Friday, December 31, 2021

Icon Betty White, last of the Golden Girls, dead at 99.

by Thinus Ferreira

The iconic and beloved American actress Betty White had died. She was 99.

The last of the Golden Girls, Betty White would have celebrated her 100th birthday on 17 January 2022 and died on Friday morning in her Brentwood home in California, according to American news reports.

TMZ first reported the news about Betty White's death on Saturday night, South African time.

"Even though Betty was about to be 100, I thought she would live forever," Betty White's agent and friend Jeff Witjas says in a statement.

"I will miss her terribly and so will the animal world that she loved so much. I don't think Betty ever feared passing because she always wanted to be with her most beloved husband Allen Ludden. She believed she would be with him again."

Betty White's had a career of over 8 decades in America and appeared in numerous shows since television started in the United States, with Sue Ann Nivens on The Mary Tyler Moore Show and the daft St Olaf-born Rose Nyland in The Golden Girls as her two most famous roles and for which she won Emmys.

In total, the legendary Betty White who appeared in TV commercials, films and various TV series ranging from game shows to dramas, talk shows to comedies and variety programming, including her own radio show, won 8 Emmy Awards and was awarded an Emmy Lifetime Achievement Award in 2015.

In 2010 Bety White told Larry King "I think the reason for the longevity is that several generations have gotten to know me over the years, so I've become sort of part of the family".

In 2014 Betty White was included in the Guinness World Records as the record-holder for Longest TV Career for an Entertainer (Female) and in 2010 she received a Screen Actors Guild Life Achievement award.

In 2015 she told USA Today in an interview "That's one of the things I appreciate the most, that I'm still invited to work. Usually, you get to a given age - and that's a couple of decades ago for me - and work dries up, but, oh, I've been so lucky".

"Work is just a joy. I know it can't go on forever, but I'm making the most of whatever comes along."

In 2018, America's PBS channel did a TV documentary special, Betty White: First Lady of Television about her life and career. 

In 1986 Betty White told The Toronto Star newspaper: "Actors like to throw rocks at television, but I love the medium because of its immediacy and ability to reach a vast audience in one fell swoop."

"On stage, you can't communicate one-on-one with the audience. On film, you're larger than life and completely removed from the audience. Television, however, is an entity with a vitality of its own. And the beauty of this medium is that you can grow old in it. I intend to be around until I'm 102."

South African television ratings in 2021: The winners and losers.

by Thinus Ferreira

We again saw a lot this year, and in 2021 a lot of that was on television, with millions of South Africans watching the same thing, at the same time, where linear TV broadcasting still triumphs over streaming services that are growing but from a very small base.

Given the impact of the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic in South Africa, as well as the public unrest and looting that took place in the country, 2021's biggest TV ratings winner was undoubtedly television news.

The TV swansong of veteran anchor Noxolo Grootboom on the night of 30 March drew a huge audience of 3.82 million to SABC1 for her final SABC News isiXhosa TV news bulletin at 19:00 on South African television.

The 3 823 686 viewers who tuned in represented a 33 share, meaning that 1 out of every 3 TV sets that were switched on during the timeslot, were tuned to watch her.

Although not entertainment content, every single televised presidential address and "family meeting" of president Cyril Ramaphosa in 2021 - from Covid lockdown announcements to speaking about the public looting and unrest in South Africa and his State of the Nation address - drew millions of viewers combined for each broadcast, as viewers watched him speak live on SABC, and the three TV news channels of eNCA (DStv 403), SABC News (DStv 404), and Newzroom Afrika (DStv 405).

Such was the huge and successful ratings that if Cyril Ramaphosa's speeches were a TV show it would definitely have been renewed for another season in 2022. 

In just July for instance, president Cyril Ramaphosa's televised address to the nation to announce that South Africa is moving to an adjusted Level 3 lockdown on 25 July propelled his speech to the most-watched "show" on SABC2 for the month.

It was also the 4th most-watched on all of South African television with 5.84 million viewers (15.09 AR / 44.8 share) who tuned in.

Just a few weeks earlier, millions of viewers were once again glued to SABC2 when Cyril Ramaphosa spoke on 12 July to address the public violence with 3.7 million viewers (9.57 AR / 28.4 share), and again when he made a speech on 16 July about the looting that drew 4.17 million viewers (10.78 AR / 32.4 share).

Add another 1.7 million viewers who watched president Cyril Ramaphosa and his speech on 12 July on, and another 3.19 million who watched his speech on on 11 July.

Public unrest lifts news ratings
Anxiety and fear around Covid and public unrest in South Africa lifted TV news ratings on South African television to new records - millions of viewers tuned to television to find out what was going on.

Combined, the Zulu TV news bulletin on SABC1 in 2021 remained the single most-watched piece of TV news content on all of South African television this year and kept surging in the ratings race as it added millions of viewers.

The Zulu TV news on SABC1 climbed to an astounding 4.6 million viewers (12.11 AR / 36.4 share) viewers in July as the 5th most-watched programme on South African television for the month with the 12 July broadcast recording the most viewers.

This was followed by the Xhosa TV news bulletin on SABC1 on 13 July with 4.49 million viewers (11.62 AR / 35.2 share) as the 6th most-watched programme on TV for the month. 

In this month, the Setswana TV news bulletin on SABC2 surged on 12 July to an absolutely incredible 2.6 million viewers (6.95 AR / 19.9 share) - up from 768 544 viewers in June.

The memorial service of the amaZulu King Goodwill Zwelithini in March snagged 712 222 viewers on SABC2 in March.

And good morning to all of those early risers: Despite so many challenges behind-the-scenes at the SABC, Morning Live on SABC2 in 2021 continued to pull more viewers early in the morning - in excess of 700 000 - than a lot of other TV shows get during prime time.

Newzroom excels
The unrest of 2021 lifted the 2-year old TV news channel Newzroom Afrika to higher prominence as one of the notable TV ratings winners of the year.

Newzroom Afrika dethroned eNCA for the first time this year as the most-watched TV news channel during a national crisis event during July's unrest and looting, as it experienced a surge of pay-TV viewers on Monday 12 July and pushing it to the top of TV news ratings in that month on MultiChoice's DStv.

Having poached SABC News and eNCA talent ranging from Vaylen Kirtley to Thembekile Mrototo this year, Newzfeed with Stephen Grootes on 12 July was the 22nd most-watched and highest-rated TV news show on DStv in July - the first time that Newzroom Afrika had such a ratings victory that counts as a new highwater-mark viewership success for the channel.

This was closely followed by Newzroom Afrika's Daytime Update block between 12:00 and 15:00 on the same day that lured 470 324 (1.22 AR / 6.9 share) viewers, giving the channel a second notch and bragging rights during that month's ratings ladder.

More Moja and Uzalo
The year gave reason to smile with its new primetime soap at 19:00, House of Zwide, that replaced the cancelled Rhythm City, which is a bona fide ratings success, luring in excess of 4 million viewers monthly.

On pay-TV, the tabloid content of Moja Love (DStv 157) continued to grip lower-tiered DStv subscribers during 2021 with the channel that kept rising in the ratings race, making Moja Love the biggest pay-TV channel ratings gainer in the year.

In some months Moja Love became the most-watched content on all of DStv, pushing Mzansi Magic (DStv 161) out of the top spots with its collection of sensationalist reality shows like Ujayola 9/9, Isencane Lengane, Giants of the City, Mamazala, No Excuse Pay Papgeld and Single and Mingle.

On free TV, the SABC1-trifecta of Uzalo, Generations and Skeem Saam kept the crown as the country's most-watched shows and entertainment programming with respectively around 8 million, 6.5 million and 5 million viewers.

Props to Anaconda: The Hunt for the Blood Orchid with that broadcast it for the umpteenth time in 2021 and still bit a whopping 3.5 million viewers.

Ratings losers and disappointments
The South African public broadcaster's "problem child", SABC3, became even more of a problem in 2021 as ratings keep tanking month after month all through the year even after a disastrous rebrand to "S3" that didn't do anything to stem the loss of viewers.

Over the last 5 years, SABC3 lost over 50% of its audience and shed some more in 2021.

From 1.525 million viewers that SABC3 had in January 2016 half a decade ago - already a small percentage from the channel's heydeys in the 2000s - ongoing viewership and TV rating erosion saw its viewership plummet to as low as 625 717 viewers (excluding a once-off soccer broadcast) by October.

The success of's House of Zwide pummelled S3's new soap The Estate in the same death-zone 19:00-timeslot that has been a ratings disaster for the channel - so much so that the SABC decided on repurposing-triage by putting reruns of The Estate on SABC1 during prime time as a windowing-experiment to try and funnel viewers to SABC3.

SABC3's attempt to introduce a new late afternoon talk show this year with Unpacked with Relebogile was also a dud, sliding from an already-low 340 000 viewers to just over 300 000 by August with none of the buzz that 3Talk with Noeleen and Real Talk with Anele once had.

With little exposure and buzz, South Africa's Ugly Betty-version of uBettina Wethu was a ratings disappointment in the 19:30-timeslot on SABC1, while Die Sentrum from Penguin Films that replaced the Friday episode of 7de Laan lured far less viewers and saw SABC2 end the timeslot-replacement experiment.

The shockingly sharp decline if Idols
The year's biggest ratings-shocker was M-Net and [SIC] Entertainment's long-running Idols on Mzansi Magic (DStv 161) that suddenly plunged in viewership after scandal engulfed the choreographer-socialite Somizi Mhlongo who immediately exited the 17th season after serious allegations of physical abuse.

Idols started off season 17 with 1 018 607 viewers on Mzansi Magic in July as usual, as the 4th most-watched show on all of DStv for the month.

Instead of climbing and the usual ratings increase as interest would build, Idols suddenly plunged with DStv subscribers who were no longer interested in watching following the scandal as the show plunged to 10th place on DStv's most-watched list with 693 760 viewers at most in August.

It was further downhill from there for Idols with a season-low of just 683 814 viewers in October, far-off from where Idols used to rank during the live Sunday live spectacular broadcasts. So bad was the ratings that for the first time since Idols began on South African television, Mzansi Magic axed the post-finale press conference for the winner.

Once American Idol ratings started to tank in the United States it never recovered and it will be interesting to see what Idols does viewership wise in 2022 for its 18th season.

Wednesday, December 29, 2021

Disney+ shows top the list of 2021's most pirated TV series.

by Thinus Ferreira

Disney+ shows are burning up the chart of the most pirated TV content of 2021 with multiple series from the Mouse House that this year replaced Netflix content as the most sought-after shows to digitally download and watch illegally.

Disney+, which is not available in South Africa, in 2021 released the most in-demand content for pirate viewers, with series like WandaVision, Loki, The Falcon and the Winter Soldier, Hawkeye, as well as What If...? all grabbing spots on this year's list of most pirated TV shows.

Disney+ plans to launch in South Africa around June 2022, with neither WarnerMedia for HBO Max nor ViacomCBS for Paramount+ which have announced dates for their video streaming services for Africa yet.

According to the 2021 most pirated TV shows annual list compiled by Torrentfreak, Netflix only managed to get two spots on the list with The Witcher and Arcane in 3rd and 9th place respectively.

The science-fiction drama series Foundation of Apple TV+ also made the list and the first season of Amazon Prime Video's new fantasy drama series The Wheel of Time occupying the 10th spot.

Out of the entire top 10 most pirated shows for 2021 where DIsney+ represents 50% of the content, only the animation series Rick and Morty was on the list for 2020 and this year fell to the 8th spot from 6th place a year ago.  

"What stands out most is that all Disney+ series of Marvel's 'Phase Four' are listed in the top 10," Torrentfreak notes.

"With the current streaming landscape being so fragmented, it appears that many people prefer to pirate instead of paying for 'another' subscription."

This is the 10 top ranking of 2021's most pirated TV shows:

1. WandaVision (Disney+)
2. Loki (Disney+)
3. The Witcher (Netflix)
4. The Falcon and the Winter Soldier (Disney+)
5. Hawkeye (Disney+)
6. What If ...? (Disney+)
7. Foundation (Apple TV+)
8. Rick and Morty (WarnerMedia/Showmax)
9. Arcane (Netflix)
10. The Wheel of Time (Amazon Prime Video)

Tuesday, December 28, 2021

NFVF opens entries for 16th South African Film and Television Awards set for June 2022; also looking for qualified industry experts to serve as SAFTAs jury members in 2022.

by Thinus Ferreira

The National Film and Video Foundation (NFVF) has opened the entry process for the 16th South African Film and Television Awards (SAFTAs) that will take place in June 2022, with the SAFTAs that is also looking for qualified jury members.

People working in South Africa's film and television industry have until 27 January 2022 to enter online for the 16th SAFTAs, with judging that will be taking place between 16 February and April next year.

Films that were shown in a commercial cinema in South Africa for at least a week between 1 January 2021 and 31 December 2021 can be entered, and because of the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic, films that were placed on video-on-demand (VOD) streaming services like Netflix SA, MultiChoice's Showmax and DStv Box Office, Hulu, and Amazon Prime Video can be entered for the 16th SAFTAs as well.

In the film category, only feature films are eligible and not made-for-TV movies.

TV content that was broadcast between 1 January and 31 December 2021 on SABC1, SABC2, SABC3,, one of the M-Net channels on MultiChoice's DStv, or local content on any of the other third-party DStv channels, are eligible for the TV category.

First-run TV content, for instance, new series or new seasons of existing shows that was on streaming services like Netflix SA and Showmax during 2021 are eligible as well. 

Content that was placed on YouTube, Vimeo or T-VOD (transactional video-on-demand) platforms are ineligible.

Jury members sought
The NFVF is also looking for jury members for the 16th SAFTAs and is asking the country's film and TV industry to nominate and submit experienced, passionate, measured and insightful industry practitioners to serve as jury members.

SAFTAs jury members have the task of ensuring and maintaining the integrity of the SAFTAs' judging process and that it's done following the prescribed standards. The nominated individuals will also need to be engaged in the judging process.

The NFVF plans to send invitations to previous SAFTAs winners and key industry specialists with a minimum of 8 years' experience and a specialised skill set to form part of the 2022 jury.

Sunday, December 26, 2021

MultiChoice and M-Net's Carte Blanche running a special Desmond Tutu pop-up channel on DStv channel 199 following his death on Sunday at 90.

by Thinus Ferreira

Following the death of South Africa's Archbishop Emeritus Desmond Tutu at 90, MultiChoice and M-Net will be running a special DStv pop-up channel, produced by Carte Blanche on DStv channel 199 that will broadcast special programming about him and his legacy for the next few days until his funeral.

 Archbishop Emeritus Desmond Tutu died peacefully at his Cape Town home on Sunday morning.

MultiChoice's "Carte Blanche: Tribute to Archbishop Desmond Tutu" DStv pop-up channel to pay tribute to Desmond Tutu will be similar to the DStv pop-up channel that ran in 2018 to celebrate what would have been the centenary birthday of Nelson Mandela, and will be filled with the type of special programming that was aired the days following his death 8 years ago in December 2013.

MultiChoice's Carte Blanche: Tribute to Archbishop Desmond Tutu DStv pop-up channel will celebrate the extraordinary life and legacy of Desmond Tutu and include a 4-part series about his life and legacy with the DStv channel that will be available to all DStv subscribers on all packages across sub-Saharan Africa from today (Sunday, 26 December) at 17:00 until his burial.

Carte Blanche also plans to direct viewers to the DStv pop-up channel in Sunday night's episode.

"MultiChoice is deeply saddened by the passing of our beloved Archbishop Emeritus Desmond Tutu – an exceptional visionary and leader who spent his life in pursuit of justice and service of mankind," says Imtiaz Patel, MultiChoice Group non-executive chairman.

"As Africa's most-loved storyteller, we want to pay tribute to this remarkable man, and we'll be bringing his incredible story to life on our tribute channel."

"We will forever treasure his legacy and immense contribution to bringing about healing to our rainbow nation and honour his passion for liberation, equality, peace and progress. Our thoughts and prayers are with his family and his millions of friends around the world. Arch, we will miss your loving, kind soul and inimitable sense of humour."

Carte Blanche: Tribute to Archbishop Desmond Tutu DStv channel will feature a variety of historical documentaries about Archbishop Emeritus Desmond Tutu, filmed between the 1980s and now, former and recent Carte Blanche interviews with him, his friends and family.

It will also include a brand-new Carte Blanche overview of his extraordinary legacy and the way his activism, morality and fearless pursuit of equality touched the world. The content has been collated by Carte Blanche into four parts, comprising different segments and inserts.

The content of the channel will also be available on DStv Catch Up.

Desmond Tutu Tribute: A Carte Blanche Special - Part 1
Segment 1: “This is what we can do for Justice and Peace”
A documentary on the perspectives of Archbishop Desmond Tutu, the Rev Peter Storey and the role of the South African Council of Churches in the fight against apartheid in South Africa during the 1980s.

Segment 2: Father, leader and anti-apartheid icon, Archbishop Desmond Tutu has lived a life steeped in meaning, love and wisdom. A poignant look at why he has been dubbed "the moral conscience of the rainbow nation".

Segment 3: “Carte Blanche celebrates Tutu’s 75th birthday”
Spiritual leader. Political Activist. Nobel Peace Prize Laureate. Priest. Peacemaker. Archbishop Desmond Tutu’s life story is about beating the odds. This man of the cloth has struggled against apartheid and cancer and played a fundamental role in reconciliation for all. Meet South Africa’s foremost rabble-rouser interviewed just after his 75th birthday.

Desmond Tutu Tribute: A Carte Blanche Special - Part 2
Segment 1: "God be for us”
A look at the operation of the South African Council of Churches, the plight of displaced families, political prisoners, detainees and those banned and banished to the desolate Bantustans during Apartheid.

Segment 2: “kykNET vir Tannie”
Archbishop Desmond Tutu wishes Evita Bezuidenhout warm wishes on her birthday and describes her as a light during the darkness of apartheid and the most famous white woman on the African continent.

Segment 3: Carte Banche Frank Chikane interview”
Rev Frank Chikane reflects on the influence of Archbishop Emeritus Desmond Tutu on South Africa’s liberation struggle and the impact he had in bringing about healing during the Truth and Reconciliation Commission hearings.

Segment 4: “Carte Blanche: Tutu – A conversation
Archbishop Desmond Tutu played a fundamental role in healing and reconciliation through the TRC process. In a candid and intimate interview with Ruda Landman, conducted while the TRC was still underway, he speaks about witness testimonies that moved him to tears, the conversations with God that helped him through the process and also reflects on his prostate cancer diagnosis.

Segment 5: “Carte Blanche – Truth Commission”
The Truth Commission was proposed to bring justice to the families of victims who were killed, maimed or who had disappeared during the brutal apartheid years. The secrecy clause in the draft bill of rights allows for the hearings to be held in camera. That meant the Commission only had to release minimal information regarding the victims, the crimes committed and whether amnesty had been granted or not. This has outraged everyone concerned with the pursuit of justice -including Archbishop Desmond Tutu.

Segment 6: "Carte Blanche - Lavinia Crawford-Browne Interview”
The former personal assistant to Archbishop Tutu speaks candidly about the 22 years she spent at his side and shares her personal insight into his contributions to South Africa and the world.

Desmond Tutu Tribute: A Carte Blanche Special - Part 3
Segment 1: "This crazy thing called grace”
The crazy world of Desmond Tutu through his own eyes. Clown or Saint, this Nobel Peace Prize winner has earned worldwide applause. The film pays tribute to the Archbishop and takes a fly-on-the-wall approach to his daily duties, his meditative moments at home and his personal attempts to come to terms with the atrocities unearthed by the Truth Commission.

Segment 2: “Carte Blanche: Trevor Tutu Interview”
The eldest child and only son of the Archbishop reminisces about his father, the Arch's great love for rugby and his hopes for the country he so dearly loved - South Africa.

Segment 3: “Carte Blanche: Tutu’s 80the birthday”
Carte Blanche extended warm wishes to Archbishop Emeritus Desmond Tutu on the occasion of his 80th birthday and reflects on eight poignant decades spent in the pursuit of justice and service of mankind.

Segment 4: "Carte Blanche: Canon Dean Rowan Smith Interview”
Canon Rowan Smith, former dean of the St George’s Anglican Church reflects on the support he received from Tutu during a trying time of his life.

Segment 5: “Miracle Rising”
As Archbishop Emeritus Desmond Tutu looks back on South Africa's struggle for liberation, he recounts the horrors of living under Apartheid and the heroes of yesteryear who miraculously brought about a democratic South Africa.

Desmond Tutu Tribute: A Carte Blanche Special - Part 4
Segment 1: Carte Blanche pays a moving tribute to the legendary figure who helped shape a nation, Nobel Peace Prize Winner, Archbishop Desmond Tutu in a  special, recently produced overview of the achievements and challenges faced by Archbishop Desmond Tutu throughout his extraordinary life.

Dear reader, Bridgerton season 2 debuts on Netflix on 25 March 2022.

by Thinus Ferreira

To mark its one-year anniversary, Netflix's Bridgerton announced that the second season of the British period drama will debut on Friday 25 March 2022 in a video from the cast of the Shondaland-produced series.

Set in Regency Era England, the thoroughly modern-dressed cast are delivered paper (the customary gift for a first anniversary), as they read something that nobody else than the gossip queen of the ton, Lady Whistledown wrote, hoping that they find it informative.

"Bridgerton returns, March 25," the letter reads with the second season that is based on Julia Quinn's second novel in the series, The Viscount Who Loved Me and that predominantly follows Lord Anthony Bridgerton (Jonathan Bailey), the eldest Bridgerton sibling, and his quest to find a wife.

According to Netflix's detailed synopsis of the second season, Anthony's search for a debutante who meets his impossible standards "seems ill-fated until Kate (Simone Ashley) and her younger sister Edwina (Charithra Chandran) Sharma arrive from India".

"When Anthony begins to court Edwina, Kate discovers the true nature of his intentions — a true love match is not high on his priority list - and decides to do everything in her power to stop the union."

"But in doing so, Kate and Anthony's verbal sparring matches only bring them closer together, complicating matters on both sides. Across Grosvenor Square, the Featheringtons must welcome the newest heir to their estate while Penelope (Nicola Coughlan) continues to navigate the ton whilst keeping her deepest secret from the people closest to her."

While Julie Andrews returns as the voice of Lady Whistledown, main cast additions to the second season include Shelley Conn (Mary Sharma), Calam Lynch (Theo Sharpe) and Rupert Young (Jack).

Thursday, December 23, 2021

SABC News boss Phathiswa Magopeni found guilty of misconduct as disciplinary hearing chairperson recommends a warning as sanction from SABC board.

by Thinus Ferreira

Advocate Nazir Cassim has found the SABC News boss Phathiswa Magopeni guilty of misconduct in a disciplinary hearing, and recommended a warning to her as a sanction from the SABC board.

Phathiswa Magopeni was charged with negligence, with bringing the SABC into disrepute and for failing todischarge her fiduciary duties after an episode of Special Assignment was broadcast by SABC3 through its final control centre (FCC).

While the broadcast of the episode of an investigation into tow trucks, was interdicted by the court and not allowed to be aired yet, a coding error and wrong labelling led to the episode of Special Assignment to be shown.

In turn, Phathiswa Magopeni in a 9-page letter, slammed SABC CEO Madoda Mxakwe and SABC chairperson Bongumusa Makhathini and said that they are trying to "destroy" her after she rebuffed their attempts to get her to approve a sudden interview for South African and ANC political party president Cyril Ramaphosa during the ANC's recent election campaign in Limpopo.

Phathiswa Madoda said Madoda Mxakwe is resolute in "hounding" her out of the public broadcaster and accused both Madoda Mxakwe and Bongumusa Makhathini of gross editorial interference into the operations of SABC News.

On Thursday, after a disciplinary hearing of 3 days, Advocate Nazir Cassim in a written verdict found Phathiswa Magopeni guilty of only one of the 3 charges, after the Special Assignment mistake, as the head of SABC News and said that "the programme belonged to her department".

Advocate Nazir Cassim said that Phathiswa Magopeni "demonstrated a lack of understanding of her role in the sphere of accountability and corporate governance".

"The employee's written closing argument as prepared by Ms Carvalho regrettably complicates matters and casts the employee in a bad light".

Advocate Nazir Cassim recommended that the SABC board allows Phathiswa Magopeni to "distance herself from the contents of paragraph 36 as it would be unjust to punish Phathiswa Magopeni for a submission and an opinion of her attorney".

In paragraph 36, Phathiswa Magopeni's attorney writes that "the charges brought against the employee are a farce and done so hastily".

"If, however, Phathiswa Magopeni makes common cause with the view of her attorney, then the SABC board must, in its discretion and decision-making power, adopt a sanction which is consistent with that of a breakdown in the trust relationship between employer and employee."

"In short, it is now upon Phathiswa Magopeni to decide her own future with the SABC."

Advocate Nazir Cassim said any SABC board sanction must be "just and equitable to both employer and employee. This, however, is a decision that rests with the CEO and the Board of the SABC".

TV selfhelp personality Angie Diale 'Mam Angie' has died at 55 from pneumonia.

by Thinus Ferreira

Angie Allen Diale, the TV personality who appeared on South African TV shows as an HIV activist and health and relationship councillor as "Mam Angie", has died at 55 on Thursday from pneumonia after a short illness.

Angie Diale, who appeared on TV shows like Relate on SABC1 and the reality series Please Step In on Mzansi Magic (DStv 161), leaves behind her husband, brother, two children and a grandson.

In a statement, a family spokesperson says that Angie Diale was "complaining of shortness of breath and subsequently treated at Tshepo Temba Hospital yesterday and later transferred to Leratong Hospital where she sadly passed in the early hours of this morning".

"The cause of death has been confirmed to be pneumonia".

Shirley Adonisi, M-Net director for local entertainment channels, in a statement says "Mzansi Magic is saddened by the news of Angie Diale's passing. She appeared on Mzansi Magic's Please Step In for 7 seasons in a social intervention programme that focused on assisting those in our society who were struggling with family relations and dynamics".

"Mam Angie is a celebrated  HIV activist, health and relationship counsellor who shared her knowledge graciously with others and always encouraged forgiveness. The Mzansi Magic team sends heartfelt condolences to her family, friends and fans during this difficult time."

The SABC in a statement said that "It is with great sadness that the SABC has learnt of the passing of the TV presenter Angie Diale".

"Angie Diale was known for being a compassionate and thoughtful presenter on the SABC1 factual entertainment series Relate. She was also the content advisor and resident councillor for the TV show Choice which was also broadcast on SABC1."

"Angie Diale was innately passionate about communication between the youth, parents and the community. She facilitated It Takes Courage, a curriculum developed to help youth and adults to identify their dreams and learn about healthy and unhealthy relationships using churches, schools and street corners to start conversations."

"The SABC sends its heartfelt condolences to her family, friends and colleagues."

Shortly after the birth of her son, Angie Diale, who grew up in Meadowlands, Soweto, and who worked as a student nurse at Sandringham Gardens and later at the Johannesburg Hospital, was diagnosed with HIV and she decided to set up HIV wellness clinics in townships across Soweto and Mpumalanga.

As a health coordinator, Angie Diale was one of the founders of the Democratic Nursing Organisation of South Africa (Denosa).

In 2005 Angie Diale was the spokesperson for the South Africa's department of health's Khomanani campaign, lobbying the public to help turn the tide against the HIV pandemic in South Africa.

Since 2008 Angie Diale was managing director at PEO Entle HIV Wellness and Youth Skills Development, and she also worked for World Vision South Africa

Angie Diale was a content advisor and resident counsellor on Choice, a youth series that was broadcast on SABC1 and was the co-host of Please Step In for the first two seasons on Mzansi Magic after which she became the solo presenter from the third season onwards after her co-presenter was fired.

SA TV 2021: A shockwave year in television filled with loss, lockdown and an octopus that won an Oscar.

by Thinus Ferreira

During South African television's tumultuous 2021 - bearing witness to shocking unrest and looting, neverending loadshedding and an unfolding Covid-crisis - the one reassuring constant was TV soaps and telenovelas like Uzalo, with the nation's nightly collection of comforting primetime series stretching from Generations to Isono that continued to provide a sense of uninterrupted assurance and "normalcy" in a world seemingly gone mad.

In probably the worst year on record for South Africa's TV and film industry - rocked by a shockwave of thousands of permanent and temporary job losses as work evaporated, hundreds of deaths due to Covid-19, as well as countless and repeated Covid-19 production shutdowns across multiple series under Lockdown Level 4 - 2021's big unrecognised TV miracle is that the TV soap operas endured.

As the industry was upended behind-the-scenes, TV channels kept broadcasting new episodes nightly during 2021 with its escapist local mix of fantasy, conflict, weddings and scandals, that continued to enthral a combined audience of millions of viewers across Southern Africa.

In 2021, South Africans watched Squid Game on Netflix, Devilsdorp on Showmax and welcomed House of Zwide on 

Viewers sat transfixed before eNCA, Newzroom Africa and SABC News to see former president Jacob Zuma being arrested and going to jail, and how South Africans ransacked shopping malls. 

They huddled together in front of the soft glow of their TV screens when president Cyril Ramaphosa beckoned for yet another "family meeting".

Love Island South Africa on M-Net flopped but The Bachelorette SA was more successful. The Real Housewives of Durban and Survivor South Africa: Immunity Island (forced to film in South Africa on the Eastern Cape coast) were hits. 

South Africans got their Friday episode of 7de Laan on SABC2 back (that also reached 5000 episodes). 

While kykNET's new on-air rebranding was more successful, SABC3's rebranding to "S3" saw the channel's already anaemic ratings only fall further this year while its Isidingo replacement, The Estate, failed in luring the viewers it should and likely on borrowed time

uBettina Wethu (South Africa's Ugly Betty-version) wasn't the success it could have been. Showmax tried Temptation Island SA as both it and Netflix added further local South African content to their catalogues.

MultiChoice's Showmax launched its first South African telenovela, The Wife, but the most expensive South African drama series yet produced, Blood Psalms, missed its October debut and was pushed to February 2022 because the department of trade, industry and competition failed to pay the millions due to the show in the country's broken film rebate scheme.

MultiChoice introduced DStv subscribers to Korean telenovelas ("K-drama") with tvN, kept losing DStv Premium subscribers, while M-Net brought pay-TV subscribers Harry and Meghan sit-down talk with Oprah.

The SABC that turned 85 completed its retrenchment plan getting rid of hundreds of workers after which the public broadcaster once again became embroiled in serious allegations of SABC News editorial interference

In 2021 fewer people than ever (down to 21% bothered to still pay a SABC TV Licence with plans to scrap it altogether and replace it with a new type of tax.

The SABC officially launched SABC Sport as a TV channel, while SuperSport did its best to try and bring live sports back this year and branched out into more school sports coverage.

Britbox SA and eMedia's eVOD both launched as two new video streaming services in South Africa in 2021 while ViacomCBS Networks Africa abruptly cancelled its MTV Africa Music Awards it tried to revive this year. 

The M-Net City channel changed to Me, Glow TV was removed from Openview but had to be returned after a court case, and StarSat shed more TV channels this year. 

The long-delayed completion of the switch from analogue to digital terrestrial television (DTT) broadcasting in South Africa was yet again postponed, with new warnings that suddenly switching off TV signals to millions of viewers who don't have set-top boxes to receive the new signals, will damage South Africa's TV ratings system.

Meanwhile worsening Eskom blackouts continued to have a debilitating impact during 2021 on TV ratings, damaging all broadcasters and advertisers with loadshedding that wiped millions of TV households from the national viewership data.

Moja Love (DStv 157) - which had to suspend Jub Jub on Uyajola 9/9 as its most-watched show after rape allegations - and Mzansi Magic (DStv 161) were the two most-watched pay-TV channels in South Africa in 2021. 

SABC1 remained the most-watched free-to-air TV channel. More South African TV news reporters were attacked and robbed this year than ever before.

South African viewers lost FOX after 11 years, The Bold and the Beautiful (again) and weather presenters on eNCA and eNuus. The ratings for the 17th season of Idols on Mzansi Magic plunged as Somizi Mhlongo exited as a judge after serious allegations of physical abuse.

We lost Africa's most influential woman in television, MultiChoice's content boss Aletta Alberts, to Covid, as well as producer-actor Shona Ferguson in July, and an unending TV treasure chest list of names gone too soon who have enriched and who were deeply woven into the tapestry of South Africa's TV industry. 

We lost icons from Franz Marx to Shaleen Surtie-Richards, with calls that more must be done to support and protect South African artists and performers while the South African government for another year refused to make the Performers' Protection Amendment Bill (PPAB) a law that would ensure that actors are paid residuals for TV rebroadcasts.

We said goodbye to LIVE AMP on SABC1 after 25 seasons, as well as the beloved TV news anchor Noxolo Grootboom who read her final TV news bulletin with even Cyril Ramaphosa moving his national address out of the way so that the nation could watch her swansong first. 

South Africa's TV and film industry and film lost at least 18 669 jobs (59%) over the past year due to Covid. 

And in-between the tumult, a little film on TV about a friendly South African octopus won an Oscar.

Monday, December 20, 2021

Lawrence Maleka the new presenter of Mzansi Magic's revived Big Brother Mzansi starting 23 January 2022.

by Thinus Ferreira

Actor Lawrence Maleka is the new presenter of Mzansi Magic's revived Big Brother Mzansi that will start on Sunday 23 January 2022 and that will run with highlight shows on Mzansi Magic (DStv 161) as well as a 24-hour Big Brother Mzansi pop-up channel on MultiChoice's DStv on channel 198.

Lawrence Maleka is known for his portrayal of Zolani on The River, on M-Net's 1Magic (DStv 103) channel and previously presented StarGist on the Africa Magic Entertainment channel, Clash of the Choirs on Mzansi Mafic, and was a co-host of the 2021 South African Music Awards.

Big Brother Mzansi, revived for a 5th season after 7 years as a Covid-19 safe show and produced inside a so-called "Covid-19 safe production bubble", will run 24-7 on the Big Brother Mzansi channel.

In addition, Big Brother Mzansi will have daily shows and weekly highlights on the channel as well as on Mzansi Magic, and the Big Brother Mzansi channel will also carry the more risque so-called "Shower Hour".

There will also be Friday game nights, Saturday night parties hosted with Channel O featuring DJs, and Sunday night eviction shows.

"I'm excited to be part of this instalment of Big Brother Mzansi. The franchise has become a massive phenomenon in African as well as South African pop culture, and I'm happy to join in the fun as a presenter. The fan base is huge and massively loyal – it's an honour to be part of such a fantastic production," says Lawrence Maleka in a supplied quote.

Shirley Adonisi, recently appointed as the new M-Net director of local entertainment channels, says Lawrence Maleka "has proven to be one of the top young talents on our screens, his vibrant and confident screen as well as stage presence is a perfect fit for Big Brother Mzansi. We can't wait for viewers to tune in to what’s certainly going to be a very exciting season."

Saturday, December 18, 2021

Cancer claims veteran producer-director Herman Binge at 68.

by Thinus Ferreira

The veteran TV and film producer, actor and director Herman Binge has died. He was 68.

Netwerk24 first reported Herman Binge's death. Herman Binge died on Thursday at his home in Tamboerskloof, Cape Town after he was diagnosed with cancer in September.

Born Lorenz Herman Binge, he was married to actress Joanie Combrink and had two sons, Laurie and Ludwig.

Herman Binge is the son of Ludwig Binge, a South African theatre pioneer.

Herman Binge who was the director of Waterfront Television producing TV work for Fremantle, made shows in various genres for television and was a director and producer at Marche Media in Cape Town for the past 5 years since March 2016. 

He had more than 40 years of professional experience in the industry with Sewende Straat Produksies that was his first production company that he started in the early 1990s in 7th Street in Melville, Johannesburg.

Later he started Cape Waterfront Television with Reid-Ross that eventually produced series for Fremantle Television (South Africa).

Herman Binge was a producer and executive producer of multiple series, mini-series, game shows and films for M-Net, (DStv 101), kykNET (DStv 144) and MultiChoice's video streaming service Showmax, ranging from Die Spreeus and Waterfront to Boer Soek 'n Vrou

Herman Binge also produced and steered the first few seasons of Idols for M-Net, as well as the one-season Afrikaans Idols for kykNET.

Other series include Die Byl, Liriekeraai, Die Francois Toerien ShowDie Tweede Lewe, Nobody Dies, Johnny is Nie Dood Nie, Kyk Wie Praat, VloeksteenOupa en Ouma Sit op die Stoep, Transito, Ella Blue, Geraldina die Tweede, Interrogation Room, Known Gods, Death in the Family, Daisy de Melker, Voices in the Wind, Die Hartseerwals, Brief vir Simone, and Ekstra Medium.

He was the writer of Nobody Dies and 'n Song vir Emily and appeared as an actor in series like Hoekies vir Eensames on which he was also a director, and on stage in plays like 4 Vertrekken 'n tuin, Pavane, Lysistrata and the cabaret Met Permissie.

Herman Binge was the director on TV series ranging from Living the Blues and The Syndicate, to Aba Kwazindenge and the made-for-TV movie, Pride of Africa, and did the Afrikaans history documentary series Die Afrikaners and Afrikaanse leiers for kykNET.

Friday, December 17, 2021

Media allowed to attend SABC News boss Phathiswa Magopeni's disciplinary hearing today as she accuses public broadcaster's chairperson Bongumusa Makhathini and CEO Madoda Mxakwe of editorial interference.

by Thinus Ferreira

The media will be able to attend the disciplinary hearing of the South African public broadcaster's SABC News boss Phathiswa Magopeni today who claims that she is being hounded out of the SABC and accused the SABC chairperson Bongumusa Makhathini and SABC CEO Madoda Mxakwe of gross editorial interference into the operations of SABC News.

Gugu Ntuli, SABC spokesperson has no comment.

Phathiswa Magopeni has been charged with negligence and of bringing the SABC into disrepute, after which she accused Bongumusa Makhathini and Madoda Mxakwe of editorial interference.

Media are allowed to attend Phathiswa Magopeni's disciplinary hearing starting today, after chairperson of the hearing, Advocate Nazeer Cassim ruled that journalists will be allowed into the disciplinary meeting to report on it.

It follows after lawyers for the South African National Editors' Forum (Sanef) and the Campaign for Free Expression (CFE) demanded that the disciplinary hearing be opened to the public since the SABC is a public broadcaster, although the SABC wanted to keep the disciplinary hearing's proceedings secret.

 Meanwhile, SABC chairperson Bongumusa Makhathini, who is implicated in the allegations of editorial interference, instead of recusing himself, wants to get rid of another SABC board member, Mary Papayya because she is a member of Sanef.

The Campaign for Free Expression (CFE) says that the media are allowed inside the disciplinary hearing "is an important victory with the hearing of this nature where there is strong public interest should be open".

"The SABC should be fully transparent, so the public can see if there is any validity to the claims that Phathiswa Magopeni is being targeted because she stood up against editorial interference. It is a very important point and hopefully, we will be able to establish the facts because the hearing will be fully open."

Sanef says that "there are charges levelled against Phathiswa Magopeni, for allegedly bringing the SABC into disrepute but at the same time, there are counterclaims from Phathiswa Magopeni which are directed at chairperson of the board and the CEO of the corporation."

"There are allegations of meddling and interference in news operations at SABC. As Sanef that is concerning to us, because we do know that the SABC comes from that history of political manipulation. We would hate to see the corporation go back to those days."

Thursday, December 16, 2021

Amazon Prime Video signs licensing deal with Nigeria's Inkblot Productions as first with any African production company.

by Thinus Ferreira

Amazon Prime Video has signed a multi-year licensing contract with Nigeria's Inkblot Productions as Amazon's first with any African production company.

Inkblot Productions, founded by Chinaza Onuzo, Zulumoke Oyibo and Damola Ademola in 2011 and that produces Nigerian films like The Wedding Party and its sequel, is giving Amazon Prime Video the exclusive worldwide rights for its upcoming slate of film releases that will go to Amazon Prime Video after its cinema window.

Inkblot Productions' upcoming slate includes The Set Up 2, Moms at War 2 and New Money 3 as well as new titles such as Charge and Bail, Superstar and The Blood Covenant.

"We know Amazon Prime Video customers around the world love movies and this new deal with Inkblot Studios will deliver some of the best Nigerian and African films available for our customers," says Ayanna Lonian, Amazon Prime Video director of content acquisition and head of worldwide major studio licensing strategy, in a statement.

"Nigerian stories are truly some of the most exciting and thrilling in the world. The Inkblot deal will allow us to deliver great Nigerian movies, post their theatrical release in Nigeria, to our global audience, and will continue to build upon Amazon Prime Video's catalog and goal to delight Prime members."

Chinaza Onuzo, co-founder of Inkblot Productions, in the statement says "At Inkblot Studios, we produce some of the biggest and most creative, original films in the Nigerian film industry. We are very excited about the opportunity to showcase our films to Amazon Prime Video's over 200 million members".

"We believe that Nigerian films have a truly global appeal and are thrilled to be working with Amazon Prime Video to deliver the very best in entertainment worldwide."

Wednesday, December 15, 2021

PICTORIAL. See Disney South Africa's 10 Christmas trees for 2021.

by Thinus Ferreira

If 2021 felt awful, and you have a minute, have a look at the 10 Christmas trees for 2021 that Disney has put up all across South Africa and you are guaranteed to feel better.

The Walt Disney Company Africa placed 10 incredible Disney-themed Christmas trees in malls across South Africa as part of the Mouse House's "From Our Family to Yours' campaign this year.

The Walt Disney Company Africa started with the Disney plush/soft toy tree project 6 years ago in 2016, with the first Disney soft toy tree at Cresta Mall in Johannesburg, the company tells TVwithThinus.

The following two years there was a tree at the Menlyn Shopping Centre, followed by Canal Walk in Cape Town in 2019 in.

Last year Disney partnered with 5 shopping malls across South Africa – with Frozen-themed trees at Gateway Theatre of Shopping (Durban), Canal Walk (Cape Town), Clearwater Mall and Sandton City (both in Johannesburg) and Woodlands Mall (Pretoria).

This year, Disney Africa went for a record of new record of 10 Christmas trees: Gateway Theatre of Shopping (Durban), Midlands Mall (Pietermaritzburg), Canal Walk, Somerset Mall and Cape Gate (all in Cape Town), Sandton City, Clearwater Mall, Rosebank Mall and The Glen (all in Johannesburg) and Woodlands Mall (Pretoria).

"Disney usually partners with just the malls on this project but this year it is a partnership with Nedbank4Me PennyPower. This year the charity beneficiary is Smile Foundation with all donations received at the donation stations around the trees in addition to the Minnie and Mickey plush toys going towards this organisation," Disney says.

Asked about what it takes to pull of 10 Christmas trees in 10 malls across South Africa is a very short space of time, Disney says that "The logistics around the trees is a challenge - this year especially with a global shipping crisis delaying the delivery of plush toys from abroad".

"The trees were meant to have gone up mid-November but there has been a delay," Disney admits but the trees were all up by the first week of December - just in time for the school holidays and the festive holiday period.

"It is also a challenge dealing with different malls as each mall has their own décor installation agency who they use for their Christmas décor and trees."

"So, with 10 malls, there are various teams to keep track of," Disney says.

"But they are all extremely professional and experts when it comes to Christmas tree building.  The Disney team worked directly with the décor agencies and assist them by coordinating the plush toy and Disney specific décor deliveries and timings and creative designs."

"Disney also works closely with the marketing managers of the various malls and property groups in terms of branding and messaging around the tree. Disney also liaises with the chosen charity and facilitates the dealings between the malls and the charity. This year Disney also served as the facilitator between Nedbank and the different malls."

Canal Walk

Cape Gate







The Glen