Sunday, October 31, 2021

CORONAVIRUS. MultiChoice implements mandatory Covid-19 vaccination policy, vaccinations now compulsory for all staffers and agents, as pay-TV operator orders staff back to the office by February 2022.

by Thinus Ferreira

MultiChoice has become the first large company within South Africa's film and TV industry to make Covid-19 vaccinations compulsory for all its staffers and agents, and is also ordering all staff to return to work from the office by February 2022 under a mandatory vaccine policy.

Last month TVwithThinus asked MultiChoice for instance running DStv, Showmax and the M-Net division; Media Holdings for instance running, eNCA, Openview and Sasani Studios; as well as the South African public broadcaster running the various SABC TV channels like SABC News, whether they would also follow the lead of companies like health Discovery Health, Netflix that made Covid-19 vaccinations mandatory for staff and productions.

MultiChoice, Media and the SABC didn't bother to respond to the media queries, and Netflix South Africa told TVwithThinus last month that it declines to comment.

Now MultiChoice Calvo Mawela in an internal memo is ordering all MultiChoice staffers to be and get Covid-19 vaccinated by 1 February 2022, and to return to the office.

"All MultiChoice South Africa employees and contractors will return to the office on 1 February 2022 on a rotational basis should the regulation still only permit 50% occupation. However, if the regulations permit 100% occupation, all employees will be required to report for duty as per their letters of appointment," Calvo Mawela told MultiChoice staffers.

"All parties must provide MultiChoice with proof of being fully vaccinated in the form of the official vaccine certificate issued by no later than 20 January 2022 to facilitate orderly and timely access to MultiChoice premises, starting on 1 February 2022."

Neither agents, contractors or any service providers will be allowed to enter or get access to any MultiChoice premises if they're not vaccinated by February 2022.

"A mandatory vaccine policy has become necessary for the full functioning of our business, and as such, all employees and service providers are expected to comply."

Calvo Mawela tells MultiChoice staffers that "People who are vaccinated are three times less likely to infect others and are also exponentially less likely to become extremely ill".

It's not immediately clear how MultiChoice's new mandatory vaccination policy will impact third-party providers and production companies who are technically service providers to DStv and M-Net, although it's very likely that the requirement of mandatory Covid-19 vaccinations will filter down to individual content channels and creators. 

Besides a staffer for instance working at the reception desk at MultiChoice's MultiChoice City headquarters in Randburg, it's logical to deduce that companies like producers and TV channels with a local content production footprint who are service providers to DStv and M-Net will be compelled to ensure that their casts and crews are now getting Covid-19 jabbed.

It will likely mean that staff working at eNCA or Newzroom Africa for instance, or the production crew on a show like Rapid Blue's Come Dine with Me South Africa for BBC Studios Africa's BBC Lifestyle (DStv 174) channel or Stark Productions' Binnelanders done for kykNET (DStv 144), will have to show proof of a Covid-19 vaccination, similar to what Netflix is demanding in the United States and in Europe, since they are service providers.

While MultiChoice has said it is following strict Covid-19 safety protocols on-set for its various M-Net, Mzansi Magic, Africa Magic and kykNET productions in South Africa and across sub-Saharan Africa, and that it supports the South African government's Covid-19 vaccination drive, MultiChoice has in reality been extremely lax in its cavalier approach and safety protocols.

Over the past few months, and still ongoing, MultiChoice has shown DStv subscribers numerous times that it doesn't practically adhere to Covid-19 safety rules on sets like mask wearing or proper social distancing, and also not during in-person media interactions (see here) (and here) (and here) with press in South Africa and across the African continent.

Saturday, October 30, 2021

Tell-all book of The Bachelor SA star Lee Thompson delayed again, cites legal issues over shocking revelations, claims he was offered over R1 million not to publish it.

by Thinus Ferreira

The former star of the first season of The Bachelor South Africa, Lee Thompson, says his tell-all book, The Truth Behind the Rose has yet again not been published as promised after a second delay, this time due to legal issues over some of the revelations in the book, and he claims that he has been offered over R1 million not to publish it.

Lee Thompson originally said that The Truth Behind the Rose would be published in April 2021. 

This didn't happen and in a new announcement Lee Thompson said his tell-all book would be published in October 2021.

In his book Lee Thompson details his harrowing experiences and alleged manipulation by producers behind-the-scenes of the reality series, and what happened to him following the conclusion of the show.

The Bachelor SA was produced by Rapid Blue for MultiChoice's M-Net (DStv 101) channel, as a localised version of the dating show format of Warner Bros. International Television Production (WBITVP).

Lee Thompson says that in The Truth Behind the Rose he will reveal the unvarnished harsh reality of the "deception, manipulation and lies" of The Bachelor SA and the destructive emotional and psychological impact it has had on his life.

M-Net and the Rapid Blue chose Lee Thompson as South Africa's first bachelor in 2018 for the first season of The Bachelor SA in 2019 that didn't end in a successful relationship.

Earlier this year, Lee Thompson told TVwithThinus that his tell-all book "'It will be everything that happened that nobody knows but everyone wants to hear".

He said that his book will contain "stuff that's going to be calling out a lot of people and sharing the truth and showing what they can do and what's wrong and I want people to know the truth."

In a new Instagram posting, Lee Thompson now shares that "I've had a few legal matters to deal with regarding some information I've shared in the book which is the reason for the delay. The new launch date will be this November,".

He also claims that he had been offered over R1 million - a "7-figure" amount not to release The Truth Behind the Rose.

"Turning down a 7-figure offer from the guys at the top to have me not release my book to the public wasn't easy but it will be worth it."

Friday, October 29, 2021

eMedia's Openview in South Africa and StarTimes in Kenya adding ZEE's Zee One channel from November.

by Thinus Ferreira

eMedia's Openview satellite service will add the Zee One channel from Zee Entertainment Enterprises from 1 November on channel 111, with China's StarTimes that is also adding Zee One in Kenya from the same date.

The addition of Zee One comes after Openview abruptly removed the Glow TV channel from NisMedia earlier this month without any explanation.

That was followed by a Gauteng court case in which eMedia was ordered to immediately reinstate Glow TV on Openview with the acrimonious channel carriage conflict between eMedia and NisMedia moved to ongoing arbitration.

According to insiders, Openview and NisMedia allegedly had a disagreement regarding a separate advertising sales contract that Openview wanted to introduce for Glow TV that NisMedia refused to sign.

Various Zee channels are already carried on the satellite pay-TV services of MultiChoice's DStv and China's StarTimes, operating as StarSat in South Africa, across sub-Saharan Africa.

Somnath Malakar, Zee CEO for Africa and Indian Ocean Islands, in a prepared statement about the addition of Zee One says: "The corporate positioning of Extraordinary Together – with a vision to provide a unified brand experience and to delight consumers across the world by creating extraordinary entertainment and experiences that inspire to transcend the ordinary and become extraordinary. This is a driving force that enables us to bring authentic and entertaining content to global audiences".

Asked what happened to Hamish Goyal, CEO of Zee Africa and Asia Pacific, who led the territory, Zee Africa told TVwithThinus on Friday that Hamish Goyal "is now based in the USA". 

Mmatshipi Matebane, Openview executive, in the statement says Zee One "is a welcome addition and adds variety to our current bouquet of entertainment".

"Openview is celebrating its 8th birthday this year and we are pleased to offer our viewers an extensive range of local and international content. Zee One adds to our positioning of catering for all audiences."

Zee One will broadcast telenovelas like Guddan, The Heir, Reach for the Stars, Lies of the Heart and Our Perfect Place.

Zee One is a general entertainment channel that broadcasts series, musicals, comedies, drama films, romantic films, family films and music videos. 

A Zee One channel version ran in Germany for 4 years after which it was shuttered in May 2020, with Zee One that also launched in Poland in 2017.

It not yet clear what the exact programming positioning of Zee One will be for Openview and Southern Africa and how the content on Zee One will differ from Zee Africa's other channels on the continent.

Zee channels like Zee Cinema and Zee Magic are available on StarTimes/StarSat, while DStv subscribers get Zee World, Zee TV, and Zee Alem in Ethiopia in the Amharic language.

Zee Entertainment also announced that it's adding Zee One to StarTimes in Kenya on channel 553, where Zee One will be added together with Zee TV and Zee Tamizh as three new TV channels

Zee Entertainment has announced the launch of Zee TV, Zee One, and Zee Tamizh on StarTimes where Zee One will have content dubbed into English and with Zee TV (StarTimes 557) and Zee Tamizh (StarTimes 558) offering content with English subtitles.

MultiChoice to appeal to Federal High Court after losing its Tax Tribunal appeal over Nigeria's claim that pay-TV operator owes it $123.7 million in unpaid tax.

by Thinus Ferreira

MultiChoice will now go to court in an escalating row with Nigeria's tax authority after Africa's largest pay-TV operator this week lost its appeal at the West African country's Tax Appeal Tribunal, with Nigeria's tax collector alleging and demanding that MultiChoice owes it a staggering $123.7 million (R1.88 billion) in unpaid tax.

It's one of two tax claims that MultiChoice is involved in in Nigeria.

On Tuesday Nigeria's Tax Appeal Tribunal threw out MultiChoice Africa's appeal brought by MultiChoice Nigeria over allegations that MultiChoice owes $123.7 million in unpaid Value Added Tax (VAT).

Nigeria's Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS) slapped MultiChoice with the $123.7 million dodgy "tax backlog" claim, and added another $218 million penalty, bringing the total to $342 million.

Hilariously, Nigeria' Tax Appeal Tribunal, on Tuesday said that it dismissed MultiChoice's appeal because the company failed to comply with the rules of the appeal.

MultiChoice neither deposited money as a bizarre requirement for the appeal to be heard, and MultiChoice then also apparently failed to adhere to "Order 3 Rule 6 of the Tax Appeal Tribunal (Procedure) Rules, 2021" stating that an appellant like MultiChoice must file an affidavit "verifying the payment".

MultiChoice didn't pay a deposit and didn't file an affidavit.

MultiChoice is embroiled in two cases with Nigeria's FIRS - the $342-million case against MultiChoice Africa Holdings, as well as a N1.8-trillion (R68 billion) tax claim against MultiChoice Nigeria.

MultiChoice in a statement slammed the Tax Appeal Tribunal's decision and said that MultiChoice Nigeria will now lodge an appeal against the ruling of the Tax Appeal Tribunal at Nigeria's Federal High Court.

MultiChoice said that the Tax Appeal Tribunal's appeal ruling failed to look at the merits of the pay-TV operator's case.

"MultiChoice Africa Holdings respectfully disagrees with the ruling, which was based on a technicality rather than the merits of the case. Therefore, we will be lodging an appeal at the Federal High Court against the ruling."

"This tax appeal is a separate and distinct matter from the appeal launched by MultiChoice Nigeria (MCN), in which the Tax Appeal Tribunal found in MultiChoice Nigeria's favour last week, allowing it to proceed with that appeal," MultiChoice says.

TCL Electronics launches its TV sets in South Africa from November including its P725 4K Google TV.

by Thinus Ferreira

TCL Electronics is launching its TV sets in South Africa, including its P725, voice-activation, 4K Google TV.

TCL Electronics, the global second bestselling LCD TV brand of 2019 and 2020 (as per OMDIA data) is entering the South African market from 3 November and says that its aim is to sell "affordable quality and smarter than smart televisions for all South Africans".

Robin YI, TCL South Africa general manager, says "We will be utilising South African resources as much as possible on the ground and that includes a local South African assembly partner with plans for expansion in the near future".

TCL will launch its 4K Google TV, the P725, as an introductory product in South Africa. It comes with voice activation.

Later in November TCL Electronics will introduce the C725 4K QLED Google TV in South Africa with Ryan Curling, TCL Electronics South Africa marketing manager, saying that it will "elevate quantum dot display technology to a new level".

At the same time as the launch of the P725, TCL South Africa will also introduce the P615 4K HDR Android TV in the Smart TV segment.

TCL Electronics didn't provide any recommended retail pricing for any of its TV sets for South Africa in its press release.

TCL Electronics says that its C725 and P725 products will both have full Google TV functionality with the P725 offering a 4K, HDR 10 professional audio-visuals, with MEMC (motion estimate and motion compensation) picture processing which offers smooth imagery for sports and fast-action sequences.

Dolby Vision and Dolby Atmos facilities provide viewers with an exciting immersive experience. The devices are powered by an impressive AiPQ Engine Chipset to ensure every signal frame presents perfectly.
The P725 and the C725 also feature Google Assistant and Hands-Free voice control, allowing users to access, launch, and control content, turn on their TV set, switch inputs, adjust the volume, search for favourite content and more from a distance, leading to more enhanced entertainment experiences.
"TCL is the official TV partner of Call of Duty worldwide, demonstrating our ability to bring the best gaming experiences to users all around the world including HDMI 2.1 technology which supports a range of higher video resolutions and refresh rates and is a futurist's dream," says Ryan Curling.

"As South Africans, home entertainment is a massive part of our lives and we're excited to play a part in that ongoing aspirational journey towards getting our greatness."  
Muhammed-Izhaar Ebrahim, TCL Electronics sales manager, says that initial offerings will be available through and a key distribution partner Atlas Appliances, with more distribution channels that will be added.

SABC to show some American basketball again with new multiyear agreement for SABC Sport channel starting with NBA's 75th season.

by Thinus Ferreira

The South African public broadcaster will start showing some American basketball content again after it has signed a broadcast agreement with the NBA to show basketball on its SABC Sport channel.

SABC Sport will show 35 basketball games throughout the 75th season, as well as after that, as part of a multiyear broadcast rights agreement with the National Basketball Association (NBA).

NBA matches that will be shown on SABC Sport include a Christmas Day game, NBA All-Star Saturday Night, Conference Finals and The Finals (broadcast live or delayed) on SABC1 and the SABC Sport channel on eMedia's Openview satellite service as well as Telkom's video streaming service TelkomONE.

The SABC will also broadcast a weekly magazine show NBA Action covering NBA news and highlights. 

The SABC says in a statement that the first live NBA broadcast will kick off with a pre-game live studio presentation on Saturday 30 October at 22:30, followed by the inaugural live broadcast of the NBA's 75th "anniversary season" of the Washington Wizards against Boston Celtics.

Due to the time difference between South Africa and America the live or delayed broadcasts will start between 20:00 and midnight on the same Saturday on SABC1 and the SABC Sport channel.

"SABC Sport is incredibly thrilled to add one of the world's most exciting and respected leagues to its live sports offering, as we know that there is a sports audience which loves the game of basketball in Mzansi," says Gary Rathbone, SABC Sport general manager in a prepared statement.

"In bringing this great global sporting spectacle to our viewers, the SABC will also be setting out to inspire and entertain a whole new generation of basketball fans all over the country."

Victor Williams, NBA Africa CEO, says "We are thrilled to once again partner with SABC, beginning with our milestone 75th anniversary season".

"Through this partnership, we look forward to bringing the excitement of the NBA to more of our passionate fans in South Africa as part of our continued commitment of making basketball more accessible across the continent."

Wednesday, October 27, 2021

TV RATINGS SEPTEMBER 2021. From Idols and The Estate to SABC3 and Cyril Ramaphosa the TV star: 9 latest SA TV ratings must-knows.

by Thinus Ferreira

While The Estate on the struggling SABC3 keeps plunging in the ratings and the latest season of Idols on Mzansi Magic failed to regain its ratings sheen, South Africa's September TV ratings revealed several interesting viewership insights as the SABC's TV channels keep losing viewers and SABC3 fell to another new all-time viewership low.

1. When Scandal! is on, 1 in every 2 people watches
In September the public broadcaster's SABC1, SABC2 and SABC3 TV channels all lost ratings share with all three channels seeing a slight viewership and share decrease while the country's only free-to-air commercial broadcaster managed to increase its ratings.

Uzalo remains the most-watched TV show in South Africa, of the SABC and on SABC1 although it gave up viewers in September, slightly falling from 7.64 million in August to 6.87million viewers in September.

SABC1's perennial second and third place shows, Generations - The Legacy with 5.96 million viewers and Skeem Saam with 5.03 million viewers on SABC1 were slightly off from their August audiences.'s primetime soap Scandal! now holds the solid third place as South Africa's most watched TV show with 5.74 million viewers and a 48.3 share. It means that half of the available TV audience have their TV's tuned to Scandal! at 19:30 on a weeknight.

Scandal!'s lead-in, House of Zwide at 19:00 on held steady in September with 4.43 million viewers.

2. Cyril Ramaphosa - the presidential TV star
South African president Cyril Ramaphosa remains a South African TV star. 

His prime time presidential address on 12 September announcing the country's move to Lockdown Level 2 lured 2.53 million viewers on SABC2 and an additional 2.03 million viewers on

Besides those viewers watching on SABC News, eNCA and Newzroom Africa pushing the combined total even higher, means that he pulled a bigger audience than Muvhango in September that was SABC2's most-watched show with 3.69 million viewers. 

On SABC1 the Zulu TV news bulletin was watched by 3.25 million viewers and the Xhosa TV news by 3.03 million viewers as the 4th and 5th most-watched programming in the channel.

3. The Estate finds better TV real estate on SABC1
After starting repeats of old episodes of The Estate on SABC1 from September, the repurposed SABC3 weekday soap lured 2.4 million viewers in its 19:30 timeslot with a 21.8 share - roughly the same as when uBettina Wethu was airing in the same timeslot. 

The Estate's ratings fortune however continue to sink in its airing of first-run episodes on SABC3.

On SABC2 its Afrikaans weekday soap 7de Laan held steady in September at 1.09 million viewers, with the Setswana TV news pulling in 726 229 viewers during September, followed by the Afrikaans TV news with 703 432 viewers, and the Venda/Tsonga TV news with 607 324 viewers.

4. Morning Live keeps shining
SABC2's Morning Live breakfast show lured 602 002 viewers in September - more than some prime time shows like Speak Out at 572 545 on SABC2 or anything shown on SABC3, showing how valuable and lucrative the real estate of morning shows are to broadcasters as a coveted advertiser TV destination.

5. SABC3 and Con Air
The SABC's TV channel on life-support, SABC3, continues to bleed and remains in a very bad and deteriorating condition. 

Strip out the once-off football match between Bafana Bafana against Ghana in Qatar on 6 September that lured 1.03 million viewers as SABC3's most watched piece of content for the month and SABC3 once again sagged to a new all-time low of 673 524 viewers at most for the film Con Air on 5 September. 

This 673 524 viewers - the most SABC3 could garner for September besides the soccer match, is down further from SABC3's August highest audience of 733 963 for a Costa Rica nature documentary.

The English TV news bulletin on SABC3 at 18:00 lured 387 841 viewers - a far cry from's well-performing etv News bulletin at 20:00 that pulled 1.65 million viewers in September and the 1.52 million viewers who watched the eNCA-simulcast South Africa Tonight at 19:00 on

6. The Estate in terminal first-run decline
With truly shocking viewership numbers it won't come as any surprise if The Estate on SABC3 produced by Clive Morris Productions gets cancelled like the channel did with High Rollers, is shifted permanently to SABC1 as a first-run show where it now airs as repeats since September, or is moved out of the shark-infested TV waters of 19:00.

Viewership for the expensive to produce series literally fell of the ratings cliff in September as its ratings keeps sliding lower month after month since its debut.

While The Estate still managed 300 738 viewers in August - up against the incredibly damaging House of Zwide on - the show literally disappeared in September and no longer shows up as one of the 20 most-watched shows on SABC3. 

It means that The Estate plunged below the 291 793 viewers that an episode of Challenge SOS pulled in 20th position.

The talk show Unpacked with Relebogile that still had 304 444 viewers in August (more than The Estate and much cheaper to produce) also disappeared from SABC3 in September.

7. Deur Dik en Dun:'s solid MVP TV bench
At the ratings life-signs are strong and stable - the life-blood for ad planners and buyers who must project and "guestimate" future viewership based on past and current viewership patterns.

Besides Scandal! and House of Zwide, Imbewu with 3.83 million viewers in third place and Durban Gen in 4th with 2.33 million viewers are the other two most valuable players in's top-4 TV bench.

Family Feud SA from Rapid Blue held stead at just over 2 million viewers in 5th place. 

The Afrikaans-dubbed Turkish drama telenovela Deur Dik en Dun continues to shine with a whopping 1.67 million loyal viewers, with's strategy of customising Turkish telenovelas that is paying off handsomely.

8. Idols stays damaged
On DStv local reality drama continues to be the flavour of the month but viewers although hundreds of thousands of viewers are still not in the mood to return to Idols in the aftermath of the Somizi Mhlongo scandal. 

Time will tell whether Idols in South Africa is permanently damaged and has started the ratings slide that eventually grabbed hold of American Idol in America.

In September the lurid cheater's expose reality series Uyajola 9/9 on Moja Love (DStv 157) surged to the top of the DStv ratings pile where Idols used to reign, grabbing 1.58 million DStv subscribers. Gomora on Mzansi Magic (DStv 161) followed in second place with 1.15 million viewers, and with The Queen in third with 1.02 million viewers. 

Idols, produced by [SIC] Entertainment and now in the Top 10 Sunday live performances period of the 17th season, managed only 709 655 viewers at most during the month for the 19 September episode - very slightly up from August's 693 760 as only the 9th most watched show on DStv. 

It's quite a fall for the series that reigned supreme in the ratings during previous seasons during this phase of the competition.

9. DStv sees new Giants rise
Other DStv stand-out include the little show that could, Giants of the City, on Moja Love pulling 791 241 viewers in September, showing strong growth from August's 604 503 viewers. 

MultiChoice's top 30 most watched shows in September all came from just 3 TV channels: M-Net's Mzansi Magic and Mzansi Wethu, as well as Siyaya TV's Moja Love.

SABC won't broadcast Proteas T20 World Cup cricket tournament, slams MultiChoice and 'exploitative' SuperSport trying to keep sub-licensing content away from rivals eMedia's Openview and TelkomONE.

by Thinus Ferreira

The South African public broadcaster won't show South Africa's national cricket team compete at the ongoing T20 World Cup, and is slamming the pay-TV operator MultiChoice and an "exploitative" SuperSport for allegedly once again wanting to sub-sell the rights with what the SABC calls unreasonable, unfair and anti-competitive conditions.

SuperSport once again demanded that the SABC would not be able to show the T20 World Cup on its digital terrestrial feed of its SABC1, SABC2 or SABC3 TV channels carried on eMedia Holdings' Openview satellite TV service, or on the streaming version of SABC1, SABC2 or SABC3 carried on Telkom's TelkomONE video streaming service where the content must be blacked out.

MultiChoice sees Openview and TelkomONE as direct rivals with SuperSport that was only willing to let the SABC show the T20 World Cup on the analogue terrestrial versions of the SABC's TV channels.

South African viewers therefore can only watch the T20 World Cup and the Proteas playing as DStv subscribers since the SABC doesn't have the rights and didn't want to acquire it from SuperSport for its SABC Sport channel.

The Proteas will play against Sri Lanka in Sharjah on this coming Saturday and against Bangladesh in Abu Dhabi on Tuesday in their next two matches. They then return to Sharjah to conclude their pool stage of the T20 World Cup against England on 2 November.

"Unfortunately the SABC does not have TV rights to this tournament," says Gugu Ntuli, SABC group executive for corporate affairs and marketing.

"The rights were not made available to the public broadcaster by the rights holders. All the rights were sold by right holders, including the free-to-air rights, to SuperSport, a pay-TV service."

Gugu Ntuli said the SABC refused to accept the conditions of SuperSport's sub-licensing deal.

"The public broadcaster rejected them as the SABC would not then be able to broadcast the matches on its sports channel or on SABC 1, SABC2 and SABC3 via Openview or TelkomONE."

"The SABC believes the conditions imposed upon it are unreasonable, unfair and anti-competitive and therefore could not be accepted."

"The SABC would love to show these matches on its TV platforms, but this is not possible due to the reasons mentioned above."

"The SABC refuses to allow SuperSport to exploit its dominant financial position in the sports right market and disregard not just the SABC but also millions of South African sports fans in this manner. The SABC is calling on Icasa to address this inherent unfairness by cracking down on total exclusivity and decoupling free-to-air rights from pay TV acquisition."

MultiChoice says that "the proposal offers the SABC the rights to broadcast these matches on SABC1, SABC2 and SABC3. It follows the same terms and conditions as previous sub-licensing agreements between MultiChoice and the SABC.

"Unfortunately, the SABC has decided to reject this offer, which will result in its audiences being unable to view these fixtures."

MultiChoice says that the Randburg-based pay-TV operator "does not believe a term of the offer precluding SABC making the content available to third-party competitors with whom it has concluded commercial arrangements, is anti-competitive."

"The offer to the SABC is fully compliant with the Sport Broadcasting Services Regulations issued by the Independent Communications Authority of South Africa (Icasa)."

The Kingdom actor Thapelo Maropefela (24) has died.

by Thinus Ferreira

The young actor Thapelo Maropefela known for his role in the SABC1 drama series The Kingdom has died just before his 25th birthday.

The actor and model was recently assaulted by 8 security guards in Maboneng in Johannesburg and was hospitalised.

His older sister, Kamogelo Maropefela announced Thapelo Maropefela's death on social media, and said that the actor had died just before turning 25. The cause of his death is not yet known.

"I'm so sorry. Your story was not meant to end now. Not on the eve of your 25th birthday. We are hurt. Cut deep. Empty. But we will try to celebrate you in our mourning. So difficult for me to say rest easy, because it wasn't your time to rest yet! Aow papa. I'm so so sorry. We think of you today, and forever. May your spirit find peace."

"What pains me the most is, he never spends his birthday at home," she said. "This year, he assured my mom he was gonna be home for his birthday. Unfortunately he didn't make it. He left us, on the eve of his birthday."

"I love you so much. Till we meet again, Sthape. Happy Birthday, little bro."

RMJ Artist Management in a statement said that "The industry has yet lost again! We would like to send condolences to Thapelo Maropefela's family, close friends and supporters. Thapelo was a rising star in the entertainment industry. He is an actor well known for his recent role as Kagiso on SABC1's The Kingdom."

Tuesday, October 26, 2021

CNN International adjusts Africa programming schedule, returns The Global Brief with Bianca Nobilo now at 11pm.

by Thinus Ferreira

CNN International (DStv 403) once again adjusted its programming schedule for Africa from this week, with The Global Brief with Bianca Nobilo back on the schedule at 23:00, done from London.

CNN International adjusted its live programming for the Africa, Europe and Middle East (EMEA) region from Monday 25 October with the half-hour show The Global Brief with Bianca Nobilo now on weeknights at 23:00.

The Global Brief with Bianca Nobilo gives viewers a look and analysis of news events around the world.

The latest CNN International prime time evening line-up from 25 October is now:

18:00 One World with Zain Asher (CNN New York)
18:45 Feature insert
19:00 Amanpour (CNN London)
20:00 Hala Gorani Tonight (CNN London)
21:00 Quest Means Business (CNN New York)
22:00 The Lead with Jake Tapper (CNN Washington)
23:00 The Global Brief with Bianca Nobilo (CNN London)
23:30 World Sport (CNN Atlanta)
00:00 The Situation Room with Wolf Blitzer (CNN Washington)

TV CRITIC's NOTEBOOK. 'A Dubai Déjà vu': How MultiChoice and the champagne brigade at its Dubai Expo 2020 jaunt evoked a big-on-partying, small-on-substance media look - again.

by Thinus Ferreira

More questions are raised by media - this time about the behaviour of the media themselves - following MultiChoice's Dubai Expo 2020 excursion, where press from South Africa, flown to Dubai business class, were once again apparently more eager to share social media photos of their boat parties, afterparties and snaps from the Burj Khalifa's 148th floor, than working and providing real-time coverage of the TV industry and about MultiChoice's content shared there.

Blood Psalms will debut on MultiChoice's Showmax video streaming service in February 2022.

Many in the media, meanwhile, have been shaking their heads at MultiChoice's apparently uninformed and opportunistic content land grab.

Members of the media, talking among themselves, continue to discuss MultiChoice odd behaviour and perplexing Dubai modus operandi when it comes to media management.

They are wondering why MultiChoice chose to dilute and deliberately diminish the press value of a piece of presumably premium new content by ripping off the packaging and doing a media debut for Blood Psalms in Dubai - first - without showing its so-called "homegrown content" to South African media before taking it overseas.

"Imagine ITV doing a debut and panel sesh of something like Downton Abbey, in Dubai of all places just because that's what it has in the kitty, before razzmatazzing it in front of UK press first. You want to snicker at MultiChoice's lack of reading the room but it's just sad really. Unforced error," said a longtime South African journalist covering film and TV.

"Obviously MultiChoice can't and won't dazzle Dubai with Moja Love's Uyajola 9/9 as a showcase of South African TV talent so they sacrificed something prematurely they should have kept since Blood Psalms is maybe all that's new they perhaps have." 

Now questions are also swirling inside South Africa's media circles around the media's participation itself and their work there - or lack of - in properly covering the dabblings of MultiChoice at the Dubai Expo 2020 excursion.

Media who went, couldn't bother with creating any substantive number of thought pieces, original articles, interviews and stories that got traction about MultiChoice and its content.

You'd search in vain, for instance, for any interviews with the producers or those behind-the-scenes putting together MultiChoice's 1NightWithMzansi concert in the Dubai Opera House before it aired, to help promote it. 

(The TV variety special on MultiChoice and M-Net's 1Magic (DStv 103) channel then proved to be quite a let-down).

The media were however quick to post photos on social media immediately about the 1NightWithMzansi afterparty, clubbing the night away.

Add in the pool pics, the obligatory flute glass and seafood lunch snappies, and MultiChoice's Dubai Expo 2020 media junket turned into the journalist's life to die for, darling.

It's sadly strongly reminiscent of MultiChoice's disappointing and haphazardly organised Digital Dialogue Conference in Dubai for which MultiChoice also flew an oddly-chosen group of media from across sub-Saharan Africa to Dubai in May 2018.

The results were spectacular. But in a very bad way.

Instead of actually reporting what the experts said at MultiChoice's Digital Dialogue Conference - doing interviews, delivering comprehensive on-the-ground coverage and providing analysis - the invited "media" from Africa were apparently star-struck, lazy and caught up in the moment instead of focusing on doing the work of reporting. 

The media MultiChoice invited to Dubai in 2018, focused almost solely on showing off their temporary new lux-lifestyle lives than of doing and posting any actual work. 

They were much more intent on capturing and sharing the perfect photos of their camel rides in the Dubai desert, posting photos of falcons and falconer show-and-tell interactions, and even walking around in gilded Dubai shopping malls, varnished with faux gold where they would snap garish photos of McDonalds.

Three years later in 2021 - and perhaps having learnt nothing or having lost the institutionalised memory after the exit of its previous publicists' corps - MultiChoice went back to the same playbook, apparently for more of the same media-lame, coverage-tame results.

"If you see media boasting and posting about flying business class to Dubai before they've even started reporting on anything about a company, that's problematic," says an editor who comments anonymously since the person, like other media, have an ongoing media relationship with MultiChoice.

"It speaks to the caliber and what the level of media maturity is of those invited."

The person cautioned that companies generally should do better homework and do the best media planning possible to guard against "the type of unoriginal, pandering content you're probably going to get - if any - from an influencer or media worker from a sponsored trip" if there isn't clearly-defined rules and an agreement on expectations and media coverage from both sides beforehand.

A veteran videographer, journalist and social media raconteur who've long attended MultiChoice's media events in the past, told me this week about MultiChoice's Dubai media jaunt: "Like the crowing of Miss South Africa 2021, very few people realised that MultiChoice hosted a 'content showcase' of the locally-produced and filmed Blood Psalms".

"Social media persons and publications that normally crack the invite and collectively post to 'trend' this type of spectacular, seemed no longer worthy. Sad but true the new brooms did not seem to value their hosts. All they did was post about themselves 'living their best life', not even hashtagging their hosts who had carted them to Dubai. Event? What event? Claps twice!!"

Says a journalist who is also a media and journalism lecturer: "It remains the prerogative of MultiChoice and M-Net as to what media, and who, they invite to cover DStv content activations and media events. One wonders how MultiChoice compiled a likely ROI of earned media coverage and reach".

"Access media should provide more, and much broader, coverage of your media event than media you're just sending the generic press release. Do they [MultiChoice] really get their money's worth?"

"If there isn't a lot of original reporting about your brand from media or influencers at your event, something's wrong. Then you need a recalibration of your strategy. It doesn't seem as if MultiChoice got what it could have if they had corralled and managed the correct access media correctly."

Monday, October 25, 2021

Rhodes University to bestow honourary doctorate on isiXhosa news anchor Noxolo Grootboom.

by Thinus Ferreira

At its second virtual graduation ceremony for Masters and PhD students on 29 October the Rhodes University will bestow an honourary doctorate's degree on the isiXhosa news anchor Noxolo Grootboom who had to retire from the South African public broadcaster earlier this year.

Rhodes University in the Eastern Cape says that Noxolo Grootboom is recognised nationally for her significant promotion of national pride and culture through her journalistic career that spans over 37 years.

"Noxolo Grootboom's legendary status is derived from her contributions in the broadcasting industry and to South Africa as a whole, through performing her career responsibilities in ways that inspired many citizens, even during the most difficult times."

"Her uncanny ability to connect with her audience through the powerful medium of her language and drawing from her culture distinguished Mam' Noxolo as the face and voice of the nation during historic national events such as elections."

"At the height of her career, she embodied the national emotion as the anchor for the funerals of important South African figures."

Dr Siwe Mabizela, Rhodes University vice-chancellor, says "Our nation owes her an unpayable debt of gratitude and appreciation for all that she has done to give much-needed hope to many South Africans in times of national loss and despair and for being a passionate advocate of the isiXhosa language in our society".

"Mam' Noxolo read the news so beautifully and with such pride. We thought it was important for Rhodes University to acknowledge her many contributions to our society."

"Her trademark sign-off line: 'Nanga ngobubusuku ningalala nombethe ingubo yemvisiswano, uxolo, nothando. Ndinithanda nonke emakhaya' will remain her profound and lasting gift of love, peace and care to our nation. Her humility and humanity is something that will never be forgotten. She deserves this highest honour of the University."

Noxolo Grootboom was born on 8 October 1960 in Lady Frere in the Eastern Cape and spent the best part of her formative years in Tyatyorha location in Healdtown, Fort Beaufort. 

She went to do her primary school years between Healdtown Primary School in Fort Beaufort, Lovedale Primary School in Alice and Davis Primary School in Butterworth. She did her high school years in Lamplough High School and Bethel College in Butterworth.

In 1981, she moved with her siblings to Soweto, where she enrolled in a computer course at a Computer Academy.

On 1 December 1983, she joined the South African Broadcasting Corporation (SABC) as a typist and after spending three years on the job, she was appointed as a production assistant. 

During this time, she was mentored by senior journalists as her interest at the time was storytelling. Later, she would start serving as a current affairs producer and a field journalist and later became a news anchor.

In 1990, her big break came when she was asked to stand-in for the late Mam' Thandi Mesetywa's news anchor to read a bulletin. The station was impressed enough that they asked her to continue to anchor the isiXhosa news.

She then saw this as an opportunity to continue the legacy of the broadcast stalwarts who came before her. 

As a result of being entrusted with critical broadcast events, she was known as "the undertaker" and was tasked with anchoring SABC live funeral broadcasts of some prominent leaders in the country. 

She anchored the funerals of high-profile politicians such as Chris Hani, the PAC’s Sabelo Phama, Nelson Mandela, Winnie Madikizela-Mandela, Joe Slovo, Oliver Tambo, Manto Tshabalala-Msimang, Walter Sisulu, Albertina Sisulu, Govan Mbeki, Steve Tshwethe and Akhumzi Jezile.

After 37 years of public broadcast service, Mam' Noxolo read her last bulletin on 30 March 2021. 

She left the SABC as an editor of the isiXhosa news bulletin and was recognised on this day by South Africa's president Cyril Ramaphosa, who delayed his national address during the Covid-19 pandemic since it clashed with Noxolo Grootboom's last TV news bulletin.

Noxolo Grootboom says "I feel so speechless; I am out of words to thank Rhodes University for the honour bestowed on me".

"Each event of my life is a life lesson that cannot be merely explained. Even though I had minimal opportunities to further my studies, it seemed as if my dreams about my future were perishing."

"Today, Rhodes University teaches me that hope is always ignited when it seems as though your dreams are perishing. And when that hope is ignited, it leads you to a new dream. Today, I feel like I am a living example to the youth. This is because, when you devote yourself to your work, new opportunities open up. I am very thankful to Rhodes University for this opportunity."

Justice Malala returns to eNCA for limited late-night series, The Last Word with Justice Malala, covering South Africa's 2021 municipal elections.

by Thinus Ferreira

The political commentator Justice Malala is returning to eNCA (DStv 403) for a limited series, The Last Word with Justice Malala, to cover South Africa's upcoming 2021 municipal elections.

Justice Malala exited the South African TV news channel three years ago in July 2018 after his long-running political interview show The Justice Factor got cancelled.

eNCA is running an on-air promo for The Last Word with Justice Malala, nothing that the limited series will start today, Monday 25 October, and will run until 4 November.

The Last Word with Justice Malala has been scheduled for a 22:00-timeslot on eNCA.

eNCA issued no programming advisory or press release to the media about The Last with Justice Malala.   

South African public broadcaster hit by yet another blackout of its SABC TV channels on Sunday - the second this month - without any explanation over the cause as it 'experience broadcast system challenges'.

by Thinus Ferreira

On Sunday night the South African public broadcaster was once again hit by an unexplained blackout of all of its SABC TV channels that lasted for well over an hour - the second SABC on-air blackout this month.

Sunday's SABC TV blackout on 24 October comes just two weeks after the SABC's TV channels also went off air in another unexplained blackout on 9 October.

The SABC gave no explanation as to the cause of its television blackout and issued no statement to the media, only saying in a social media post that the SABC blackout is related to "broadcast system challenges".

The SABC's TV channels went dark on free-to-air terrestrial broadcasting done by Sentech, as well as digital broadcasting with its TV channels also going black on MultiChoice's DStv satellite pay-TV service on Sunday.

SABC TV channel viewers got a black screen with a high-pitched beep, ruining the finale of Hush Money on SABC1, amongst other shows. 

The SABC TV blackout affected literally millions of viewers in South Africa with the broadcaster that didn't want to give any explanation for its channels that abruptly went off air.

"We are experiencing broadcast system challenges on our free-to-air (FTA) television channels on linear and DStv platforms," the SABC said.

We are working around the clock to resolve the matter and we apologise for any inconvenience this has caused".

Hush Money co-creator Siphosethu Tshapu, slammed the SABC TV blackout on social media as "sabotage", saying " that the SABC "is sabotaging us".

'BLACK SCREEN'. MultiChoice faces ongoing barrage of customer complaints following its botched DStv app update, 'nothing works', 'was this version even tested?' angry DStv subscribers ask.

by Thinus Ferreira

DStv subscribers are complaining that they're struggling to watch and access DStv content after MultiChoice updated its streaming DStv app in mid-October with an ongoing barrage of complaints from users that they've been left with nothing but "a black screen" and that the app no longer works properly.

MultiChoice launched an update for its DStv app almost two weeks ago on 13 October and since then DStv subscribers say it's not working properly and that they're struggling to use DStv's video streaming service like they did before. 

The PR firm JR Communications that represents MultiChoice told TVwithThinus in response to a media query made last week seeking comment about the DStv app update that it would revert in due course, but didn't respond with any answers to the questions by the publication of this report this week.

The DStv app received an update to improve the user interface (UI) on its latest DStv Explora Ultra decoder, Smart TV sets and Android and Apple TV boxes.

MultiChoice said when it updated the DStv app that it had improved the user interface on these devices for "an improved viewing experience for our customers and a sleek new user interface that makes it easier for you to discover and enjoy the best in local and international content".

DStv subscribers trying to use the DStv app after the update have been left incredibly frustrated the past week and a half with daily litany of complaints across social media and on the Google Play Store about how bad the app now is from users in South African and from across the continent.

"DStv Now is not working at all," said one subscriber. "Just a black screen when I open the app. DStv fix this. You're on the verge of losing subscribers."

Another said that "We can't watch because the DStv app freezes. Live TV, Catch Up - nothing works."

"DStv, when are you going to sort the live stream jitter on the streaming? All worked well before the app update," another DStv subscriber said.

Another remarked: "The new DStv Now app is terrible. I have to reboot my media player all the time now. DStv guide when flipping between channels is hopelessly behind schedule! Was this version even tested before being pushed out to your paying customers?"

Jermyn Haripersad noted that "The DStv Now app for a Smart TV is absolutely the worst app I've used. The screen consistently goes blank with only sound playing in the background".

Lwandlolubanzi Ndebele said that "The DStv Now Smart TV and Android update has to be the worst I have ever seen. Slow, riddled with crashes and bugs. Thousands of down reviews on the Google Play Store, they don't care about customers otherwise would've done something by now. Bring back the old app DStv".

"DStv when are you going to fix this DStv app that you managed to have broken so horribly!" asked Cobus Viljoen. "At this point in time it's a useless app that doesn't work".

kykNET still silent over whether its Silwerskermfees is still on or off for 2021 or what's happening with its film festival this year.

by Thinus Ferreira

M-Net's Afrikaans language channels division is silent and not telling South Africa's TV and film industry or the media anything regarding either the continuation or cancellation of this year's kykNET Silwerskermfees for 2021, with the film festival that looks like it has been scrapped for the year.

kykNET didn't respond with any official answers to a media query TVwithThinus made just over a week ago asking about whether 2021 will still see a kykNET Silwerskerfees being held.

November is the only late-in-the-year month remaining for a possible film festival, with December essentially a write-off month as the film and TV industry worldwide shuts down for the silly season and vacation.

It's also unclear, if the Silwerskermfees were to take place, whether it would be in-person, a hybrid, a virtual webinar, and if it would be branded as the 10th or 11th kykNET Silwerskermfees.

In 2020 the kykNET Silwerskermfees was turned into an online webinar series in 2020 because of the global Covid-19 pandemic, with the 9th kykNET Silwerskermfees that took place as an in-person event in August 2019.

In July, responding to a similar media query about the Silwerskermfees' future in 2021, Suzaan Keyter, kykNET spokesperson told TVwithThinus that no dates have been announced yet. 

"Plans are still underway but we are keeping tabs on the unfolding situation before we make any announcements. We have several options and dates for the film festival as well as the content. Planning continues behind-the-scenes for three different options," she said.

The kykNET Silwerskermfees website at lists "Tuesday 24 - Saturday 28 August 2021" - a period that came and went without anything announcement from kykNET.

The website contains no information, with no notifications or advisories for the industry about what's happening with the film festival in 2021.

Over the past half a year, various people working across South Africa's TV and film industry, from filmmakers to crew and on-screen talent who are interested in the film festival, have asked TVwithThinus what is happening with the kykNET Silwerskermfees in 2021 and whether it is still going to be taking place.

The MultiChoice Group and M-Net scrapped and cancelled plans for both the 2021 African Magic Viewers' Choice Awards in Lagos, Nigeria and the 2021 DStv Mzansi Viewers' Choice Awards in Johannesburg this year because of Covid-19.

In June the 23rd 2021 Encounters South African International Documentary Festival took place as a virtual film festival.

In July the 12th Durban FilmMart took place as a virtual online event, similar to 2020, with the DFM that was followed by the 42nd Durban International Film Festival (DIFF) in late July that was accessible as a free virtual event.

In May, the National Film and Video Foundation's 15th South African Film and Television Awards (SAFTAs) returned from 2020's botched virtual online broadcast back to a televised awards show, but did so without an in-person audience.