX shows that's been conspicuously absent from the service until now. That could now possibly be changing.

MultiChoice and FOX agreed to the episodes of the first season of Empire being made available on DStv Catch Up from 27 February to 26 March to DStv Premium, DStv Extra and DStv Compact subscribers with a DStv Explora in South Africa.

Nigeria slams MultiChoice for over DStv service; orders compensation, 'equitable' spread of TV channels, toll-free call centre numbers, billing system changes.

Nigeria's consumer protection body has once again slammed MultiChoice in its ongoing investigation into the satellite pay-TV platform's services ordering MultiChoice Nigeria to make massive and eye-popping service and structural product adjustments that might have far-reaching consequences for MultiChoice's DStv service elsewhere on the Africa continent.

Nigeria's ThisDay newspaper reports today that Nigeria's Consumer Protection Council (CPC) has found MultiChoice Nigeria guilty of violating consumer rights.

The CPC ordered MultiChoice Nigeria to unlock free-to-air channels to make these channels watchable on the DStv system even if people are no longer DStv subscribers and that MultiChoice should "put services on hold" when DStv subscribers are away from home and ask the company to temporarily suspend their service.

The CPC also ordered MultiChoice to provide toll-free call centre numbers to its clients; that MultiChoice Nigeria must pay DStv subscribers compensation for lost viewing time; and that popular sport and other popular channels only available on the DStv Premium package must be made available across all DStv packages as part of a "reasonable, equitable spread".

The CPC found that MultiChoice Nigeria's DStv service agreement that subscribers must sign is "grossly unfair, unjust and one-sided" and said MultiChoice needs to redraft and change it and resubmit it to the consumer protection body.

The CPC says MultiChoice Nigeria can't block people's access to free-to-air TV channels once they are no longer DStv subscribers and that the pay-TV operator must release these channels to viewers who want to keep watching free television when they no longer have a DStv subscription.

The CPC also says MultiChoice Nigeria's billing system is not in the best interest of consumers. The CPC ordered MultiChoice Nigeria to "install a billing system that ensures billing starts with the provision of service".

The CPC also ordered MultiChoice Nigeria to give DStv subscribers the option within 180 days to temoprarily suspend their subscriptions "when subscribers are otherwise unable to enjoy their service on account of being away for a limited period of time".

These "service suspensions" should be for between 7 to 14 days (a week to two weeks), and DStv subscribers should be able to make use of it twice a year with a 72-hour notice period to MultiChoice.

MultiChoice was also ordered to pay out compensation to subscribers within 90 days across the board to DStv subscribers who "over time lost legitimate and paid viewing time by its conduct of not restoring service contemporaneously after payment, as well as other instances of disruptions".

'Good TV channels for all DStv packages'
In another order that might be difficult or impossible for MultiChoice Nigeria to carry out, the CPC ordered the pay-TV operator to ensure that all DStv bouquets get an "equatable share" of sport and other good TV channels.

MultiChoice Nigeria has 90 days to "ensure a reasonably equitable spread of popular sports and other channels hitherto concentrated in its DStv Premium bouquet over all available bouquets".

The CPC also ordered MultiChoice Nigeria to set-up and maintain local, toll-free customer care telephone numbers for MultiChoice call centres - and in addition MultiChoice's call centres will have to be open and operate for longer hours during public holidays and over weekends.

MultiChoice Nigeria was also ordered to "develop a Customer Care Manual which shall contain mechanisms to address customer complaints in an accurate, friendly, timely, efficient, courteous and honest manner".

Cellular operator MTN is battling a protracted legal battle in Nigeria over a massive consumer telecommunications regulatory fine.

Last week South Africa's Truworths said it has shut down its shops in Nigeria over draconian regulations and foreign exchange controls making it virtually impossible for the South African retailer to do continue to do business in that African country.

South Africa's broadcasting regulator, Icasa, 'warned' over Infinity Media's application to make the Gupta TV channel ANN7 on DStv a free-to-air news channel.

South Africa's broadcasting regulator, Icasa is being "warned" over the application by the Gupta family and president Jacob Zuma's son for a commercial free-to-air TV licence through which it wants to make ANN7 (DStv 405) a freely available, national TV channel.

If approved by the Independent Communications Authority of South Africa (Icasa), the channel - one of 4 possible new commercial free-to-air TV channels that could be licensed - will become the first new freely available commercial TV broadcasters since was licensed in 1998.

On Sunday City Press reported that a legal opinion sourced by the broadcasting regulator itself, advised that granting a new free-to-air commercial TV licence to Infinity Media Networks would be illegal since the company's foreign ownership is too large.

According to the legal opinion that the Mkhabela Huntley law firm gave to Icasa, Infinity Media Networks bid should be rejected since the company contravenes the foreign ownership clause in the Electronic Communications Act as it is 37,1% foreign-owned and controlled by Essel Media in India as a major shareholder.

The influential Gupta faimly and president Jacob Zuma's son, Duduzane Zuma, are shareholders in Infinity Media Networks who has been supplying the ANN7 TV news channel to MultiChoice's DStv satellite pay-TV platform.

Infinity Media Networks wants to take ANN7 beyond DStv and make it a nationally available TV news channel to compete with the SABC's SABC News and's eNews.

The COPE political party in a statement says that "all opposition parties will keep a sharp lookout to see how Icasa is going to process the responses to the tender" for the highly prized free-to-air digital broadcasting licence.

"Infinity Media Networks, we learn, has ambitious plans to turn ANN7 into our country's primary news source. This might possibly have been the goal from the inception of ANN7 setting up operations," says Dennis Bloem, COPE spokesperson.

"Now that South Africa has witnessed how calamitous it is for the state or a state institution to argue lamely that it was an error of the law for failing to act correctly, Icasa must be warned to proceed within the very strictest confines of the law. If it acts in defiance of the law, serious consequences will follow."

"While Icasa is still considering all submissions and no decision has been taken, it should understand that the matter is now made public and all eyes are on Icasa."

"The fact that this licence will allow the licensee to reach as many as 12 million viewers will give it the same reach as the SABC and As such, the decision that Icasa takes must be rational and well thought out".

eNCA fires technical director Modise Morobane after 'false and defamatory' open letter; CWU outraged at alleged 'ongoing blatant racist practices at eNCA'.

eNCA (DStv 403) has fired the technical director Modise Morobane over what the Sabido-run 24-hour TV news channel calls "misconduct, defamation and publishing untruth" after he wrote an open letter to executives citing several alleged labour grievances.

eMedia Investments' eNCA news channel, supplied to MultiChoice's DStv satellite pay-TV platform, has been in the news more and more the past year over various labour issues - although it hasn't reached the level of internal labour strife at rival Infinity Media's ANN7 (DStv 405) news channel where news about staff turnover, firings and even physical fights between news personnel have been making headlines.

eNCA fired Modise Morobane last week after he wrote an open letter accusing eNCA of racism, questioning why top executive positions at eNCA are given to whites, and alleging that eNCA are preventing workers from organising and joining unions.

eNCA said the claims are defamatory and false and that Modise Morobane wasn't fired because he tried to organise workers into a trade union but for defamation and misconduct. "Staff may join a trade union if they wish. The issue here was an open letter making false and defamatory claims".

The Communications Workers' Union (CWU) now says it will take eNCA to the Commission for Conciliation, Mediation and Arbitration (CCMA) for firing Modise Morobane.

In a press statement last week the Communications Workers' Union (CWU) said its "disgusted and outraged at the ongoing violation of workers' rights and blatant racist practices at eNCA and".

"Since October 2015 the TV channel has been ducking and diving when it had to hold a meeting with CWU to discuss organisational rights in the company in terms of the Labour Relations Act whereas over 50% of the TV channel staff has voluntarily joined the CWU," says the union.

"This was followed by a process of looking for wizards and witches everywhere, where intimidating calls to workers were made by management, asking them whether they have joined the union, whether they were still interested in the union, why they are joining a union and so on."

"This attitude of the TV channel towards the union is triggered by the fact that the executive and the board know that they violate not only worker rights but human rights too on a daily basis. We find it totally unethical that this company could conduct itself in this manner regard being had to the political and legal dispensation in the country."

In its statement the CWU says "the continuation of white supremacy and anti-transformational agenda in the TV channel has once again found its expression in the recent appointments announced by the board."

"The board has chosen a white male, Anton Harber, to take up the most senior, strategic position as editor-in-chief of news. There is no doubt that while Harber has journalism experience, he is not an experienced broadcaster."

"They have a number of senior black managers with years of broadcasting experience who were overlooked. To add salt to the wound the executive and the board chose not to advertise this position internally, so that they are able to ignore those blacks who are already in the system and who had obtained necessary qualifications."

The CWU in its statement alleges that "furthermore black reporters are not llowed to wear 'doeks' or African head scarves on air. Workers were told that Muslim women would be banned from wearing the hijab on air. Clearly this is a violation of their rights".

"We take the strongest exception to people spreading falsehoods and defamation, such as those disseminated in the 'open letter' and the CWU statement," says Vasili Vass, eNCA head of corporate affairs.

"eMedia Investments would not publish defamatory and false allegations if they were brought to us without detailed, proper evidence. The contents of the documents are highly defamatory and false."

"eMedia Investments has always operated in accordance with the law, the Labour Relations Act and the Constitution and will continue to do so."

Thursday, February 18, 2016

CNN International, Sky News both win big with great television journalism rewarded at the Royal Television Society's Television Journalism Awards 2016.

South Africa doesn't have anything like it (and would so greatly benefit from something similar) but the United Kingdom has the Royal Television Society - and besides that they do the annual RTS Television Journalism Awards to rewards the best TV journalism.

Well, the RTS Television Journalism Awards 2016 just took place and several of the winners have bearing (hence this story) on the South African and African audience, since the work they've won for are seen and have been seen on TV news channels available here.

Sky News (DStv 402) won 5 RTS Television Journalism Awards, and CNN International (DStv 401) won two at yesterday evening's awards in London.

Sky News' brilliant Alex Crawford who covers Africa from Johannesburg won as the Television Journalist of the Year - the 5th time in a row!

Sky News won as News Channel of the Year (for the second year in a row).

Sky News's director of operations Jackie Faulkner also won the Judges' Award recognising her "outstanding contribution to the advancement of television journalism".

Sky News at Five won in the Daily News Programme of the Year category.

Sky News' coverage of 2015's terror attack in Tunisia won the News Coverage - International award.

CNN International's brilliant Nima Elbagir won in the category for Specialist Journalist of the Year.

CNN International also won for Best Breaking News coverage for its coverage of the Paris Attacks.

NewsNight seen on BBC World News (DStv 400 / StarSat 256) won in the Scoopof the Year category.

Julie Etchingham won as Network Presenter of the Year. She works at ITV and was the moderator for the ITV Election 2015 Leaders debate - which (thanks for how small the world is becoming!) was also seen in South Africa.

ANN7 adds new local documentary wildlife series, Wild Treasures on Saturdays at 10:30; will look at possible conservation and preservation solutions.

ANN7 (DStv 405) is adding a new documentary wildlife series, Wild Treasures, to its programming line-up with the environmentally focused show that will start on Saturday 20 February at 10:30, with repeats on Sundays at 11:30 and 18:30.

ANN7 says Wild Treasures is a documentary series that will highlight some of South Africa's wildlife and conservation efforts and will focus on vulnerable, rare and valued species on land and in the sea.

"Our aim with Wild Treasures is to help in conservation efforts so that South Africa's uniquely rich wild heritage can be preserved for the posterity and the world to admire," says Abhinav Sahay, ANN7 news editor.

"This programme will have a positive impact as we dig deep into solutions for wildlife preservation around the country."

Wild Treasures will focus on profiling amazing species, ranging from amphibians and insects to reptiles and bird species.

The first episode of Wild Treasures on ANN7 will focus on one of South Africa's endangered species, abalone. This sea snail is one of the most sought-after species by poachers and the episode will look at various conservation efforts and whether abalone farming could be the answer to preserving these creatures.

M-Net will broadcast the 2016 Academy Awards live and again later in prime time on 29 February; plus all the E! Oscars red carpet coverage programming times.

M-Net will once again broadcast this year's Oscars live at the same time as in the United States for South African viewers, as well as later in prime time in Monday 29 February.

The 88th Annual Academy Awards with Chris Rock as the host will be broadcast live on M-Net Movies Premiere (DStv 103) on Monday morning 29 February at 03:30.

The 2016 Oscars will then again be shown during prime time on M-Net (DStv 101).

The 3-hour Hollywood red carpet award show means an interruption of the usual Monday night M-Net programming line-up with no new episodes of Grey's Anatomy, The Fixer or Code Black which will all be back a week later on 7 March.

NBCUniversal International Networks' channel E! Entertainment (DStv 124) will do red carpet pre-coverage, starting with Countdown to the Red Carpet: The 2016 Academy Awards on Sunday 28 February at 20:30.

That will last until 00:30 on Monday morning 29 February when Live from the Red Carpet: The 2016 Academy Awards kicks off with Ryan Seacrest and Giuliana Rancic on E! Entertainment until 03:30 when the ceremony starts on M-Net Movies Premiere.

This red carpet coverage will be repeated on Monday 29 February on E! Entertainment at 16:00 until 23:00, when viewers can see E! After Party: The 2016 Academy Awards for an hour and a half.

On Wednesday 2 March at 20:00 E! Entertainment will have its special Fashion Police: The 2016 Academy Awards with Melissa Rivers, Giuliana Rancic and Brad Goreski.

BREAKING. Gideon Khobane takes over as new SuperSport CEO from April; leaves his position as head of M-Net's general entertainment channels.

A month short of a year serving as the head of M-Net's general entertainment channels, Gideon Khobane is moving on to become the new CEO of SuperSport from April at the Randburg-based pay-TV conglom.

M-Net didn't immediately respond on who will replace him in the executive musical chairs stakes as the new head of M-Net's general entertainment channels.

Gideon Khobane who joined M-Net in 2008, became the M-Net director for general entertainment in April 2015 after TV executive Victor Eckard left to join Naspers' subscription video-on-demand (SVOD) upstart ShowMax as its head of content.

Now, after just 11 months Gideon Khobane is leaving his M-Net seat to head up sport sibling SuperSport.

It's been a struggle for SuperSport to find a CEO, with Brandon Foot who has been the acting CEO for over two years after Happy Ntshingila quit in late 2013 due to ill health.

Brandon Foot will now be the chief operating officer (COO) for SuperSport.

"Gideon Khobane is a talented individual who has made a significant impact at M-Net," says Imtiaz Patel, the CEO of Video Entertainment at Naspers, who himself was a former SuperSport CEO.

"I have no doubt he will lead SuperSport to even further heights".

M-Net's The Voice SA goes video viral as international viewers outside of South Africa are clamouring to watch and download episodes illegally.

M-Net's The Voice South Africa has gone video viral, with international viewers outside of South Africa's borders clamouring to download episodes illegally - an indication of the "must watch" buzz the local version of the singing reality competition has attracted.

Similar to the way in which the illegal downloads and sharing of the hit fantasy drama Game of Thrones is a good bad problem for HBO to have since it's indicative of highly prized premium content viewers simply feel they have to see, M-Net (DStv 101) now has the same problem with The Voice SA.

People without access to the M-Net channel want to see entire episodes in full and are now going to cyberspace to get and see what they don't have access to.

M-Net executives who originally said The Voice SA will only be for the M-Net channel as its new premium local content production for the year, quickly relented and also scheduled the show for lower-tiered DStv subscribers with episodes now also running on the M-Net City (DStv 115) channel.

International viewers and those without DStv are however as fascinated by the South African version of the red swivel chair show and have taken to the internet to find and download pirated episodes of The Voice SA.

Within hours of the Sunday night broadcast of the first episode of The Voice South Africa three weeks ago the episode was uploaded to numerous online (and illegal) sites. The phenomenon has continued with each of the already aired three episodes becoming available on Monday mornings and shared online very soon after it's broadcast locally.

The last time an international audience became desperate to watch a local South African show was with the first season of Pawn Stars SA on A+E Networks UK's History (DStv 186) in late 2014.

Before that it was also an M-Net show in early 2014 that created must watch cyber buzz when Survivor South Africa: Champions became the first South African show that turned into an online watching and sharing TV sensation as a global audience downloaded and watched pirated episodes.

Asked what M-Net makes of the illegal uploading and downloading of The Voice SA episodes - a show produced by AMPN in conjunction with the international format right holder Talpa international - the pay-TV broadcaster tells TVwithThinus that it's great that the show is loved but that it is damaging to the local TV industry.

"Even though this behaviour illustrates that our audiences love reality shows such as The Voice and want to share it with friends and family, piracy is illegal and potentially damaging to the local television industry," says Lani Lombard, M-Net's head of publicity.

"If The Voice South Africa fans in other countries would like to follow the show, they can find clips of all the performances and highlights of the show on our official online platforms. The website address is ".

OH SO ODD AGAIN: The nominees of the 10th 2016 Saftas is once again not really awarding the best of the best - oh and McDonalds McCafe is a sponsor.

Still evolving after 10 times, The National Film and Video Foundation (NFVF) has announced the nominees for its 2016 South African Film and Television Awards (Saftas) this morning at Monte Casino.

The 2016 Saftas will take place on 18 and 20 March at Gallagher Estate with the second night that will be broadcast on SABC2, this year with SABC3's Expresso presenter Katlegoe Maboe as host.

The NFVF through the Saftas tries to honour the best of South African TV and film, although, like America's Oscars, are marred by ongoing problems and deficiencies in the system, preventing the real best of South Africa's television and film productions to receive Golden Horn trophies.

This year's Saftas nominee list will once again have ordinary South African viewers as well as TV critics and insiders scratching their heads over how the nominees were chosen.

Highly rated shows, meaning they mass market appeal, as well as critical darlings are left out in virtually all of the categories in favour of a collection of names, shows and on-screen talent a lot of people don't know.

Add in McDonalds this year as a weird sponsor for its McCafe coffee brand for the Saftas and you can get somewhat of a feel of how never quite on point and off key the Saftas actually are.

Leading with 11 nominations is the satirical show ZA News: Puppet Nation on StarSat with 11 nominations, followed by 9 nominations for the SABC3 mockumentary Those Who Can’t.

The made-for-TV movies Rise and Ingoma, as well as the TV comedy Kota Life Crisis all got 8 nominations.

The soap dramas Saints and Sinners (Mzansi Magic) and isiBaya (Mzansi Magic) each got 7 nominations, with 6 nominations each for Isidingo (SABC3) and Ashes to Ashes (

Five nominations each went to Rhythm City (, The Gift and While You Weren’t Looking. The feature film Ayanda also earned five nods.

"These nominations not only honour extraordinary achievements but they serve as an incredibly helpful guide to the best of the best of what's out there for our television viewers and ticket buyers," says Zama Mkosi, NFVF CEO.

"We always encourage the creative community to show us their best work and South African audiences will award them for it."

The NFVF and Saftas organising and judging committee lacks credible, expert people who watches a lot and knows television and film (and those people do exist) - it leads to the problem where the Saftas judges are dependent on judging work that's entered and episodes that are entered - instead of them themselves casting, through knowing, a wide net and picking and including what's great.

The result is that over-eager producers, actors and production companies enter (often less than stellar) work, out of which shortlists and nominees are chosen. Better work often exists, but it's not recognised.

By the time you have advertiser-funded productions (so-called AFP's) not only eligible but actually being nominees in categories - shows that's primarily sponsor driven and in fact long TV commercials masquerading as TV shows - it's not really the best of what South African television has to offer.

Sadly there's once again more wrong than right with the latest nominees for the 10th Saftas - as if those who produce the list, inhabit in some other reality than the real reality where common sense should prevail even in the fickle, superficial world of film and television.

Where's the bigger diversity, more of the real gems, the more balanced nominees in several categories?

Sadly, nobody really speaks up - neither those nominated and playing the game, and those who don't know better - in a form of collusion which results in the Saftas never really actually getting better and improving.

The Saftas nominees list and categories for 2016 are once again unbalanced - its obvious to see, but nobody speaks up about it.

People and shows that should be on it are not and people and shows that shouldn't be on it are - it's a problem because it speaks to the credibility and reputation and veracity of what we as South Africa push forward and wants to say "this is our best".

In the same way that McCafe isn't the best coffee in South Africa but the NFVF and the Saftas are fine to go with it as a sponsor and attach it to the awards, the "best of the best" that Zama Mkosi speaks of, isn't really, really being reflected in the Saftas 2016 nominees list.

Just because you say something (ask Donald Trump), doesn't make it true.

It remains incredibly painful to know that often lesser work is being rewarded when there's a multitude of really hard-working and brilliant people working in television and film in South Africa who are not getting their rightful due, reward and moment in the spotlight.

Diamond River Hunters, filmed in Lesotho, starting on Discovery Channel on 29 February as it follows Peter Jago and his maverick team of diamond seekers.

A new series, Diamond River Hunters filmed in Lesotho, is set to start on Discovery Channel (DStv 121) on Monday 29 February at 21:00.

Diamond River Hunters follows the entrepreneur and adventurer, Peter Jago, on a mission with his team to search for alluvial diamonds and gemstones washed into the hidden river valleys of Lesotho.

These mavericks and their dangerous mining operation are looking to find diamonds by pumping them out of the river while they battle brutal weather, terrible terrain, tribal politics and fiery tempers.

Google Play Movies launches in South Africa and Southern Africa as the latest video-on-demand (VOD) entrant but with no access to TV series catalogue.

Google has launched its Google Play Movies video-on-demand (VOD) service in South Africa, although the service only offers films and no TV shows and series.

Google Play Movies adds to the existing competition of Naspers' ShowMax, Netflix South Africa, MTN's VU and PCCW Global's which inexplicably went offline on Wednesday with service which was restored later.

Google Play Movies launched in Southern Africa with the VOD service that's also available in neighbouring countries like Botswana, Namibia, Zimbabwe, Mauritius, Uganda, Tanzania and Zambia.

TV shows are not available in South Africa through Google Play Movies yet but is available in the United States and Canada, the United Kingdom, Australia, France, Germany and Japan.

The access to Google Play Movies comes two months after the launch of Google Play Music that gives users access to millions of songs, including South African music, at a rental fee of R59.99 per month.

Older titles on Google Movies Play cost R11.99 with newer titles costing R34.99. Renting a movie gives a user access to it for 48 hours once you start watching.

Movie titles on Google Movies Play can also be bought ranging from R39.99 to R149.99. Google Movies Play is available through the Google Play website, as well on Android and iOS through the Google Play Movies app.

Izelle Venter takes over as new channel head of VIA from March; Afrikaans female interest channel will start selling commercials through DStv Media Sales soon.

Izelle Venter is becoming the new channel head of VIA (DStv 147) from 1 March, taking over from Cheryl Uys-Allie whose one-year contract is ending and who is leaving the channel.

Izelle Venter has been the editor of Media24's editorial solutions team and launched the VIA channel primarily aimed at Afrikaans female viewers in November 2015.

VIA will start selling commercials from March through MultiChoice's advertising division, DStv Media Sales.

"We are delighted that Izelle Venter, whose many skills include an instinctive understanding of various audiences, has agreed to step up to the plate," says Esmaré Weideman, Media24 CEO.

"The knowledge I have gained of the diverse Afrikaans audiences is the main reason I am able to take on this wonderful challenge," says Izelle Venter.

"I'm looking forward to building the channel with the help of our experienced VIA team as well as our loyal producers".