Tuesday, March 31, 2020

Coronavirus: Nickelodeon to broadcast a global KidsTogether: The Nickelodeon Town Hall to offer a kid's-eye view of Covid-19.

by Thinus Ferreira

The Nickelodeon (DStv 305) channel will broadcast a special KidsTogether: The Nickelodeon Town Hall globally including South Africa and across Africa with actress Kristen Bell as the host to give a kid's-eye view of life amidst the growing Covid-19 novel coronavirus pandemic.

The hourlong special includes a performance by Alicia Keys and appearances by Charli D'Amelio, Josh Gad, Kel Mitchell, Kenan Thompson, and Ciara and Russell Wilson, as well as two American doctors.

A broadcast date for KidsTogether: The Nickelodeon Town Hall isn't available yet for ViacomCBS Networks Africa's Nickelodeon channel that runs in South Africa and sub-Saharan Africa.

KidsTogether: The Nickelodeon Town Hall will directly address kids' questions and concerns about the virus, and include tips and insights from medical experts on ways to be healthy. It will also have first-person accounts from kids and families in the United States who are social distancing and making changes to their everyday lives and relationships.

Dr Nadine Burke Harris, California's surgeon general, and Dr Vivek H. Murthy, a former US surgeon general will also appear.

"It's so important to remember that we are all in this together and our kids and loved ones need outlets to help them process and understand what's going on and, most importantly, to still feel connected," says Kristen Bell.

"I hope kids and families come away from this special, feeling a little more comfortable and that they enjoy some much-needed moments of humour during this difficult time."

The KidsTogether: The Nickelodeon Town Hall is part of Nickelodeon's new global initiative that launched on 18 March 2020, using Nickelodeon's most popular characters and talent to engage with kids and families on tips for staying healthy and also ideas for activities to do together while in the home during the Covid-19 pandemic.

Characters used include SpongeBob SquarePants, Blue's Clues & You!, Henry Danger, Bubble Guppies and The Casagrandes.

Coronavirus: National Geographic Society launches an emergency fund for journalists worldwide who want to cover the Covid-19 pandemic within their own communities.

by Thinus Ferreira

The National Geographic Society has launched an international emergency fund for journalists worldwide who want to cover the Covid-19 novel coronavirus pandemic within their own communities.

The National Geographic Society will review proposals that it receives for journalists and people who want to do citizen journalism on an ongoing basis. The work must be in English and journalists need to be at least 18 years old and older.

"In the most difficult of times, journalism can play several roles in supporting communities around the globe. It can disseminate critical information to keep people safe and informed, it can illuminate stories that bring us hope and remind us of our shared human experience, and it can help us find and share solutions to wicked problems," says National Geographic.

"As Covid-19 continues to evolve and impact communities around the globe, the National Geographic Society is launching an emergency fund for journalists all over the world who wish to cover Covid-19 within their own communities."

"This fund will place particular emphasis on delivering news to underserved populations, particularly where there is a dearth of evidence-based information getting to those who need it."

National Geographic says that the fund is designed to quickly deliver support so that both individual stories and longer series of content may be created.

The fund will distribute support ranging from $1000 to $8000 for local coverage of the preparation, response, and impact of this global pandemic as seen through evidence-based reporting.

"Beyond reporting on medical and physical health related to Covid-19, we especially encourage reporting that covers social, emotional, economic and equity issues. Narratives around the pandemic necessarily include facts and numbers, but ultimately, must also go deeper - telling the stories of inequities that Covid-19 has brought to light."

The National Geographic Society is looking for writers, photographers, videographers, audio journalists, cartographers, filmmakers, and data visualization experts who are all welcome to apply for this funding.

"Journalists should seek placement of this work within their local media ecosystems and must attribute their support to the National Geographic Society’s Emergency Fund for Journalists. National Geographic Society or National Geographic Partners may also choose to publish some of this work as part of its global coverage."

The reporting should cover any aspect of the virus and its fallout, including but not limited to, the social consequences of Covid-19 and measures to contain it, particularly related to equity - such as its impact on immigrant communities, domestic violence, and early childhood education.

The society is also looking for stories of resilience and solutions that could be applied on a regional or global scale, novel forms of data visualization or science communication to help communities better understand how to protect themselves, as well as lessons learned from local response(s) to Covid-19 that could be applied to other large-scale challenges, such as climate change or the refugee crisis.

Coronavirus: Ryan Serhant of Million Dollar Listing NY shares Covid-19 advice: 'The world right now is in a storm, go into the waves the same way professional swimmers do'.

by Thinus Ferreira

New York is eerily quiet and from the deserted middle of the city that used to never sleep, the real estate broker Ryan Serhant of the reality series Million Dollar Listing: New York is sharing very important advice as the global Covid-19 pandemic is shutting down the world as we knew it: Don't panic

While production on his show has shut down similar to basically all TV shows in the United States, the United Kingdom and even South Africa, sitting in his empty real estate office in Manhattan, the star of MDL: NY decided to share advice on how he weathers adversity in life for people who are scared, panicked, uncertain and who feel unhinged about what's going on and what they're supposed to do.

"I swim through the waves. Every time there is market movement, ruffles, downturns."

"There are a lot of waves in the oceans. The idea of a professional swimmer, swimming through the open ocean. Everyone swims well when there are no waves. Everyone's a great swimmer. Everyone can make perfect time. Everyone's awesome."

"But all of a sudden there's a storm. All of a sudden there are lots of waves. And a lot of those swimmers bounce out. A lot of those swimmers start flailing, losing energy, and they're going under the water."

"A lot of those swimmers try to go over the waves; they don't know what to do. They go underwater."

"The world right now is in a storm," says Ryan Serhant.

"We're in this insane storm and most people don't know what to do, so most people panic. And they are freaking out. Schools shut down, restaurants shut down, everywhere. People are getting sick. This is very real. This isn't a fake thing."

"Stay productive. The worst thing we can do right now is literally just staying on the couch and watch Netflix," he says.

"Anyone who's going to come out of this storm better than they were before the storm even hit, are going to go into the waves the same way professional swimmers do."

"What do the best professional swimmers do who swim in rough seas in the middle of a storm? They do 3 things. The first thing is they regulate their breathing. They make sure that they're not ha-ha-ha-ha-ha in a panic all the time."

"If the waves are coming from the right, they make sure they breathe to the left. If the waves are coming at them from the left they make sure they breathe to the right."

"They swim in accordance with the waves and they make sure that their breathing is okay - because if their breathing isn't okay, what happens when you're swimming into the waves, swimming into the storm? You end up with a stomach full of salt water."

"The second thing best swimmers do when they swim in a storm with huge waves is staying calm, keeping control of their breathing and treading water slowly, until they can figure out what to do, or until help comes to find them."

"If everyone is flailing their arms, what does that do? You can't control your breathing. Two - you lose all of your energy."

"The third thing is you have to keep moving. Keep control of your breathing, stay calm, and the way you swim through the waves is like a dolphin: You swim under the waves."

"That's what I'm doing here. I'm in the service industry. I'm a real estate broker. How many people do you think want to see homes right now? Not a lot. How many do you think are so excited that interest rates are so low right now that they want to go and spend money that they don't have?"

"How many people do you think are excited to be quarantined at home? Not a whole lot. It's a scary, scary time but I can't panic, I can't flail, I have to swim underneath the waves."

Monday, March 30, 2020

Coronavirus: MultiChoice adds the African Easter pop-up channel for DStv subscribers for the 2020 Easter weekend packaged by TBN Africa.

by Thinus Ferreira

MultiChoice will add a special Easter weekend pop-up TV channel for Christian viewers, packaged for its pay-TV service by TBN Africa that will launch on 9 April.

The African Easter channel will be accessible to DStv Premium, DStv Compact Plus, DStv Family and DStv Access subscribers on DStv channel 343 and will provide religious content to viewers who can't attend physical church services because of the national lockdown period caused by the rapid spread of the Covid-19 virus in South Africa.

The African Easter channel will broadcast content for various Christian denominations who observe and celebrate the Easter period.

The African Easter channel is packaged specifically for the millions of South Africans who have to stay home during the Easter Weekend with the channel that will broadcast music programmes, sermons, church services and religious programming until Easter Monday 13 April 2020.

Gospel artists whose music will feature include Lebo Sekgobela, Dr Tumi, Hillsong, William McDowell and Rebecca Malope, while the schedule will include timeslots for churches ranging from Methodist and Anglican to Catholic.

Pre-recorded faith-based messages submitted by churches will also run on the channel throughout the 4 days.

Lucky Mbiko, TBN managing director, says the channel is "partnering with churches, and some of the biggest gospel artists to bring you the best Easter worship experience to as many viewers as possible. Join us on the African Easter channel 343 on DStv for four days during the Easter Weekend.”

Calvo Mawela, MultiChoice Group CEO, says the pay-TV operator will assist millions of South African worshippers who regard the Easter time as a pivotal period of worship.

"As a responsible broadcaster, we are more than happy to partner with the department of communications and digital technologies as we afford worshippers to observe Easter from the comfort of their homes."

Stella Ndabeni-Abrahams, South Africa's minister of communications and digital technologies, says the department appreciates MultiChoice's response for an industry-wide intervention regarding religious programming on television over the Easter period that is accessible to South African viewers.

Coronavirus: Netflix, DStv Now and Showmax drop their video streaming bitrate in South Africa and across sub-Saharan Africa due to Covid-19 pandemic.

by Thinus Ferreira

Netflix, as well as MultiChoice's DStv and Showmax video streaming services, are dropping their bitrate speeds in South Africa as well as across sub-Saharan Africa to help alleviate bandwidth and internet network congestion during the growing global Covid-19 novel coronavirus pandemic.

Netflix and MultiChoice told TVwithThinus on Monday in response to media enquiries that they're lowering the streaming resolution of their subscription video-on-demand (SVOD) services.

This is similar to what Netflix, Amazon Prime Video, Disney+ and Google's YouTube have done since last week across Europe.

Netflix said it would be reducing the bitrate of its service in South Africa and across the African continent from midnight on Monday night during these uncertain times.

Starting on Monday night 30 March 2020 Netflix is lowering its bitrate delivery across Africa for 30 days to try and help mitigate congestion on the network across the African continent.

Netflix South Africa says that the lowered bitrate will not have an effect on the video streaming quality with users who will continue to be able to watch content in high definition (HD) although the streamer will be reducing the bitrate across the African continent during these uncertain times.

"Given the crisis, we've developed a way to reduce Netflix's traffic on telecommunications networks by 25% while also maintaining the quality of our service," says Ken Florance, Netflix vice president of content delivery.

"Consumers should continue to get the quality that comes with their plan - whether it's ultra-high (UH), high definition (HD) or standard definition (SD). We believe that this will provide significant relief to congested networks and we will be deploying it in Africa for the next 30 days."

MultiChoice said it too is reducing the bitrate on its DStv Now platform and its Showmax apps with the same approach happening in South Africa as well as across all of sub-Saharan Africa.

Richard Boorman, spokesperson, said the pay-TV operator "implemented data traffic reduction measures, focusing specifically on mobile traffic".

"We've limited the maximum resolution for both Showmax and DStv Now live streaming to 576p on our mobile apps. We're also busy with some other measures and are working closely with internet service providers (ISPs) to monitor the situation. If needed we'll step in with further traffic reduction measures."

Showmax and DStv Now usually stream at a maximum of 720p and this continues for users streaming content through their browsers, TV sets or connected DStv Explora decoders.

Coronavirus: MultiChoice adds Toonami kids pop-up channel, drops DStv BoxOffice movie rentals to R25 per film.

by Thinus Ferreira

MultiChoice has added the Toonami kids channel as a pop-up channel to DStv and is enlarging its DStv BoxOffice movie rental selection as it also dropped the price to R25 per rental during South Africa's national lockdown period.

The Toonami kids animation channel that has been available in some African countries on MultiChoice's DStv satellite pay-TV service for the past 3 years has been added as a pop-up channel to DStv in South Africa from Sunday 29 March 2020.

It's part of the pay-TV service's ongoing expanding content offer during the global Covid-19 novel coronavirus pandemic which is affecting South Africa as well.

Toonami, "The Home of Superheroes" channel, is carried and broadcast as a high definition (HD) channel although some of the older animation series on it is in standard definition (SD) since it was produced before the advent of HD.

Toonami, supplied by WarnerMedia which is also responsible for Cartoon Network and Boomerang, has been added on the mystical DStv channel 300 - the most prime and prized kids channel number at the start of the kids channel numbers block where DStv never hosted a TV channel before, with CN starting at 301.

Toonami targets kids between the ages of 8 and 12 and will run for 24-hours per day and has series ranging from DC Comics' Batman, Superman, The Green Lantern, Young Justice and The Justice League, as well as Teen Titans.

"Plenty of pulse-racing, action-packed films have frequently been specially packaged for our African audiences, making Toonami the go-to destination for action and animation enthusiasts of all ages," says Aletta Alberts, MultiChoice's content strategy boss.

"Toonami is an amazing movie channel that will screen a host of animated and action feature films every day from Monday to Sunday at 20:00 and Saturday mornings at 08:30, showcasing popular superheroes' heroic acts and deed in movies like Green Lantern Emerald Knights, Justice League: Throne of Atlantis, Batman: Monster Mayhem and All-Star Superman".

"The MultiChoice Group remains committed to delivering the best entertainment experience to our customers by constantly offering them more choice, great value and great content," says Aletta Alberts.

Besides films Toonami shows episodes from Justice League Unlimited, Justice League, Superman: The Animated Series, Batman: The Animated Series and Green Lantern: The Animated Series.

Guillaume Coffin, WarnerMedia Africa vice president of commercial and business development, says that Toonami will run until 30 April on DStv.

DStv BoxOffice expands
MultiChoice has also quietly expanded the number of films on offer at any given time on its DStv BoxOffice pay-per-view movie rental service to 40 of the latest films.

MultiChoice also reduced the price of these fresh-from-the-cinema movies to R25 for the period of South Africa's national lockdown.

Sunday, March 29, 2020

Coronavirus: INTERVIEW. An expert in Discovery Channel's 'Pandemic: Covid-19' documentary, Christine McDaniel, talks about what the world needs to know now - and how it might change afterwards.

by Thinus Ferreira

Discovery Channel (DStv 121) has added a quickly produced documentary special, Pandemic: Covid-19, that will be broadcast this Sunday night, 29 March 2020 at 20:55 and that will take viewers back to the beginning to show how, within a matter of weeks, the virus spread through China and the world.

The hourlong documentary special is filled with scientists and experts all sharing their insights about the novel coronavirus which has now become the defining global health crisis of our lifetime.

Seemingly overnight Covid-19 has changed not just South Africa and African life but the lives of people globally, right down to the personal way people used to interact with each other.

Christine McDaniel is one of the experts who features in Pandemic: Covid-19 and is a senior research fellow at the Mercatus Center, whose research focuses on international trade, globalisation, and intellectual property rights.

She has held several positions in the United States government, including that of deputy assistant secretary at the Treasury department and senior trade economist in the White House Council of Economic Advisers.

She has also worked in the economic offices of the US. department of Commerce, US Trade Representative, and US International Trade Commission, and has spent 3 years in Australia as deputy chief economist in Australia's patent office.

TVwithThinus got on the phone to ask her a few questions.

Just like a communicable disease that can spread you also have fear that spreads from person to person - you see it in society like now with the Covid-19 coronavirus pandemic and in economic and financial markets. 
What has been interesting or noteworthy for you about how the market fears spread this time?
Christine: The Discovery Channel documentary, Pandemic: Covid-19 goes inside the fight to try and contain the pandemic, with the latest on how governments are coordinating and trying to treat patients and how to prevent the further spread.

In terms of how scared people are the fear factor is why the market dived in early days. We don't know the future. Markets are really good at managing risk but they're not very good with uncertainty. In the early days of the pandemic the markets went from being in very good shape to all of a sudden this hugely uncertain world.

The lack of data made it impossible to weigh the costs and benefits of different strategies. Once we saw that there was this global recognition that all these countries are in this together, that the central banks are ready, I think that did help to calm down people a bit but there's definitely a fear factor and uncertainty that is driving, and that continues to drive, market volatility.

With a global disease like Covid-19 what sections or places in the economy or global economy will benefit, for instance TV ratings in America as well as in South Africa are increasing as more people and kids are staying home for longer. 
There are also data showing that pollution levels are decreasing rapidly in cities and territories worldwide as manufacturing output dropped. What and who will benefit in the short term?
Christine: Businesses that help people to connect digitally seem to be doing very well, for instance Zoom's stock price just just an all-time high.

Video streaming services and entertainment will do well as people are forced to stay inside. But up until a point - and then as unemployment skyrockets then at some point they will stop their subscriptions. For now as places are putting a short-term pause on economies you will see a surge in those services that help people stay connected digitally and keep people entertained when they can't leave the home.

With parallels to 9/11 how airplanes changed and fortified cockpit doors and a limit of liquids - now it's decades later and some systems and how we're required to behave changed permanently. If you look into a crystal ball what changed might there be in human behaviour and how we live, work and travel and the world and economies once the Covid-19 crisis passed?
Christine: Looking into the future, suppose we have a vaccine people will have gotten back to a new normal, we will still have at-risk groups forever - people who are a bit more exposed and a bit more vulnerable that what they were before - living with more caution that what they did before.

We might see different segments of the population acting differently because of that. 9/11 was a different crisis; a different event. This is really more about how this Covid-19 virus is spreading across borders invisible. And we live in a globally connected world. This might cause governments to rethink how prepared they will be in the future for another global pandemic. 

If you listen to the experts, as you'll see in the Pandemic: Covid-19 documentary, many of them have been warning for a long time, many continue to warn about possible pandemics in the future, so you might see governments start to really rethink and increase the amount of resources they put in to prepare for the next pandemic. 

I found it fascinating, I saw one of the British companies who build ventilators gave their intellectual property away by making the blueprints available to other manufacturers. What do you make of this and if a company finds a vaccine should the formula be given to every pharmaceutical?
Christine: That's a really interesting question.

It will depend on the products and services. I've seen several businesses being extra generous with the way they handle their goods and services and make things available. While they're not making extra money off of that, you have to realise that for many businesses their value is their brand.

They know that how they deal with this Covid-19 crisis will be remembered in the future. So it is in their interest to be generous now if they have any hope of surviving the downturn. 

On the intellectual property of pharmaceuticals - the government, depending on the country you're talking about, the government can step in and require pharmaceuticals to take over because of a public health emergency, to take over a company and take over production.

It's really in a company's interest to work with the government in the interest of society. Companies are doing this presumably because they're "good people" but also in the interest of saving their own company. 

What was an interesting observation for you in the making of Pandemic: Covid-19 that either you yourself didn't know, or that you want people to know or why they should make sure that they watch it?
Christine: Two things. Firstly in the immediate term is the urgent need to contain the virus. The one thing that you'll heard from health experts is how quickly, exponentially the virus spreads and once you get to a certain point it becomes nearly impossible to contain.

For economists, we study human behaviour and it's really made us think about human behaviour at a more fundamental level. We're reminded that we wake up every morning thinking that our day is going to be pretty much what it was yesterday. 

When you look at human behaviour through that lens, you can understand why it has taken most societies such a longer time despite what health experts have been saying, to adjust to the reality we're living in now. 

Then I think another thing that came out of it for me was just at the end of the day how humans are social creatures and how we need each other. 

Pandemic: Covid-19 was executive produced by Ian Russell and Sarah Jane Cohen and will broadcast in South Africa on Discovery Channel (DStv 121) on Sunday 29 March 2020 at 20:55 with a repeat on Monday 30 March at 21:45. 

Saturday, March 28, 2020

Coronavirus: A second SABC staffer tests positive for Covid-19 this time at its Auckland Park headquarters in the SABC News research division.

by Thinus Ferreira

A second SABC staffer has tested positive for the Covid-19 virus as the novel coronavirus spreads in South Africa and globally in the pandemic, this time inside the South African public broadcaster's Auckland Park headquarters where the staffer is working for the SABC News research division.

The positive Covid-19 case is the second at the SABC after the first SABC staffer, Ulrich Hendriks, tested positive on Thursday at the SABC's Kimberley provincial office in the Northern Cape office.

All SABC staffers there have been quarantined while the Kimberley office is being disinfected.

The second SABC staffer works inside the SABC News research division and is currently in sick leave in hospital.

All staffers within the same division as the ill and hospitalised worker are already working from home as part of the SABC's back-up plan.

In an internal SABC memo to staffers that was leaked to the press, the SABC tells personnel that the workers is "currently hospitalised" while other staffers were told as part of "a contingency measure" to work from home.

The staffers has a close relative who works in the SABC News digital news division.

The SABC has set up a disaster recovery site away from its Auckland Park headquarters in Johannesburg, consisting out of Outside Broadcast (OB) vans.

This site will take over in case of emergency to ensure that SABC TV and radio broadcasts continue uninterrupted. Two more studios at Auckland Park have been reserved for use by the department of education from which educational programming will be produced during the national lockdown period.

Coronavirus: SABC will now show all government media briefings live on SABC2 or SABC3 as Covid-19 virus spreads in South Africa.

by Thinus Ferreira

The South African public broadcaster will now broadcast all press conferences and media briefings of the South African government live on SABC2 and, or SABC3 as cases of the Covid-19 increase in the country and worldwide during the novel coronavirus pandemic.

The SABC said on Saturday afternoon that there is a growing need for public awareness around the coronavirus outbreak.

"Consistent with nationwide efforts to contain the spread of the Covid-19 pandemic the SABC as the primary source of public service content will continue to provide citizens with valuable, accurate and factual news and information during this period," says the SABC.

"In order to ensure that the whole population urgently gets access to critical public messaging, from today onwards, all relevant media briefings and other communications relating to the coronavirus will be carried live on SABC 2 and/or SABC 3."

The SABC says that the specific channel for transmission will be announced once the information becomes available, or closer to the time.

"It is the SABC's public interest obligation to ensure that all our citizens are appropriately and adequately empowered with credible information, in order to adhere to prescribed precautionary measures and lockdown regulations," says Madoda Mxakwe, SABC CEO.

The SABC has set up a disaster recovery site away from its Auckland Park headquarters in Johannesburg, consisting out of Outside Broadcast (OB) vans.

This site will take over in case of emergency to ensure that SABC TV and radio broadcasts continue uninterrupted. Two more studios at Auckland Park have been reserved for use by the department of education from which educational programming will be produced during the national lockdown period.

Coronavirus: Shuttered Grey’s Anatomy to end its 16th season early over Covid-19.

by Thinus Ferreira

The current 16th season of Grey's Anatomy seen on M-Net (DStv 101) will end as a shortened season on 27 April in South Africa after the ABC network in America and the production company decided not to reopen and resume production on the current season because of the spread of the global Covid-19 novel coronavirus pandemic.

This season of Grey's Anatomy that was supposed to have 25 episodes will now end with the 21st episode on 9 April in America with the "Express from the US" title that is 4 weeks behind the United States.

ABC announced late on Friday that the Shondaland-produced series, already renewed for its 17th season, will not reopen to film and complete the last few 4 episodes.

The 9 April episode is now the "season finale" and the episode synopsis of the episode entitled "Put on a Happy Face" released by ABC reads: "Link tries to convince Amelia to take it easy during the final stage of her pregnancy. Hayes asks Meredith a surprising question, and Owen makes a shocking discovery, on the season finale of Grey's Anatomy".

In mid-March Krista Vernoff, the executive producer and showrunner shuttered the show, saying "We are going home now for at least two weeks and waiting to see how the coronavirus situation evolves".

"This decision was made to ensure the health and safety of the whole cast and crew and the safety of our loved ones outside of work."

Friday, March 27, 2020

Coronavirus: SABC News journalist Ulrich Hendriks tests positive for Covid-19 in Kimberley as public broadcaster shutters Northern Cape office and quarantines staffers.

by Thinus Ferreira

The SABC News journalist Ulrich Hendriks based in Kimberley has tested positive for the Covid-19 virus as cases of the novel coronavirus spreads in South Africa, with the South African public broadcaster that has shuttered its office in the Northern Cape province with the rest of staffers now working from home.

Mmoni Seapolelo, SABC spokesperson, confirmed the broadcaster's first positive Covid-19 case and said staffers will be quarantined. "The SABC can confirm that we have one confirmed case of coronavirus at our Northern Cape provincial office," said Mmoni Seapolelo.

"As a precautionary measure, we will close the Kimberley office and all employees based in that office will also be quarantined. The employee concerned is under quarantine and will be monitored".

Phathiswa Magopeni, SABC News editor-in-chief, says the SABC is in contact with Ulrich Hendriks who is recovering at home.

"We know that he came into contact with two German tourists. Given the close proximity of our news staff in the newsroom - 25 colleagues in the Kimberley office – we decided, as a precautionary measure, to close the office and have all staff quarantined and tested. We are developing contingency plans for the operations there."

"As the SABC, since the start of the disaster, we have taken critical precautionary measures to safe-guard all our staff - with masks and other protective gear and items. But clearly given this scenario it calls for journalists to be extra careful," says Phathiswa Magopeni.

The South African National Editors’ Forum (SANEF) says in a statement on Friday that it "stands in solidarity with our colleagues at the SABC after one of their journalists tested positive for the Covid-19 virus in the Kimberley office in the Northern Cape".

"SANEF understands that the public broadcaster took immediate precautionary steps yesterday and shut down its operations in the region. All staff are working from home."

ALSO READ: Coronavirus: SABC sets up disaster recovery site with Outside Broadcast vans; production of soaps and scripted shows shuttered; news and actuality to continue during 21-day national lockdown.

Coronavirus: MultiChoice sets R80 million aside to pay full salaries of casts, crews and creatives for March and April of local productions, guarantees income of SuperSport freelancers.

by Thinus Ferreira

MultiChoice on Friday afternoon announced that the pay-TV company has set aside R80 million to help production companies to pay the full salaries of casts, crews and creatives for March and April as the growing global Covid-19 novel coronavirus pandemic wreaks havoc on South Africa's local TV and film industry.

MultiChoice says it is also guaranteeing the income of SuperSport freelancers, including those working in its broadcast technology environment.

MultiChoice told TVwithThinus on Friday in response to a media enquiry that the R80 million is centralised for South Africa, as well as for the MultiChoice Group's Southern Africa and East Africa regions, and also including Nigeria to cover salaries where MultiChoice has ongoing productions until the end of April 2020.

MultiChoice says it expects that by May 2020 "hopefully we will have the worst of the disruptions behind us".

Calvo Mawela, MultiChoice Group CEO says "The need to secure salaries of our creatives goes a long way in creating income stability for them and their families. We believe this to be critical for the industry" and that the pay-TV operator "has decided to implement several measures aimed at safe-guarding the incomes of cast, crew and creatives as well as the sustainability of production houses".

"With these measures the group can hopefully steer the industry through this tumultuous time."

MultiChoice says it's also guaranteeing the incomes of freelance workers in its SuperSport division where live sports programming all but disappeared the past two weeks and where staffers have been unable to work due to the suspension of sports events, as well as the national lockdowns that are in effect in South Africa as well as several other African countries.

"This extends to guaranteeing the income of freelancers in our broadcast technology environment."

Calvo Mawela says "Our main concern is to ensure as much as possible that we secure the incomes of creatives, cast and crew over this period. We want to ensure that they and their families are not negatively impacted as work has come to a standstill".

"As an industry made up of thousands of freelance actors, producers, directors and camera operators, Africa’s video entertainment industry is particularly vulnerable at this time. These people play a critical role in keeping viewers and communities informed, entertained and connected. All the whilst contributing significantly to the economy."

Coronavirus: M-Net's Carte Blanche to continue with new episodes through Covid-19 on Sundays, will do 2 stories looking at the growing pandemic in South Africa and globally.

by Thinus Ferreira

The weekly investigate and current affairs programme Carte Blanche on M-Net (DStv 101) will continue on Sunday evenings at 19:00 through the weeks of South Africa's national lockdown period and will this Sunday once again feature stories about the growing impact of the Covid-19 pandemic in South Africa and globally.

While production of the weekly current affairs show produced by Combined Artistic Productions, has been impacted similar to a lot of other locally-produced South Africa TV shows, Carte Blanche has quickly adapted. Some inserts have already been pre-recorded for playout and production staffers are also working remotely as far as possible.

Similar to this past Sunday, Carte Blanche will stay on the Covid-19 pandemic story that's dominating headlines in South Africa and abroad with two inserts - one following its impact in South Africa, and one looking at the global impact so far.

Presenter Claire Mawisa and producer Sophia Phirippides will firstly look at the economic devastation of the national lockdown in South Africa as the panic of the lockdown is beginning to set it for members of the public and businesses forced to close.

As the global community fights to contain the pandemic and already depressed economic activity all but grinds to a halt, Carte Blanche examines how South Africans are bracing for the impact.

Then presenter John Webb who is also producing the second insert is examining how Europe and especially Ireland is trying to prepare for the peak in the steady rise of Covid-19 cases.

With Europe currently the epicentre of the COVID-19 pandemic, experts estimate that Ireland is only likely to see infection rates peak around June and July.

John Webb meet a sports broadcaster, lawyer, tour guide and charity founder from Ireland trying to make sense of life as the Irish government clamps down on free movement and tries to enforce social distancing.

"The Irish I've been speaking to are wathing Italy closely, worried something similar will happen here," he says. "After all, it's only a 2-hour flight away. But they're also determined to see this thing through with a smile on their face."

"Pity the Irish government, though, who have had to get this nation of writers, musicians and raconteurs to stop socialising. Luckily for the most part, the Covid-19 penny has dropped and much of this country has gone quiet."

In other inserts on Sunday evening Carte Blanche will look at the ongoing spate of robberies targeting luxury wristwatches. Presenter Derek Watts and producer Kate Barry speak to the widow of a British tourist who was robbed and killed and investigate what drives the trade in stolen watches and Rolex gangs.

Then Carte Blanche also investigates the dilapidated Bloemfontein zoo where animals have been neglected and some left to die in the months after the provincial department of environment closed the zoo's doors for business.

The Bloemfontein zoo has become the latest casualty of the bankrupt Mangaung municipality with presenter Masa Kekana and producer Stenette Grosskopf investigating.

Coronavirus: Discovery Channel traces its origin in China and global spread in new 'Pandemic: Covid-19' special origin documentary on DStv this Sunday night.

by Thinus Ferreira

Discovery Channel (DStv 121) has added a quickly produced documentary special, Pandemic: Covid-19, that will be broadcast this Sunday night at 20:55 and that will take viewers back to the beginning to show how, within a matter of weeks, the virus spread through China and the world.

The hourlong documentary special is filled with scientists and experts all sharing their insights about the novel coronavirus which has now become the defining global health crisis of our lifetime.

Seemingly overnight Covid-19 has changed not just South Africa and African life but the lives of people globally, right down to the personal way people used to interact with each other.

Origin documentary
Pandemic: Covid-19 gives an in-depth look at the Covid-19 pandemic sweeping the globe and is an "origin documentary" that starts right at the beginning where the virus is believed to have jumped from animals to humans in a food amrket in Wuhan, China.

In Pandemic: Covid-19 experts shed light on its treatment and transmission that which initially baffled doctors and scientists who first encountered early patients who fell ill. The special will also look at how within a matter of weeks, Covid-19 spread throughout China and beyond, alarming healthcare professionals and scientists. 

Pandemic: Covid-19 takes viewers inside the fight to contain the pandemic with the latest news on how governments are coordinating to test and treat patients to try and prevent further spread. Experts reveal why Covid-19 is such a unique virus, why the world was so unprepared for it and what could have been done differently to contain its spread.

The special will also trace the origin of the outbreak in the United States to the first patient, its rapid spread in Seattle and probe the dramatic and unexpected transmission across the country. Viewers will hear from the leading experts in medicine on the frontlines as well as academia, government officials and patients with first-hand accounts.

Despite quarantines in multiple countries such as China, Korea and Italy, in a few short weeks the world has watched as the virus has spread – where countries such as Italy are seeing hundreds die each day, even while the country has gone into lockdown. 

Is the United States prepared to face this global pandemic unrivalled in modern history? Every day the story takes another dramatic turn, as the number of infected and reported dead in the United States continues on an upward trajectory. 

Pandemic: Covid-19 looks at the effects of the drastic measures happening across America as institutions, schools and businesses are shut down to prevent transmission. This timely special will shed insight from those leading the fight to find answers as well as a possible cure.

Pandemic: Covid-19 was executive produced by Ian Russell and Sarah Jane Cohen and will broadcast in South Africa on Discovery Channel (DStv 121) on Sunday 29 March 2020 at 20:55 with a repeat on Monday 30 March at 21:45.

Discovery Channel also has a second coronavirus documentary, Covid-19: Battling the Virus that will broadcast on Sunday 26 April 2020 at 20:55 with a repeat on Monday 27 April at 21:45.

Thursday, March 26, 2020

Coronavirus: MultiChoice and M-Net add a super-stacked pop-up channel 'M-Net Binge - The Home of HBO' to DStv filled with premium HBO series, miniseries and films.

by Thinus Ferreira

M-Net and MultiChoice will be adding an M-Net Binge - The Home of HBO pop-up TV channel to DStv from Friday with the binge-watch TV channel that will be super-stacked with multiple premium old and new American series, miniseries and films, ranging from Game of Thrones and His Dark Materials to Band of Brothers and Sex and the City.

M-Net this week rushed to compile and uplink the channel and okay the licensing rights before South Africa starts its 21-day national lockdown period with to try and curb the rapid spread of the Covid-19 novel coronavirus in the country.

Earlier this week M-Net's top programming executives scrambled after president Cyril Ramaphosa announced a 21-day national lockdown period for the country after hatching the plan to source and put together a premium "box sets" TV channel for top-tier DStv subscribers.

South African TV ratings in both daytime and prime time - similar to what has been happening in the United States - have shown a steady surge, in some cases up double digits up to 30% in some timeslots since last week as schoolkids and adults are staying and working from home and turning on their TV sets more and for longer.

This week M-Net decided to temporarily revive its M-Net Binge channel that was shuttered in October 2018. The new M-Net Binge - The Home of HBO will run on DStv channel 114 from Friday 27 March at 19:00 and will have multiple classic and brand-new HBO series and films.

M-Net Binge - The Home of HBO will be available to DStv Premium and DStv Compact Plus subscribers in high definition although some shows like Sex and the City won't be in HD.

The channel will broadcast full seasons of edgy, award-winning series, as well as a selection of HBO Original films and will run between 18:00 and 06:00 for seven days a week. The channel's 12-hour block is due to the racy nature of the channel's content that makes a lot of the age-restricted material not suitable for daytime broadcast and viewing.

Specially curated super-stacks of shows
M-Net says it carefully curated the M-Net Binge - The Home of HBO channel "to create appointment viewing" and that DStv subscribers will find the same series in the same timeslot, on the hour, with a new episode, from Mondays to Fridays.

The channel will have some brand-new HBO drama series on Sunday nights that until now has only been available on MultiChoice's Showmax video streaming service, like the brand-new British fantasy series His Dark Materials and the contemporary American business dynasty drama, Succession.

The schedule will contain shows like The Newsroom with Jeff Daniels, the fantasy drama series Game of Thrones, The Night Of, Banshee, The Leftovers and Girls, as well as the classic funeral home family drama Six Feet Under.

Tom Hanks and Steven Spielberg's epic war drama, the 10-episode World War II miniseries Band of Brothers will be showcased on M-Net Binge - The Home of HBO, while Saturday nights will have thought-provoking documentaries that have not been readily available to DStv viewers.

A super-stack of 6 episodes of the classic New York sex dramedy series Sex and the City with Carrie Bradshaw and her friends will be broadcast every Sunday night from 22:00.

On Saturdays up until 21:00 the line-up is packed with thought-provoking documentaries. The documentary this Saturday 27 March is Ice and Fire. Narrated by Leonardo DiCaprio, it investigates solutions to try and reverse the effects of climate change while time is ticking.

The film this Sunday is Deadwood, the special made-for-TV that HBO created to conclude the hit series from the 1990s.

M-Net Binge - The Home of HBO will also be available on DStv Catch Up with a connected decoder and on the DStv Now streaming service.

Here is the schedule of how some of the shows on M-Net Binge - The Home of HBO will broadcast:

The Newsroom
Mondays to Fridays at 19:00, repeats the next day at 18:00.
From the imagination of Aaron Sorkin, creator of The West Wing, comes another riveting political drama series, set in the newsroom of the fictional Atlantis Cable News television channel. The Newsroom won a Critics' Choice Television Award for Most Exciting New Series, along with Golden Globe nominations and a string of other accolades. These include a Primetime Emmy for Outstanding Lead Actor in a Drama Series (Jeff Daniels) and Outstanding Guest Actress in a Drama Series (Jane Fonda).

Band of Brothers
Mondays to Fridays at 20:00.
Hollywood legends Steven Spielberg and Tom Hanks, who collaborated on one of the greatest war movies of all time, Saving Private Ryan, teamed up again and revisited World War II as executive producers on a project that won high praise from viewers, and Emmy and Golden Globe awards for Best Miniseries. Based on a non-fiction bestselling book by historian Stephen E Ambrose, it follows the history of a parachute battalion from jump training in the United States through its participation in major actions in Europe.

Game of Thrones
Mondays to Saturdays at 21:00 and 22:00 (two episodes)
The most talked about television series of the new millennium, bar none, took the fantasy genre to a new level. Game of Thrones won a record 58 Emmy Awards, and has a global fan base that long ago surpassed the one billion mark – and keeps growing. If you’ve just returned from another planet and missed it first time around, you’ve got some catching up to do. There are 72 episodes, all told. Set on the fictional continents of Westeros and Essos, it has several plot arcs and a huge ensemble cast. Please remember that the series contains scenes of nudity and violence.

Six Feet Under
Mondays to Fridays at 23:00
A funeral parlour may not sound like the ideal setting for a long-running drama series, but Six Feet Under was a smashing success, named by Time Magazine, The Guardian and Empire as one of the best television series of all time. Nine Emmy Awards, three Screen Actors Guild Awards, three Golden Globe Awards, and a Peabody Award back up those assessments. The story revolves around the trials and tribulations of the Fisher clan, owners of Fisher & Sons Funeral Home. Besides the usual themes of interpersonal relationships, love and loss, it fearlessly tackles the most important philosophical question of our time: the meaning of life.

The Night Of
Saturdays at 23:00
Following a wild night of sex and drugs, Nasir “Naz” Kahn, a Pakistani-American student, wakes up to find that the woman he’d spent the night with has been stabbed to death. He has no recollection of the events of the night. This is the premise of a multiple award-winning crime miniseries starring John Terturro as John Stone, the lawyer who represents the murder suspect. It won four Primetime Emmy Awards and a Directors’ Guild of America Award among a slew of accolades. It has a score of 90 on Metacritic, based on 40 reviews, and 95% on Rotten Tomatoes, indicating universal acclaim.

His Dark Materials
Sundays at 19:00
Strangeness and wonder mark this fantasy drama based on the cult novel series of the same name by Philip Pullman. The action takes place in a multi-world reality, switching from one to the other in an absorbing, unusual narrative. In an alternate world, all humans have animal companions called daemons. As it turns out, they are manifestations of the human soul. The main character is a girl named Lyra, an orphan who discovers a dangerous secret. And then her path crosses with a boy named Will. The series combines live-action and animation and won an Annie, America’s top animation award.

Sundays at 20:00 and 21:00 (two episodes)
An American satirical comedy-drama television series that won the British Academy Television Award for Best International Programme and the Golden Globe Award for Best Television Series – Drama. In addition to that, Brian Cox, one of the lead actors, won the Golden Globe for Best Actor – Television Series Drama. A dysfunctional family battles for control of a global media and hospitality conglomerate – and the patriarch’s health is in steep decline. Who will inherit the throne?

Coronavirus: MultiChoice's Showmax adds linear TV news channels for streaming during Covid-19 pandemic.

by Thinus Ferreira

MultiChoice's video streaming service, Showmax, is adding the live feeds of 7 linear TV news channels to its offering as the world battles the Covid-19 novel coronavirus pandemic which has led to a 21-day national lockdown in South Africa that will start on Friday 27 March.

Showmax says it's adding the TV news channels to help keep subscribers up to date with information, news and developments around Covid-19 for people who want to stream-watch the news channels.

Showmax has added BBC World News, CNN International, Sky News, SABC News, Newzroom Afrika, Al Jazeera and euronews.

Showmax's TV news channels addition follows after MultiChoice made a selection of TV news and some other channels available on its DStv Now video streaming platform available for free to all South Africans including People’s Weather, SuperSport Play, PBS Kids, Channel O, TBN, BBC World News, CNN International, Sky News, eNCA, SABC News, Newzroom Africa and euronews.

StarTimes/StarSat now live streams over 100 international and local TV channels for free through its StarTimes ON app in South Africa and for users elsewhere in Africa, including BBC World News, africanews, NTA News, CGTN, Al Jazeera, France24 and CNC World.

Showmax was asked if it will be opening up access to content for free in the way that Amazon Prime Video this week started giving free access to multiple series from its kids catalogue. Spokesperson Richard Boorman told TVwithThinus that Showmax "is exploring a number of measures".

Coronavirus: SABC sets up disaster recovery site with Outside Broadcast vans; production of soaps and scripted shows shuttered; news and actuality to continue during 21-day national lockdown.

by Thinus Ferreira

As South Africa enters a period of 21-days of a national lockdown the SABC has ordered all of its locally-produced soaps and drama series to shut down production although they will all remain on-air with pre-recorded episodes, while SABC news and actuality programmes will also continue on television and radio.

As the country tries to curb the rapid spread of the Covid-19 coronavirus in the country, the SABC has set up a disaster recovery site away from its Auckland Park headquarters in Johannesburg, consisting out of Outside Broadcast (OB) vans.

This site will take over in case of emergency to ensure that SABC TV and radio broadcasts continue uninterrupted. Two more studios at Auckland Park have been reserved for use by the department of education from which educational programming will be produced during the national lockdown period.

"Our logistical services department will continue to sanitise SABC radio studios between programmes as the crew switches over to reduce the risk of any contamination," says the broadcaster.

"During the switch-over, mechanisms have been put in place to allow cleaning teams enough time to do a thorough sanitation process."

"The SABC is working tirelessly to ensure that its core business of delivering on news and current affairs programmes as well as TV and radio programming will continue under stringent conditions, with alternative broadcast plans in place.

In terms of studio interviews the SABC has taken a decision to not allow any studio interviews during this period but use various alternative ways to communicate with newsmakers."

The SABC says that it has told production companies producing soaps, other drama series and scripted series to shut down. This includes Uzalo, Generations and Skeem Saam on SABC1 and 7de Laan, Muvhango and Lithapo on SABC2.

"Currently the SABC has enough broadcast stock during the lockdown and will continue to entertain millions of South Africans with their favourite soaps," says the SABC.

SABC1 will broadcast new pre-recorded episodes of Daily Thetha until 9 April 2020, after which it will switch to replacement content. Production has shut down of the just-restarted YO.TV on SABC1 that will show a mix of pre-recorded programming and replacement content.

SABC2 and SABC3 will continue to broadcast pre-recorded episodes of its youth blocks Hectic Nine 9 and Hectic on 3.

The SABC says that all SABC radio drama productions have shuttered. "More focus will be on increasing curriculum-based educational programmes to support learners during this time and creating more captivating programmes to keep listeners entertained."

The SABC has also shut down all SABC Sport TV productions that are being replaced on schedules with licensed international sports content. Midday programming is being replaced with educational content. The SABC will continue radio sports talk shows with safety precautions in place.

"As a public service broadcaster, it is important that the SABC meets both its public mandate and organisational objectives. This means that we need to balance our obligation to ensure the health and wellbeing of our employees and service providers, as well as maintaining business continuity, as our services are critical to the South African public," says Madoda Mxakwe, SABC CEO.

Ntabiseng Tau, Muvhango senior creative director, said the SABC2 started to shut down this week on Tuesday. "We've shot a couple of scenes on Tuesday morning to kind of safeguard where we are in production, in terms of deliverables and to have things that are on air."

Nandipha Pantsi, Generations The Legacy spokesperson, says "We are taking the current crisis seriously and are doing everything in our power to mitigate against it. However, we do have enough material to air".

"We have enough episodes to stay on air during the lockdown period. Cast and crew will be paid as per usual."

In a statement the SABC1 drama series Skeem Saam says "The safety and health of our crew and cast is the biggest priority. For our fans though, the entertainment and drama will continue as per usual in the signature Skeem Saam way so they don't need to worry about their daily dose".

Wednesday, March 25, 2020

Coronavirus: Covid-19 virus stops the zombies dead in their tracks as AMC's The Walking Dead on FOX is forced to postpone its 10th season finale.

by Thinus Ferreira

The Covid-19 virus has stopped the zombies dead in their tracks: The 10th season finale of The Walking Dead seen on FOX (DStv 125 / StarSat 131) will be delayed and broadcast later as a special episode because of the global coronavirus pandemic that is impacting post-production.

The Walking Dead is produced by AMC Studios and revolves a group of post-apocalyptic survivors trekking across the United States in a world where a frightening new virus turns people who die into zombies without a cure.

Seasons have 16 episodes and just broadcast the 13th episode of the 10th season that saw the exit of Danai Gurirawith, with South African and African viewers getting the show as an Express from the US title.

"Current events have unfortunately made it impossible to complete post-production of The Walking Dead season 10 finale, so the current season will end with its 15th episode on 15 April," says AMC in a statement.

"The planned finale will appear as a special episode later in the year."

AMC already pushed out the starting date of the spinoff series, Walking Dead: World Beyond that would have started on 12 April directly after the 10th season finale of The Walking Dead, also because of the coronavirus pandemic. AMC said that Walking Dead: World Beyond will now start "later this year".

Preproduction on the 11th season of The Walking Dead was already postponed as well.

Coronavirus: e.tv and kykNET soaps temporarily shutting down production for 21-day national lockdown in South Africa because of Covid-19.

by Thinus Ferreira

e.tv's locally-produced drama series and soaps, as well as the soaps and drama series on M-Net's kykNET (DStv 144) are now shuttering production ahead of the 21-day national shutdown in South Africa to try and minimise the rapid spread of Covid-19 cases as the novel coronavirus pandemic continues to spread globally.

Mzansi Magic shuttered its HomeGround sports magazine show produced by SuperSport last week, with the talent search reality show Maak My Famous with Emo Adams that postponed in-studio audience filming of the second season season until April.

This was followed by Danie Odendaal Productions that shut down its 7de Laan weekday Afrikaans soap filmed at Sasani Studios on Tuesday. The cinema chains Ster-Kinekor and Nu Metro have now also shuttered in South Africa.

Until last week all locally-produced weekday soaps seen on the SABC's SABC1 and SABC2 channels, e.tv, M-Net's 1Magic, Mzansi Magic and kykNET channels continued with production, as well as locally-produced magazine and current affairs shows.

SuperSport also continued with its locally-produced magazine and talk analysis shows, while reality shows like M-Net's second season of The Bachelor SA produced by Rapid Blue and Survivor SA: Immunity Island produced by Afrokaans for M-Net (DStv 101) and the 16th season of Idols produced by [SIC] Entertainment for Mzansi Magic (DStv 161) also remained in production.

On Wednesday kykNET told TVwithThinus that it is shutting down its Afrikaans soaps and drama series in production.

These include Binnelanders produced by Stark Productions, Suidooster produced by Gambit Films, Arendsvlei produced by Penguin Films and Getroud met Rugby produced by Overberg Productions.

kykNET says that all of its locally-produced shows "will adhere to preventative measures that have been announced by president Cyril Ramaphosa on Monday 23 March 2020".

kykNET says that the announced 21-day lockdown that will last until 16 April 2020 will not impact the current broadcast schedules of the daily dramas due to the fact that they are filmed in advance.

Reggy Moalusi, MultiChoice South Africa's executive head for corporate affairs, told TVwithThinus on Wednesday that "producers are in constant communication with the kykNET content team who are working on strategies to limit the impact of Covid-19 on the video entertainment industry, including actors, technical teams and viewers, to the absolute minimum".

Marlon Davids, e.tv managing director, told TVwithThinus on Wednesday morning that e.tv is temporarily shuttering its soaps Rhythm City produced by Quizzical Pictures, Scandal! produced by Ochre Moving Pictures and Imbewu produced by Grapevine Productions, as well as other drama series as well.

e.tv said that viewers don't need to worry since the free-to-air commercial broadcaster has enough already produced episodes.

"All production companies who work on our daily dramas and soaps will not be filming during the national lockdown but will continue on-air during the national lockdown."

He said that e.tv will continue to deliver news and entertainment programming during the national lockdown period.

It's not yet clear what will happen to SuperSport's locally-produced magazine shows or M-Net's Carte Blanche

SuperSport was asked but referred the media enquiry to MultiChoice on Tuesday who didn't respond with any answer. M-Net said it would provide an answer later in the week. The SABC said it would answer on Wednesday.

Mzansi Magic didn't give an answer as to what's happening with the production of Idols when asked with the show that just completed the initial round of nationwide auditions to prepare for the Johannesburg first group round.

Coronavirus: Nigeria warns that the thousands of MultiChoice and M-Net guests at their 7th AMVCA have very likely been exposed to Covid-19.

by Thinus Ferreira

In an announcement that sent shockwaves through MultiChoice, M-Net and the African continent's TV and film industry, the office of the Lagos state's ministry of health in Nigeria warned that the 7th Africa Magic Viewers' Choice Awards could have exposed the thousands of guests who attended to the Covid-19 virus since someone who had tested positive attended the awards show.

A year after not holding its pan-African awards show in 2019, MultiChoice decided to forge ahead in 2020 with the 7th AMVCAs that took place on 14 March at the Eko Hotel in Lagos, Nigeria on the same night as MultiChoice and M-Net's 2020 DStv Mzansi Viewers' Choice Awards took place for South Africa in Johannesburg at the TicketPro Dome.

MultiChoice pressed ahead with the 7th AMVCAs in Nigeria despite Covid-19 cases that had already tested positive in Nigeria, as well as with the 2020 DStv MVCAs in South Africa where no cases were positive yet although the government and companies cautioned people to limit movement and large-scale social interaction and gatherings.

The Lagos State ministry of health has now warned that "all participants at the Africa Magic Viewers' Choice Awards held on 14 March at Eko Hotels may have come in contact with one of the confirmed cases in Lagos and are most likely to have been exposed to the Covid-19 infection".

The large awards show with attendees from West, East and Southern Africa was filled with TV and film executives from across Africa including MultiChoice Nigeria CEO John Ugbe, as well as filmmakers, on-screen stars and behind-the-scenes crew, media and including multiple MultiChoice and M-Net staffers and executives from across the African continent who all returned to their home countries on the Sunday morning.

The health ministry urged all attendees of the 7th Africa Magic Viewers' Choice Awards to "observe strict self-isolation, to call Nigeria's toll-free coronavirus-helpline if they notice symptoms and to practice self-distancing.

The MultiChoice Group's Africa division didn't immediately respond on Wednesday morning to a media enquiry asking for comment and what it's doing now for M-Net and MultiChoice staffers - those who attended and those who came into contact with them upon their return, as well as regarding guests who attended.

When comment is received it will be added here.

UPDATE Thursday 26 March 2020 16:54 -  Reatile Tekateka, the head of corporate affairs at MultiChoice Africa, says that MultiChoice has no comment.

Coronavirus: Amazon Prime Video unlocks kids content for free streaming during Covid-19 pandemic.

by Thinus Ferreira

With millions of kids worldwide sitting at home during the growing Covid-19 novel coronavirus pandemic Amazon has decided to drop its paywall and make a raft of its kids content including movies and series available for free on its streaming service, including South Africa.

MultiChoice last week opened up access to some of the TV news channels and some others, including some library content, for free on its DStv Now streaming platform to all DStv subscribers and now Amazon is making a bunch of children's shows accessible for free viewing as well.

Amazon also created a link for parents to access the content.

The majority of the content is aimed at preschool and younger primary school children.

People worldwide can now watch Amazon Studios original series like Just Add Magic, Pete the Cat, If You Give a Mouse a Cookie, The Dangerous Book for Boys, Lost in Oz, Costume Quest, Tumble Leaf, Bug Diaries, Creative Galaxy, Jessy & Nessy, Wishenpoof, Annedroids, Gortimer Gibbon’s Life on Normal Street and The Snowy Day, as well as outside produced shows like Peppa Pig and multiple other titles.

Amazon warns that some titles won't be available in certain territories like South Africa because of existing rights and exclusion reasons.

To access the free Amazon Prime Video kids content a valid Amazon account is needed to sign in but people can sign up for free and then log in.

Coronavirus: Ster-Kinekor follows Nu Metro and shuts down its movie theatres in South Africa before the 21-day national lockdown starts because of Covid-19.

by Thinus Ferreira

Ster-Kinekor has now also shuttered the cinema chain's movie theatres in South Africa following Nu Metro that did so on Tuesday as South Africa prepares for the government-ordered 21-day national shutdown starting on 26 March 2020 because of the spread of Covid-19 in the country amidst the global coronavirus pandemic.

"All Ster-Kinekor cinemas will be closed from 18:00 on 24 March until 16 April 2020," Ster-Kinekor tells TVwithThinus in a statement. "We will reopen after the lockdown or as otherwise directed by the South African government.

"We at Ster-Kinekor care about the health and wellbeing of our customers and staff, we continue to encourage all South Africans to follow all health, hygiene and other legal regulations as communicated by the by the South African government."

"We will closely monitor recommendations of the World Health Organisation (WHO) and the department of health, and we look forward to inviting everyone to once again enjoy experiencing Great Moments at Ster-Kinekor," says Ryan Williams, Ster-Kinekor Theatres CEO.