Friday, July 31, 2020

MultiChoice and M-Net reducing and restructuring its M-Net Movies channels offering on DStv, makes fliekNET permanent and adding KIX as a martial arts film channel.

by Thinus Ferreira

MutiChoice and M-Net are further scaling back and reorganising the satellite pay-TV service's M-Net Movies packaged film channels, with the existing 6 M-Net Movies channels which are reduced and cut down to 4 channels on DStv from September.

According to insiders the change is partly prompted by the Covid-19 coronavirus pandemic and the reduction in film output from Hollywood.

MultiChoice and M-Net revamped its carousel of linear M-Net Movies channels on DStv in October 2012 when its linear film channel offering consisted out of 9 movie channels grouped according to genre.

Since then MultiChoice and M-Net restructured, consolidated and scaled back its M-Net Movies channels group to 6 channels by July 2020: M-Net Movies Premiere (DStv 104), M-Net Movies Smile (DStv 105), M-Net Movies Action+ (DStv 106), M-Net Movies Action (DStv 110), M-Net Movies All Stars (DStv 111) and M-Net Movies Zone (DStv 139).

Now these channels will be reduced to 4 film channels from September and renamed M-Net Movies 1, M-Net Movies 2, M-Net Movies 3 and M-Net Movies 4.

It's not yet clear when exactly the M-Net (DStv 101) movie slot on Sunday nights at 20:00 will change or will run out of new premiere films to show on a weekly basis - but it will be anytime soon.

Four months after the abrupt end and global disruption of the film production and distribution pipeline because of Covid-19, the premium pay-TV window (that follows after theatrical release, airline, SVOD and DVD release) is now also out of stock.

M-Net was asked about this in a media enquiry and didn't respond with answers.

Meanwhile, in M-Net's latest reorganisation of the M-Net Movies channels, M-Net Movies 1 will be on DStv channel 104. Content from the kid-friendly Animania festivals on M-Net Movies Smile, as well as blockbuster romcoms and gripping dramas will now be on this channel.

M-Net Movies 2 will be on DStv channel 106 - basically the two Action channel combined. It will show "an adrenaline rush with recent heart-pumping, explosive action films. The schedule will be packed with all kinds of adventures and thrills and spills at maximum velocity".

M-Net Movies 3 will be on DStv channel 107 now. The channel will be "where all the movie heroes and heroines hang out, either saving the day in adventure classics, or inhabiting the imaginary worlds of sci-fi and fantasy. Sometimes, they even tickle the funny bones in star-studded comedies, or show off their acting chops in gripping dramas".

M-Net Movies 4 will be on DStv channel 108 and will showcase "the world’s biggest blockbusters, as well as their prequels and sequels, are lined up here. While movie franchise lovers can enjoy great movies for hours on end, friends and family can join all the action and fun too".

Mark Rayner, MultiChoice South Africa CEO, in a statement, says "It’s important for us to facilitate the best possible viewing experience for our DStv customers in our ever-evolving world of entertainment".

"While the proposition of the current six movie channels – M-Net Movies Premiere, M-Net Movies Action+, M-Net Movies Action, M-Net Movies Smile, M-Net Movies Zone and M-Net Movies All Stars – made perfect sense when they launched years ago, recent comments and requests from our movie-loving DStv audiences indicated that it was time for a reboot."

Yolisa Phahle, MultiChoice CEO of general entertainment and connected video, says the pay-TV operator is trying to improve its film offering.

"In our quest to remain Africa’s most-loved storyteller, innovation and quality will always be key. Local movies will also play an increasingly important role, alongside screening handpicked Hollywood films first on all our platforms."

M-Net Premium subscribers will have access to all 4 channels while DStv Compact subscribers will get M-Net Movies 3 and M-Net Movies 4. DStv Family and DStv Access subscribers will only get the M-Net Movies 4 channel.

From September M-Net's Afrikaans language division will launch kykNET's pop-up fliekNET channel as a permanent movie channel on DStv channel 149.

fliekNET will showcase locally-produced blockbuster movies, classic favourites and a variety of Afrikaans film formats such feature films, short films, story films, made-for-TV movies and documentaries.

MultiChoice is also adding the KIX channel on an as-yet-undisclosed DStv channel number as a martial arts channel that will carry films from stars like Jet Li and Jackie Chan. The specific launch date that will be sometime in October has not yet been announced.

From time to time a M-Net Movies Pop-up channel will run on DStv channel number 111 for DStv Premium subscribers.

Conclusion of 2020 Formula E Championship to broadcast on SuperSport from August as 5-day e-race festival is planned for Cape Town in late-2021.

by Thinus Ferreira

Formula E, the racing competition that revolves around electric cars, will see its last 6 rounds of the 2019/20 ABB FIA Formula E Championship season broadcast on SuperSport during August.

This has been made possible through the Cape Town-based bid-company e-Movement, Jaguar South Africa and SuperSport, with e-Movement that is trying to bring e-races races to Cape Town with the hope of having a 5-day event in the city by the end of 2021.

The conclusion of the 6th season of the 2019/20 ABB FIA Formula E Championship is set to take place at Berlin's Templehof Airport from 5 August with SuperSport that will broadcast the qualifying sessions as well as races live, and that will show highlights of races.

"Securing a broadcast deal to screen Formula E on SuperSport provides a perfect platform to showcase the energy and excitement electric motoring and motorsport have to offer," says Iaian Banner, e-Movement chairperson in a statement.

"While we eagerly await a formal announcement in regards to an official E-Prix calendar entry, we’ve worked hard together with the City of Cape Town to develop a suitable track layout on Cape Town’s city streets that will fit into the precinct with minimal disruption to the general public and traffic," says Iaian Banner.

"I cannot wait to demonstrate the appeal of all-electric motoring on a much larger scale when we bring World Championship motorsport to the people with a South African Formula E race."

"Additionally, we are working flat out to finalise a commercial programme to support the staging of a 5-day e-Fest event in Cape Town, focusing on all things electric and the environment. This event is planned for late in 2021."

Here are the broadcast details of the end of Formula E's 6th season:

Round 6 – 5 August
– Qualifying: 14:00 – SuperSport 6
– Race: 18:00 – SuperSport 6

Round 7  – 6 August
– Qualifying: 14:00 – SuperSport 6
– Race: 18:30 – SuperSport 6

Round 8 – 8 August
– Qualifying: 14:00 – SuperSport 12
– Race: 18:30 – SuperSport 6

Round 9 – 9 August
– Qualifying: 14:00 – SuperSport 8
– Race: 18:30 – SuperSport 6

Round 10 – 12 August
– Qualifying: 14:00 – SuperSport 6
– Race: 18:30 – SuperSport 6

Round 11 – 13 August
– Qualifying: 14:00 – SuperSport 6
– Race: 18:30 – SuperSport 6

TV NEWS ROUND-UP. Today's interesting TV stories to read - 31 July 2020.

Here's the latest news about TV that I read and that you should read too:

■ Why are all of these science fiction TV series so awful?
From Westworld on Showmax and M-Net (DStv 101) to Star Trek: Picard on Amazon Prime Video and several others are all making the same mistake.

■ Terrified staff and a TV exec reveal Ellen DeGeneres' extreme demands.
"You don't talk to her, you don't approach her, you don't look at her."
Investigation could end her TV career, says expert.
Producer Ed Glavin likely getting fired soon and in staff letter Ellen says "my name is on the show".
Ellen: Once beloved, now at risk of getting cancelled.

■ eMedia Investments' should develop a YouTube-like model for its free-to-air content; And while MultiChoice can't compete with Netflix, by adding Netflix it can position itself as the sole entertainment provider across Africa (subscription required).

■ Gardener steals TV set in gardening service bag.

■ Money before editorial independence at eNCA (DStv 403)? Shameless squeeze-back ads damage TV news channel's credibility.

■ How 15 minutes of fame became 15 years for the perma-stars of reality TV.
The tide is turning for how we treat reality TV contestants.

■ Apple offered to reduce its fee in order to get Amazon Prime Video as an app on its mobile devices and Apple TV.
Apple was willing to half its fee with the companies that agreed to a 15% revenue share for customers who signed up through the app, and no revenue share for users who already subscribed through Amazon.

■ The Bechdel Test for sex scenes: In 2020, TV and film's portrayal of women's sexual pleasure needs to catch up with reality.

■ The 10 strangest ways wrestlers have been written off TV.

■ How Larry King got duped into starring in Chinese propaganda.
Fake interview with a Russian journalist went viral.

■ Worse than we thought: The state of the SABC and the political battle over retrenchment.
See eMedia vs the SABC as ANC politicians in South Africa and the trade unions are not willing to allow the bloated and overstaffed SABC to cut any jobs.

■ Music critic harassed and doxx over Taylor Swift review ... that wasn't positive enough (subscription required).

Thursday, July 30, 2020

Blood Psalms drama series co-produced by Showmax and Canal+ and based on Xhosa legend reveals huge black cast.

by Thinus Ferreira

MultiChoice is revealing more about its recently announced new local drama Blood Psalms, inspired by a Xhosa legend, that will be a co-production between its Showmax video streaming service and Canal+ and that will tell the story of a fierce African queen, Zazi, who battles a world-ending prophecy to navigate her people through complexities, politics and endless wars.

The 10-episode Blood Psalms that will be shown on Showmax in 2021 features a sprawling cast of more than 50 black actors and actresses and is filmed in the Eastern Cape, Gauteng and North West provinces in South Africa.

The sprawling cast includes names ranging from Albert Ibokwe Khoza, Sello Maake Ka Ncube, Thando Thabethe, Enhle Mbali Mlotshwa and Faith Baloyi to Siv Ngesi, Hlubi Mboya, Warren Masemola and many more.

The creative producers duo Layla Swart and Jahmil X.T Qubeka who are the co-owners of Yellowbone Entertainment are the brains behind the series.

Layla Swart says "Every one of the actors selected brings their own unique ability to authentically translate this magical epic onto screen".

"The goal, for us, is to ensure that the golden thread of Africa’s stunning history really shines. The story of Blood Psalms not only entertains but also contributes to the preservation of African culture and languages as authentically told by Africans, to be enjoyed by the world."

Yolisa Phahle, MultiChoice Group CEO for general entertainment and connected video, says "This massive co-production highlights Showmax’s commitment to its subscribers. This is epic, authentic, original African storytelling like never before".

"As Africa’s most-loved storyteller, the partnership with Canal+ also means more people will see this series, and we are thrilled to be working with Canal+ on this groundbreaking show."

Fabrice Fabrice Faux, chief content officer of Canal+ International, says "We are very pleased to partner with Showmax for the coproduction of Blood Psalms".

"This African story, inspired by a Xhosa legend, will carry our viewers into mythological and epic adventures. With an outstanding directing and production team and a talented cast, Blood Psalms promises to be a big phenomenon that will resonate in all of Africa and internationally."

Here is the Blood Psalms cast list:
  • Albert Ibokwe Khoza - Madlamini, Zazi’s Governess
  • Andile Nebulane - King Ntuka
  • Awethu Hleli - Ilitye
  • Ayanda Daweti - Pee-Erot
  • Ayanda Makayi - Kike
  • Bokang Phelane - Princess Zazi
  • Bongile Mantsai - Hlengu
  • Chuma Sopotela - the Crazed Uchawi Witchdoctor
  • Daniel Hadebe - Pangool
  • Enhle Mbali Mlotshwa – Umna
  • Faith Baloyi - Queen Assilli
  • Faniswa Yisa - Mother Superior, Keeper of Ancient Secrets
  • Hamilton Dlamini - Qotha
  • Harry Imoru - Akachi Soldier
  • Hlubi Mboya - Ndiya Zazi
  • Hybre Taljaard – Serpentine Elemental 2
  • Khanya Mkangisa - Heka Nymph
  • Khayakazi Kula - Ncedisa
  • Khulu Skhenjana - Mahlathini, The Main Guard
  • Lemogang Tsipa - Xhosa, a young warrior
  • Lukhanyo Sikwebu - Akachi Soldier
  • Luyolo Mngonyama - Serpentine Elemental
  • Mandisa Nduna - Burruti
  • Mocheko J Nkoana - the Blind Clown
  • Mothusi Makgano plays King Letsha
  • Niza Jay - Teborah an Uchawi Prince
  • Richard Lukunku - the mysterious Senator Jabari
  • Sdumo Mtshali - Commander Lekoya
  • Sello Maake Ka Ncube – King Letsha’s uncle, Nkamanzu
  • Sello Motloung - the Ancient Monarch
  • Sibusiso Kotelo - Akachi Soldier
  • Simbarashe Gozo - Black Horus
  • Siv Ngesi - Onyo, Lord of the Netherworld
  • Soso Rungqu – Lala, the wife of Qotha
  • Stevel Marc - Akachi Soldier
  • Thabo Rametsi - Ahadi
  • Thando Thabethe - God Heka
  • Thandy Matlaila - Nonceba
  • Thembekile Komani plays Mzinzi the Overseer, son of Mother Superior
  • Thishiwe Ziqubu - Kuthala
  • Tumie Ngumla - Thozama
  • Unathi Platyi - Nyadenga
  • Vangile Zwakala - Chini Child
  • Vusi Thanda - Chief Xemantsu
  • Warren Masemola - Mfengetho, Royal Aide
  • Zikhona Sodlaka - Sithenjwa, Mistress to the Great Senator of Nziwemabe
  • Zolisa Xaluva - General Toka

TV NEWS ROUND-UP. Today's interesting TV stories to read - 30 July 2020.

Here's the latest news about TV that I read and that you should read too:

■ The SABC is once again/still busy with expansions and deviations of contracts.
The Standing Committee on Public Accounts (SCOPA) criticises the South African public broadcaster for its ongoing lack of proper planning in supply chain and contract management.
South Africa's parliament says the abuse with contracts are central to the SABC's financial woes.

■ TV boss in India arrested over fraud after pretending to be a government official handing out houses.

■ The irony of Netflix that produced Indian Matchmaking that didn't involve Netflix India.

■ Fahmeeda Cassim Surtee, DStv Media Sales CEO, was a child of the 80s, one of her favourite shows was MacGyver with Richard Dean Anderson and because it was appointment viewing she planned her life around every episode.

■ America's 72nd Primetime Emmy Awards will be a virtual event on 20 September because of Covid-19.
M-Net (DStv 101) will basically be broadcasting a glam, star-studded Zoom-event since nobody will actually attend in person at the Microsoft Theatre in Los Angeles.
- Producers looking to "create a moment that is more relaxed, more entertaining, more enjoyable".

■ BBC journalist Fiona Lamdin uses uncensored "N"-word in TV news report.

■ Stripper TV drama P-Valley coming to Showmax shocks viewers with graphic phone sex scene complete with full-frontal nudity.

■ Greek TV channel ANT1 dumps Turkish series in protest over the conversion of Hagia Sophia from museum to mosque.

■ A brief history of Australian television: From black-and-white to video streaming.
- Still in Australia: Fixing TV content rules is one step to help the troubled industry.

■ Judge Dredd TV series written but on hold because of Covid-19 pandemic.

■ The most pirated TV series during the Covid-19 pandemic includes The Mandalorian of Disney+, The 100, Game of Thrones and a sponge.

■ After worldwide protests against police brutality, what does the future of cop TV shows look like?

■ Is the future of video streaming services a more curated experience?

■ Tom Fussell appointed as temporary BBC Studios CEO from September 2020.

■ Tamar Braxton's new reality TV show postponed after overdose.

■ The toxic Ellen DeGeneres controversy explained.
Her celebrity friends are deserting her.

■ The profound oddness of watching televised Major League Baseball (MLB) on ESPN during Covid-19.

■ We're about to run out of new TV shows and new movies - and I can't wait.
The upcoming content drought caused by Covid-19 might be the best thing to happen to entertainment in ages.

■ The United Kingdom's Boris Johnson now wants to do White House-style TV briefings.

Coronavirus: kykNET's Binnelanders actor Reynardt Hugo opens up about getting Covid-19, says he was scared he wouldn't be able to breathe and sat outside for days in his underwear to soak up the sun.

by Thinus Ferreira

The singer and actor Reynardt Hugo, known for his role as Dr Tertius Jonker in Binnelanders on kykNET (DStv 144) is opening up about his experience of contracting Covid-19 as the first person at the Afrikaans weekday primetime soap to get the coronavirus, saying he felt awful, worried whether he would be able to breathe, and sat outside at home for days in his underpants to soak up Vitamin D.

Reynardt Hugo is one of a growing number of cast and crew who have contracted Covid-19 as the global pandemic continues to spread worldwide - including South Africa - and that has led to the ongoing shuttering of locally-produced TV series, the deep-clean of studio lots and sets, and workers in the industry forced to stay home and self-isolate.

Reynardt Hugo's positive Covid-19 result saw Binnelanders - produced by Stark Productions - impacted, as well as several other kykNET shows including KN Verslag and Kom Ons Jol produced from the same Stark Studios lot.

Reynard Hugo told presenter Suzaan Steyn of KN Pandemie on kykNET that on a Wednesday night last month he went to bed and "my ears started shivering and I started to feel bad".

"I thought it was exhaustion and I was busy writing a book as well during that time. The next day - the Thursday, Friday, Saturday and Sunday I felt extremely bad - body ache. It felt a bit worse than the flu."

"At work I thought: Please just don't let me be the first one here to get Covid. And then it turned out to be me. But I suspected by the Saturday, Sunday when I lost my sense of taste - my sense of taste completely disappeared."

"On Monday I called my doctor and said can I make an appointment and she said it's fine. She asked me what's wrong and I said 'I'm feeling flu-like' and I said 'My sense of taste is also gone' and she said 'Aha, go test yourself.' Opposite my house there's a Lancet laboratory and I went and got tested."

Reynardt Hugo said "It was terrifying. Usually you go and do blood tests. But it was weird to go and test for Covid. I won't lie, I was scared."

"Then I told the production manager at Binnelanders that I went to go and get tested and this is what happened. For two days I didn't go in to film waiting for my results - they say 48 hours. I called the whole time and asked did you get my results? I'm on the app."

"By the evening around half past seven I got the SMS saying 'You've tested positive for Covid'. It's not nice getting a SMS like that. It really wasn't."

"I asked my fiance: 'Am I going to die? Will I be able to breathe? Won't I be able to breathe?' It wasn't nice. It was terrifying. You don't believe it until it you get the SMS." 

Reynardt Hugo said he was scared that he might not be able to breathe.

"I can sometimes get quickly anxious. I got very anxious during this period. It took a relative period of time for me to heal. I don't like to complain but I must say that while I had Covid and was still filming before I knew it, it was bad."

"My body took a bit of a knock but then the lockdown period returned for myself and I had to self-isolate."

He said "I read on Facebook and wherever I could - News24 - to drink zinc tablets and I must say I sat many days outside in my underpants, luckily I live in a place where people can't see me so I nicely baked in the sun and got Vitamin D and made sure I do that."

"The lockdown was already a big shock for everyone and secondly to test positive and having to stay home - you feel in quotation marks 'failure' isn't the right word. I thought that now I'm the first person to get it at Binnelanders, now everybody's going to look at me and go 'There's the guy now'. Now everybody's going to keep their distance from me."

"Psychologically there's a war in your head. You try to stand strong but there are always times when negativity kicks in and it is a reality - it is difficult. Sometimes for me, it was difficult. Sometimes for me it was tougher than other times to accept the situation as it was."

"I like to work. I like to be outside. Suddenly it was just cut off. I had to stay home for 21 days. kykNET said 2 weeks and MultiChoice said 21 days so we went with the 21 days just to be sure," he said.

About where he thinks he got Covid-19 Reynardt Hugo said "we're trying to backtrack it where I possibly could have gotten it from. I was twice in a Woolworths, CNA and a Clicks - and twice at Lifestyle Centre with the masks on."

"We went to Lifestyle Centre to go buy birds. We first went to just walk around and then I walked away with little birds. And then I thought maybe I got it from Lifestyle."

He said his fiance tested negative for Covid-19 twice "with me living in the house, so we can't explain that".

"It's difficult with the masks, right. It's difficult to get used to," he said. "A few times at the studio I've been berated because maybe I've been drinking coffee for too long and have been talking but everyone's trying their best to try and prevent this thing."

"The best you can do is to really just stick with the rules, to think about and to obey the rules that there are."

Wednesday, July 29, 2020

An awkward end to kykNET's Afrikaans reality show Kwarantyn on DStv as Le Roux family wins the R250 000 grand prize after mom Jana was removed following her racial slur.

by Thinus Ferreira

kykNET's Afrikaans reality series Kwarantyn, produced by Red Pepper Pictures, and broadcast on MultiChoice's DStv satellite pay-TV service had an awkward end on Wednesday night when the Le Roux family ended up as the winners and were rewarded with the R250 000 grand prize after mom Jana was removed a month earlier for using a racial slur.

After 50 days the reputationally damaged Kwarantyn ended on Wednesday night with MultiChoice and M-Net's Afrikaans channels division giving the family money and rewarding them despite the fact that the family had a member removed from the show for using a racial slur.

In June TVwithThinus asked MultiChoice in a media enquiry 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 the programme, and why MultiChoice didn't shut down the show.

MultiChoice was also asked what 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.

kykNET and its division boss Karen Meiring were also asked questions separately about the show and its content after the racial slur incident but neither MultiChoice nor kykNET bothered to respond with answers to any of the questions.

MultiChoice and M-Net's kykNET awarding a family with money to the tune of R250 000 - when a member of that family used a racial slur on South African television that got the person removed from the show - creates an impression that MultiChoice and kykNET are rewarding discriminatory behaviour despite the pay-TV operator saying that it doesn't condone or support racism or discrimination.

To choose the winning Kwarantyn family, all the points won during the various challenges counted 40% of the big total, with the viewers' votes from DStv subscribers that counted 60%.

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

SABC focusing on local South African boxing, tennis and athletics to provide content for SABC Sport as public broadcaster now tries to create its own sporting space without competing against SuperSport.

by Thinus Ferreira

The South African public broadcaster and its new SABC Sport boss Gary Rathbone is focusing on local South African boxing, tennis and athletics as the main sporting codes it wants to revive to provide content for its 24-hour SABC Sport channel as SABC Sport carves out its own sporting space where it doesn't compete with SuperSport.

The Sunday Times reports that Gary Rathbone in an interview with the newspaper said that the SABC is looking to carve out its own sports content space where it doesn't compete with the pay-TV operator MultiChoice and SuperSport.

"I'm targeting boxing, it's a key part of my strategy. I would say it's right at the top of my in-tray of to-do things. We will start building a formidable boxing strategy for the broadcaster that can really make us the home of boxing," Gary Rathbone said in the interview.

"I think the other two sports we have an opportunity for are athletics and tennis."

According to Gary Rathbone the ongoing evolution in technology has made it possible to lower production costs as far as sports content is concerned.

Skeem Saam actor Karabo ‘Jazzy T' Mokhubela (40) has died.

by Thinus Ferreira

Actor Karabo Mokhubela had died. He was 40.

Karabo Mokhubela was best-known for his role as Jazzy T in SABC1's prime time soap Skeem Saam and has been part of the cast since 2011.

Karabo Mokhubela died over the past weekend. The cause of his death is not yet known.

Skeem Saam said in a social media message on Twitter "Rest in Peace Karabo (Jazzy T) Mokhubela. You will be sorely missed! We keep his loved ones in our prayer."

Karabo Mokhubela was also a radio presenter at Impact 103, a Christian community radio station in Pretoria.

Veteran South African actress Candy Moloi (67) dies.

by Thinus Ferreira

The South African actress Candy Moloi has died. She was 67.

The veteran actress recently announced that she had contracted the Covid-19 coronavirus but had recovered from it. The cause of her death is not yet known although she's had a long battle with cancer.

"It is with great sadness that Word of Mouth Pictures and the Muvhango family have learned of the passing of a legend, Candy (Mokondeleli) Moloi," says a statement from the production company that produces the weekday Venda prime time soap on SABC2.

"Mme Candy played the original vho-Makhadzi in Muvhango and was one of the original cast members who started with the production when it premiered in 1997. Her daughter, Lerato Moloi, also featured in Muvhango as Refilwe, uncle Tshepo's daughter."

In 2009 Candy Moloi won a SAFTA award in the category for Best supporting actress at the South African Film and Television Awards.

Besides Muvhango Candy Moloi in 2008 appeared in other noteworthy roles as MaModumedi in the SABC1 miniseries Death of a Queen, and in 2014 she was Fhatu Neluvhola in the SABC2 drama series Thola.

In SABC2's Giyani - Land of Blood she appeared as Vho-Phophi Baloyi and played Granny Rambau in the second season of Ring of Lies. In Stokvel she starred as Makhadzi.

Coronavirus: South Africa starts new Covid-19 Film and Television Relief Fund to help struggling workers, Netflix donates R8.3 million as industry bodies ask more companies to contribute.

by Thinus Ferreira

A new Covid-19 Film and Television Relief Fund is being set up to help struggling workers in South Africa's film and TV industry, with Netflix donating some of its $150 million set aside to help the global film and TV industry during the Covid-19 pandemic to South Africa, and with local industry bodies asking for more companies to donate to this new fund.

Netflix has decided to donate R8.3 million to the new Covid-19 Film and Television Relief Fund that is being established by the South African Screen Federation (SASFED).

SASFED, supported by the Independent Producers Organisation (IPO) will establish this Covid-19 Film and Television Relief Fund in collaboration with Netflix to provide emergency relief to the hardest-hit workers in South Africa’s film and TV industry.

This Covid-19 Film and Television Relief Fund will be administered by Tshikululu Social Investment that will screen the applications for eligibility as well as disburse the funds to beneficiaries.

This Covid-19 Film and Television Relief Fund will provide a one-time emergency relief grant to behind-the-scenes workers such as electricians, carpenters, hair and make-up artists, drivers, costume designers and many other freelancers who are paid hourly wages and work on a project-to-project basis.

These workers will be eligible to apply online for the R15 000 one-time benefit from 3 August 2020 at Tshikululu’s website ( or would also be able to mail in a physical application. The eligibility criteria will be posted on Tshikululu’s website on 3 August 2020 when applications open.

In March the pay-TV operator MultiChoice announced that it had decided to set aside R80 million to pay the salaries and wages of workers in the collective film and TV industry in South Africa as well as across sub-Saharan Africa. SuperSport said it would pay freelancers working on productions.

In a statement announcing the new Covid-19 Film and Television Relief Fund with funding from Netflix, Unathi Malunga, SASFED executive director, says "SASFED is delighted about the announcement that the COVID-19 Film and Television Relief Fund will provide relief for workers in the film and TV sector who are not eligible for other available relief funds".

"The South African economy has been hard hit by the Covid-19 pandemic. The Netflix fund supporting the local film industry brings hope to struggling industry professionals."

"We hope other potential partners will follow Netflix's example and support SASFED’s broader initiatives which offer assistance to industry professionals across the whole value chain - an initiative undertaken by industry, for the industry. SASFED applauds Netflix's support of the local industry during the global crisis."

Sisanda Henna, IPO co-chairperson, says "Following months of extreme hardship for most of our sector, the IPO is overjoyed that Netflix is providing this desperately-needed relief for those most hard hit by the pandemic – the industry’s below-the-line freelancers to whom no other relief has been available".

"This is a clear demonstration of Netflix’s commitment to the sustainability of the South African film and TV production industry, and we welcome them – with wide open arms – as a partner in our broader efforts to support the screen sector."

Dorothy Ghettuba, Netflix's Amsterdam-based boss for Netflix Originals from Africa, says "We’re proud to be working with SASDED and the IPO to support the hardest-hit workers in TV and film production".

"South African crews are vital to Netflix’s success and we want to help those freelancers who most need support in these unprecedented times."

TV NEWS ROUND-UP. Today's interesting TV stories to read - 29 July 2020.

Here's the latest news about TV that I read and that you should read too:

Netflix breaks HBO's record for the most Emmy nominations ever.
HBO's Watchmen earned 26 nominations - the most of any show - and the Television Academy gave newcomers Disney+ and Apple TV + their first nominations.
Emmy 2020 snubs and surprises: Baby Yoda breaks through.
TV critics on whether television should be celebrating itself when the Covid-19 pandemic rages on.

■ "Kosher Netflix" launches in Israel.
No dancing to be seen as religious Jewish subscribers can press the "Skip" button to protect their modesty and flick past "problematic" scenes in the new video streaming service, Tov.

■ What is the optimum number of seasons for a TV sitcom before it jumps the shark?
Season 7, episode 3.

■ Television cinematography takes a Quantum Leap.

■ Pay-as-you-go for solar-powered pay-TV in Africa.

■ Convicted paedophile worked on the set of New Zealand children's show.

■ Britain's Sky pay-TV operator embraces the possibilities of showcasing Art on television.

■ How 2020 pressed Fast Forward on the video streaming wars.
And the early winners and losers: The "What's gone right", What's gone wrong" and the "Verdict".

■ Major League Baseball (MLB) shown on ESPN might get cancelled this season because of Covid-19.
Slimmed-down baseball on TV has broadcast workers worried about job cuts.
Major League Baseball pulls the rug out from Amazon Prime Video with shortened season.

■ Apple's Apple TV+ video streaming service is off to a very slow start and isn't generating revenue.

■ "Shame on Big Brother Naija."
Is Edafe Ufoma Holy on drugs or something? In a c-r-a-z-y and hilarious rant over MultiChoice and M-Net's latest 5th season of Big Brother Nigeria, "Ebuka, the presenter got penis erection while interviewing that lady with massive breasts", and "The most handsome of all the male contestants is a yellow skin guy but with little manhood".

■ DStv now charging the same for less, says a subscriber, while DStv Customer Service says "We do not have replacement channels".
"We are left with 20-year old repeats and channels which give us films with excessive violence".

■ If Facebook and social media is the new cigarettes, then this is what we must learn fro the 1970's.

■ Hollywood's lost summer.

■ Adewunmi Ogunsanya, MultiChoice Nigeria chairperson recovers after Covid-19.
Unadulterated joy blossoms in the bosoms of relatives, friends and associates of the successful, beefy lawyer who had coronavirus with the news about Erujeje's healing that has sent his people rejoicing and felicitating with him.

■ Australia's version of Farmer Wants a Wife wants to bring back "wholesome reality TV".

■ Nigeria finally adds sign language to national news briefings on TV.
While South Africa's SABC puts out a new tender looking for sign language service providers for 3 years.

■ The future of video streaming services is ongoing subscriber churn.
Viewers will subscribe and unsubscribe as new content comes and goes that they might be interested in.

■ SABC chief financial officer Yolande van Biljon says the South African public broadcaster wants to get to a place where it doesn't have to ask for government bailouts again.

Tuesday, July 28, 2020

China's CGTN faces possible ban in the United Kingdom as even more complaints continue to roll in over its alleged biased news reporting.

by Thinus Ferreira

China's CGTN (DStv 409 / StarSat 266) is facing a possible ban from the airwaves in the United Kingdom as even more complaints are stacking up at that country's broadcasting regulator over the Chinese TV news channel's alleged biased news reporting.

Earlier this year CGTN was found guilty by the United Kingdom's broadcasting regulator, Ofcom.

Ofcom found that CGTN broke media rules at least 5 times in programmes like The World Today and China24 in August, September and November 2019 by blatantly favouring the Hong Kong government authorities and the Chinese government in coverage and their positions and comments, and not giving protestors the same opportunities or telling or reporting on their side of the issue.

Earlier this month, Ofcom again found CGTN guilty in yet another case, this time after complaints following CGTN's decision to broadcast a forced confession from a former British journalist Peter Humphrey.

CGTN that has a very small audience in Africa is carried on MultiChoice's DStv and China's StarTimes pay-TV services across the continent and StarSat in South Africa.

Complaints about CGTN content keep rolling in.

Ofcom is currently busy with another 3 investigations into CGTN's alleged biased coverage as more complaints are being levelled against the Chinese TV channel.

Other complaints against CGTN include one from a former worker at the UK's Hong Kong consulate who claims that CGTN broadcast a forced confession that he had to make after he was detained during a trip to China, as well as the daughter of the Hong Kong bookseller Gui Minhai who says that CGTN broadcast forced confessions of her father who is being detained in China against his will.

CGTN has no comment.

Takalani Sesame at 20: How the iconic kids TV show forges ahead with preschool edutainment excellence in the time of Covid: 'We're putting ubuntu at the centre of the show'.

by Thinus Ferreira

With some friendly new faces in the Takalani neighbourhood, the South African spinoff of Sesame Street is marking its milestone 20th anniversary of providing preschool TV content on SABC2 in the time of Covid.

Innocent Nkata, managing director of Sesame Workshop South Africa, spoke to TVwithThinus about 2 decades of the colourful and playful puppets, what the new season and a Covid-19 special is about, why Takalani Sesame is important, the new characters, and the building blocks of diversity, inclusion and ubuntu tying everything together.

What would you say has been the big achievements of Takalani Sesame of the past 2 decades?
Innocent Nkata: It's been to make early learning opportunities available to millions of children in South Africa who would otherwise not have any opportunity for any learning at all before they enter school.

Recently Statistics South Africa (SSA) published a report which detailed the number of children who have access to early learning opportunities and those who don't. The finding was that nearly half of children between birth and 6 years old do not have access to early learning opportunities.

They don't attend any learning institution at all before they go to school at 7. And in that age group in South Africa we have just over 7 million children. So more than half means more than 3 million children under 6 years of age who don't have access to those early learning opportunities.

That's what Takalani Sesame has consistently been doing over the past 2 decades because we use the power of mass media to reach children in their homes. We have consistently reached, in any given month, more than 4 million children through television and other digital channels.

Can you tell more about the conceptualisation of the new characters, Basma and Jad?
Innocent Nkata: The primary theme in Takalani Sesame that these new characters are carrying is that of "learning-through-play".

We decided to introduce the theme of learning-through-play after the realisation that play is a very powerful vehicle to help children cope with setbacks in life, to help cope with difficult circumstances, but also critical to help them in their normal development to help them develop creativity, cognitive skills, physical skills, and their social and emotional skills.

Play has all those benefits, yet in South Africa and in many other places across the world, many parents and educators are not aware of those benefits. As a result, they don't do much to facilitate and to deliberately use play as a vehicle in that development of children.

That's why we are putting it into Takalani Sesame where we will use our characters to model the benefits, the how, the why, the what of learning-through-play. All of the Takalani Sesame characters will do the same, but the primary characters who are portraying this message are Basma and Jad.

What we did is to introduce a brand-new segment in Takalani Sesame of 5-minutes which is focused on learning through play.

Basma and Jad are two friends who have just arrived in the Takalani neighbourhood. Children will see that they have their workshop where they keep all of their tools and whatever they use.

The key focus in storylines are that we see them playing in the club house or on the playground, they encounter a particular problem, then you hear them shouting "Oh, we have a problem. What shall we do to solve this problem?", and then they set off on the path towards solving the problem.

They need some tools, they go to their workshop, they try different things, they meet some frustrations, but they continue to persist because that's typically the skills that you want to teach in children. It's task persistence, but in the process, they're having fun, they're playing and at the end of the segment when they've solved the problem you hear them shouting "We did it!".

Why Basma and Jad are new characters and why we didn't embed this into the existing Takalani Sesame characters is because it's a theme that we are carrying in different characters across the world.

How has Covid-19 impacted the new season of Takalani Sesame and is it worked into the show to explain it to children? Was it more difficult to produce the season?
Innocent Nkata: We did the filming for the season late last year in 2019. We finished filming in December. The current season doesn't have very evident Covid-19 scenes.

We are already preparing to film the next season and in that season Covid-19 related content will be very evident.

However, what we have also since done is that we have been creating additional content that is Covid-19 related that we are placing around the main show. We have public service announcements (PSA's) for instance teaching children how to wash their hands, teaching them other healthy sanitation habits that play immediately after an episode.

In addition to that, we are also in the process of developing other short-form content that we will be distributing through digital platforms and connecting those to the TV programme.

Then we developed a family Takalani Sesame special, a 25-minute programme entitled Elmo's World News Special on SABC2 - the same length as the usual episode - that is very specifically focused on helping children and families to cope with the current challenges of being in lockdown and dealing with Covid-19.

Takalani Sesame has been so successful over many years with addressing difficult adult topics like HIV/Aids. Now an international conversation about racism and #BlackLivesMatter has been pushed to the forefront. What new broader topics or themes will Takalani Sesame tackle and touch on going forward?
Innocent Nkata: In terms of how we decided what to put in the programme, our education programming is underpinned by a comprehensive educational framework which is also endorsed by the department of basic education.

It is also aligned to the national curriculum framework for children from birth to 6 years of age. We do workshops with stakeholders and go through a process of reflecting on the main challenges and most pressing challenges that are facing children in South Africa.

Then we prioritise. Obviously, there are so many challenges and we can't address all of them so we go through a prioritisation process in which we decide which are most pressing right now, what are the ones where, as Takalani Sesame, we have a comparative advantage as mass media to make the biggest difference.

We also do extensive research at the beginning of every season to validate those needs that we have identified to get views from parents and from children.

About other themes in the current season, besides learning through play, there are two other themes that we are deliberately addressing are the themes of diversity and inclusion, as well as ubuntu.

With diversity - and as you might be aware in the world of film, it's all about "show, don't tell". We're not shouting about it but we're showing.

We're showing the characters, we're showing the children interacting with people whom they share differences, whether those differences are in terms of outlook, how their skin looks, in terms of language, in terms of ethnicity, nationality and where they come from, in terms of gender. So we are modelling all of those elements of diversity and inclusion very deliberately within Takalani Sesame.

The third theme is ubuntu which is related to that. We are putting ubuntu at the centre of Takalani Sesame. We're using the show to model and teach children about the importance of the values of caring, respect, about sharing, about living and working together whether you are different or whether you are the same.

This is in every episode. At the end of the episode, after the characters do a certain challenge in which they have to make something to deliver to a friend who is different from them, they deliver that gift, then celebrate and then you see them celebrating and dancing to an ubuntu song. We've created a Takalani ubuntu song that they dance to. We even have a full music video version of the song.

The puppeteering and production values of Takalani Sesame - how has that possibly improved or advanced because it's the same people who stay and keep doing this craft?
Innocent Nkata: We have been very fortunate I have to say to have puppeteers who have stayed with Takalani Sesame for such a long time. There are very few substitutes for experience.

The puppeteers of all 5 of the main Takalani Sesame characters have been with us for a very long time. What it means is that the work is of a very high quality.

Puppeteering is very difficult and taxing work. So having had them for a very long time means that they have lots of experience. It also means that their focus is really on producing a high-quality show.

The new characters - Basma and Jad and Grover - for them we had to recruit new puppeteers. This is young talent, fresh artists and part of us developing new puppeteering talent in South Africa.

For them to be able to pick this up and learning alongside these very experienced puppeteers has been once of the things that also strengthens the quality of the show.

Where we're pegging the production values for viewers who are familiar with America's Sesame Street - because that's our mothership and the highest quality of all of our programmes - we'll say our production values are almost next to the quality of Sesame Street.

We deliberately did that because this is a critical milestone - as Takalani Sesame we're celebrating our 20th anniversary, we want to reposition the Takalani brand, consolidating where we have come from and driving a new vision going forward, and responding to children's needs which are becoming even more complex.

It's the first time that the Lego Foundation has become involved or become a partner. I don't think they give you free Lego blocks but what does the Lego Foundation contribute? Just funding or what does the Lego Foundation allow Takalani Sesame to do more or differently?
Innocent Nkata: Our partnership with the Lego Foundation is a groundbreaking multimedia partnership.

That partnership is at a global level. A big part of it is in the Middle East, and including South Africa.

It's focused on learning through play, and producing content to promote learning through play on different platforms on television, digital platforms, as well as through community outreach. So it's a far-reaching partnership that goes far beyond just the television.

Its primary focus is to enable the infusion of learning through play into Takalani Sesame media content across the different platforms.

Sesame still retains the editorial control of the production of the show.

When we produce the playful problem-solving block which carries the learning-through-play theme, we work very closely with the Lego Foundation. We consult with them to provide some guidance on how we are treating the learning-through-play theme in the TV show.

■ Takalani Sesame is broadcast on SABC2 on weekdays at 15:30.
■ The English version of Elmo's World News Special will be broadcast on SABC2 on Sunday 2 August at 18:30.

TV NEWS ROUND-UP. Today's interesting TV stories to read - 28 July 2020.

Here's the latest news about TV that I read and that you should read too:

■ Cape Town musician (48) who allegedly raped and sexually assaulted a man (21) for 7 years didn't want eNCA (DStv 403) to film the court proceedings.

■ WarnerMedia is investigating the Ellen DeGeneres Show and its toxic work environment.
Warner Bros Television doesn't want to talk about it or the alleged racism and intimidation on set.

■ Netflix's new Transformers too dark.
Transformers: War for Cybertron Chapter 1: Siege animation series is a thin, rushed story.

■ Epidemic-themed films and TV series on the rise in China because of Covid-19.
Sløborn - the German-Danish TV series that was filmed in 2019 and foresaw Covid-19.
A Covid-19 vaccine drama also in development at HBO.

■ Vince McMahon explains the declining viewership of WWE wrestling.

■ What it's like being black in the British TV industry.
TV pledged to improve diversity before. Is this time different?

■ Is watching reality TV really all that bad for you?

■ British government plans to ban junk-food TV commercials before 9pm in the United Kingdom.
Could force deep cuts at TV channels already struggling with revenue because of Covid-19.

■ Nostalgic TV revivals lean into a generational divide.
Just who are these new TV adaptations of 1990's book series actually for?

■ Veteran Uganda journalist Basajja Mivula arrested at Baba TV.
Dictatorial Uganda government also arrest 4 comedians over YouTube skit criticising the government.

■ Oprah Winfrey to discuss race in America in a new series, The Oprah Conversation, for Apple TV+.

■ Filthy mouth: Upcoming Chucky horror series has the most "f-'s' on TV to give.
Raspy trash-talker Brad Dourif back to voice the evil doll.

■ Halo TV series well into filming of the first season.

■ "Free Netflix for a Year" phishing scam will hijack your bank account.
- Meanwhile paying Netflix on time raises your credit score.

■ As mom cries, teenager spends thousands on ...

Monday, July 27, 2020

British video streamer BritBox expanding into Africa, is MultiChoice adding this streaming service to DStv as well?

by Thinus Ferreira

The British video streaming service BritBox has announced that it is expanding the subscription video-on-demand (SVOD) service into Africa without naming specific countries, instantly raising speculation that it might be added onto MultiChoice's upcoming launch of its new streaming carousel of SVOD services that will also carry Netflix and Amazon Prime Video.

BritBox is a 50/50 joint venture between the United Kingdom's BBC Studios and ITV and announced on Monday that it is expanding besides the UK, Canada and the United States into Europe, Asia, South America, the Middle East and Africa. It's also launching soon in Australia.

BritBox wants to expand to 25 countries worldwide and with Africa now in the mix in stands to reason that South Africa will highly likely be included as the continent's most developed TV market, as well as the best-connected when it comes to broadband internet penetration and speed.

BritBox recently announced its first slate of British Original scripted series commissions including Spitting Image (Avalon), A Spy Among Friends (Sony & ITV Studios); The Beast Must Die (New Regency Television and Scott Free), Crime (Buccaneer Media) and Magpie Murders (Eleventh Hour Films).

With MultiChoice that has overcome its fear of adding streaming services and wants to become a content super-aggregator, will roll out SVOD services like Netflix and Amazon Prime Video when it launches its latest DStv Explora decoder in South Africa later this year.

The announcement of BritBox's Africa expansion makes it a strong possibility that BritBox could be housed within MultiChoice's DStv viewing environment given that DStv carries multiple existing BBC Studios channels, carried the ITV Choice channel until recently, and acquired ITV programming after the axing of ITV Choice for the M-Net (DStv 101) and M-Net City (DStv 115) channels.

"This international expansion plan will firmly establish BritBox as a global premium brand in a rapidly growing sector," says Carolyn McCall, ITV CEO in a statement.

"Offering subscribers the best and biggest collection of British content has enabled BritBox to rapidly grow in our existing countries and as streaming continues to expand worldwide this rollout will give our distinctive streaming business truly international scale."

Tim Davie, BBC Studios CEO, says "BritBox has very quickly found a place in viewers' hearts and we know there is further appetite amongst international audiences who love great British content. We are actively appraising new markets to introduce the service and are very excited about the imminent launch in Australia".

7 years after dumping Africa the American sports brand ESPN returns to MultiChoice's DStv service as both get on the same team to squeeze what's left in the content ball during Covid-19.

by Thinus Ferreira

Africa's MultiChoice pay-TV operator and The Walt Disney Company have teamed up during Covid-19 that has put the brake on sports globally, to restack the ESPN channels on the DStv pay-TV service and to squeeze the lemon for what lemon juice there is to make during the global pandemic.

In a borderline desperate move, the two ESPN channels from The Walt Disney Company is returning to MultiChoice's DStv satellite pay-TV service exactly 7 years after an acrimonious split between ESPN and MultiChoice at the end of July 2013 when ESPN suddenly decided to dump Africa, the Middle East and Europe.

Given the huge financial pressure and loss of TV content especially live sports brought to bear by the growing Covid-19 pandemic, Disney and MultiChoice have decided to work together again over ESPN.

Disney will be able to squeeze some more revenue from its fast-eroding international channels distribution business by adding ESPN back to DStv in sub-Saharan Africa as linear TV channels.

Meanwhile a very worried MultiChoice that is highly concerned about the possibility of increased DStv subscriber churn is hoping that it will be able to pad some of the massive Covid-19 hole left by the loss of sports content on SuperSport with the bit of live sports left on ESPN in the form of mostly NBA basketball and MLB baseball.

The communications hardsell to tell DStv subscribers that ESPN is back is done so hard and is very evident in the way that MultiChoice is even roping in SuperSport to shamelessly help promote awareness about the re-addition of ESPN - a direct competitor to SuperSport - to MultiChoice's DStv service.

MultiChoice in a statement says that "the deal allows the company to provide a larger sports offering than ever before", although it used to provide ESPN before, before ESPN decided to get out of Africa.

Christine Service, senior vice president and country manager of The Walt Disney Company Africa, in a statement says that "From reliving the greatest moments in sports history to seeing those moments being made, ESPN’s compelling content and unique personality will be a complementary addition to MultiChoice Group’s sports offering"

"We are thrilled to be bringing the achievements and triumphs of both international and local athletes, our quality storytelling and innovative programming to a whole new audience of sports fans in Africa."

Disney provides no explanation as to why ESPN decided to be back in business with MultiChoice, or that it's back 7 years after backing out of DStv and the African continent.

Disney and ESPN that had no real desire to really be back in South Africa or Africa, in reality only returned to availability through a structural reorganisation when Disney bought out FOX's international channels business and decided to get rid of the FOX Sports channels.

If it wasn't for FOX Sports that were already widely distributed as linear TV channels internationally in existing contracts, it's doubtful that ESPN would exist outside of the United States now.

FOX Sports were switched to ESPN following the Disney corporate takeover, with the FOX Sports channels that changed to ESPN on China's StarTimes and StarSat pay-TV service in South Africa although even that didn't go smoothly and were underpinned by fraught contract conflict.

ESPN that will broadcast in English will go live on 29 July at 18:00 on DStv channel number 218 (137 Ghana, 337 Uganda, 618 for MultiChoice's Portuguese markets, GOtv channel 38).

ESPN mostly features European and African-centred sports like soccer, including the Scottish Premier Football League (SPFL), Dutch Eredivisie, Major League Soccer (MLS), the West African Football Union (WAFU) Cup of Nations and some boxing tournaments.

ESPN will be available to DStv Premium, DStv Compact Plus, DStv Compact, DStv Family/Familia (Mozambique) and GOtv Max subscribers in South Africa and across sub-Saharan Africa.

ESPN2 that will broadcast in English will go live on 29 July at 18:00 on DStv channel number 219.

ESPN2 usually carries content like the NBA, NFL (National Football League), NHL (National Hockey League) and MLB (Major League Baseball) although the bulk of it is not taking place or being played in the United States currently because of Covid-19.

ESPN2 will only be available to DStv Premium and DStv Compact subscribers in South Africa and across sub-Saharan Africa.

Both channels carry studio and documentary programming.

Some ESPN programming like documentaries, films and magazine shows will be made available through MultiChoice's DStv Catch-Up service. No repeat of any ESPN matches will be carried on MultiChoice's Catch-Up service.