Sunday, April 30, 2023

eNCA in May revamp with yet another new logo and schedule changes, Shahan Ramkissoon makes anchor return as channel dumps own show to simulcast's The Morning Show, will stay live until midnight.

by Thinus Ferreira 

On Monday eMedia's South African TV news channel eNCA (DStv 403) is poised for yet another rebrand less than 5 years after the last one - with more schedule changes and anchor shifts which will see the channel dump its own morning show output to simulcast's's The Morning Show, the return of anchor Shahan Ramkissoon and the channel now staying in live programming until midnight.

The Hyde Park-based eNCA had a channel rebrand in July 2018 that was accompanied by a dramatic overhaul to its schedule, programming and anchor line-up. It was followed by another eNCA schedule shake-up in July 2019.

Now eNCA, under John Bailey as managing editor - and feeling the increased heat and competition from rival local TV news channels like Thabile Ngwato and Thokozani Nkosi's Newzroom Afrika (DStv 405) and the public broadcaster's SABC News (DStv 404) - is once again revamping its look, programming structure and content output.

The eNCA logo is changing again from 1 May 2023, sticking with blue and red, but delineating the blue "e" from the red and flipping the blue and white between letter and background colour.

eNCA will no longer produce its own morning show, The South African Morning, with its anchors Tumelo Mothotoane and Gareth Edwards shifted to anchor NewsLink from 09:00 to 12:00. NewsLink which used to end at 11:00 and is now being extended to a 3-hour block.

In the space of The South African Morning, eNCA will now show DStv subscribers a simulcast of's The Morning Show, meaning that pay-TV viewers and free-to-air viewers will now see the same show on two TV channels.

What eNCA saves in production costs by dropping the in-house production of The South African Morning it used to do from its own studios, it will now use to stay in live broadcast programming until later.

From May eNCA will now broadcast live until midnight, nightly, whereas it used to switch to repeats and rebroadcasts at 22:00.

According to the new eNCA schedule, the All Angels daytime block which ran from 11:00 until 14:00 will now run from 12:00 until 15:00. Today which ran from 14:00 until 17:00 will now start at 15:00 until 18:00. South Africa Tonight which started at 17:00 on eNCA will now start at 18:00.

NewsNight on eNCA which used to start at 20:00 and ended at 22:00, how shifts to start at 21:00 for three hours until midnight.

Shahan Ramkissoon who left eNCA a year ago in May 2022 to work in South Africa's corporate public relations industry is returning to anchor the new eNCA show The Last Word on Thursday and Friday nights at 20:00.

"From 1 May, viewers will see an updated logo and fresh look for the channel," eNCA confirms in a press release. "As part of the refresh, viewers can expect some updates in the daily broadcast schedule," the news channel says.

"Viewers will still see the familiar faces they've grown to rely on, and also some new ones who will join the channel," says eNCA, adding that "The weekend schedule is also being refreshed. Going forward, We the Nation will be shown on Sundays at 20:00. eNCA will also extend its broadcast hours until midnight, every night."

SABC+ creates a Metro FM Music Awards pop-up channel for 2023’s ceremony.

by Thinus Ferreira

SABC+ is creating a Metro FM Music Awards pop-up channel on the public broadcaster's video streaming service which will show highlights from the previous seven award shows, special library programming around it, and end with live streaming of this year's pre-party, black carpet arrivals, main awards show and afterparty.

The 17th Metro FM Music Awards will be taking place on 6 May in the Mbombela Stadium in Mpumalanga where winners will be announced across 18 categories.

This year saw the revival of the radio station's awards since it last took place in 2017 in Durban under a cloud of suspicion over its credibility, following numerous corruption allegations of being rigged due to payola, "buying" of awards and collusion in the judging process.

SABC+ will now run a Metro FM Music Awards pop-up channel for a month, from 29 April until 28 May, as the streaming service's second pop-up channel initiative following SABC Festive which ran as a holiday entertainment pop-up channel during December 2022.

The Metro FM Music Awards pop-up channel will show selected highlights from the previous seven Metro FM Award ceremonies between 2010 and 2017 between 29 April and 5 May between 20:00 and 22:00 at night.

SABC1 programming over the years that tied into the awards show - like episodes of Selimathunzi (1 - 4 May, 8 - 11 May, 18:00), The Get-Together Music Specials (29 April - 5 May, 7 - 14 May, 20:00), Live Amp and The Real Goboza Show - will also get a rerun on the channel.

The Metro FM Music Awards pop-up channel will then live stream the 17th Metro FM Music Awards pre-awards press conference on 4 May at 10:00.

On 5 May the pop-up channel will live stream 2023's Metro FM Music Awards Pre-Party from 18:00. 

Besides being broadcast live on SABC1 on 6 May, SABC+ will live stream the Black carpet arrivals from 18:00 for two hours, followed by the 2023 Metro FM Music Awards from 20:00 until 22:00. That will be followed by a live stream on the pop-up channel of the award show's official After-party at 22:00.

Lerato Kganyago and Katlego Maboe have been announced as the two main hosts for this year's revived music awards ceremony.

Saturday, April 29, 2023

Actor and producer James Alexander dead at 45.

by Thinus Ferreira

The versatile South African actor and producer James Alexander, also known as James Gracie, has died at age 45 after losing his battle on Friday with head and neck cancer.

James Alexander was diagnosed with head and neck cancer in January 2019 but the couple decided to keep his cancer fight private. The couple who left South Africa in 2016 returned to the country last year after living in Los Angeles and working in Hollywood for five years.

His wife, Anel Alexander, revealed the death of her husband on Facebook on Saturday morning.

"To say my heart is broken would not do justice to the 22 years we spent together. This year I've crossed a rubicon: I've spent more of my life with you, than without."

"I can not imagine having to do life without you by my side. You were my first love, my best friend, my work-buddy, travel-buddy, there's-something-in-your-teeth-buddy. The first person to break my heart and then mend it again. The only person to witness me, all of me: the good, the bad, the pyjamas…."

"You were magic, a unicorn, and everybody knew it. You loved people and they loved you. And oh, how you made us laugh! You haven't just fought a good fight, my baby, you fought the best fight."

"I have never witnessed anybody endure the amount of physical pain and losses and disappointments you have had to over the last 5 years and do it with such grace and integrity, whilst all the time fiercely believing and surrendering to God's plan. You finished the race well, the suffering is over. Now Rest In Peace, my Jamie. Cancer might have won the battle for your body, but your soul was never beaten. I will always love you xxx".

James Alexander was best known for his role as Dr Rico Maartens in the M-Net and kykNET (DStv 144) Afrikaans soap Binnelanders and also snagged the role of Tristan in M-Net's The Wild prime time soap.

He's worked in South Africa, the United Kingdom and the United States over the past 15 years.

He was the co-presenter of the M-Net reality competition show Project Fame in 2004 and appeared in SABC1's Generations, SABC2's Home Affairs and in the short films Thoughts, Lost and Voëltjie.

He appeared in the third season of the American series Black Sails, Donkerland, Geraamtes in die Kas, Heartlines, Madiba, Roots, The Book of Negroes, and as Lemmer in M-Net's Trackers.

Friday, April 28, 2023

Nigerian students rage against MultiChoice Nigeria's 22% price hike, threatens DStv Nigeria with 7-day ultimatum to reverse increase or they will 'lock up' all DStv offices.

by Thinus Ferreira

Furious Nigerian students are raging against MultiChoice Nigeria's 22% price hike from May, with the country's students threatening the private commercial company over the prices it can charge and giving it a 7-day ultimatum to cancel the upcoming price increase or hat they will "lock up all offices of DStv".

This week MultiChoice Nigeria announced another shocking price hike of up to 22% coming into effect from 1 May in the West African country buckling under a worsening economy. 

MultiChoice Nigeria's exorbitant price hike is similar to the 19% price hike this year in neighbouring Ghana, another shocking 10% price hike by MultiChoice Kenya in Kenya just 7 months after the last increase, and another 10% increase by MultiChoice Uganda only 6 months after the last price hike in that country. 

To be fair: MultiChoice's DStv is a so-called luxury service operated by a traditional pay-TV operator - consumers are not forced to pay for it and can cancel it when they don't want to pay for it. 

On the other hand MultiChoice, like any commercial company is free to make its own price for any product or service and potential customers will either buy it or not.

After DStv Nigeria announced that it will be hiking prices from May by up to 22%, the National Association of Nigerian Students (NANS), issued a statement threatening that they will "lock up" all DStv offices across Nigeria unless MultiChoice Nigeria rescinds its announced price hike.

NANS gave MultiChoice Nigeria an ultimatum of 7 days to announce that it won't hike prices before NANS threatens to close the company by locking its offices.

In a statement signed by NANS coordinator, Adejuwon Olatunji, deputy coordinator, Alao John and even NANS public relations officer, Opeoluwa Awoyinfa, NANS threatens MultiChoice with a countrywide office lockdown over its price hike.

"MultiChoice has increased their tariffs without considering the standard of living of Nigerians. We have also waited for long to see if this same company will dance to the music of Nigerians who have been clamouring for pay as you view tariff but the reverse is the case," NANS says in a statement.

"This is the time to call on the National Broadcasting Commission to go back to the commission act to regulate the ownership, activities and operations of direct broadcast satellite service providers."

Erroneously, NANS claims in their statement that "We want the federal government to stampede their proposed plan in tariffs increment and also force them to implement the pay-as-you-view system. We are aware that DStv operates a system of pay-as-you-go tariffs in other countries."

MultiChoice doesn't operate a so-called "pay-as-you-go" system in other African countries.

NANS threatens MultiChoice with an office shutdown, saying "We hereby give 7 days ultimatum to MultiChoice to reverse their plan of increasing their tariffs and also yield to the call of Nigerians and also implementing pay-as-you-view tariffs or else we shall be left with no other option than to lock up all offices of DStv until our demands are met which is the mind of all Nigerians."

PRICE HIKE. MultiChoice Ghana hiked fees by 19% in 2023, blames country's deteriorating economy as well as currency devaluation and fuel costs.

by Thinus Ferreira

MultiChoice Ghana has hiked subscription fees by a whopping 19% in February 2023, less than a year after last raising prices from April 2022, blaming Ghana's deteriorating economy marked by a dramatic currency devaluation and massive spike in fuel prices.

MultiChoice Ghana managing director Alex Okyere, said the pay-TV operator's price hike in the West African country, which it said was an "average 19% increase" from February 2023, "is significantly below what is required to cover the increase in our cost of operations with inflation currently at 54.1%".

MultiChoice has hiked prices in 2023 in countries like South Africa, Kenya, Uganda and from May also in Nigeria.

In addition to blaming Ghana's deteriorating economy for the forced price hike of an average of 19%, MultiChoice Ghana blames the country's deteriorating currency, and fuel prices as well.

"A significant portion of our content and satellite costs are sourced internationally and paid for in foreign currencies. In April 2022 when we last adjusted prices, the Ghana/US dollar rate was 7.54, versus the current rate of 12.39."

"Since our last increase, fuel prices have increased by 58.8% and electricity tariffs have increased by 65.24%. Our digital terrestrial television (DTT) service runs from 14 cell sites that significantly use electricity and fuel to power the various equipment needed to broadcast our content," MultiChoice Ghana said.  

Netflix password crackdown: millions cancel.

by Thinus Ferreira

Netflix's password crackdown to try and covert non-paying users by forcing them to become subscribers is having the opposite effect, with millions who have cancelled and who are no longer watching the video streaming service's content.

In an ominous warning of what might happen in South Africa and across the rest of Africa later this year when Netflix's password crackdown process starts in the continent, millions of users in Spain have cancelled and opted out of further watching Netflix, instead of paying.

According to latest market research from the market research firm, Kantar, more than a million Netflix watchers have cancelled and abandoned the streamer just in Spain in the first quarter of this year as part of a huge backlash, after Netflix started to implement its password crackdown that it calls "paid sharing plans".

"The instant effect is that fewer eyes are on the screen for Netflix," Kantar states, noting that there's been an "outright rejection of the password sharing clampdown".

"In a worrying sign for the next quarter, 10% of remaining Netflix subscribers say they plan to cancel their plan in the second quarter of 2023, which is well above the average seen in previous quarters."

Dominic Sunnebo, global insight director at Kantar's Worldpanel Division, says "There are of course inherent risks with clamping down on password sharing, particularly when back in 2017 Netflix was seen to be actively encouraging it".

"Some users were expected to be lost in the process but losing over 1 million users in a little over a month has major implications for Netflix and whether it decides to continue with its crackdown globally."

Earlier this month Netflix in its latest quarterly report said that it is going to delay and push back its password crackdown rollout in the United States to the second quarter of this year.

Netflix started its password crackdown across South American countries like Chile, Costa Rica and Pery last year, and followed it up in February this year by expanding it to Canada, Portugal, New Zealand and Spain.

Netflix admitted in its quarterly report that it is seeing a "cancel reaction" as subscribers drop the service, and as those who've shared login details don't sign up as paying subscribers themselves.

The Netflix rival MultiChoice embarked on its password crackdown initiative in March 2022 - limiting DStv subscribers to just one online watch stream from an account. 

The move which was haphazardly done with technical problems, was met with heavy criticism and backlash by DStv customers with several who said they're cancelling since they can't make proper use of the pay-TV service as a family.

Later in 2022, MultiChoice announced that it was rethinking and retooling its password crackdown and household sharing strategy and would be announcing changes but no changes have been made over the past year.

Netflix says it uses a combination of checking for IP addresses and device ID details to make a determination of whether account logins are coming roughly from the same location, meaning the same household.

If users share their Netflix login details, in some countries they now have to buy "an extra member" subscription and add it to the account. Netflix has not yet announced when its password crackdown policy will be introduced in South Africa or other African countries.

Wednesday, April 26, 2023

PRICE HIKE. MultiChoice Nigeria hikes DStv prices again from May 2023 by up to 22.2% with cheapest GOtv bouquet seeing biggest price hike.

by Thinus Ferreira

MultiChoice Nigeria is doing another price hike for DStv subscribers and GOtv subscribers in Nigeria from May 2023 with increases up to 18.6% as the country battles with runaway inflation.

Shockingly, MultiChoice Nigeria is hitting poorest pay-TV consumers the hardest and with the biggest increase, with GOtv Lite subscribers on the cheapest package, seeing a whopping 22.2% increase from 900 naira to N1 100 from May.

Nigeria is battling a stagnant economy and antagonistic political policies and attacks against multinational companies driving them away, making them reluctant to invest and operate in the country, and making them opt not to consider Nigeria as an investment destination.

Over the past few years, Nigeria's government has become openly hostile towards MultiChoice Nigeria and MultiChoice Africa with an increase in legal against MultiChoice in the country, as well as toxic and damaging utterances by Nigerian politicians and regulators who continue to scapegoat the pay-TV operator.

MultiChoice Nigeria last increased prices in March 2022 and says the latest price increase is "due to the rising costs of business operations" in the West African country.

DStv Nigeria is hiking the DStv Premium subscription fee from N21 000 to N24 000, an increase of 14.3%.

DStv Compact Plus will increase by 16.5% from N14 250 to N16 600.

DStv Compact will increase by 16.6% from N9 000 to 10 500 naira, while DStv Confam subscribers who paid N5 300 will now pay 17% more at the new monthly fee of N6 200.

DStv Yanga is increasing 18.6% from N2 950 to N3 500, and DStv Padi is rising 16.2% from N2 150 to N2500.

For Gotv subscribers the Supa package price is increasing 16.3% from N5 500 to N6 400 while GOtv Max increases 16.8% from N4 150 to N4 850. 

The GOtv Jolli package price in Nigeria will increase 17.8% from N2 800 to N3 300, while GOtv Jinja is increasing 18.4% from N1 900 to N2 250, and GOtv Lite is increasing 22.2% from N900 to N1 100 from May 2023.

eNCA and kykNET forced to switch to pre-recorded playout for eNuus for a second time due to technical problems.

by Thinus Ferreira

eNCA and kykNET (DStv 144) were forced to switch to a pre-recorded playout of the Afrikaans eNuus nightly TV news bulletin for a second time due to technical problems on Monday night on DStv's kykNET and kykNET & Kie channels.

Monday night's broadcast of the Afrikaans eNuus, done by eNCA from its Hyde Park headquarters in Johannesburg, wasn't a live broadcast but a pre-recorded monthly episode playout due to technical problems.

It's the second time that eMedia had to resort to the monthly updated pre-recorded eNuus summary filler episode for emergency use for DStv subscribers. 

The previous time when eNCA had to resort to the canned eNuus episode was in June 2020 due to a Covid-19 emergency which meant that anchors and crew were not allowed into the building and studio.

According to John Bailey, eNCA managing editor, kykNET was told that eNuus can't happen live on Monday night as a live edition. Due to the unspecified technical problems, eNuus wasn't broadcast as a wrap-up of Monday's news, with the pre-record shown in the 19:00 timeslot instead.

eNCA records an episode monthly with a general summary of larger news stories which can serve as a filler eNuus episode in case of problems with on-air playout on MultiChoice's kykNET channels.

Tuesday, April 25, 2023

SABC3 channel boss Pat van Heerden to exit after 5 years at the end of April 2023.

by Thinus Ferreira

SABC3 channel head Pat van Heerden will exit the South African public broadcaster at the end of the month TVwithThinus can reveal.

The experienced TV executive accepted the gargantuan task to try and rightsize the seemingly terminal SABC3 with major programming, scheduling and on-air rebranding interventions as part of a turnaround strategy to try and lift ratings over the past five years since her appointment at the start of 2020.

With master degrees from New York University, this was Pat van Heerden's second stint a the SABC where she previously also served as head of entertainment and head of documentaries and factual entertainment for SABC1, and also helping out Media24's Afrikaans lifestyle channel VIA on MultiChoice's DStv, as head of content and scheduling.

There are now growing fears that the progress made on turning around SABC3 could all be undone as the highly respected channel boss exits the channel at the end of the month without any real permanent successor appointed to replace her. 

The SABC plans to once again run SABC3 with an acting channel head for the time being - one of the major problems that contributed to the channel's ratings failure over the past decade and a half that Pat van Heerden rebranded as "S3" in April 2021 - now courting and luring back progressive millennial viewers who have grown up in a digital, streaming world to traditional TV broadcasting.

Pat van Heerden succeeded in making massive inroads to stem SABC3's ratings slide especially on weekends with natural history programming that's successful in luring back viewers. She also plugged the early prime time schedule chasm left after the cancellation of Isidingo with The Estate.

Now insiders are saying that the exit of Pat van Heerden reeks of "ageism" and that the move looks as if she's being pushed out for apparently being too old, although she's a highly experienced TV content executive who has managed to prevent SABC3 from total collapse after years of mismanagement.  

Mmoni Seapolelo, SABC spokesperson, in response to a media query, confirmed to TVwithThinus that SABC3 will once again be without a channel head from the end of the month and that Pat van Heerden is exiting.

"The SABC can confirm that Pat van Heerden will leave the corporation at the end of the month. Like any other organisation, the SABC has measures in place including succession plans to address matters such as this one".

The SABC says "It must be noted that the success of S3 is as a result of a great teamwork and the people who were instrumental in drafting the roadmap of S3's strategy will continue to ensure that the channel continues to grow."

"The SABC would like to wish Pat well and her contribution as a very passionate and experienced broadcaster has added value to the SABC and contributed towards the reduction of audience losses on the channel through her great editorial strength."

The SABC declined to comment on questions as to why Pat van Heerden's contract wasn't extended if she is regarded as successful and who will be taking over as acting channel head.

CNN fires Don Lemon.

by Thinus Ferreira

CNN has fired the caustic Don Lemon (57), who was a co-anchor of the struggling and low-rated CNN This Morning show also seen on CNN International (DStv 401), following sexist comments and the reported mistreatment of colleagues.

Don Lemon was fired after 17 years with CNN. CNN chief Don Licht, in an emailed memo told staffers that "CNN and Don have parted ways" at the Warner Bros. Discovery TV news channel.

"Don will forever be a part of the CNN family, and we thank him for his contributions over the past 17 years. We wish him well and will be cheering him on in his future endeavours".

After that Don Lemon slammed CNN in a statement for getting fired, saying "I am stunned".

"I was informed this morning by my agent that I have been terminated by CNN. I am stunned. After 17 years at CNN, I would have thought that someone in management would have had the decency to tell me directly."

"At no time was I ever given any indication that I would not be able to continue to do the work that I have loved at the network."

CNN slammed Don Lemon for his comments, saying his statement was "inaccurate": "Don Lemon’s statement about this morning’s events is inaccurate. He was offered an opportunity to meet with management but instead released a statement on Twitter."

Fox News fires Tucker Carlson.

by Thinus Ferreira

Fox News (StarSat 261) on Monday abruptly fired host Tucker Carlson (53) who was blindsided that he was getting axed from the rightwing American TV channel.

According to American media reports, Fox Corp. chairman Rupert Murdoch decided to fire Tucker Carlson, who made the decision together with his son, Lachlan Murdoch who is Fox Corp. executive chairman, and Suzanne Scott who is Fox News Media chief executive.

"Fox News Media and Tucker Carlson have agreed to part ways. We thank him for his service to the network as a host and prior to that as a contributor," Fox News said in a terse statement on late on Monday afternoon.
Tucker Carlson's senior executive producer Justin Wells was also fired on Monday.
Tucker Carlson who was a contributor on Fox News became a daily host in 2016.
Fox News fired Tucker Carlson due to the discrimination lawsuit brought against Fox News by the fired producer Abby Grossberg. Abby Grossberg who was the former head of booking, alleges that she was bullied and subjected to rampant antisemitic and sexist comments, as well as vulgar comments to describe women, while working at Tucker Carlson Tonight.
A shocked Tucker Carlson wasn't given any reason why Fox News fired him. 
Producers and other insiders who spoke with various American newspapers said that they were relieved and happy that Tucker Carlson got fired and are hoping for a corporate culture change inside Fox News. They were also blindsided by Tucker Carlson's firing.
The Wall Street Journal reports that Tucker Carlson angered Fox News bosses and the Murdochs when his private messages were revealed in which he criticised them and Fox News bosses. They discovered that he disliked them and their decisions, in sentences using profane and derogatory language.

Monday, April 24, 2023

kykNET's Silwerskermfees film festival invites producers to enter for first-ever in-person TV pitch opportunity this year while opening entries for 2024's short film and documentary categories.

by Thinus Ferreira

kykNET's Silwerskermfees has opened written pitch entries for its 2024 short films and documentaries competitions, with the film festival which is also for the first time opening entries for another new initiative for this year's 11th Silwerskermfees in which selected TV producers will get the opportunity to make in-person pitches for new TV shows during the festival.

The 11th kykNET Silwerskermfees Film Festival is taking place in Camps Bay in Cape Town from 23 to 26 August where the film festival will showcase 14 short films and 6 short documentaries all made by newcomers and funded by M-Net and kykNET also providing mentorship.

These short films and documentaries were commissioned last year, but the film festival has now opened written entries for these categories for next year's 12th Silwerskermfees.

In both the short film and documentary categories the Silwerskermfees is now looking for "innovative storytellers with a burning desire to move in behind the camera to capture their imaginative ideas" for 2024.

People who are interested in producing either a short film or a documentary have to submit a description of the story and themes, the working title, the documentary genre, and the duration of the proposed film.

The documentary must be no longer than 30 minutes. Any language may be included, but 60% of the content must be in Afrikaans or any variant of the language, such as Afrikaaps.

The finalists for the second round, to be selected in May 2023, will then hand in a pitch video, whereafter a third sifting round will ensue. 

In this round - which will determine the films going into production with M-Net and kykNET's financial backing and mentorship, the candidates will do a full presentation detailing the film's budget and director's treatment.

The 2024 Silwerskermfees film festival competition for short films will follow a similar selection process. The 2024 short films may be between 3 and 30 minutes and in any genre. Any language can be incorporated into the film, but 80% of the dialogue should be in any variant of Afrikaans.

To be considered for the short film competition, a concept proposal of between 250 and 300 words must be submitted. The script development and director's treatment will come into play at a later stage. The entry forms for the two competitions are available on the Silwerskermfees film festival website and the closing date for entries is Monday 8 May. The submission fee is R350.

TV pitch session added for 2023 Silwerskermfees
In another new initiative kykNET is adding an in-person TV pitching session for 2023's 11 Silwerskermfees.

Video entertainment creators are invited to submit original proposals for the festival's new "Pitch To Us" competition which is part of a drive to bring fresh content to television and streaming platforms.

As part of Pitch to Us, a handful of producers will get invited to do in-person pitching sessions with commissioning editors and other programming decision-makers during this year's film festival.

The Pitch To Us competition encompasses various genre categories, including drama series, documentaries, reality and entertainment programmes, and advertiser-sponsored shows.

Producers who want to take part in the TV pitching session must enter on the film festival's website.

During the first phase of the three-pronged selection process, the M-Net content hub commissioning editors overseeing the different genres will sift through all the entries to determine the top 15 proposals. 

Thereafter M-Net's content and channel heads will choose the top 5 entries, whose producers will pitch their programme to a group of commissioning editors and other senior decision-makers at the film festival.

Details concerning the elements required for the first-round pitch and the competition’s terms and conditions are available on the website and the closing date for the Silwerskerm Pitch To Us competition is 7 June 2023.

Married NBCUniversal CEO Jeff Shell fired after inappropriate relationship with CNBC Middle East anchor Hadley Gamble and sexual harassment claim.

by Thinus Ferreira

The married NBCUniversal CEO Jeff Shell has been fired and on Sunday exited the company with immediate effect under a cloud of scandal after a sexual harassment claim triggered an internal investigation which found that he had an inappropriate relationship with the CNBC Middle East anchor Hadley Gamble.

NBCUniversal's senior team will now be reporting to Comcast president Mike Cavanagh for the time being.

Hadley Gamble, a CNBC Middle East anchor and senior international correspondent, who has had a relationship with Jeff Shell for years, filed a complaint against him over inappropriate conduct.

Jeff Shell who became NBCUniversal CEO in January 2020, in a statement issued on Sunday, said "Today is my last day as CEO of NBCUniversal. I had an inappropriate relationship with a woman in the company, which I deeply regret".

"I'm truly sorry I let my Comcast and NBCUniversal colleagues down, they are the most talented people in the business and the opportunity to work with them the last 10 years has been a privilege".

In an emailed staff memo, Mike Cavanagh said that "We are disappointed to share this news with you. We built this company on a culture of integrity".

"Nothing is more important than how we treat each other. You should count on your leaders to create a safe and respectful workplace. When our principles and policies are violated, we will always move quickly to take the appropriate action, as we have done here."

Saturday, April 22, 2023

TV REVIEW. Secrets of the Elephants on Nat Geo WILD is a moving and emotional natural history documentary series.


    9 TV's

by Thinus Ferreira

Some of the biggest creatures on the planet who've roamed the world for over 6 million years are shown to be as majestic as ever but also in dire need of help in James Cameron's evocative, hauntingly beautiful and triumphant new natural history series, Secrets of the Elephants, on National Geographic WILD and Disney+.

Desert elephants, forest elephants, Asian elephants and elephants from Africa's savannah feature in mesmerising camera-followed stories in their beautiful, yet challenging landscapes - stunningly captured in the new four-episode series with Natalie Portman as narrator.

All four episodes will be broadcast back-to-back as part of 2023 Earth Day on Saturday, 22 April on National Geographic WILD (DStv 182 / StarSat 221) from 18:45, and is also being released on Disney+.

Get ready for a literal "cliffhanger" in the Africa savannah episode, and a perilous birth and get-up-and-go journey in the Namib desert episode - both of which National Geographic screened to critics before the series debut on Saturday.

Filmed over many months - following a wide array of elephants from newborns to so-called "super tuskers".

Secrets of the Elephants will leave you emotional as the show's TV pages turn - as if paging through a family album - reflecting on moments of communal joy, celebration, suffering, danger, rebirth, feasting, following, leading, growing up, motherhood, far-flung journeys, and yes, the sorrow and loss of the last loving and mournful trunk-touch that follows after death.

Secrets of the Elephants is a magnificent series about elephants around the world, their journeys over millennia, and now, with modern man in the picture - their decline.

The mood music and cinematography in Secrets of the Elephants are absolutely breathtaking - along with the elephants chosen - following their ever-onward journeys looking for food and water, often under some of the harshest conditions imaginable. And yet these giants endure. 

Some episodes will require parental guidance as it shows elephant life in all its forms from birth to death and even a trunkless toddler - as cameras get up really close and hover far above as they capture these massive creatures who wander the Earth for over 60 years if mankind leaves them alone.

The series from Oxford Scientific Films - with James Cameron, Lucinda Axelsson and Caroline Hawkins as executive producers - features the renowned National Geographic Explorer and elephant expert Dr Paula Kahumba, as well as other experts across the various episodes.

The four mesmerising episodes are not just highly teachable and educational event television that can and should be shown in schools - Secrets of the Elephants is moving, emotional natural history television. 

As a viewer, you cannot help but identify with these massive, smart creatures who remember everything and their so very human longings: To be loved, to feel protected, to play in the water, to sometimes jump in the mud, to be close to your mother, to protect each other, to grieve those lost, and to walk through the wide, scary world together.

Secrets of the Elephants on Nat Geo WILD is not just crammed full of information and knowledge about elephants, their narrowing place in our world today, and their plight - the episodes are highly successfully constructed to resonate on an emotional level that makes you feel their lives. 

You live their journey and through that walk away - as they continue on - with a greater understanding of living giants who deserve and require the protection from a much smaller two-legged species.

The 4 episodes of Secrets of the Elephants are shown back-to-back on National Geographic WILD (DStv 182 / StarSat 221) on Saturday 22 April from 18:45, and are released on Disney+ on the same day.

National Geographic debuts new 4-episode series Secrets of the Elephants on Nat Geo WILD and Disney+ on 2023's Earth Day on 22 April.

by Thinus Ferreira

A new 4-episode natural history documentary series about elephants from National Geographic, Secrets of the Elephants, premieres today, 2023's Earth Day, on Nat Geo WILD (DStv 182 / StarSat 221) and on Disney+.

The four episodes of Secrets of the Elephants are all shown back-to-back on Nat Geo WILD from 18:45 this evening.

James Cameron is one of the executive producers, with Natalie Portman as narrator, with Secrets of the Elephants giving viewers a look at the intricately complex lives of elephants across the world.

Secrets of the Elephants travels the world - from the Savannahs of Africa to the urban landscapes of Asia - to discover the strategic thinking, complex emotions and sophisticated language of elephants, shaping a unique and dynamic culture.

The elephant expert Dr Paula Kahumbu appears throughout the 4-episode series, along with other experts in different episodes. 

With beautiful cinematography - each like mini-films - the series shows the extraordinary lives of different families of elephants but also highlights how similar they are to us. 

According to National Geographic, Secrets Of The Elephants "will change everything you thought you knew about elephants forever".

"Elephants have long been a source of wonder and mystery with their rich emotional lives and almost supernatural ways of navigating the world. In Secrets of the Elephants, we travel the globe to meet different families of elephants - desert elephants, forest elephants, Asian elephants and African savannah elephants" the yellow frame company says.

"Each with their own specific set of cultural behaviours passed between them, elephants have an incredible story of intelligence, grace and survival to tell. They are powerful, loving and wise but only now are we starting to unlock the deepest secrets of the elephants."

"Their strategic thinking, complex emotions and sophisticated language have created a unique and dynamic culture making them more like us than we ever thought possible. The four-episode series explores the courage, tenacity and complexities of elephant life in unique contexts". 

Tebogo Ramokgadi accuses of show idea theft as eMedia says producer's unsolicited Smoke & Mirrors pilot and proposal was rejected.

by Thinus Ferreira

A South African reality TV star and producer known as Tebogo Ramokgadi is accusing of theft of his filmed pilot and proposal for Smoke & Mirrors which is now a new drama series - although eMedia denies that the broadcaster stole his show, saying his show concept with the same name was rejected and that any alleged similarities including the name are purely coincidental.

Tebogo Ramokgadi claims that has stolen his idea for a 13-episode series with Smoke & Mirrors.'s Smoke & Mirrors which is now on-air is produced by The Final Chapter Production. It's a new drama series that held some event for this past Sunday but couldn't bother to even tell media stakeholders would be taking place

Tebogo Ramokgadi says that he pitched Smoke & Mirrors, with this name, to content executive Khanyi Nxumalo on 20 September 2020 through Leo Phiri, after R1 million was spent to film a type of pilot episode. 

Tebogo Ramokgadi has been sharing screenshots of his show pitch, along with responses from Khanyi Nxumalo who was initially very impressed with the show and its visuals, with promises that Smoke & Mirrors would get a full commission from

"The visuals are amazing and the story itself is really compelling. It's a higher LSM but I'm sure will start moving into that direction, now that they've launched eVOD. Again they don't do licensing," Khanyi Nxumalo wrote.

"This is an excellent production it will definitely be picked up. Congratulations, Khanyi Nxumalo said, adding: "Please send content that you haven't shot, for consideration for full commission", with the producer who responded: "I'm looking for a commission for Smoke & Mirrors. What you saw was a pitch teaser". 

When Tebogo Ramokgadi and Leo Phiri discovered that Smoke & Mirrors is coming to - something they had sent to but that wasn't their show - a concerned Leo Phiri emailed Khanyi Nxumalo.

"It has come to our attention that has commissioned a show that I'm currently developing titled Smoke & Mirrors set in the North West."

"My concern and that of our partners is that I submitted a pitch deck to you and a visual promo for a show titled Smoke & Mirrors on 20 September 2021 and are gravely concerned that a new show under your watch and also set in the North West has inherited the same title."

"Given the above, kindly shed some clarity to put our minds at ease as we do not want to speculate at this stage as to what might have transpired." 

eMedia in a statement now says its story of Smoke & Mirrors is set in a small mining town called Emnyameni and that Tebogo Ramokgadi's concept was rejected.

"eMedia confirms that an unsolicited proposal was received from Tebogo Ramokgadi's then series producer in September 2021." eMedia says "the show and concept, like many other pitches, was not accepted".

According to eMedia's corporate communications press statement "The title, Smoke & Mirrors is not a unique name, and is a general phrase used in everyday language and by many other producers for album and song titles, and also across many industries. Any alleged similarities to this, or many other dramas is purely coincidental".