Thursday, December 28, 2023

Sarafina! creator Mbongeni Ngema dead at 68 in head-on car crash with a truck.

by Thinus Ferreira

The Sarafina! creator Mbongeni Ngema has died in a head-on car crash in South Africa's Eastern Cape province. He was 68.

The iconic South African playwright, producer and musician with a troubled professional and personal legacy, was returning after he had attended a funeral in the Eastern Cape of South Africa when he died in a head-on collision on Wednesday evening near Lusikisiki. 

Mbongi Ngema who was injured along with three other people in the vehicle, died before he could reach the OR and Adelaide Tambo Memorial Hospital in Mbizana.

The accident took place on the R61 in Bozana in the direction towards Magusheni when the vehicle with three passengers collided with a truck.

"Mbongeni Ngema was killed in a head-on car accident while returning from a funeral he was attending in Lusikisiki in the Eastern Cape," his family said in a statement.

"The Ngema family, colleagues and friends are deeply devastated about Mbongeni Ngema's passing."

Anant Singh, Sarafina! film producer, in a statement, says "We have lost a trailblazing creative talent who fearlessly brought awareness of South Africa under apartheid to a global audience using the theatre as a platform".

"Mbongeni was one of South Africa's finest multi-talented creatives – a writer, lyricist, composer, director, choreographer and theatre producer. He has left an indelible mark on South African theatre and the creative industries as a whole."

"This is clearly demonstrated by the timelessness of Sarafina! the film. Mbongeni was an inspiration and mentored many young artists who are now household names. His passing leaves a deep void but he leaves a rich legacy that will endure for posterity."

Cyril Ramaphosa, South Africa's president, in a statement, says "The many productions he created or to which he contributed inspired resilience and pride among us as fellow South Africans and took South Africa and our continent into the theatres, homes and consciousness of millions of people around the world."

Mbongeni Ngema was born in Verulam in 1955 and first worked as a manual labourer and guitarist.

Through playing backing guitar in theatre productions, Mbongi Ngema rose through the ranks to write the award-winning and acclaimed Sarafina! which had its debut on Broadway in 1988 and turned into a film in 1992 with Whoopi Goldberg and Leleti Khumalo.

In 1998 he was accused of slapping a Sarafina! cast member of the New York stage production, and telling the media that "she annoyed me and the entire cast. I need ultra-discipline and that's how I get best results".

Mbongeni Ngema also penned Woza Albert in 1981 which went on to win awards worldwide, as well as Asinamali in 1983. He was also responsible for the choir direction of Disney's The Lion King animation film.

Mbongeni Ngema is also known for his albums and songs like Township Fever, Laduma, Woza My Fohloza, Jive Madlokovu and Stimela Sase Zola. He received a lifetime achievement award in 2014 from the Naledi Theatre Awards.

Mbongeni Ngema also appeared in the lead role of miner Patrick Gumede in's Gold Diggers telenovela.

His Sarafina 2 theatre production in 1996 was marred in controversy and financial corruption, including massive criticism over its inaccuracies about HIV/Aids and the Aids pandemic in South Africa. 

Out of R40 million earmarked by the European Union (EU) to raise Aids awareness in South Africa, a whopping R14.27 million was given to Mbongeni Ngema for Sarafina 2 in which an older Leleti Khumalo played a social worker.

Mbongeni Ngema married Xoliswa Nduneni-Ngema in 1982 but he was having an affair with Leleti Khumalo which led to a divorce in which she cited physical and sexual abuse. 

Mbongeni Ngema eventually married the Sarafina!-star he had an extramarital affair with, but they also divorced in 2005 after 14 years.

Tuesday, December 19, 2023

HBO's Cape Town-filmed Warrior cancelled after 3 seasons, jumping to Netflix.

by Thinus Ferreira

HBO has cancelled its low-rated Cape Town-filmed Chinese martial arts period drama Warrior with the 3-season series that is moving to Netflix where it might be revived if the show does better on the streaming service.

Warrior which was on M-Net (DStv 101) and MultiChoice's streamer Showmax has been cancelled by Warner Bros. Discovery but the existing three seasons will now jump to Netflix, where it might be revived for a fourth season if ratings are good enough.

Warrior was actually cancelled once before. 

Warrior, filmed at Cape Town Film Studios in South Africa by Moonlighting with some South African talent like Langley Kirkwood, Armand Aucamp, AndrĂ© Jacobs, Frank Rautenbach, Nat Ramabulana, Sean-Marco Vorster and Sizo Mahlangu appearing on screen, made its debut in 2019 on Cinemax for two seasons after it was cancelled. 

Warner Bros. Discovery's HBO then picked it up for a third season in April 2021 as a Max Original which recently made its debut but WBD decided to cancel the show and not proceed with a fourth season.

The Warrior cast has been released from their contracts with several who have moved on to other projects, meaning a possible fourth season will mean another reset for the show that was set during the infamous Tong Wars in San Francisco's Chinatown during the late 19870s.

Creator Jonathan Tropper in a statement, says "Warrior is a show that simply refuses to die. Through platform and regime changes, the writers, producers, cast, crew, and our stunt team continued to make something powerful, relevant, and wildly unique".

"Now, thanks to Netflix, we've been given yet another lease on life, and I'm thrilled for everyone involved that millions more viewers around the world will discover it."

Shannon Lee, daughter of Bruce Lee, says "My wish is that the huge global Netflix audience loves Warrior and from that love more goodness flows – in the form of greater recognition for our talented cast and crew who deserve all the things, in the form of passionate fandom for this relevant kick-ass show and, if I dare to dream, in the form of an opportunity to continue our story for our amazing fans who, thanks to Netflix, will have grown in number and enthusiasm."

South Africa's Competition Tribunal orders MultiChoice to keep's TV channels on DStv for another 6 months until case is heard in August 2024.

by Thinus Ferreira

South Africa's Competition Tribunal on Monday granted an interim relief order for an extension of another half a year until the case can be heard, ordering MultiChoice to continue to carry's TV channels that the Randburg-based pay-TV operator no longer wants on its DStv service.

The latest interim relief order in the drawn-out case comes a year and a half after MultiChoice originally wanted to axe eMedia's eExtra (DStv 195), eToonz (DStv 311), eMovies (DStv 138) and eMovies Extra (DStv 140) TV channels from DStv at the end of March 2022, following the termination of a five-year channel carriage agreement that MultiChoice didn't want to renew.

The Competition Tribunal has now once again granted eMedia an interim relief order which means that these four TV channels will remain on DStv until August 2024.

After MultiChoice told eMedia that it only wanted to keep and continue with the channel and the eNCA (DStv 403) TV news channel which fall under separate channel carriage agreements and no longer wanted to keep the other TV channels which are also available on eMedia's Openview free-to-air satellite TV service, eMedia accused MultiChoice of an abuse of marketplace dominance under the Competition Act. 

The TV channels have been some of the most-watched TV channels on DStv in South Africa, with eExtra also carried on China's StarTimes operating as StarSat in South Africa.. 

The case then turned into a drawn-out battle.

Long-winding case
The Tribunal heard the case in April 2022 and dismissed it. MultiChoice dropped the channels at the end of May 2022.

MultiChoice told the Competition Tribunal during hearings in April 2022 that it had satellite transponder capacity constraints and that eMedia's TV channels didn't fit into its 5-year strategy. eMedia showed that MultiChoice did have enough satellite capacity.

After MultiChoice dropped the channels at the end of May 2022, eMedia then took MultiChoice to the Competition Tribunal again when it immediately appealed the case. MultiChoice was therefore ordered to immediately reinstate the channels for another few months pending the outcome of the appeal.

A Competition Commission investigation had been ongoing with eMedia alleging that "MultiChoice's conduct constitutes an abuse of dominance in contravention of the Competition Act". The Tribunal granted another extension order in December 2022 for a further period of a maximum of six months.

After the last extension granted by the Tribunal in December 2022, the eMedia channels would have been removed from DStv at the end of July 2023. 

In June this year, eMedia meanwhile asked MultiChoice directly for an extension or undertaking that it would not remove the channels from DStv but MultiChoice said it wouldn't agree to any such extension. 

eMedia then again sought urgent relief and once again asked for a further extension from the Competition Appeal Court for its channels to remain on MultiChoice's DStv. 

The court then decided that MultiChoice must "maintain the status quo and is interdicted from removing the following channels from the bouquet of channels on the DStv platform of which they currently form part" while the Competition Tribunal considers whether "a further extension of interim relief can be legally justified".

MultiChoice opposed the extension.

On Monday the Competition Tribunal extended it for another 6 months from this week, or pending the conclusion of the hearing, whichever occurs first. The Tribunal said its reasons for the decision would be issued in due course.

The hearing is to take place in August 2024.

Monday, December 18, 2023

South Africa's bloated SABC hunts ghost workers in broadcaster's SABC News division as implicated manager resigns.

by Thinus Ferreira

At least one implicated manager is already gone with others involved in disciplinary processes after the South African public broadcaster started hunting ghost workers in its SABC News division.

The bloated broadcaster that made a R1.1 billion loss in its latest reported financial year, in 2024 will once again be confronted with possible retrenchments to downsize its personnel corps similar to the ailing South African Post Office which will let go of 6 000 workers next year as part of its business rescue process.

Meanwhile, the Communication Workers Union (CWU) which has declared another wage dispute with the SABC, has already threatened that it will jeopardise the broadcaster in 2024 during what is South Africa's next general election year.

Nathen Bowers, CWU national bargaining co-ordinator, threatened that the union will "roll out a programme of action in the second week of January 2024" and "if the SABC doesn't accede to workers' demands, then we are going to put the general election in jeopardy".

The SABC has been busy rooting out ghost workers, with Moshoeshoe Monare, SABC News boss, who had started an investigation into bogus workers bleeding the broadcaster dry.

The SABC in a statement says it can "confirm that the SABC group executive for news and current affairs, Moshoeshoe Monare has launched an extensive investigation into freelance contracts that turned out to be irregular, corrupt and fraudulent".

According to the SABC, "one of the managers under investigation tendered a resignation with immediate effect, while other staff members are facing disciplinary processes".

The broadcaster says "the matter is addressed within the SABC's human resources policies and will also be referred to the other relevant authorities for further investigation".

Friday, December 15, 2023

Dropped by CNN Stanley Tucci jumps to National Geographic with 10-episode food travelogue series Tucci - Heart of Italy coming in 2024.

by Thinus Ferreira

A year after his travelogue show was cancelled at CNN Stanley Tucci is taking his show with the same idea to National Geographic with Tucci - Heart of Italy which will debut sometime in 2024.

CNN cancelled Searching for Italy a year ago in 2022, and now Stanley Tucci will be the presenter of the same 10-episode type of show for National Geographic (DStv 181 / StarSat 220) in 2024 with Tucci - Heart of Italy as a working title.

Production on Tucci - Heart of Italy which will start in January 2024 and is produced by Stanley Tucci's Salt Productions and BBC Studios' Factual Productions, is described as a travelogue food series in which Tucci "unlocks the distinct flavours that define each region and discovers the rich versatility of Italy through those he meets along the journey".

He will visit several regions within Italy, including Lazio, Marche, Sicily, Trentino-Alto Adige and Veneto and meet with amateur cooks, professional chefs, farmers, winemakers, brewers and fishermen who share his passion for food.

Stanley Tucci in a statement says "National Geographic is all about adventure and exploration, and I am honoured to take viewers once again to explore Italy through the lens of food".

"In Italy's many distinct regions there is always something new to discover and I'm more than excited to begin the process in partnership with BBC Studios."

Tom McDonald, executive vice president for global factual and unscripted content at National Geographic, says "National Geographic is the perfect home for Stanley to share his knowledge and passion for Italy's people, food and culture".

"Our programming is all about inspiring a deeper connection to the world. With Stanley as their guide, audiences will be transported to places and to flavours they've never experienced before."

Alan Holland, BBC Studios head of specialist factual productions, in the statement says "We are thrilled to be working with Stanley on this major new series and to be strengthening our partnership with National Geographic".

"Stanley is the perfect guide for this delicious journey, and we couldn't be prouder to be partnering with him, Salt Productions and National Geographic to bring this to audiences around the world."

Wednesday, December 13, 2023

Netflix releases viewership data for its catalogue content including South African shows.

by Thinus Ferreira

Under pressure from advertisers and the larger industry to be more transparent about the ratings of its content Netflix late on Tuesday night released the first of what it said would be a biannual list of all its shows and films and their hours viewed.

The searchable list that can be viewed and downloaded here contains the titles of 99% of the shows and films that are currently within Netflix's entire viewing catalogue.

Netflix's new searchable list of over 18 000 titles is the first of its What We Watched: A Netflix Engagement Report, with the Excel document releasing the number of hours per title watched between January and June 2023.

The list includes the viewing hours of South African productions like the third season of Blood and Water (10.3 million hours), the first season of Savage Beauty (8.2 million hours), the first season of Young, Famous and African (6.2 million hours), the first season of Ludik (5.9 million), and films like Silverton Siege (4.8 million hours) and Trippin' with the Kandasamys (300 000 hours).

Viewing of South African content paled in comparison with Netflix's most viewed content during the period like the first season of The Night Agent (812.1 million hours), Queen Charlotte: A Bridgerton Story (503 million hours) and the first season of Wednesday (507.7 million hours). 

Netflix's reluctance to release ratings data has been a move that was later parroted by streamers that launched after it, like Disney+, Apple TV+, Amazon Prime Video and MultiChoice's Showmax that send out press releases often touting "record-viewership" or "new record viewing" but without providing any actual viewership data for advertisers or the industry to track content success or failure.

"This is a big step forward for Netflix and our industry," the global video streamer said in a statement.

"We believe the viewing information in this report - combined with our weekly Top 10 and Most Popular lists - will give creators and our industry deeper insights into our audiences, and what resonates with them."

The list gives the hours viewers for every title, original and licensed, watched for over 50 000 hours, the premiere date for any Netflix TV series or film, and whether a title was available globally.

Netflix noted that returning favourites and film sequels did well during the six months on the streamers like Ginny & Georgia, Alice in Borderland, The Marked Heart, Outer Banks, You, Queen Charlotte: A Bridgerton Story, XO Kitty, as well as Murder Mystery 2 and Extraction 2. 

Netflix also touted the popularity of new series like The Night Agent, The Diplomat, Beef, The Glory, Alpha Males, FUBAR and Fake Profile that it said "generate huge audiences and fandoms". 

Netflix also noted the "enthusiasm for non-English stories, which generated 30% of all viewing", as well as the "staying power of titles on Netflix which extends well beyond their premieres" Netflix also says the demand for older, licensed titles "generates tremendous value for our members and for rights holders".

During a half-hour press conference on Tuesday night Ted Sarandos, Netflix co-CEO, said "The unintended consequence of not having more transparent data about our engagement was that it created an atmosphere of mistrust over time with producers and creators and the press about what was happening on Netflix".

He called the release of the Netflix viewership data report "an important milestone for our industry".

"The most effective way to measure engagement is viewed hours. It's easy to understand, it mirrors measuring parties like Nielsen in the United States and it makes Netflix very easy to compare to other services," Sarandos said.

"Over time we've been getting increasingly more and more transparent about what people are watching on Netflix. When we started streaming 16 years ago, it was a pretty exotic proposition. There were no other streamers to compare to us and comparing live TV or live+7 to Netflix on-demand was like comparing apples to oranges."

"As we've grown, streaming has become more mainstream, so we've become much more open." He said that the start of the release of the list which will be done twice a year is "on the continuum of transparency as streaming has become more and more mainstream that it's more on par with other forms of media that have quite accessible information about how things are performing."

He said the release of the viewership data "creates a better environment for the guilds, for us, for the producers, creators, and for the press".

Tuesday, December 12, 2023

SABC2 will show the last episode it has of 7de Laan tonight unless the SABC pays the show the outstanding millions its owed.

by Thinus Ferreira

The final episode of 7de Laan will be broadcast on SABC2 tonight unless the cash-strapped public broadcaster pays the millions of rands still owed to the production company which is refusing to deliver the last 10 episodes unless it gets its money.

The SABC has not responded to a media query made on Monday about the non-payment to Danie Odendaal Productions. 

Insiders told me that the SABC has also not responded to any of the emails from the production company over the last few weeks pleading for communication from the broadcaster and payment for what it is due.

Danie Odendaal Productions is still owed millions of rands for what's left of the final 7de Laan season after the broadcaster decided to abruptly cancel the long-running soap in July. 

The SABC which made another R1.1 billion rand loss in its latest reported financial year, is no longer able to keep shows like 7de Laan on the air despite it being the second most-watched show on SABC2 with 901 668 viewers.

When 7de Laan ends, the SABC plans to replace it in the 18:00 timeslot on SABC2 with yet another rerun of the 27-year old Afrikaans sitcom Vetkoekpaleis made in 1996, although full episodes of Vetkoekpaleis are available on YouTube.

In September the SABC caused yet another production shutdown of 7de Laan - similar to what has happened several times in the past with the show as well as other SABC productions - due to non-payment. 

After an emergency SABC payment in September, production resumed on the final 45 episodes of 7de Laan.

Now the SABC has once again not paid 7de Laan, with the production withholding the final 10 episodes which are supposed to take SABC2 to 26 December when the last episode is supposed to be broadcast on the day after Christmas. 

7de Laan is supposed to end with a nostalgia-filled look back at the years and characters who have shared their drama-filled lives in the fictional Hillside suburb in Johannesburg.

According to insiders close to the production, 7de Laan "is still owed millions".

According to one insider, the last episode that was delivered to the SABC is the episode which will be shown tonight, on Tuesday 12 December on SABC2. "The SABC only has one episode left," the person said who spoke on condition of anonymity.

Another insider revealed that "the big concern now is that if 7de Laan delivers the last 10 episodes, Danie Odendaal Productions will find it challenging to receive payment from the SABC for closure work that has been done".

According to the person, besides payment of millions of rand outstanding, the SABC needs to sign and provide the production company with an addendum to the original contract, which is for the closure of 7de Laan, as well as the work that was done to finish off the show.

Production had already wrapped on the show that was filmed at Sasani Studios in Highlands North in Johannesburg with the sets in the studios which have been packed up and emptied out and with cartloads of items which had been donated to places like the National School of the Arts in Braampark.

I asked Danie Odendaal Productions for comment, that confirmed that it is still owed millions of rand by the SABC.

"The SABC owes us millions leading up to including the closure of the production that was concluded on 28 November 2023 which was the extended period needed to pack up after we wrapped filming on 27 October," the production company said in response to the media query.

"Numerous emails have been sent to the necessary parties at the SABC but no response has been received to date. We await formal communication in response to our emails querying the outstanding money and information from the SABC before we are able to upload the remainder of the episodes," the company says.

The production confirmed that it is 10 episodes of 7de Laan which have not been given to SABC2 yet.

MultiChoice does 3rd DStv price hike in Nigeria in a year of up to 20% as country's economy and currency continue to tank.

by Thinus Ferreira

As Nigeria's economy and naira currency continue to worsen MultiChoice Nigeria has done a third DStv price hike this year in the troubled West African country.

In MultiChoice's second DStv price hike within 6 months in Nigeria, DStv Premium has been hiked by 20.4% from N24,500 to N29,500, while MultiChoice is making DStv Compact Plus subscribers pay 19.2% more from N16,600 to N19,800. 

DStv Compact subscribers in Nigeria have to pay MultiChoice 19% more, with the package price hiked from N10,500 to N12,500.

MultiChoice has increased the Comfam package by 19.2% from N6,200 to N7,400.

MultiChoice hiked DStv prices in Nigeria in May 2023, and then again in November 2023.

The MultiChoice Group continues to absorb ongoing foreign exchange losses in Nigeria due to its operations there.

How Showmax will relaunch in February 2024.

by Thinus Ferreira

In February 2024 MultiChoice's video streaming service Showmax will change its look and subscription plans for the third time in its eight-year existence when the logo will switch to red with a British football-only plan that's likely a harbinger of what's to come for SuperSport on DStv.

In February 2024 MultiChoice will take the wrapping of its retooled Showmax that will switch to a red letter logo and retire its standard Showmax and Showmax Pro plans for Showmax Entertainment, Showmax Entertainment Mobile and Showmax Premier League plans as the streamer narrows its accessibility to Africa only.

Pricing has not yet been announced for the reconstructed Showmax done on the tech framework of the Peacock streaming service and in partnership with Comcast's NBCUniversal and Britain's Sky.

From February 2024 the remade red letter Showmax will have to show its mettle in South Africa and across the pan-African continent in a fierce fight against global streamers like Netflix, Amazon Prime Video, Disney+, Apple TV+ and the still-to-launch Paramount+.

In a bizarre and as yet explained split, Showmax subscribers won't be able to get general entertainment content and English Premier League (EPL) live matches together, or both content selections in high definition (HD). 

MultiChoice is forcing Showmax subscribers to choose: either Showmax Entertainment in HD from February 2024 without EPL live matches and extra EPL content, or the Showmax Premier League package in SD with EPL live matches and extra EPL content but without any general entertainment like series, movies, kids content or documentaries.

Showmax Entertainment Mobile will undoubtedly be cheaper than the full suite of Showmax Entertainment, but be in SD only, and won't allow subscribers streaming through Smart TVs and laptops.

Showmax Entertainment Mobile will also offer just one concurrent stream (Showmax Entertainment will offer two concurrent streams).

MultiChoice says "Showmax Premier League is the first standalone Premier League mobile streaming service ever to launch in Africa and will take every single match of the world's most popular football league to every corner of sub-Saharan Africa".

The split-off of EPL content as a streaming package will be an interesting experiment for MultiChoice which has steadfastly refused to ever offer its SuperSport content as a stand-alone package on traditional satellite pay-TV in direct-to-home (DTH), bundling sport on all of its satellite TV packages with general entertainment, news and kids TV channels.

Besides no general entertainment the Showmax Premier League package will be further curtailed and also not allow viewing on Smart TVs and laptop - a drawback for fans who like to watch matches live and on as big screens as possible. The maximum resolution will be SD.

"We can't wait to share the new Showmax,” says Marc Jury, Showmax CEO, in a prepared statement.

"We have an incredibly powerful new technology platform, a bold brand that truly represents our driving spirit and a content slate that is unmatched. No other streaming service in Africa can offer what Showmax is bringing to the table in the new year."

"Streaming in Africa is about to take off and we're ready to change the game. We have all the ingredients in place to become the number one streaming service for Africa," Jury says.

According to MultChoice Showmax’s migration to the Peacock streaming platform "means it’s ready to scale, and scale fast".

"The robust platform is used across the globe and is a leader in sports streaming, having successfully live-streamed the Super Bowl to more than six million users simultaneously."

Showmax has been ramping up content creation for the streamer's relaunch. 

MultiChoice says international titles on Showmax will see a radical increase from 2024 as the streamer continues to draw from the content vaults of studios and distributors ranging from Banijay, BBC, eOne Fremantle, HBO, ITV, Lionsgate, Paramount, Sony, Warner Bros. Discovery and more.

South African singer Zahara dead at 35.

by Thinus Ferreira

The South African singer and songwriter Bulelwa Mkutukana, better known as Zahara died on Monday. She was 35.

The cause of her death has not yet been revealed.

Zizi Kodwa, South Africa's minister of sport, arts and culture, confirmed the artist's death, nothing "I am very saddened by the passing of Zahara. My deepest condolences to the Mkutukana family and the South African music industry".

"Government has been with the family for some time now. Zahara and her guitar made an incredible and lasting impact in South African music."

Warner Music Africa in a statement says it is mourning "the sudden departure of Zahara, the esteemed South African singer-songwriter recognised for her multi-platinum successes and 17-time SAMA-winning impact on the music scene".

Temi Adeniji, Warner Music Africa managing director, says "Zahara was a true music icon, a force whose soulful voice and heartfelt lyrics resonated deeply with fans across South Africa and beyond".

"Our deepest condolences go out to her family, friends and the entire music community during this difficult time."

Zahara was the subject of the reality show Zahara: As I Rise which was broadcast in February on SABC1.

On 27 November her family said in a statement that she was taken to hospital after "physical pain". She has been in hospital for two weeks following liver problems.

Zahara died on Monday night at 22:00 in a Johannesburg hospital with her fiance Mpho Zaba next to her.

Monday, December 11, 2023

Season 4 of Big Brother Mzansi in early 2024 axes shower hour, adds new game mechanics.

by Thinus Ferreira

Big Brother Mzansi will return in January 2024 to Mzansi Magic (DStv 161) with Lawrence Maleka back as the host but without any "shower hour" shown, although new game mechanics are being added into the reality competition format show.

Big Brother S'ya Mosha will be the 4th season of the rebooted version of the localised South African version and the 10th South African version overall. 

The upcoming season of the Banijay reality competition format show is once again produced by Red Pepper Productions.

Besides specific programming strands of Big Brother S'ya Mosha on Mzansi Magic, a 24-hour Big Brother pop-up channel will once again run concurrently on MultiChoice's DStv from 21 January 2024 on channel 198.

Big Brother S'ya Mosha will be available to DStv Premium, DStv Compact Plus and Dstv Compact subscribers. 

"Big Brother S'ya Mosha is a disruption of the norm," says Shirley Adonisi, M-Net director of local entertainment channels, in a statement about the upcoming season.

"It means setting a new bar, being the most memorable season for disrupting and breaking away from what is expected. Viewers are familiar with what Big Brother is all about and they know what to expect every season, or so they think. With this season, we are messing with those perceptions and blowing their expectations out of the water."

According to Shirley Adonisi, M-Net and Red Pepper Productions are getting rid of the so-called "shower hour" following backlash from DStv subscribers who said they're not interested in seeing this type of nudity.

Natalie Bleksley, Big Brother Mzansi executive producer, says in a statement that DStv subscribers "may think you know how Big Brother operates, but the 4th season has more than just a few twists and turns that will keep viewers guessing".

"The format is also being enhanced by adding new game mechanics - nothing is predictable, and Biggie is here to shake things up, building on the elements that viewers  love like the Saturday Night Parties and Friday Night Games."  

It's not known what else was said last week at the Big Brother Mzansi media event that took place at MultiChoice City in Randburg since MultiChoice and M-Net, as well as their PR agency Duma Collective, didn't alert or communicate with all relevant media beforehand that there would be a media engagement.

MultiChoice, M-Net and Duma Collective also failed to provide any recording or transcript of what was said at the Big Brother Mzansi media event by M-Net executives like Shirley Adonisi, to journalists who were not there and who didn't know about it.

According to MultiChoice, the 4th season on DStv will see a collection of new housemates described as "a dynamic mix of fun, crazy and bold characters from diverse backgrounds" who will "do their best to outwit each other to win the hearts of the audience and ultimately the grand prize".

Friday, December 8, 2023 cancels ratings-flop Nikiwe.

by Thinus Ferreira has cancelled its low-rated Nikiwe after just a few months after the local telenovela failed in the ratings race with too few viewers.

Nikiwe, created by Thomas Gumede and filmed in and around Soweto, launched eight months ago in mid-April with little fanfare and barely any publicity support, portraying the struggles and strife of the Radebe family empire.

Just a month after its April debut Nikiwe had already lost over 500 000 viewers.

Muzi Mthabela, a determined businessman played by Themba "Bhungane" Radebe" was the head of the wealthy Radebe family with his wife, Mirriam and three children Nikiwe, Menzi and Mandisa.

Eldest daughter Nikiwe (Lungelo Mpangase) and supposed heir to the Radebe empire was a socialite who quickly lost everything following tragedy at home and a shocking revelation that she wasn't the oldest child. 

Production on the show by Parental Advisory Productions (PAP) - written by Bongi Ndaba with Thomas Gumede and Lungile Radu as co-executive producers - has already abruptly shut down a while ago after content executives had decided to cancel the show due to its viewership underperformance.

A few months ago the show's original head writer Siposethu Tshapu was abruptly replaced by the former Generations writer Bongi Ndaba in an attempt to try and boost the ratings which fell far short of's Scandal! and House of Zwide.

Nikiwe served as the replacement for's Durban Gen which itself canned after just two seasons. With little buzz and exposure, Nikiwe suffered in the ratings and had just 1.77 million viewers in November in its 18:30 timeslot, making it only the 9th most-watched show on last month.

In response to a media query, confirmed that Nikiwe was cancelled, noting that "The local prime-time drama on will be coming to an end early 2024".

"The show launched in April 2023 and filled the 18:30 slot. Unfortunately, the show has not continued to deliver anticipated ratings. The channel continually reviews programmes and storylines to ensure we give our viewers the best local entertainment. Further information regarding the replacement show will be shared soon."

Nikiwe which will end sometime in early 2024 on and its streaming service eVOD also starred Muzi Mthabela, Clementine Mosimane, Kenneth Nkosi and Israel Matseke Zulu.

Monday, December 4, 2023

Remastered Love Actually back in South African cinemas for 20th anniversary.

by Thinus Ferreira

A 4K remastered version of the now classic Christmas film Love Actually will be back in South African cinemas from 15 December, telling the story of various love, and love-on-the-rocks, relationships.

Studiocanal and Universal Pictures are releasing The Working Title-produced film from 2003 for its 20th anniversary, that has an all-star cast including Emma Thompson, Bill Nighy, Chiwetel Ejiofor, Colin Firth, Hugh Grant, Liam Neeson and Keira Knightley.

It also features Laura Linney, Martin Freeman, Andrew Lincoln, Thomas Brodie-Sangster, Rodrigo Santoro, Rowan Atkinson, Billy Bob Thornton and the late Alan Rickman. 

Richard Curtis, who had written the screenplays for The Tall Guy, Four Weddings and a Funeral, Notting Hill and Bridget Jones’ Diary, made his director's debut with Love Actually, in which he chose to construct a nine-arc plot lightly centred around the lead up to Christmas in London. 

The film follows these relationships in various loosely interrelated tales as they navigate their ups and downs and, for some couples, those happily-ever-after moments. 

In a new 4K restoration, the film is screening at cinemas from 15 December across South Africa.

"I'm really excited about this new version of the film; it's never looked or sounded better," says Richard Curtis in a statement.

"Tim Bevan and Eric Fellner, co-chairmen of Working Title, say "We hope this new remastered version of the film will continue to bring many people together in joy and love this holiday season."

At Sterk-Kinekor tickets for Love Actually will cost R50 where the restored film will run for a week from 15 December.

Friday, December 1, 2023

SABC+ down as broadcaster retools its streaming service.

by Thinus Ferreira

The South African public broadcaster's video streaming service SABC+ abruptly went down on Friday morning with the SABC that in response to a media query said it's working on moving SABC+ to a new platform.

After users were met with a "No Service available" notification on a black screen on Friday, the SABC told TVwithThinus that the "brief hiatus" "should not be more than 48 hours".

Viewers also noticed that the SABC removed all of the catch-up and third-party content from the SABC+ app, leaving only the broadcaster's seven TV channels and radio stations to stream live.

Search engines still direct users looking for "SABC Plus" to although the website has inexplicably and without notification changed to - it's unclear which website will be used going forward.

The SABC in response to the media query said that the changes "is necessary to pave the way for an exciting new service offering. This will ensure that in future there is an enhanced and more robust digital content delivery for our valued viewers".

The SABC said it is migrating the SABC+ service "to a new technology system, which will result in scheduled downtime. It must also be noted that services will be limited, so don't be alarmed with the hew offering, as it is part of the migration process".

"Audiences will still be able to stream their favourite SABC content once the migration is complete. New features and modifications will continue to be implemented post the migration as the SABC continually enhances the offering, and we ask that audiences please be patient in this transition period. This update underscores the SABC's dedication to continue providing audiences with an optimized and enriched SABC+ experience".

"SABC+ assures its viewers that this interruption is temporary, and efforts are being made to expedite the transition process. Regular updates will be provided to keep our audience informed about the resumption of SABC+ services and the exciting improvements to come."