Tuesday, October 30, 2018

SABC FIRING LINE. 'SABC staff morale at rock-bottom' over plan to axe thousands as execs and union reps talk about 'cutting heads', 'butchering 2 200 people put out on the street', a 'public jamboree', 'milking a stone', 'dire situation', and the unsustainable 'thick layer at management level'.

"SABC staff morale is at rock-bottom" say workers over the SABC's brutal plan to axe up to over 2 000 workers, with executives and trade union representatives who on Tuesday described the looming retrenchment and situation as "cutting heads", "butchering 2 200 people put out on street", a "public jamboree", "milking a stone", a "dire situation", and saying that the "thick layer at management level" is unsustainable.

The beleaguered South African public broadcaster plans to fire up to 981 of its 3 376 full-time workers and do away with 1 200 of its 2 400 freelance workers by February 2019 as the SABC in a massive crisis once again hovers on the brink of financial collapse.

Tuesday started off with a conveyor belt of SABC'ers doing interviews on the public broadcaster's SABC News (DStv 404) channel.

It began with Leanne Manas who interviewed SABC chairperson Bongumusa Makhathini on Morning Live on SABC2 who said "Even if we get a bailout tomorrow, we still need to tackle the cost structure, and the cost structure of the SABC is driven by a number of things. It's labour costs - that R3.1 billion".

(More detail about that interview and possible implications for SA's TV production industry here)

Madoda Mxakwe, SABC CEO, in an interview with SABC News on Tuesday afternoon revealed that freelance workers cost the SABC R25 million per year, SABC executive directors are paid R12 million per year, and that the SABC's group executives are paid R25 million per year.

It means that the SABC's small group of top executives are paid as much as the 2 400 freelance workers employed by the SABC.

"Then there's a very thick layer at management level. You have about 495 managers and the cost of that is about R620 million," said Madoda Mxakwe.

With 3 376 full-time workers, it means that the SABC has one manager for every 7 people.

"What is very clear is that the organisation cannot be sustainable with this current structure."

Madoda Mxakwe said "we have a bloated structure and it doesn't make sense".

"We are now in a dire financial situation. And as a broadcaster we are not able to meet our obligations financially on a month-to-month basis and essentially that affects our ability as a national broadcaster in terms of the public mandate that we have."

Madoda Mxakwe was asked what else the SABC is cutting besides staff. "It's a lot of things. We are looking at travelling, we're looking at accommodation. All of these." He said it's "operational" and that "there's a lot of things that we are doing there".

Hannes du Buisson, Bemawu president, representing the biggest trade union inside the SABC, said Bemawu is shocked and saddened by the decision. "To cut heads, to butcher about 2 200 people, put them out on the street - it's a quick solution but that is not necessarily the correct solution."

Hannes du Buisson told SABC News in an interview on Tuesday that "there seems to be something sinister about this whole process. It seems that the current SABC management are hell-bent to get rid of current SABC employees and then want to fill those positions with other people from outside the SABC".

Hannes du Buisson said SABC staffers are "gravely concerned" since South Africa's national election is coming up in 2019. "The SABC traditionally would hire more people for that particular period of the election".

"Going into election coverage with SABC staff morale at rock-bottom is not going to serve the public of South Africa."

Aubrey Tshabalala, secretary-general of the Communication Workers' Union (CWU) said the trade union was similarly shocked by the SABC's decision to start with planned retrenchments "and what we term as a public jamboree".

"This management seems to have run out of ideas," he said. "When we look at these managers we are basically milking a stone here."

Aubrey Tshabalala said over-the-top (OTT) streaming services like Showmax, Netflix South Africa, Amazon Prime Video and others "broadcasting for free in this country they must pay a certain levy to balance the equation in terms of the funding model of the SABC".

"It must sink in in these executive members this is what you're driving: A public broadcaster. So if they are not fit to run a public broadcaster, they must tell us so that we can look into that area."

Jonathan Thekiso, the SABC's group HR boss, said  the SABC is also "looking to claw back in excess of R60 million" from former and existing executives and staffers at the broadcaster "which is as a result of irregular appointments, irregular salary increases and irregular promotions".

From the now-fired former SABC COO Hlaudi Motsoeneng the SABC wants "back an amount in excess of R32 million" said Jonathan Thekiso.

Asked about staff and executive who were fired, decided to leave and got purged under Hlaudi Motsoeneng's reign of terror at the SABC with the help of so-called "Hlaudi-enforcers", Jonathan Thekiso said "the SABC needs to ensure that it extends apologies to those respective employees who got purged, who were compromised as a result of activities of the previous administration".

"So the SABC is in the process of issuing such apologies to the respective people."

About the SABC's planned firing of staffers, Jonathan Thekiso said "the SABC's wage bill is sitting at almost half of revenue". He said "the SABC right now is in a very, very bad shape. We are in a dire financial situation right now and one of the major cost drivers is essentially our wage bill."

Asked about why the salaries of top SABC executives are not being revealed, Jonathan Thekiso said "we have been very clear that the issue of divulging the salaries of senior executives" can't happen because it gets published in the SABC's annual report and must first be audited.

SABC FIRING LINE - CUE THE SCHMARNN: Schmarmy SABC chairperson Bongumusa Makhathini says SABC is looking at bringing outsourced productions back in-house; says SABC staffers more important than production companies.

Looking down, her eyes turned away from the camera, SABC2's Morning Live presenter Leanne Manas on Tuesday morning told South African viewers the news that broke on Monday evening that "the reality is retrenchments are looming here at the SABC and nobody is being left out of this one".

Tuesday started off with a conveyor belt of SABC'ers doing interviews on the public broadcaster's SABC News (DStv 404) channel, but none were more schmarmy than the SABC chairperson Bongumusa Makhathini, as usual managing to say nothing of substance but filling dead air.

Instead of giving clear and concise answers to SABC staffers and viewers on Leanne Manas' important questions, Bongumusa Makhathini once again continued to deflect, obfuscate and utter sweet nothings, while using as many high-brow newspeak-legalese words and phrases that ordinary people won't understand.

Dressed in his grey suit, Bongumusa Makhathini as usual came chattering without substance, giving viewers a lot of polit-newspeak without any clear-cut answers and was careful to avoid taking responsibility or being tied down with any real answers.

"Even if we get a bailout tomorrow, we still need to tackle the cost structure, and the cost structure of the SABC is driven by a number of things. It's labour costs - that R3.1 billion. The second one is sports rights."

"In the past 6 years the SABC has lost about R2.3 billion as a result of sports rights which we haven't been able to commercialise," said Bongumusa Makhathini.

Bongumusa Makhathini however failed to mention that it's been happening because of the SABC's own mismanagement, ineptitude and self-inflicted incompetence.

The SABC buys broadcasting rights for once-off matches just days before broadcast - something that cost astronomically more than multiple match or tournament package deals. The SABC then doesn't have enough time to find advertisers and sponsors to book and sell ad spots.

The SABC's hurried late sports acquisitions then lead to abrupt schedule disruptions that force the SABC to do "make-good ads" for other ad buyers (original ads are not shown in the programming those advertisers bought but during sport, meaning the SABC has to show those ads again later without getting money).

Furthermore, viewers don't know that the SABC has sport - angering both those viewers who tune in then don't get the original programme and no apology or explanation, and viewers who find out afterwards that they missed sports programming they would have watched.

Leanne Manas then asked Bongumusa Makhathini what about the SABC's own Henley Studios, parts of which has been left to decay, and why the SABC isn't doing more with its own infrastructure.

Only two of the SABC's multiple weekday soap operas are filmed at the SABC, while the rest are outsourced and filmed at studios of other production companies in Johannesburg.

"We are looking at all these things that we've done that don't make commercial sense. We have to do more from the SABC facilities," Bongumusa Makhathini said.

Leanne Manas then reminded Bongumusa Makhathini that "internalising" productions will damage the wider South African TV industry and take work away from production companies.

"If I have to ask you, do you really care about those production houses, or is it that the SABC is your care; your concern?"

Bongumusa Makhathini looked momentarily perplexed as if realising he was caught out by going along with the previous question and his politically correct answer.

He however kept up his politico-speak platitudes, saying: "We care about all stakeholders but remember our employees are our main priority," raised his eyebrows.

"That's even why with our financial situation, we prioritise things like paying salaries because that to us is important. But at the end of the day we also have to make sure what is our contribution to the overall development of the overall broadcasting industry as the SABC - but not at the expense of our own employees."

"That is why 'interlising' a lot of these production opportunities is important," said Bongumusa Makhathini.

M-Net again adjusts the scheduling of the M-Net City channel on DStv, promises less breaks for a more seamless viewing experience.

M-Net is again adjusting the scheduling of its M-Net City (DStv 115) channel on DStv, saying DStv subscribers will be able to watch prime time shows with fewer breaks and a more seamless viewing experience.

M-Net is changing M-Net City prime time slots from Wednesday, 31 October with shows in prime time between 18:20 and 22:50 that will have fewer breaks, and an additional late-night slot at 22:50 with a high age-restriction where viewers who missed certain series can catch up on those episodes.

M-Net says that while M-Net City is a channel aimed at the lower-tiered DStv Compact subscribers, meaning that most of the content are older than seen on M-Net, M-Net City shouldn't be seen as a repeat channel.

"Even though M-Net City often showcases shows that have previously been on M-Net (DStv 101) available to DStv Premium customers only,it should not be seen as a 'repeat' channel," says Lani Lombard, M-Net's head of publicity.

"Over the past few months, an exceeding number of series have made their African debut on M-Net City."

M-Net says that "as M-Net City is the place where DStv Compact viewers see the hottest series from Hollywood exclusively for the first time, we often receive requests or suggestions from viewers to amp up the schedule. The tweak to the starting times of shows allow us to address some of these requests".

M-Net is changing M-Net City as follows:

Mondays to Friday at 18:20, starting Thursday 1 November, will see the first season of S.W.A.T with Shemar Moore as Sgt. Daniel Hondo Harrelson leading a special crime-fighting unit in Los Angeles.

Mondays to Thursdays at 19:10 M-Net City will show a variety of American drama series: Chicago Fire (season 6) on Mondays, and Chicago PD (season 5) on Tuesdays.

The season finale of Elementary will air on Wednesday 31 October and from Wednesday, 7 November Chicago Med (season 3).

On Thursdays at 19:10 M-Net City will show The Good Doctor (season 1) with Freddie Highmore as Shaun Murphy, a young surgeon with autism who helps patients at the San Jose St. Bonaventure Hospital.

On Mondays to Thursdays at 20:00 M-Net City will schedule superhero series.

On Mondays at 20:00 will be Supergirl (season 3) from 5 November. On Tuesdays it's Arrow (season 6) with Stephen Amell), on Wednesdays from 31 October The Flash (season 4), and on Thursdays DC's Legends of Tomorrow (season 3) from 1 November.

Shades of Blue (season 3) with Jennifer Lopez as Brooklyn police detective Harlee Santos and Ray Liotta as Lt. Matt Wozniak will start on Wednesday 21 November at 20:50.

The period drama Jamestown (season 2) will start on Tuesday 13 November at 21:45.

On Fridays there will be double episodes of the science fiction comedy drama series The Orville at 19:10 and 20:00 from Friday, 2 November with Captain Ed Mercer (Seth McFarlane) and his crew aboard the spaceship USS Orville.

Deen Channel completes the move to its new headquarters in Epping, Cape Town.

The Deen Channel (StarSat 265) has completed its relocation this week to its new headquarters in Epping, Cape Town.

Deen Channel's new head office include better studio facilities and administration space from where the lifestyle TV channel with an Islamic ethos broadcasting on StarSat in South Africa and China's StarTimes elsewhere, is being run.

The new headquarters includes conferencing facilities and the Deen Channel says the move marks a new chapter in the history of the channel.

In June the Deen Channel opened its Johannesburg office.

Hassim Jogee, Deen Channel board chairperson, says the move to a new Cape Town office and studio space was crucial to the growth of the channel.

African boxing matches on FOX Sports Africa to be live streamed globally through Facebook in new FOX Networks Group Africa deal.

African and South African boxing matches broadcast on FOX Sports in Africa will now be live streamed globally through Facebook in a new partnership FOX Networks Group Africa deal with the online social network.

FOX Sports Africa will get to grow its Africa boxing fan base through streaming boxing matches through Facebook Watch, while Facebook gets content.

The FOX Sports Africa boxing stream will be available through FOX Sports Africa's Facebook page.

Upcoming boxing matches that will be live streamed through Facebook Watch include FOX Sports boxing events at the Royal Swazi Spa in eSwatini, and at the Sibaya Casino & Entertainment Kingdom in Durban on 2 and 23 November.

FOX Sports Africa an Facebook already streamed a boxing match from the 9th edition of Africa Boxing that was held on 21 September at the Meropa Casino and Entertainment World in Limpopo, South Africa to almost 200 000 viewers.

FOX Networks Group Africa says "the Africa Boxing series is quickly becoming the leading platform for African boxers to display their talents to a worldwide audience and the live streams will give spectators a front row seat to the action".

"Unlike a traditional television experience, viewers are able leave their comments in real-time, enhancing the total viewing experience. After all events are streamed, the fights will be available on the FOX Sports Africa Facebook page."

Monday, October 29, 2018

BREAKING. Struggling SABC plans to fire up to 981 full-time staffers - or a third of its workforce - in massive restructuring and brutal retrenchment plan, in addition to 1 200 or half of its 2 400 freelance workers also getting the boot.

A terrible Christmas and 2019 await SABC staffers as the struggling South African Broadcasting Corporation, fighting for survival, plans to fire up to 981 of its 3 376 full-time staffers or a whopping third (29.05%) of its total workforce in a brutal retrenchment plan - in addition to 1 200 or essentially half of its 2 400 freelance workers who are getting the boot by not having their contracts renewed.

With the massive restructuring at the SABC, the broadcaster's CEO Madoda Mxakwe, on Monday in an internal memo told staffers as part of a "section 189" notification in line with the Labour Relations Act, that "drastic measures must be taken" or otherwise "the organisation would simply not be financially viable going forward".

After mismanagement and corruption, as well as wasteful and irregular expenditure of billions of rands, the beleaguered SABC is mired in debt, unable to pay suppliers and producers on time, and unable to secure the content it requires, with South Africa's auditor-general Kimi Makwetu who in September described the broadcaster as commercially insolvent.

A staggering amount of the SABC's expenditure goes to just paying staffers, although just 60% are directly involved in programming. The SABC is supposed to spend the bulk of its money on creating and broadcasting content.

One of the SABC's biggest expenses is its salary bill. Although a R7.2 billion revenue generating company, it's saddled with a massive annual salary bill of R3.1 billion.

The planned restructuring of positions and retrenchments will cut R440 million per year from the SABC's ballooning salary bill and doesn't include the money the broadcaster plans to save from cutting its freelance budget in half.

The SABC in the memo that TVwithThinus has seen, told staffers the broadcaster is "currently in dire financial straits", blaming "erstwhile management of the SABC" and saying "there has been many instances of unlawful and irregular promotions and increases afforded to employees, resulting in an inflated remuneration cost" and that "the SABC is also overstaffed".

The SABC told workers it is abolishing positions that will "result in the redundancy of a large number of positions, and the restructuring of others" that will cut R440 million from the SABC's wage bill.

Besides the 981 full-time workers the SABC could retrench, "the SABC has further resolved to end the contracts it has with approximately 1 200 freelance employees" the broadcaster told staffers. It currently has 2 400 independent contractors, meaning 50% are effectively getting fired.

The SABC told workers that this is still not enough and that "despite these efforts, all that remains is unfortunately the current staffing and positions in the SABC, as the final avenue of cost reduction open to the SABC".

The SABC says all employees at all levels within the broadcaster will be affected, including SABC Television and SABC Radio, SABC Sport, SABC News, provincial operations, group services, the commercial enterprise division, media technology and infrastructure.

The SABC told staffers that it plans to have the consultation process over retrenchments "finalised by 31 January 2019" so that "termination of employment can be given with effect from 1 February 2019".

The SABC proposes to pay fired workers one week's salary per completed year of service.

"We fully appreciate that employees may be concerned and apprehensive about the possible consequences which the contemplated redundancy will have upon employees and we are committed to conclude the process as soon as reasonably possible," SABC staffers were told on Monday.

All employees at all level affected
In a statement to TVwithThinus the SABC confirmed the staff memo and said it today "issued a notice to all staff informing them of the SABC's intention to proceed with section 189 of the Labour Relations Act".

"It is envisaged that all employees and at all levels in the SABC will be affected by the restructuring," Neo Momodu, SABC spokesperson said, saying "it is envisaged that 981 employees may possibly be retrenched as a result of the restructuring" and that"out of the 2 400 freelancers, 1 200 will be affected".

4 Years Later: Finally to court to enact Public Protector recommendations
Four years after South Africa's Public Protector released her report into rot and corruption at the SABC, entitled "When Governance and Ethics Fail" the SABC is finally taking action, saying it is going to the country's Labour Court with an application "to have irregular appointments and promotions declared invalid as first identified in the 2014 Public Protector's report".

The SABC says there are still people working at the SABC currently "who were irregularly appointed, promoted or had their salaries irregularly increased".

Madoda Mxakwe in a statement said the public broadcaster "will correct all these irregular appointments, promotions and salary increases".

"The SABC will also approach the Labour Court, in terms of the Basic Conditions of Employment Act, in its quest to recover monies that were irregularly paid as salary increases during the period under review."

More South Africans say they watch Showmax than Netflix, although video streaming remains tiny under consumers - 73% say they haven't watched any streaming content for the past week.

More South Africans say they're watching Showmax than rival Netflix South Africa – but by just a smidgen, although Netflix's video streaming service is more popular in the top "supergroups" of consumers, while Naspers' SVOD leads in the two middle groups.

A new survey of the Broadcast Research Council of South Africa (BRCSA) looking at brands and services in South Africa that just released the results, surveyed 3 154 South Africans from all socio-economic levels in urban and rural South Africa between January and June this year.

South Africans said SABC1 is their most often watched TV channel, that eNCA (DStv 403) on MultiChoice’s DStv is their most often watched TV news channel, and that SuperSport 4 (DStv 204) is their most often watched sports channel.

The survey also reveals the interesting rise in the growing popularity of TV channels making inroads and carving away at the SABC’s television dominance.

While SABC1, followed by e.tv, SABC2 and SABC3 are still the biggest and most often watched channels, e.tv’s set of free-to-air channels like eMovies and eExtra are rapidly gaining traction, as is the Indian-infused Zee World (DStv 166). 

M-Net’s Mzansi Magic (DStv 161) is the TV channel that leads the charge on smartphones as the most watched channel on this type of device.

YouTube is by far the most viewed streaming service in South Africa, with more South Africans saying they're making use of Showmax often, than those indicating they're using Netflix – but by a very narrow margin. 

While 24% of users said they've used YouTube in the past week, 5% indicated that they've accessed Showmax, and 4% said they’ve accessed Netflix. 

One percent accessed other streaming services like Amazon Prime Video. A whopping 87% said they use YouTube most often, followed by 6% for Showmax, 5% for Netflix and 2% for other.

With new, segmented so-called Socio-Economic Measure (SEM) "supergroups" that have replaced the outdated Living Standards Measure (LSM) that advertisers and marketers use to target and identify South African consumers, the survey reveals that Netflix is the most preferred and used video streaming service in South Africa's three top consumer "supergroups" of 3, 4 and 5 – the wealthiest consumers.

In SEM supergroup 5, 22% of people said that they have watched Netflix in the past week. 

In SEM supergroup 4, 17% of people said they have watched Netflix in South Africa in the past week and it was 36% for supergroup 3. 

That was more than for Showmax that had 17% viewing under SEM supergroup 5 in the past week, 15% for SEM supergroup 4, and 32% for SEM supergroup 3.

Showmax however outranked Netflix in the lower end of the consumer market where Showmax is more popular than Netflix. 

In SEM supergroup 2, 30% of people said they've watched Showmax the past week (compared to 21% for Netflix), and 6% of SEM supergroup 1 respondents indicated that they've watched Showmax in the past seven days, compared to 4% for Netflix.

The survey makes clear how small video streaming services are still in South Africa, with 73% of South Africans in the survey saying they have not watched any video streaming content in the past week.

Joseph Fiennes and his cousin Sir Ranulph Fiennes to journey through Egypt in new 3-part documentary series, Fiennes: Return to the Nile, on National Geographic in 2019.

Joseph Fiennes and his cousin Sir Ranulph Fiennes are going to journey down the Nile river in Egypt as part of a new three-part documentary series, Fiennes: Return to the Nile, for National Geographic (DStv 181 / StarSat 220 / Cell C black 261).

Together the two will journey down the Nile to revisit locations that Sir Ranulph Fiennes previously explored during his first expedition of the river 50 years ago in 1969 when he joined the White Nile Hovercraft Expedition in which he travelled from Alexandria on the Mediterranean to the Nile's source at Lake Victoria.

Fiennes: Return to the Nile that will be broadcast worldwide in 2019 on National Geographic in 172 countries, will explore whether Joseph Fiennes can make it in Sir Ranulph Fiennes' world and whether he has what it takes to be an explorer.

They will crawl through the claustrophobic confines of a newly discovered ancient Egyptian tomb in Minya, get to grips with Tachtib - a traditional fighting technique using four foot sticks - and come face-to-face with dangerous snakes and spiders.

Fiennes: Return to the Nile is produced by the independent British production company Woodcut Media, in association with The Development Partnership.

"I am delighted to be embarking on this adventure with National Geographic and my cousin, Ran," says Joseph Fiennes who will also be a producer of the series, in a statement. "It is every boy’s dream to go on an expedition with the world's great living explorer. I am delighted to be going on this journey."

Sir Ranulph Fiennes says "I am delighted to have the opportunity to re-trace the steps of my original expedition in 1969, and this time with my cousin Joe and National Geographic. I know first-hand how fascinating and exhilarating Egypt is for an explorer and I can't wait to show Joe the ropes and to see how much Egypt has changed in the last 50 years".

Jules Oldroyd, the senior vice-president for international programming for National Geographic, says "Authentic, visceral and highly entertaining, Fiennes: Return to the Nile embodies National Geographic's mission to inspire and ignite the explorer in all of us".

"We are thrilled to be working with legendary explorer Sir Ranulph Fiennes and critically acclaimed actor Joseph Fiennes on this exhilarating and thrilling expedition."

Derren Lawford, the creative director and executive producer at Woodcut Media, says "This series marks Woodcut's first commission with National Geographic and we are delighted to be co-producing this with The Development Partnership for such an iconic channel".

"We know that Fiennes: Return to the Nile will take viewers on an incredibly breathtaking and unforgettable journey that will entrance audiences in the United States and the world over."

Netflix South Africa rolls out the rand-priced retail Netflix Gift Card giving users an access option without having to use a bank card.

Netflix South Africa is rolling out a Netflix Gift Card for South Africa and priced in rand, with consumers who will now be able to give Netflix access as a present, or to get access to the global streaming service without having to have or use a credit card.

The Netflix Gift Card for South Africa currently being rolled out, can be loaded with any amount between R150 to R1000 at local retailers as Netflix in the country is targeting video entertainment content users who don't have, or don't want to link, a credit card to use the service.

The new Netflix Gift Card for South Africa is available from CNA, Pick n Pay, Checkers, Dis-Chem, HiFi Corp, Incredible Connection, Game, Dion Wired, Makro, Builders Warehouse, Game4U, AWX, Kloppers, and BT Games.

Netflix that is aggressively ramping up it's local market presence and marketing efforts as it competes with Naspers' Showmax run by MultiChoice's Connected Video unit, Amazon Prime Video as well as some smaller subscription video-on-demand (SVOD) players, is through the Netflix Gift Card giving consumers a long-term, secure payment method without the need of a bank card.

Netflix South Africa users can top up their balance with a new Netflix Gift Card when their balance depletes and will get a notification when the gift card balance is low.

A Netflix Gift Card loaded with R200 will give the user 2 months of Netflix streaming on the basic plan (1 device in SD); R139 will provide 1 month of Netflix streaming on the standard plan (2 devices in HD), and a gift card loaded with R169 will give the user 1 month Netflix streaming on the premium plan (4 devices in HD or Ultra HD).

Existing South African Netflix users can use the Netflix Gift Card to top up their Netflix account credit, while those who do not yet have an account can redeem their access credit by visiting Netflix.com/redeem and entering the pin code printed on the back of the card.

People eligible for a free trial will get a free month of service in addition to the amount credited to the Gift Card with the balance of the Netflix Gift Card that will only be used to pay for the selected plan after the free month trial expires.

Actress Shareen Swart dead at 58 after losing her battle with cancer.

The South African Afrikaans actress, producer and director Shareen Swart has died after losing her battle with cancer. She was 58.

Shareen Swart was most well-known for her roles as Meisie Moolman in Ballade vir 'n Enkeling shown on TV1 and repeats on kykNET (DStv 144) and Katinka in the Afrikaans weekday soap 7de Laan on SABC2.

She also made appearances as Rita in the kykNET soap Villa Rosa, as well as Irene Greyling in Binnelanders, also a soap on kykNET.

Shareen Swart was also the founder and CEO of the Performing Arts Lifestyle Institute (PALI).

She died this morning after losing her battle against cancer.

"We are saddened by the loss of PALI’s founder, director and mother lion Shareen Swart this morning. Shareen has been an mentor, inspiration and friend to many and leaves behind an amazing legacy," says PALI in a statement.

Besides acting on TV and stage and appearing in on-screen roles, Shareen Swart was also a writer, director, producer and a dialogue coach.

Other TV roles included appearances in Koöperasiestories, Die Drie Van Der Walts and theatre productions like Kinkels Innie Kabel, Death Trap, The Taming of the Shrew, Cabaret, The Balcony and Noises Off.

She appeared in film in PI Van der Merwe, Circles in a Forest and Committed and was also a dialogue coach for 7de Laan and Egoli on M-Net.

Saturday, October 27, 2018

SuperSport makes Spanish La Liga football available to more South African viewers on DStv Compact by placing it on SuperSport 7.

SuperSport has decided to make the Spanish league football known as La Liga available to DStv Compact subscribers on SuperSport 7 (DStv 207) since Wednesday 24 October.

"The DStv Compact customer has generally over the last few years evolved from being a local football purist into one that also shows appreciation for international football," says Gideon Khobane, SuperSport CEO.

"It's this appreciation and their loyalty that we're rewarding by making La Liga football available to them."

"La Liga’s South African office has been doing some tremendous work in growing the league on the continent and we as their broadcast partners are always looking for ways and means to support their efforts," says Gideon Khobane.

Making La Liga content available to lower-tiered DStv subscribers and a wider South African audience comes before the El Clasico, the match between Real Madrid and Barcelona that will be broadcast on Sunday from kickoff at 17:15 on SuperSport 7.

DStv Compact subscribers now get access to PSL football and Premier League content, as well as Italian Serie A and continental football.

HBO adds intimacy coordinators to all its shows during the filming of sex scenes to prevent abuse.

America's HBO is adding intimacy coordinators to all of its shows during the filming of all sex scenes to prevent possible sexual abuse.

HBO revealed the addition of the position of intimacy coordinator as part of crew on all of its produced series going forward in a Rolling Stone article on Wednesday, and then confirming it on Thursday on its HBO PR Twitter account, referencing the article and saying: "As reported in Rolling Stone, all HBO programmes with intimate scenes will be staffed by an intimacy coordinator".

In South Africa and Africa HBO shows like Game of Thrones, Westworld, Big Little Lies and Last Week Tonight with John Oliver are seen on M-Net (DStv 101) that used to have an exclusive partnership with HBO, but MultiChoice has now also started to channel HBO shows exclusively to Naspers' streaming subscription video-on-demand (SVOD) service Showmax, like the new drama series Succession.

Alicia Rodis is the first-ever intimacy coordinator, and was hired by HBO as part of a trial-run for the second season of its porn industry drama series, The Deuce.

This position will now be expanded for all of HBO's drama series and films that will have an intimacy coordinator present on set during the filming of all sexual scenes to ensure standards and to prevent possible abuse.

Alicia Rodis started the non-profit Intimacy Directors International in 2016 that aims to create a code and standards for sex scenes in TV and film production and to protect against sexual abuse on-set.

According to the Rolling Stone article, Alicia Rodis is a former actor with a background in movement, specifically as a stunt performer and fight scene director.

The Rolling Stone article says that "Before becoming an intimacy coordinator, she trained and consulted with psychologists, entertainment lawyers, social workers and professional sex workers, among others, in an effort to do for sex scenes what has long been done for fight scenes: to acknowledge that they are fraught with potential pitfalls - physical and emotional - and to protect those involved".

Apart from covering actors' genitals with cloth and athletic cups, Alicia Rodis helps actors to approach the physicality of filming sex scenes differently.

"I am here to give a voice to actors, especially actors who feel like they don't have one. And I'm also here for the producers, to make sure that they know they’re doing their best to make sure the set is safe," Alicia Rodis is quoted in the article.

The head of original programming at Disney Channels Worldwide, Adam Bonnett, leaving after 21 years to become a producer.

Adam Bonnett, the head of original programming for Disney Channels Worldwide is leaving the company after 21 years to become a producer,

Adam Bonnett, the executive vice president of original programming, and who has been overseeing all live-action development and current original series and movies for the Disney Channel (DStv 303) and Disney XD (DStv 304) as well as casting and talent relations for these two channels, will be leaving Disney in November.

Disney will name a replacement during November.

Adam Bonnet joined the Disney Channel in 1997 and was promoted to his current executive vice-president position in 2013 after he previously had the position of senior vice-president for original programming for the Disney Channel.

"The demand for programming content across many platforms is at an all-time high so this is the right time for me to explore producing opportunities, something I've dreamt about forever," says Adam Bonnett.

"I'm lucky to have had the benefit of a fulfilling career at Disney Channel working with many amazingly talented people. As I transition to an exciting new career chapter, it's with unending gratitude to my longtime mentor Gary Marsh as well as Nancy Kanter for both their inspiring leadership and friendship throughout the years."

Gary Marsh, Disney Channels Worldwide president and chief creative officer says "Adam's own well-developed sense of humor and his exceptional understanding of what makes kids laugh has helped Disney Channel deliver decades of entertaining and iconic shows".

"But it's his compassion and humanity that has helped us deliver these same stories with heart. We're truly going to miss him and look forward to being first in line to work with him as a producer."

Nancy Kanter, the executive vice-president for content and creative strategy at Disney Channels Worldwide and the general manager of Disney Junior Worldwide, says "Over the last 18 months as Adam and I have had a chance to work closely together I have learned more than I could have ever imagined about how to make smart, funny and heartfelt television for kids".

"He has been a guiding light and fount of truly limitless inspiration and knowledge. I look forward to continuing to have the opportunity to tap into his imagination for a long time to come."

SABC warns about possible robbers posing as fake SABC TV licence officials to get into homes: 'No officials appointed to do physical inspections of TV sets'.

The SABC is warning the South African public that possible robbers are using the excuse of being SABC TV Licence inspection agents and officials, claiming to do household inspections of TV sets as they try to gain access to people's homes.

The SABC says it has noted "with concern" a WhatsApp message doing the rounds warning members of the public, particularly in the Weltevreden area west of Johannesburg, about would-be robbers posing as SABC TV licence agents.

"The SABC wishes to inform the public that it has not appointed inspectors or officials for purposes of physical inspections of television sets from households."

"Any person that claims to be an SABC official or agent in order to gain access to a house or premises must be reported to police as they do not represent the SABC," the SABC says in a statement it issued on Friday.

Friday, October 26, 2018

Naspers does executive shuffle for the newly-created MultiChoice Group before its planned spin-off and listing on the JSE in 2019, with Calvo Mawela as CEO.

Naspers that has dumped and respawned its Naspers Video Entertainment unit as the MultiChoice Group business, has done an executive shuffle and appointments with Calvo Mawela as new MultiChoice Group CEO.

Naspers plans to spin-off MultiChoice as its own business that plans to list on the Johannesburg Stock Exchange (JSE) during the first half of 2019.

Naspers has announced Calvo Mwela as the new chief executive officer (CEO) of the MultiChoice Group. Until now Calvo Mawela has been the MultiChoice South Africa CEO.

Calvo Mawela's appointment as CEO of the MultiChoice Group is effective from 1 November, along with other appointments and reshufflings as part of the top management shake-up as MultiChoice gets ready to unbundle from Naspers.

The other appointments at the new MultiChoice Group are Brand de Villiers as chief operating officer (COO), Tim Jacobs as chief financial officer (CFO), and Imtiaz Patel as executive chairperson of the MultiChoice Group.

The MultiChoice Group incorporates MultiChoice South Africa, MultiChoice Africa, the streaming service Showmax in South Africa and Africa, and Irdeto.

There's been no word yet on what happens to Mark Rayner who until now has been the MultiChoice South Africa COO.

"This announcement marks a significant step for the MultiChoice Group as they journey towards a standalone business," says Bob van Dijk, Naspers CEO in a statement announcing the MultiChoice Group creation and management shuffle.

"I am confident that through the leadership of Imtiaz and Calvo, MultiChoice Group will continue on its growth trajectory and unlock even more value for its shareholders."

Tuesday, October 23, 2018

National Geographic goes Inside North Korea's Dynasty in a revealing new 4-part documentary series from November.

A new 4-episode documentary series from 72 Films about North Korea will make its debut on National Geographic ((DStv 181 / StarSat 220 / Cell C black 261) on 18 and 25 November giving the world an eye-opening look into the notorious hermit kingdom and the secretive Kim dynasty.

Inside North Korea's Dynasty will unspool with 2 episodes on National Geographic on 18 November at 21:00 and 22:00, and on 25 November at 21:00 and 22:00, with a collection of archival footage, rare firsthand testimonies and secret audio tapes from inside the brutal North Korea regime.

The groundbreaking four-episode documentary series examines the extraordinary history of the world’s only communist dynasty, three generations in the making, and took a year to produce.

The 4-part series documents the birth of the Kim dynasty by examining the rise and rule of the founder of North Korea, Kim Il Sung; his son, Kim Jong Il; and his grandson and the current leader, Kim Jong Un.

"Much of the world got its first real glimpse of North Korea's elusive current leader, Kim Jong Un, earlier this year when he met with the American president Donald Trump in Singapore," says National Geographic in a statement announcing the documentary series.

"But to really understand Kim and his place in the history of North Korea, you need to go back more than 70 years, to when his grandfather, and then father, were the leaders of the 'hermit kingdom'. It is a story of how a minor guerrilla fighter emerged from the battlefield to take control of a country desperate for leadership, and of a family dynasty unlike any the world has seen in modern times."

National Geographic says Inside North Korea's Dynasty "is the ultimate story of a family’s power, and the relationship among a father, a son and a grandson".

"The series provides a look at the Kim dynasty more complex and comprehensive than ever attempted before, revealing the workings behind the formidable family dynamics at the heart of an extraordinary country. Viewers will be immersed in the family’s dark and surreal story, bringing a fresh perspective on a nation ruled for over seven decades by one dynasty," says National Geographic.

"National Geographic was clear from the start - they wanted a definitive documentary on the Kim dynasty, unlike anything produced before," says 72 Films.

"We immersed ourselves in this project for a year, looking through archives that have not been viewed in decades and interviewing almost 50 people with perspectives that could shed light on this dynasty. Going in via the family was a fresh way to unlock North Korea."

"All three leaders are fascinating in their own right. They have all chosen to use their extraordinary power in different ways. The result is a film that is as unique in scope and depth as it is in insight and relevance."

Historic moments in the Kim family’s trajectory are captured with nearly 30 firsthand testimonies and rare interviews presented in the series, including from Shin Jyeung-Kyun, son of kidnapped South Korean filmmakers; Choi Jae Wook, press secretary for the South Korean president; and retired Col. Victor Vierra, in his first television interview, who was stationed at the Demilitarised Zone at the time of the axe murders of August 1976.

Also speaking are Kang In-Deok, director of the Korean CIA, North Korea bureau; Ko Young-Hwan, interpreter for Kim Il Sung; MichaelYi, interrogation specialist for the American CIA; Kim Hyun Hui, former North Korean espionage agent and the bomber of Korean Airline Flight 858; and the American basketball star Dennis Rodman, about his relationship with the current leader.

Producers culled through nearly 400 hours of tapes to assemble a collection of archival footage to drive the narrative of the story.

The episodes include the following:

Kingdom of the Kims
Sunday 18 November 21:00
For decades, Korea and its people laboured under Japanese imperialist rule.
But in 1912, in a small town outside Pyongyang, a child is born - Kim Il Sung, coinciding with an omen of imperialism’s doom.
This is the story of how an unknown guerrilla fighter rises to power, takes complete control of his country and makes himself a god in the eyes of his people.

The Son of God
Sunday 18 November 22:00
Unpacking the unique Kim father-son relationship further, this episode tracks the decline of Kim Il Sung and the rise of his son, Kim Jong Il.
It tells how he uses filmmaking and propaganda to win his father’s approval and power. Beginning in the 1970s, this film explores Jong’s rise to power as the heir apparent of North Korea.

Nuclear Family
Sunday 25 November 21:00
This episode begins as the Cold War ends - and North Korea has lost Soviet patronage, and with it, the security it guarantees and the economic support that has sustained the country for nearly half a century. 
As Kim Jong Il takes complete control of the country, he also starts a nuclear weapons program.
He also employs a private sushi chef, and hosts lavish banquets and parties while the country continues to struggle economically.

Rocket Man
Sunday 25 November 22:00
The final episode starts with the death of Kim Jong Il and the rise of the new leader of North Korea: his son, Kim Jong Un, taking power at the age of 28.
Using exclusive interviews, firsthand testimony and expertly curated archive material, the episode charts Un’s reign from 2011 to present day; delves into how Un consolidated power, by killing his uncle and his half-brother; and breaks down the historic 2018 summit with America's president Donald Trump.

In ongoing MultiChoice sex scandal DStv staffers are wondering if it's okay to have an extra-marital affair at the office without apparent consequences as DStv Uganda boss Charles Hamya returns to the office where his marketing manager lover Phoebe Nakabazzi works.

Charles Hamya and Phoebe Nakabazzi

A MultiChoice sex scandal in Africa keeps unfolding as the married MultiChoice Uganda general manager Charles Hamya is back at the office according to DStv Uganda staffers - the place where the MultiChoice Uganda marketing manager Phoebe Nakabazzi works who and who he has been having an extra-marital affair with.

Staffers at Naspers' pay-TV arm in the African country are wondering if it is okay to have an extra-marital affair at the office, as well as what message it is sending not just inside MultiChoice but to the corporate world and the TV industry in Uganda, and Africa, at large.

In late-July a MultiChoice sex scandal saw Charles Hamya take abrupt leave after his long-suffering wifeCrusid Matovu, in an email to MultiChoice Uganda staffers, revealed the pain, heartache and frustration of Charles Hamya's torrid affair with the DStv Uganda marketing manager.

Crusid Matovu in an email detailed Charles Hamya and Phoebe Nakabazzi's extra-marital affair and their secret hotel trysts that she said "shouldn't be what MultiChoice Uganda stands for".

Crusid Matovu said the MultiChoice Uganda top executives have "proven that they do not value marriage or work ethics. This level of unprofessionalism should not be what MultiChoice Uganda stands for and for that matter I no longer want to be associated with both parties".

Charles Hamya went on abrupt leave "to attend to a family issue that found its way to the work place".

Willem Hattingh took over as acting MultiChoice Uganda general manager while Charles Hamya went to try and sort out his personal life and relationships at home and at work after the nasty private details that spilled into the public eye and inside MultiChoice Uganda's corporate corridors.

Phoebe Nakabazzi apparently stayed at work but kept a low profile while Albert Nga did the public appearances as DStv Uganda marketing manager, for instance when M-Net launched its new Pearl Magic channel on DStv at a press event earlier this month.

DStv Uganda staffers are however now buzzing that Charles Hamya is back at work with Phoebe Nakabazzi - apparently without any consequences or shame - and wondering how a boss can have a multichoice of romantic entanglements with different women, including one working for him.

DStv staffers are speaking out about how MultiChoice allegedly warned them not to talk to the public about the Charles Hamya and Phoebe Nakabazzi sex scandal. "Our bosses are now fully back in office," said a MultiChoice Uganda sales representative to an Uganda gossip site.

Charles Hamya reportedly didn't respond to emails sent to him and Tina Wamala, MultiChoice Uganda publicist reportedly couldn't be reached for comment.

As OUTtv removes some shows, receives complaints, the gay-focused channel hopes to become a permanent DStv addition as channel boss says everybody needs to have a voice.

The OUTtv channel on MultiChoice has had to drop some of the gay-focused content on the DStv pop-up channel and got some complaints, but the South African channel boss says he's hopeful that OUTtv could become a permanent pay-TV channel and says everybody needs to have a voice.

MultiChoice says viewer feedback about the OUTtv pop-up channel currently broadcasting in South Africa on DStv until early November will be used to test DStv subscribers' interest in gay-focused TV content.

OUTtv started on 4 October for DStv Premium and DStv Compact Plus subscribers and will run until 4 November, although some of the content got removed without warning.

OUTtv SA so far featured programming ranging from a gay bachelor looking for love, to a stripping dating show that had full frontal nudity and even a series showing what happens behind the production of a gay porn site.

These two shows - Naked Attraction and Broke Straight Boys - however got removed from the schedule, leading to DStv subscribers wondering what's happening and why the shows disappeared.

TVwithThinus spoke to Warren Whitcher, the managing director of OUTtv SA about the channel.

What has been happening with OUTtv SA's schedule since it launched on MultiChoice because DStv subscribers complained and queried after they tuned in to watch and set DStv recordings only to find that shows are gone.
Warren Whitcher: I'm sure you're referring to Friday nights with Naked Attraction and Broke Straight Boys and Popporn.

In regard to the Friday night schedule there was a little bit of an issue with Naked Attraction.

Unfortunately we picked up the wrong file from the distributor, we picked up the fully nude and not the blurred out version which aired that first night, and unfortunately it did create a little bit of a stir with the more conservative side of the audience.

There were one or two BCCSA complaints which was not the most ideal thing for a pop-up channel as well. We tried to get the blurred out file from the distributor, however we can only get it in November which doesn't help us for a November pop-up channel.

So we obviously had to pull Naked Attraction off the schedule until such time as we can get the correct files. So if we hopefully come back as a permanent channel we'll definitely have it back on the schedule, just the correct format.

And what has in general been the feedback about OUTtv on DStv?
Warren Whitcher: It has been immensely positive.

The only thing that's been bothering me is awareness. Not enough people I think know about the channel. We're working very hard over the next 10 days just to create as much awareness as we possibly can. Most of the feedback has been extremely positive.

And how has the interaction with MultiChoice been in terms of getting OUTtv on DStv, and the feedback since it's been running with the operator?
Warren Whitcher: MultiChoice in my opinion has been absolutely fantastic.

They're a very conservative company, so for them to make this step is a huge deal as far as I'm concerned. Aletta Alberts, MultiChoice's general manager for content, and her team have been absolutely supportive in terms of everything we've tried to do, they've given us a lot of guidance when it comes to scheduling, as well as the technical side of things.

They've helped a lot on the positioning and the marketing as well. They've been absolutely amazing. I genuinely can't fault them. 

In terms of the OUTtv schedule, what was the intention? Was it to push the envelope a bit or be provocative or just to give a sense of the variety of content available, or both? What was the aim?
Warren Whitcher: So you know what, it's a strange paradigm, given that it's a pop-up channel.

Obviously we know that local content is what engages viewers the most, but you can't invest in local content for a one month pop-up.

So that was one of the strange things that we've had to deal with. So what we did then was we looked at what content worked the best in Canada which is obviously where the OUTtv mother channel comes from, and tried to put as wide a variety of that on as possible on the schedule to see what was going to stick and what was going to work - which has been great.

Surprisingly, if I had to ask you what has been the most watched show, what would you say? ER Vets - the pet programme. So it's these interesting learnings that we've been trying to pick up on the pop-up.

Obviously if we have a permanent channel there's a lot of things we will do differently, we've got a lot better ideas of what works and how we want to position OUTtv for the South African market and we already been working with some South African production companies to flesh out a couple of local content ideas.

 If we come back in 2019 as a permanent channel it's going to look very, very different to what it looks on the pop-up, very different.

And I wanted to ask in terms of the possibility of OUTtv SA becoming a permanent channel, what are the hopes or possibilities or projections for the future?
Warren Whitcher: Like I've said MultiChoice has been amazing, so they didn't put any kind of conditions on the channel because that was one of our first questions: Guys, give us some performance targets and let us work towards them.

They said it's not to do with performance targets at all, we know that this kind of channel is needed in the South African market, we want to introduce variety, we want to embrace diversity and inclusion, we just want to see what kind of content works. They had to check if there was any potential pushback. It's to see how ready is the market for this type of channel.

I think from the feedback we've received so far it's been very positive. I'm hoping that the conversations we have going forward is going to be positive towards a permanent channel.

Do you think some of the programming like the Naked Attraction or Broke Straight Boys were maybe a bridge too far in hindsight, or don't you see anything wrong with it?
Warren Whitcher: No, no, the amount of feedback we've received saying "why have you taken it off the schedule?" has made it plain as day that the market is ready for it, as far as I'm concerned.

Its just got to be done correctly. We operate in a regulated environment, so things like the "watershed period", the correct parental advisories etc. - that are all really important things, so we've got to get that complete on side.

And then I think that type of programming works really, really well because you have to put push the envelope. I mean you watch a lot of TV, I watch a lot of TV, how many new things do you see on TV that really captures your interest? Not many.

And then why would you say is something like OUTtv as a channel important?
Warren Whitcher: For me it's all about promoting diversity and inclusion. Everybody needs to have a voice and we need a platform.

If we have a strong and commercially sustainable platform where we can start telling really uniquely South African stories as well as - we're obviously connected to the global OUTtv brand so we're an export market for the content as well - my intention is to use the channel to stimulate things like local production to tell South African stories.

We've got amazing stories, absolutely amazing stories. Our production value is really top notch, so I believe we can do amazing things.

Then I want to ask you about censorship of TV content in general and broadly you view about it. The past few years we've seen content censored from shows to even cartoons in Africa and South Africa when for instance Kenya's censorship board came up with bogus reasons for animation shows for instance to be removed, or shows like I Am Cait on E! Entertainment or Andi Mack on The Disney Channel gets removed. What do you make of this?
Warren Whitcher: For me there are two parts to it - there's a theory part and a practicality part.

Obviously in theory I believe content should find it's right audience and broadcasters should play the role of connecting content with audiences without a view of censorship.

But that being said, I have to use OUTtv for example as a real-world example in my mind. We've also got to be responsible in what we do. It's one thing to sit here in South Africa where it's safe and cosy and say "yes we should  be allowed to play LGBT content" but in some of the African countries it's actually dangerous.

So we've got to be responsible in how we do these things. I always take the view that you've got to be part of the change you want to see but that doesn't happen overnight. As long as you're putting one step in front of the other and moving forward, then you're doing the right thing.

I understand sometimes why some of the broadcasters or networks feel like they have to, and sometimes it's coming from a point of good intention and trying to be responsible, but you're right - sometimes it gets ridiculous. Pulling cartoons makes no sense to me. So it's one of those slippery slopes.

You've got to try and take each case on merit and see if it's justified or not. That's probably the best way I would approach it. Ideally you'd like content to be available to everyone to view it because people are going to find what they want to watch. But you've also got to be responsible as well. It's a fine balance to maintain.

Monday, October 22, 2018

THE LAST (PLASTIC) STRAW. Africa's premium TV content providers - BBC, M-Net and FOX - now putting their event spend and influence where their mouths are as they lead the charge in getting rid of plastic straws.

A small yet important detail noticed by the well-heeled pitching up at the media events of  South Africa and Africa's most premium TV content providers is how FOX Africa, M-Net and BBC Studios Africa are suddenly leading the charge of getting rid of plastic straws.

All of them, in the span of two months have visibly dumped plastic straws replacing them with paper straws and are forming the vanguard in South Africa's broadcasting industry of putting their money where their mouths are: Still entertaining guests with drinks but banishing the plastic.

South Africa's blue chip pay-TV broadcasters have quickly joined companies like mass market retailers Woolworths and Pick n Pay on an aggressive drive to cut down on wasteful plastics - especially plastic straws - along with Tsogo Sun that has instituted a plastic straw ban at 100 of its hotels, along with Ocean Basket restaurant.

It signifies a rapidly growing and seismic shift in the southern most tip of Africa around how the corporate thinking about plastic straws are changing.

While the efforts that these broadcasters are making likely won't even be listed as part of their dedicated "corporate social responsibility" projects, their collective move to be visibly more environmentally responsible has the potential to ripple outwards into the consumer market with marked impact.

While BBC Studios Africa, FOX Africa and M-Net continue to host the who's who in the media and press circles, alongside advertisers and producers, social media stars and TV critics, including celebrities and TV talent at their events, they are clearly directing their budgeted event spend away from plastic straws to paper ones.

The result is that the targeted high-profile influencers invited to these events have the collective power to rapidly help reshape South African and African consumers' thinking about the need to reduce plastic waste and how ditching plastic straws for paper ones can make a massive environmental change.

In August FOX Networks Group Africa, that runs the National Geographic channels on DStv, StarSat and Cell C black, held its swanky annual upfront at the 54 on Bath Hotel in Rosebank, Johannesburg.

Plastic straws were suddenly gone, while guests went home with a special metal straw as part of the goodie bag.

Khosi Khanyile, FOX Networks Group Africa marketing director, told TVwithThinus in response to a media enquiry about the straws that on World Oceans Day, 8 June 2018, National Geographic started a campaign of raising awareness around single use plastics and the damage done to the oceans.

"We encourage people from all walks of life to reduce single use plastics. As FOX Networks Group Africa, we have committed to eliminating single use plastic in the office and in all our events."

"We have even rallied the support of restaurants in and around our office block to curb the use of single use plastic and many have joined. We also run a recycling drive in the office and on 28 September, did a clean-up of the banks of the Klein Jukskei river in Johannesburg – paying particular attention to picking up plastic."

On 7 October at the live viewing party and after-party of the second season My Kitchen SA finale, M-Net (DStv 101) also suddenly did away with plastic straws, replacing them with paper straws at the event for media, producers, TV talent and advertisers held at the MultiChoice City headquarters in Randburg.

"This season of My Kitchen Rules South Africa focused on South African cuisine and conscious cooking. There was even a challenge during which the contestants were tasked to prepare scrumptious dishes with limited water supply and were penalised for food wastage," Lani Lombard, M-Net's head of publicity told TVwithThinus in response to a media enquiry about the straws.

"When we do events our very experienced and fabulous events team always makes sure that the event matches the values and content of the show."

"Therefore, it made perfect sense for us to use environmentally-friendly straws for this event. By the same token, it's also important for us to show with all our events that we are responsible corporate citizens and wherever necessary we would like to use less plastic or materials that are not friendly to the environment."

Just days later, on Wednesday 10 October, plastic straws were conspicuously absent at BBC Studios Africa's latest BBC Africa Summer Upfront 2018 where guests mingled at the sprawling green lawns at Summer Place in Hyde Park, Johannesburg.

The brightly coloured green and blue paper straws were instantly visible.

BBC Africa's PR agency, Atmosphere, when also asked about the switch from pastic to paper straws, referred TVwithThinus to a statement from earlier this year the BBC in the United Kingdom issued, headlined "BBC to ban single-use plastic", announcing the British public broadcaster's plan to remove single-use plastic from its operations by 2020.

"We aim to be free of single-use plastic across the BBC by 2020. Discussions will take place over the coming months with current suppliers and services to assess when further changes can be introduced, cutting the amount of single-use plastic in other parts of our operations such as coffee cups, packaging of products we buy and catering on location," the BBC said.

"Blue Planet II attracted global attention in highlighting the long-term, damaging impact single-use plastic is having on the world's oceans and environment."

Tony Hall, the BBC director-general, said "Like millions of people watching Blue Planet II, I was was shocked to see the avoidable waste and harm created by single-use plastic. We all need to do our bit to tackle this problem and I want the BBC to lead the way."

"Scrapping throwaway plastic cups and cutlery is the first step, and with our plan I hope we can have a BBC free of single-use plastic altogether."