Thursday, August 27, 2020

TV NEWS ROUND-UP. Today's interesting TV stories to read - 27 August 2020.

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

■ Huh? The CBS network in America reveals a shockingly "depressing" 2020 line-up:
Reruns, repeats, 2017's Star Trek: Discovery taken from its CBS All Access streaming service, bland reality shows, no Survivor.

■ Canada warns: Radio and TV closures coming over Covid-19 coronavirus pandemic.
40 local TV stations, 200 radio stations facing disastrous financial position.

■ Background: Apple and its PR division literally hates Bloomberg, Bloomberg continues to break Apple news first: Apple TV+ plans augmented reality TV content.

■ Amazon Prime Video cancels plans for TV adaptation of Iain M. Banks' Culture science fiction series.

■ Covid-19 makes dating tough. Learn from Down Under's Dating Naked reality series.

■ Study finds video streaming services offer better value for money over pay-TV bundles.

■ Younger viewers don't watch live TV on video streaming services.

■ And another new study: People claim video streaming services like Netflix and Disney+ are good for their mental health.

■ Namibia launches The Search as new vocal talent reality show.

■ Fox News' (StarSat 261) Tucker Carlson defends teenage American killer who shot protesters.

■ Producers of Netflix's reality show Million Dollar Beach House explains how it was made (subscription required).

■ Analysis: While Nigeria's government and politicians hate M-Net's Big Brother Naija on MultiChoice's DStv, the show has some benefits for the country.

■ German police alerted to shots fired. Discovers a man asleep ... and action film on TV at top volume.

■ The non-TV story of the day: Why the world's best mathematicians are hoarding chalk.

Wednesday, August 26, 2020

TV NEWS ROUND-UP. Today's interesting TV stories to read - 26 August 2020.

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

■ How the Covid-19 coronavirus pandemic is breaking the telecom bundle in the United States (and presumably, globally):
Consumer households - where the traditional broadband, pay-TV and phone bundle was already in trouble - are switching over in favour of "wireless everything".

■ TikTok calls out Netflix's fake Selling Sunset reality show for deceiving the audience: "How is this even allowed?"

■ Half of all Australian drama and children's television will disappear in the country under proposed new quota system for local original content.

■ What your Netflix watchlist says about your emotional health.

■ Perspex kisses: BBC on how on-screen romances are now continuing during the Covid-19 pandemicby using clear plastic that is digitally removed in editing.

■ Nigeria is done paying subsidies for set-top boxes (STBs) or channel carriage in the country's switch from analogue to digital TV broadcasting.

■ The BBC wants to reach a global audience of 1 billion people by the end of the 2020s.

■ Is TV good or bad for your child?

■ SuperSport CEO Gideon Khobane expects viewership on DStv to skyrocket after the Premier Soccer League (PSL) return (subscription required).

■ Lived a lie: Big Brother Naija season 4 contestant Tuoyo Ideh says he lied about being a male stripper because he "couldn't live up to it".

■ Black-only episode of British soap Hollyoaks coming as an hourlong TV special.

■ Enough of explicit sex scenes on TV. Do put some clothes on for all our sakes.

Coronavirus: MultiChoice Namibia and MultiChoice Zimbabwe forced to close buildings in Windhoek and Harare for deep-cleaning and contact tracing after staffers test Covid-19 positive.

by Thinus Ferreira

MultiChoice Namibia is the pan-African pay-TV operator MultiChoice Africa's next country-specific operations that has been forced to shut down its head office in Windhoek after a MultiChoice Namibia staff member tested positive for the Covid-19 coronavirus.

MultiChoice Namibia has now closed its head office in Nelson Mandela Avenue in Windhoek.

The MultiChoice Namibia building shut down comes just after MultiChoice Zimbabwe was forced to temporarily close its DStv Avondale branch for Covid-19 disinfection after a MultiChoice staffer there also tested Covid-19 positive.

The MultiChoice offices in the countries are being deep-cleaned.

MultiChoice Zimbabwe shuttered its office in the PaSangano building in Avondale, Harare for fumigation with the staffers who were ordered to stay home for a week.

MultiChoice Namibia meanwhile announced that it's head office is now shut as well, with the MultiChoice staffer who has been quarantined along with the person's family, while people who the individual might have been in contact with who are being screened for Covid-19.

The MultiChoice Namibia head office will now undergo cleaning and sanitization and will be locked for between 10 and 14 days with DStv Nigeria subscibers who have to use either the call centre or "self-service" option. DStv decoder repairs will now be done at MultiChoice's Katutura brand in Independence Avenue in Windhoek.

TV CRITIC's NOTEBOOK. On not being good enough for Gordon Ramsay and National Geographic - although Zola Nene answered a question.

by Thinus Ferreira

Besides the chef-wannabe's in Hell's Kitchen and MasterChef who definitely have personal experience of it and who know how it feels not to be good enough for the infamously caustic chef Gordon Ramsay, I suppose I can say I know a little bit how it feels not being good enough to make the cut as well.

The second season of Gordon Ramsay: Unchartered starts tonight on National Geographic (DStv 181 / StarSat 220).

It starts with a South African filmed episode in which Gordon Ramsay makes food with the South African chef Zola Nene in KwaZulu-Natal where he learns more about Zulu traditions.

In late-July The Walt Disney Company Africa that oversees the National Geographic channel in the territory decided to do a Zoom media presentation to promote the second season of Gordon Ramsay: Unchartered.

It did so around using the localised hook of the South African filmed episode in which Zola Nene appeared, in the form of an interactive, virtual cook-along session with Zola Nene.

The media were couriered ingredients that arrived on the day and Zola Nene showed how to make chakalaka.

National Geographic during the Zoom suddenly told the media "that it was wonderful seeing what we saw on set coming to screen". Mmm. Was there a South African episode set visit? Surely National Geographic would have communicated that?

National Geographic allowed media to type questions into the Q&A box during the Zoom media presentation.

TVwithThinus participated whilst trying to make chakalaka and typed and asked if Gordon Ramsay was as sarcastic and overbearing as he is known for in his reality shows.

"That's the Gordon that I expected too," said Zola Nene. "I'm a bit feisty too, so I was ready. If Gordon's gonna swear on me, I was ready for a comeback too, you know. And he was such a gentleman. So, so warm. So interested. So engaging."

"He was so lovely. So no Hell's Kitchen Gordon was revealed to me on set. So patient. The National Geographic team is so organised, and everything runs on schedule so there isn't really opportunity to be impatient. Everything happened as they told me it would."

"There was no diva tendencies at all. And you know, what the most surprising thing was when I first met Gordon? How tall the man is. I'm telling you, TV does not do it justice. He is so tall."

After the conclusion of the Zoom presentation and then doing research on the show for the season, it turned out that yes, there was actually a media set visit.

National Geographic invited media and took them to the Gwahumbe Game Lodge and Spa in Illovo in KwaZulu-Natal in December 2019 to meet and interview Gordon Ramsay personally.

Of course it's completely National Geographic's choice and prerogative as to which media it values and invites on press engagements, and what media National Geographic wanted to take to the set visit and give access to Gordon Ramsay during the filming of the South African episode.

While some media got to do sit-down interviews with Gordon Ramsay in December for the show, months later the rest got to make chakalaka.

This TV critic and journalist is terrible in the kitchen and the chakalaka wasn't bad but tasted borderline-fine. For dinner on 29 July three people ate it all.

What left a bad aftertaste after the Zoom presentation though, was discovering that National Geographic did a set visit but couldn't bother to communicate any of that to the media that it interacts with.

Is it sour grapes to have an expectation that at the very least National Geographic could just have said that a set visit is happening?

Is it wrong to think that National Geographic's reps could maybe have reached out to offer up something like a short phoner interview for media who were not good enough to have been invited to set?

Is it unreasonable to have an expectation that National Geographic could just have informed journalists and the leftovers media contingent that "Hey, just want to touch base that Gordon Ramsay is in South Africa and that there is a press engagement for just certain media but we'll have something for the rest of you later"?

It's an odd feeling when you set aside and give your time and effort to engage with a brand making chakalaka for a TV show as part of a marketing and publicity exercise, only for it to turn into a distinct sense the next day of feeling like you're not good enough for the actual main course - except to give exposure to it.

Tuesday, August 25, 2020

Emzini Wezinsiwa creator and director Pixley Shabangu dies after long battle with diabetes. He was 69.

by Thinus Ferreira

Pixley Muziwakhe Shabangu, the creator and director of the Emzini Wezinsiwa hostel-based comedy series that was produced during the 1990's for SABC has died. He was 69.

Pixlex Muziwakhe Shabangu died on Saturday in the Charlotte Maxeke Hospital after a long battle with diabetes.

Duma Ndlovu, Muvhango creator and director, said on social media in a statement that "The creator of the hit SABC1 comedy series, Emzini Wezinsizwa, Pixley Shabangu, passed on this Saturday evening at Charlotte Maxeke Hospital after suffering from diabetes. He was 69 years old. May his soul rest in peace".

Emzini Wezinsiwa's original SABC1 broadcast run was for a decade between 1994 and 2004 and 9 seasons and was produced by Shambe Productions.

It followed the men of Room 8 with a cast including Roland Mqwebu, Jabulani Nkosi, Jerry Phele, Shadrack Ngema and Vusi Thanda who have all moved to Johannesburg from rural areas across South Africa looking to find work and riches in Johannesburg.

Emzini Wezinsiwa was initially cancelled in 2003 after Roland Mqwebu,Jabulani Nkosi and Jerry Phele revolved and demanded better payment and were fired. The show returned for a final season with new cast members but then got cancelled permanently following negative viewer reaction to the changes.

Emzini Wezinsiwa is currently in an umpteenth rebroadcast on SABC1 on weekdays at 10:00.

MultiChoice adds WildEarth as a new 2-month DStv pop-up TV channel complete with African waterhole 'Dam Cam'.

by Thinus Ferreira

MultiChoice has launched WildEarth (DStv 183) as a new "wildlife and nature"-viewing pop-up TV channel for 2 months that will be available for DStv Premium and DStv Compact Plus subscribers until 25 November.

TVwithThinus asked MultiChoice for more information after WildEarth launched on Tuesday 25 August on DStv and for a WildEarth channel logo, since MultiChoice failed to communicate or notify the press about the launch of the channel beforehand.

MultiChoice on Tuesday afternoon said that it will make the announcement about WildEarth on Friday 28 August. DStv subscribers already have access to the WildEarth channel and can watch it. As it stands, there is no statement or press release from MultiChoice about WildEarth.

WildEarth's flagship programme is safariLive that has previously had broadcast slots on SABC3, National Geographic and elsewhere as an expert-hosted, live-broadcast wildlife safari show done from various African wilderness hotspots for 6 hours per day.

Sunrise safariLIVE is broadcast between 06:00 and 10:30, with Sunset safariLIVE that is broadcast between 15:00 and 18:00.

safariLIVE is currently done from the Djuma private game reserve, Chitwa Chitwa in The Sabi Sands, &Beyond Ngala private game reserve, and the Tswalu Kalahari.

The rest of the WildEarth schedule consists out of various pre-recorded wildlife programming revolving around animals and their sights and sounds, and safariLIVE Highlights.

WildEarth also employs the "Djuma Dam Cam" - a 24-hour live camera installed at the Gowrie Dam just outside of the Vuyatela lodgeat the Djuma private game reserve that shows what happens at the African waterhole.

"WildEarth is all about sharing nature with everyone so we can all see why we must conserve our beautiful home," says Graham Wallington a co-founder and CEO at WildEarth.

Emily Wallington, WildEarth co-founder and executive producer, says WildEarth's intention is "not that the viewer is wowed and awed through gruesome or dramatic behaviour of wild animals. Rather our mission is to enable them to have serendipitous moments of unscripted magic that touch the heart and let them suspend their disbelief and feel as if they are actually there".

TV NEWS ROUND-UP. Today's interesting TV stories to read - 25 August 2020.

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

■ The TV industry will never recover from the Covid-19 pandemic.
Advertising and pay-TV subscription fees have been the twin engines driving the growth of media companies for decades and now both are failing.
- Get ready for fewer new scripted shows and more cheap reality on pay-TV, and more of everything else on the internet.

■ FOX News (StarSat 261) insiders  part of a "real resistance" inside the rightwing American channel; no-one in control at FOX News; FOX News management "afraid of the news"; uncomfortable staffers worried about the damage being done.

■ Alison Sweeney returning to her role of Sami Brady in Days of Our Lives seen on

■ ViacomCBS is launching its Paramount+ video streaming service through the OSN pay-TV operator in the Middle East and North Africa.

■ Rose McGowan slams Alyssa Milano for making Charmed "toxic AF":
"You threw a fit in front of the crew, yellig 'They don't pay me enough to do this s-!' I cried every time we got renewed because you made that set toxic."

■ New Pandemic: Covid-19 in Africa documentary series to broadcast on M-Net Movies Zone (DStv 139) every 3 weeks.

■ Grey's Anatomy, This is Us, The Good Doctor, NCIS: New Orleans, The Resident, Shameless:
Why are so many American TV drama series now planning to do Covid-19 episodes?

■ Can Ellen DeGeneres' "be kind" brand survive her not-so-nice scandal?

■ Yep, he's gay: Slipping into bed with the former SABC2 Eastern Mosaic presenter Imraan Vagar.

■ Staggering R22 million legal bill for the SABC for disciplinary hearings of the South African public broadcaster.

■ Has the great "re-bundling" arrived?
As pay-TV moves from bundling TV channels to streaming services, guess what's happening in the "second phase of bundling" ...

■ In America video streaming consumption has doubled during the Covid-19 pandemic - driven by Netflix.

■ Netflix's Selling Sunset real estate reality series hit by allegations that it's fake.

■ In an accidentally "DO NOT POST" tweet Disney+ accidentally tweets it and reveals that it plans to launch on 17 November in Brazil and Latin America.

■ KwaZulu-Natal premier, Sihle Zikalala, hilariously claims that eNCA (DStv 403) anchor and reporter Shahan Ramkissoon "disrespected" and "belittled" him during a live broadcast.

■ Netflix's new "Shuffle Play" button designed to rot brains (subscription required).

■ Islamic TV station ITV (DStv 347) shook by court claims of alleged financial wrongdoing, including thousands paid for family wedding and legal fees of provisionally sequestrated founder (subscription required).

■ Ellen Pompeio of Grey's Anatomy, seen on M-Net (DStv 101), on watching herself age from 33 to 50 on TV across 17 seasons: "It's not so fun. It's ..."

■ A live-action series of The Powerpuff Girls is in the works based on the original Cartoon Network (DStv 301) animation series.

■ British television's racism problem laid bare in blistering address at 2020 Edinburgh TV festival.

■ Netflix could lose 2 million subscribers quarterly ... without new content.

Monday, August 24, 2020

Big Brother Naija Lockdown season draws record Showmax streaming viewership in Nigeria, South Africa and across the Africa continent.

by Thinus Ferreira

Showmax and DStv subscribers can definitely get ready for more Big Brother Nigeria seasons after the latest 5th season broadcast during the Covid-19 lockdown that has become a video streaming hit in especially Nigeria and surprisingly in South Africa and Kenya as well.

MultiChoice and M-Net West Africa that uses the pan-African camera-filled reality show to specifically drive subscriber uptake have been surprised by large number of subscribers who have opted to watch the new season of Big Brother Naija Lockdown through Showmax rather than on DStv or GOtv since making the series also available through its subscription video-on-demand (SVOD) service.

The latest season of Big Brother Naija that started on 19 July on DStv and GOtv as a pop-up channel and that will end with its 5th season finale on  27 September 2020 has broken a Showmax video streaming record to become the most-watched entertainment live stream on Showmax in Nigeria.

Especially the Big Brother Naija live evictions done from the studio in Lagos, Nigeria are very popular video streaming viewing material and not just in Nigeria, but in South Africa and across several other African countries as well.

"A significant portion of the viewing is happening outside of Nigeria," says Showmax that is live-streaming the full show 24-hours per day.

"The evictions are the most popular part of the show, with viewing peaking at 19:00 on Sundays," says Showmax.

Showmax that didn't carry it in the previous season, has now also added the Diary Room voting sessions which are not seen in the course of the live stream show and that is now available on Monday evenings to watch on Showmax.

Showmax’s Extra View weekly wrap-up show provides behind-the-scenes footage that viewers may have missed from the live broadcast. This is available to viewers on Monday night

"Interestingly, while Nigeria accounts for almost 50% of the viewing hours, South Africans are also big fans, with 30% of the viewing happening in South Africa, and another 15% happening in Kenya. Ghana, Botswana, Namibia and Uganda also see notable viewing traffic for Big Brother Naija."

Similar to what Netflix and Amazon Prime Video are doing regarding viewer ratings for shows, Showmax doesn't want to release specific viewing statistics or numbers for Big Brother Naija, but says that "Big Brother Naija Lockdown which started 19 July has already broken a Showmax live-streaming record and become the most-watched live entertainment content ever on the streaming service".

"If watched back to back, the collective number of hours of the show streamed this season already add up to almost 30 years' worth of viewing."

Showmax says that "more viewing records are expected to fall" in the run-up to the season finale.

While the show hasn't yet been renewed for a 6th season, the record-viewership on Showmax, coupled with strong ratings on the traditional DStv channel virtually guarantees that M-Net West Africa will recommission the show in 2021 to support MultiChoice subscriber growth for its streaming service and traditional pay-TV channels business.

Subscribers' anger rise as MultiChoice Nigeria is forced to increase DStv subscription fees in Nigeria again amidst rampant inflation while naira devalues and with latest government tax increase.

by Thinus Ferreira

DStv subscribers in Nigeria are furious with MultiChoice Nigeria that is following China's StarTimes that hiked its pay-TV subscriber fees by roughly 22% in the country since 1 August, with MultiChoice that is now also hiking DStv subscription fees from September because of increase government tax, rampant inflation and the ongoing currency devaluation of the struggling naira.

Meanhile Nigeria's government wants to prevent both private pay-TV operators to increase their prices, with the government that wants to legislate price increases and determine what companies are allowed to ask customers to pay in the West-African nation's supposed "free market economy".

MultiChoice Nigeria will increase DStv Premium from N16 200 to N18 400 (R807.52) per month from 1 September 2020, while the monthly fee of DStv Compact Plus in Nigeria will increase from N10 925 to N12 400 (R544.20), and DStv Compact subscribers at N6 975 will now pay N7 900 (R346.71).

The monthly subscription fees of MultiChoice's lower-tiered Confam, Yanga and Padi pay-TV packages will remain unchanged.

MultiChoice and StarTimes have been forced to increase prices because of the economic fallout of the Covid-19 pandemic in Nigeria, as well as the decision by Nigeria's federal government to hike value-added tax (VAT) in the country by 2.5% since August 2020.

Nigeria struggles with a worsening economy marked by rampant inflation, the local naira currency that continues to devalue and a government that is seemingly hellbent on making trading conditions as difficult as possible for foreign-based companies in the country and with South Africa's Shoprite the latest casualty of brand devestment that is leaving Nigeria.

MultiChoice Nigeria in a statement says that "In order to provide some relief for customers, MultiChoice Nigeria has absorbed the cost of the increase in VAT for the past 4 months, keeping its products and services at the old 5 percent VAT; however this is no longer possible and the mandated 7.5 percent VAT will be applied accordingly".

In its message to DStv subscribers MultiChoice Nigeria says that "We periodically review our pricing, taking into consideration factors such as inflation and operational costs".

"We acknowledge that the people of Nigeria are living under increased economic pressure and we have made efforts to freeze the subscription prices in the last year, barring any extreme factors such as devaluation of currency and changes to VAT mandated by government."

After heavy criticism ViacomCBS Networks Africa backtracks on 'activist' Pearl Thusi's tone deaf planned interview on BET with alleged rapist Tall Ass Mo in 4th season of Behind the Story.

by Thinus Ferreira

Following heavy criticism of its controversial decision, ViacomCBS Networks Africa is retreating and will no longer broadcast an interview between Pearl Thusi and Tol Ass Mo - accused of alleged gender-based violence and involved in an ongoing court case - in the upcoming 4th season of the celebrity profile series Behind the Story on BET (DStv 129).

Controversy erupted when BET Africa announced that Mongezi Mahlangu, known as Tal Ass Mo, together with his wife Mome, would be included in the next series of sit-down interviews in the upcoming 4th season of the celebrity profile series Behind the Story fronted by Netflix's Queen Sono star Pearl Thusi.

With MultiChoice and ViacomCBS Africa running gender-based violence (GBV) campaigns and TV ads during Women's Month over the scourge of violence against women in South Africa, Pearl Thusi was accused of being "tone deaf" after she shared that she would be interviewing Tol Ass Mo who is facing ongoing court action after allegations of rape brought against him by actress Lerato Moloi.

In a statement earlier this month on 4 August 2020 Lerato Moloi revealed that she was allegedly sexually assaulted and raped by the comedian while working on a TV production in 2014 in Paarl in the Western Cape.

Pearl Thusi who initially defended her right to interview Tol Ass Mo later deleted her social media post and has now also locked her Twitter account, with BET and ViacomCBS Africa that initially also supported the celebrity interview inclusion in the upcoming season.

Pearl Thusi initially compared her upcoming Tal Ass Mo interview to that of CBS News' Gayle King in the United States. Gayle King interviewed R Kelly for a news special specifically about the multiple rape allegations swirling around him. Pearl Thusi said that she is not a judge but "an activist".

When Pearl Thusi was asked when she will be interviewing Lerato Moloi, she said she is "still waiting for her to agree".

On Sunday afternoon ViacomCBS Networks Africa in a statement made a a U-turn and announced that the Pearl Thusi sit-down with Tol Ass Mo will no longer be happening as part of Behind the Story.

"BET Africa confirms that the Tol Ass Mo and Mome interview from the upcoming new season of Behind the Story with Pearl Thusi will not be aired on the channel out of respect for the current environment, legal proceedings and the basis of impartiality," ViacomCBS Networks Africa said.

Over the weekend TVwithThinus asked ViacomCBS Networks Africa why Pearl Thusi and BET Africa is doing an interview with an alleged rapist, while a courtcase is ongoing and how such an interview aligns with MultiChoice's latest gender-based violence campaign and Viacom Africa's statements and campaigns about the issue.

ViacomCBS Networks Africa said that "BET Africa and Behind the Story supports the ongoing fight against gender-based violence and we are consistently creating content and using our platforms to amplify and support a positive and urgent change in attitudes and behavious towards gender-based violence. There is an immediate need to drive and champion education of this crucial societal issue".

ViacomCBS Networks Africa was also asked what specifically it and the BET Africa channel's policy is regarding giving exposure to alleged perpetrators of gender-based violence.

ViacomCBS Networks Africa in response to this question said that it is "concerned about the seriousness of this matter, the mature of the allegations and respect the sensitivities".

When asked if ViacomCBS Networks Africa is also interviewing Lerato Moloi and giving her the same airtime as the glossy profile celebrity interview to be aired with Tall Ass Mo, ViacomCBS Networks Africa said "we continue to engage with all parties concerned in relation to the interview".

Saturday, August 22, 2020

Special SANEF documentary to be broadcast across eNCA, Newzroom Afrika and SABC News this weekend about how the South African news media have been covering the Covid-19 pandemic.

by Thinus Ferreira

A special documentary by the South African National Editors Forum (SANEF) to highlight the courage and resilience of the South African news media during, and covering, the Covid-19 coronavirus pandemic will be broadcast this weekend across the country's TV news channels on eNCA (DStv 403), Newzroom Afrika (DStv 405) and SABC News (DStv 404).

Produced by SANEF, Recognising the media's courage in covering Covid: A SANEF documentary will be shown on eNCA (DStv 403) tonight (Saturday 22 August) on eNCA at 20:00,, on Newzroom Afrika at 20:00, and on Sunday morning, 23 August on SABC News at 09:00 as part of the weekly Media Monitor programme. 

After the broadcast on eNCA, SABC News and Newzroom Africa, the documentary will be uploaded and be available to stream on the official SANEF YouTube page.

Repeats of the documentary for all of the channels are not available but Recognising the media's courage in covering Covid: A SANEF documentary will have a rebroadcast on eNCA on Saturday 22 August at 21:30 and on Sunday 23 August at 01:00.

SANEF commissioned the special documentary to commemorate the vital role journalists play in our society – especially, in light of the harsh circumstances journalists as individuals find themselves in during the coronavirus pandemic.

Recognising the media's courage in covering Covid: A SANEF documentary was filmed in recent months while South Africa remained under a national Covid-19 lockdown period and regulations and aims to shine a light on the courageous work done by South african journalists on the frontlines in a time of unease and continued stress due to the global pandemic.

South Africa's journalists have continued to work everyday, despite the risk of themselves being infected and also in some instances facing a precarious future. The entire South African media industry has faced mass retrenchments, massive salary cuts and the closure of multiple media houses.

"Set against the backdrop of a country plagued with corruption and economic inequality, the coronavirus lockdown and a world in crisis, SANEF set out to lift the veil and bring to life the heroes that stand behind the headlines as we honour the media with the 2020 Nat Nakasa Award," says Mahlatse Mahlase, SANEF chairperson.

"Our journalists have played a vital role on the frontlines in 2020 as we face the pandemic head on, and will be honoured with a collection of true contemporary stories shared by so many of our countries' most seasoned journalists and media voices as they unmask - literally - the day-to-day struggles faced in their plight to provide us with unbiased and in-depth coverage of current affairs."

SANEF says that its management committee and independent judges took the decision that "all journalists working tirelessly across the country and in our communities deserve the Nat Nakasa Award for the courage that they have displayed".

"For many it is tough to listen to the news, let alone the toll it takes on those who are experiencing, dissecting and reporting on the current realities faced by our country and the world as a whole," says Mahlatse Mahlase.

"Disease, poverty, displacement, hunger, brutality, gender-based violence, corruption, looting, and the rising Covid-19 death toll are just some of the headlines we’ve come to read – and expect – each day as we open our eyes in South Africa."

"But in this we forget that it is often about people, and that these stories are brought to us by people – all while managing very personal experiences such as risk to their own families through exposure to the virus, police brutality as well as the very real and very harsh impact of a loss of income and their own livelihoods."

"Journalists have continued to do what they do, often with a window on the world that is as real for them as the people they are documenting," says Mahlatse Mahlase.

Friday, August 21, 2020

Coronavirus: After 5 months Nu Metro to reopen most of its cinemas in South Africa including in-cinema VIP dining from 28 August on Fridays and weekends with new Covid-19 health precautions and 'buffer' seats.

by Thinus Ferreira

After 5 months of being shut because of the national lockdown period in South Africa because of the global Covid-19 pandemic Nu Metro on Friday told TVwithThinus that the cinema chain will also start to reopen most of its cinema complexes, similar to Ster-Kinekor, on 28 August, also with stringent new health protocols in place.

Ster-Kinekor on Wednesday said that it would be reopening the first batch of 32 of its cinemas on 28 August, followed by another 21 on 18 September.

Nu Metro will now also reopen its cinema complexes in Johannesburg, Pretoria, Cape Town, Durban, Bloemfontein, Port Elizabeth and Giyani (Limpopo) on Friday 28 August for the first time after 5 months.

Nu Metro will initially only open its cinema complexes on Fridays, Saturdays,Sundays and public holidays, with limited showtimes per day and films times staggered as to limit the number of people entering, exiting and standing in cinema foyers.

Nu Metro cinemas not opening on 28 August will temporarily remain shut in what Nu Metro calls part of its "responsible reopening strategy".

"Nu Metro is very excited to go big again with the magic of the movies," says Chantelle Burrows, Nu Metro cinemas marketing and content executive.

"Nothing can ever replace the cinematic experience of enjoying movies in the way they were meant to be seen. Our commitment and responsibility towards customers have never been stronger as we face this 'new normal' together."

"The public’s safety, as well as the safety and health of our team members, is our highest priority. Nu Metro has been anxiously anticipating this moment to reopen our doors to movie fans once again, as part of a coordinated industry effort to restart this business we love to call showbiz."

Nu Metro will initially only open its cinema complexes on Fridays, Saturdays and public holidays, with limited showtimes per day and films times staggered as to limit the number of people entering, exiting and standing in cinema foyers.

Apart from Nu Metro's regular 2D and 3D cinemas,most of their premium cinema experiences will also reopen on a limited basis in select complexes - including multi-sensory 4DX, “Premium Large Format” Xtreme and luxurious VIP theatres.

Nu Metro says that its VIP cinema experience will include bar- and sit-down restaurant services with the required social distancing and other preventative measures being implemented. 

"In-cinema dining ordered from Nu Metro’s VIP menu will also be served, according to the health and safety regulations in place for restaurants." 

 Director Christopher Nolan’s TENET will be the first major new movie scheduled for cinemas’ reopening

Nu Metro says that along with other new releases, Nu Metro will also offer a selection of recent box office hits and other audience favourites being re-released during the first phase of its reopening

"This scheduling strategy is due to the limited availability of new filmed content for cinemas worldwide, caused by the postponement of films’ release dates globally following the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic."

No Metro is encouraging moviegoers to use its website for online bookings before visiting cinemas to buy tickets, and to also use the self-service terminals at cinemas to buy tickets, although the confectionary counters will be open for sales, as well as ticket counters.

Mask-wearing will be mandatory for all customers and staff within all Nu Metro’s cinema complexes nationwide although masks can be taken off while eating and drinking.

Temperature checks will be done on arrival for all customers at access points to cinema complexes, in addition to hourly temperature and hygiene check-ups being done on staff by each complex’s appointed compliance officer.

Nu Metro will also adhere to social distancing by introducing at least 1.5 metre of distance between booked seats by blocking 2 "buffer" seats on either side of a customer’s selection. 

These blocked seats will appear in a zigzag pattern throughout each auditorium. Only two customers per booking can be seated next to each other, with "buffer" seats blocked on either side, in front and behind them.

Nu Metro cinema capacity is also capped at below 50 visitors, in compliance with the recommended specifications from the South African government.

Nu Metro says that all cinemas will be thoroughly cleaned and disinfected before and after each and every show, with a nightly deep-cleaning of all complexes, while all high-touch point areas such as kiosks, self-service terminals, serving counters, door handles, rails, benches, booths and bathroom areas will be disinfected on a regular basis daily – with the cleaning frequency for service counters every 30 minutes.

Popcorn seasoning shakers and dispensers have been replaced by sealed, disposable sachets, along with other precautionary measures at confectionary/catering counters.
Here are the Nu Metro cinemas opening:

1. Nu Metro Hyde Park (JHB) – including 4DX and VIP theatres; VIP cinema complex.
2. Nu Metro Emperors Palace (JHB) – including 4DX, VIP and Xtreme theatres.
3. Nu Metro Clearwater Mall (JHB) – including VIP and Xtreme theatres.
4. Nu Metro The Glen (JHB) – including VIP and Xtreme theatres.
5. Nu Metro Westgate (JHB).
6. Nu Metro Menlyn Park (Pretoria) – including 4DX, VIP and Xtreme theatres.
7. Nu Metro Woodlands (Pretoria) – VIP cinema complex.
8. Nu Metro Canal Walk (Cape Town) – including VIP and Xtreme theatres.
9. Nu Metro Worcester.
10. Nu Metro Ballito Junction (Ballito, KZN) – including VIP and Xtreme theatres.
11. Nu Metro Cornubia Mall (Durban) – including 4DX, VIP and Xtreme theatres.
12. Nu Metro The Pavilion (Durban) – including 4DX and VIP theatres.
13. Nu Metro Galleria (Amanzimtoti, KZN) – including VIP and Xtreme theatres.
14. Nu Metro Boardwalk (Port Elizabeth).
15. Nu Metro Loch Logan (Bloemfontein).
16. Nu Metro Masingita Mall (Giyani, Limpopo).

Six Nu Metro cinema complexes in South Africa remain temporarily closed. 

The Nu Metro Arcades Mall in Zambia reopened today (Friday), already with re-release titles, and Nu Metro Maputo in Mozambique will reopen in September.

ALSO READ: Coronavirus: After 5 months Ster-Kinekor to reopen cinemas in South Africa from 28 August with stringent hygiene rules and 'misting device', tickets and snacks only sold through its website.

kykNET’s Cape Town set Arendsvlei telenovela from Penguin Films adding a 4th weekly episode from it's third season.

by Thinus Ferreira

M-Net's Afrikaans channels division kykNET has decided to extend its Cape Town set telenovela Arendsvlei to 4 episodes per week from the upcoming third season on kykNET & kie (DStv 145) with a unspecified changes also coming to its talk show Tussen Ons.

From 1 October Arendsvlei, produced by Penguin Films, will increase the weekly episodes from 3 to 4, with a new group of high school pupils at High School Arendsvlei joining the cast, as well as other new characters.

kykNET made the announcement about the longer third season during MultiChoice's 2020 DStv Showcase media presentation that took place on Wednesday afternoon.

Ilse Klink arrives to play the mother of Bmpbie Galant (Jarrid Galant), while Captain Krige (Brendan Daniels) arrives from Clanwilliam. Natalie (Carmen Maarman) uses her charm to get what she wants at all cost and other people's happiness.

Arendsvlei, originally commissioned as a single-season telenovela was eventually turned into an ongoing telenovela series.

"Since the beginning of the second season viewers have been asking for a third season," says Roberta Durrant of Penguin Films and Arendsvlei executive producer.

"Penguin Films and Arendsvlei are excited to now broadcast 4 episodes per week and to keep surprising viewers. Thanks to our viewers for your support and thanks to the writers, talent and crew for your dedication and passion."

Theltom Masimila, Arendsvlei head writer, says he feels privileged to be able to tell the story of the characters of Arendsvlei for another year and to dig even deeper into their stories.

"Now that we have the chance to broadcast for 4 days on television viewers can get ready to be captivated for longer in the love and tragedy of the high school, its community and the families that we've got to know, as well as the new faces who will ensure drama like never before."

Arendsvlei's third season starts on 28 September 2020 on kykNET & kie with the first 4th weekly episode that will be broadcast on 1 October.

Due to the additional weekly Arendsvlei episode kykNET will be announcing news shortly about the weekly Afrikaans female-fronted talk show Tussen Ons, also done from Cape Town.

TV NEWS ROUND-UP. Today's interesting TV stories to read - 21 August 2020.

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

■ Covid-19: Say goodbye to sex on television: British screen director's association publishes helpful intimacy on-screen guidlines:
Bodies could be depicted "moving under bedclothes".
"Close a bedroom door аnd leаve the аction to the viewer’s imаginаtion."
Directors should take inspiration from classic films when depiction of sex on screen was banned.

■ After massive backlash and petition Netflix apologises for "inappropriate" poster of Cuties sexualising 11-year old girls.
Netflix's "disgusting" film a negative influence.

■ Tosh.0 on Comedy Central (DStv 122) cancelled after shocking reversal of 4 season renewal.

■ Netflix disappoints with Transformers: War for Cybertron after controversy over not using union voice talent and warnings that using cheap talent sets a dangerous precendent for the industry.

■ Nigeria's government continues to attack MultiChoice, once again summos MultiChoice Nigeria to appear over its DStv Nigeria subscription fee increase that came into effect on 1 June 2020.

■ The SABC and will have to urgently find ways to position themselves as broadcasters beyond their current business models or risk falling too far behind MultiChoice and streaming services like Netflix.

■ Discovery Inc. distances itself from the homophobic Homestead Rescue star Marty Raney.

■ MOZO TV launches in Zambia as a new TV channel to showcase Africa's lifestyle, politics and economics.

■ Netflix is testing a shuffle play button for viewers struggling to decide what to watch.

■ Amazon Prime Video commercial sparks a boycott in Japan.

■ Positive Covid-19 cases reported at Television City in Los Angeles where The Bold and the Beautiful restarted filming.

■ BBC News boss Fran Unsworth says some TV news bulletins might be cut.
"TV journalism will still be around because of the power of pictures to tell a story, but it won't necessarily be received in quite the forms it currently is."

■ Netflix cancels Patriot Act with Hasan Minhaj as the streaming service struggles with topical talk shows.

■ Australian Broadcasting Corporation's chief economics correspondent Emma Alberici quits over ABC censorship claims.

■ Egypt's opposition TV channels are a rare phenomenon.

■ TV anchor Anjali Rao told she's "too brown" for commercial TV (subscription required).

Thursday, August 20, 2020

MultiChoice to add 5 new TV channels to DStv including Canada's ZooMoo for kids as well as Turkish and Mexican telenovela channels and Korean K-drama with tvN.

by Thinus Ferreira

MultiChoice will add 5 new TV channels to its DStv pay-TV service with content ranging from Mexican telenovelas and a Canadian kids channel to Turkish telenovelas and even South Korean or so-called "K"-dramas.

MultiChoice made the announcement about the 5 new channels, although one was already announced previously, on Wednesday afternoon during its 2020 DStv Showcase media presentation for the press.

MultiChoice will add tlnovelas on DStv channel 133.

MultiChoice says tlnovelas "will run September 2020" which seems as if it might not be a permanent but a DStv pop-up channel.

tlnovela will broadcast an array of English-dubbed Mexican telenovelas from Latin America’s second-largest producer, Televisa.

MultiChoice describes the tlnovelas channel as filled with "stories of love and betrayal, with beautiful people satiating the desire for fairytale endings. The channel is hugely popular across Lusophone Africa".

ZooMoo that will launch on 1 October 2020 as a pop-up channel on DStv and run on channel 314 until 31 March 2021 is a Canadian kids’ channel that delivers a unique mix of live action combined with animation and puppets.

ZooMoo is described as "the world’s first fully-interactive pre-school channel dedicated entirely to animals and nature, aimed at kids aged 2 to 7 years old".

The ZooMoo channel is accompanied by a free ZooMoo app, which completes the multi-screen environment, synchronized on a real-time basis with the channel.

KIX, that MultiChoice already previously announced is coming to DStv, will be added to DStv channel 114 from 1 October 2020 at 19:00 and is described as "the ultimate destination for action movies in Africa".

KIX will be available to DStv Premium, DStv Compact Plus, and DStv Compact subscribers in South Africa as well as across sub-Saharan Africa.

KIX (pronounced "kicks") will offer DStv subscribers "a high octane blend of martial arts, action and thriller movies from the East and West, all presented in English".

"From the most compelling Asian and Hollywood blockbusters to the best kung fu classics of all time, as well as many other never-seen-before action and thriller titles in the region, KIX brings excitement, thrills and an adrenaline rush in high definition to all viewers."

The Turkish telenovela channel Timeless Drama Channel, SPI/FilmBox's premium Turkish drama channel, will start on DStv in November 2020 on DStv channel 123 with "high-quality, glossy telenovelas and costume dramas".

The channel that is known as "dizi" in Turkish, is "aimed at people of all ages who love the drama genre and want to watch critically-acclaimed shows that have defined the landscape of Turkish and worldwide television".

tvN that will start in November 2020 on DStv channel 134 will have South Korean dramas or so-called "K-drama".

tvN is from the Oscar-winning producers of Parasite, featuring shows produced by some of the biggest players in the Korean drama industry and serving up "glossy, powerful content".

Wednesday, August 19, 2020

MultiChoice to launch DStv Rewards as its new star-based loyalty programme in South Africa, promises DStv subscribers 'amazing rewards' for staying on the couch and watching TV.

by Thinus Ferreira

MultiChoice will soon launch a new star-based DStv Rewards loyalty programme in South Africa that will essentially reward loyal DStv subscribers for watching more TV and giving them more rewards the longer they stay stationary on the couch before their TV sets.

MultiChoice made the announcement that it's launching DStv Rewards in South Africa as its new loyalty scheme on Wednesday afternoon during its 2020 DStv Showcase media presentation, saying that a loyalty rewards programme is the one thing that DStv subscribers have been badgering the pay-TV operator over for the longest time.

MultiChoice didn't give an exact launch date for when DStv Rewards would start but said it would be "very, very soon" and that subscribers will be able to opt in sometime during September 2020.

MultiChoice Africa launched DStv Thanks as a loyalty programme at the start of 2017 in the rest of Africa, excluding South Africa, for subscribers who remained connected for at least 3 months.

While MultiChoice has not yet revealed the levels, structure or programme gaming participation dynamics for its DStv Rewards loyalty programme in South Africa, the level that a subscriber is pegged at and the type of rewards that they will qualify for will be determined by the DStv package a subscriber is on, for how long the person has been a subscriber (tenure), as well as product usage.

DStv Rewards will allocate "stars" to each DStv subscriber based on the DStv bouquet they're on, the number of years they've been with DStv, and the usage of products. 

Use of additional products and services, upgrades in DStv package, and even changes to payment method will earn DStv subscribers more of these "stars" that will push up their reward level and the available rewards.

The Randburg-based pay-TV operator is introducing DStv Rewards as a customer retension programme trying to combat churn and DStv bouquet downgrades.

DStv Premium subscribers - MultiChoice's top-tiered and most valuable subscribers - as a percentage of the overall DStv subscriber base continues to decline since subscribers don't feel that the expensive price provides enough value and value-added content and offerings.

MultiChoice wants to change this or at least stem the rate of DStv Premium erosion. On the other hand MultiChoice also wants to incentivise lower-tiered DStv subscribers to consider "levelling up" to more expensive packages in order to accumulate DStv Rewards and bigger rewards even faster.

DStv subscribers will earn rewards through its loyalty programme but it's not clear yet whether it will work on a points accumulation level-up scale, tokens or digital vouchers although it will very likely be an approach that is a combination of all of these. DStv subscribers will also get entry into virtual competitions.

'The only cardio involved happens on your TV'
DStv Rewards will have no additional membership fee but DStv subscribers will have to opt in to become a member.

MultiChoice calls DStv Rewards "the most entertainming rewards programme in South Africa" and plans to offer special DStv subscribers upgrades, DStv subscription fee discounts, "free" DStv BoxOffice movie digital tokens, Uber Eats digital discount vouchers, birthday rewards, service vouchers, Showmax discounts and additional DStv channel access.

Also planned are "money-can't-buy" exclusive experiences like access to TV star meet-and-greets, live events like a seat at award shows, sporting events and other events usually reserved for VIPs and media.

MultiChoice will also offer what is calls "personalised challenges" that will have its own set of "amazing rewards".

MultiChoice says that at launch DStv Rewards will be "offering qualifying customers access to more of their favourite content with BoxOffice credits, complimentary package upgrades on their DStv Anniversaries and customer birthdays".

DStv Rewards membership is free for every DStv subscriber on every DStv package and will work through the DStv app and the DStv website. In a jab to gym, health and other active sports loyalty programmes MultiChoice says "the only cardio involved happens on your TV".

MultiChoice says that DStv subscribers will be able to opt in to DStv Rewards once it launches through the DStv app or the DStv website. 

DStv subscribers will be able to see their DStv Rewards on the DStv app and MultiChoice will also communicate with subscribers through email, SMS and in-app notifications.

Once a DStv subscriber pause or cancels their DStv subscription DStv Rewards and access to new ones will also be paused until the customer resumes their subscription. MultiChoice says that some rewards may be lost and that a subscriber's reward level may also be impacted.

"We value our customers and our goal is to make DStv as accessible to as many customers as possible at great value – but more than that, we want to be in-tune with what really resonates in South Africa, togetherness (Ubuntu) and enjoying all the best action on DStv together, from sports to reality shows," says Mark Rayner, MultiChoice South Africa CEO, in a statement.

"DStv Rewards really allow us to tap into the true nature of our customers, and we just couldn’t wait to bring it to them."

MultiChoice launches a M-Net Movies add-on package with 3 channels for R99 per month for lower-tiered DStv packages.

by Thinus Ferreira

MultiChoice has created a new M-Net Movies add-on package of R99 per month that has 3 M-Net Movies channels that can be added to any of its lower-tiered DStv bouquets.

MultiChoice announced the new "Add Movies" add-on package on Wednesday during its 2020 DStv Showcase media presentation for the press.

The M-Net Movies Add Movies package will consist out of the channels: M-Net Movies 1 (DStv 104), M-Net Movies 2 (DStv 106), and the Afrikaans fliekNET (DStv 149) channel.

MultiChoice and M-Net are reducing and rebranding its set of M-Net Movies channels from September. 

M-Net Movies 1 will essentially be the new M-Net Premiere channel that is a premium movie channel. M-Net Movies 2 is basically the two existing M-Net Movies Action channels that are being combined to provide "heart-pumping, explosive action films" and adventure movies.

fliekNET is an Afrikaans films pop-up channel that is becoming a permanent Afrikaans movie channel on DStv from September.

DStv Premium subscribers automatically get access to these movie channels but DStv Compact Plus, DStv Compact, DStv Family, DStv Access, DStv EasyView and DStv Indian subscribers will now be able to add the M-Net Movies Add Movies package for R99 per month to their DStv subscription fee.

Premium exclusive pop-up channels – when done and available - will make up part of the Add Movies experience. 

Interestingly, MultiChoice says that some premium pop-up film channels, for instance the M-Net Movies pop-up channels that it regularly adds for instance during holiday periods, will automatically be added into this Add Movies bundle.

It means that while DStv subscribers who add this Add Movies package will get access to 3 movie channels, there are going to be times where they might get free, additional access to one or more further of these premium pop-up channels as well when these pop-up movie channels are run on DStv with a limited-duration theme, genre and franchise films.

MultiChoice says it's not doing away with DStv BoxOffice. "DStv BoxOffice allows our customers to rent movies straight from the cinema. The movies available for rental on BoxOffice are not yet available to pay-TV. These will come to the movie channels as soon as license agreements allow."

DStv subscribers can add Add Movies for only a month, for example over the school holidays.

MultiChoice says that if a DStv subscriber is using a DStv Explora, the movies from the Add Movies package will be included and accessible in DStv Catch Up on their decoder. 

These movies will however not at launch be available when watching through DStv Now, but this functionality will be implemented as part of ongoing additions.