Tuesday, May 31, 2016

BREAKING. eNCA staff unhappiness continues as reporter Nontobeko Sibisi slams eNCA for self-censorship after she's told her story's canned for wearing a 'doek'.

Ongoing staff unhappiness and resentment behind the scenes at eNCA (DStv 403) continue to make waves at the eMedia Investments 24-hour TV news channel where the arts and entertainment reporter Nontobeko Sibisi has lashed out at eNCA's self-censorship for canning her story in which she appears wearing an African head dress, also known as a "doek".

Nontobeko Sibisi, in a public letter to colleagues, lashed out at eNCA management, saying a sub editor told her that her story on Africa Day will not be broadcast and was dumped because she appears in it with a doek.

eNCA's shocking self-censoring ironically comes less than a week after eNCA's editor-in-chief Anton Harber slammed the SABC's decision to self-censor public protest coverage and said that people have a right to the full story. "We need to respect the intelligence of our audience and viewers," said Anton Harber.

Trend wise, Nontobeko Sibisi's letter interestingly comes, and continues, the new trend where news channel staff - some at eNCA over the past few months and several more occuring at Infinity Media's Gupta-owned ANN7 (DStv 405) - have berated their bosses over bad management decisions in letters that become public and damage the news channels' brands and reputations.

Nontobeko Sibisi's open letter is the latest in a string of incidents that's shedding a light on some of the persistent staff acrimony behind the scenes at eNCA where an ongoing atmosphere of unhappiness persists since eNCA's dramatic downsizing and staff exodus started just over a year ago.

In May Afrikaans reporters at eNCA for the eNuus service done for kykNET (DStv 144) resigned amidst claims of alleged bullying by a superior in the newsroom. Two are now going to return and the executive has been moved away with Freek Robinson taking over as acting head.

Over several years, and a continuing occurence on the channel, eNCA reporters have often embedded and made themselves part of the story - sometimes too much a part - with reporters who have appeared in a speedo while another even dangled and draped a snake around her.

With many more examples that exist in the eNCA video archives, Nontobeko Sibisi (known for her "Nonto Cam" stylistic add-on graphics in some of her filed stories) appearing with a head covering, had her story canned because her on-air look apparently went too far for eNCA bosses.

In February this year, a now fired eNCA technical director, also slammed eNCA and one of the allegations that the Communication Workers Union (CWU) made in Modise Morobane's case was that "black reporters are not allowed to wear 'doeks' or African head scarves on-air" at eNCA.

Nontobeko Sibisi slams eNCA for the "unjustifiable unjustice that happened to me in this [eNCA] newsroom", saying "because of 9 seconds of an about three minute piece I appear wearing a doek - the story was taken off air without my knowledge."

"I was informed of this decision by a sub editor in passing."

In the story Nontobeko Sibisi interviewed musicians from South Africa, Nigeria and Zimbabwe for Africa Day.

In the scathing letter Nontobeko Sibisi puts eNCA on public blast, slamming the news channel where she works for its alleged "lack of communication and the unprofessional channels taken" and as a place where wearing a head covering is "offensive enough to warrant a story being taken off air without any clear communicated justification".

"Some of us have been half naked on TV, in PJs, gowns, ballet tutu's, speedos, boxing gear, all fitting to a particular context – yet somehow a doek was offensive enough during a very significant and celebratory day and month in our continent," wrote Nontobeko Sibisi.

"There is unfairness, unprofessionalism, inconsistent application of the 'rules', an intentional lack of communication and and unjustifiable recourse."

"Personally this is one of the most shocking and gravely disappointing actions I've experienced at eNCA, during African celebrations - it's discomforting to watch happening in a country like ours, in an 'eFamily' newsroom, that 'encourages cultural diversity' ".

Nontobeko Sibisi said she found the incident "highly offensive" and wanted to "put it out there because this could happen to anyone and I genuinely believe we need all need to have serious, frank and open and transparent conversations".

 eNCA reporter Phakamile Hlubi who herself appeared with a snake once  said: "I'm appalled. This is completely unacceptable. eNCA's style guide is unAfrican and in my view unconstitutional. It needs to be rewritten".

"You can't tell me that in a country where respect for culture and religion is paramount in the constitution, an organisation can adopt a clothing policy that violates these rights".

TVwithThinus asked eNCA for comment late on Tuesday night.

Anton Harber, eNCA editor-in-chief says: "Having watched the insert, I have no problem with the headgear Nontobeko wore for her Africa Day piece".

"When I recently arrived at eNCA, one of the first things raised with me was a concern that our policy in this regard needed to be reviewed and updated".

"Our policy is a conventional television channel policy which discourages all kinds of headgear, including scarfs, alice bands, large ear-rings etc. It is clear that there are strong views on this among our staff and we have started a process to review the policy to embrace our country's diversity and the principles of our Constitution, and to give clarity on what is appropriate on air".

BREAKING. SABC boss Hlaudi Motsoeneng extends 90% local content quota to SABC TV channels, starting with 80% on SABC3 from 1 July.

The SABC's chief operating officer (COO) Hlaudi Motsoeneng on Tuesday announced a concerted drive to rid the public broadcaster's TV channels of its remaining international content, saying that the 90% local content quota announced for radio will now be extended to its TV channels.

The SABC will start with an 80% local content makeover for SABC3 from 1 July.

The change for SABC3 comes just three months after the SABC in February announced changes for SABC3 and its other two TV channels. It's not clear why the SABC made a big announcement three months ago, only to announce yet another round of wholesale changes at the end of May.

While no SABC3 schedule for July was released, the move looks ominous for viewers who tune in for international content on the SABC's only commercial TV station where long running weekday soaps like The Bold and the Beautiful and Days of Our Lives are the number one and number three most watched shows on the channel above local fare like IsidingoHigh Rollers and Top Billing.

The expected move is also likely to prompt commercial broadcasters like M-Net and e.tv to pounce and snap up popular international fare like Survivor, The Amazing Race and some of the last remaining international series still on the SABC3 schedule that the SABC might be doing away with.

The SABC TV announcement and the 80% local content quota for SABC3 comes comes three weeks after Hlaudi Motsoeneng's edict of 90% needletime for local music on the SABC's radio stations.

In the staged announcement also attended by Jimi Matthews, acting SABC CEO and Verona Duwarkah, the SABC's head of television, the public broadcaster announced new production contracts for new producers to make local TV content for the public broadcaster.

The announcement follows Hlaudi Motsoeneng's announcement earlier this month that the SABC will start an additional four "language-based" TV channels at a cost of R2 billion - R500 million per channel.

The SABC will be adding 27 emerging producers to make new shows for the SABC's TV channels with celebrities like the fired Generations stars Sophie Ndaba and Winnie Mashaba coming back to the public broadcaster as producers, as well as Khanyi Mbau whose hit e.tv talk show Katch It with Khanyi was cancelled.

Verona Duwarkah said SABC3 could even see 100% local content in the future.

"At the moment the talent that we introduced today is for the current channels largely for SABC3 because that is where we want to revamp the schedule to more local content. Half the schedule is about local content already".

Hlaudi Motsoeneng said: "The team that I work with, they should walk like me and talk like me - that is what I am expecting from them".

"That is how I run the organisation, because we need to sing one song at the SABC and that song should be sung by everybody within the organisation. And we're not apologetic about it."

Hlaudi Motsoeneng said: "We have given instructions. The how is not my business. From July 1 we should see a different SABC. I think it's achievable. We are going to get rid of content that is no longer working for SABC3. There is no way that it can't happen, it's happening".

Hlaudi Motsoeneng approves shows himself to help cut through SABC backlog.

"When you come to me I will respond now. If you impress me it's 'yes'. If not, it's 'no' and you should know not to come back," Hlaudi Motsoeneng said.

Hlaudi Motsoeneng told producers that "I'm also aware some of people are taking chance. You need to give us quality content.You need to give us content that we able to attract an audience. And if we don't attract audience there's no reason why we should keep such content on our platform."

"Make sure when you do business with us, you give us quality. But it's also important that you have Venda dramas, soapies and so on and so on. Afrikaans also. And other different languages."

"When we think, we think about English. When we talk we talk English. I don't understand why most people will write dramas and soapies in English. But I think we have to be proud about our own African languages."

BREAKING. e.tv wins digital TV box encryption case as Supreme Court of Appeal slams minister Faith Muthambi's policy change as 'confused', 'irrational'.

e.tv has won its court appeal over the South African government's controversial digital terrestrial television (DTT) policy, once again throwing the long-delayed switch to digital TV into further turmoil.

The Supreme Court of Appeal (SCA) in its scathing judgment slammed the minister of communications, Faith Muthambi, as "confused", her decisions as "irrational" and found that she failed to consult South Africa's broadcasters and TV industry properly over multiple changes to the country's digital TV migration policy, most notably a far-reaching decision to allow for non-encrypted decoders.

In the switch from analogue to digital TV, a process known as digital migration, South African TV households have to buy a new set-top box (STB) for around R800 (households earning less than R3200 get a subsidised free box) to keep watching free-to-air TV channels like the SABC and e.tv which will in addition to their existing channel offering start additional channels.

After the original DTT policy said STBs will be encrypted and contain what is known as conditional access (CA), a form of STB control similar to a M-Net decoder, Faith Muthambi suddenly announced that free-to-air services will have non-encrypted decoders.

MultiChoice and the SABC - with the SABC now producing channels for DStv in a contract worth hundreds of millions of rand - supported the decision on non-encryption for free-to-air TV channels' offering.

e.tv was against the decision and argued that it won't be able to compete since it won't be able to provide high definition (HD) channels and premium content because premium content providers, especially international suppliers, won't readily give content to a broadcaster who can't limit possible piracy.

e.tv, together with the public broadcasting civil society groups SOS Coalition, Media Monitoring Africa (MMA) and the industry body Namec took minister Faith Muthambi to court and the North High Court found in the department of communications' favour.

e.tv however decided to appeal the decision and now the Supreme Court of Appeal has found in e.tv's favour.

This comes after the department of communications already ordered 1.5 million non-encrypted STBs from various local manufacturers - decoders that don't contain conditional access hardware and software.

The judgment means more disruption in the process already long-delayed with the South African government that has, after years of court battles, infighting, scandals, constant regulatory changes and bureaucratic bungling missed the internationally agreed to deadline of June 2015 by which to complete the process. In South Africa the commercial DTT phase has not even begun.

The Supreme Court of Appeal slammed Faith Muthambi's decisions as "irrational", saying she misunderstood the massive impact of the non-encryption signal issue on South Africa's TV industry.

The Supreme Court of Appeal in its scathing judgment also slammed Faith Muthambi for failing to properly consult with the TV industry and broadcasters.

"Minister Faith Muthambi's failure to consult, based upon her misunderstanding of what the 2015 amendment signified, was taken in a procedurally unfair manner, and was irrational," says the Supreme Court of Appeal in its judgment that finds that e.tv would be unable to compete with pay-TV providers.

"The Minister's confusion as to the effect of the amendment shows its irrationality, and for that reason too it is in breach of the principle of legality and invalid. The appeal must succeed on the ground that the amendment was made in an irrational and thus unlawful manner and is inherently irrational as well".

The judgment founds that Faith Muthambi failed to consult properly with South Africa's broadcasting regulator, the Independent Communications Authority of South Africa (Icasa), the Universal Service & Access Agency of South Africa (Usaasa), and broadcasters like e.tv and others over the change to non-encryption for the digital TV regulations change.

"The failure by minister Faith Muthambi to consult Icasa and Usaasa is even more egregious given their statutory duties. So, too, the failure to consult the appellants (e.tv and others), all of whom had an interest in the policy, was quite simply irrational."

e.tv's spokesman Vasili Vass told TVwithThinus that the broadcaster is working on a statement.

In a statement from the SOS Coalition and MMA the groups say "this judgment is not only a victory for e.tv, ourselves and and the people of South Africa in respect of the benefits they will derive from government-manufactured STBs outfitted with encryption technology. It is also a victory for our constitutional democracy."

In a statement Faith Muthambi's spokesperson Mish Molakeng says "The Supreme Court of Appeal has not ordered the reversal of the broadcasting digital migration policy or interdicted the implementation of this key national project."

"Digital terrestrial television (DTT) has the potential to radically transform the value chain of the broadcasting and telecommunications systems, thereby creating a new industry trajectory that will assist in addressing the triple challenge of poverty, unemployment and inequality."

"Noting this judgement, on Friday June 3, Minister Faith Muthambi will be in Kwaggafontein in Mpumalanga driving registration for set-top-boxes for qualifying television owning households."

Find the full Supreme Court of Appeal judgment below:

M-Net beefs up the local South African and African content on its Mzansi Bioskop and Mzansi Wethu channels on MultiChoice's DStv from 1 June.

M-Net's Mzansi Bioskop (DStv 164) and Mzansi Wethu (DStv 164) channels on MultiChoice's DStv satellite pay-TV platform a revamp from tomorrow, 1 June.

Mzansi Bioskop, launched in 2013, will now become "the home of original African storytelling" (MultiChoice and M-Net already package and provide the AfricaMagic set of channels as well, also the home of African storytelling).

Mzansi Bioskop will now include a local movie premiere slot from Mondays to Fridays at 18:00.

On Friday nights at 19:00 Mzansi Bioskop will broadcast a classic African film.

On Saturdays and Sundays Mzansi Bioskop will show a popular South African film at 18:00, with  a Saturday blockbuster film premiere at 20:30 alongside themed evening slots.

"We've unearthed new creative talent – writers, directors, actors and others in the South African film industry, who have responded to our call for homegrown stories," says Victor Koaho, M-Net local entertainment's head of marketing.

"This together with giving existing players in the industry an outlet, means that Mzansi Bioskop is playing an increasingly important role in the healthy state of movie-making in the country."

Mzansi Wethu – the locally-focused general entertainment channel featuring an array of locally produced content  – will see a mix of brand-new productions and popular shows added to its programming.

Sitcoms like Samsokolo and The Mayor will now be broadcast on Mzansi Wethu starting on 21 June at 18:00 and on 27 June at 18:00 respectively. Isibaya from Mzansi Magic remain on Mzansi Wethu as well and viewers will also get reality shows, movies, dramas and telenovelas.

"The two channels Mzansi Bioskop and Mzansi Wethu are of vital importance to us as they are available to the DStv Access, Family and DTT (digital terrestrial television) markets – the fastest growing audience segments in our environment," says Victor Koaho.

"We therefore would like to provide these valued customers the enhanced viewing experience they deserve, which we have no doubt the new look and content strategy will provide them with."

Next channels on StarSat going dark is the NBA TV and NBA TV HD channels from 30 June; taken over exclusively by another pay-TV operator.

NBA TV (StarSat 206) and NBA TV HD (StarSat 207) are the next two channels on On Digital Media (ODM) and StarTimes Media South Africa's StarSat.

The channels are being terminated and going dark on the Woodmead-based satellite pay-TV platform's service on 30 June.

StarSat said the NBA TV channel and its high-definition (HD) version has been taken over exclusively by another pay-TV operator, but TVwithThinus has etablished that it's not MultiChoice and its DStv service.

StarSat didn't tell the media about the latest channels' loss but in response to a media enquiry confirms to me that the NBA channels covering American basketball are indeed going dark on 30 June on StarSat's platform.

The NBA TV channels are going dark two and a half years after it was added in November 2013 to StarSat. The NBA TV HD channel is one of the few HD offered channels actually available on StarSat's HD enabled white set-top box decoder.

StarSat sent an on-screen message to StarSat subscribers informing them of the NBA TV channels' removal on 30 June.

As in the past, StarSat tells its subscribers that the loss of the channels creates an opportunity to acquire other TV channels.

StarSat, even with the backing of China's StarTimes for the past two years, seldom delivers on these promises of replacement and new high-quality channels, with ongoing daily complaints from StarSat subscribers about programming and sound and video quality issues.

"StarSat can confirm that as of 30 June, NBA TV and NBA TV HD will no longer be available on its platform," says the pay-TV provider.

"The decision to close the two channels was taken following the confirmation by FOX who owns the rights to both channels, that they have taken the decision to give another pay-TV platform exclusive broadcast rights."

"StarSat would like to assure its valued subscribers that while these two channels will no longer be available on its platform, it does create an opportunity for the company to acquire other high-quality and entertaining channels for its valued subscribers."

MultiChoice tells me that "MultiChoice is not adding the NBA TV channel to DStv because it was acquired by another entity on the continent".

Monday, May 30, 2016

South Africa's private media who 'just want to report scandals' will be forced to transform say minister of communications, Faith Muthambi.

The minister of communications Faith Muthambi again lashed out at South Africa's press - especially private media - for not reporting on "the good" government is doing, saying that the government is planning to transform private media in the country that's only interested in reporting "scandals".

A rambling Faith Muthambi proclaimed that the Gupta owned The New Age newspaper and the ANN7 news channel on MultiChoice's DStv satellite pay-TV platform are the only media telling government's "good" stories and that president's Jacob Zuma's "biggest crime" is that he has not dealt with South Africa's media monopolies.

Earlier this month in her budget speech in parliament, Faith Muthambi lashed out at South Africa's media, saying "to some media houses their main mission is simply to paint this government as corrupt, hapless and inept", warning that transformation of private print media ownership and the ownership of printing presses are on the cards.

Faith Muthambi, speaking as a panelist at the latest The New Age breakfast briefing in Sandton done in conjunction with the SABC and broadcast on SABC2's Morning Live,  had glowing praise for the SABC, ANN7 (DStv 405) and The New Age newspaper's good coverage and criticised other media who, according to her just want to scandalise "this black-led government".

"Given the current status quo - with regard to these big 4 mainstream media - they've taken a particular position towards government to say then what they're interested on, it is report on the scandals. The good thing that government that is doing they're not interested on reporting that," said Faith Muthambi.

Faith Muthambi also said this "problem" is an issue of private media ownership in South Africa.

The "big 4" private South African media conglomerates Faith Muthambi is referring to are Naspers, Caxton-CTP, Independent News and Media SA (INMSA) and the Times Media Group.

"This black-led government, if its not scandalised, there is noting good that they are doing."

"There are people that of the view that [the Gupta owned] The New Age and ANN7 must be dealt away with. And I can say this the biggest crime this government led by president Zuma has done to deal with this monopolies."

"ANN7 and The New Age they are the only newspaper amongst a group that are able to report the positive thing that's government is doing. So for then, the private media ownership that becomes a problem."

"Now they are not able to reign, in terms of the consumption of the news. And then our people then they get empowered," said Faith Muthambi.

"We want to go to the offensive. It is time that we transform this sector. It's time. So that our people then have options. The right to choose. Unlike what they have been fed with all the time."

Faith Muthambi said "I think we have been talking a lot. It's time for action now".

"The 90% [local radio airplay] one also, that is the route. We are the policy makers.  We had to make sure that SABC does 90%. That should also come across when it comes to community media."

"I want to commend the SABC because through their 19 radio station at least people are able to be empowered, informed and then they're being educated, entertained, and also they understand the type of ... they need to take this or that."

Faith Muthambi reiterated that "we are going to go to the offensive now" and that "when it comes to ownership you see, you will find these black journalists that are there. But for them to progress to own, who own printing companies now?"

"It is time to transform this media industry," she said.

DTT: 'The focus shouldn't on us missing the deadline'
When asked about South Africa's long-delayed switch from analogue to digital terrestrial television (DTT) and how far the government is, Faith Muthambi said "the focus shouldn't on us missing the deadline. We shall just talk about the project. The project is here."

The billion rands project is years late and mired court battles, embarrassing scandals and confusion with South Africa that missed the internationally agreed to deadline of June 2015 to complete the switch-over process.

The government admits it doesn't have enough money to supply all poor families earning less than R3 200 with the government subsidised set-top boxes (STBs) TV households will need to keep watching the existing TV channels and planned new ones the SABC wants to start at a cost of R2 billion.

"As a department I think we have made inroads in make sure that the project moves within the very short space of time. So we shouldn't be focusing much on the delays," said Faith Muthambi.

Friday, May 27, 2016

BREAKING. SABC's Hlaudi Motsoeneng orders immediate censorship of SABC TV news; SABC will no longer show visuals of property destruction during protests.

The SABC's controversial boss Hlaudi Motsoeneng has ordered the immediate censorship of the public broadcaster's news bulletins saying SABC TV news will no longer show any visual of the destruction of property during any public protests.

Hlaudi Motsoeneng says he has taken "this bold decision to show that violent protests are not necessary" because the SABC has a "mandate to educate the citizens".

With looming elections just a few months away, the SABC in a statement says it has "made a decision that it will not show footage of people burning public institutions like schools in any of its news news bulletins with immediate effect" and that "we are not going to provide publicity yo such actions that are destuctive and regressive".

Instead of reporting the news as it happens, the SABC is now taking a editorial censorship aproach to covering the news, says people have the right to "protest and voice their concerns on various issues that they are not happy with but we also do not believe that destruction of property is the best way to voice those grievances". 

According to the SABC "we will not cover people who are destroying public property".

"As a responsible public institution we will not assist these individuals to push their agenda that seeks public attention," says Hlaudi Motsoeneng. "We would like to encourage citizens to protest peacefully without destroying the very same institutions that are needed to restore their dignity".

Besides censoring its own news offering with immediate effect, the SABC is calling on other South African broadcasters and print media to stop broadcasting the destruction of property during protests with the SABC saying it wants other media to "stand in solidarity with the public broadcaster not to cover the violent protests that are on the rise and in turn destroying public institutions".

Thursday, May 26, 2016

MultiChoice Nigeria and NBCUniversal International Networks forced to pull transgendered reality show, I Am Cait, from E! on DStv, censoring it for the entire Africa.

MultiChoice in Nigeria and NBCUniversal International Networks have been forced to pull the second season of I Am Cait from its E! Entertainment channel on DStv after the Nigerian Broadcasting Commission (NBC) ordered it off the air, effectively censoring it for all African viewers since there's only one E! feed on DStv for the continent.

The remaining episodes of the second season of the transgender reality show, I Am Cait have been wiped from E! on DStv in Nigeria but since there's only one E! channel feed, the show is gone for viewers in South Africa as well as every other sub-Saharan African country where the E! channel is carried.

The censorship move, on Africa Day, is the second time within months that Nigeria's broadcasting regulator attacked MultiChoice over what it deems to be proper and not for the satellite pay-TV platform's African subscribers to see.

Nigeria's broadcasting censorship board has now effectively started a precedent where the one country's programming banning decisions directly impacts what viewers in other countries, including South Africa, can and can't see.

While I Am Cait contains no violence, nudity or sex on a pay-TV channel that viewers can block with a parental control function, the show about the transgender journey of Caitlyn Jenner contains ideas that Nigerian authorities don't want people to be exposed to.

In October 2015 the Nigerian Broadcasting Commission (NBC) ordered MultiChoice and Discovery Networks International to remove the transgender reality show I Am Jazz from the TLC Entertainment (DStv 135) channel.

Since Discovery Networks International runs only one TLC Entertainment channel feed for the entire Africa, removing I Am Jazz from the channel's schedule in October meant that the poignant programme about the life struggles of a transgendered was censored for DStv subscribers across the entire Africa, including South Africa.

Now the reality show on E! Entertainment following the transgender journey of Caitlyn Jenner – formerly known as Bruce Jenner – has also been deemed something Nigerians shouldn't be allowed to watch, raising fears of renewed censorship creep in the West African nation.

NBCUniversal International Networks this week removed the remaining episodes from I Am Cait from the May and June schedule on DStv but says it stands by its programming - although nobody in Africa will be able to see the show anymore.

"E! stands by the diverse range of content it produces and broadcasts around the world," NBCUniversal International Networks tells TVwithThinus in a basic statement in response to a media enquiry.

"As an international channel, we recognise that regulatory environments vary across the world and we always seek to comply with regulations in the countries where we broadcast. As this matter relates directly to DStv and the Nigerian regulatory authorities, this issue is for their comment".

NBCU I didn't say whether its scared that the censorship is setting a dangerous precedent for its future programming or whether or how the order to remove I Am Cait will influence what future programming it might want to schedule for the E! channel.

Two weeks ago Justin Stephenson, the vice president for advertising sales for the UK and emerging markets at NBCUniversal International Networks incidentally visited Lagos to speak at DStv Nigeria's Media Sales Showcase about its channels on DStv; the company however declined a media request for a copy of the speech he made.

MultiChoice Africa was asked for comment and clarity on Wednesday afternoon regarding the removal of I Am Cait from E! Entertainment and how the pay-TV operator feels about this. MultiChoice Africa said on Thursday morning it would respond, but hasn't yet at the time of publication. When there's a response it will be added here.

Wednesday, May 25, 2016

The Voice South Africa voting scandal: The surprising reason why M-Net will definitely bring The Voice SA back for a second season.

While pay-TV broadcaster M-Net hasn't announced a second season of The Voice South Africa, the embarrassing voting fiasco that overshadowed Sunday's live finale is ironically the very thing that will make M-Net decide to broadcast a second season.

Viewers are outraged after the online voting platform on Sunday collapsed forcing African Media & Production Network (AMPN) and M-Net to dump the avalanche of viewers' votes and to choose the winner not by whom viewers judged sang the best in the live finale but based only on the votes received by Thursday night.

It was the second voting system breakdown in the show's season with more than 8 000 SMS votes that were not counted in time after M-Net blamed Vodacom for late SMS delivery two weeks ago and is also the reason why M-Net banned SMS voting for Sunday's live finale.

While M-Net described The Voice SA as "a massive success" and touted how songs reached number one on iTunes, it failed to ensure enough capacity for its voting systems in line with the massive audience response for the local version of the show based on the international format from Talpa International.

While M-Net isn't yet publicly committing to a second season, it's now virtually guaranteed that there will be a second season – not despite Sunday's voting scandal but ironically largely because of it.

"The Voice South Africa has been a massive success and we are definitely considering a second season but we can't make a final announcement yet, so we will keep you posted," says Lani Lombard, M-Net's head of publicity.

Proving it can do better
Because of the voting fiasco The Voice SA is virtually guaranteed to be back on M-Net for the same reason that top-tiered restaurants comp a meal after complaints and Mercedes-Benz arrange a replacement vehicle during repairs: brand reputation.

Unlike the SABC for instance that will start but weirdly not continue and properly invest in a show like The X Factor SA, M-Net is not just a premium broadcaster but also a pay-TV broadcaster where exclusivity, brand appeal and premium product are part of the ongoing allure.

It's also part of MultiChoice's DStv line-up where the M-Net channel not only holds the "101" channel position but is supposed to be the "diamond" carrying the most prestige in the entire DStv crown.

In the same way an elite restaurant invites a dining guest back after a bad experience not just to make it up for that specific diner but to signal to its broader client̬le Рthat it doesn't want to potentially lose Рits ongoing commitment to service and quality levels, M-Net will do the same.

It's not just viewers of The Voice SA that M-Net will want to appease by "proving" that it can run and deliver a fault-free second season – it is its production stakeholders where hundred million rand contracts, done in dollar-denominated deals, are done.

M-Net as a premium TV content producer is heavily reliant on bringing local adaptations of buzzy international TV formats and shows to DStv subscribers. 

International format rights holders – from Idols to MasterChef and from Who wants to be a Millionaire? to Survivor – not only have to agree that M-Net can do a show, they have to trust that M-Net can successfully execute a local version without deviating beyond what's allowed and above all do so problem-free and without controversy.

M-Net will highly likely do a second season of The Voice South Africa not just to make up for the loss of trust in being unable to do a fault-free "clean" local version of the international format holder's show, but to actually send a strong corrective signal.

Doing a second season, M-Net wants to show other potential format holders and the international production community that it wants to potentially be in business with  that it can be trusted to do a show and do it right.

There’s also a few other reasons a second season of The Voice SA is a veritable shoe-in.

Pure linear ratings are no longer the only metric deciding a show's fate. While The Voice SA didn't produce boffo viewership during its first season similar to Idols for instance (it was also limited by not being co-shown on DStv’s Mzansi Magic channel), there's other strong supporting data that propels it to return.

·     〓 Remember the massive online voting audience – the same audience that caused The Voice SA’s voting system to crash? It's an engaged audience no money in the world can buy. Besides audience ratings TV shows now also base success on its social media engagement. #TheVoiceSA trended and for a lot of TV these days, that's enough.

d    〓 Don’t forget the throngs of international viewers who pirated episodes of The Voice SA online right from the beginning thanking uploaders for bringing them the "exciting South African version" "that's so good" and who "loved the judges on this version". It means prestige for M-Net, signaling to others that it continues to make content that you simply must see.

      〓 iTunes: What sister M-Net channel kykNET (DStv 144) started, M-Net now also attained – music from a TV show "trending" in terms of listenership through official iTunes downloads. 
       Karen Zoid is incidentally "instrumental" and a part of both. M-Net is not going to suddenly let go of its own new TV vehicle that can make iTunes spike and that helps to tout M-Net's brand as both starmaker and the place where the hot, young things on TV are who you simply have to watch and see.

      〓 Bobby van Jaarveld. Every zoo has its must-see exhibit. The Ritalin-free, jumping-jack, six-pack packed Pokemon yearning to be free became an instant viewer favourite. 
      Animated and telegenic TV talent with just that little bit of unpredictability that force viewers to keep watching to see what someone might do next is more art than science and can't easily be replicated.

Tuesday, May 24, 2016

Get ready for some cray-cray: Empire's Cookie, Taraji P. Henson, set to visit South Africa in June as MultiChoice adds FOX to DStv Compact.

Get ready for some cray-cray: Empire’s Cookie is coming to South Africa.

Taraji P. Henson, known for her over-the-top role as cooky-crazy Cookie Lyon in the drama series Empire on FOX (DStv 125 / StarSat 131) is coming to South Africa in June.

The actress will visit Johannesburg to meet and greet "superfans" while MultiChoice announced that its opening up the FOX channel to all its DStv Compact subscribers permanently from 1 June.

Adding FOX to DStv Compact will help to further increase ratings for the channel from the FOX Networks Group that also supplies channels like National Geographic, FX, Fox Crime to pay-TV operators across Africa.

"We are exceptionally thrilled at the opportunity to bring our content to even wider audiences in Africa so they get to experience the best content that is available on FOX, within hours of the American broadcasts," says Khosi Khanyile, Fox Africa's head of marketing.

"Fans of Empire are definitely in for a treat – Taraji P. Henson has been a fan favourite with South African audiences from the first season."

"During the FOX two-week open window special earlier this year, we received an overwhelming response from our DStv Compact customers who enjoyed the FOX channel line-up," says Aletta Alberts, MultiChoice’s general manager for content.

"We believe that the full-time addition of FOX with its excellent programming will enhance the entertainment experience of our Compact customers."

To co-incide with the star's visit, FOX is rebroadcasting the second season of Empire with double episodes over weekends from 4 June.

Monday, May 23, 2016

M-Net on The Voice South Africa live finale voting scandal: 'We're not exactly sure what went wrong tonight'; blames platform collapse on show's massive success.

M-Net went down for the count on Sunday night when a total voting collapse of its online system marred the live finale of The Voice South Africa in which Richard Stirton was announced the winner and plunged the pay-TV broadcaster and the show into yet another voting scandal with none of the votes made by actual viewers on Sunday that were counted to determine a winner.

M-Net says it doesn't know what went wrong and why the voting system collapsed and that M-Net doesn't know who voted for who on Sunday night: the voting failure due to an avalance of votes is because The Voice South Africa is a victim of its own success.

The result is that viewers didn't chose the winner of The Voice SA on Sunday during the live finale of the reality singing competition as M-Net promised would happen, with only the votes made until the end of Thursday used to determine Richard Stirton as the winner.

Viewers whose data and votes were wasted on Sunday are furious over the The Voice SA voting failure that's highly embarrassing for M-Net and African Media & Production Network (AMPN) that produced the show in conjunction with the international format right holder Talpa international.

The Voice SA's voting collapse comes just two weeks after the show also suffered a voting glitch it blamed on Vodacom, when 8 000 SMS votes were delivered late and forced the show to have 13 instead of 12 contestants after M-Net and auditors Deloitte & Touche said that the "lost" votes could have changed the outcome regarding which contestant got sent home.

Sunday's The Voice SA voting system implosion is the second big voting scandal that's engulfed M-Net. In 2009 M-Net was mired in a viewers' voting scandal when Sasha-Lee Davids was announced as the winner of the 5th season of Idols although Jason Hartman was the real winner with 200 000 more votes that were not counted in time.

Technical voting problems also impacted Idols and the contestants in 2002, and again in the 10th season in 2014.

On Sunday night presenter Lungile Radu suddenly told viewers briefly that no votes made on Sunday will count anymore because of "intermittent" voting platform issues - something that wasn't explained and viewers didn't understand.

Yolisa Phahle, M-Net CEO who attended the live finale, left her seat during the show and didn't return - presumably called to be informed of the unfolding voting crisis.

After the conclusion of Sunday's live finale, no M-Net production executives, M-Net channel head or executive producer were part of the tabled panel for the press conference of The Voice SA as is usual and expected, and has been the case for all M-Net channels' reality competition shows the past few years like Idols, Power Couple SA, MasterChef SA and Survivor SA.

Yolisa Phahle who did appear but stood on the sidelines of the press conference and didn't take any official questions from the press corps on Sunday night.

"Basically The Voice South Africa broke the internet on Sunday night," said Lani Lombard, M-Net's head of publicity, who said M-Net isn't sure of exactly what went wrong and why.

"There was a massive number of votes coming through on our voting platforms and as a result of that - as you know we are a responsible broadcaster - we are always very transparent what is going on in our voting platforms - and we work with our auditors as well, to make sure that the results are fair."

"Because of this we decided to go back to what the results were at the close of voting lines on Thursday night. And that is as per the terms and conditions. So if you go into the terms and conditions, it clearly says that if there are any technical issues, that we will go back to the previous votes."

"Just to make sure that you are absolutely clear about this: Tonight's votes would have been added to this week's votes."

TVwithThinus asked what exactly went wrong and what M-Net and the production did after the voting failure a few weeks ago to pro-actively prevent and if the pay-TV broadcaster shouldn't have enlarged capacity if contestants' songs started breaking online records on iTunes.

"All the issues we've had up until now were on the SMS platform. So that was the reason why we didn't do that as well [SMS voting] on Sunday because we know that the volumes can create a problem. We did test our capacity and quite a lot as well."

"We tested the voting volumes up until 36 000 votes per seconds. We're not exactly sure what went wrong tonight. It was some kind of a technical error somewhere. But we did have tests to make sure that it wouldn't happen. But despite that, it still did."

TVwithThinus asked when on Sunday M-Net and AMPN noticed that there were voting irregularities.

"It happened very soon; literally seconds, minutes after the voting lines opened. Some people did have access to the voting platforms, and others didn't have access," said Lani Lombard.

"People started posting comments on social media, so immediately we started investigating that. There are also backups, so we reverted to the backups to see if we could get it going again but it was too intermittent."

"So because we are a responsible broadcaster and because we're always transparent, we went with the fair option not to make the votes count".

"This is the fairest decision because you don't know how many people voted for who. So it makes it very difficult to make a decision based on guessing work. The best possible thing was to revert back to the roll-over votes made until Thursday."

"It would be impossible to say how many votes went to the other contestants as well. I do think that we saw this week as well that Richard was number one on iTunes, he was extremely popular throughout the competition, and we could just have guessed how the voting would have gone tonight but it probably would have been very similar."

"We would have wanted all of the voting platforms to have worked 100%, so that is unfortunately how it happened," said Lani Lombard.

M-Net said it will release the voting data of votes cast until Thursday later.

Friday, May 20, 2016

ANN7 on DStv in its latest embarrassing on-air gaffe calls Fort Hare university 'Fart Hare' as viewers weigh in about DStv's 'comedy channel'.

The never-ending on-air embarrassment produced by the struggling ANN7 (DStv 405) made South Africans laugh on Friday when the Gupta-owned TV news channel on MultiChoice's DStv satellite pay-TV platform kept showing viewers "Fart Hare" instead of the Fort Hare University.

It's the latest highly embarrassing on-air gaffe from the mistake-riddled DStv channel from Infinity Media that's infamous for its disastrous launch and embarrassing mistakes like "reports suggest plane was shot dead".

On Friday ANN7 treated DStv subscribers with the University of "Fart Hare" where president Jacob Zuma and Zimbabwe's Robert Mugabe were set to appear to mark the embattled tertiary institution's centenary that's been marred by violence and vandalism the past few days.

South African social media users had a ball at ANN7's expense with Chris Snelling saying that ANN7 should be moved "out of news section of DStv and relocated to comedy channels".

"Fartoo many mistakes," said Charles Leonard, while Kenichi Serino said, "Yes, ANN7 has been running a chyron all morning calling the alma mater of Mandela and Robert Mugabe: "Fart Hare"."

"One would have expected ANN7 to have outgrown their startup teething problems! No such luck!" said Lex Middelberg.

"No man, DStv, why do you all let people do this? Fix this," said Sixo.

Earlier this month news surfaced that MultiChoice is reportedly ready to cut ANN7 from DStv in August when the existing contract with Infinity Media runs out due to ongoing complaints from DStv subscribers regarding anchor changes, an inconsistent programming schedule that constantly changes and ongoing widespread on-air mistakes.

MultiChoice told TVwithThinus that reports that MultiChoice is "considering pulling the plug" on ANN7 is "untrue and incorrect".

ANN7 struggles with ongoing dismal viewership on DStv with its viewership that fell in 2016.

According to viewership research by AGB Nielsen Media Research, ANN7 in March 2016 only had a paltry viewership share of 8.83% among MultiChoice's range of news channels on DStv.

That is off from the 10.66% share it had in February 2016 and down from its 10.15% share in March last year.

ANN7 also keeps making headlines for all the wrong reasons for ongoing personnel drama behind the scenes and frequent anchor resignations and abrupt on-air changes.

TV producer Basetsana Kumalo set to sue DRUM magazine after judge denies urgent interdict to prevent magazine from publishing cover story about alleged 'botched liposuction'.

TV producer and South African media mogul Basetsana Kumalo is set to sue DRUM magazine after failing to secure an urgent court interdict to prevent the weekly magazine from publishing an image of one of her children and a story in the latest issue on sale from today alleging that she underwent "botched liposuction".

Basetsana Kumalo, the producer whiz behind shows like Top Billing on SABC3, Pasella on SABC2 and Our Perfect Wedding, Diski Divas and Date My Family on Mzansi Magic (DStv 161) went to court just past midnight this morning to prevent DRUM from publishing images of her son Nathi in a story about her alleged "botched liposuction".

Basetsana Kumalo, a former Miss South Africa popularly known as Bassie, slammed DRUM's story as "defamatory, untrue and malicious". DRUM magazine says it "stand by the cover story".

Basetsana Kumalo and her husband Romeo went to court to try and obtain an urgent court interdict to stop the publication of the article about her alleged medical procedure.

Besides surgery on her recent ankle injury, DRUM reports that she underwent cosmetic surgery as well in a story headlined "Bassie's health scare", saying "Media mogul dices with death, liposuction gone wrong?, internal bleeding".

DRUM says it has "exclusively learned that Basetsana is in a private Johannesburg hospital allegedly for liposuction gone wrong".

Judge Denise Fisher refrained from granting the urgent interdict in the South Gauteng High Court since the image of Nathi was already posted online. Basetsana Kumalo will now launch civil proceedings to sue DRUM for defamation.

"Sadly I couldn't get an urgent interdict on the lies on the lead story that I had 'botched liposuction' as the judge says the horse has bolted and the magazine is already on shelf in Cape Town," says Basetsana Kumalo.

DRUM editor Thandi Mthethwa says the magazine stands by the reporting in the cover story of its latest issue on sale now.

Thursday, May 19, 2016

PLANE SILLY? Another airplane goes missing ... so of course CNN International on DStv goes plane crazy with hours of inanely bad, missing Flight MS804 coverage.

When EgyptAir flight MS804 went missing over the Mediterranean Sea on Thursday something else went missing: coverage of other international news, sport and business news coverage on CNN International (DStv 401).

While there's nothing wrong with covering a missing airplane, it becomes problematic when a TV news channel like CNN International starts to cover one story - almost exclusively - for so long and to the exclusion of other important news.

The CNN International feed switched to the CNN version seen in the United States that basically played like a real-time, live version of a National Geographic Channel Air Crash Investigation episode scenario-ed out.

Even Christiane Amanpour got into the act with an Amanpour devoted to the missing plane (interview details which were refuted and backtracked by the Egyptian government two hours later - basically a missing and wasted half hour of my life that I will never get back.)

After a short Hillary Clinton interview (also taken from CNN in America) that unprofessionally ran over and was abruptly cut short, viewers were then once again returned to missing plane speculation coverage.

While other channels like Sky News (DStv 402) also covered the missing EgyptAir flight MS804, they didn't do so for literally hours at the cost of dropping other news and they balanced it with the day's "normal" offering of various other news events.

it felt as if CNN International (and by implication CNN in America which is basically what CNN International became) unlike the other TV news channels somehow lost all perspective and turned into the "missing airplane channel".

Why does CNN International believe that global viewers want to see so much - and unconfirmed, unending speculation - around one missing plane story?

And who is it who makes this decision? Because it's definitely somewhere, somebody specific, who decided to dump other coverage of other news at the expense of this one specific story.

I love watching television, especially TV news, and tracking various TV channels and what's on them. You really have to go low to bore me to the point where I can't watch a TV channel and not find something that I see and wonder about or that keeps my interest.

However, by the time I feel I cannot keep watching anymore and must change to another channel because of the soul-deadening and repetitive lack of anything new or worthwhile, then it's bad - and that's what happened on Thursday with CNN International's missing EgyptAir flight coverage.

One thing I'm thankful for and that international viewers of CNN can be grateful for however is that CNN International is actually a way better, more balanced, and more nuanced channel than the CNN that American viewers are clearly being "subjected" to.

You don't realise that until you're suddenly forced to watch for hours the speculative chatter and almost pseudo-hype news, bad closed-ended questions ("yes/no" questions) and mindless, bad "experts" that's apparently the CNN version of the United States.

I feel bad for people (in America) who think they're watching news but have to make do with something like The Lead with Jake Tapper that CNN International viewers are occasionally exposed to as happened again on Thursday.

My take-away today was that the CNN version in America has a lot less substance and is filled with a lot more "posturing" - imagine a lot more Wolf-type coverage than International Desk type news.

Does CNN want to condition global viewers than when something happens to an airplane that it's now the de facto "missing / downed / crashed airplane channel"? Who knows?

All I know from watching on Thursday is that what was on CNN International with the missing EgyptAir MS804 was too much.

CNN also had too much of too little: too little information constantly regurgitated, too few actual facts, too much bad CNN America, too much "if's" and "may's" and "likely's" and too many garish red "breaking news" bumper break-in's for trivia titbits what wasn't nearly "breaking news" at all.

Loss-making SABC to increase royalty tariff paid to South African artists for needletime on its radio stations and TV channels from 3.2% to 4%.

The loss-making SABC on Thursday announced that the South African public broadcaster will increase the royalty tariff paid to artists for music content played on the SABC's 18 radio stations and TV channels from 3.2% to 4%.

The announcement of an increase in pay-outs is great news for local established and new South African musicians who will benefit from a bigger payout every time their music is played on public South African airwaves.

The news comes on the back of the SABC's recent decree by its chief operating officer (COO) Hlaudi Motsoeneng of a 90% local music content quota across all 18 of its radio stations that was widely welcomed by South African artists.

The royalty tariff will increase from 3.2% to 4% for artists registered with the Southern African Music Rights Organisation (SAMRO), South African Music Performance Rights Association (SAPRA), Independent Music Performance Rights Association (IMPRA) and the Association of Independent Record Companies (ARIC).

Still problematic however is that besides these four organisations, there's a lot of South African artists who are not registered with any of these bodies.

Also still troubling, is that many South African artists are still waiting on millions of rands in royalty back payments that's not been made.

South African artists also complain about problems regarding effective monitoring and reporting of needletime (which in turn negatively impacts on subsequent payouts).

The increased royalty tariff means more money for South African musicians' pocket but also more money that will have to be paid by the SABC.

The public broadcaster made a loss of R395 million in its latest reported financial year, and recently dramatically announced that it wants to start four new "language-based" TV channels, each of which will cost around R500 million to set up and operate.

Hlaudi Motsoeneng said the SABC is going to pay R1 billion to especially new and emerging local TV producers to create TV content for these channels but didn't specify where the astronomical amount of money is coming from.

"This move [to increase the royalty tariff] is meant to stimulate the music industry, through creating jobs and unearthing new talent. The SABC also wants to restore the dignity of creatives to move away from a situation of creatives in the music industry dying as paupers," says Hlaudi Motsoeneng.

"We're thrilled as SAMPRA by the bold decision taken by the SABC to beat the 3% rate set by the courts and up it to 4%," says Sean Watson, SAMPRA chairperson.

"We are very excited and looking forward to artists' lives changing. We have waited for 30 years for this," says Arthur Mafokate, SAMRO representative.

"On behalf of IMPRA and AIRCO, we are embracing and remain committed and grateful of the announcement from the SABC about 4% needle time payments to us as record companies," says Dodo Monamedi, chairperson of AIRCO and IMPRA.

Besides the increased payout the SABC is also setting money aside to pay a once-off honorarium in July to local South African musicians like Babsy MlangeniSteve Kekana and Letta Mbuli.

Samsung South Africa launches Samsung's new range of ultra-high definition (SUHD) TV's; swimmer Cameron van der Burgh its new brand ambassador.

Despite a stalling South African economy and falling disposable income from South African consumers, Samsung South Africa on Thursday evening held a small media launch in Kramerville for its new range of ultra-high definition (SUHD) TV sets.

Pre-orders for Samsung's new SUHD TV's that has gone bezel-less - and with quantum dot display that results in better high pixel density - start on Friday.

A few hundred people who buy a new 8-series SUHD TV before 26 June will get a Samsung Galaxy S7 smartphone with it.

Samsung South Africa will now be selling and has a recommended retail price for the 65-inch KS9500 SUHD Curved TV (UA65KS9500) of R64,999, 65-inch KS8500 SUHD Curved TV (UA65KS8500) for R54,999 and the 55-inch KS8500 SUHD Curved TV (UA55KS8500) for R32,999.

The new range of SUHD TV's come with one remote that can be programmed to control anything from a DStv decoder to Microsoft XBox.

"Our new SUHD TV's represent our singular focus on innovation that matters most to consumers, by providing the very best picture quality for the home," says Matthew Thackrah, the deputy managing director and head of consumer electronics at Samsung South Africa.

Samsung South Africa that has already produced and distributed 3.2 million TV sets within the South African market, announced swimmer Cameron van der Burgh as its new TV brand ambassador who attended Samsung's local SUHD media launch.

The Samsung SUHD launch event comes on the same day that Bloomberg reported that Samsung has had discussions with entertainment companies about launching its own multi-channel over-the-top TV service.

Samsung asked companies how much they would charge Samsung to carry their TV channels in a bundle over the internet and straight to viewers through Samsung's internet-connected TV sets. In South Africa Samsung for instance already carries services like the ShowMax app from Naspers.

"Our approach is to continue to develop strategic collaborations with content partners rather than compete with them," Samsung said in a statement.

M-Net and MultiChoice adding new film pop-up channel, M-Net Movies Blackout, for the month of June to DStv with 170 movies focusing on black Hollywood stars.

M-Net and MultiChoice is adding a new film pop-up channel, M-Net Movies Blackout to DStv for the month of June for DStv Premium subscribers that will focus on black Hollywood stars.

M-Net Movies Blackout is the first of two pop-up channels that M-Net Movies will be running on DStv in the current financial year.

M-Net Movies Blackout will start on 3 June and run until midnight on Thursday, 30 June on DStv channel 109 for DStv Premium subscribers in South Africa and across Africa.

M-Net Movies Blackout will broadcast for 18 hours per day and show 170 films that include black American actors like Will Smith, Whoopi Goldberg, Kevin Hart, Tyler Perry, Wesley Snipes, Viola Davis, Morris Chestnut, Martin Lawrence, Mia Long, Vivica A. Fox and Zoe Saldana.

Some of the films that will be shown on M-Net Movies Blackout include Wild Wild West, Diary of a Mad Black Woman, Bad Boys 2, Madea’s Witness ProtectionGet Hard, Fast & Furious 7, The Wedding Ringer and Ride Along

On Youth Day on 16 June, M-Net Movies Blackout will show local South African films with black stars that will include Jerusalema, Black Nativity, City of Violence, JoziTrevor Noah's comedy stand-up special Trevor Noah It’s My Culture and a first-run stand-up special, #VernacAttack

M-Net says it's "putting an exciting, positive spin on the word 'blackout'. Instead of reaching for a torch, or lighting some candles, the word will inspire MultiChoice's DStv Premium customers to check-in at channel 109".

M-Net Movies Blackout will celebrate the contribution of black American actors in Hollywood and comes in the year that saw The Academy Awards being criticised for its lack of diversity in Oscars nominations in a "Oscars So White" campaign.

"Pop-up channels are currently all the rage worldwide and by creating these channels, it grants us an opportunity to curate available content for the enjoyment of viewers with different tastes," says Jan du Plessis, the director for M-Net channels.

"While movies with phenomenal African American talent are often scattered across our various channels, this will be the first time you’ll find them all on one channel".

Some of the films will also be made available on MultiChoice's DStv Catch Up service.

The SABC as a public broadcaster has spent R733 930 in the past 2 years on buying the Gupta family's The New Age newspaper, 3 times as much as in 2011.

The SABC has spent R733 930 in just the past 2 years on buying copies of The New Age newspaper - SABC TV licence payers' money spent by the SABC, that's a public broadcaster, to buy print newspapers.

According the the minister of communications, Faith Muthambi, "the SABC had concluded contracts with The New Age for newspaper subscriptions at a cost of R733 930 since May 2014 to date".

Faith Muthambi's response was to a parliamentary question from the Democratic Alliance (DA) political party.

"This amounts to a tripling in the SABC's financial support of The New Age from R238 356.52 in 2011‚" said the DA's Phumzile van Damme.

"It is deplorable that the SABC has completely disregarded the finance minister's calls for austerity in order to financially anchor a newspaper with paltry readership, owned by the friends of president Jacob Zuma," says Phumzile van Damme  in a statement.

"I will be urging Faith Muthambi to instruct the SABC COO, Hlaudi Motsoeneng, to withdraw any active subscriptions with The New Age."

"The SABC's funds should be focused on growing the national broadcasters capacity and providing viewers with quality programming and not endless repeats."

"The gross extent of state capture by the Gupta's is robbing our economy of alleviating poverty and unemployment in our economy."

"We will continue to fight to hold those responsible for wasteful spending at the SABC accountable. The people of South Africa need a national broadcaster that does not only serve the ANC cabal but all communities in our country," Phumzile van Damme  said. 

The New Age newspaper is owned by the controversial Gupta family and the SABC broadcasts The New Age breakfast briefings on SABC2's Morning Live in a TNA Media trade deal.

The SABC broadcasts the breakfast briefings and says it gets content, while TNA Media has to pay for and organise the catering and venue and find sponsors.

Katlegoe Maboe and Minnie Dlamini to present E! red carpet special from the South African Music Awards; will E! in its 2nd local try-out come to play ... or push?

Katlegoe Maboe and Minnie Dlamini will be the presenters for E! Entertainment's (DStv 124) second South African red carpet TV special, this time covering the upcoming 2016 South African Music Awards (Samas) on 4 June in Durban.

Meanwhile insiders are wondering whether E!'s next upcoming red carpet initiative in South Africa is going to be the same want-to-take-over and pushy behind-the-scenes bitch fest that was observed a few weeks ago.

The channel from NBCUniversal International Networks available on MultiChoice's DStv satellite pay-TV platform in South Africa and across Africa recently did its very first local red carpet coverage from its end of the carpet corner at the 10th South African Film and Television Awards in Johannesburg on 20 March.

Interestingly, TV critics, media and the usual "fashion police" press who were present behind the red rope, in the trenches with E!, and mostly used to everything, couldn't help but stare.

While Idols judge Somizi Mhlongo and entertainment reporter Nadia Neophytou were the Saftas' two official red carpet presenters from a modest square podium midway alongside the red carpet, E! basically looked as if it tried to take over with a massive head-end section hogging the end point and annexing the entrance where Bonang Matheba and Maps Maponyane were the E! Beyond the Red Carpet: Saftas presenters.

The visibly stressed and pushy behind-the scenes E! crew were observed being very rude and verbally aggressive (some complete with British accent) to several people on the red carpet and other members of the South African press situated alongside the red carpet as celebrities, TV executives and media made their way to the entrance.

E!'s OCD behaviour in and around its demarcated red carpet pen was in stark contrast to the other press and TV channels like the SABC, SABC News, ANN7, e.tv and others that also covered the event and exhibited the usual level and moments of friendly banter and helpful fraternising although they're competitors.

Ironically, the rude E! behaviour happened while the official Saftas presenters Somizi Mhlongo and Nadia Neophytou and crew actually had more stress since they were covering the Saftas as a recorded and delayed-live broadcast on SABC2.

The NBCUniversal International Networks production was recorded for playout not live but only for two days later on E! Entertainment. E! had the luxury of being able to edit - the official pre-show not so much.

Observers remarked that the overt aggressiveness and producers literally seen pushing people out of the way on the red carpet trying to "ensure" better side and background shots was probably because it was E!'s first time doing a South African red carpet and wanting to "quality control" as many aspects for the final visuals as possible.

South African press will now watch E! to see whether it comes to play or push again when Minnie Dlamini and Katlegoe Maboe present E!: Beyond the Red Carpet: SAMAs.

E!: Beyond the Red Carpet: SAMAs will be recorded on Saturday 4 June at the Durban International Convention Centre and will be broadcast 3 days later on E! Entertainment on 7 June at 20:00.

E! calls it an "exclusive red carpet ride" although its highly unlikely that the NBCUniversal International Networks channel will be the only actual TV channel there for red carpet coverage since red carpet visuals of the SAMAs the past few years have annually been shown on several South African channels.

E! says E! Beyond the Red Carpet: SAMAs will "take viewers into the heart of the red carpet action and beyond" with fans that can "look forward to fun interviews with South Africa's hottest A-listers and the rising stars of the local music scene, plus an exclusive sneak peek behind the scenes of this hotly anticipated awards ceremony".