Wednesday, February 24, 2021

TV NEWS ROUND-UP. Today's interesting TV reports and articles to read - 24 February 2021.

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

As subscription video-on-demand (SVOD) services have become all the rage in America and are damaging traditional pay-TV services, for many - especially smaller services - the real money is to be made internationally.

'A road to hell': South Africa's parliament told that a new TV tax on DStv and Netflix will make people more interested to watch SABC.

by Thinus Ferreira

The South African government's controversial plan for an expanded new TV tax described as "a road to hell" is gathering steam with claims that a law to force laptop and tablet owners as well as DStv, StarSat and Netflix subscribers to pay for the SABC will generate more money for the broadcaster and "will get people more interested in watching programmes of the SABC".

With only 24% - a falling percentage - of TV households still bothering to pay for a SABC TV Licence, the South Africa public broadcaster and the country's department of communications and digital technologies, are desperate to try and dig the struggling SABC out of its financial black hole through finding new additional income streams.

Part of the aggressive new plan contained in draft legislation from communications minister Stella Ndabeni-Abrahams, is to enlarge the fishing net of available SABC TV Licence revenue beyond the public broadcaster's own struggling collection fees division.

Changes to legislation would make private companies like pay-TV providers, as well as local and global video streaming services with a presence in South Africa, responsible for ensuring that their customers have a valid TV licence or to tack it on as a fee - whether those consumers watch the SABC or not.

Owners of tablets and laptops will also be forced to have and pay a SABC TV Licence whether they watch or consumer SABC content or not.

The initial inclusion of smartphones that was included in the plan as well has now been dropped from the Draft White Paper on Audio and Audio-Visual Content Services Policy Framework.

A grudge purchase
During an appearance of the SABC top executives and board as well as the department of communications before parliament's portfolio committee on communications on Tuesday and where the broadcaster shared details of its financial situation, it once again became clear how the vast majority of South Africans are going out of their way to avoid paying a SABC TV Licence.

A growing number of South Africans regard a must-buy SABC TV Licence as a once-off grudge purchase in order to buy a TV set. 

In 2019 the SABC had 401 321 new TV Licence holders who paid for one just to buy a TV set. Of them, only 68 093 bothered to pay for a first-time renewal when it was due after a year.

"This percentage of 17% of first-time SABC TV Licence renewals have been higher in the past, so clearly either the evasion rate or the attractiveness of the SABC's content did not speak to our audiences," Yolande van Biljon, SABC CFO told parliament.

Meanwhile, the SABC sits with a massive 76% SABC TV Licence "evasion rate" meaning that 76% of South African TV households that the public broadcaster are aware of and send a SABC TV Licence bill to, do not bother to pay their annual licence fee. 

Only 24% are still paying with the rate that keeps declining as the country's overall TV watching universe expands. 

Besides the SABC's TV Licence database there are millions more South African TV households with one or more TV sets that the SABC is not aware of and that don't have licences. 

There are also many millions more DStv and StarSat subscribers, as well as people with laptops and tablets, and a growing number of Netflix, Showmax and Amazon Prime Video subscribers.

'A road to hell'
On Tuesday Zandile Majozi, IFP MP, said "With the SABC draft bill moving for SABC TV Licence fees to the streaming services of Netflix - we support that. We believe it's a good strategy to begin with".

"It will generate more income for the public broadcaster and also it will get people more interested in watching programmes of the SABC".

Cameron MacKenzie, DA MP, warned that "we've seen a general public outcry at the minister's initiatives or ideas around collecting from Netflix and Showmax and MultiChoice and these other things of 'when you get a phone you must get a TV licence'."

"If you read the national mood, I think it will be very dangerous for any politician or any minister to go down in that direction - it really is a road to hell. I think we should stay well away from that," he said.

Pinky Kekana, the deputy minister of communications, said that "the industry is moving aggressively moving online and the SABC is trailing behind".

"The main goal is for us to declare the SABC as public service media. And once we do that, then it will be able to be competitive".

"If you look at the old TV1 which was predominantly English and Afrikaans, the old Springbok radio - they were well funded."

New 'public household levy' for the SABC 
She said that the South African government is looking at introducing a type of "public household levy that can assist the SABC to then have proper funding".

"We must initiate some of the discussions, mindful of what Cameron MacKenzie was saying. We can't fold our arms and say the status quo must remain when we know our public broadcaster is dwindling".

"These are the things that we should put in the public arena and look at whether government can fund the SABC directly from the fiscus or whether we can be creative in looking at the household levy".

Pinky Kekana said that "both from the department's side and from the SABC's side we're working very closely together to say, 'What are the options?' And these are not conclusive. Members can still look into some of those things, and indeed even when the amendments to the audio and audio-visual white paper engagement takes place".

Tuesday, February 23, 2021

TV NEWS ROUND-UP. Today's interesting TV stories to read - 23 February 2021.

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


"The TV news business is stacked with talented **holes". 

Zambezi Magic’s Date My Family Botswana producer, Onkabetse Reikeletseng, on his journey in filmmaking.

As the last of the new global streaming services to launch Paramount+ will have a mountain to climb.

Bye, bye to The Bold and the Beautiful – again – as AMC Networks International's repeat-padded EVA telenovela channel gets axed after 5 years on MultiChoice's DStv and GOtv.

by Thinus Ferreira

After months of repeats the EVA channel from AMC Networks International is the next TV channel getting axed from MultiChoice with the American daytime soap The Bold and the Bold that is getting ripped away from South African TV viewers for a second time when the telenovela channel will go dark in March after 5 years.

DStv subscribers – who have asked about the channels' schedules that became filled with unending rebroadcasts over the last few months – have now been told that EVA, as well as EVA+, will both terminate and disappear from MultiChoice's DStv and GOtv pay-TV service across Africa on Monday 22 March because MultiChoice "no longer has airing rights". 

For the past few months, all of the telenovelas on EVA has been repeats except for The Bold and the Beautiful, produced by Bell-Phillip Television Productions, that remained as the sole original daily episode on the schedule.

Viewers in South Africa and across sub-Saharan Africa will now lose The Bold and the Beautiful – that recently broadcast its 8 000th episode in Africa – for a second time after SABC3 abruptly ended it in March 2019 after which they had to switch to EVA to watch it on linear television.

AMCNI launched the EVA (DStv 141) channel in March 2015 with Latin American telenovelas dubbed into English and into Portuguese on DStv channel 508 as a competitor to NBCUniversal's Telemundo. 

In November 2016 EVA+, as a sister channel, launched on DStv and GOtv, with AMC Networks International saying at the time that with the channels it aims to "satisfy the African audience’s growing appetite for telenovelas" with a crop of "hand-picked, high-quality serial dramas".

In the latter part of 2020 both EVA and EVA+  – similar to the FOX Life and Disney XD channels before they got culled – suddenly stopped adding new content except for the daily Bold and the Beautiful episode.

Viewers quickly noticed that the EVA and EVA+ schedules became padded with the rebroadcasting and repeating of telenovelas that DStv and GOtv subscribers had already seen.

AMCNI in response to a media enquiry says that "After discussion with DStv, we have decided to no longer offer EVA/EVA+ in Africa".

"We’re focused on optimising our portfolio across the region, and these changes are related to that ongoing review. This does not affect other services in our portfolio, including CBS Justice, the newest channel in our portfolio which launched exclusively with DStv in November 2019, in addition to CBS Reality and JimJam which are available to DStv and other operators throughout Africa."

MultiChoice spokesperson Sbu Mpungose in response to a media enquiry confirmed the axing of EVA and EVA+, saying that "from time to time, MultiChoice together with 3rd party channel owners reviews the channels available on the DStv platform which may result in the addition or removal of channels".

"For this reason, EVA and EVA+ will no longer be available on the DStv platform from 22 March 2021. Viewers will, however, be able to continue to view our recently introduced favourite channels such as TLnovelas (DStv 133) and the HONEY channel (DStv 173)."

Asked about what will be happening to the schedule and shows that have not completed the run of their episodes by 22 March, for instance Mujercitas (Little Women) that would only conclude on 13 April, Sbu Mpungose said that "almost all of the series which are currently on EVA and EVA+ are reruns".

Monday, February 22, 2021

TV NEWS ROUND-UP. Today's interesting TV stories to read - 22 February 2021.

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


It's 2021. After MultiChoice's latest price hike has DStv become too expensive? A TV expert unpacks the questions that you should actually be asking.

by Thinus Ferreira

After MultiChoice announced it's latest price hike that will start April 2021 has DStv become too expensive? What is DStv doing wrong and right? And is it offering value for money? I asked a TV expert to help you to decide.

MultiChoice has announced its annual DStv price hike for 2021 that will come into effect from April 2021 with Simon Camerer, MultiChoice Group chief operating officer (COO), who said that MultiChoice is doing 2021 price increases below inflation and that "on a weighted average basis, you're looking at a 2.4% increase".

However, it has since also come to light that DStv's most loyal subscribers - legacy M-Net subscribers  - are getting a massive 11.49% price hike from April 2021 - far larger than inflation. 

From April DStv Premium subscribers will pay R829, DStv Compact Plus will pay R539, DStv Compact will cost R409, DStv Family subscribers will pay R295, and DStv Access will increase to R115. 

The DStv Access fee increases to R105 and a DStv BoxOffice rentals will now cost R40.

With DStv Premium costing R829 per month from April, it's now possible for video content consumers to build their own "connected-home home-made" TV bundle that would actually be cheaper.

In South Africa a DStv Premium subscriber can - for the same amount of money and with change left for some popcorn - now get an Openserve uncapped 10 Mbps fibre line from an internet service provider (ISP) like Telkom for R399 per month, and subscribe to Netflix South Africa (R99), Amazon Prime Video (R88.39), Showmax (R99) and even Apple TV+ (R85) for a combined bundle-cost of R770.39.

Is MultiChoice therefore pricing itself out of the market? Has DStv become too expensive? What is the Randburg-based pay-TV operator doing wrong and what is DStv doing right? 

TVwithThinus asked the TV expert Tashi Tagg, editor of TVSA, these questions and for some insight to help South African consumers navigate the increasingly tricky and treacherous pay-TV and video streaming service waters.

So, first up, the popular question-statement heard around the braai and dinner tables: Has DStv become too expensive?

"What's affordable for some is not affordable for others, what's expensive for some is not expensive for others? So, the idea of saying 'DStv, is it too expensive' - what are you comparing it to?" says Tashi.

"People have to pay for their entertainment just like you have to pay for anything else - you have to. And it's very important for the entertainment industry that people do pay."

"So this idea of 'what is too expensive' is a question that is actually impossible to answer as an individual because it really does depend on your individual budget and also what it is that someone wants to get out of their entertainment."

"You can't just say 'oh that is too expensive'. In our current economic climate in South Africa everything is expensive! In terms of the DStv Premium price, the right and better question to ask is: 'Are you getting enough from your pay-TV subscription that keeps you happy?" says Tashi Tagg.

"Have you got enough to watch? Is your PVR full? Do you want sports? Is it the case that you can't watch what you get on DStv anywhere else? Then no, it's not expensive. If you find that there's nothing on DStv, well then it's a waste of money."

Time to reinvent DStv packages
Asked for what she thinks MultiChoice is doing wrong, Tashi says "I've always thought that this multiple division of various DStv packages is a problem for numerous reasons".

"Number one, it's confusing. Number two, when people sign up for a specific DStv package they're never sure if MultiChoice and M-Net will keep a show on the channels available on that package or not."

"Number three, if you don't have DStv Premium you always feel like you're missing out on something which isn't nice because you don't want to be paying and be left feeling like you don't have everything."

"An example of this is like what happened with The Real Housewives of Durban recently that M-Net first announced as coming to 1Magic and then the announcement a week later that it's now only on Showmax for which you need to pay for data to watch it."

"I think this constant changing of shows from package to package, channel to channel, and the multiple packages - I think it is time to reinvent that," she says. "For me, the position would be to really simplify the DStv packages."

"MultiChoice needs to make a general entertainment package, and then a sports add-on," she suggests.

"So you pay the big bucks if you want that SuperSport and ESPN sports, and everybody pays the same for the entertainment package. That way everybody wins because it means that everybody can watch the shows on DStv."

"In this day and age of social media where some people are watching one season of a show on one channel, and some people are watching another older season on another channel and now you're all talking about it - it doesn't fit."

"The way in which the packages are structured is what MultiChoice is doing wrong - it could be overhauled to be made much simpler products," Tashi says.

"Just look at what happens when higher-tiered TV channels are made available for a specific period to lower packages like DStv Family or whatever - I mean the ratings soar. There's like a boom in DStv viewership and it just makes for a very exciting environment when those numbers come out and there are so many more DStv subscribers watching the same content together at the same time".

PVR perfection 
About what's good about MultiChoice and what DStv is doing right, Tashi Tagg says that the personal video recorder (PVR) is "really good".

"It's good, it's good - the ability to record, the fact that you don't need to have any internet for it, the fact that you have the advantage of linear TV watching and that you can watch as you want".

She also says that "DStv Catch Up is great - the fact that you can watch on-demand content on any device if you do want to use your data to watch - that's good. I think that that technology is really unique and really very valuable. For a real TV lover it's really, really valuable". 

TVwithThinus did an interview request and asked MultiChoice if it is possible to talk to Simon Camerer about DStv's latest price increases after he did interviews with three media outlets about the latest round of price hikes. 

Benedict Maaga, MultiChoice spokesperson said that Simon Camerer is unfortunately not available at this time for an interview.

Saturday, February 20, 2021

The men's lifestyle magazine show The Man Cave from Cheeky Media switches to M-Net for a new season, adds Jonathan Boyton-Lee as presenter: 'The cool thing is that it's a lot freer than other shows'.

by Thinus Ferreira

The South African lifestyle magazine show The Man Cave is making a return to television and is shifting from SABC3 to M-Net (DStv 101) on Saturdays at 21:30, starting tonight on 20 February and adding Jonathan Boynton-Lee as one of the presenters.

The lifestyle magazine show catering to a male South African audience, although women can watch too, has an initial 10-episode order. The show is still produced, like before, by Cheeky Media but this time for M-Net.

The presenters are Siv Ngesi, comedian Jason Goliath and the radio jock and petrol-head Warrick Stock who have all been involved with The Man Cave before, with the former Top Billing presenter, Jonathan Boynton-Lee who has also made inroads as a producer and actor the past few years, joining The Man Cave from this season as one of the presenters.

M-Net says that The Man Cave will entertain "with its action-packed line-up of competitive challenges, adventures, casual conversations, engagements with local heroes and sporting stars, bucket-list adventures, supercars and classic rides".

In the new season, The Man Cave presenters will also look at specific societal issues, explore South Africa and its people, discover "the mythical bond" between man and machine, and also host casual, non-scripted conversations with top South African personalities.

Speaking about how his involvement with the new season of The Man Cave came about, Jonathan Boynton-Lee tells TVwithThinus that "with a lot of the presenters on the show I do a lot of shooting with - Siv Ngesi is one of them - we do a lot of content creation together, and we've done a lot of shows together".

"The executive producer Yusuf Stevens is also a partner of mine in production, so we've been trying to put it together for quite a while, and I've been a guest on the show before. This season they've approached me and asked me to be part of the show".

Being back on-screen and presenting within the television magazine format, Jonathan Boynton-Lee says that "every show is different - even magazine shows - they've all got different kinds of styles. Even reality TV we know is scripted a little bit where you can play a bit of a character but you can also be yourself".

"I think that the cool thing about The Man Cave is that it's a lot freer than other shows."

"What you see is what you get. We're all having a good jol on TV and we're just enjoying ourselves and being ourselves as well. I find with The Man Cave it's much less scripted. There's pretty much no script and we just go with it - which I love. The immediacy of it is really, really cool and makes for good television".

As to who gets to do what inserts, who tackles which topics or who does certain profile interviews, Jonathan Boynton-Lee says that "obviously it's a lot to do with availability because a lot of us are busy with several other projects, so availability is a big thing".

"It's also always nice to co-present because you work off of the energy of other presenters and we all got such different energies that all work together, so it's lovely to always present with someone else."

"It's normally got to do with availability and also the suitability of the insert. Jason Goliath is really good with interviews and he does all of the celebrity interviews in The Man Cave."

"Siv and I are very competitive, so all the sporting stuff and competing against each other and adventure stuff we do that, and Warras also has got his own strengths - we all got our own strengths that we pair with the different inserts."

"Obviously we also do a lot of things together, like tonight's debut episode of The Man Cave on M-Net will be all of us together competing on a Survivor type challenge with Survivor SA host Nico Panagio."

Besides his on-screen presenting and acting work in TV and film, Jonathan Boynton-Lee is also a producer and has likewise been impacted by the continuing Covid-19 global pandemic that has caused havoc in South Africa's TV and film industry.

"The impact has been massive. All the big productions came to a grinding halt in the beginning. I've been on a lot of sets that have been shut down because someone came had come into contact with someone who was Covid-positive and then the whole production has to shut down."

"Also obviously the whole way we shoot things now is very different, with masks and social distancing and other protocols."

"It's a very difficult adjustment but it's something you have to get used to. I'm not a fan of the online space but I appreciate the online space - Zoom and all of that stuff - but nothing beats the collaborative effort of filmmaking and doing it with crews and casts in the flesh."

"So Covid's had a huge impact - especially the performance industry - performers are really struggling," he says.

Earlier this month Jonathan Boynton-Lee and Siv Ngesi headed to KwaZulu-Natal for a 2-day trip hostel by the province's tourism promotion body to show how visitors can travel and enjoy the sights and sounds of the province safely amidst the pandemic.

"That was the first kind of proper - it wasn't so much a holiday because we were actually doing work promoting KZN Tourism - and we're working on a travel show with them which we're going to be doing as well because we love KwaZulu-Natal as a destination," Jonathan says.

"And in regards to travelling during Covid-19 it was almost like being back to normal. You know, people wear their masks, they use sanitiser, wash their hands, and keep their distance."

"We weren't in very crowded places - the beaches are quite empty and the hotels are very, very good with following protocol, so it almost felt as if everything's back to normal, which is very cool".

About his production company Half Man Half Amazing Productions, Jonathan Boynton-Lee says that one of the challenges has been that he and Siv Ngesi have been so busy working on other productions that they haven't had as much time as they would want to have to focus on producing their own content yet.

"You know, we always get swept up in other people's shows! So it's a time thing," he says.

"We've got a movie in the works that we're developing and that's really exciting - a big, 'Tarantino dark comedy'-inspired type of film."

"Then we've got the travel show with KZN Tourism that we're working on, and then another show that revolves around fulfilling people's dreams - their bucket lists - so we have several exciting stuff in the works and we need to pick the right project to launch with," Jonathan says.

A new season of The Man Cave starts on M-Net (DStv 101), Saturday 20 February 2021 at 21:30.

Thursday, February 18, 2021

Meet the next 4 men introduced in The Bachelorette SA on M-Net bringing the total to 19 guys vying for the attention of Qiniso Van Damme.

by Thinus Ferreira

During the second episode of the first season of The Bachelorette SA on Thursday night on M-Net, the identities of a further 4 men vying for the affection of Qiniso Van Damme were revealed, bringing the total to 19 men.

M-Net (DStv 101) released the identities of the first 5 men last month, with another 10 men who got introduced during The Bachelorette SA's debut episode. Now another 4 were added to the mix.

The localised version of the reality love format of Warner Bros. International Television Production (WBITVP) is produced by Rapid Blue.

The next 4 men who were introduced in Thursday night's episode and who climbed out of a white Hummer limo are:

Cameron Scott (25), Johannesburg
Height: 1.83m
Cameron is described as "a multi-disciplinary filmmaker - primarily an actor with experience in producing, writing and directing".

He runs a production company with his friend and business partner Kagiso Rabada. Later this year they will debut their first story called Beast and launch a podcast platform called Zapcast. 

Cameron describes himself as "a modern man who immediately sucks you in with his cheeky charm and imagination". He says he's a straight shooter who knows exactly what he wants and won't allow anything to stop him.

Cameron is described as "open and communicative" as well as "low-maintenance, talkative and a real guy".

Craig Khumalo (31), Johannesburg
Height: 1.68m
Craig was born in Addington hospital in Durban where he completed his primary school years and then moved to Newcastle where he finished his matric.

His family roots come from KwaHlabisa in Northern KwaZulu-Natal. He graduated from GIBS in Social Entrepreneurship in 2020. The objective is about helping learners with learning disabilities reach optimal development.
Craig studied Child and Youth Development at the Durban University of Technology and enjoys swimming, gardening, taking walks and playing basketball, as well as doing things that impact the youth positively through skills development.

Craig owns a social enterprise called Sizo Social Solutions which focuses on empowering young people through hands-on education. he says that he "hates people who disrespect elders most and hypocrites with no backbone".

Gareth Ehret (27), Stellenbosch
Height: 1.88m
Gareth says that he "thrives on adventure and loves making fun out of life".

He says that he has "quiet confidence as well as a wonderful sensitive side" and is "determined, ambitious and enjoys the beauty of a healthy lifestyle".

Gareth works in digital marketing whilst also coaching people on how to live responsibly with body and mind and he believes a good balance in life is crucial.
After graduating from the University of Cape Town (UCT) and Stellenbosch University, he spent a few years abroad. Now, after his travels he is content with pursuing a life back home, no longer seeking a solo adventure but now seeking a partner to journey through life with.

Gareth says that he is "sexy, confident and very competitive and considers his sense of humour unusual".

He has a strong creative streak and loves writing and is open to the process and excited to see where this journey leads.

Gregory Barkhuizen (28), Houtbay, Cape Town
Height: 1.81m
Greg was born and lived in Johannesburg for most of his primary school years. 

After that, his family moved to Port Elizabeth for a few years and then Cape Town which has been his home for the past 7 years.

He is a barman, part-time hardcore guitarist, freelance scuba diver and also enjoys old school motorbikes. He describes himself as "a gentle soul but is still figuring out where he will be in the next few years".

He aspires to be a self-sustained individual and says that he has "never been in love, except for a teen romance in high school". He says that "up until recently, he has been selfishly focusing on himself and now he is ready to look for love".

Greedy MultiChoice 'doesn't get it' that DStv has become too expensive says independent analyst.

by Thinus Ferreira

A greedy MultiChoice "doesn't get it" that the prices and incredible price hikes of the pay-TV operator's DStv and GOtv services have become too expensive for consumers.

So says the Chris Gilmour, an independent analyst during an interview this week on Stock Watch on Business Day TV (DStv 412), answering viewers' questions like MultiChoice's ongoing price hikes.

MultiChoice confirmed its annual DStv price hike for 2021 last week. 

After Simon Camerer, MultiChoice Group chief operating officer (COO), said that MultiChoice is doing 2021 price increases below inflation and that "on a weighted average basis, you're looking at a 2.4% increase", it has also come to light that DStv's most loyal subscribers - legacy M-Net subscribers  - are getting a massive 11.49% price hike from April 2021 - far larger than inflation.

While more and more global and local subscription video-on-demand (SVOD) services like Netflix SA, Amazon Prime Video, and Apple TV+ are taking an ever-growing bite out of the discretionary spending that consumers are channelling to video services, MultiChoice that also has its own Showmax streaming service, keeps raising DStv prices.

This had led to ongoing declines in especially the percentage of MultiChoice's DStv Premium subscribers who no longer see the expensive price of this top-tier bouquet as offering enough value as they switch to the internet and alternatives like Netflix.

Chris Gilmour says that MultiChoice is "frankly a rapacious bunch and their price increases are just incredible and until very recently they were getting away with it".

"They don't seem to quite get it. At the end of the day there's a price for everything but as the old expression goes, 'When the ducks are quacking you've got to feed them and I think they'll be quacking for a wee while yet".

About MultiChoice's new partnership with streamers of which Netflix and Amazon Prime Video have already been added and made available through MultiChoice's latest DStv Explora Ultra decoder, Chris Gilmour says "I'd be very surprised if that works out in the longer term".

He says MultiChoice has "done a few good innovative things and they have to keep on innovating because at the end of the day it's content that is king".

Joseph Buscher from JM Boucher Investments said that "MultiChoice had a captive market in Africa, they had the boxes in most homes".

"When they brought in Big Brother and soccer certainly it has taken them into the rest of the continent. I think that Netflix and some of the online services are going to bring a lot of price pressure in terms of margins."

"If they tie up [SVOD players], they will be able to increase a little bit of their margins. With 5G and broadband going into homes MultiChoice must be very, very innovative".

Last week TVwithThinus also asked MultiChoice, and again this week, if it is possible to talk to Simon Camerer about DStv's latest price increases after he did interviews with three media outlets about the latest round of DStv price increases.

Benedict Maaga on Monday said that Simon Camerer is unfortunately not available at this time for an interview.

'Fleeced' loyal legacy M-Net subscribers angry at MultiChoice's shocking 11.49% price hike for M-Net GOtv from April 2021: 'This increase in these Covid-19 times is outrageous'.

by Thinus Ferreira 

MultiChoice has shocked decades-long loyal M-Net viewers who are upset and confused after they're getting hit with an 11.49% annual increase from April 2021 that will see their monthly DStv bill skyrocket from R435 to R485 per month.

MultiChoice confirmed its annual DStv price hike for 2021 last week. 

In the numbers of its 2021 DStv price increase that it released to the media MultiChoice excluded any mention of the steep hike that legacy M-Net subscribers - who still exist and who pay their monthy subscription fees - will have to fork out from April.

M-Net subscribers and their 11.49% subscription fee shock come after Simon Camerer, MultiChoice Group chief operating officer (COO), said that MultiChoice is doing 2021 price increases below inflation and that "on a weighted average basis, you're looking at a 2.4% increase".

It's unclear if MultiChoice's 11.49% price hike for legacy M-Net subscribers is part of the price increase basket that MultiChoice used to calculate the 2.4% weighted average increase.

A few years ago legacy M-Net analogue TV viewers and subscribers were folded into the wider MultiChoice pay-TV system. 

At the time, as part of South Africa's digital TV migration process and switch to digital terrestrial television (DTT), their analogue M-Net decoders and M-Net subscription got replaced by an M-Net GOtv subscription.

New and current DStv subscribers can no longer subscribe to this M-Net GOtv package but original M-Net subscribers who were migrated during DStv's DTT switch were and are allowed to keep it if they don't cancel outright or change to an existing DStv package. 

These viewers, mostly older subscribers, still get just the M-Net channel, stacked with its premium HBO, Showtime and leading Hollywood studios content, and a so-called "community channel" that is essentially a SuperSport channel.

This customised SuperSport channel version is a repackaged with specifically rugby and cricket content as the main focus.

These legacy M-Net subscribers, now hit with an 11% increase, are regarded as being MultiChoice's most loyal subscribers.

They are pay-TV viewers who started watching and supporting M-Net with their money decades ago and who decided to stick with the specific brand when it was still a small Randburg-based company while the revenue derived from their subscription fees fuelled the ongoing evolution of the wider MultiChoice Group into what it is today.

'Why singled out to carry the heaviese increase burden?'
"I am disgusted by the attitude MultiChoice and M-Net has to its loyal customers, wanting to fleece them in these dreadful economic times," says Jenny Berk who together with her mom Jill have been legacy M-Net subscribers in South Africa for decades.

Jenny and her mom are part of the existing group of pay-TV consumers that MultiChoice switched a few years ago to become M-Net GOtv subscribers.

"An increase similar to the consumer price index (CPI) is fine - but 10% in these Covid-19 times is outrageous," says Jenny. 

"I suspect that this is a not so subtle attempt to force us into another package."

"However, they ignore the fact that people on these kinds of packages have been customers of theirs for a substantial amount of time - more than 30 years in our case."

"The increase of more than 10% is way more than that given to other subscribers. Why would that be? Why should we be singled out to carry the heaviest increase burden?"

Last week and again this week TVwithThinus asked Benedict Maaga, MultiChoice's senior manager for corporate communications; Sbu Mpungose, MultiChoice's senior manager for PR and brand engagement; as well as Aprio the PR company used by MultiChoice, all for comment on the issue and why M-Net GOtv subscribers are getting a 11.49% increase in 2021.

By the time of publication of this article there was no response to the media enquiry.

MultiChoice's webpage for GOtv South Africa is broken with parts that doesn't work.

Last week TVwithThinus also asked MultiChoice, and again this week, if it is possible to talk to Simon Camerer about DStv's latest price increases after he did interviews with three media outlets about the price increase and in those interviews said that MultiChoice is doing its 2021 price increases below inflation.

Wednesday, February 17, 2021

Disney remains silent over why Africa remains ostracised from its Disney+ streaming service, touts its 'regional commitment' to the UK and Europe whilst ignoring the A in its EMEA region.

by Thinus Ferreira

You can buy a fast fashion T-shirt for R99.99 adorned with a Baby Yoda print from The Mandalorian on Disney+ from your local Pick n Pay Clothing store - just don't ask or expect Disney to actually answer why you can't get Disney+ in South Africa, or when its video streaming service that remains non-existent might launch in Africa. 

The Walt Disney Company on Wednesday chose to continue its self-imposed silence about why Africa remains conspicuously absent from the global rollout plans of its Disney+ and Star video streaming service that is now accessible by consumers in countries across the globe except for the African continent.

Neither The Walt Disney Company, Walt Disney Company Africa, or executives for The Walt Disney Europe, Middle East and Africa (EMEA) region have said a word or have felt the need to give any information or explanation as to the absence of Disney+ since its announcement and waves of regionalised launches of its streaming service.

While South African consumers and citizens across Africa have access to the internet, have access to smartphones and apps, and while Disney is aggressively and bizarrely pushing merchandise and branded clothing in Africa for Disney+ shows like The Mandalorian that people can't actually legally watch, Mouse House execs are continuing their stony silence on why the video streamer isn't available in Africa.

On Wednesday Disney execs once again chose to ignore the elephant marked "A" on the map and in the room when Africa wasn't mentioned once in Disney's virtual press event with journalists from the United Kingdom including Europe.

Disney executives - including Jan Koeppen, president of The Walt Disney Company EMEA; Liam Keelan, Disney EMEA's vice president of original productions; and Luke Bradley-Jones, senior vice president of direct-to-consumer and general manager for Disney+ EMEA - on Wednesday held an in-studio done, virtual presentation for the media. 

They touted the expanding Disney+ rollout across Europe, the tie-in rollout of Star from 23 February in Europe and further international territories, Disney's slate of Europe Disney+ Originals, as well as plans to announce British Disney+ Originals soon.

And Africa? They just get to wear the Baby Yoda branded T-shirts, Mando.

Jan Koeppen said that Star - as the 6th branded tile within the Disney+ service and essentially the global version of America's Hulu streamer - will make Disney+ even "bigger, bolder and even more exciting" when it gets added to the existing 5 tiles of Disney, Pixar, Marvel, Star Wars and National Geographic.

This "bigger, bolder and even more exciting" claim is, of course, irrelevant to consumers in South Africa and across the wider African continent who don't even have Disney+ and can't watch The Mandalorian but got the T-shirt.  

With the addition of Star to Disney+, Disney is hiking the subscription fee in Europe, and comparable TV markets to South Africa like the United Kingdom, Canada, Australia and New Zealand that all already have access to Disney+.

These countries are getting Star added in from 23 February with Latin America will get Star in June.

Star as the "adult" entertainment section of Disney+ is stacked with self-produced and owned content from Disney Television Studios, Touchstone, ABC and Searchlight Pictures, as well as the rebranded banner brands and their content from 20th Century Studios, 20th Television and FX after Disney bought 21st Century Fox in 2019.

Yesterday Disney announced the slate of its first 10 Disney+ Original commissions from out of Europe. Of course with Disney+ nowhere on the map in Africa, the idea of new productions commissioned out of Africa for the streamer is an even bigger hakuna matata.

Disney is set to announce Disney+ Originals done from the United Kingdom soon.

Liam Keelan said that Disney's European commissions for Disney+ "underscores Disney's regional commitment to outstanding and diverse talent, reflecting our desire to work with the very best storytellers in the industry". 

Absent on Wednesday was any utterances from Liam Keelan about any regional commitments in relation to anything to do with Africa where pay-TV subscribers recently lost the Disney XD and FOX Life TV channels.

Besides Disney+, global streaming services still to possibly launch in South Africa are Discovery Inc.'s Discovery+, WarnerMedia's HBO Max, ViacomCBS' Paramount+, NBCUniversal's Peacock and the BBC and ITV's BritBox that will launch within a few months in South Africa.

Already aggressively competing in South Africa are Netflix SA, Amazon Prime Video and MultiChoice's Showmax that are all available through MultiChoice's latest DStv Explora Ultra decoder, as well as Apple TV+.

After evading proper capture and broadcast on M-Net and MultiChoice's DStv Catch Up service the British crime thriller The Capture is getting another run on Showmax.

by Thinus Ferreira

After a botched capture and playout on both M-Net (DStv 101) and MultiChoice's DStv Catch Up service that kept embarrassing both M-Net and MultiChoice with every week's bizarrely shown episode, The Capture is getting another chance on Showmax.

Following a disastrous and utterly confusing run on M-Net and DStv Catch Up where mixed-up episodes from two different versions of The Capture got mangled much to DStv subscribers' frustration, the British crime thriller is now getting another chance on Showmax.

The 6-episode series is now available on Showmax.

On Wednesday Showmax was asked for any comment as to whether it is sure that its version of The Capture is correct and free from the mistake-riddled "versions" that marred the M-Net and DStv Catch Up run, but the video streaming service declined to comment.

This modern-day conspiracy thriller stars Holliday Grainger, Ron Perlman and Famke Janssen, with Callum Turner in the role of former Special Forces Lance Corporal Shaun Emery, who’s accused of assaulting and kidnapping human rights barrister Hannah Roberts.

There exists CCTV footage to prove the crime but as Detective Inspector Rachel Carey of Homicide and Serious Crime Command digs deeper, she begins to uncover a conspiracy that calls everything about the case into question.

CNN shakes up on-air talent with schedule changes from April, Brianna Keilar replacing Alisyn Camerota as New Day co-anchor who moves later and Brooke Baldwin leaving CNN after 13 years.

by Thinus Ferreira

CNN is shaking up its schedule from April, with on-air anchor changes and implications for its worldwide CNN International (DStv 401) channel that over the past year increasingly dropped the hours of coverage that it devoted to international coverage to simulcast the CNN "domestic" version from America.

Jeff Zucker, CNN Worldwide president, who will be leaving CNN at the end of 2021, announced the scheduling changes at the WarnerMedia TV news channel on Wednesday.

Viewers in South Africa and across Africa who have seen John Berman and Alisyn Camerota co-anchoring New Day between 13:00 and 15:30, will now see Brianna Keilar replacing Alisyn Camerota after 6 years who is moving to a later timeslot during the day.

Alisyn Camerota will move to 21:00 (South African time) where South African viewers have seen Brooke Baldwin when CNN International switched to the CNN domestic US feed. 

Brooke Baldwin announced on Tuesday that she is leaving CNN after 13 years in mid-April and doesn't have another job.

Jim Acosta, who had been CNN’s chief White House correspondent will be anchoring 3 hours on CNN on Saturdays and Sundays.

Laura Jarrett and Christine Romans will continue to anchor Early Start on CNN that South Africans see on CNN International between 12:00 and 13:00 on weekdays.

Marc Lamont Hill is the new presenter of Al Jazeera's weekly current affairs show Upfront.

by Thinus Ferreira

Marc Lamont Hill is the new presenter of the weekly current affairs show Upfront on Al Jazeera (DStv 406 / StarSat 257).

The new season of the Washington-based Upfront started on Friday 12 February and has a new episode weekly on Friday nights at 21:30 (South African time); with repeats on Saturdays (04:20), Sundays (06:30)and on Mondays (01:30 and 10:30).

Upfront features one-on-one interviews and discussions with international politicians, newsmakers, academics and activists.

"I’m thrilled to have Marc bringing depth, analysis and his particular take on the events shaping our times. He is made for this moment," says Salah A A Khadr, Al Jazeera's head of talk shows.

"I’m thankful for this opportunity to host such an outstanding show," says Marc Lamont Hill. "I’m eager to build on its success in holding power to account, as well as bringing diverse and provocative voices to the table on topics that are important to global viewers."