Tuesday, June 30, 2020

South Africa's Human Rights Commission now looking into kykNET's disgusting Kwarantyn 'k'-word use, MultiChoice and kykNET not answering questions.

by Thinus Ferreira

The South Africa's Human Rights Commission (SAHRC) is looking into the case where the now-axed contestant Jana le Roux uttered a racial slur in the kykNET-produced Kwarantyn Afrikaans reality show on DStv while MultiChoice and kykNET have so far remained silent on the matter and not answered any specific questions posed about it.

It took M-Net's Afrikaans channels division overseen by Karen Keiring a day to remove Jana le Roux on Friday evening after mom Jana le Roux on Thursday evening during a game of 30 Seconds used the offensive and derogatory "k"-word in Kwarantyn.

On Friday morning Karen Meiring told the media that what happened was "completely unacceptable".

kykNET acknowledged receipt of subsequent media enquiries and specific questions but haven't answered any and haven't held any media briefing about the incident.

This past Saturday morning kykNET - and after MultiChoice had removed Leon Schuster films from its Showmax video-on-demand service for a review of the comedian's use of blackface - went ahead with the broadcast of the 1954 Jamie Uys film Daar Doer in die Stad.

The film uses a racially offensive "H"-word, along with several other offensive terms - something that appears to be incongruous with MultiChoice and kykNET's public statements about not racially insensitive content and language in broadcasts.

MultiChoice and kykNET didn't terminate Kwarantyn but removed Jana with her husband and the rest of her family who continue to get public exposure and remain to compete as they try to win R250 000.

Kwarantyn is an Afrikaans reality show that MultiChoice and kykNET is running as a DStv pop-up channel, produced by Red Pepper Pictures from two adjacent Johannesburg homes populated by the white Le Roux and the coloured Scheepers families in each.

The Broadcasting Complaints Commission of South Africa (BCCSA) has opened a case after it received complaints about the broadcast from DStv subscribers and is waiting for MultiChoice to respond.

SAHRC commissioner Andre Gaum told TVwithThinus in response to a media enquiry that "the SAHRC is looking into the matter".

"The Constitutional Court has pronounced that they use of the 'k'-word amounts to hate speech. It is of great concern that derogatory expressions involving this word still appear to form part of some South Africa's vocabulary. South Africans should desist from using words that hurt others deeply and damage national unity and social cohesion."

"All of us should work together to undo deeply entrenched racist tendencies that unfortunately appear to surface every now and again".

MultiChoice previously responded to the media when the Randburg-based pay-TV operator said that it will no longer give the Afrikaans singer Steve Hofmeyr a platform on DStv, and that it canned the second season of the kykNET show before broadcast of the Bolhuis show after audio recordings surfaced of the disgraced private investigator Mike Bolhuis using racial slurs including the "k"-word.

Since Friday TVwithThinus posed several questions to MultiChoice about the Kwarantyn incident.

A media enquiry was sent to Aprio (the PR company doing corporate communications on behalf of MultiChoice), Joe Heshu (MultiChoice's group executive for corporate affairs), Benedict Maaga (MultiChoice's senior manager for corporate communications), as well as Nthabiseng Serote (MultiChoice senior corporate communications specialist) and Ntabiseng Motsei (MultiChoice marketing communications specialist).

None have responded by the time of publication of this report.

MultiChoice was asked why the pay-TV operator chose not to immediately remove the Kwarantyn contestant or family after the use of the racial slur and why MultiChoice decided not to end the Kwarantyn show.

MultiChoice was also asked whether Jana le Roux's remaining family in the show will still get any money, prizes, or derive any benefit from their exposure from being on the DStv channel and in programme, and why there was no on-air message from MultiChoice or kykNET on the Kwarantyn channel on Friday to apologise to viewers?

MultiChoice was also asked happens to the benefits that Jana le Roux and her family already received or might receive through MultiChoice by staying in the house and having been part of kykNET's Kwarantyn show.

Since Friday kykNET and its division boss Karen Meiring have also been asked questions about its content and acknowledged the media enquiry but haven't provided any answers to the questions.

TVwithThinus asked kykNET why it removed a contestant from an entertainment reality show on Friday but then broadcast a film like Doer in die Stad a day after on Saturday that contains extremely offensive and racist words that viewers notice. kykNET was asked how this lines up with MultiChoice and kykNET's statements of being against racism and removing someone for it, but allowing it in other content the next day.

kykNET was also asked why it decided not to end Kwarantyn immediately and why it chose not to stop the DStv pop-up channel and whether that was a consideration.

In the media enquiry, kykNET was also asked whether it's correct that the family of which mom Jana le Roux forms part, can still win R250 000, and if so, how this aligns with MultiChoice and kykNET's policy that people shouldn't benefit from discriminatory behaviour.

kykNET was also posed the questions of whether the families received any psychological counselling and if the Scheepers family was traumatised.

kykNET was asked why kykNET and Red Pepper Pictures decided to keep Jana le Roux on-air on Friday and showed her teary farewell and whether kykNET through that didn't make her into a sympathetic figure and someone that viewers are made to feel sorry for.

ALSO READ: MultiChoice's DStv in new racism scandal after Kwarantyn contestant uses 'K'-word racial slur in Afrikaans reality show; kykNET boss Karen Meiring calls shocking incident 'completely unacceptable'.
ALSO READ: As even more Mike Bolhuis racist slurs from the kykNET reality star surface including him using the 'k'-word, MultiChoice says it is still considering 'the reinstatement of the show'.
ALSO READ: After MultiChoice canned racist Mike Bolhuis' TV show on kykNET the private investigator starts a belated apology tour pleading for forgiveness: 'I used these terms in anger'.
ALSO READ: MultiChoice canned the Bolhuis reality show on kykNET after investigator Mike Bolhuis used racist and derogatory language including the 'n'-word. 

Monday, June 29, 2020

2020 BET Awards sees Nigeria's Burna Boy snag Best International Act while Amapiano vocalist Sha Sha makes history by becoming first Zimbabwean to win the award for Viewers' Choice Best New International Act.

by Thinus Ferreira

Nigeria's Burna Boy won the Best International Act Award for the second time at the 2020 BET Awards that was broadcast on ViacomCBS Networks Africa's BET (DStv 129) channel on Monday, while the Amapiano vocalist Sha Sha made history as the first Zimbabwean to win the Viewers' Choice Best New International Act Award.

The 2020 BET Awards with comedian and actress Amanda Seales as the host was held and broadcast virtually this year for two reasons because as she described it "outside it's all Covid and cops".

The French activist, Assa Traoré received the 2020 BET International Global Good Award. 

This year was the 20th anniversary of the BET Awards and the 40th anniversary of the BET TV channel with the 2020 BET Awards that ran under the theme of "Our Culture Can't be Cancelled" in the wake of civil unrest in the United States because of the murder of George Floyd by Minneapolis police.

"The Best International Act categories over the years have honoured the outstanding achievements of some of the most talented international acts from across the world. BET is committed to shining a light on talent, elevating our culture and promoting diversity through song," said Monde Twala, senior vice president and general manager of ViacomCBS Networks Africa and Peer Lead BET International.

"This year’s winners and nominees reflect an abundance of creative expression. We salute all the nominees and winners.

The 2020 BET Awards this year - as a celebration of black culture, love, joy, and pride - made use of dynamic artist-generated performances and packages, filled with inspirational messages of Black Lives Matter and the need for racial equality.

During the show, Beyoncé was honoured with the Humanitarian Award for her years of philanthropic service which she dedicated to the Black Lives Matter protestors.

A slew of performers and stars appeared, including Alicia Keys, Chloe x Halle, DaBaby, D Smoke, Jennifer Hudson, John Legend, Jonathan McReynolds, Kane Brown, Lil Wayne, Megan Thee Stallion, Roddy Ricch, SiR, Summer Walker, Usher and Wayne Brady

Several performances addressed the killings of black men and women while in police custody, the Black Lives Matter movement and the protests over police violence.

Some performances also referenced the coronavirus pandemic, incorporating Covid-19 into lyrics or masks into the performance. In addition, Lil Wayne paid tribute to Kobe Bryant while Wayne Brady honoured Little Richard. Both the NBA star and singing legend died last year

The complete list of the 2020 BET Awards winners is:

Best International Act
Burna Boy (Nigeria)

Viewers' Choice: Best New International Act
Sha Sha (Zimbabwe)

Best Female R&B/Pop Artist

Best Male R&B/Pop Artist
Chris Brown

Best Group

Best Collaboration
Chris Brown featuring Drake - "No Guidance"

Best Male Hip Hop Artist

Best Female Hip Hop Artist
Megan Thee Stallion

Video of the Year
DJ Khaled featuring Nipsey Hussle & John Legend - "Higher"

Video director of the Year
Teyana "Spike Tee" Taylor

Best New Artist
Roddy Ricch

Dr Bobby Jones Best Gospel/Inspirational Award
Kirk Franklin - "Just for Me"

Best Actress
Issae Rae

Best Actor
Michael B. Jordan

Youngstars Award
Marsai Martin

Best Movie
Queen & Slim

Sportswoman of the Year
Simone Biles

Sportsman of the Year
LeBron James

Album of the Year
Please Excuse Me for Being Antisocial (Roddy Ricch)

BET Her Award
Beyonce featuring Blue Ivy Carter, Wizkid & Saint JHB "Brown Skin Girl"

South African police shoots Newzroom Afrika reporter Mweli Masilela with a rubber bullet in his face while covering taxi protest in Mpumalanga.

by Thinus Ferreira

The South African Police Service (SAPS) on Monday shockingly shot the Newzroom Afrika (DStv 405) reporter Mweli Masilela while he was covering taxi protest action at KaNyamazane.

The South African police shot the former SABC reporter with a rubber bullet in his face.

Mweli Masilela wrote on social media that he "just got shot while covering the taxi shutdown in KaNyamazane in Mpumalanga. Police fired rubber bullets just a few minutes after arriving in the area to disperse taxi drivers who were blocking the road leading to the township".

Newzroom Afrika told TVwithThinus in response to a media enquiry that Mweli Masilela was caught in the line of police fire while reporting news.

"Our immediate concern is always the safety of our team so we were distressed to see that our reporter Mweli Masilela had been caught in the line of fire while carrying out his duties. He is at home now and recovering after a visit to the hospital. We wish him a speedy recovery," says Zamahlasela Gabela, Newzroom Afrika's head of marketing and communications.

The South African National Editors' Forum (SANEF) in a statement says it "condemns the shooting of Newzroom Afrika reporter, Mweli Masilela while covering a protest by taxi operators in Kanyamazane township outside Mbombela, Mpumalanga."

"Mweli Masilela was shot and injured when police fired rubber bullets just a few minutes after arriving in the area to disperse the protesters. There was a standoff between the police and taxi operators from the early hours of the morning over the taxi operators' demand to carry passenger loads of a hundred percent."

"I had just finished doing interviews with some taxi drivers who were protesting blocking the main road leading into the Kanyamazane township. I was taking some visuals of the blockade when police arrived on site and started firing rubber bullets," Mweli Masilela told SANEF.

"I was clearly visible carrying a video camera and tripod, that's why I still don't understand why they still had to shoot me. They didn't even give a warning for people to retreat. They just shouted move, move, and fired shots - that's when one rubber bullet hit me," Mweli Masilela told SANEF from the hospital where he was examined. He has opened a case against the police.

"SANEF believes that this violent incident could have been avoided had police considered the safety of everyone involved before firing. The police should have given reporters and protesters sufficient warning time. Also, they should have given journalists time to find a safe space before indiscriminately firing in their direction."

"SANEF calls on police leadership to take swift action and investigate the matter to identify and discipline those that compromised everyone’s safety. Further, we believe that public officials should respect the role of the media in our democracy. We intend to raise the matter with the National Police Commissioner in our upcoming meeting," SANEF says.

A year ago in July 2019 Mweli Masilela was also assaulted - that time by a group of men in Vosman where he was reporting about the death of a 16-year old boy who died after he was trapped underground in a mine.

Men stole Mweli Masilela's car keys and camera and forced him to delete camera photos.

Coronavirus: SABC2's Lithapo the next South African TV show to shut down as the Sesotho telenovela also gets a Covid-19 positive case.

by Thinus Ferreira

SABC2's Sesotho telenovela Lithapo is the next South African local TV production that has been forced to shut down after a Covid-19 positive case has been identified among the production staff.

Lithapo filmed at Fleet Street Studios in Ferndale, Johannesburg shut down on Friday 26 June and will be closed until at least 6 July, after the show shut down temporarily two weeks ago for a few days also over alarm around Covid-19 but one which turned out to be negative. Production resumed a week ago just for the shutdown to happen on Friday.

Lithapo is produced by Quizzical Pictures for SABC2. Quizzical Pictures' other how - the weekday soap Rhythm City on e.tv - is also shut down because of positive Covid-19 cases.

SABC2 spokesperson Lebo Malete told TVwithThinus that Lithapo "has shut down since Friday 26 June until further notice".

"The production house is currently following all protocols and measures that are in place. Once all has been completed, production will restart. The producers will advise when production will restart. SABC confirms that there will be no break in transmission ensuring viewers will still enjoy Lithapo."

M-Net's The River produced by Tshedza Pictures on 1Magic (DStv 103) was the first show to shut down because of a positive Covid-19 case after South Africa's film and TV industry reopened following the extended national lockdown period. The River is once again filming.

After The RiverSkeem Saam on SABC1, and Word of Mouth's Venda series Muvhango on SABC2 have both been forced to shut down because of positive Covid-19 coronavirus cases.

They were followed last week by SABC2's 7de Laan on SABC2 produced by Danie Odendaal Productions, as well as both of e.tv's weekday soaps Rhythm City produced by Quizzical Pictures and Scandal! produced by Ochre Media - all three of them filmed at Sasani Studios in Highlands North in Johannesburg.

Lithapo producers on Thursday last week informed the cast and crew in an email to "kindly note that we won't be shooting tomorrow, Friday 26 June, due to one of our crew members who has tested positive for Covid-19".

Lithapo crew and cast have bee instructed to self-isolate at home.

The shuttering of a growing number of TV series comes after the entire South Africa film and TV industry abruptly closed in late-March for the national lockdown period which has seen the already-struggling industry shed thousands of jobs in the two months that cameras were turned off and studio doors closed.

Saturday, June 27, 2020

Coronavirus: eMedia's Afrikaans TV news eNuus on kykNET disrupted on Saturday because of positive Covid-19 case in its Hyde Park newsroom.

by Thinus Ferreira

eMedia's daily Afrikaans TV news bulletin eNuus produced for kykNET (DStv 144) and kykNET & Kie (DStv 145) on MultiChoice satellite pay-TV service was disrupted on Saturday after a colleague tested positive for the Covid-19 coronavirus causing a shutdown of the Hyde Park newsroom in Johannesburg for deep cleaning.

It's not clear when eNuus will be done live from its Hyde Park location again.

eNuus anchor Genée Heyl told viewers on Saturday evening at 19:00 that the daily episode was pre-recorded with an intro and won't cover the day's news but play a rebroadcast of Covid-19 related news inserts of the past few weeks.

eNuus ran an on-screen bumper notifying viewers that "eNuus tonight is broadcasting a pre-recorded news overview due to a Covid-19 case in our newsroom".

The eNuus Covid-19 shutdown comes days after eNCA (DStv 403) had to shut down its ground floor studio and several staffers and reporters were forced to go into self-isolation for 14 days after eNCA anchor Shahan Ramkissoon tested positive for Covid-19 on Monday this week.

The SABC's SABC News (DStv 404) and Newzroom Afrika (DStv 405), along with eNCA and eNuus have all been affected by shutdowns and even news bureau closures across South Africa due to Covid-19 cases over the past two months.

eNCA in a statement said that it can "confirm that a member of the staff tested positive for Covid-19 and it has a direct impact on the daily eNuus bulletin broadcast on Saturday at 19:00 on kykNET and kykNET & Kie.

"As a precautionary measure, all editorial staff responsible for the eNuus bulletin have bee asked to stay home while the company deep-cleans the newsroom. None of the eNuus team had direct contact with the infected employee."

"The company is undertaking the necessary track and tracing process to identify potentially exposed staff members who will be required to go for testing. eNCA will continue to monitor the health of affected employees."

Friday, June 26, 2020

MultiChoice's DStv in new racism scandal after Kwarantyn contestant uses 'K'-word racial slur in Afrikaans reality show; kykNET boss Karen Meiring calls shocking incident 'completely unacceptable'.

by Thinus Ferreira

MultiChoice and it's Afrikaans M-Net division have once again been engulfed by a racism scandal after a contestant in its Afrikaans Kwarantyn reality show broadcast on DStv shockingly uttered a racial slur on live television on Thursday night.

kykNET boss Karen Meiring on Friday morning in a video conference call with the media that was pre-arranged and supposed to highlight upcoming new content, cancelled the day's media briefing and told journalists that what "What happened last night in Kwarantyn is completely unacceptable".

"The Kwarantyn issue requires our full attention today. Unfortunately we have to postpone this because we have to take issue in terms of what happened last night and we have to handle that."
"It's really a serious issue for us and we will let you know the outcome. To sit with you for 2 hours honestly wouldn't feel right to me in terms of what is happening right now."

"Together we will, with all of these things happening in our society and the things we have to address as Afrikaans-speaking people in this country, together we will get through it. Today we have the responsibility to address something and we feel very, very serious about it and that is what we are going to do now."

So far there has been no official comment from MultiChoice or its Afrikaans M-Net division, or what is happening to Kwarantyn that runs as a kykNET-produced pop-up channel on DStv channel 149, or the contestant.

A contestant in the Red Pepper Pictures produced show uttered the "K"-word racial slur on Thursday night which broadcasts the Le Roux and Scheepers families living in two adjacent homes in Johannesburg competing for prizes with the first Big Brother South Africa winner Ferdinand Rabie as the presenter.

During an in-show competition on Thursday night - day 16 of the show that is supposed to stretch over 50 days - the 49-year old, "nice white mom" Jana le Roux uttered the derogatory and offensive "k"-word slur.

When her white family lost to the coloured Scheepers family, mom Jana le Roux exclaimed, "Wow, that's a k- beating!" in Afrikaans, as other contestants looked shocked.

By Friday afternoon kykNET has not decided to, or taken any action, to immediately remove Jana le Roux from Kwarantyn, and MultiChoice and M-Net failed to terminate the programme to show that it won't stand for racism or racist behaviour.

Jana le Roux has not apologised in any public statement.

kykNET in a terse statement Friday afternoon said that "Thursday evening in the programme Kwarantyn a racist remark was made that goes against the constitution, the spirit of the programme and kykNET".

"The channel apologises to everyone who has been offended by this. kykNET remains committed to a non-racial society, without discrimination."

"kykNET doesn't shy away from the responsibility to tackle and highlight historical and current complex issues. The situation requires decisive action and is managed with urgency," said Karen Meiring, the director of M-Net's kykNET channels in the statement.

South Africa's Broadcasting Complaints Commission (BCCSA) told TVwithThinus on Friday afternoon in response to a media enquiry that it received three complaints, has opened a case over the Red Pepper Pictures produced show and is waiting for MultiChoice to respond. 

Unlike third-party acquired channels the Kwarantyn pop-up channel is produced by the Afrikaans channels section of MultiChoice's M-Net content division. 

"We received three official complaints and we are awaiting the broadcaster’s response," the BCCSA says.

UPDATE Friday 26 June 2020 17:00: Mom Jana le Roux is out and has been removed from the show, but MultiChoice and kykNET chose not to end Kwarantyn but to continue the show. The Le Roux family will continue to benefit from on-air exposure and could possibly win R250 000.

Mom Jana de Roux cut a (sym)pathetic figure on Friday afternoon as she cried with her family members on television and hugged her husband as kykNET continued to give her coverage and broadcast her family farewell moments.

Presenter Ferdinand Rabie said that Jana le Roux has been disqualified and is leaving the house.

The producers told Jana le Roux to leave the house at 17:45 on Friday late afternoon.

Earlier on Friday TVwithThinus asked MultiChoice, M-Net and kykNET specific questions in a media enquiry. By the time Jana exited there was no response yet on any of the questions.

Why has MultiChoice/DStv not immediately removed the Kwarantyn contestant and/or family who used a racial slur?

Why has MultiChoice/DStv/M-Net/kykNET not immediately ended/stopped the Kwarantyn show to show that it won't tolerate racism as the company said in the past and will this family still get any money/prizes/benefit/exposure from this DStv channel/programme?

Why has there been no intervention or counselling discussion with the Scheepers and/or Le Roux family?

Why is there no on-air on-channel message from DStv/kykNET to apologise?

What happens to the benefits the family/person already received/will receive through DStv and them staying in the house as part of kykNET's TV show?

UPDATE Friday 26 June 2020 17:45: Mom Jana le Roux leaves Kwarantyn after her on-air racial slur got her evicted from the show, with MultiChoice and kykNET that have chosen to keep the show going instead of terminating the reality series.

"Outside everything will be fine. Don't be worried about that," she tells her family as they all huddle and hug goodbye. "On the Lord," says mom Jana le Roux as she hugs her family goodbye. Then she walks.

ALSO READ: As even more Mike Bolhuis racist slurs from the kykNET reality star surface including him using the 'k'-word, MultiChoice says it is still considering 'the reinstatement of the show'.
ALSO READ: After MultiChoice canned racist Mike Bolhuis' TV show on kykNET the private investigator starts a belated apology tour pleading for forgiveness: 'I used these terms in anger'.
ALSO READ: MultiChoice canned the Bolhuis reality show on kykNET after investigator Mike Bolhuis used racist and derogatory language including the 'n'-word.

M-Net releases the first episode of HBO's new Perry Mason crime noir series as a DStv Catch Up preview before its linear TV broadcast.

by Thinus Ferreira

M-Net has added the first episode of the new adult American crime noir drama series Perry Mason to MultiChoice's DStv Catch Up service with DStv subscribers who can now watch the episode on-demand before the miniseries is broadcast from next month on the premium pay-TV channel.

Perry Mason, a new HBO series with Matthew Rhys in the lead role, is a prequel miniseries of the famed "Perry Mason" American legal drama that revolved around a criminal defense lawyer and that was broadcast decades ago on the SABC.

In the prequel, Perry Mason is still a private detective in 1932 in Los Angeles, taking strange cases for cash and even extorting money from people, as he struggles to sort out his messy personal life.

He is then asked to solve a sensational case involving the kidnapping of a baby boy who was killed and is quickly drawn into the dark and seedy underbelly of Los Angeles and a much bigger conspiracy set a century ago.

This is a period where where the Great Depression intersects with art deco LA, Hollywood's growing film industry, the American oil boom and evangelical Christianity - a time when people live one life in public, and a whole other life behind closed doors.

The debut episode of Perry Mason was broadcast on HBO in the United States on 21 June where it surprised with the biggest ratings for the channel, which means that the miniseries could perhaps be turned into the first season of a longer series.

MultiChoice has now made the preview episode of Perry Mason available until 5 July as an Express from the US title on DStv Catch Up with DStv subscribers who can watch it either through their DStv Explora decoders, or online through DStv Now.

The 8-episode Perry Mason miniseries will then start on 28 July on M-Net (DStv 101) as a linear series with weekly episodes.

Take note that the first episode has full frontal male and other nudity, sex scenes and a murder described by some as "gruesome", making the new Perry Mason prequel definitely an adults-only series - but one bathed in a beautifully subdued, sepia-tone infused Los Angeles, complete with art deco designs everywhere.

Robert Downey Jr. would originally have played Perry Mason but was forced to drop out because of a scheduling conflict, but he's still one of the executive producers.

John Lithgow plays attorney E.B. Jonathan who is a mentor to Perry, Tatiana Maslany from Orphan Black is Sister Alice McKeegan, Robert Patrick is Herman Baggerly, and Gayle Rankin appears as Virgil, the city morgue worker who is Perry's friend.

Thursday, June 25, 2020

Coronavirus: Sasani Studios shudders as SABC2's 7de Laan and both of e.tv's soaps Rhythm City and Scandal! all abruptly shut down because Covid-19 positive cases under cast and crew.

by Thinus Ferreira

The Afrikaans weekday soap 7de Laan on SABC2, as well as both of e.tv's weekday soaps Rhythm City and Scandal! have abruptly shut down and ceased filming after all three independently produced primetime series had positive Covid-19 cases under cast and crew.

All three independently produced series are filmed at Sasani Studios in Highlands North, Johannesburg.

7de Laan on SABC2 produced by Danie Odendaal Productions, as well as Rhythm City produced by Quizzical Pictures and Scandal! produced by Ochre Media will continue to broadcast new episodes although the shows behind-the-scenes have all immediately halted production until further notice.

The three shows are the latest local South African TV production impacted by a new shutdown, following M-Net's The River produced by Tshedza Pictures on 1Magic on 1Magic (DStv 103), Skeem Saam on SABC1, and Word of Mouth's Venda series Muvhango on SABC2 that all shut down because of positive Covid-19 coronavirus cases.

SABC2's Lithapo series briefly also shuttered before production resumed on Monday after a possible case turned out negative but with the person still remaining in self-isolation.

The shuttering of a growing number of TV series comes after the entire South Africa film and TV industry abruptly closed in late-March for the national lockdown period which has seen the already-struggling industry shed thousands of jobs in the two months that cameras were turned off and studio doors closed.

Despite studio and on-set testing, more and more shows are forced to once again shut down as cast and crew members are getting infected.

"It is with a heavy heart that we confirm that one of our colleagues has tested positive for Covid-19," Danie Odendaal Productions told TVwithThinus Thursday afternoon in response to a media enquiry.

"For this reason and for the health and safety of everyone involved in the show, we have immediately halted production until further notice."

7de Laan says the crew member is currently in isolation. "All cast and crew members have been asked to self-quarantine while undergoing testing and following all the necessary health procedures in accordance with government legislation. During this time our offices and studios will be disinfected."

The production company says that "A challenging moment like this calls for us to continue urging all South Africans to be vigilant, to stay home, and practice all the personal hygiene and cough etiquette measures."

e.tv told TVwithThinus on Thursday afternoon that it can confirm that "positive cases of Covid-19 have been recorded on two of its weekday soapies Rhythm City and Scandal!" and that "both sets of the local production premises have been shut down and are undertaking the necessary testing for exposed cast and crew members".

"The sets have undergone deep cleaning to further minimize the risk of contamination, in accordance with COVID-19 protocols. Affected individuals are currently undergoing self-isolation until the end of the stipulated 14-day period."

e.tv says it won't release the name of the talent who've tested Covid-19 positive and that "filming will resume when it is appropriate to do so".

Wednesday, June 24, 2020

Disney+ video streaming service rolled out in 8 further European countries in September as Disney remains silent about Africa.

by Thinus Ferreira

The Walt Disney Company on Tuesday announced that it will be rolling out its Disney+ video streaming service in a further 8 European countries as Disney remains absolutely silent about a launch date for South Africa and Africa where people are pirate viewing Disney+ Original content.

Disney announced that Disney+ will launch on 15 September 2020 in Portugal, Norway, Denmark, Sweden, Finland, Iceland, Belgium and Luxembourg.

Disney+ made its debut in November 2019 in the United States, Canada and the Netherlands, and thereafter in a total of 8 countries including the United Kingdom, while viewers elsewhere in the world, like South Africa, have been pirate viewing Disney content like the Star Wars The Mandalorian and High School Musical: The Musical: The Series series.

In April 2020 Disney revealed that Disney+ now has 50 million paid subscribers globally.

Disney continues to remain silent about a launch date for South Africa and sub-Saharan Africa although MultiChoice has revealed in its 2019/2020 financial results presentation that it will be adding both Netflix and Amazon Prime Video as over-the-top (OTT) video streaming services before the end of the year when it launches its new DStv Explora decoder.

Elsewhere in the world Disney+ has become available through traditional pay-TV operators like Canal+ in France, Sky in the United Kingdom and Hotstar in India, meaning that it's possible that a pay-TV service like MultiChoice could offer Disney+ in future, similar to how it will add Netflix and Amazon Prime Video.

Amazon Prime Video working on adding linear TV channels to its video streaming service.

by Thinus Ferreira

Amazon Prime Video is looking to expand its video streaming service into offering linear TV channels as well.

Amazon Prime Video has started to advertise positions for technical and marketing people who will have to work at integrating "24/7 linear broadcast TV content" into its existing over-the-top (OTT) video streaming service, similar to how MultiChoice is currently offering some linear TV news channels through its Showmax subscription video-on-demand (SVOD) service.

"We are seeking an experienced product manager for the Prime Video linear TV team to redefine how customers watch 24/7 linear broadcast TV content," says Amazon in a job posting.

"Linear TV enables customers to watch 24/7 streams of their favourite TV stations airing programmes including sports, news, movies, award shows, special events and TV shows. You will be responsible for designing the end-to-end customer experience for how customers discover and watch linear TV content," the job posting description says.

In another similar job posting, Amazon Prime Video says it's looking for a "senior software development engineer" who will have to work on "Linear 24/7 television or broadcast programming" as "one of the key options for Prime Video customers".

Yet another job posting from Amazon Prime Video says "we in Prime Video Catalog are building next gen linear catalog systems to provide best-in-class linear TV experience to Prime Video customers. It is Day 1 for the linear TV experience on Prime Video".

Amazon Prime Video had no comment in response to a media enquiry.

Amazon Prime Video will likely add live sports coverage, TV news channels, movies and possibly even thematic TV show linear channels.

Earlier this month MultiChoice revealed in its 2019/2020 financial report presentation that it plans to add both Netflix and Amazon Prime Video as OTT services to its new DStv Explora decoder that will be released before the end of 2020.

This is how MultiChoice changed its 2019/2020 financial results presentation in which it first revealed that it is adding Netflix and Amazon Prime Video ... and then deleted and altered its presentation.

by Thinus Ferreira

MultiChoice in its 2019/2020 financial results presentation first revealed that it will add Netflix and Amazon Prime Video in the year ahead, then deleted it - and then awkwardly lied about having revealed it. This is how it happened:

In its 2019/2020 financial results presentation that MultiChoice published earlier this month, the pay-TV operator first revealed that it will be adding both Netflix and Amazon Prime Video as over-the-top (OTT) video streaming services besides launching DStv Streaming as its new internet stand-alone DStv look-alike service.

After this financial results presentation revelation, MultiChoice awkwardly deleted and altered its official presentation that it had already published on its website.

After that, in interviews, MultiChoice CEO Calvo Mawela when asked about it specifically, lied to the media about it and the fact that MultiChoice did make this information available itself, when he was questioned about the upcoming partnerships.

When MultiChoice announced its 2019/2020 financial results, TVwithThinus through its PR company Aprio that does corporate communication, requested an interview on 11 June with a MultiChoice executive like Tim Jacobs, MultiChoice's chief financial officer (CFO).

Aprio responded and said it "will get back to you soonest".

Aprio didn't.

On 16 June, after almost a week had gone by without any response, Aprio was again asked about the possibility of a 5-minute interview regarding the streaming services deals that were signed and how it works.

Aprio, without knowing what the questions would be, and after days had gone by, said that it's "unable to provide you with an interview right now". 

When MultiChoice published its 2019/2020 financial presentation it revealed that it had signed deals with two video streaming services and showed that it was Netflix and Amazon Prime Video, including their names and logos.

MultiChoice, possibly alarmed about the massive mistake it made, then rushed to altered its 2019/2020 financial presentation after publication.

MultiChoice deleted the Netflix and Amazon Prime Video references, and altered how its official financial presentation done for investors, looked but did so in a very rushed and bad way.

MultiChoice didn't add any advisory or notification for investors or the media that it had deleted and altered its original 2019/2020 financial presentation, although questions about and reporting about the video streaming deals completely overshadowed coverage of MultiChoice's annual financial report because of what the presentation originally contained.

While MultiChoice didn't want to make anyone available to talk to TVwithThinus, MultiChoice executives were made available for interviews elsewhere.

Business Day TV (DStv 412) in an interview with Calvo Mawela asked "you've signed a deal with Netflix and Amazon Prime Video to bring their services using a high-end DStv Explora PVR".

Calvo Mawela responded: "Let me start by just qualifying it. We made a statement that there are 2 OTT players that we have signed agreements with".

On CNBC Africa (DStv 410) in an interview Calvo Mawela lied and said "we have not confirmed which are the two OTT players that we are bringing onto our platform. We have announced that there are 2 OTT that are coming onto our platform".

He said that "once we are ready we will announce who are those 2 players that are going to be on our platform".

In an interview with TechCentral, Tim Jacobs said that the included Netflix and Amazon Prime Video in the financial presentation "were there only as examples of international streaming companies".

In an interview with MyBroadband, Tim Jacobs used the excuse that MultiChoice is "in a pre-release embargo period with both of these international players" and therefore can't release brand names.

In an interview on The Money Show with Bruce Whitfield on CapeTalk and 702 radio, Tim Jacobs was also asked to "talk about Netflix and Amazon and integrating those into new DStv Explora decoders".

Tim Jacobs said that MultiChoice has signed agreements with 2 subscription video-on-demand (SVOD) providers "without naming who those providers are".

ALSO READ: MultiChoice to add Netflix and Amazon Video Prime as video streamers, now reaches 19.5 million subscribers.
ALSO READ: EXPLAINER. How and why MultiChoice by adding video streamers to its DStv offering is finally pivoting into becoming a pay-TV Sweets from Heaven.  
ALSO READ: MultiChoice wants to be a ‘one-stop shop’ for TV content, next DStv Explora will provide access to Netflix, Amazon Prime Video OTT streamers.

Apple TV+ drops first teaser about Isaac Asimov's sprawling Foundation sci-fi series.

by Thinus Ferreira

Although the series will only be released in 2021 Apple TV+ has surprised viewers by releasing a first teaser of the upcoming science-fiction drama Foundation, based on Isaac Asimov's iconic book series.

Although production of the epic series filmed in Ireland by Skydance Television as that country's largest TV series ever, was shut down in mid-March because of the growing global Covid-19 pandemic, the series with showrunner and executive producer David S. Goyer has clearly done a lot of filming and post-production work already.

The 10-episode first season of Foundation is based on Isaac Asimov's seminal science fiction series about a mathematician in the far-flung future, when mankind has spread through the entire galaxy, predicting the fall of the Galactic Empire and setting up a way to limit the duration of the destruction to preserve humanity.

There are 6 books in the series with Foundation that was first published in 1951.

The official logline from Apple about Foundation is that "the series will revolve around the thousand year saga of the Foundation, a band of exiles who discover that the only way to save the Galactic Empire from destruction is to defy it".

Mathematician Hari Seldon invents psychohistory which can broadly "predict" human behaviour and behavioural patterns on a massive scale, and he constructs a plan to shorten the predicted new "dark age" of the Galactic Empire by setting up the "Foundation".

With this "predictability power" Hari, of course, becomes a threat to the galactic government that doesn't understand what he's trying to do, setting of sprawling interplanetary intrigue with a lot of surprising twists and characters who often are not who they initially appear to be.

In the teaser for the Apple Original, David S. Goyer gives a glimpse into the making of the epic saga, that stars Jared Harris as Hari Seldon; Lee Pace as Brother Day; Lou Llobell as Gaal; Leah Harvey as Salvor; Laura Birn as Demerzel; Terrence Mann as Brother Dusk; and Cassian Bilton as Brother Dawn.

"People have been trying to make Foundation for over fifty years," says David S. Goyer.

"Foundation was an enormous influence for Star Wars. It was the greatest science fiction work of all time. The story is sprawling, it unfolds over the course of a thousand years. If ever there were a company that was hoping to better people's lives through technology, through connectivity it's Apple. And that's something very much that Asimov was hoping to do."

Monday, June 22, 2020

South African actor Jòvan Muthray dead at 25.

by Thinus Ferreira

The South African actor and comedian Jòvan Muthray has died on Sunday with his cause of death that is undisclosed. He was 25.

Jòvan Muthray who lived in Laudium, Pretoria was best known as one of the resident comedians of SABC2's variety game show Karektas and played the role of Nilesh in the second season of e.tv's telenovela Imbewu: The Seed.

Jòvan Muthray also appeared as Paresh on the VUZU AMP (DStv 116) drama series aYeYe in 2015, appeared in a Wonga TV advert, had a starring role as Zac in the kykNET (DStv 144) weekday soap Binnelanders in 2018, appeared in 2017's Madiba mini-series as well as the South African filmed season of the American Homeland drama series in 2014 that was also shot in Cape Town.

He had the role of Luis in the second season of the Penguin Films produced telenovela Ring of Lies on Mansi Magic (DStv 161) and played Kaidas in the BBC series Troy: Fall Fall of a City that was filmed in Cape Town.

He appeared on stage in theatre productions ranging from Takalani, Sex & Me; The Interview, Skroothonde and Government Inspector.

Jòvan Muthray was trained in acting, writing and film directing whilst studying for a Bachelor of Arts in Dramatic Arts (BADA) between 2012 and 2014.

Manie le Roux from kykNET's Kwarantyn removed from reality series and rushed to hospital with unknown illness and fever.

by Thinus Ferreira

One of the Afrikaans family reality stars on Sunday night abruptly exited one of the two camera homes in kykNET's Kwarantyn series after 12 days after developing a fever and unexplained stomach ache.

According to kykNET no further information is available yet about Manie's medical condition, although some viewers wondered whether it could be related to the Covid-19 pandemic as cases of this coronavirus keep rising in South Africa.

Manie (19) - a member of the Le Roux family who like the Scheepers family in another house next door are under constant camera surveillance in kykNET's Kwarantyn Big Brother-like reality series - is in a stable condition in hospital after he was removed from the show on Sunday.

On Monday morning the Red Pepper Pictures production team was informed that Manie is in a stable condition in hospital. According to dad Braam "Manie is okay, he is laying in a ward and is being monitored. He has an intravenous drip and is on pain medication."

The family members of both the Le Roux and Scheepers families were informed that Manie is in hospital and is remaining there for the time being.

Braam said that the house without the removed Manie "isn't the same without him. The vibe just isn't the same". When we received the message this morning our mood immediately improved because we thought that Manie is on his way back, but it quickly fell when we heard that he hasn't undergone tests yet.

According to Braam Manie first had pain in his upper body which spread to the lower half of his body. He became nauseceous, super warm and his blood pressure was high. This prompted the decision to rush Manie to hospital and leave the show.

An emotional mother Jana explained that she made Manie's empty bed on Monday and folded his clothes. "It's not nice. We're waiting for him but it's not lekker."

"He's a strong laaitjie, he doesn't get ill easily but if he needs anything I'm always there for him and this is the first time that I can't be there. Not even the production team can go in to see Manie. It's difficult. He's strong and I'm sure he will get better soon and we're waiting for him".

Kwarantyn is broadcast as a kykNET pop-up channel on MultiChoice's DStv satellite pay-TV service on channel 149 with weekday highlight shows broadcast on kykNET (DStv 144).

Coronavirus: eNCA anchor Shahan Ramkissoon tests Covid-19 positive shortly after other 2 other Johannesburg-building staffers; will self-isolate along with rest of affected shift workers for 14 days.

by Thinus Ferreira

The eNCA (DStv 403) anchor Shahan Ramkissoon who started to feel ill last week has now tested positive for the Covid-19 coronavirus, coming days after two staffers working mostly on the ground floor of eMedia Investments' Hyde Park building in Johannesburg had also tested positive.

Shahan Ramkissoon who will be off-air and self-isolating for 14 days is the latest high-profile South African TV news case diagnosed with Covid-19, following after the TV news operations of the SABC News (DStv 404), Newzroom Africa (DStv 405) and eNCA have been impacted by positive tests over the past few months.

At the SABC staffers in various provincial bureaus across South Africa tested positive after the SABC in late-March 2020 shuttered its office in the Northern Cape in April after reporter Ulrich Hendriks tested positive for Covid-19 who has since recovered.

In mid-May staffers at Newzroom Afrika's Cape Town bureau tested positive including reporter Athi Mtongana after the death of the eNCA and e.tv cameraman Lungile Thom in Cape Town who became South Africa's first journalist to die from Covid-19.

Earlier this month e.tv in an internal email told staffers that "two staff members, working mostly on the ground floor in the Johannesburg office have tested positive for Covid-19" and that the company "had as routine measure arranged from a deep-clean of the Johannesburg office". eMedia Investments didn't close down its Hyde Park building or headquarters.

Now anchor Shahan Ramkissoon has tested positive for Covid-19 and the studio on the ground floor has been shuttered.

In a statement eNCA says that the anchor started feeling ill last week and was advised to go for testing on Friday. "His results came back on Monday 22 June 2020. He will remain off-air and in self-isolation until the end of the stipulated 14-day period."

eNCA says that the anchor "is part of a team based in the channel's Johannesburg office isolation studio that was set up eight weeks ago as part of the broadcaster's disaster management plan. The studio was set up to help minimize risk and manage the number of staff members working in a single area, in accordance with Covid-19 protocols".

eNCA says that "the isolation studio is completely removed from the channel's main broadcast area, and its operations have not been impacted".

"All staff members on the affected shift, based in the isolation studio, have been sent home to self-isolate. The company is undertaking the necessary track and tracing process to identify potentially exposed staff members."

"In view of current developments, eNCA has initiated further measures to protect its employees, including the addition of separator screens inside the studios operating rooms."

On Monday evening in a live interview done through Skype on eNCA, Shahan Ramkissoon said that he has had flu-like symptoms for 11 days.

"I feel really bad because I feel like I might have infected people in the office and I feel a bit guilty for having done that. But then I think back - I went to the doctor when I showed signs of flu and the doctor ruled it out and I did the right thing in terms of approaching my sickness."

Shahan Ramkissoon said it's important not to stigmatise people with Covid-19 and that he is feeling anxious. "I don't know if things could take a turn for the worse in the next couple of days - that could happen. I do feel anxious - I'm not going to lie about that."

Saturday, June 20, 2020

Showmax removes 9 Leon Schuster films with blackface characters that MultiChoice's video streaming service is reviewing over racially insensitive content.

by Thinus Ferreira

Showmax has quietly removed 9 of the films of filmmaker and South African comedian Leon Schuster with blackface characters that MultiChoice's subscription video-on-demand (SVOD) service is now investigating through a review over racially insensitive content.

Showmax that until now was fine with the Leon Schuster films, and with Mama Jack (2005) that was broadcast on South Africa's free-to-air broadcaster e.tv last weekend, has now followed the global streamer Netflix that started to remove content in the form of satirical series like Little Britain, Come Fly with Me and Australia's Angry Boys, Summer Heights High, We Can Be Heroes and Jonah from Tonga of Chris Lilley because of performances of some characters in blackface and brownface.

The removal of content by Netflix, the BBC, the film Gone with the Wind from WarnerMedia's streaming platform, HBO Max, and now MultiChoice's Showmax in South Africa is part of the impact of the Black Lives Matter movement on the broader entertainment industry around the issue of racism that started in the United States and that has spread globally.

After quietly removing Mama Jack in which Leon Schuster makes extensive use of blackface, as well as Mr Bones (2001) and Mr Bones 2: Back from the Past (2008) in which he appears as a white sangoma, Showmax has now removed a further 6 of Leon Schuster's films.

These additional Showmax content removals include You Must Be Joking (1986), You Must Be Joking Too (1987), Oh Schucks…It’s Schuster (1989), Sweet ‘n Short (1991), Schuks! Pay Back the Money (1995) and Frank and Fearless (2018).

All of the films earned millions of rand at the South African box office over decades under all audiences and have had multiple broadcasts over the years on the SABC, e.tv, M-Net and the M-Net Movies channels, with e.tv that showed Mama Jack a week ago.

The locally South African produced films that have outearned overseas and American titles and with several having record-holding rankings in cinema attendance and earnings, have made Leon Schuster one of the most successful South African filmmakers in the country's history.

Netwerk24 first reported about Showmax's removal of Leon Schuster's films on Friday.

TVwithThinus asked Showmax about the content removal late on Friday, who reviews and removes it and why, and will add the response here when received.

Richard Boorman, Showmax spokesperson, told Netwerk24 that the latest 6 Leon Schuster films have been removed this past week because MultiChoice's streaming service is reviewing them as they are deemed to be possibly racially insensitive and that it was done in line with steps taken by global streaming services.

Showmax referred Netwerk24's media enquiry to MultiChoice with Benedict Maaga, senior manager for corporate communications, who said that MultiChoice in the past had removed content with "unacceptable presentations of racial prejudice".

It's not yet clear who reviews content for Showmax and MultiChoice, how the films and content are reviewed or when the review process of the Leon Schuster films would be completed.

Leon Schuster told Netwerk24 that he is "shocked and "deeply upset" about MultiChoice's removal of his films and Showmax's review process.

He said that "in my entire career I've never heard a single word from a moviegoer asking why I'm doing blackface. My Indian character has been unbelievably popular and nobody has ever said to me I'm cratering my name or that I'm busy being racist."

"If I knew that this is something that is angering people I wouldn't have done it. If I've offended people I apologise to them. I'm really sorry".

Wednesday, June 17, 2020

SABC2's Muvhango the next South African primetime series to abruptly shutter because of possible Covid-19 contact.

by Thinus Ferreira

Muvhango has become South Africa's latest primetime TV series to abruptly halt production after a crew member was exposed to someone who has the Covid-19 coronavirus.

South Africa's film and TV industry has shed thousands of jobs and struggled to restart production under stringent on-set health protocols since the entire industry was shut down for 8 weeks since late March 2020 because of the country's Covid-19 national lockdown period.

Just after local TV productions resumed work, first M-Net's The River produced by Tshedza Pictures for 1Magic (DStv 103), and then Skeem Saam produced by SABC1 was forced to shut down the past few weeks because of Covid-19 cases.

Now the SABC's Venda-drama series on SABC2 produced by Word of Mouth shut down production on Wednesday until further notice.

Herbert Hadebe, Muvhango's series producer, says that similar to The River and Skeem Saam, both produced in Johannesburg, production was halted to reduce the risk of exposure to Covid-19 on set. 

"We are prioritizing the safety of all staff members. We will be constantly monitoring the evolving situation and adapting our efforts and responses. We will continue working together with the SABC as we comply to Covid-19 measures and regulations," says Herbert Hadebe.

The Muvhango cast and crew have been asked to self-isolate until further notice and a deep-clean with the help of the SABC is going to take place at the studio.

Muvhango will continue uninterrupted on SABC2 with enough pre-recorded episodes for the time being.

ALSO READ: SABC1's Skeem Saam shuts down because of Covid-19 infection fears, crew and cast go into self-isolation as studio and offices are disinfected.
ALSO READ: Coronavirus: Production on The River telenovela for M-Net's 1Magic on DStv shutters after colleague tests positive for Covid-19, Tshedza Pictures locks studio doors for decontamination and will not do interviews.

MultiChoice opening JOOX VIP music streaming to lower-tiered DStv subscribers for 3 months until 10 September 2020.

by Thinus Ferreira

MultiChoice is opening up the JOOX VIP music streaming service for free to all DStv subscribers for three months.

MultiChoice added JOOX VIP in October 2018 as a free value added service for all DStv Premium, DStv Compact Plus and DStv Compact subscribers and will now open up JOOX VIP to the rest of the lower-tiered DStv packages until 10 September 2020.

JOOX, owned by Tencent, competes with services like Spotify, Apple and Google for listeners' ears.

MultiChoice's announcement of the widening of the JOOX VIP accessibility through its DStv platform comes a week after MultiChoice revealed that it will soon be adding and rolling out Netflix and Amazon Prime Video as video streamers to sit as over-the-top (OTT) services alongside its traditional pay-TV offering.

The JOOX VIP access includes local and international music selections as well as "Big LIVE" concerts.

Mark Rayner, MultiChoice South Africa CEO, says opening up JOOX VIP to further DStv subscribers "is just another way in which MultiChoice is working to ensure that our loyal and valued customers continue to enjoy the best entertainment during these difficult times, being in lockdown has given us the perfect opportunity to demonstrate our support as we continue to find innovative ways to entertain our customers".

Gerjo Hoffman, Tencent Africa’s chief sales and marketing officer, says "We're excited by the prospect of having more DStv subscribers using JOOX".

"The response we've had from the DStv community so far has been outstanding. We cater to a big range of music tastes and we're excited to see what a wider audience takes from JOOX, its karaoke mode, its LIVE appearances, as well as a few exciting new features we have in the pipeline."