Monday, February 28, 2022

Paramount Africa adds Zee World to its sales portfolio as a TV channel from March.

by Thinus Ferreira

Paramount Africa, previously ViacomCBS Networks Africa (VCNA), is adding the Indian TV brand Zee World as a channel to its sales portfolio from 1 March.

Zee World, from Zee Entertainment Enterprises as the world's first English-dubbed Indian entertainment channel, is available on MultiChoice's DStv satellite pay-TV platform in South Africa and other African countries on DStv channel 166, as well as on GOtv on channel 25.

"The environment in which Paramount Africa operates necessitates a diverse, one-of-a-kind, and adaptive approach to commercialisation, distribution, promotion, and the incorporation of innovation in ensuring the success of our business," says Strini Naicker, vice president of commercial and content distribution at Paramount Africa.

"We are always open to new partnerships that will see us grow and also continue to offer content that resonates with our audiences."

Strini Naicker says that from March, Paramount Africa's stakeholders and partners will have an additional avenue and platform to promote their products and services. 

"The programming content on the Zee World channels are relatable and adapted to resonate with diversified consumers, which is what Paramount Africa strives for on a daily basis."

Craig Paterson, Paramount Africa senior vice president and general manager, says "Welcoming Zee World to our portfolio not only means a new audience, but it also delivers on some of our strategic objectives, to cater to a broader audience and live by our mantra of prioritising diversity and inclusion. This is an exciting partnership for the Africa business".

Ziyanda Ngcaba promoted to CEO of Rapid Blue from April as co-founder and CEO Duncan Irvine steps down after 3 decades.

by Thinus Ferreira

Ziyanda Ngcaba has been promoted as Rapid Blue CEO from 1 April with veteran producer and co-founder of the production company, Duncan Irvine, stepping down as CEO after three decades.

Duncan Irvine will be using his experience and skills in a new venture, "providing services to brands, broadcasters and production companies alike, in the areas of content development, packaging and funding solutions" according to a statement.

Rapid Blue has produced shows for all of South Africa's major broadcasters from the SABC and to various local M-Net channels and international third-party pay-TV channels on MultiChoice's DStv satellite pay-TV service.

Ziyanda Ngcaba joined Rapid Blue in 2020 as an executive producer and business director and was promoted to managing director at Rapid Blue in April 2021. She joined Rapid Blue after having worked at eMedia Investments and the SABC

During her time with Rapid Blue the production company has produced the 7th season of Come Dine with Me SA for BBC Lifestyle (DStv 174), the upcoming 10-episode original series Homegrown Tastes South Africa also for BBC Lifestyle fronted by Lorna Maseko, and the third season of the South African version of Celebrity Game Night for NBCUniversal's E! (DStv 124).

There's also been a second season of Family Feud South Africa with Steve Harvey as presenter for, with Rapid Blue that facilitated the Nigerian shoots for Warner Brothers Television's American series Bob Hearts Abishola seen on M-Net's 1Magic (DStv 103) channel.

Duncan Irvine in the statement says "I am thrilled that Ziyanda will be heading up Rapid Blue".

"With her wealth of expertise in the business of television, drive and creativity, I know we will see the company thrive. After almost 30 years leading Rapid Blue, I'm immensely proud of the team that we have built and I have no doubt that the future will be bright".

"I am grateful to be able to continue to offer my support in new ways by developing fresh content solutions through alternative funding models. Ziyanda has stepped into the managing director role seamlessly over the last year, I am confident that our vision will be carried forward under her leadership with the support of the best team in the industry."

Ziyanda Ngcaba says "I am hugely honoured to take the helm and steer this ship".

"I look forward to carrying ahead Duncan and Kee-Leen's values, creative ambition and passion for quality entertainment."

"With the company producing a series of brilliant shows, we are eager to continue to grow Rapid Blue productions and I am confident in the future. We have a strong creative team, with a combined experience of over 100 years in the industry,  who are vital in the future success of the company."

"We will continue to create brilliant projects which I can't wait for audiences in South Africa and around the world to see."

kykNET cancels KN Verslag as it looks to change the channel's actuality programming offering in 2022.

by Thinus Ferreira

kykNET has cancelled its KN Verslag weeknight actuality strand with M-Net's Afrikaans channels division that plans to make changes to its news actuality offering from June.

The recently renamed actuality talk show In Gesprek met Lourensa Eckard that was part of the KN Verslag offering from the same IdeaCandy production company will remain on the kykNET (DStv 144) schedule, as will Prontuit, but both shows will be moving to different timeslots.

The KN Verslag anchors Heindrich Wyngaard en Suzaan Steyn who are also the anchors of KLOP! on kykNET & Kie (DStv 145) and Spreekkamer on kykNET, will continue to anchor those two shows.

"kykNET is planning changes to our schedule that includes the renewing of our actuality offering," says Waldimar Pelser, M-Net director for kykNET channels in response to a media query.

"The programme KN Verslag presented by Heindrich Wyngaard and Suzaan Steyn will be on-air until June 2022 on kykNET on channel 144, a business decision of which the production team was recently notified.

"Both Heindrich and Suzaan will still be seen in respectively KLOP! on kykNET & kie and Spreekkamer on kykNET. Prontuit and In Gesprek met Lourensa Eckard will remain on air but will move to better timeslots later this year, which will be announced later," Waldimar Pelser said.

MultiChoice communications manager Sbu Mpungose jumps to Netflix in Amsterdam.

by Thinus Ferreira

Another MultiChoice senior communications manager has jumped ship to rival Netflix, with Sbu Mpungose who quietly exited the Randburg-based pay-TV operator for a communications manager job at the Netflix video streaming service, based in Amsterdam.

Sbu Mpungose - a former South African magazine editor of Move!, BONA, True Love, and Cosmopolitan who morphed into a PR agency publicist - was at MultiChoice for just over a year since October 2020 as a senior manager for public relations where she oversaw PR, brand engagement and sponsorship before exiting in 2022.

Sbu Mpungose follows former MultiChoice communications manager for MultiChoice Africa, Mokgadi Seabi who also left MultiChoice to join Netflix as communications manager in Amsterdam for the sub-Saharan Africa region in January 2020.

Sbu Mpungose has now joined Netflix as a PR manager based in Amsterdam in the Netherlands from where she works with Marang Setshawelo - also from South Africa - as Netflix publicity director for Netflix originals for sub-Saharan Africa. 

Netflix in Amsterdam uses the Sandton-based Eclipse Communications PR agency repping Netflix for South Africa.

MultiChoice hasn't notified the media that Sbu Mpungose is gone and is no longer a contact point for press. 

Recently Joe Heshu exited the position as head of MultiChoice's corporate communications team. Benedict Maaga also quietly exited MultiChoice last year to Absa from his role as a senior corporate communications manager at the MultiChoice Group, also without any notification to the media.

Saturday, February 26, 2022

SABC adds weekday horse racing show Racing Today to SABC Sport from April with showcase events on SABC3 in new contract with 4Racing.

by Thinus Ferreira

The SABC is adding a half-hour weekday horse racing show, Racing Today, to its SABC Sport channel from April that will run for 3 years, as well as 10 showcase horse racing events that will be shown in primetime on SABC3 after signing a contract with 4Racing.

Racing Today will be shown on weekdays for half an hour per day, Mondays to Fridays, over a three-year period, for 50 weeks a year, with 10 of South Africa's showcase horse-racing events that will be shown in primetime on SABC3.

The SABC's deal for a horse racing magazine show in the form of Racing Today, as well as the showcase horse-racing events from 4Racing, is separate from 4Racing TV's deal with MultiChoice.

4Racing is giving MultiChoice's DStv subscribers the same content in the form of showing the same horse-racing events to a pay-TV audience through the new Racing 240 TV channel that MultiChoice added to DStv in mid-January this year.

From April 2022 Racing Today will be on SABC Sport as the South African public broadcaster's digital terrestrial TV channel, also available to eMedia's Openview satellite platform, and on Telkom's TelkomONE vide streaming service, but not to MultiChoice's DStv or StarTimes' StarSat platforms.

Fundi Sithebe, 4Racing CEO, in a statement, says "We are delighted to partner with the SABC in this multi-year deal to ensure the sport of horse racing returns as a regular addition to the SABC's premier sports programming".

"Having the country's largest free-to-air broadcaster, with an audience reach of over 32 million across the country, helps us to fulfil our mandate to reach new audiences, grow participation in and knowledge of the sport, and make horse racing more accessible."

"Through the SABC's coverage over the years of legendary South African horses like Wolf Power, Horse Chestnut, Jet Master, Sea Cottage and Pocket Power, and jockeys like Felix Coetzee, Michael ‘Muis’ Roberts, Pierre Strydom and Jeff Lloyd, horse racing became a premier sport and those horses and jockeys household names across the country."

Gary Rathbone, the head of SABC Sport, says in the statement that "horse racing has long been a major part of the SABC Sport offering and after a long absence from our platforms, it's great to have the sport of kings back on air on the public broadcaster".

"Being able to feature South Africa’s best thoroughbreds and champions jockeys fighting it out in these iconic races on the annual calendar is something I'm sure will excite millions of South Africans who will now be able to access the best racing on offer live and free on the SABC."

Stephen Watson, head of 4Racing TV and Discover Digital executive director, says the "deal with the SABC is a significant one for us at 4Racing and for all current and prospective punters and racegoers who love the sport".

"We have been working with the SABC over the last year and this partnership has already seen live coverage of major race days such as the World Sports Betting Cape Town Met and Summer Cup and the L'Ormarins Queens Plate, while we've also assisted Gold Circle to get one of the country's biggest and most important race days, the Gold Cup, broadcast live on SABC3".

Friday, February 25, 2022

SABC1 returns the remaining first season episodes of SABC3's struggling telenovela The Estate to its schedule in March with a double bill conclusion on 8 April.

by Thinus Ferreira

The rebroadcast of the struggling SABC3 telenovela The Estate is back on the SABC1 schedule in March, a day after TVwithThinus reported on Thursday that SABC1 decided to drop it from 7 March a month before its first season conclusion, to make way for a new telenovela entitled The Executives.

On Friday the SABC once again issued yet another schedule change for SABC1 with The Estate back on SABC1 during March after it disappeared in the previous scheduling update.

SABC1 will now burn off the remainder of The Estate's first season episodes until 8 April when it will end with a double bill first season ender between 19:30 and 20:30.

The SABC didn't give any explanation for the schedule removal of The Estate and adding it back to the SABC1 schedule on Friday,except to note that "The Estate will continue to be broadcast on SABC1".

The Estate - positioned as the replacement of SABC3's cancelled Isidingo that ended in March 2020 - made its debut in April 2021 with disappointing ratings that kept worsening month after month, with the show that will very likely not survive past this year.

The SABC and SABC3 did very little to no publicity before, during and after the debut of The Estate to give it any kind of push for relevance in a crowded TV space with the media covering television that moved on after the broadcaster showed that The Estate isn't an important show to give media attention or coverage to.

In 2021 the crew and cast of The Estate went unpaid for months with several broken promises of payment and with the SABC that said it had "great concern" about the issue.

Clive Morris Productions told cast and crew in late-2021 that their payments can't be made because of "delayed payment from the SABC", but the SABC said that it had paid the company.

While the SABC said that Clive Morris Productions has been fully paid for The Estate, the production company told cast and crew who were last paid in November 2021 that it's because of "delayed payment from the SABC due to the change in contract".

The SABC said that it "can confirm that the corporation has fully paid the production house responsible for The Estate for the season in contract".

DStv subscribers once again get nothing but a black screen and complain after MultiChoice updates its DStv app.

by Thinus Ferreira

DStv subscribers on Thursday and Friday once again struggled with being unable to watch DStv on the DStv app after MultiChoice updated the app to version 2.4.7, once again resulting in a black screen as happened before.

MultiChoice gave no explanation to DStv subscribers as to the cause of the problem but it is likely due to an app upgrade that went wrong.

DStv subscribers kept complaining through Thursday and Friday into Friday evening.

MultiChoice didn't explain the problem but told DStv subscribers that "our techies are aware of the issue and they are working around the clock to ensure a resolution. We sincerely apologise for the inconvenience".

"DStv your streaming app is the kakste app ever," said Eduard Rosenstrauch. "Just a black screen. Clearing the cache, deleting all data, stopping app. Nothing works. Streaming service just getting kakker and kakker. You want to take it away - well there is nothing to take away. Kakkest app!"

"Ignoring the problem won't let it go away. Are you working on a fix for the DStv app or are you having lekker weekend already? I would really like to watch the rugby tonight and then enjoy the cricket as well. DStv Care your service is just as kak as the app," he said, echoing the remarks of many DStv subscribers who complained on Thursday and Friday.

Warwick Ward-cossaid "I've fixed your app problem on Android TV with live streaming of black screens. Downgrading the app to version 2.4.6 fixes it."

Earlier this week MultiChoice posted a notification, not shared with media, that from 22 March it will be clamping down with a DStv streaming limit, allowing only one live stream per device per DStv account.

The notification led to widespread and growing outrage under DStv subscribers.

Paramount Africa: Launching Paramount+ streamer in Africa in 2023 will help us reach even greater audiences.

by Thinus Ferreira

With the rebranding of ViacomCBS into Paramount, ViacomCBS Networks Africa will now be known simply as Paramount Africa, with Paramount Africa saying it's looking forward to launching the Paramount+ video streaming service across the continent in 2023 that will help it to reach even bigger audiences than through traditional pay-TV alone.

With Paramount looking to rapidly expand its Paramount+ streaming service globally, South Africa is now on the priority list for the streamer, with South Africans who will get access to Paramount+ next year as the next global streaming service after the launch of The Walt Disney Company's Disney+ streamer anytime from June this year.

South African consumers already have a growing access choice of over-the-top (OTT) streaming services ranging from Netflix SA and Amazon Prime Video, to MultiChoice Showmax, VIU, Apple TV+, Vodacom's Video Play, eMedia's eVOD and some smaller players.

Discovery+, WarnerMedia's HBO Max and NBCUniversal's Peacock have not yet launched in South Africa or made any announcements about expanding into South Africa or the sub-Saharan Africa region.

Paramount, which distributes TV channels like MTV, BET Africa, Comedy Central, Nickelodeon to pay-TV operators like MultiChoice's DStv and sells American series like Billions to pay-TV channels like M-Net (DStv 101), now see a new opportunity to go directly to consumers with its own streaming service.

A raft of new content has been commissioned specifically for Paramount+, like the video game adaptation Halo that will launch on the streamer on 24 March but which will not be accessible to South African viewers except through pirate viewing.

"We see a huge global opportunity in streaming, a much larger potential market than can be captured by linear TV and film alone," Bob Bakish, Paramount president and CEO said last week at Paramount's latest investors' presentation where the ViacomCBS to Paramount name change was announced.

"We're broader in four key areas: our diverse content, streaming model, mix of platforms and global reach. As we look forward, the size of the opportunity we see is matched only by our ambition to seize it." 

Craig Paterson, Paramount Africa senior vice president and general manager, says "The continued global expansion to bring Paramount+ to Africa by 2023 underscores the importance of the stories we create, which are only as powerful as the audiences they reach".

"Paramount+ has established itself as a leading brand in the industry in less than a year, and will strengthen the traditional business and allow greater opportunity for collaboration and growth."

"This is an exciting time for the Africa business, and our future streaming plans across multiple platforms will enable us to reach even greater audiences."

About Paramount+, Monde Twala, Paramount Africa's senior vice president, general manager, and peer lead at BET International, says "This pioneering move amplifies our dedication to innovation, collaboration through partnerships, creativity and global reach".

"It's a great opportunity to further showcase the power and growth of African content across the markets. While encapsulating the business objective and growth spectrum of the brand, the decision also enables us to continue to focus on delivering unique stories from Africa to the world."

"ViacomCBS Networks Africa, now Paramount Africa, will have the impetus to go forward in delivering on driving social change, diverse entertainment content creation and global format production partnerships."

Editor's note: In South Africa, Paramount has now started to use the Vuma Reputation Management PR firm to do its corporate communications.

Analysts: 'Complete lack of foresight': MultiChoice in trouble without sport and local content while its new live-stream clampdown limit to just 1 stream might force DStv subscribers to rivals like Netflix.

by Thinus Ferreira

Analysts and experts are slamming MultiChoice's sudden decision to clamp down with a new live-stream limit of just one stream for DStv subscribers set to come into effect from 22 March, saying that MultiChoice's decision will drive DStv subscribers to rivals like Netflix and Amazon Prime Video, with only SuperSport's offering and local content that is keeping DStv going.

Analysts and experts say MultiChoice has been over half a decade late in unbundling sport from the other offerings and now hamstringing the future of its business, that MultiChoice is showing a "complete lack of foresight" about the changes the internet is forcing media companies to make, and that MultiChoice doesn't seem to understand how the market is changing.

The BusinessDay TV (DStv 412) channel discussed (from minute 13:30) the outrage over MultiChoice's decision to clamp down and limit DStv streaming to just one live stream on one device.

"Given the outrage, it means MultiChoice will probably be able to find a more elegant solution - maybe they just limit the number of streaming per account to 5 then you can watch in the lounge while you're children watch in the bedroom on the same subscription," Wayne McCurrie at FNB Wealth and Investments said.

"I'm sure there's going to be a more elegant solution than just saying 'one' per subscription."

"Honestly if it wasn't for the sports offering - and there is a big element of local content as well which I don't watch - if it wasn't for the sports element and local content, the Netflix and the YouTube and the whatever else - they'd be in serious trouble."

MultiChoice chasing subscribers away
Waheed Swales, Sunstrike Capital CEO, on Twitter, said "Economically they're banking on the fact that they will somehow increase DStv's subscriber count by limiting the number of concurrent streams to 1, and yet all its doing is making people feel A LOT less justified in maintaining a subscription".

"You had 4 profiles in the past, plus up to 3 live decoder signals in 1 house, via triple view. Essentially that meant you could have 5 people sharing the subscription (around R900 for 5). Now you potentially lose the owner of the subscription due to a singular high cost. Poor form man."

"Netflix was asked about sharing accounts before, and they answered very diplomatically, knowing full well that their model of 4 simultaneous streams at the highest tier-offering (R200 per month) is perfectly feasible, even with account sharing literally building it into their pricing."

"More and more MultiChoice seem to show a complete lack of foresight in how web3 will impact media consumption. Web2 already has on-demand streaming. Web3 is going to push singular multi-device consumption more than ever with higher bandwidth. MultiChoice's exco are actually a joke to be honest."

"They are 5 years too late in unbundling sport from the other offerings and now are hamstringing the future of their business. Imagine thinking that satellites and decoders are your lifeblood? F-sakes, what a bunch of boomers man."

"Lastly, the biggest factor here for me is that as a tech company, you NEVER EVER EVER turn off something without an alternative - history wins here. Something should've been launched before they did this. That way, the uproar would've been smaller and less impactful," Waheed Swales said.

If others can handle multiple logins why can't DStv?
Andrew Fraser, marketing strategy consults, said on Twitter that "DStv isn't managing a unique problem, all the subscription services that offer multiple streams are dealing with shared logins".

"As DStv moves from being a linear TV company towards a streaming future because that is inevitable, a single content stream will simply not be competitive, especially for the premium service."

"I'm surprised that this is the solution that they are touting. Even the Showmax (another MultiChoice property) premium tier offers two concurrent streams."

"And this market is likely to get more competitive, not less as multinationals with big content libraries have relatively small barriers to enter the market. So we're likely to see Disney+ in South Africa sooner rather than later."

"If these companies can manage multiple logins, why can't DStv?"

"It's easy for accountants to say that they're losing huge amounts of revenue because of this sharing, but in reality, it's a bit more complex. The estimate is that 20% of accounts are shared but the estimation of lost revenue is only around 2.5%."

"If this is such a big issue, why is there such a big mismatch in the impact on revenue? It's because many of those people that are freeloading aren't actual potential buyers. If they can get it for free or for a reduced or shared fee, they will not buy."

"And if they don't buy, they'll either simply do without, find alternative content, or they'll find another source for the content that provides it at a price point that they're comfortable with (i.e. piracy). They're mostly not actual consumers."

"MultiChoice doesn't seem to understand this, and I think the backlash from DStv subscribers  - both those that have been sharing logins and those that have been using the service legitimately - will cause the unintended consequence that revenue will be lost, not gained," Andrew Fraser says.

TVwithThinus made a media interview request and asked MultiChoice on Thursday if any executive is available for an interview to unpack and to explain with more depth the decision to limit DStv streaming.

Itumeleng Thulare at MultiChoice corporate communications responded and said that the request for an interview is declined.

MultiChoice Q&A on new DStv live-stream limit clampdown: No 'family plan' for DStv streaming.

by Thinus Ferreira

MultiChoice has no so-called "family plan" for DStv streaming for its subscribers and if it were to introduce one, the pay-TV operator says it will announce it.

The dramatic change angering DStv subscribers means that only one viewer with access to a DStv account will be able to watch and live stream one DStv channel at a time from 22 March. 

It means that a child in a TV household won't be able to watch a kids show on a youth channel while a mom is watching a soap opera, or the mom unable to watch her appointment-show if a husband is watching sport. 

MultiChoice is battling the growing popularity of global video streaming services like Netflix SA offering 4 simultaneous or "concurrent" streams on its top Premium package for R199 per month, and two concurrent streams on its R159 Standard-plan.

After the change, MultiChoice will compare very badly in terms of what it offers DStv customers, compared to the global benchmark. Like Netflix, Sky in the United Kingdom offers its top-tier pay-TV subscribers 4 concurrent streams, and subscribers on mid-tiered packaged 2 streams.

In America, multiple pay-TV operators offer their customers far more than one digital stream, with Comcast's Xfinity allowing customers to stream video on up to 5 devices simultaneously. Many make no distinction between whether a subscriber is watching a live TV channel being streamed or catalogue library material. 

MultiChoice was asked for answers to 4 specific questions in a media query to publish in a Q&A format.

1. In making the decision, what research did MultiChoice use and what findings informed MultiChoice’s decision, for instance how many people in a household now share a DStv login/password, or how many people are a DStv login on average shared with, and when did MultiChoice research this?

2. Why didn't or can't MultiChoice create a type of "family plan" that would allow family members in one household to watch separate streams of live DStv content on different devices at the same time?

3. Families say that although the slogan is "so much more" that MultiChoice is now offering less and will make family members with DStv fight again, like they used to do over control of the remote control as different viewers are forced to compete over who gets to watch a live channel on streaming. Are household members forced to compete for content or what is MultiChoice's response to this?

4. People who watch longform content, for instance a sport match or a movie will now effectively block other family members for a long time from watching shorter form content when/while they are watching (i.e. a half-hour kids show or a half-hour soap). 
Does MultiChoice expect to see an uptick or increase in the consumption of more longer forms of programming, for instance more content consumed that are longer in duration as opposed to a volume of shorter form content being consumed?.

MultiChoice didn't provide specific responses to these 4 questions. 

In its response, published here in full as received, MultiChoice reiterated what it already placed in its announcement on the company's website about the change, saying: "The challenges of password sharing and piracy is not unique to MultiChoice. Streaming providers around the world face the same challenges".

"As a business, we have processes in place to monitor and assess piracy across our platforms and this enable us to take the necessary steps as and when is required".

MultiChoice continued its response by noting: "Regarding the different scenarios you outlined in your questions, it depends on the type of subscription a customer has. Our customers access our content through a number of different devices and this allows us to provide various watching permutations."

"In terms of creating a 'family plan', we constantly review our products and services to meet the needs of our customers. When we have a new product, we will make the necessary announcement."

Thursday, February 24, 2022

SABC removes the SABC1 rebroadcast of SABC3's struggling The Estate telenovela that will vanish a month before the end of its first season.

by Thinus Ferreira

In another embarrassing and inexplicable decision, the SABC has decided to scupper the rebroadcast of the first season of the repositioned SABC3 telenovela The Estate from the SABC1 schedule with the struggling show that will abruptly disappear a month before its end with viewers who've been watching it to catch up seeing no conclusion on SABC1.

The SABC decided to place the struggling S3 telenovela from Clive Morris Productions on SABC1 for a rerun since September 2021 but is now removing it before even having shown the first full first season.

The daft decision of starting a show and ending it without showing the ending comes with no explanation from the SABC, SABC3 or SABC1 about the programming move.

The Estate, struggling in the ratings on S3, will be gone from SABC1 from Monday 7 March when it's suddenly getting replaced by a new telenovela, The Executives from Mondays to Wednesdays.

The Estate - positioned as the replacement of SABC3's cancelled Isidingo that ended in March 2020 - made its debut in April 2021 with disappointing ratings that kept worsening month after month, with the show that will very likely not survive past this year.

The SABC and SABC3 did very little to no publicity before, during and after the debut of The Estate to give it any kind of push for relevance in a crowded TV space with the media covering television that moved on after the broadcaster showed that The Estate isn't an important show to give media attention or coverage to.

In 2021 the crew and cast of The Estate went unpaid for months with several broken promises of payment and with the SABC that said it had "great concern" about the issue.

Clive Morris Productions told cast and crew in late-2021 that their payments can't be made because of "delayed payment from the SABC", but the SABC said that it had paid the company.

While the SABC said that Clive Morris Productions has been fully paid for The Estate, the production company told cast and crew who were last paid in November 2021 that it's because of "delayed payment from the SABC due to the change in contract".

The SABC said that it "can confirm that the corporation has fully paid the production house responsible for The Estate for the season in contract".

Wednesday, February 23, 2022

What DStv's digital one-stream viewing limit is - and isn't.

by Thinus Ferreira

A month from now, more than one viewer will no longer be able to login online using the same DStv account to watch DStv at the same time, if someone else is already watching - but what exactly does this mean, what is changing, and how will it work?

First off, nothing is changing if you're watching Showmax or have been using Showmax which is MultiChoice's video streaming service.

Nothing is changing if you're been watching DStv through a decoder, and nothing is changing if you have more than one DStv decoder, and they are connected with Xtraview in order to enable a multi-view environment (i.e watching different DStv channels on different screens at the same time).

What is changing, from 22 March, is that a live DStv channel won't "play" digitally on DStv/DStv Now/DStv Catch Up after you've logged in, if someone is already logged in on another device, into the same account and watching the same or another DStv channel already.

In other words, on the same DStv account it will no longer be possible for more than one person, on different devices, to watch TV and the same or different DStv channels at the same time.

MultiChoice is limiting watching DStv digitally to just one device at a time with this device being a laptop or mobile device, or even a Connected TV if you're watching DStv that way.

Watching multiple streams is known as "concurrent streaming" - more than one stream at the same time. MultiChoice is limiting concurrent streaming.

It will however still remain possible to watch content you've already downloaded on one device under a specific account, while watching a live DStv channel at the same time under that specific account on a different device. 

DStv subscribers won't be allowed to watch the same or different live DStv channels at the same time on different devices. 

If you're watching Mzansi Magic or eNCA or Nickelodeon digitally as a live TV channel as a DStv subscriber on a device, nobody else - even if they're logged in with the same account details - would be able to watch that same or any other TV channel as a live linear channel on another device.

Of course it will still be possible to watch a live DStv channel on a TV set connected to a DStv decoder, while someone is watching another DStv channel, using the same subscriber account, on a digital device.

Something else: It will still be possible to register up to 4 devices to watch DStv. 

What is changing from 22 March is that only one of those 4 devices at a time will be able to be used to watch or stream live DStv content.

South African artist Riky Rick (34) commits suicide.

by Thinus Ferreira

The South African hip-hop artist Rikhado Muziwendlovu Makhado, known as Riky Rick, committed suicide after suffering from depression and hanging himself in his home in Johannesburg on Wednesday morning. He was 34.

Sunday World reported that the singer committed suicide at his estate home in the north of Johannesburg and was found hanging with a rope at 08:30 this morning. He was still alive but died on the way to hospital.

Riky Rick, who was born and raised in KwaMashu in KwaZulu-Natal, was the founder and owner of the Cotton Club Records record label and was one of the coaches during the third season of The Voice South Africa on M-Net (DStv 101) in 2019.

Riky Rick was married to Bianca Naidoo and they had 2 children. His debut studio album Family Values in 2015 went platinum after he released his single "Nafukwa" in 2014. 

Riky Rik appeared as himself with several guest appearances across various TV shows over the past couple of years, including Zazizwa, and as a guest judge in The Hustle

The singer-songwriter played the character of Mandelic in Isibaya on Mzansi Magic (DStv 161) and was Smash in's Rhythm City.  

After years of struggling with alcohol and drug addiction in his youth, Riky said that he was practising sobriety.

■ If you or someone you know needs help with suicide, anxiety or depression, call the South African Depression and Anxiety Group's 24-hour helpline at 0800 456 789 or 011 234 4837 or the Whatsapp chat number 076 882 2775, the Suicide Crisis helpline at 0800 12 13 14, or Lifeline SA at 0861 322 322. 

eMedia to shut 'no longer viable' etv News & Sport channel and axe 45 workers.

by Thinus Ferreira

eMedia Investments plans to close down its etv News & Sport channel on its Openview satellite that it says is "no longer viable" and also wants to move the NewsLink timeslot on eNCA (DStv 403), apparently "not aligned to the tone and pace of news" to Johannesburg with over three dozen staff members affected at etv News & Sport, including working for eNCA, with workers who got served with Section 189 retrenchment letters.

eMedia didn't respond to a media query about the shuttering and retrenchment plan of etv News & Sport that could be gone by the end of March 2022 and will leave 45 people out of jobs.

eMedia launched the unique OpenNews, primarily produced from Cape Town, three years ago in November 2018 on its Openview free-to-air satellite TV service on channel 120.

It was South Africa's first free-to-air TV news channel from a commercial company with the aim of bringing viewers across Southern Africa a new additional TV news choice, more views and more diverse news coverage.

A few months after its launch eMedia renamed OpenNews as e News & Sport, and in August 2019 etv News & Sport was also quietly added to the VIU video streaming service as a streaming channel as well.

OpenNews started broadcasting 18 hours for seven days a week but after the format didn't deliver the expected performance and audience share, the broadcast hours and live news were reduced.

The etv News & Sport channel has been doing a half-hour live news bulletin on weekdays (also broadcast on at 13:00, a 3.5 hour broadcast on weekday afternoons, a well-watched half-hour live news broadcast at 20:00, and with repeat programming and sports content over weekends.

Distraught staffers who have now been told that e News & Sport is struggling and must be closed down, say speculation is rife inside corridors that eMedia is being pressured by MultiChoice to get rid of the channel that is allegedly seen as being in direct competition with, and contributing to content dilution of, eNCA.

eMedia produces eNCA exclusively to DStv as part of an existing pay-TV channel carriage agreement that is up for renewal every few years.

eMedia has now served almost 4 dozen shocked staff members with Section 189 letters, signed by managing director Marlon Davids, saying the company has "reassessed the positioning of channel 120 in the Openview bouquet".

A staff meeting is set for Wednesday, with staff who will hear why eMedia wants to close down the TV news channel tomorrow afternoon.

The same etv News & Sport production team is also responsible for the NewsLink programming strand on eNCA, with eMedia that now wants to get rid of those workers and make eNCA's Johannesburg office responsible for doing the morning timeslot between 09:00 and 11:00.

eMedia told staff that etv News & Sport "is no longer viable as a news service and therefore no longer supports the operational requirements".  According to eMedia Investments, etv News & Sport is "not a sustainable or effective channel" in the Openview bouquet "and it will not appeal to audiences as a documentary and current affairs channel".

About the NewsLink timeslot with Cape Town co-anchors Annika Larsen and Tapfuma Makina, eMedia management says that after "careful review of the flow of live news on eNCA, the business has determined that NewsLink is the only product that is outsourced and therefore not aligned to the tone and pace of news".

The plan is to move NewsLink to Johannesburg with new anchors and producers "where it is completely integrated into the carefully planned and facilitated rundown that is specifically designed to increase audience and market share" for eNCA.

No final decision on the NewsLink cross-country move has been taken yet.

eMedia says the restructuring "may lead to the operational dismissal of all of the employees in the company" which includes 37 permanent workers and 8 fixed-term contract workers, including everyone from anchors, editors, producers and camera operators to journalists and various other technical staff.

Low morale and staff 'crushed'
"This is the first time that etv News & Sport staff ever heard that the channel is apparently not performing," an insider said. 

"People are utterly crushed. Many are young, like producers in their 20s. They just started working in news and television and journalism."

"People are gutted about the plan to close etv News & Sport and are openly wondering how much the closure has to do with negotiations between eMedia and MultiChoice over the future of eNCA and to get the channel out of the crosshairs so eNCA can remain on DStv." 

"The morale inside corridors has already been so low - now people are hit with something like this."

No more soaps and soccer at the same time: DStv subscribers outraged over MultiChoice's live-stream limiting decision.

by Thinus Ferreira

With their ability taken away to watch soaps and soccer or Paw Patrol and rugby at the same time, South Africans slammed MultiChoice late on Tuesday after the pay-TV operator's announcement that it will now limit DStv subscribers to watching just a single DStv stream on one device at a time to try and crackdown on password-sharing.

On Tuesday afternoon MultiChoice announced that from 22 March it will no longer allow a DStv account to stream DStv content - either library content or a linear TV channel as a live stream - on more than one device at the same time.

MultiChoice said that "As part of our ongoing efforts to counteract password sharing and piracy, while continuing to bring you the best viewing experience, we will be introducing measures to limit concurrent streaming. From 22 March 2022 customers will be limited to streaming DStv on one device at a time. They will still be able to watch previously downloaded content on a second device."

MultiChoice that made the announcement just as another annual DStv fees increase will come into effect from March, said the change is being made to all DStv subscriptions across Africa but that "only customers making use of more than one concurrent stream will be directly affected by the change."

South Africans responded with anger over DStv's new streaming limiting decision, as public outrage kept building through Tuesday night and continuing into Wednesday morning, as people said they're ready to cut the cord and cancel on DStv, and wondering why MultiChoice isn't able to create a DStv streaming "family plan" to allow more than one member of a family to watch DStv online at the same time like Netflix, Amazon Prime Video or other streaming services.

A family living in the same house and paying and making use of the same DStv account - some with more than one DStv decoder - will no longer be able to watch a live rugby match on a SuperSport channel in one room on one device while children or another adult watch a kids show or a local drama series or soap on another device on another DStv channel.

American and British pay-TV operators like Comcast and Sky are not limiting their pay-TV subscribers to just one live stream, and neither are global video streaming services.

MultiChoice said it's "not limiting the number of people using a login, however, we are limiting (to one) the number of people who can stream at the same time."

DStv subscribers described MultiChoice's move as "dumb" and "not smart". 

Many said that they can't wait for the Disney+ streamer to launch from around June this year, and others said they've already ended their DStv subscriptions and have switched to making use of just streaming services like Netflix SA.

Tuesday, February 22, 2022

MultiChoice cracks down on password-sharing, limits DStv streaming to one device.

by Thinus Ferreira

In an attempt to crack down on password-sharing and pirate-viewing, MultiChoice will limit DStv video streaming to one device at a time from 22 March.

From 22 March MultiChoice will no longer allow a DStv subscriber to stream DStv Catch Up content - either library content or a linear TV channel as a live stream - on more than one device at the same time.

MultiChoice only told its own staffers on Tuesday about the decision, shortly before posting a notification to DStv subscribers on the MultiChoice website. 

MultiChoice didn't bother to tell the media or to communicate through emailing a basic press release detailing the changes from its own corporate communications team or the two PR companies, Duma Collective or JR Communications that MultiChoice has on retainer and pay to liaise with the media.

In a memorandum to MultiChoice staff on Tuesday, Nyiko Shiburi, MultiChoice South Africa CEO said that streaming services like that which MultiChoice provides, are challenged by password-sharing and piracy.

"This has a devastating effect on the growth of the entertainment industry generally. Therefore, streaming providers are compelled to take steps to address these activities."

Nyiko Shiburi said that MultiChoice is clamping down on allowing its customers from watching more than one live stream from 22 March 2022 and that "We will be communicating to customers regarding this today".

On its DStv website, MultiChoice later on Tuesday said "Password sharing and piracy are challenges for streaming providers globally".

"As part of our ongoing efforts to counteract password sharing and piracy, while continuing to bring you the best viewing experience, we will be introducing measures to limit concurrent streaming. From 22 March 2022 customers will be limited to streaming DStv on one device at a time. They will still be able to watch previously downloaded content on a second device."

MultiChoice says the change is being made to all DStv subscriptions across Africa but that "only customers making use of more than one concurrent stream will be directly affected by the change."

MultiChoice says the pay-TV operator "will not limit the number of people using a login, however, we are limiting (to one) the number of people who can stream at the same time."

If for instance, someone in a household is watching live streaming of a linear TV channel, someone else in the household won't be able to watch an episode of a series on another device or do binge-watching.

MultiChoice says that offline viewing is not impacted by this change and that the number of devices a DStv subscriber can have registered for streaming does not change with up to 4 registered devices that are allowed.

Showmax subscribers are not impacted and the change only applies when streaming DStv.

Cancelled Wendy Williams Show to end in June, replaced by Sherri Shepherd.

by Thinus Ferreira

The Wendy Williams Show is reportedly getting cancelled and will end in June with the same staff hired to work on the new Sherri talk show that will debut later in 2022.


According to American reports, the producers told staff working on The Wendy Williams Show that it was getting cancelled at the end of June, and immediately "rehired" everyone to work on the new talk show for Sherri Shepherd who has been a fill-in host.

After numerous announcements of when the latest 13th season of The Wendy Williams Show - seen in South Africa and across the rest of sub-Saharan Africa on BET (DStv 129), would start - and multiple postponements citing Wendy's ongoing health issues and ill health, the producers and Lionsgate distributor Debmar-Mercury who have a responsibility to deliver a show and new episodes, eventually decided to keep Wendy sidelined and to schedule a revolving roster of guest hosts. 

Earlier this week Wendy Williams, who has left New York and has been seen cavorting in Miami, suddenly appeared in a new account on Instagram as she's trying to claw back some form of control after she lost control and access of the official WendyShow Instagram account.

The loss of her official Instagram account follows after the American bank Wells Fargo also froze all of her bank accounts after her own financial advisor said Wendy is "not of sound mind" with Wendy now defaulting on payments as well.

According to insiders, Wendy Williams had become "unbearable, having tantrums and throwing things at people. Basically the consensus among the crew is that she didn't want to be there anymore. Her illness may have exacerbated that feeling".

RadarOnline cites sources connected to the show, that the producers and Debmar-Mercury are on the verge of announcing that Sherri Shepherd is taking over from Wendy Williams on a permanent basis, with the talk show that will be refashioned after a new talk show host.

According to reports, the show's producers were still on the fence about whether to wait for Wendy Williams to get better and return to the show following her absence during the current 13th season, but that her latest Instagram video "sent them off the edge" in which she updated fans as she walked down the beach.

Wendy Williams told viewers that she planned on returning to The Wendy Williams Show and would be in better shape than ever.

This angered the production staff who have been trying to get her to film a short video for over a month as an update.

"Producers had been begging Wendy for months to address her fans on social media to explain in her own words what was going on. They were willing to send a team of social media professionals from the show to Florida to film and edit a short video that could be posted over all the Wendy show accounts, but Wendy wouldn't return their calls," a source told RadarOnline.

In September 2021 Wendy Williams was taken to a New York hospital for psychiatric evaluation.

UPDATE Tuesday 22 February 17:00:

Debmar-Mercury officially announced on Tuesday that The Wendy Williams Show will end with Sherri Shepherd taking over as the new talk show host later in 2022.

Sherri will be distributed by Lionsgate's Debmar-Mercury with showrunner David Perler remaining in the same position on Sherri, executive producing alongside Sherri Shepherd and her producer partner Jawn Murray.

"Sherri is a natural who proved her hosting skills for many years as a panellist on The View, on Fox's Dish Nation and again this season as a popular guest host of Wendy," Debmar-Mercury co-presidents Mort Marcus and Ira Bernstein say in a statement.

"Like our viewers, we have been impressed by the unique comedic twist Sherri puts on our daily live 'Hot Topics' segment, her creativity and interactions with our guests. Her love for the content and daytime fans is obvious, and we are excited to partner with her to create another long-term talk franchise."

"This is also a bitter-sweet moment for us and our partners at Fox. We all have a great love and affinity for Wendy, who grew into a true icon during her 12 incredible seasons as the solo host of a live, daily talk show dishing on 'Hot Topics' and interviewing celebrities."

"Since Wendy is still not available to host the show as she continues on her road to recovery, we believe it is best for our fans, stations and advertising partners to start making this transition now. We hope to be able to work with Wendy again in the future, and continue to wish her a speedy and full recovery."