Thursday, December 28, 2017

Do MultiChoice Call Centre staffers need sensitivity training? After a mom with a Down syndrome child complains about Tumi Morake's Down syndrome 'joke' on Comedy Central, MultiChoice asks her if she would have reacted the same way if she went to the recording of the show.

MultiChoice Call Centre staffers in Randburg are seriously in need of some urgent sensitivity training after a DStv helpline operator had the audacity to ask a mother with a Down syndrome child who called and complained about Tumi Morake's crass Comedy Central's (DStv 122) Down syndrome joke, if she would have laughed if she went to the recording of the show.

Meanwhile MultiChoice and Comedy Central continues to broadcast the Comedy Central Roast Battle with comedian Tumi Morake's degrading Down syndrome "joke". 

Several complaints have been lodged by parents with Down syndrome children at the Broadcasting Complaints Commission of South Africa (BCCSA) against Viacom International Media Networks Africa's (VIMN Africa) Comedy Central and MultiChoice's DStv.

The BCCSA case will be heard in early 2018.

In Comedy Central's Comedy Central Roast Battle, Tumi Morake filth-slammed comedian Schalk Bezuidenhout, saying "You are two p- klaps away from Down syndrome, bitch".

Tumi Morake has apologised on social media in a Facebook posting, but angry and upset parents who are also DStv subscribers say that's not enough and have also called MultiChoice to complain.

When mother of as 12-year old Down syndrome child, Baatile Mofokeng from Atteridgeville called the MultiChoice Call Centre and complained about the Comedy Central episode, the MultiChoice Call Centre operator apparently asked her if she would have complained and reacted the same way if she went to the actual recording of the show.

SABC quietly readvertises its CEO and CFO positions; says the broadcaster is 'experiencing a slow but steady economic recovery'.

The SABC is quietly readvertising for the permanent positions of the CEO and chief financial officer (CFO) at the cash-strapped public broadcaster.

Talent Africa, a member of Signium, is contracted as the recruitment agency for the two senior SABC positions and the closing date for applications is 31 January 2018. People who want more information can call Mosima Selekisho at 011 771 4800.

The CEO and CFO positions as fixed 5-year contracts are being advertised on the SABC's website at but there's not been any press release from the broadcaster alerting the public that the positions are being advertised again during the quiet end-of-year period when the bulk of high-powered executives are on leave and taking time off for the holiday.

The new advertising for the CEO and CFO vacancies comes after a new scandal erupted at the SABC last month when Rachel Kalidass abruptly resigned as SABC board member out of protest and said she's leaving because of undue pressure by upper echelons to make a forced appointment of the controversial former Land Bank managing director Alan Mukoki as new SABC CEO.

According to Rachel Kalidass, the new permanent SABC board under chairperson Bongumusa Makhathini has been hell-bent on getting Alan Mukoki appointed as SABC CEO.

Rachel Kalidass said that she feels she was being victimised as a SABC board member for voicing dissent to Alan Mukoki's appointment, and said in her shocking resignation letter that the SABC board decided to create a "cleaning up committee to deal with the bad publicity" when news comes that Alan Mukoki is getting appointed as the new SABC CEO.

The second-in-charge position of COO at the SABC - formerly held by the controversial Hlaudi Motsoeneng - has not been advertised, with Bessie Tugwana currently occupying the acting COO position and who has been accused of being one of the remaining "Hlaudi enforcers" at the embattled public broadcaster.

Nomsa Philiso is currently continuing as the acting SABC CEO with Thabile Dlamini as the acting CFO.

For the CEO position the SABC wants someone with a masters degree, preferably a MBA, and a decade's worth of senior management experience.

For the CFO position the broadcaster reveals that the SABC "is experiencing a slow but steady economic recovery but it will continue to be challenged in meeting ongoing demands placed on it by the public mandate and the demands of migration to digital broadcasting".

The SABC says the new permanent CFO will have to find "creative ways of funding the strategy of the corporation". The CFO must be a qualified chartered accountant also with at least a decade's experience in budgeting, financial analysis and accounting.

Wednesday, December 27, 2017

Why did M-Net and MultiChoice really kill off M-Net Edge, was the edgy channel with all the hottest shows on DStv a victim of its own success?

Was the killed-off M-Net Edge (DStv 102) channel on MultiChoice's DStv satellite TV platform that got snuffed out at the end of March this year a victim of its own success?

Why exactly was M-Net Edge abruptly shut down at the end of March 2017 not even 3 years after it launched in late 2014? Did it "overshadow" M-Net (DStv 101) that's supposed to be the most premium, hottest and sought-after channel on DStv?

Why did M-Net in 2017 do a Cersei on M-Net Edge that became DStv's Daenerys channel with all the real must-watch shows like Game of Thrones?

During its almost 3 year existence, M-Net's M-Net Edge channel on DStv quickly became just like that rule-breaking, cool, older uncle with too long hair, that smoked, that would let you sit in the front as a little kid without a seatbelt on, allowed you a small sip of his wine so you know how it tasted and went ahead and bought ice-creams or did a detour through the McDonalds drive-thru on the outing although your parents specifically said no treats.

Sadly, M-Net Edge got a knife in the back 9 months ago - poetic justice similar to its risque, raunchy and edgy TV content where "Express from the US" titles arrived and were shown very quickly at the same time as in America.

Is M-Net Edge's demise due to this on-air Icarus who flew too quickly, too close to MultiChoice's kaleidoscopic sun?

TVwithThinus asked Yolisa Phahle - earlier this year still M-Net CEO and promoted since mid-November to CEO of general entertainment at MultiChoice - if M-Net Edge was shut down because the channel became problematic for M-Net and a victim of its own success.

"The issue is that people don't want to watch repeats. People's viewing habits have changed; linear TV viewing is no longer king. So we've seen, increasingly, that Catch-Up viewing has become as important as linear [viewing]".

"That means that when people go to linear TV, they only want to see fresh content. Historically M-Net Edge as a channel did have fresh content, but also on that channel were repeats."

"When we actually did the analysis, we realised that the content that people were really enjoying was that premium premiere content whether it was the mini-series The Night Of, or The Affair or any of those incredible series. Those are the shows that people wanted to watch," said Yolisa Phahle.

"But when it was a repeat, or when it was a repeat of another piece of content, the ratings weren't there. So the content is hugely successful, but it [repeats] was irritating DStv subscribers in a way."

Yolisa Phahle said although M-Net Edge was taken away, M-Net has been extremely careful not to reduce the number of hours of premium, premiere content.

"There are many great TV series being made now. We just reduced the number of repeats."

"We continue to develop DStv Catch Up to make sure that some content even premiere first on Catch Up as we just want to move away from the repeat sort of historical strategy around pay-TV in South Africa," said Yolisa Phahle.

IMPROVEMENT IN THE CITY. An M-Net also-ran channel that you've been discarding, has slowly been improving and now even has first-run series. How M-Net City on DStv has quietly been revamping its offering as an action and procedural series channel.

M-Net City (DStv 115) on MultiChoice's DStv satellite pay-TV platform has quietly been revamping the past few months - even starting to include premium, first-run TV series in blink-and-you-might-miss-it scheduling improvements, making M-Net City no longer a skip-over, missing-nothing channel.

M-Net and DStv has quietly been repositioning M-Net City as no longer just a "rerun" channel, ever so carefully tweaking it as a channel destination in itself - one that will now specialise more and more in becoming an action and procedural TV series channel on DStv's offering.

M-Net executives have been working this year on improving M-Net City's image and status under DStv subscribers as a discarded "been-there, seen-that" channel, populating the channel's schedule and redirecting several high-quality shows straight to M-Net City with series that actually premiere on the channel as new, first-run content.

M-Net City is a rebrand of its low-go predecessor M-Net Series Zone meant for lower-tiered DStv subscribers who got to see TV shows in a later roll-out window, with a longer waiting period, a few months after its been on more premium positioned M-Net channels.

For DStv subscribers with access to higher-tiered packages than DStv Compact, M-Net City has been the "bad" part of town; dismissed outright as a dumpster fire "no go" place filled with reruns and no programming you have to care for since you would have seen it all before.

But now M-Net City's schedule is being filled with more action and crime films, as well as first-run crime and procedural shows.

Series like the 6th season of Major Crimes started on M-Net City on 27 November, Wisdom of the Crowd started on 20 December, Eye Candy is starting 28 December and Claws is starting on 20 January 2018.

These are just a few of the upcoming brand-new and first-run crime series premiering exclusively on this channel along with others that have been rolled out since mid-2017 as part of a re-engineered M-Net City the past few months, aimed at improving the channel's urban TV decay.

TVwithThinus asked Yolisa Phahle, the former CEO of M-Net and now the CEO of general entertainment at MultiChoice, about the noticeable "upgrade" of M-Net City and what has been happening with the M-Net packaged channel. 

"What we've realised is that we do need to curate. Viewers do need to know that if they go to a certain destination, they're going to find a certain type of content," says Yolisa Phahle.

"Having consolidated M-Net (DStv 101) with the former M-Net Edge channel and continuing to buy all of the great content that's out there, has actually given us the opportunity to really differentiate M-Net City."

"So M-Net City is not purely a repeat channel. It's a channel that people will come to, to watch procedural type programming, so those are the type of shows we want to put there."

"While some of them may still premiere on M-Net (DStv 101), if we get a great new show that fits in with the theme of that channel, we can put it on M-Net City because we now have stronger, and hopefully clearly positioned channels."

Answering the same question, Aletta Alberts, MultiChoice general manager for content, says M-Net City is "becoming an action and procedurals" channel.

"We know how popular action movies are, so we know an action series and a procedural channel will do extremely well".

2017's (GREATEST) GUILTY PLEASURES. Here's the top 5 TV shows that were so great this year, that I literally couldn't wait to watch the next episode.

The bane (and more positively, the delight) of a TV critic's existence is that you get to watch a lot of television. A lot of television.

Not everything is great, not everything is average, and there's always just more and more and more TV watching homework.

But once in a while a true TV gem comes across your part and then it's actually not just work, but also highly enjoyable to watch.

2017 delivered some great shows, and also some guilty pleasures that's not really great, but were still so absorbing and fascinating that I personally couldn't stop watching them.

Surprisingly, two of the shows that I thought showed some of the very best TV work of 2017 were local South African shows, and cooking shows - and I don't usually have a specific personal liking for either.

The fact that both these shows were magnificently produced, in a genre that I didn't expect, and had me enthralled, says a lot of the exceptional work that was put in by the production companies to create world-class television shows.

Here's the top 5 shows of 2017 that honestly made me personally count the days until the next episode:

JAN (Showmax, VIA, DStv 147)
My best new show of 2017 on South African television came as a complete and stunning surprise – the arrestingly beautiful fly-on-the-wall docuseries profiling South Africa’s Michelin-star chef Jan-Hendrik van der Westhuizen at his Nice restaurant in France and beyond.

Visually akin to the Netflix series Chef’s Table, JAN is by far the most breath-takingly beautiful show that was seen on SA television in 2017.

Co-produced and available on Naspers' streaming service Showmax, the other surprise was its linear TV channel partner, VIA (DStv 147) where JAN definitely ranks as the channel's most sumptuously shot show ever among a channel offering of more down-to-earth lifestyle shows.

Produced by Brainwave productions and boasting the best production values and stellar attention to detail, lighting, camerawork, editing and a casting coup in terms of Jan who finally relented to being filmed, the show is a mesmerisingly beautiful and immersive work of art.

JAN is in Afrikaans, English, French and Italian but has English subtitles making it universally watchable.

Koekedoortjie (kykNET, DStv 144)
If cum laude master class film students did a vanity project, Koekedoortjie would be it. 

Totally unexpected, this Afrikaans spin-off version for kids of the Afrikaans baking show Koekedoor was painful to watch – painful due to the delicate filming finesse and the production's attention to detail that made this show an utter wonder to behold.

It was, unexpectedly, my best TV show of 2017 (until JAN came along). 

Magical with a beautiful set, superb lighting, camera work, music and editing and filmed in Cape Town by Homebrew Films, the meticulously crafted show is not just enjoyable – it's technically as far as TV goes, close to flawless. 

It's a total TV jewel, that, like Harry Potter, shouldn't be able to exist and be do-able in the South African TV universe, yet does.

The Wedding Bashers (M-Net, DStv 101)
Viewers came for the weddings but stayed for the cringe (and the delicious snark). 

The Wedding Bashers on M-Net is yet another show that tops my list of TV for 2017 and that gave no clues that it would become utterly must-watch TV. 

Move along Housewives – the wedding crashers Zavion Kotze, Siba Mtongana, Cindy Nell-Roberts and Denise Zimba were over-the-top wonderful in this locally-produced new show from [SIC] Entertainment.

Filmed over many months so as to wait for when they could all attend and for perfectly suited weddings (the good, the bad, the superhero and the totally ri-di-cu-lous!), you only need to watch one minute to be captivated by the awe-inspiring put-downs and compliments of the judging foursome – especially that real-life wedding planner Zavion Kotze.

Who knew that The Wedding Bashers would turn out great as a local show? Totally 2017's most irresistible guilty pleasure.

By the way, Our Perfect Wedding on Mzansi Magic (DStv 161) isn't a new show but if you don't want to be trapped and totally sucked in, don't even watch a minute as the highly addictive show continues to find wedding people you never knew you wanted to sit and stare and shake your head at!

Shadowhunters (Netflix)
Why I'm watching Shadowhunters I don’t know. 

I’m not the demo. But in a post Gossip Girl, post Vampire Diaries world, I need my fantasy show with beautiful young people who are actually werewolves, vampires, fairies, and human-angel demon hunters with a lot of angst. 

And did I mention … they're beautiful.

Literally obsessed, I spent a big chunk of 2017 like that one cat meme typing furiously on the keyboard, refreshing, refreshing, refreshing and waiting for the next episode to drop on Netflix after its weekly broadcast in America. 

Who wants to be a Jedi when you can be someone's Parabatai?

State of America with Kate Bolduan (CNN International, DStv 401)
I'm sure I completely hate this show. In capital HATE letters. 

And yet … yet I watch it … Every. Single. Day. As in every weeknight evening.

Why? Obviously something is wrong with me. Or something has gone wrong with America.

Motor-mouth Kate Bolduan moderates a daily panel around her transparent perspex desk, hardly gives the "panelist" a chance to talk and to discuss the daily dramas of America’s president Donald Trump.

Oh wait – now I know why I'm addicted to this show.

As America's presidency and politics went completely off the rails in 2017 and the White House internal drama turned into the biggest real-life reality show ever, State of America is where I've caught up with the day's "Trump Show" that was and that constantly seems more surreal, unreal and shocking that anything Aaron Sorkin could ever dream up for The West Wing.

By a Friday, Monday on this show (although it gives a daily count-on) seems like months away as Kate and cohorts discuss all the day's lurid headline-grabbing Trump-details.

It is true  trainwreck television, and Kate who is with child has banned the word "pivot" but it is can't-look-away trainwreck television. 

Watch it, but don't say you haven't been warned – you will lose 5 half hours per week and wonder why, but be completely unable to stop. 

Former Bafana player Delron Buckley and former Springbok rugby player Thando Manana are both part of the 12 celebrities in M-Net's Dancing with the Stars SA.

The former national soccer player Delron Buckley and the former Springbok rugby player Thando Manana are both part of the 12 dancing celebrities in the glamarama floor format show Dancing with the Stars SA that will start on 4 February 2018 on M-Net (DStv 101).

Dancing with the Stars South Africa is produced by Rapid Blue with Chris Jaftha and Tracey Lange as the co-presenters.

Delron Buckley and Thando Manana join the previously announced singer Connell Cruise, TV presenter Thembisa Mdoda; comedian-actor Frank Opperman; actress Juanita du Plessis; the former Miss South Africa and radio presenter Liesl Laurie; Odessa Swarts who is Wayde van Niekerk's mom; and TV star Zola Nombona.

Delron Buckley played for South Africa's national soccer team, Bafana Bafana in the 1998 and 2002 Soccer World Cups and represented South Africa at the Olympics Games that took place in Sydney in 2000. He returned to South Africa in 2012 after after playing football overseas.

"I am competitive like most pro-sports people are - so make no mistake that I am going to give my best and I will be looking to win this dance-off," he says.

Thando Manana is the 3rd black South African player to wear a Springbok rugby jersey and is now a rugby commentator. 

"I love dominating anything I put my mind to, so my next challenge will be to dominate the dance floor," says Thando Manana.

SABC to cover the 2017 matric results on 4 and 5 January with the exam results announcement covered live, followed by a next-day Morning Live breakfast boadcast.

The SABC will be covering the 2017 matric result announcements on Thursday and Friday 4 and 5 January 2018 with a live broadcast of the minister of education's exam results announcement on SABC1, followed the next day by a Morning Live broadcast on SABC2 providing analysis of the results.

The South African public broadcaster says it is working with the department of basic education and will be doing a Top Achievers Breakfast on Thursday 4 January at the SABC's M1 Studios in Radio Park.

At this Top Achievers Breakfast, the SABC will host the best Grade 12 pupils and their parents who will be able to meet the minister and deputy minister of basic education.

The SABC will also be doing a live broadcast on SABC1 and SABC News (DStv 404) on the evening of Thursday 4 January of the minister's announcement of the 2017 matric exam results, where the SABC Foundation will also be awarding bursaries to some top learners.

On Friday 5 January there will be a Morning Live breakfast shown on SABC2 and SABC News (DStv 404) to unpack the matric exam results.

Morning Live will be speaking to various basic education sector experts and do live crossings to all of the various provincial education departments.

GOTTA ASK. With 2017 at an end, where are all the, uhm, you know, articles and coverage about THOSE press junkets?

With the year at an end - and please indulge me - it's probably the right time to just ask a very simply question of some South African broadcasters, their PR representatives and some journalists supposedly covering TV: Where are the actual articles and earned coverage from the press junkets that the people that you chose, were sent to?

And pardon me for asking, but I'm asking because 2017 is at an end. I read as much as I can, and I haven't seen any.

Once again 2017 came and went and saw PR people at various TV outfits making dubious and questionable choices when they, in their infinite wisdom, choose certain so-called journalists for overseas press junkets.

These scribes who lovingly go along end up doing very little - actually nothing - about what they went to cover, begging the question of why and how these TV places and their publicists end up justifying the basically zero (0!)  to little return on the investment (ROI), and the lack of coverage and earned media.

Several journalists went on international press trips doled out by South African broadcasters in 2017 to cover TV-related issues and shows.

It's literally months later and there's been very little to actually no coverage about it - making it 100% likely that in the waning moments of this year there won't be. Or ever.

The problem is two-fold: Bad PR execs who make wrong choices, and bad media supposedly covering TV but not delivering and actually reporting.

Since it is the end of 2017, lets look back and reflect on the year's biggest PR boo-baah's that came and went and where PR executives (bless their souls) who should know better but don't, moronically keep selecting incompetent and mostly lazy journalists who should be doing better and more (or at least something) in return, but aren't.

Here's just the top 3 South African TV junket money-wasting, head-scratching flops of 2017 in my opinion, with some background:

A Bold failure to report

In April the SABC, SABC3 and Bell-Phillip Television Productions Inc. sent two Johannesburg journalists for a week to the Bold and the Beautiful's studio at CBS Television City Studio in Los Angeles to cover the show's 30th annniversary.

The two journalists were given one-on-one interviews with several of the top billing soap stars (to this day none of these interviews that were conducted have appeared as separate articles or pieces), got a set tour, spoke to producers and did a champagne lunch at executive producer and head writer Bradley Bell's private Malibu beach mansion in California with the cast.

The journos were however quick to post insta-snaps on their own social media accounts, showing how they mingle with the soap stars.

The one journalist left the newspaper shortly afterwards at the end of the very same month as the overseas trip  (!!) with only one collective experience story, and a Terry Pheto interview/profile story that appeared in print.

Safe to say, there won't be more from a week's soap set visit.

The other - an inexperienced and fawning blogger, from a site that 8 months down the line since the junket happened apparently doesn't even exist anymore - was seemingly so overwhelmed by the whole glitz-extravaganza of an American soap set junket that she ended up doing one posting with mostly blurry snaps with the Bold cast; promising interviews later.

None ever happened.

So, gotta ask: What exactly was the SABC thinking and how exactly does the SABC's head of TV publicity and the SABC and SABC3's marketing divisions justify the basically non-existent ROI from the media that went on the expensive trip?

A shocking waste and a junket trash-mess that comes across worse than Brooke's love life with very little in actual press coverage to show for it.

Let's call this the LA trip with no return on the investment. Except for the return ticket of course.

A SummerSlam sunk

After SuperSport took over the sub-Saharan broadcasting rights for World Wrestling Entertainment (WWE) from in South Africa, SuperSport chose certain journalists who have very little experience about this type of thing from South Africa and across Africa, to take to New York during August for a week-long vacay stay and SummerSlam press junket.

So, gotta ask: Where are all the stories? I saw just two.

Where are all the interviews? Where are the reports, the interviews that were done with wrestlers, and the stories about the press conference and what was said there, and the welcoming ceremony and what happened there and party?

The media stayed for a week. Where on Earth are the reams and reams of rolling coverage, big interviews, big perspective pieces and pictorials on the SuperSport/WWE press junket?

From the Barclay Center to the Holiday Inn Brooklyn Downton and even the One World Observatory that the press who went, visited, and where several wrestling stars were milling about, you won't find one interview with any of them, a single pictorial article, or even any interviews with SuperSport South Africa's executives or bosses who also went to New York.

What a big waste, once again raising the question on what exactly the return on the investment for SuperSport was from the media it chose to take along.

When Gideon Khobane, SuperSport CEO, spoke a month later in September and addressed TV critics and the media at the DStv Showcase, hyping up the wrestling and WWE that is now on DStv, it felt disingenuous, fake and extremely hollow.

It was odd having to listen to Gideon Khobane making as if the WWE is this big thing for SuperSport and MultiChoice in South Africa and across Africa during his presentation, when SuperSport just weeks before took some media to New York who barely bothered to do anything about it - and very likely won't.

StarTimes and StarSat's sad decisions

In October the Chinese pay-TV operator StarTimes (operating as StarSat in South Africa) took a gaggle of so-called journalists from across Africa - including one from South Africa - on a propaganda-like trip to its Beijing pay-TV headquarters.

Take one guess how many stories and actual reporting about this press junket appeared after the 10-day long trip to Beijing and Guangzhou?

While a South African journalist went as well as part of the (hold your breath!) 51 African journalists from 25 countries who visited Beijing, something - anything! - from this razzmatazz press trip that took journalists because they're supposed to write and report about it.

 As sad and bad is that it is now more than a year that StarSat in South Africa has been going without any publicist(s), and haven't done any PR to the press about its content and channels.

What exactly was StarSat and StarTimes' return on its mega-investment from the journalists who went to Beijing for the press junket - a gaggle that included journalists who don't even cover TV or understand or care for the pay-TV beat, and who will cycle through and out after the once-off trip and not even cover StarTimes in future?

StarTimes and StarSat sadly don't seem to care at all in getting to know, and building professional media relationships with the various press and media covering it as a business.

As a result you get these big StarTimes money-wasters that result in basically a zero return on investment when it comes to actual press coverage.

2017's runner-up mind-bogglers:

■ ITV Choice (DStv 123) that would literally fly in executives from London and dresses! from the British costume period drama Victoria for its 2017 upfront presentation but can't bother to invite the press and TV critics or even just tell them that it's happening, or issue any information about it afterwards.

■ Coca-Cola that wants to do television but doesn't know the press covering TV, and is so terrible at PR that the latest season of Coca-Cola Africa's advertiser-funded production (AFP) Coke Studio (now renamed Coke Studio Africa) again came and went this year with basically no press coverage despite an actual media launch (that of course lacked actual relevant members of the media).

■ Cell C that did a "big" media launch and cash splash for its new TV streaming service, black, but invited only tech journalists, completely clueless - along with its PR company Joe Public - that media and TV critics exist who cover TV and that in order for consumers to known about the content on a pay-TV service, you actually need to know and communicate with the journalists covering that content.

■ SABC2 taking (only certain) media for a ride at the Gold Reef City amusement park in June while the cash-strapped SABC is out of money, and the bulk of the media who attended not bothering to report about the actual SABC2 content that was shared at the press day event.

■ SABC1 hosting (only certain) media for champagne and spa treatments at the lux Fairlawns Boutique Hotel in Sandton in February, while the cash-strapped SABC is out of money.
The bulk of the invited media who attended didn't bother to do anything about the content and information that SABC1 shared but they did lounge around outside for the whole day as waiters kept bringing wine.

M-Net on why it renewed My Kitchen Rules SA for a 2nd season in 2018: 'The decision was an easy one, one we made very early on in the series actually'.

M-Net (DStv 101) has renewed the amateur home cooking competition show My Kitchen Rules South Africa for a second season and says the decision to renew it for another go in 2018 "was an easy one".

Auditions for the second season of My Kitchen Rules SA produced by Endemol Shine SA will start in January 2018.

TVwithThinus asked M-Net why the pay-TV broadcaster decided to renew the show.

"As you know it's not a format that has been done as a local show in South Africa before or that Endemol Shine SA had done before, so it was a risk even though we knew the Australian version was on M-Net," says Kaye-Ann Williams, M-Net's head of local content.

"When we initially decided to do this format as a M-Net team, we decided that it was something that was authentically South African and that we could make it that."

"The brief was to cast people who are authentically themselves, and every couple in MKRSA were exactly that."

"The decision to renew the format was an easy one. It's a decision that we made very early on in the series actually. I think it was episode 4 or 5 that was on-air and then we made the decision," says Kaye-Ann Williams.

"It was because M-Net as a brand want our subscribers and South Africans to feel that they are being represented authentically and that's what I feel My Kitchen Rules SA affords to our viewers".

"Hopefully the second season will be on-air by winter next year."

Kaye-Ann Williams expressed thanks to the Endemol Shine Africa "dream team".

"You guys are creative, you guys are collaborative; you are an absolute dream team and I appreciate every hour that you've put into this, every minute that you've spent away from your families, all the travelling, all the time in edit, all the lovely collaboration and feedback sessions and working together and venting to each other, we absolutely adore you. I honestly feel that you got the heart of the show right".

The finale of the My Kitchen Rules South Africa first season also dazzled and surprised when several celebrity chefs showed up in the last episode as judges.

South Africa's first Michelin Star chef Jan Hendrik flew from Nice, France, with chef Margot Janse whose stint at Le Quartier Francais in Franschhoek that earned the restaurant 8th place in the World’s Top 50 Restaurants who also appeared.

Also making appearances were the Cape Malay cuisine chef Cass Abrahams and the Carte Blanche investigative journalist Devi Sankaree-Govender.

TVwithThinus asked executive producer Anton Burggraaf about the casting coup and what it took to get these 4 high-profile people together, diary- and logistics wise for the filming of the finale.

"M-Net and us discussed who we thought could be on the show for the finale and add value and we explored all options."

"This is a monster of a show and shouldn't be under-estimated. I've done Survivor SA, Fear Factor SA - a lot of shows. But this particular show requires an extraordinary amount of work because as you can see from the instant restaurants, people are inviting 4 other couples into their homes."

"But what you don't realise is there are 75 people running around in somebody's dining room. It's mad. It's really, really a crazy show. And then of course it changes gears in studio, where you have to rely on a whole lot more mettle actually," said Anton Burggraaf.

Co-presenter and co-judge David Higgs says "there were tears, there were emotions, there was laughter. And I think the audience felt it and that's why My Kitchen Rules SA did so well."

M-Net held a special media screening of the My Kitchen Rules SA first season finale on Sunday 10 December at the MultiChoice City headquarters in Randburg, Johannesburg where at the end of the episode the Bloemfontein couple Jamandi (31) and Machiel Bekker were announced as the winners with the top score.

Several TV producers, M-Net executives, on-air talent, stars, and media covering television, showed up to watch the 90-minute episode together, followed by a press conference afterwards in the MultiChoice City cinema venue.

MKRSA co-presenter and co-judge J'Something, Carte Blanche presenter Devi Sankaree Govender and Jan du Plessis, director of M-Net channels

Actor and model Arnu De Villiers and entrepreneur Marnus Broodryk appearing on kykNET's Winslyn

Radio presenter and Survivor South Africa: Panama winner Vanessa Marawa, MKRSA co-presenter and co-judge David Higgs and MKRSA series director Jane Kennedy

Tuesday, December 26, 2017

Viacom and BET settled out of court with former BET programming boss Zola Mashariki who Viacom fired while she was on sick leave for breast cancer treatment.

Viacom and its black entertainment TV channel BET suddenly settled out of court with its former BET programming boss, Zola Mashariki after Viacom and BET abruptly fired Zola Mashariki in March while she was on sick leave for breast cancer treatment.

Viacom and BET have settled out of court with Zola Mashariki who started a gender-discrimination and wrongful termination lawsuit against BET and Viacom and the former BET president of programming, Stephen Hill, after she was fired.

When Viacom and BET shocked in March announcing that Zola Mashariki is "departing", Zola Mashariki fired back saying "I am on medical leave. My job is protected by the Family Medical Leave Act and related statutes (FMLA) and I have a contract in place".

"Viacom/BET are aware that I am scheduled to return on 11 April and that my medical leave may need to be extended depending on the progress of my recovery".

Hilariously Viacom and BET - after firing a woman during her medical leave for breast cancer treatment - issued a statement on the same day in March saying that BET confirms that Zola Mashariki is no longer employed and that her "claims misrepresent the facts and are without merit. We strongly deny any allegation of wrongdoing".

Now Viacom and BET settled out of court at the beginning of this month and is playing nice, saying only the nicest things about Zola Mashariki.

"As head of original programming, Zola Mashariki brought fresh new content and top-notch talent to BET Networks," says BET in a statement.

"We thank Zola Mashariki for her many valuable contributions, and our thoughts are with her and her family as she focuses on her health. The litigation between the parties has been resolved. Neither party will make any further comment on this matter".

MultiChoice Zambia abruptly drops lawsuit against StarTimes, ZNBC and the Zambian government in its fight over the removal of free-to-air channels from GOtv Zambia.

In a surprising move, MultiChoice Zambia has abruptly dropped its lawsuit against the Zambian government, China's StarTimes and the Zambia National Broadcasting Corporation over the removal of free-to-air channels from MultiChoice's GOtv digital terrestrial TV (DTT) platform.

At issue was and is the shocking removal of free-to-air TV channels, supplied by Zambia's state broadcaster, to pay-TV operators - and specifically to MultiChoice (and its GOtv Zambia offering).

It happened because China's StarTimes took a 60% shareholding in the new digital terrestrial television (DTT) joint venture, TopStar Limited, created between Zambia's state-run broadcaster, the Zambia National Broadcasting Corporation (ZNBC) and China's StarTimes.

TopStar with its 60% stake in ZNBC as a supposedly national broadcaster, gets to collect all ZNBC advertising revenue as well as digital terrestrial tower rental revenue for a whopping 25 years in the highly controversial deal.

Because China's StarTimes as a commercial company suddenly had this massive corporate interest in Zambia's national broadcaster, the ZNBC yanked its free-to-air channels off of MultiChoice to rather give it to StarTimes for its DTT set-top box (STB).

Hilariously, the Zambian government and the ZNBC still claimed that the media lied about a private "take-over"of Zambia's national broadcaster, although that is exactly what has been happening after over 400 000 GOtv pay-TV subscribers in Zambia overnight lost access to several free-to-air channels.

MultiChoice Zambia through its GOtv Zambia entity decided to take the Zambia government, TopStar (meaning StarTimes) and the ZNBC to court to get the free-to-air channels restored.

Now MultiChoice Zambia decided to end the court action - after it first sought an urgent interdict in the Lusaka High Court earlier in 2017 to block ZNBC from removing its free-to-air channels from GOtv, and after the court found that the court case must proceed since MultiChoice Zambia showed sufficient grounds for a court case to proceed.

TopStar (meaning StarTimes and ZNBC) wanted the case dismissed and MultiChoice Zambia now wants to find a way to settle the case out of court. It's not clear why.

Kwesé TV adds FOX, FOX Life, National Geographic and Nat Geo WILD in new 4 channel carriage deal with FOX Networks Group.

The satellite pay-TV platform Kwesé TV, in a new carriage deal with FOX Networks Group, has added 4 TV channels to its pay-TV platform: FOX (141), FOX Life, National Geographic (435) and Nat Geo WILD (436).

Neither Kwesé TV, run by Econet Media, not FOX Networks Group Africa (FNG Africa) issued any statement to the press, but told Kwesé TV subscribers on social media that "now you can catch great shows like Empire and Atlanta or watch your favourite channels like FOX Life and National Geographic right here on Kwesé TV!"

The 4 channels are available on Kwesé TV since 20 December.

Kwesé TV's satellite pay-TV service is currently available in Ghana, Zambia, Rwanda, Zimbabwe, Lesotho, Botswana, Kenya, Nigeria and Uganda with Econet Media that plans to roll out Kwesé TV across the continent.

In South Africa a very truncated Kwesé TV service is available as the Kwesé Play streaming service offered through the Kwesé Play Roku set-top box (STB).

The STB and Kwesé Play is however severely limited in what it offers since Kwesé TV's pay-TV channels available through its traditional satellite pay-TV service elsewhere in Africa are all blocked on the device for South Africa.

The 4 channels on Kwesé TV are also part of a bigger FOX channels portfolio that was added to the new South African subscription video-on-demand service, Cell C black, in November.

Comedian Tumi Morake apologises for her degrading Down syndrome joke on Comedy Central, begs for forgiveness: 'I wasn't thinking'.

Comedian Tumi Morake is apologising for her degrading and insulting "joke" about Down syndrome during an episode of the Comedy Central Roast Battle series on Comedy Central (DStv 122) that has landed her and Viacom International Media Networks Africa in hot water.

Parents of Down syndrome children have laid complaints with the Broadcast Complaints Commission of South Africa (BCCSA) and slammed Tumi Morake after her side-swipe to fellow comedian Schalk Bezuidenhout in a broadcast of Comedy Central Roast Battle on Comedy Central (DStv 122) when she said "You [Bezuidenhout] are two p- klaps away from Down syndrome, bitch".

Tumi Morake has now made a Facebook apology after a mom with a Down syndrome child confronted the comedian on social media and told Tumi on Instagram that she was "very, very disappointed" by the comedian's "hurtful" comments. "As a parent of a child with down syndrome this was hurtful and just unacceptable".

The BCCSA has also received written complaints and will be looking at the case in early 2018.

In her Facebook apology, Tumi Morake begs for forgiveness and says "A while ago we did the Roast Comedy Battle and in the height of insulting each other I used Down syndrome in a punchline".

"I apologise unreservedly for my comments. I do not condone in any way the discrimination against or the ignorance around people with DS."

"My niece also has Down syndrome. It was a comedy environment, I wasn't thinking, we were just going for the punch, I apologise unreservedly. It won't make it right but I hope you hear that I acknowledge the insensitivity of it."

"I hope you can forgive me. I have just watched the clip back and you have every right to be upset. Again, it really was not out to discriminate or hurt."

Tumi Morake said that she wasn't looking to be harmful or hurtful with her comments.

"I do not condone in any way the discrimination against or the ignorance around people with DS. I hope the parents of children with Down syndrome and people living with it find it in their hearts to forgive me."

"I was not out to harm and I own up to how hurtful, thoughtless, harmful and ignorant it was. I will do my best to make it right and it will be as public as the way the offence came".

Earlier in 2017 Phat Joe caused controversy at East Coast Radio when he said on his drive time afternoon show that he was "feeling Down syndrome-ish" - an offence that saw East Coast Radio fined R30 000 following complaints to the BCCSA.

In July 2014 the BCCSA fined the Afrikaans M-Net supplied channel kykNET (DStv 144) on MultiChoice's DStv platform R30 000 following public complaints that the satirical show Proesstraat was mocking Tourette's syndrome sufferers on television after kykNET was warned to stop using Tourette's syndrome for humour.

kykNET appealed the ruling that was overturned after kykNET's legal team argued that kykNET has the right to broadcast humour even if that comedy offends kykNET's audience.

5 000 to 10 000 staffers likely getting fired after Disney buys the bulk of 21st Century Fox.

Between 5 000 to 10 000 people could be losing their jobs and get fired in the Disney deal to buy 21st Century Fox.

Disney will streamline and cut down on duplication of operations in all areas of its global business, including distribution, marketing and its international divisions where Disney and Fox have a dual presence.

The BTIG analyst Rich Greenfield, says between 5 000 to 10 000 people could be fired.

In his new market advisory report entitled "Disney’s $2 Billion in Synergies is Good for Jobs #FakeNews" he says the cost saving is very likely coming from job cuts.

"Disney expects over $2 billion in synergies from the Fox acquisition, with the overwhelming majority of that from cost-savings – meaning job cuts".

"In order to reduce costs by upwards of $2 billion, we believe Disney will need to cut well-over 5 000 jobs and the number could easily swell toward 10 000 given the high degree of overlap between the two companies around the world".

With The Walt Disney Company and FOX Networks Group Africa (FNG Africa) both having a growing presence in South Africa and Africa, it's not yet clear exactly how the mega-corporate deal will be affecting staffers and operations in South Africa and across the African continent.

Singer Connell Cruise one of the 12 dancing celebrities taking part in M-Net's Dancing with the Stars SA starting 4 February 2018.

Singer Connell Cruise will be one of the 12 dancing celebrities in the glitzy dance floor format show Dancing with the Stars SA that will start on 4 February 2018 on M-Net (DStv 101).

Dancing with the Stars South Africa is produced by Rapid Blue with Chris Jaftha and Tracey Lange as the co-presenters.

Connell Cruise who moved to New York will be back in South Africa and joins the so-far-announced TV presenter Thembisa Mdoda; comedian-actor Frank Opperman; actress Juanita du Plessis; the former Miss South Africa and radio presenter Liesl Laurie; Odessa Swarts who is Wayde van Niekerk's mom; and TV star Zola Nombona.

"I'm equal parts totally excited and slightly terrified about what's to come for me on Dancing with the Stars SA!," says Connell Cruise.

"I'm truly thrilled and honoured to be part of this incredible show and I'll be doing my best to make my wife and all my fans in the country proud."

Blue Planet II to start on BBC Earth on DStv on Sunday 4 February 2018 at 4pm as an 'immersive' TV experience - exactly a year after after Planet Earth II.

The BBC's next globally shown natural history series, Blue Planet II will start on BBC Earth (DStv 184) on Sunday 4 February at 16:00 as literally an "immersive" TV experience.

BBC Worldwide confirmed to TVwithThinus that, as expected, the Sir David Attenborough narrated oceanological follow-up series to Blue Planet will be shown in February 2018 on DStv, similar as to when Australians will start to see it.

The 7-episode Blue Planet II already concluded since it started at the end of October in the United Kingdom, Nordic regions, Europe, Asia and New Zealand and the 3-disc Blue Planet II has already been released as a DVD and Blu-ray sets and is being sold since 27 November on Amazon.

America and Canada will see it from 20 January 2018.

The start date of Blue Planet II on BBC Earth in South Africa on DStv is interesting: The 4 February is a day short of a year since the natural history series Planet Earth II started on BBC Earth in 2017 on Sunday 5 February in the same 16:00 timeslot.

Blue Planet II follows 16 years after the first BBC series, and was 4 years in the making, complete with a soundtrack from composer Hans Zimmer and Radiohead.

Produced by BBC Studios Natural History Unit, filming involved 125 expeditions to 39 countries, filming on every continent and every ocean.

The team spent over 6 000 hours diving underwater, filming everywhere from South Africa and the Seychelles to Norway and the Gulf of Mexico and Antarctica in a deep manned submersible.

In Antarctica they explored under icebergs; in the Gulf of Mexico they filmed methane volcanoes erupting.

Where life was thought to be impossible in the deepest point of the Earth's ocean, more than 11 kilometres down, they filmed creatures living under pressure equivalent to 50 passenger planes stacked on top of one another.

Aletta Alberts, MultiChoice general manager for content, who saw some of Blue Planet II earlier this year before the start of its run on the BBC in the United Kingdom, shared some fascinating insights about the series with TV critics and journalists covering television at MultiChoice's DStv media showcase press day in September.

"I was privileged enough to go to BBC showcase earlier this year and they had one evening that they hosted where Blue Planet II was the theme and they had 360 degree cinema-like screens around".

"The submerged vessels that they film from look like big flying saucers, made from glass."

"They showed one of them, filming, and they were basically saying, 'Okay, we've been here for 3 days now, lift-off', and they push a button, and there's nothing".

"And they go: 'Okay, there's no pressure. We can't go up.' And you can see people panicking. And they go: 'Oh, the comms have gone as well.' And then you just see a guy going: 'Okay, lets switch everything off."

"So they switch everything off - click - and it's black. And it's black for about a minute. And you hear the sounds of how they start to switch everything back on like when you switch your lights back on when your board is tripped at home - clack, clack, clack. And there's nothing."

"And you just hear panicked voices. And the next minute, about a minute - everything comes on: boom. And then they get a little bit of pressure and they lift. Quite, quite, amazing."

"This natural history film unit of the BBC is absolutely amazing - you all know they've been around for years," said Aletta Alberts.

Blue Planet II has episode titles ranging from "Coral Reefs" and "Green Seas" to "Coasts" and "The Deep" and one episode also looks at mankind's destructive impact on the oceans with pollution and plastics threatening the entire marine ecosystem.

M-Net West Africa keeps Ebuka Obi-Uchendu as host of the 3rd season of Big Brother Naija set for 2018.

M-Net West Africa has decided to keep Ebuka Obi-Uchendu as the host of Big Brother Nigeria, with the former housemate who presented the second season in 2017 that is being kept on for the upcoming third season of Big Brother Naija in 2018.

Ebuka Obi-Uchendu who was a housemate contestant during the first season of Big Brother Nigeria, has since become the presenter of the youth programme Rubbin' Minds on Channels Television and is the co-presenter of Men's Corner on EbonyLife TV (DStv 165).

The new upcoming season of Big Brother Naija , produced by Red Pepper Productions and no longer Endemol Shine Africa, and shown on MultiChoice's DStv satellite platform in Nigeria and across Africa, will likely once again also include South Africa - similar to how it was shown across the African continent during the second season.

"We are thrilled to have Ebuka return as host of Big Brother Naija," says Wangi Mba-Uzoukwu, M-Net West Africa regional director.

"This was the platform that unearthed his potential first as a housemate and then as a host, ultimately launching him to stardom."

"He is a prime example of what the Big Brother platform offers, as he has proven over the years to be one of Nigeria's biggest names in pop culture and entertainment whilst also lending his voice to youth empowerment initiatives."

"Fans and viewers alike are familiar with his cool, debonair and witty, on-air and on stage personality. They are guaranteed to enjoy the excitement that he brings to the Big Brother Naija show".

Big Brother Naija producers held Nigerian auditions in 6 places across the West African country during early December.

The show remains controversial for its notorious in-show history of sexual assault against women that M-Net and Endemol Shine Africa in the past failed to prevent, despite constantly saying it's doing more to protect against sexual violence and assault.

The previous season earlier this year once again saw the second season of Big Brother Naija marred by an alleged sexual assault against a contestant, once again raising concerns over why M-Net and Endemol Shine Africa didnn't adequately protect participants, especially women, in the show despite several prior promises to put better measures in place.

The lying Nigerian pay-TV wannabe TStv finally backs off from its fake TV channel claims, its new reduced channel list no longer includes 10 beIN Sports channels with a dozen other channels also finally removed.

The lying Nigerian pay-TV upstart TStv (Telcomm Satellite TV) has finally stopped its fake claims of carrying and offering more than a dozen TV channels on its satellite pay-TV platform that it never had the rights to in the first place.

After a litany of lies, a string of broken promises and several false starting date announcements that all came and went since October, the Abuja based wannabe TV operator mired in a mess of its own making, is finally backing down from its continued theft and piracy of the signals and brand identities of a raft of TV channels it never had any authorised carriage contracts for.

TStv CEO Bright Echefu kept lying to Nigerian consumers even after TStv was exposed as being dishonest about marketing and promoting a pay-TV service with a collection of TV channels it never legally signed carriage deals for.

The beIN Media Group, Turner Broadcasting, Discovery Networks International, Viacom International Media Networks Africa (VIMN Africa), FOX Networks Group Africa and eMedia Investments all directly confirmed to TVwithThinus that none of them have any dealings or contracts with TStv.

The fly-by-night operator TStv lied and claimed it has 10 beIN Sports channels, CNN International, Investigation Discovery IDx, Discovery Science, Eurosport, MTV Base, National Geographic, Nat Geo WILD, Fox Life, FOX Sports, FOX Sports 2 and even's pan-African channel version eAfrica and eNCA.

The carriage of several more TV channels on TStv turned out to be lies - Fashion One, AMC Networks International's kids channel Jim Jam, Trace Africa, CBS Reality and Scripps Networks Interactive's Fine Living.

The truth is that TStv doesn't have any of these channels, and doesn't have the right to show any of these channels.

Shockingly, TStv kept lying after TVwithThinus and other media exposed the fraud, saying reports that the Qatar based beIN Sports channels won't be on TStv are "rumours" and that TStv has a carriage agreement.

TStv also kept lying and continued with the fake promise of telling Nigerian consumers that it will be showing sport like English Premier League (EPL), UEFA Champions League and other big international soccer tournaments.

These sports rights however MultiChoice Africa and SuperSport already acquired previously for sub-Saharan Africa in exclusive multi-year agreements stretching into the future to be shown on DStv and GOtv.

Now TStv has quietly done away with the beIN sports channels of which it illegally pirated the signals without making any announcement or saying why it is now dropping its fake claims.

After TStv was exposed for claiming and marketing a fake TV channel line-up on its website, TStv took down the list.

TStv has now put up a new channel line-up list without any of the stolen, pirated and fake-claimed channels.

TStv's latest culled channels line-up is greatly reduced from its former false claims and now offers a set of "Mama Africa" film channels in Igbo, Yoruba and Hausa; as well as a "Grande" branded series of channels ranging from Grande film channels like Grande Novella and Grande Bolly to Grande Series 1 and Grande Series Asia.

Kids channels listed on TStv are now only two: A1 Kids and A1 Kids Junior.

Music channels are gutted to Hits TV, Grande Gospel, Hits Africa and 360 Tune Box.

The lofty fake promise of a raft of beIN Sports channels has been replaced by 8 non-descript "Grande" sports channels named Grande Sports Highlights, Grande Sports 1 to 6 and a Grande Sports Entertainment channel.

Awkwardly, Nigeria's idiotic minister of information and culture, Lai Mohammed has been quiet about the TStv fraud and widening scandal.

In October Lai Mohammed - clueless about the inner cross-continental workings governing content acquisition and channel carriage agreement contracts in the pay-TV industry - announced a 3-year "tax relief" that he's granting to TStv, not knowing that the wannabe pay-TV operator is making false claims and stealing content.