Friday, July 29, 2022

Jody Jacobs exits as eNCA broadcast manager.

by Thinus Ferreira

Jody Jacobs has left eMedia Investment's TV news channel eNCA (DStv 403) as broadcast manager.

On social media he said "and so the journey comes to an end", noting "there were good times and trying times but overall it's been a great journey. Goodbye to all the great people I had the pleasure of working with".

The former News Prime Time reporter who joined in 2007 and left in October 2012 after 5 years, returned to eMedia and joined eNCA in January 2015 as a reporter and producer.

After that Jody Jacobs was appointed as eNCA's head of output in May 2018 during a turbulent time for the TV news channel.

Then, after 10 months he was repositioned and appointed as eNCA's broadcast manager in March 2019, managing day-to-day eNCA newsroom operations which he has done for just over 4 years until his exit this month. 

In total Jody Jacobs was at eNCA for 7 and a half years.

eMedia didn't immediately respond to a media query about Jody Jacobs' exit which wasn't announced, and who will be replacing him in the broadcast manager position, but comment will be added here if or when received.

Connie Ferguson to launch the Ferguson Foundation in August dedicated to late husband-producer Shona with a film school for students to build South Africa's film industry.

by Thinus Ferreira

Connie Ferguson will officially launch her and her late husband Shona's Ferguson Foundation in August which will be a new South African film school to help disadvantaged students to enter the film and TV industry as producers as well as in front of the cameras as actors.

The Fergusons' plan to launch their Ferguson Foundation was postponed following the unexpected death of Shona (47) in late July a year ago.

Under their Ferguson Films banner launched in 2010, the couple produced series like Rockville, iGazi, The Throne, The Herd, The Imposter and The Queen for M-Net's Mzansi Magic (DStv 161) channel and Kings of Joburg for Netflix South Africa.

Now the Ferguson Foundation will be officially launched with a gala dinner on Friday evening 5 August, in memory of co-founder Shona, at The Venue at the Houghton Hotel in Johannesburg where the actress, businesswoman and producer will dedicate the couple's philanthropic endeavour to her late husband.

"The official launch of the Ferguson Foundation is on the way, thank you for your patience and support in the build-up to the big day and all the activities we have been undertaking," Connie says in a statement, with the Ferguson Films owner noting that it marks "new beginnings".

"The Ferguson Foundation gala launch, in loving memory of our co-founder Shona Ferguson, will be held on Friday 5 August 2022. I am looking forward to having you join us in the fruition of this vision and celebration of the life of a true visionary of empowerment and upliftment."

The aim of the Ferguson Foundation is to help "create tomorrow's dreams today by promoting young entrepreneurs, funding the education of disadvantaged youth, and nurturing film enthusiasts".

"We also aim to create balanced and equal opportunities for women who have been dealt a disadvantage in life."

Similar to the MultiChoice Talent Factory (MTF), beneficiaries will get to attend two annual mentorship workshops with Ferguson Films, with students - through internships - who will also get work experience and networking opportunities alongside film and TV professionals. 

At the same time, the foundation says it also aims to sponsor the university fees of five children from disadvantaged families who will be funded throughout their undergraduate programmes until they graduate.

The vision of the Ferguson film school is to equip students "with the tools they need to know about film production and functions related to film, with the aim of building future film industry leaders, producers and actors".

In regards to female empowerment, the Ferguson Foundation will support selected women around Southern Africa living with HIV/Aids, struggling with the effects of being widowed, and the consequences of the recent Covid-19 pandemic to "provide them with funding for their start-up businesses, and assist them in elevating their skills and thus creating sustenance".

Thursday, July 28, 2022

Want to win Love Island? Be monogamous like a swan, dude.

by Thinus Ferreira

Canoodle all you want lovebirds but - yes, gasp - monogamy and staying faithful to just one partner is what will win you Love Island.

The British online fashion retailer Boohoo crunched the numbers of the original British reality competition series currently in its 8th season on the United Kingdom's ITV channel and with the finale happening on 1 August, and according to Boohoo's predictions, Gemma and Luca are supposed to win, based on characteristics of past contestants.

Boohoo's surprising new analysis reveals that - drum roll please and listen closely - male contestants who only couple up with one partner are more likely to win the show. Five out of seven male winners took the crown with their first partner.

Additionally, female contestants who joined the villa on day one are the most likely to win Love Island, and the county of Essex produces the most Love Island winners.

The Boohoo study which looks at characteristics of the show's previous winners, found the following attributes:

Characteristics    Female    Male
Height                       163cm       183cm
Eye colour              Blue           Brown
Hair colour            Brown       Brown
Resides                    Essex         Essex
Age                            22                23
Original member Yes (86%) No (43%)
Number of partners           2        

The Boohoo study looked at the physical traits of the winners including height, eye colour and hair colour. The study also identified their age when entering the villa, and whether they entered on day

one or later in the series as bombshells.

The average height of a female Love Island winner is 162cm tall, whilst the average height of a male winner is 180cm. Additionally, the average age of a Love Island winner is 22 for women and 23 for men. 

Brunette women such as Amber Davies and Dani Dyer have a better chance of winning, whilst women with blue eyes were the also more likely to win the prize.

For men looking for a chance to win the public vote, the winning combination of hair and eye colour was revealed to be brown hair and brown eyes with six out of the seven male winners have brown locks and five out of seven have brown eyes.  


When looking at the origins of Love Island winners, the Southeast of England – more specifically, Essex - produces the most female winners. The season 2 winner Cara De La Hoyde is from Kent, season four winner Dani Dyer is from Essex and last year's winner Millie Court is also from Essex.

As for the men, coming from Essex appears to improve chances of winning the show, with season 2 and season 3 winners, Nathan Massey and Kem Cetinay both coming from this county. 


Interestingly, the majority of the male winners were not part of the original cast, with four out of seven winners being bombshells, including Liam Reardon and Max Morely. Male winners coupled up with fewer partners during their time in the villa in comparison to female winners.

On average, the women that won the show coupled up with three partners whereas the men coupled up with two. 

"Love Island has been incredibly successful since it started and so understandably each year thousands of applicants try their luck at getting a place on the show to find a partner," Boohoo says about its analysis.

"As the competition gets tougher each year, it is exciting to see which contestants can stick it out for a place in the final and claim the prize. With this season's finale on Monday night, the data would suggest that Gemma Owen and Luca Bish have the winning combination of characteristics out of this year's cast."

INTERVIEW. Plaasjapie director Nina Swart on kykNET's new reality show: 'It's the little farming adventure show that could'.

by Thinus Ferreira

As the woman in the director's chair behind the new Afrikaans reality adventure show Plaasjapie, Nina Swart had to run the TV farm by day only to get home at night with dirt in her ears and thorns in her back - all part of the process of crafting a whole new competition format show for kykNET.  

After moving behind the camera following her long stint as Wilmien in SABC2's 7de Laan, and since having worked on South African reality, drama and lifestyle series - from small to big-budget shows like Survivor South Africa - Plaasjapie as a new TV format for kykNET meant Nina once again entered strange new TV territory - filled with baby pigs, cow dung and contestants getting injured on a Swartland farm.

Nina Swart sat down with TVwithThinus to talk about how Plaasjapie, filmed on a farm in the Swartland, challenged her as director, the casting process, South African TV contestants becoming more reality TV savvy, and the sun - without shade - work of managing so many moving parts.

You've worked on so many other reality shows. How has that experience helped you to hold the reigns of Plaasjapie as director?
Nina Swart: I try to know as much as possible about each and every department on set.

I've worked on big-budget shows and also on lower-budget programmes like smaller lifestyle shows. There you learn over the years making plans. So to work with a smaller budget to try and achieve more and to get more bang for your buck is how over the years I've learnt to do on a very practical level.

The scale of Plaasjapie on screen is bigger than what was planned. It's the little farming adventure show that could. We had a fantastic technical team with people I've worked with before and people I've wanted to work with, and they all said yes. 

When you make plans and have a great technical team and then bring their experience of working on smaller sets and having worked on bigger sets, to play with your eyes.

A strong format also helps so much. Plaasjapie has a wonderful showrunner in Albert Snyman (also the creator). He's also a plan-maker, he's a storyteller, and he researched the entire history of humanity's farming past. We were safe with Albert and his knowledge and had fun making an adventure reality show.  

'more entries than what I have ever
seen for the first season
of an unknown TV format'

When Top Billing started and wanted to show inside private mansions Basetsana Kumalo told me tye struggled initially - until viewers see it. Years later she told me "They now call us". How did the entries look for Plaasjapie seeing it's an unfamiliar show and concept, what did you make of the type of entries, and will there be a lot more if kykNET renews it for a second season?
Nina Swart: I've been privileged in the past to often be involved with casting from the start - for instance several seasons of Survivor South Africa, Boer Soek 'n Vrou, Temptation Island and Trap Dis My Huis!, Op my Eish! - so I have a good idea of numbers.

Can I tell you, it was more entries than what I have ever seen for the first season of an unknown TV format. A lot of the entries I think was due to the show's title of Plaasjapie since we didn't even mention a prize at the beginning.

Of course, after the R1 million as the prize was mentioned later, there was another spike in entries, but the initial entries were unbelievable just based on the name of the show.

How difficult or easy was it to determine the mix of who you put in as contestants?
Nina Swart: The mandate from kykNET was "the more city slicker-ish the better" but I also didn't want to put purely one-dimensional South Africans in the show. What's the antithesis of a farmer? Is it a model, is it what? 

There's more than just one "opposite", so to create the mix - and Albert also created the format in such a way - I wanted to prove that someone of my age in their late forties can also win. 

Despite the fact that Plaasjapie might sound like a butch, young guy game, the point is that a middle-aged woman should also be able to win. Create a game where anyone can be the winner.

During casting you truly just get people who pop and stand out. Since it's a family adventure reality show I also wanted Plaasjapie to be relatable characters. I haven't been this excited about a cast of a show in a long time. 

Don't judge a book by its cover. There's something interesting and a twist to each of these people and they're definitely not just what you think they are when you first meet them. It's been one of the most enriching casting processes I've been involved with.

Do you think South African reality show contestants are becoming "smarter" to know better what to do and say and how to behave and what's expected of them once the cameras are rolling to give the producers and the viewers the type of content that will make them stay longer in a show? Are local reality contestants levelling up on the reality TV intelligence quotient?
Nina Swart: I definitely that's the case, yes.

When we started with Boer Soek 'n Vrou in 2008 for kykNET - I mean, to try and find love or to expose yourself on television, it was a big thing. For many years I've been aware of that. People often say Afrikaans people are different, they're more reserved and it's exactly what you're saying. 

I think - and I'm speaking about the Afrikaans kykNET TV market but also the broader market as well - I think it's led by the success of all of the Mzansi Magic (DStv 161) shows.

I don't think we're where the Americans are and I also don't think we'll ever get to that level since there's a tremendous honesty and earnestness under 95% of the contestants across all of the shows I've worked with. 

There is a percentage of fake quality under contestants from other countries, a type of "I must say this to make good TV" but I find that the honesty of South Africans makes it more interesting and secondly, leads to longevity for characters with all of their shades.

If how they present themselves were just a gimmick, they end up not being complex characters and being multi-dimensional characters. I love the honesty of South Africans. 

They are still somewhat reserved - there's a layer of "manners" - but that there are more and more local lifestyle and reality shows are making people understand what they have to do better. They're not always willing to give it, but they understand it better.

Plaasjapie takes place over 21 days, for 13 episodes and you did it on a farm in Philadelphia in the Swartland. How challenging was the process to find the farm, and to get everything there, and where did the production team stay?
Nina Swart: Philadelphia was very functional because it's not too far away from Cape Town so the production team transformed one of the sheds into a type of "one-night stand" technical base with a few beds and a working shower where you could sleep over if you were too tired after a day's filming.
But the majority drove home at the end of the end. 

Production members long ago went to go make friends in that area and the hill on which the cooperation stands - that structure where Ewan Strydom as the host can look out across his "farms" and the arena - that layout was very attractive to us and that there wasn't a tree in sight.

The structures are still there which were erected specifically for Plaasjapie.

'an adventure show in which people
also learn something about themselves'

What was challenging for you specifically, and what was challenging in general to get Plaasjapie in the can?
Nina Swart: To produce any television during the Covid-pandemic was difficult with all of the challenges there's inherent within our industry. That's maybe the boring answer.

For me personally, it was in a positive way a challenge - to work with a new format and to make sure that the essence of the show, and what's different about it, shines. 

It was doing a format in which it's an adventure show in which people also learn something about themselves, and in which farming is celebrated, but also making strong, competitive television that keeps viewers glued - and to keep all those things running at the same time, under sometimes difficult weather conditions.

There wasn't really any shade - not even for the crew. We had to build little houses with a bit of aircon inside. We worked breaks in for the crew just to go and feel a bit of aircon and to cool down a bit. 

On something like Survivor SA there's at least a tree or something often to stand under but the crew stood with the contestants in the sun, in that dust for hours, with the wind. And people living in the Swartland, they know - it's wind, wind, wind!

You get home at night and you have dust in your ears. And when you sit there's a thorn in your back. The joy was experiencing the true grit of the technical team and the contestants. 

A new format is a challenge and keeping it engrossing for the viewer means every day is a new challenge to remain fresh and creative and ahead of the game.

What did you personally enjoy and found enriching in terms of TV work where you felt Plaasjapie expanded your skills and knowledge set?
Nina Swart: Such a lot. I enjoy it a lot to be part of team instead of being "the boss". Through the years I became part of the content creation side of television and it's my forte and I enjoy it. 

On a personal level it was so enriching to learn how to manage a big team and to work on a bigger platform. I also don't believe in produced content. 

I've always believed in "I'm providing a proscenium, I'm doing observational reality". I interfere very little. I try to do an honest depiction of what's happening. To see that it works, that you can get great content if you don't try to "produce" it - that's very satisfying.

I'm not trying to make the most dramatic television. I believe people are interesting anyway. Just illuminate people and their character will shine.  

Plaasjapie is on kykNET (DStv 144) on Thursdays at 20:00

Wednesday, July 27, 2022

House of the Dragon: 17 dragons at 3am on M-Net from Monday 22 August.

by Thinus Ferreira

HBO's new Game of Thrones fantasy prequel drama series House of the Dragon will be an Express from the US series with DStv subscribers in South Africa and across sub-Saharan Africa who will be able to watch it on Monday mornings at 03:00 on M-Net at the same time as in America, with a primetime repeat later.

MultiChoice is following Sky which announced in March that it will be showing the 10-episode House of the Dragon in the United Kingdom and Ireland, Italy, Germany, Austria and Switzerland from 22 August directly after its debut on HBO in the United States. In New Zealand the show will also be on that Sky service from 22 August and on Foxtel in Australia.

HBO and M-Net did the same 03:00 "Express from the US" airings for seasons of Game of Thrones, with weekly episodes of House of the Dragon which will be on M-Net (DStv 101) on Monday mornings at 03:00, and with the same episode getting a late-primetime repeat on Monday nights at 21:30.

Based on George R.R. Martin's Fire & Blood and set 200 years before the events of Game of Thrones, the series which will feature 17 dragons brought to life with special effects, tells the story of House Targaryen at the peak of its power and influence in the land of Westeros.

The show will chronicle the beginning of the end of House Targaryen and the events leading up to and covering the infamous Targaryen war of succession which became known as the "Dance of the Dragons".

The series stars Paddy Considine, Matt Smith, Olivia Cooke, Emma D'Arcy, Steve Toussaint, Eve Best, Sonoya Mizuno, Fabien Frankel and Rhys Ifans.

The first season was filmed in the UK, Spain and California in the US.

Tuesday, July 26, 2022

Gideon Khobane exits MultiChoice for Amazon as next high-profile exec to leave the pay-TV operator.

by Thinus Ferreira

The brain-drain of MultiChoice's high-profile top executives rank continues with Gideon Khobane, MultiChoice's group executive of general entertainment, who has exited the Randburg-based satellite pay-TV operator for a position at Amazon.

Insiders told TVwithThinus that Gideon Khobane resigned and left MultiChoice earlier this month citing personal reasons, telling MultiChoice staffers that he decided to leave the pay-TV operator for a new executive position at Amazon.

Amazon which has been advertising multiple job vacancies in South Africa over the past few months is rapidly making inroads with its Amazon Prime Video video streaming service in Africa and is planning to scale up its e-commerce commercial activities, as well as its Prime Video presence and content rollout in South Africa and across the continent. 

Gideon Khobane who joined M-Net in 2008 and was a former director of M-Net's general entertainment channels, became SuperSport CEO in February 2016. 

Gideon Khobane served as MultiChoice's group executive of general entertainment for just a year and a half since his promotion to this position in October 2020. 

Neither MultiChoice spokesperson Itumeleng Thulare, nor MultiChoice's PR companies The Duma Collective or JR Communications responded to questions in a media query made a week ago about Gideon Khobane's resignation. MultiChoice didn't announce Gideon Khobane's exit.

Nkateko Mabaso who was also promoted in October 2020 with the title of MultiChoice's group executive in charge of programming, also exited MultiChoice after he worked in the position for a year until he resigned, joining Netflix as director of licensing and co-productions for Africa.

Besides Nkateko Mabaso and Gideon Khobane, MultiChoice has seen a big exodus of senior and high-profile executives over the past two years.

How season 9 of Survivor SA Return of the Outcasts on M-Net got pirated for global free viewing faster than ever before.

by Thinus Ferreira

Online TV pirates are outwitting, outplaying and outlasting the latest 9th season of Survivor South Africa on M-Net, after they instantly captured and have since been downloading and sharing episodes from right after the broadcast debut of Survivor SA: Return of the Outcasts last week as part of DStv's premium pay-TV content offering.

In June 2021 it still took just over a day but less than two, for the first episode of the 8th season, entitled Survivor SA: Immunity Island, to find its way to the internet through illegally uploaded copies, followed by the rest of the season's episodes.

This year - and as M-Net switched Survivor SA to 4 episodes per week - the pirating process was even quicker. 

The first episode of Survivor South Africa: Return of the Outcasts made its pirate debut last week online on Monday night, mere hours after it started its premiere linear broadcast run on M-Net (DStv 101) on Monday evening. 

TVwithThinus won't mention any pirate sites offering the episodes but checked the validity and quality of the uploaded and shared episodes of Survivor SA: Return of the Outcasts online which pirates are making available for direct download as well as torrents.

These digital downloads of episodes and torrents of Survivor SA: Return of the Outcasts are of pristine quality - high-definition (HD) episodes, with clear video and audio, without any watermarks and without any M-Net or other corner channel marker logos. 

After less than 5 minutes of searching online, TVwithThinus last week found that a popular file-sharing site that hosts content and files as a free cloud storage service, already had the first episode of Survivor SA: Return of the Outcasts on offer to downloaders around the world within hours - and even quicker than last year.

The web address of this folder as well as the password is freely shared in online message boards for South African and global viewers who are now watching and following the show in droves online but who are bypassing DStv and M-Net. This is just one site and one cloud storage service folder containing the pirated content.

All of the other available episodes so far - produced by Afrokaans and meant for MultiChoice's DStv Premium subscribers who are paying the most for access to M-Net's content as its flagship pay-TV channel - have been uploaded and shared for download or torrenting.

Besides M-Net, Survivor SA: Return of the Outcasts is also being shown simultaneously on Australia's 10play, the live-stream and catch-up service of that country's Network Ten commercial TV channel.

M-Net and Irdeto, MultiChoice's broadcast encryption technology division, say that pirating TV content damages the TV industry and they are now investigating the matter after being made aware of it.

M-Net was asked where pirates find the versions of Survivor SA episodes and if it is from South African or Australian sources, why Survivor SA is specifically targeted by pirates, and also what M-Net is doing, or able to do to prevent or remove pirated content online.

M-Net didn't answer any of the specific questions but in response to the media query sent TVwithThinus the same statement it did last year, saying "Survivor is a global phenomenon and in recent years the South African version has gained vast popularity among fans abroad".

"M-Net was made aware of the illegal downloading and sharing of the series and we are investigating the matter."

"M-Net strongly condemns our content being pirated in any format. Piracy negatively impacts the development of the local television and film industries and undermines the investment of broadcasters and sponsors. We encourage viewers to report illegal downloads or streaming to".

Russia's RT channel eyes African expansion with a South African newsroom run by Paula Slier.

by Thinus Ferreira

Russia's RT channel has embarked on expansion plans in Africa, starting to set up headquarters on the continent in South Africa where the Kremlin-funded TV channel is carried and supported by China.

Paula Slier, the South African TV reporter who previously worked for SABC News and who was posted in Jerusalem, Israel, as RT's correspondent for that region, is now overseeing the set-up of RT's African headquarters in South Africa and will be managing the bureau.

On Monday an RT spokesperson told TVwithThinus "We are indeed currently focused on developing our English-language Africa hub in South Africa, headed up by Paula Slier - a South Africa native, RT's longtime correspondent and formerly head of RT's Jerusalem bureau".

"We will be releasing more updates about the particulars of this operation at the appropriate time," RT said.

According to an insider, the RT South African newsroom is currently being set up although it's still unclear how many South African staff, camera operators and reporters RT plans to hire as it takes a page from the playbook of what other global TV news channels like CNN International, Al Jazeera, BBC World News and China's pro-Beijing CGTN have done in Africa.

The African expansion of Russia's state-backed TV channel comes amid Russia's unprovoked invasion and ongoing war in Ukraine and widespread global condemnation of the pro-Russia and anti-Ukraine misinformation and propaganda on the channel over the past few months.

Earlier this year Russia Today, formerly Russia Today, was banned by the European Union (UN), as well as in Canada and in the United Kingdom by Britain's broadcasting regulator Ofcom.

Imposed EU sanctions also meant that RT abruptly went dark in South Africa and across sub-Saharan Africa on 2 March.

This was the date when Luxembourg-based companies like Intelsat and SES SA flipped the kill-switch on the satellite uplinking of RT's channel feed to their satellite transponders like Intelsat's IS-20 on which a pay-TV operator like the Randburg-based MultiChoice leases bandwidth to bring the channel to DStv subscribers.  

Google and other companies also blocked the propaganda channel's YouTube streaming.

Two and a half months later, RT surprisingly flickered back on South African TV screens on 11 May - this time thanks to Chinese support.

The MultiChoice pay-TV rival, StarTimes Media - running the StarSat pay-TV service in South Africa and StarTimes elsewhere in Africa - added RT to its TV channels line-up in mid-May, using SES S.A.'s SES-5 satellite transponder on which StarTimes/StarSat is leasing space.

SES S.A. is a satellite and terrestrial telecommunications network provider also based in Luxembourg in Europe.

SES S.A. told TVwithThinus that it "engaged with European regulatory bodies to suspend the distribution of specific Russia Today channels and Sputnik across Europe" and had turned off the designated signals on 2 March.

"While the channel in question – Russia Today Global  – is being delivered via SES-5 (a satellite that SES owns) over sub-Saharan Africa, it is our customer who has leased our bandwidth and is distributing the channel over the leased capacity."

"SES also notes that this channel is not one that has been banned by the European Union."

"We have been engaging with our customers and regulatory authorities to assess both what we can do and must do under the various legal regimes to which we are subject. SES is prepared to take immediate action and implement any instructions we receive from regulatory authorities." 

StarTimes told TVwithThinus in May that as a pay-TV service it "takes pride in sourcing relevant and current content to enhance our packages, thus we regard RT Global as a 24-hour English-language news channel that focuses on all major economic, political and social issues of our time".

From Russia with love
While RT's original plan was to get a localised foothold on the African continent by establishing its African bureau in Nairobi, Kenya where the African headquarters of China's CGTN has also been set up and based for the past few years, RT has now switched from the East African country to South Africa where it won't be directly competing with CGTN for newsroom resources.

It's unclear if RT's move away from Kenya to South Africa to set up its first localised African hub is possibly a tit-for-tat move to get out of CGTN's way, after StarTimes' decision to sign a channel carriage agreement to showcase RT on channel 260 on the Chinese pay-TV platform. 

In February RT still posted adverts for journalist positions who would have had to work and be based in Nairobi.    

The RT spokesperson didn't comment on the African location change, how many South African staff RT plans to hire, or why RT is interested in creating a regional headquarter in Africa.

Monday, July 25, 2022

The SABC cans Special Assignment on SABC3 after 24 years with SABC News claiming 'loss of audience' as the cause of its cancellation.

by Thinus Ferreira

The SABC has decided to cancel the public broadcaster's long-running weekly Special Assignment investigative magazine programme on SABC3 after 24 years, blaming low TV ratings, with the last episode which will be next Tuesday night 2 August.

Special Assignment's viewership drop on SABC3 is however not unique, with the whole of SABC3's programming schedule struggling extremely in the South African TV ratings race.

SABC3 is the SABC TV channel suffering the lowest ratings of the public broadcaster's three major TV channels, with SABC3 also being affected the most by the government and Sentech's switch-off of analogue TV signal transmitters in the switch to digital terrestrial television (DTT).

SABC3 and the SABC News division responsible for producing the show, moved Special Assignment across multiple days and timeslots over the last decade, constantly forcing potential audiences to try and find and adjust to new days and timeslots if they wanted to watch the show and often pre-empting episodes for sudden sport coverage and other broadcasts.

Special Assignment's timeslot will be replaced with a shortened version of the longer SABC News (DStv 404) channel's studio-based programme, It's Topical, while SABC News and SABC3 consider the option of a new investigative magazine show for the public broadcaster.

Special Assignment that started in August 1998 has been competing over decades in the investigative television journalism space with's 3rd Degree hosted by Debora Patta and later Checkpoint with Nkepile Mabuse, as well as Devi fronted by Devi Sankaree Govender also on and eNCA (DStv 403); and the long-running Carte Blanche on M-Net (DStv 101) from Combined Artistic Productions.

The SABC used the chaotic and disorganised behind-the-scenes drama surrounding the broadcast of an episode of Special Assignment on 14 September 2021 about the towtruck-industry which should still have been held back by the broadcaster following a court interdict, as evidence to get rid of the former SABC News boss Phathiswa Magopeni, arguing that she was responsible for not preventing the episode from being aired and negligent.

Special Assignment executive producer Busisiwe Ntuli who testified in Phathiswa Magopeni's disciplinary hearing, supported her, saying the mistake of airing the episode was not the news division or Special Assignment's fault but due to an issue with the original and replacement programme codes being similar which is the responsibility of the SABC's video entertainment department.

Phathiswa Magopeni said that the SABC used the Special Assignment issue to "hound" her out of the public broadcaster.

About Special Assignment's abrupt cancellation, Moshoeshoe Monare, SABC News boss, told staff in a letter that the show is now getting axed because Special Assignment "has lost its mojo and signature influence, with the consequential effects being loss of audience". 

It's not clear why the SABC and SABC News which has a public mandate to produce news, current affairs and investigative programming is citing low ratings as a reason for cancellation since the South Africa public broadcaster is compelled to do news and current affairs programming irrespective of the influences of commercial and financial pressure and ratings.

Ndindi Cola, SABC spokesperson, didn't respond to a media query made last week about the canning of Special Assignment and questions around it, including what will be happening to staff who have been working on the show.

Wednesday, July 20, 2022

Warner Bros. Discovery sends its discovery+ documentary Trump: Unprecedented to the Discovery Channel in Africa.

by Thinus Ferreira

The eyebrow-raising new discovery+ documentary, Trump: Unprecedented will be shown in South Africa as a three-part series, starting on Sunday 24 July on the Discovery Channel (DStv 121) at 20:55, with interviews with the former American president Donald Trump and his family members during that country's 2020 presidential campaign, leading up to America's inauguration day of president Biden.

The 3-part docuseries from AJH Films and Alex Holder features never-before-seen footage of Donald Trump during the 6 weeks before the 2020 presidential campaign - as well as the reactions of him and his close family members to the outcome of the American presidential election.

Since Warner Bros. Discovery has not yet rolled out either its HBO Max or discovery+ video streaming services in South Africa or in sub-Saharan Africa, WBD is placing the docuseries on its linear Discovery Channel for the territory after it was released on discovery+ on 10 July in America and in other global territories.

Trump: Unprecedented got unparalleled access to America's White House and Donald Trump, including the last interview Donald Trump gave during this time inside the White House. 

Also included are unfiltered sit-down interviews with Donald Trump's daughter Ivanka Trump and son-in-law Jared Kushner, his sons Donald Trump Jr. and Eric Trump, as well as insights from the journalists who covered the events as they have unfolded.

SABC2's tired Muvhango attempts a little-publicised 'Silver Jubilee' after almost 60% of its viewers have abandoned the Word of Mouth show in the past year.

by Thinus Ferreira

The SABC's tired Muvhango is trying to do a cringe-inducing and little publicised so-called "Silver Jubilee", hoping to distract South Africa's TV and film industry from what's really talked about when the word "Muvhango" comes up in the biz - which is that the sad soap from Word of Mouth Productions on SABC2 that should have been put out to pasture has seen almost 60% of its viewers flee in just a year and who are now gone.

In June Muvhango barely eked out 1 885 401 viewers on SABC2. That is a shocking 57% lower than the 4 364 992 viewers the Duma Ndlovu-created prime-time soap still had on SABC2 in June 2021 a year ago.

Compared to June 2021, it means that 2.47 million people less watched Muvhango in June 2022.

With Muvhango ratings on SABC2 in freefall, Word of Mouth Pictures is partying like its 7 April 1997 when the soap started, trying to celebrate its 25th anniversary under the theme of "Riya Hayani", meaning "going back home.

Unfortunately, there's no "going back home" for Muvhango as far as higher TV ratings are concerned.

In April the SABC and Word of Mouth Productions held a 25th birthday celebration for Muvhango but couldn't bother to reach out to include any of the longtime South Africa's media, journalists and publications who have been covering television and Muvhango for decades, or at the very least to inform them that there would be a cast meet-and-greet media event. 

Of the few media who attended there were barely any reporting, stories or feature articles about an industry milestone that should have been getting more buzz and media attention.

Two months later and after media complaints, Muvhango, the SABC and Word of Mouth Productions did it again - taking Muvhango "on the road" during June to Venda as the production film scenes with the cast in Thohoyandou, including a street parade and a so-called "homecoming dinner" - and again with the media shut out and only a few media told about it.

SABC publicist Caroline Phalakatshela referred media questions trying to find out what is happening with Muvhango's eyebrow-raising lack of media liaison during its so-called "Silver Jubilee" year to Thanduxolo Jindela at the Kwathole Conexion PR company repping Muvhango.

Even with this there's been absolutely deafening silence and no response from Muvhango.

There's been no press release, no communication to media, and no response or any explanation from Thanduxolo Jindela about why the majority of the press trying to cover Muvhango haven't been looped in about what the show is doing this year or got so much as a peep in communication about the "Silver Jubilee".

MultiChoice Africa to expand technical education help with customised masterclasses between its MultiChoice Talent Factory film academy and various African countries' TV channels to improve production quality.

by Thinus Ferreira

MultiChoice Africa plans to expand the cooperation and skills transfer between its MultiChoice Talent Factory Africa film academy running in Southern, East and West Africa, and TV channels in various African countries to try and improve the television content being produced and production quality.

The MultiChoice Talent Factory Africa hopes to initially help a further 300 broadcast workers in television in various African TV markets with customised masterclasses which will be developed for specific African countries.

MultiChoice's African offshoot of its South African MultiChoice Talent Factory has been running successfully for a few years now, with the African film academy emulating the programme of the MultiChoice Talent Factory South Africa.

Now the MultiChoice Talent Factory Africa which has been doing industry masterclasses and other educational efforts in various African countries going beyond the training of just a specific year's students on-site in Lusaka, Nairobi and Lagos, plans to expand its support, cooperation and training programme with local TV channels in various countries.

The MultiChoice Talent Factory Africa wants to expand the skill transfer programme it offers to help TV channels with online learning courses, masterclasses, as well as practical training. 

It will be done through certified short courses in critical production skills such as post-production, sound, screenwriting, 3D animation and cinematography and MultiChoice will try to initially help 300 broadcast workers in various local African TV markets.

"Our vision is to upskill production professionals, and to raise the standard of productions right across Africa," says Fhulufhelo Badugela, MultiChoice Africa CEO.

"This will boost Africa's film and television industry exponentially, because as you capacitate more people, more people are motivated to start projects, and everybody benefits, including the viewers."

"This is an investment in the future of our industry, and investment goes beyond financial investment it also requires skills, time and a core understanding of the consumer needs but the most immediate impact will be to raise the standard of productions across Africa."

"Local broadcasters are the grassroots of the TV industry in every country. By building the industry we are enabling local job creation, enabling an industry to contribute to the economy and responding to the ongoing consumer demand for quality local entertainment."

"The people on the programme will gain skills relevant to their own field of expertise – so their knowledge will be immediately applicable. We are also able to reach more people by doing the training in-country," says Fhulufhelo Badugela.

"We have seen the impact investments can have. In Zimbabwe, we ran a training programme to support the launch of new local entertainment channels. The standard of the new channels is excellent, and the market has really opened up in terms of the productions being launched and the calibre of Zimbabwe's filmmakers."

"Improving the skills of our TV professionals will give audiences more choice and more chance to see themselves reflected in the content they consume. It's about quality African content for African viewers."

The combined and relaunched BBC News and BBC World News TV channel will make its debut in April 2023.

by Thinus Ferreira

With Britain's BBC that is ending the separate BBC News TV news channel for viewers in the United Kingdom and BBC World News (DStv 400 / StarSat 256) TV channel for global viewers, the British broadcaster plans to launch the new combined service in April 2023.

The new "BBC World News" - with a new name that has not yet been announced - will be shown globally, although domestic British viewers will get shortchanged as part of the BBC's drastic cost-cutting measures since the focus on the new TV news channel will be on global stories at the cost of reporting UK-focused news.

The new BBC TV news channel will be without any ads in the United Kingdom,will contain feature shows built around some of its high-profile journalists, and these shows will be available across multiple platforms.

According to the BBC, a new live and breaking news team will provide "universally available coverage of global breaking news" and "when relevant a UK-only stream for domestic news events".

Sports programming on the BBC news channel will feature a mixture of domestic and new global sports shows.

The new BBC TV news channel will broadcast from London during daytime hours in the United Kingdom which means that little will be changing for viewers watching the channel on for instance MultiChoice's DStv in South Africa or across sub-Saharan Africa.

The BBC TV news channel will then switch to broadcasting from Singapore, and then Washington D.C. to bring viewers news from the United States while its daytime hours there. This will again not be much of a change since BBC World News' American broadcast block has been following the British block in late-night hours as seen in Africa.

"Our aim is to create the best live and breaking video news service in the world - on our web pages, our apps, on BBC iPlayer and on our new TV news channel," says Naja Nielsen, BBC News digital boss in a statement.

"The way audiences consume news is changing. In recent years we've seen a huge surge in audiences coming to our live coverage, with tens of millions following live pages when big stories and events unfold."

"As the world's most trusted source of news, with a huge depth and breadth of expertise, the BBC is uniquely placed to offer audiences the best analysis and explanation as these stories are unfolding. So we are investing in new capability to cover breaking news stories - and our news channel and digital teams will work hand in hand to bring the best journalism to audiences both at home and abroad."

BBC Studios will be responsible for securing revenue for the new BBC TV news channel outside of the United Kingdom - primarily through ad sales - with that money then going towards funding the BBC that can be reinvested in the company's journalism.

MultiChoice and M-Net to support South Africa's sound engineering industry and music producers through Sound Factory initiative.

by Thinus Ferreira

South Africa's sound engineering industry and music production fraternity will be getting more support in the form of a Sound Factory initiative started by MultiChoice South Africa with the aim of discovering and exposing music and sound creatives to opportunities within the sound engineering industry.

The Sound Factory - supported by M-Net's Channel O TV channel and the Randburg satellite pay-TV operator's South African film academy initiative, the MultiChoice Talent Factory - will rope in existing sound producers to help with skill transfers to new sound producers and sound engineers.

They will then produce work for MultiChoice and M-Net channels, similar to the MultiChoice Talent Factory students and graduates, including producing jingles and new music.

MultiChoice says students will work with musicians like Uncle Waffles, Zeus Omega, Sthembiso, Chimurenga Mamphaga and Kai IntheKut who will also help to identify new talent to benefit from the Sound Factory skill transfers.

David Molotlhanyi, M-Net music programming manager for local entertainment channels, in a provided statement, says "South Africa has an amazing music industry that continues to dominate the continent. It is also one of the most competitive, meaning it can be extremely difficult for talented youth to showcase their work".

Mphile Shabalala, MultiChoice corporate social investment manager for content, in the statement says "The MultiChoice Talent Factory is our 12-month filmmaking internship programme offered through film academies and masterclasses and the Sound Factory panel of producers will benefit from our track-record of training and upskilling industry professionals".

"Since inception, the programme has trained over 200 interns who have gone on to produce films for broadcast on M-Net's local channels and Showmax. Sound Factory will contribute to the development of skills, creation of jobs and small businesses, promotion of discipline and wellbeing, and building of strong foundations for successful careers."

Netflix's first Afrikaans drama series Ludik from Rose and Oak Media starring Arnold Vosloo to release 26 August.

by Thinus Ferreira

Netflix has announced its first-ever Afrikaans TV drama series Ludik which will be released on 26 August as a 6-episode action series starring Arnold Vosloo, Diaan Lawrenson, Zane Meas and Rob Van Vuuren.

Ludik, produced by Rose and Oak Media of Anele Mdoda, Paul Buys and Frankie du Toit, revolves around Arnold Vosloo in the title role, appearing to be a wholesome family man running a successful furniture business - although behind-the-scenes he is involved in the crime underworld in South Africa where he crosses paths with murderers and mobsters.

Netflix tells TVwithThinus that the whole season was shot in 6 weeks on location, mostly around Pretoria but also in and around Johannesburg.

Arnold Vosloo was recently in South Africa to appear in the Netflix Original feature film Silverton Siege.

According to the official Ludik logline from Netflix, "With his family in turmoil, jail time on the horizon and death imminent, Ludik must rely on both his old and new allies to prevail and save his everything"

Rose and Oaks Media says "Maximum woes (chaos) is what ensues. The series mixes some knuckle-busting action, over-the-top Afrikaans humour and loads of twists from start to finish".

Ludik is executive produced by Anele Mdoda, Paul Buys and Frankie du Toit, with Ian Gabriel and Harold Holscher as directors. Ludik was created by Paul Buys and Annemarie van Basten.

The rest of the Ludik cast includes Jandre LeRoux, Inge Beckman, Lea Vivier, Sean Cameron Michael, Tina Redman, Mzu Ntantiso, Tshamano Sebe, Dirk Stolz and Terence Bridgett.

Ludik forms part of the ongoing resurgence in the South African film career of Arnold Vosloo who returned to the country after a long Hollywood career to appear in 2019's feature film Griekwastad from Scene23 that was released on MultiChoice's DStv BoxOffice.

Arnold Vosloo followed that up with Silverton Siege that released on Netflix earlier this year.