Thursday, May 31, 2018

Zama Mkosi abruptly out as NFVF CEO as findings of forensic investigation is being implemented; Shadrack Bokaba in as acting CEO to provide 'organisational stability'.

Zama Mkosi has abruptly resigned as CEO of the National Film and Video Foundation (NFVF) with her resignation following a forensic investigation into allegations of mismanagement, waste of funds and other issues at the embattled organisation supposed to promote and support South Africa's film and television industry.

Zama Mkosi is out with immediate effect and is being replaced by Shadrack Bokaba as acting CEO for the time being, "in the interest of organisational stability" according to the NFVF. There's been no quote or statement from Zama Mkosi or any reasons given why she's left the NFVF abruptly, but she resigned on 27 May.

The NFVF says it will start the process looking for a new CEO. Zamantungwa Mkosi was appointed NFVF CEO in February 2012.

The past few years the NFVF has been embroiled in various allegations of money wasting and mismanagement of funds by senior executives, seriously damaging the credibility and reputation of the NFVF with the organisation that has seen its relationship with both the TV and film industry deteriorate, as well as with the media. 

The allegations of mismanagement and money waste included not just overseas trips and expense accounts for foreign travel in luxury hotels with outrageous travel demands - money meant to fund film and television in South Africa - but also local splurging with trips to Sun City.

The bulk of NFVF staffers in an open letter complained about NFVF working conditions and made a litany of allegations of corruption within the NFVF and other irregular issues, implicating Zama Mkosi, as well as the NFVF's chief financial officer and NFVF council members.

It led to the minister of arts and culture, Nathi Mthethwa ordering a forensic investigation into the NFVF, the report and findings of which the department has so far refused to make public although it was delivered to the government in March 2018 already.

The NFVF that continues to organise expensive overseas trips, also continues to be criticised for the badly organised and low quality of the televised South African Film and Television Awards (Saftas), the NFVF's supposed showpiece, that keeps being marred by in-fighting and unhappy producers and production companies who boycott the awards.

At the badly organised 12th Saftas held in March and televised on SABC2, Zama Mkosi who got an executive producer title, used the platform to lash out at and slam South Africa's media. Alluding to the allegations of corruption, mismanagement and mismanagement of funds inside the NFVF, Zama Mkosi told viewers how difficult is is to find funding for the Saftas due to the "ongoing bad press" the NFVF gets in the media.

The NFVF in a statement now says "Zama Mkosi has resigned as CEO of the NFVF with immediate effect". The NFVF "also announces the appointment of Joy Mawela as the head of industry development, training and marketing effective 1 June 2018 and Mbali Buthelezi as chief financial officer effective 1 July 2018".

"In the meanwhile the NFVF council has commenced implementation of the findings of the forensic report that was commissioned by the minister of arts and culture, Nathi Mthethwa, with regard to the various allegations of impropriety at the NFVF."

"Equally important to the NFVF council is the desire to improve staff morale and brand reputation of the NFVF, amidst all the negative publicity that has engulfed the NFVF in the recent past," says the NFVF.

Wednesday, May 30, 2018

MultiChoice Africa launches a new TV and film academy, the MultiChoice Talent Factory; applications open for 60 film students from 13 African countries for a year long paid internship at one of three MTF academies across Africa.

MultiChoice Africa is launching a new initiative for the African continent, the MultiChoice Talent Factory (MTF), a year long skills and training programme for 60 students across 13 African countries to help them gain experience and knowledge in Africa's TV and film industry.

MultiChoice Africa's MultiChoice Talent Factory follows M-Net in South Africa's 4-year old Magic in Motion Academy that was established in 2014 to provide a year long intensive internship to new graduates in the film and TV sector.

Entries for MultiChoice Africa's MultiChoice Talent Factory opens today and closes on 5 July 2018.

This year-long, funded programme will be supported by three MultiChoice Talent Factory academies hosted in Nairobi, Kenya (for East Africa); Lagos, Nigeria (for West Africa) and Lusaka, Zambia (for Southern Africa), with 20 students each.

Students will create local content that will be broadcast on the various M-Net channels carried on MultiChoice's DStv and GOtv satellite pay-TV platforms throughout Africa, including Africa Magic, Maisha Magic East, Maisha Magic Bongo, Zambezi Magic, M-Net and SuperSport.

Each of the three academies will be overseen by an Academy Director who are experts in film and TV: Njoko Muhoho in Nairobi, Femi Odugbemi in Lagos and Berry Lwando in Lusaka.

Similar to M-Net's Magic in Motion Academy in South Africa, people who want to enter for this new Pan-African internship, must have a qualification from a registered or recognised post-secondary education institution in drama, film television or a related media field, must have some experience in the TV and film industry, and be older than 18.

People who want to enter must be fluent in English and must be a citizen and resident from one of these 13 African countries: Angola, Botswana, Ethiopia, Ghana, Kenya, Malawi, Mozambique, Namibia, Nigeria, Tanzania, Uganda, Zambia or Zimbabwe.

People who want to enter must register at and fully complete the online application form and write an online motivation letter.

The first class of the MultiChoice Talent Factory is planned to start in October 2018 and end in September 2019 with participants who will be "paid" a monthly stipend to pay for living expenses. MultiChoice Africa will also be paying for travel between cities for the interns.

"The film and TV industries have not developed at the same rate as other industries on the continent, and not for a lack of talent, passion or imagination," says Brand De Villiers, MultiChoice Africa CEO.

"We are abundantly blessed in these areas, however the space given for this expression has at best been limited and at worst, been relegated to the fringes of the mainstream economy, leaving in its wake unfulfilled dreams, unexplored talent and unwritten stories."

Brand De Villiers says the launch of the MultiChoice Talent Factory forms part of MultiChoice's new strategy of increasing its investment in creating shared value by using the satellite pay-TV operator's core business resources, people and skills to create positive change in society.

"Film making knowledge and skills that translate into enhanced livelihood is what our youth in the creative industry desire," says Njoko Muhoho, MTF Academy director for East Africa.

She says the MultiChoice Talent Factory will be a "12-month long film making boot camp" where students can get experiential and practical film making skills to create entrepreneurial filmmakers.

Berry Lwando says the MultiChoice Talent Factory will "not only tap into Africa's talent but also grow it by upskilling our youths so that they can grow our creative industries."

"This is part of a game-changing era in which creative and productive skills will be developed to enable local content be produced and compete with the best across any genre."

Femi Odugbemi says the MultiChoice Talent Factory will help "emerging filmmakers [to be] better equipped in the creative processes". "We must consciously build capacity so that our next-generation filmmakers and producers can also create wealth and create employment by being entrepreneurs as well".

TV CRITIC'S NOTEBOOK. A red card for A+E Networks Africa and its silent treatment around the launch of its History of Football pop-up channel on DStv.

It would have been more productive time-wise, more informative to viewers and DStv subscribers, more pleasurable, and have made a better headline, to write and report about what executives and talent actually said and shared about and at A+E Networks' History of Football media launch event last week of the pop-up channel on MultiChoice's DStv satellite pay-TV platform.

Instead, due to the inability of A+E Networks Africa to communicate about it at all - either beforehand or even afterwards - it's sad having to devote time and effort on publicly reflecting how trash-bad A+E Networks has been in keeping the media (and by implication viewers) informed.

All that this TV critic is left with, is to lament the wasted opportunities, the lost exposure and the information sharing that there could have been around the latest pop-up channel from the people who programme and bring channels like History, Lifetime and the Crime+Investigation (C+I) to pay-TV viewers in South Africa and across the continent but who sadly won't include media in plans when it comes to actually talking about what it's busy with and has for viewers.

On Thursday last week A+E Networks Africa, the local business division of A+E Networks UK and A+E Networks International, held a media launch for its History of Football channel.

If you haven't seen any stories (yet) it's because there haven't been any this journalist saw.

Besides the empty chairs, none of the Johannesburg-only, sport and "lifestyle" media invited and who did show up to dribble some soccer balls have apparently bothered to do any actual reporting about what was said there by TV executives.

A+E Networks Africa apparently believes that only DStv subscribers in Johannesburg watches History or are clients of MultiChoice's DStv service and would watch something like its History of Football channel. It couldn't bother with the rest of the country's media and to let them know that it would be doing a media event, or issue anything to the press afterwards.

Besides the irony that some of the Reporters Covering Television from Cape Town and Durban were in fact already in Johannesburg last week (again, you won't know if you don't actually communicate and reach out to the press), is how bad A+E Networks Africa was post its media launch event, failing to even issue any kind of press release, transcripts or more information.

It's not possible to report what Aletta Alberts, MultiChoice's head of content, said at and about A+E Networks' History of Football channel. A+E Networks Africa didn't bother issuing any quotes or transcript, and when asked this week for it and what she said, didn't respond.

Neither is it possible to report and let viewers and the local TV industry know what Yusuf Nabee, A+E Networks' general manager for Africa, said. A+E Networks Africa apparently has nothing and didn't respond with anything when asked for what he said. 

What on earth was Yusuf Nabee and his team thinking and doing by not wanting to include national press through even a bare-minimum press release afterwards?

Ditto for the speech or quotes from Lucas Radebe, the veteran soccer player that A+E Networks Africa made the face of the channel as the so-called "brand ambassador" of the History of Football channel. What he said, we don't know (and won't).

And surprise, surprise (not) about TV exec Daniel Korn, programming head of History at A+E Networks in the United Kingdom, who apparently jetted to South Africa last week for the launch of the History of Football channel on MultiChoice's service.

Likewise for him there's no transcript, no quotes, no basic media advisory that he would be here, no interviews offered to media, and no press release.

Good luck finding something Daniel Korn said while he was here. A+E Networks during his time in South Africa couldn't be bothered.

If A+E Networks Africa cared so little to bother and couldn't reach out and include the press and communicate with media outside of a few sports writers in Johannesburg, why should/would the press bother if a channel distributor doesn't seem to take it's own content and project seriously?

It's disturbing that there wasn't even a press release sent to the press after the media launch to the media in Johannesburg who didn't/couldn't attend, and the media elsewhere in South Africa.

It's beyond ridiculous that A+E Networks Africa's marketing and PR executives somehow don't think anything is necessary after its press release about the channel that was issued in April.

Yet A+E Networks Africa trotted out executives and talent for a media launch - that came and went as if it never happened. Where is the common sense and even beyond that, the return on the investment?

With an over supply of channels and a blur of shows, it's already become so hard for TV critics and Those Covering Television to try and just keep up with everything. At least A+E Networks actively made one thing easier - giving the press a clear indication of what it can sidestep and ignore without feeling a responsibility of having to give it coverage.

By not wanting or bothering to communicate with press and the dedicated journalists covering television in South Africa - who would have tried to cover it more but now owes it nothing in time nor attention - A+E Networks Africa signalled to them exactly how much (little) they, and by implication viewers, need to care about the History of Football channel on DStv.

It's one less channel to try and worry about.

INTERVIEW. Actress and singer Tichina Arnold on Roseanne Barr, the #MeToo movement, visiting Africa, advice for single mothers and showbiz dreamers, and her new role in Mzansi Magic's prison drama, Lockdown.

The actress and singer Tichina Arnold says she's extremely disappointed in Roseanne Barr's racist Twitter rant but hugely excited about her upcoming role in Mzansi Magic's local prison drama, Lockdown.

The actress, known by millions for her iconic role as Pam in Martin,  just arrived in South Africa to film a new role for half of June as Paulette, a new female inmate in Lockdown.

Tichina Arnold, who DStv subscribers recently saw in Daytime Divas on 1Magic (DStv 103) and Survivor's Remorse on VUZU Amp and 1Magic, in a one-on-one sit-down interview, gave her reaction on the developing Roseanne news and spoke to me about how her Lockdown role came about and how she will be approaching it.

I also asked Tichina Arnold for advice for mothers, advice for people who want to break into showbiz, travelling halfway around the world for a TV role and her thoughts on, and advice about, Hollywood's #MeToo movement that has also reached South Africa.

I know you just arrived in South Africa but what do you make of the racist rant of Roseanne Barr and Wanda Sykes who worked on the show,  saying she quit as consulting producer?
[this happened 20 minutes before news that Roseanne is being cancelled]
Tichina Arnold: We are extremely disappointed that Roseanne would do that and say that only because not just white people but black people have supported her show back then. We supported her when she stuffed up the national anthem years ago. We feel that Roseanne does need to give an apology. Let's talk about the good of this: Wanda Sykes left work. She left a day job, she left something that she loves doing, which is writing. She left that and I support Wanda Sykes.

How did this role in Lockdown came about?
Tichina Arnold: it came about through a friend and a business friend of my named Bart Phillips who owns Sunseekers Productions.
And he and I used to do the Triumph Awards together, which is Al Sharpton's award ceremony for people who are not celebrities, people who are movers and shakers and philanthropists in the world in the African-American community, and for the betterment of the African-American community.
So it's a great award show and that's how I met Bart Phillips.
Bart Phillips in turn introduced me to a man named Mandla N. And Mandla told me that he is and was a fan of the Martin show and that he look up to me and the whole good thing, and when he read this role to me and he told me that this role was written for me, and with me in mind - the awe, the awe - I had to, I had to accept the offer.
It allowed me to have an amazing platform to step and to tell a story of black women. Not just black women in America, or just black women in South Africa, but in Africa, period.
And that is the joy and the beauty of doing what I do, because I get to tell so many amazing stories. And there are still so many amazing stories to be told and I'm just so happy that Lockdown will be a conduit of that.   

And were you not apprehensive about travelling so far to the other side of the world to be in a TV show?
Tichina Arnold: Never! Never! The travelling part is the best part! That's my motto: I'm going to travel until the day I die. It's about seeing the world. The world keeps me humble. And the reason why I say that is because you get to meet and see and experience so many different cultures, so many different types of people, so many different types of music and food and scenery and religion. I love experiencing life, period.
For me to be on the ground of my ancestors and all of the people that paved the way before I was even thought of, is the most humbling experience that I can ever imagine.

Can you talk a little bit about the role and how you're going to approach it? And for how long is it going to be?
Tichina Arnold: Well, I will be on for 9 episodes and I will be here in Johannesburg for the next two weeks during which we will be filming. My thoughts coming to this role is to be open-minded, first of all, because this is new territory for me.
This is the first time that I'm getting to work with these amazing and brilliant actors. And so I'm looking forward to that.
But I'm also looking forward to digesting what South Africa is about.
And to digest the plight and the difficulties that South African women have here in the prison system. So Lockdown on Mzansi Magic is so pivotal in telling a much needed story that needs to be told of black women. And what I love is that we are telling it.

What advice do you have for working mothers, single working moms, but really any moms?
Tichina Arnold: My main advice for single working mothers - which I am - is don't be afraid to ask for help. It's almost impossible to raise a child by yourself.
And not a lot of women talk about it, nor do they admit it. But we need help. Every mother needs help. And so when I learnt to ask for help, that's when I got it. So my daughter has been raised by the village - my daughter has been raised by people that I trust in showbusiness. I've been helped to raise her by wonderful men in my life. So it takes a village to raise a child. You can not do it alone. Do not be afraid to ask for help. Even those women who don't have extended family members, who have no-one - there is somebody on this Earth, walking, that will help you. Never be afraid to ask for help.

What advice do you have for someone in Africa who wants to break into television and the world of showbiz?
Tichina Arnold: For those trying to get into showbiz, you better know what it is, know what you want out of it and be prepared for it to not give it back to you. You've got to love it because when it doesn't love you back, you're stuck in there with it.
It's like being in a relationship. It may not always pay your rent, it may not always feed you, it may not always clothe you, but the fact that you love it will make you stick by it. That's the best advice I can give to anyone getting into this industry. And get used to always being told "no".

Can you talk a bit about the #MeToo movement. It's really only just reaching Africa. What advice do you have for women? People are scared to come forward. What advice do you have for women and specifically young women who are carrying a burden because of sexual harassment and abuse?
Tichina Arnold: The most positive thing about the #MeToo movement is that there is power in numbers.
And you know how we always hear that "misery loves company" - you know what - people, when you know that somebody else is going through what you've been through, it helps and it makes it a little easier because you know that you're not alone.
What I tell women that are part of #MeToo movement or want to be a part of the #MeToo movement is: Be brave enough and tell your story. Share your story with someone. Or listen to someone else who has a story.
Thank God I was never never molested or tragically raped or anything like that as a young woman coming up in showbusiness, but I know a lot of people who were.
So I listen to stories. I've been listening to stories. I'm able to identify and understand those stories. So I can help them pass on the #MeToo movement and pass on what they're going through.
We have to share these horrible things that happen in our lives because it helps somebody else. It is for the greater good of humanity. Now the cover has been blown off of all of these things that have held women down for so many years. Thank God for the #MeToo movement.
But what are we going to do now that attention has been brought on it? We have to use it wisely.
We have to make sure that we never get back to this place again.

Tuesday, May 29, 2018

BREAKING. Roseanne cancelled after Roseanne Barr's racist Twitter rant calling former Obama advisor a product of the 'Muslim Brotherhood and Planet of the Apes'; 'there was only one thing to do here, and that was the right thing,' says Disney CEO Rogert Iger.

The hit revival of the comedy series Roseanne that has already been renewed for a second season has been abruptly cancelled on Tuesday evening following Roseanne Barr's racist rant on social media.

The hit comedy series, the most watched scripted TV show this season in America is officially scrapped after Roseanne Barr tweeted on Tuesday that Valerie Jarrett, a former advisor to America's previous president Barack Obama looked like the "Muslim Brotherhood and the Planet of the Apes had a baby".

After massive outrage, Roseanne Barr deleted the tweet and then apologised, saying "my joke was in bad taste".

America's ABC network was initially silent and refused to respond, until ABC issued a statement saying Roseanne is cancelled.

Channing Dungey, ABC entertainment president in a statement said "Roseanne's racist Twitter rant "is abhorrent, repugnant and inconsistent with our values, and we have decided to cancel the show."

Disney CEO Robert Iger said "There was only one thing to do here, and that was the right thing".

Roseanne was already renewed in March for a 13-episode second season with pre-production underway when Roseanne let loose her racist rant, that prompted comedian Wanda Sykes, a consulting producer to quit and say she won't be involved with Roseanne for the second season any longer. "I will not be returning to Roseanne," Wanda Sykes tweeted.

Roseanne showrunner Bruce Helford in a statement said "On behalf of all the writers and producers, we worked incredibly hard to create an amazing show. I was personally horrified and saddened by the comments and in no way do they reflect the values of the people who worked so hard to make this the iconic show that it is."

Sara Gilbert who played Roseanne's daughter on Roseanne tweeted that her comments "are abhorrent and do not reflect the beliefs of our cast and crew or anyone associated with our show. This is incredibly sad and difficult for all of us as we've created a show that we believe in, are proud of, and that audiences love - one that is separate and apart from the opinions and words of one cast member."

Emma Kenney, who played Darlene and David's daughter,  said "I am hurt, embarrassed, and disappointed. The racist and distasteful comments from Roseanne are inexcusable".

The revived Roseanne that has not yet shown up on any TV channels in South Africa - neither the SABC nor M-Net (DStv 101), or anything else on MultiChoice's DStv satellite pay-TV platform, now likely won't.

No South African broadcaster will want to be associated with Roseanne's racism, making selling the show internationally, and in South Africa now difficult, of not impossible.

Cell C's black: MultiChoice's threat of Netflix taking over is exaggerated.

Cell C's subscription video-on-demand (SVOD) service, black, says MultiChoice's hype that Netflix is going to take over, is exaggerated.

MultiChoice, Africa's largest pay-TV operator, told South Africa's broadcasting regulator earlier this month that Netflix is a threat and caused the loss of over 100 000 DStv Premium subscribers during the last financial year. Yet MultiChoice isn't reaching out to Netflix for a possible partnership in the way that America and Britain's biggest pay-TV operators have been doing.

The Independent Communications Authority of South Africa (Icasa) is once again conducting an inquiry into South Africa's pay-TV sector and is looking at, and will consider, how to possibly amend regulations.

MultiChoice is arguing for South Africa's broadcasting regulator to urgently implement regulations on global streaming services like Netflix and Amazon Prime Video operating in South Africa, instead of imposing even more onerous regulations on video entertainment businesses like MultiChoice.

The global over-the-top (OTT) streamers for instance don't pay local taxes and are not encumbered by things like local content quotas and other regulatory restrictions.

MultiChoice wants Amazon Prime Video and Netflix South Africa to be regulated - similar to what the European Union (EU) is currently implementing in terms of 30% local content quotas and tax requirements.

Cell C black says that while Netflix is a competitor, black doesn't see Netflix preventing media companies from thriving locally. Cell C black says the service is experiencing good growth despite the presence of competitors like Netflix, Naspers' Showmax run by MultiChoice and MultiChoice's satellite pay-TV service, DStv.

"Netflix has built up a global brand bby offering customers movies that are no longer in the rental pay-window. This means content on our platform will actually have movies before they are on Netflix," says Surie Ramasary, Cell C black chief executive.

"They do not offer local content in every market, including South Africa. This is where we will have a competitive edge. In addition we will also start to build a library of our own originals overtime."

She says this could actually lead to job creation and not losses. "black believes as more content players enter the market customers will have increasing choice and will subscribe to more than one service."

"Much will depend on how well you treat your customer and look after their needs. Customer service will be a key differentiator as well. Media companies who are poor at this will see a decline in their subscribers."

Monday, May 28, 2018

Faith Daniels and Aldrin Sampear join eNCA as national assignments editor and reporter.

eNCA (DStv 403) is adding to its staffer ranks with Faith Daniels and Aldrin Sampear joining the South African TV news channel.

Faith Daniels will join eNCA from June as national assignments editor, while Adrin Sampear joins eNCA as a reporter.

Faith Daniels joined Kagiso Media two and a half years ago in January 2016 as head of news for its Jacaranda FM and East Coast Radio radio stations.

Aldrin Sampear joins eNCA from the South African public broadcaster's SABC News division. struggling over SABC's 'subsidised' TV soaps as eMedia plunges to R1.599 billion; writes off R69 million in purchased film licensing as the loss-making Openview still needs to almost double its viewership to reach profitability.

eMedia Holdings that owns, eNCA and the satellite TV platform service Openview plunged into a loss of R1.599 billion for its financial year ending 31 March 2018, from a profit of R112 million the year before, blaming the "subsidised" SABC for having TV programming that's watched more, and writing off R68.8million in purchased films due to bad content acquisition management, and writing off R31 million of subsidiary Coleske Artists.

Meanwhile the loss-making Openview still has to almost double its viewership ratings before it can become profitable.

eMedia Holdings has a 67.69% interest in eMedia Investments, the company that owns, eNCA and Openview. Despite the loss, eMedia showed a 5% increase in advertising revenue from R1 505 million to R1 573 million.

eMedia says its results were negatively impacted by its new channels carriage agreement with MultiChoice, with license revenue fees that was cut substantially. Meanwhile eMedia continues to invest heavily in its own free-to-air Openview satellite TV service that continues to be loss-making.

Andre van der Veen, eMedia CEO, says "'s share of broadcast audience remains under pressure, mostly due to the popularity of local dramas commissioned by the SABC. The group has implemented various schedule changes, including the launch of an additional local drama in April 2018".

According to eMedia "while the SABC commissions a substantial amount of local programming, at much higher cost than equivalent international content, our ability to commission additional local drama is limited by our production budget and profitability."

"Our schedule will remain under pressure while the SABC continues to operate under a subsidized regime, however we are confident that our current schedule should arrest any significant decline." wrote off R68.8 million in acquired films that was wasted, blaming "reduced movie slots".

"The reduction in the movie slots, and a detailed analysis of the movie inventory, necessitated a once-off write-down of the movie inventory of R68.8 million," says eMedia, noting that "this is included in programming costs and other cost of sales which has shown an 11% increase year-on-year."

"A new revenue and content acquisition system was implemented to ensure better content acquisition in future."

Openview meanwhile incurred operating costs of R255 million, with eMedia saying that Openview set-top box activations continue to grow at around 35 000 per month.

"At the end of the period, a total of 1 149 217 [778 493 in 2017] boxes have been activated, and a total of R74 million has been spent on retail subsidies."

"The group will increase its content investment in the Openview platform during 2019 and recently announced that it will launch a news channel on Openview (OpenNews) during the last quarter of 2018. In addition an Afrikaans block of programming, including news and current affairs, will also be launched during this time."

"While these programmes and channels will be loss-making in the beginning, they are part of the content that is required to promote set-top box uptake and viewership. Openview currently attracts about 3.5% of the television audience in South Africa and break-even is estimated to be in the region of 6%".

"eNCA (DStv 403) continues to be the most watched 24-hour news channel in the country with over 50% of the market share. As mentioned the amount received from MultiChoice has reduced this year, however costs are being well controlled in this entity."

In the past year eMedia sold the company Silverline Three Sixty and finalised the sale of its interests in Lalela Music, e.Botswana and Botswana. The office bulding in Umhlanga, Durban was sold for R25 million.

MultiChoice on why it doesn't want to give DStv subscribers access to Netflix: Haven't engaged with Netflix and is treating Netflix as pure competition - but open to opportunities that make commercial sense.

MultiChoice says it's not giving DStv subscribers access to Netflix like the world's other pay-TV operators are doing because it's treating Netflix as "pure competition", and that although it hasn't yet engaged with Netflix over a possible partnership, it is studying what's happening and is open to opportunities that make commercial sense in the future.

TVwithThinus asked Calvo Mawela, MultiChoice SA CEO, why the direct-to-home (DTH) satellite pay-TV provider isn't partnering up with Netflix and Netflix South Africa, and why MultiChoice isn't offering DStv subscribers access to Netflix as well similar to what overseas pay-TV operators are doing.

MultiChoice, Africa's largest pay-TV operator, told South Africa's broadcasting regulator earlier this month that Netflix is a threat and caused the loss of over 100 000 DStv Premium subscribers during the last financial year. Yet MultiChoice isn't reaching out to Netflix for a possible partnership in the way that America and Britain's biggest pay-TV operators have been doing.

MultiChoice already took over management of Naspers' subscription video-on-demand (SVOD) service Showmax that's being bundled in for DStv subscribers but so far isn't giving DStv users access to Netflix.

In April, America's largest pay-TV provider Comcast, in a joint announcement with Netflix, said that it will now be bundling Netflix as a service into subscriptions. In April Britain's largest pay-TV provider Sky also announced that it is partnering with Netflix to bundle the full Netflix service into its offering to give Sky subscribers seamless access to Netflix as well.

"We are following and making observations around what's happening in the rest of the world in terms of traditional pay-TV operators and how they engage with Netflix," said Calvo Mawela.

"We also recognise the kind of partnership they've done with Sky and as a business we are open to anything that will make commercial sense to us."

"However, we have not gone and engaged with Netflix at this stage. All we are saying at this present moment is we are competing with Netflix, hence we launched Showmax for us to capture that market. But we are not people that will not look at opportunities that make commercial sense for us."

"Once we get a full understanding of how the Netflix partnership works in the rest of the world with traditional pay-TV, we will be able to make a call as to whether it's good for us to partner or whether it's not good for us to partner."

"At the present moment we treat Netflix as pure competition. And we are trying to build Showmax to be able to compete with Netflix," said Calvo Mawela.

"We are saying we really need to recognise that online is here, and it is today."

"If we do not come up with business plans that address the needs of consumers that are clear that they want to consume content online, this traditional pay-TV industry will be dead in the not too distant future."

"Hence we have launched the likes of Showmax, that is supposed to help us in making sure that we move to the online space with speed and that we begin to build a customer base that can be loyal to us."

"Traditional television and pay-TV is facing a big threat of survival. And if we don't change our business model, we will end up being monuments that's one of those where people refer to it as a once successful company if we don't move quickly to online. We need to move to online for us to survive as businesses."

The Independent Communications Authority of South Africa (Icasa) is once again conducting an inquiry into South Africa's pay-TV sector and is looking at, and will consider, how to possibly amend regulations.

During MultiChoice's oral presentations before Icasa earlier this month, Netflix hired a helicopter and flew a banner "Netflix is here!" over MultiChoice and Icasa's Sandton complex.

MultiChoice is arguing for South Africa's broadcasting regulator to urgently implement regulations on global streaming services like Netflix and Amazon Prime Video operating in South Africa, instead of imposing even more onerous regulations on video entertainment businesses like MultiChoice.

The global over-the-top (OTT) streamers for instance don't pay local taxes and are not encumbered by things like local content quotas and other regulatory restrictions.

MultiChoice wants Amazon Prime Video and Netflix South Africa to be regulated - similar to what the European Union (EU) is currently implementing in terms of 30% local content quotas and tax requirements.

Saturday, May 26, 2018

After its Syfy cancellation, Amazon saves the excellent science fiction drama series, The Expanse, picks it up for season 4.

Amazon has saved the excellent science fiction series, The Expanse, after cancellation by Syfy, picking up the series for a 4th season on Amazon Prime Video for the United States.

The Expanse is currently midway through its 3rd season and was cancelled by the NBCUniversal-owned channel.

Interestingly, for international viewers, including South Africa, The Expanse has been available on Netflix, a rival streaming to Amazon.

It will be interesting to see how the new take-over pick-up deal might impact where future and past seasons become available due to the complex subscription video-on-demand (SVOD) rights.

Time will tell, but it could be that the first 3 seasons of The Expanse remain on Netflix, with further seasons on Amazon Prime Video. It could also be that the first 3 seasons move to Amazon Prime Video as back catalogue together with the new 4th season.

Or it could be that The Expanse simply continues on Netflix internationally and Netflix South Africa, retain the existing 3 seasons and showing the 4th - this being the most likely scenario.

Speaking on Friday at a panel at the National Space Society's conference, Jeff Bezos, Amazon CEO who is a big fan of The Expanse book series, said that Amazon has made a deal to take over the science fiction series for a 4th season.

"I just got word that The Expanse was saved," Jeff Bezos said on Friday evening at the National Space Society's International Space Development Conference in Los Angeles.

The cast and producers of The Expanse team was in the ballroom audience for the Q&A session with Jeff Bezos when he made the announcement that Amazon is taking over the show.

"I was talking to the cast half an hour ago, before the break for dinner started. I was telling them that we are working hard at Amazon to save The Expanse but it wasn't a done deal yet."

"During dinner, 10 minutes ago, I just got word that The Expanse is saved," Jeff Bezos said to applause and with the cast members standing up and applauding. "The show is extraordinary and these guys are unbelievably talented".

"We couldn't be more excited that The Expanse is going to continue on Amazon Prime! We are deeply grateful that Jeff Bezos, Jen Salke [new Amazon programming boss], and their team at Amazon have shown such faith in our show," said Alcon Entertainment co-founders and co-CEOs Andrew Kosove and Broderick Johnson who produce the series, in a statement.

"We also want to thank Laura Lancaster, head of Alcon Television for her tireless efforts. We are fully aware that this wouldn't have been possible if it wasn't for the staggering outpouring of support from the most creative, hardest working sci-fi fans around the world."

NBCUniversal's Syfy said it was difficult dumping The Expanse but didn't want it anymore.

"The Expanse transported us across the solar system for three brilliant seasons of television. Everyone at Syfy is a massive fan of the series, and this was an incredibly difficult decision," said Chris McCumber, president of entertainment networks at NBCU Cable Entertainment in a statement announcing the show's cancellation.

"We want to sincerely thank The Expanse’s amazing cast, crew and all the dedicated creatives who helped bring James S. A. Corey's story to life."

eNCA adds new weekend programming strands, The Tim Modise Network on Saturday and The Fix with Karima Brown on Sunday.

eNCA (DStv 403) has added new weekend programming strands, The Tim Modise Network with Tim Modise on Saturdays, and The Fix with Karima Brown on Sundays, starting this weekend.

The Tim Modise Network is a spin-off extension of the same-named podcast show Tim Modise did for TouchHD. The veteran broadcaster also did a current affairs talk show Tonight with Tim Modise on SowetoTV since 2015 and that was extended to 4 days a week in January 2016, but that is apparently now finished.

The hourlong The Tim Modise Network will be broadcast on eNCA on Saturdays at 18:00 and will see Tim Modise do interviews with politicians, musicians, celebrities and sports heroes. The show will also be shown on Sundays at 18:00 - likely a rebroadcast although eNCA didn't specify.

In the first episode of The Tim Modise Show on eNCA he will talk to the Market & Joburg City Theatre artistic directors, James Ngcobo and Makhaola Ndebele about the topic of whether South African theatre still has the same social and cultural impact as it used to have.

"I want to use The Modise Network to engage with the people who are taking our country forward," says Tim Modise. "Politicians, musicians and sports heroes all have a role to play in how we shape our future. I am very excited about bringing them into our network and onto my couch."

eNCA is also adding The Fix with Karima Brown on Sundays at 19:00 to 21:00 as a new 2-hour programming strand from this Sunday.

The veteran political journalist and commentator will have a panel of guests who will discuss and analyse the past week's big news events and also look forward to the new week's upcoming events.

The panellists will also debate issues, described as "nothing's off the table in this no-holds-barred debate show".

"The Fix will be a platform to engage on the big issues. I want honest views, robust opinions, and real debate," says Karima Brown.

"Yes, we will hold the powerful to account, but we will also challenge each other to get to the heart of any issue we tackle – be it how to run the economy, sports hooliganism or sexual politics. We promise that you will still be talking about it on Monday morning," says Karima Brown.

SuperSport pulls Ashwin Willemse, Nick Mallett and Naas Botha off the air in ongoing controversy, but says they're not suspended as SuperSport fails to make sufficient headway in its internal investigation.

In the ongoing controversy SuperSport has pulled commentators Ashwin Willemse, Naas Botha and Nick Mallett off air although saying none of them have been fired, with the pay-sportscaster saying its investigation started off good but failed to make sufficient headway.

In a shocking live on-air incident this past Saturday Saturday Ashwin Willemse walked off set in SuperSport's Randburg studios after a verbal altercation with Nick Mallett and Naas Botha that he said on-air he is glad the public get to see, and saying he won't be patronised anymore and won't "work with people that undermine other people".

On Monday Gideon Khobane, SuperSport CEO, still promised that Ashwin Willemse, Naas Botha and Nick Mallett will all appear, and together this Saturday on SuperSport as rugby analysts.

All three have now been dumped from television, although not suspended, and replaced by Victor Matfield, Breyton Paulse and Xola Ntshinga for Saturday.

With a massive and polarising response from South Africans over the incident, SuperSport and MultiChoice have continued to managed the fallout very badly, especially in terms of public relations and the press and damaging the SuperSport brand.

Politicians called for a boycott of DStv and SuperSport and even the minister of sports Tokozile Xasa swiftly calling for the suspension of Naas Botha and Nick Mallett over alleged racism.

After initially saying Ashwin Willemse, Naas Botha and Nick Mallett will all remain on-air, SuperSport is now saying they won't be, but also that they're not suspended.

They are just removed but will continue to be paid according to SuperSport, although presenters are usually only paid if they actually do work which is to appear on television.

"We have had discussions this week with all parties in an effort to resolve this matter amicably and expeditiously," says SuperSport in a statement, with the incident that will now be reviewed by an advocate.

"Despite good progress initially, the matter has unfortunately not been resolved. We have therefore decided to instruct an independent senior counsel, advocate Vincent Maleka, to chair a review of the incident which occurred and to make recommendations to our management."

SuperSport says that "pending the outcome of the review, the three presenters involved will not appear on-air. None of the presenters have been suspended and they will continue to be remunerated in terms of their contracts."

"We are committed to getting to the bottom of this serious issue," says SuperSport.

"Advocate Vincent Maleka has been asked to make findings and recommendations by Monday 11 June 2018."

Thursday, May 24, 2018

Exclusive TV content: This is how imposed limitations will hurt viewers if South Africa's broadcasting regulator, Icasa, introduce caps on how much, and for how long, a TV channel can acquire exclusive entertainment and sports content.

If South Africa's broadcasting regulator impose limits on the quantity of exclusive content or on the duration of these contracts that a TV channel or pay-TV operator can secure these for, it will mean that viewers will be the ones losing out when one channel or operator is prevented from bidding when rivals don’t have the money, interest or willingness to secure these rights.

South Africa's broadcasting regulator, the Independent Communications Authority of South Africa (Icasa) is once again conducting an inquiry into South Africa’s pay-TV sector and is looking at, and will consider, on how to possibly amend regulations.

Some of the suggestions put forth by Icasa in a discussion document, have been to impose some form of artificial limits on especially pay-TV operators – for instance MultiChoice running the DStv satellite pay-TV service and the pay-TV broadcaster M-Net that are both part of the Naspers stable – as well as operators like StarTimes Media SA and On Digital Media running StarSat.

These suggestions include possibly limiting the quantity of exclusive premium entertainment and sports content that might be acquired, as well as possibly limiting the broadcast licensing period.

This could be for instance preventing one pay-TV operator from bidding and acquiring the rights to more than one season of the English Premier League (EPL), or from signing more than one Hollywood studio output deal for TV series like HBO for instance, or for how long such an output deal might be.

Imposed limits when it comes to content exclusivity, especially around sports rights, were introduced by the British broadcasting regulator, Ofcom, a few years back in the United Kingdom but failed to have the desired effect.

Also worth keeping in mind is that limiting a specific TV channel, lets say M-Net, or a pay-TV operator from acquiring certain content exclusively, doesn’t mean that that content will become available to South African and African viewers on for instance StarSat, the SABC or

International content rights for both general entertainment as well as sports still comes with a specific price tag. If a broadcaster isn't allowed to acquire it, it doesn't mean that a rival will have the budget and money, the interest or the scheduling capacity to pick it up – or the content might not be suited or aligned to that broadcaster’s audience and viewership demographic.

If M-Net is for instance prevented from acquiring the fantasy drama series Game of Thrones from HBO because it already has Billions from Showtime, there’s no guarantee that another pay-TV channel will have the money, international distributor relationship or willingness to cough up what the rights costs to show the drama series.

‘Exclusivity the lifeblood of pay-broadcasters’
TVwithThinus asked Brandon Foot, group general counsel for MultiChoice, about exclusivity rights, especially as it pertains to sports content licensing, and why it matters.

"Simply put, sports federations, their principle source of revenue is from their broadcast rights – between 50% and 70% of their income is from the licensing of broadcast rights. On the other side, what the public doesn’t sometimes understand, is why would you pay us for the box and then on a monthly basis, when you can watch everything single English Premier League game played for free on the SABC?"

"So, as a result of that, we have to differentiate ourselves, and exclusivity, in sport in particular, and also in general entertainment, has been accepted around the world by all regulators as being the lifeblood of pay-broadcasters,” said Brandon Foot.

"If you limit as far as sports rights are concerned, firstly you're going to kill us because that's how we differentiate ourselves. But more importantly, ultimately you'll ultimately kill the sports federations."

"The two federations that already made presentations at Icasa inquiry – The South African Rugby Union (Saru) and the Premier Soccer League (PSL) – made it very, very clear that they are best placed to decide what to do with their rights and that they self-regulate and that should there be anything else imposed or restrictions put on them, it would kill them and take them back to the Dark Ages," said Brandon Foot.

"So from a sports perspective it's absolutely crucial to have an element of exclusivity. The sports federations themselves realise that there has to be by the same token, wide distribution, and so a portion of their content needs to be on free-to-air (FTA), but sports federations are best placed to the call at any particular point in time as to what the blend should be between pay-TV exclusivity and FTA distribution."

‘Sports rights important’
TVwithThinus also asked Brandon Foot whether live sports viewing is as important in South Africa and Africa as it is in America, where live sports broadcasting, as well as so-called "event television" – for instance the season finale of a reality singing competition show – have continued to keep viewers tuning in while linear TV ratings for other programming have shown sharp declines the past half a decade.

"From a sports perspective we understand that sport is important, there's no question about that. But what we have found is that it is not must-have, if you compare it to some of the other general entertainment. For example some of the soaps rate far more highly than sport does."

"But we see it as part of a genre that a household would like to watch. The big thing about sports – I think of my household for example – I love to watch certain matches per week when my specific teams are playing and for me that's important. But generally speaking the rest of the family will focus on general entertainment, soaps, news and kids channels," said Brandon Foot.

"What we also see though is that a lot of the over-the-top (OTT) players [streaming services] are having a very close look and are in fact, they've already gone further and are buying sports rights. And a lot of those sports rights holders are now making sports content available directly to people's home without even the need of a third-party to broadcast it as such, like Formula One, NBA and NFL."

BBC Lifestyle on DStv pulls 347 000 viewers for the royal wedding of Prince Harry and Meghan Markle, making it the most watched international TV channel on DStv for the day.

BBC Lifestyle (DStv 174) pulled 347 000 South African viewers this past Saturday who tuned to the channel to watch the royal wedding of Prince Harry and Meghan Markle, making BBC Lifestyle the number one international channel in terms of ratings on DStv for the day.

An estimated 1.9 billion people globally watched all or part of Saturday's royal wedding that took place at Windsor Castle.

The royal wedding was also carried and seen in South Africa on CNN International, BBC World News, E! Entertainment, ITV Choice and SABC3 although none of those channels released viewership and ratings data.

It means that the combined South African audience who watched the wedding will be bigger than the already stellar 347 000 viewership rating that BBC Lifestyle got, with BBC Studios Africa that also held an outdoor viewing at The Melrose Arch Piazza in Johannesburg to promote the BBC Lifestyle channel and the appointment television event.

"This was the biggest live viewing area for the royal wedding in the country," said Shireez Latief, senior marketing manager for BBC Studios Africa.

Sarah-Jane Harling, advertising director for BBC Studios Africa, says the BBC's set of channels are growing from strength to strength.

Joel Churcher, the vice president and general manager for BBC Studios Africa, says one of the channels in BBC Studios' Africa portfolio, BBC First (DStv 119), is now the second most watched international TV drama channel on MultiChoice's DStv platform.

Joel Churcher says BBC Brit (DStv 120), that has been repositioned and changed into a general entertainment channel, is now one of the top 10 most watched TV channels on DStv.

The latest season of Come Dine with Me South Africa produced by Rapid Blue and moved to BBC Brit pushed past the 250 000 viewers rating, cracking a new series viewership record as the most viewers for a series on any of the BBC's channels seen in South Africa yet.

BBC Lifestyle that continues to be the number one lifestyle TV channel in South Africa will undergo an on-air look and ident refresh later this year.

BBC Studios Africa is working on another new locally commissioned and produced programme that will be announced in a few months' time.

TV dreams in Durban: From dawn to dusk hopefuls queue at the Durban auditions of SABC3's Presenter Search on 3, luring dancers, DJ's, doctors and even a rugby player moonlighting as a male stripper.

Zola Myeza who woke up when it was dark and queued for hours for her chance to do an audition for the SABC3's Presenter Search on 3 when the show came to Durban, says programmes like this visiting places smaller places and cities outside of Johannesburg scouting for new TV talent, gives people hope that "even when you're home, you can go ahead and conquer your dreams".

She was one of thousands who queued patiently when the show visited Durban, the episode that will be broadcast this evening on SABC3 at 19:30.

Viewers already saw how thousands of people from across South Africa flocked to the nationwide Presenter Search on 3 auditions, that kicked off in Port Elizabeth, and then moved to Cape Town.

Over two days at the Durban Exhibition Centre, people queued from very early for the chance to be seen by the regional judges like the Top Billing presenters Ayanda Thabethe and Maps Maponyane, Expresso presenter Ewan Strydom, Lotus FM's Shirdika Pillai, Afternoon Express' Danilo Acquisto and the Mela presenter and doctor Tevin Naidu.

Ntombfuthi Ngema (35) from Umlazi who woke up at midnight and arrived at 04:30 to be the first in the queue at the Durban auditions, told TVwithThinus that said she wanted to enter because "this is me. This is what I was born to do. I know I can do this because I'm the best person for this."

She said she sees herself on Top Billing. "I mean, I can do the movies. Maybe I can be a producer or a talk show host".

Londeka Sishi (21) originally from Port Shepstone but living in Durban, said "I've always been very passionate about people and speaking from a very young age. I've had a lot of hurdles that have prevented me from pursuing my dreams which is media and entertainment. And now I think I've finally got myself in a position where I'm able to pursue it."

She said she didn't sleep the night before. "I'm also a singer, so writing comes naturally to me. In preparation I watched a lot of auditions; a lot of people presenting on TV; and I watched a lot of SABC3. And then what I did was write something that I felt was close to the show that I was auditioning for and I did a couple of takes for my family to give me some feedback and tell me what they thought."

Speaking after her audition, Palesa Tembe (27) from Umlazi, D-section said she decided to come and try out for the chance to become a SABC3 presenter because "I have a background in dancing and acting, but TV presenting has truly been at the core and always been something I've been attracted to. So when I saw this opportunity, I thought who am I not to take it".

She woke up at 5:00 in the morning. In preparing she said "I know that SABC3 has a very beautiful relationship with humour. Everybody is funny and personable, so I just tried to remind myself that whatever I put in my link, needs to truly resonate with the fun-loving atmosphere that SABC3 always puts through to viewers."

"The judges are really cool, really personable, and I really felt a connection with them. So it was a lot more intimidating that what I thought it would be, but they made it so comfortable and truly encouraging."

Zola Myeza (25) from Mount Edgecombe who already appeared in Uzalo on SABC1, said she decided to enter because "it's what I'm passionate about".

"I'm already a radio presenter and in growing my brand this has always been a dream and part of my journey of growth". She described her audition before the judges as "nerve-wracking. You can't ever deny it - especially with some of your role models in front of you being the judges".

"But it's also extremely inspiring because you're pushing yourself to the limit and you're pushing yourself to the edge. So it was a test for me to see - and just a moment for me to believe in myself, and see me conquering my dream, so I'm just making the most of the opportunity that SABC3 has given me".

Asked what it means for Durban for TV productions like Uzalo to film on location in the city and KwaZulu-Natal and for Presenter Search on 3 to go to Durban to do auditions she said "not a lot of opportunities in the past have been afforded within the city, and just because everything always happens in the City of Gold, as a Durbanite you always dream of 'When I'm done with school I just want to go to Johannesburg to fulfill my dreams".

"A show like Uzalo gives the platform to fulfill your dreams. Even when you're home you can go ahead and conquer your dreams. And it also made people realise that there's a gap in the market. Why can't Durban be the goldmine of dreams? Opportunities can be created here. And stars can be born in Durban. It gives Durbanites that hope that, you know what, you can fulfill your dreams still being at home."

Mishka Gounden from Hillcrest said she decided to enter because her heart told her to do it. She woke up at 04:30 and described her audition as "daunting".

"It's very nerve-wracking, but it's good positive nerves. You do make a few blunders here and there with the lights and the attention and all of the cameras pointing straight at you."

"The pressure is on you, but I have to admit I wasn't nervous at all until I got to the last part of the competition when all of the attention is focused on you. For me personally, I'm very good at improvising, but when you're told on the spot to improvise, under that much pressure, it's very difficult."

The rugby player Ntandoyenkosi Zuma (18) from Durban who woke up at 6:00, surprised the judges by doing an impromptu strip routine and said the judges responded well to it. He said he was "happy about my performance".

He recently started a male entertainer group with some friends. "In December it's very busy when it comes to events, so we thought we can push something new with the stripping thing."

As a flanker he plays rugby for Varsity College (VCRFC) and said "I love rugby and I'm there to steal the ball every time and I enjoy it; an aggressive part to it, but it's a gentleman's sport. I love it, I really love it."

ALSO READ: Presenter Search on 3 kicks off its nationwide audition in Port Elizabeth.
ALSO READ: Presenter Search on 3 lures hopefuls in Cape Town.