Thursday, February 29, 2024

MultiChoice hikes DStv decoder prices by up to over 17%.

by Thinus Ferreira

MultiChoice has quietly hiked DStv decoder prices by up to 17% far above the inflation rate.

From earlier this month the price of a standalone DStv HD decoder jumped 14.3% from R699 to R799, while MultiChoice increased the recommended retail price (RRP) of an installed HD decoder by 11.1% from R899 to R999.

MultiChoice hiked the price of a standalone DStv Explora PVR decoder a whopping 17.6% from R1699 to R1999 from February, while the Randburg-based pay-TV operator increased the standalone price of its top-of-the-range DStv Explora Ultra PVR decoder by 11.1% from R2699 to R2999. 

South Africa's inflation rate hovers around 6% according to Statistics South Africa, which means MultiChoice hiked DStv decoder prices by far more than double the inflation rate.

TVwithThinus asked MultiChoice why these DStv decoder price increases up to 17% is suddenly so high and far above inflation. The company didn't respond to the media query and had no comment.

MultiChoice is set to release its latest DStv decoder - the DStv Glass modelled after Sky's Sky Glass - towards the end of its current 2023/2024 financial year, which means it could be ready to ship to be under South African Christmas trees at the end of December 2023.

DStv Glass is basically a flatscreen TV set with the DStv decoder built-in, with MultiChoice that entered into a partnership with Comcast and the United Kingdom's Sky to bring a version of the Sky Glass to South Africa as DStv Glass.

It will further tighten and complement the content ecosystem and commercial partnership between MultiChoice and Comcast’s NBCUniversal and Sky that are collaborating on MultiChoice’s retooled and relaunched Showmax 2.0 video streaming service.

DStv Glass will mean that DStv subscribers no longer buy a decoder from MultiChoice but a TV set - which will raise questions about DStv subscribers' need for a valid SABC TV licence - with MultiChoice that bundles and curates all of the available content for the TV viewer on one screen, pulled from various different sources like linear TV channels and streaming services.

Similar to existing decoders, contract DStv subscribers will be able to buy a DStv Glass - which comes in various different sizes and colour schemes - and pay it off over time as part of the monthly subscription fee payments.

Earlier this month MultiChoice announced its annual DStv monthly subscription fee increase which will kick in from April 2024.

DStv Premium is increasing from April 2024 by 5.7% from R879 to R929, with a 6.9% increase for DStv Compact Plus increasing from R579 to R619.

DStv Compact is increasing 4.5% from R449 to R469, DStv Family is increasing 3.1% from R319 to R329, while DStv Access is increasing 7.8% from R129 to R139. DStv EasyView is remaining the same at R29. 

MultiChoice is increasing the DStv Access fee by 4.3% from R115 to R120 monthly.

Wednesday, February 28, 2024

More TV channels on MultiChoice's DStv axed including People’s Weather.

by Thinus Ferreira

As the traditional pay-TV bundle continues to fray at the seams DStv subscribers have lost access to even more TV channels although another price increase will kick in from April, with B4U Movies gone, as well as community TV channels 1Free State TV and NWTV that went dark after just a few months, and with People's Weather getting axed within days.

B4U Movies, the Indian movie channel based in Mumbai with a channel line-up mix of classic and contemporary Bollywood films formed part of MultiChoice's DStv Indian package but suddenly stopped broadcasting at the end of January. 

About B4U Movies, MultiChoice told me it "regularly reviews its channel lineup to ensure we offer customers the best in local and international content" and that B4U "will no longer form part of our content lineup on GOtv channel 57/157/357 and DStv channel 451 effective 1 March 2024".

After MultiChoice's fanfare announcement that 1Free State TV (DStv 264) from mid-November, and NWTV (DStv 266) from December 2023 were added for DStv subscribers, both these community TV channels abruptly failed and stopped transmitting after just two months.

At launch, MultiChoice said that 1Free State TV as an "exciting addition to the DStv line-up is set to captivate the audience with entertainment, with its different range of programming delivered in Sesotho and English" and that the pay-TV service was "dedicated to showcasing the richness and diversity of Free State, with a focus on local culture, innovation, and community engagement". 

At launch, MultiChoice said that it "happily welcomes NWTV on our platform as it speaks to our continued effort to strengthen the rich linguistic and cultural heritage of our country" and that the partnership "allows us to enrich lives of the communities we operate in through job creation and skills development".

MultiChoce and NWTV promised "a diverse range of family-friendly programming" over the coming months which failed to materialise.

Two months later both channels are nowhere to be seen on DStv.

Following 1Free State TV removal from DStv, Thobeka Basholo, 1Free State TV spokesperson, told me "The termination of the channel was primarily due to contractual challenges, which both parties are actively addressing to reach a favourable resolution".

"1Free State TV is currently in negotiations with MultiChoice to resume broadcast on the DStv platform."

MultiChoice says on 31 January it removed NWTV and 1Free State.

"We remain committed to bringing our customers the best of local and international content through our various DStv channels and will continue to provide our customers with exciting content available on a range of packages."

After several years MultiChoice is also doing away with the People's Weather (DStv 180) channel, with the channel going dark at the end of this month. People's Weather remains available on eMedia's Openview satellite service on channel 115.

About People's Weather, MultiChoice says it "regularly reviews its channel line-up to ensure we offer customers the best in local and international content. This is done to ensure we deliver unbeatable content to our customers and that our DStv services cater for the needs and viewing requirements of our customers".

"As part of this ongoing process, People's Weather on DStv channel 180 will no longer be available on DStv packages, effective 1 March 2024."

So far six TV channels will be gone from DStv in just the two months since the beginning of 2024, with Deutsche Welle which stopped airing on 30 December and MultiChoice that decided to cancel the controversial Emmanuel TV of the late Nigerian televangelist T.B. Joshua by 17 January.

Justine Drake is also back as MasterChef SA judge for the 5th season on SABC3.

by Thinus Ferreira

Justine Drake is also returning as a judge for the new 5th season of MasterChef South Africa on SABC3.

Justine Drake who was a judge on the 4th season of MasterChef SA and the editor of Pick n Pay's Fresh Living magazine, joins the already-announced Zola Nene who was also a judge in 2022.

Homebrew Films is responsible for production and is testing a string of tricky challenges the chosen homecook contestants will have to prepare in limited time using ingredients from the Pick n Pay pantry with the retailer which is also back in the latest season of the Banijay format cooking competition show secured for SABC3 by Primedia Studios.

South African contestants have until the end of the day on 15 March to enter with the season that will be shown on SABC3 from mid-June.

"The aim of the show is to allow home cooks to achieve their MasterChef status," says Justine. "However it doesn't arrive on a silver platter. The participants are put to the test in gruelling challenges, and to reach the top of the culinary ladder, they have to be disciplined and willing to learn."

She really wants people who think they can do it, to enter at . "If you have a culinary vision and are ready to work hard to achieve your culinary dream, the world is your oyster with this show."

Andrew Mills, Pick n Pay chief marketing officer, says "The role of MasterChef judge fits Justine, an esteemed foodie, like a stylish kitchen glove".

"For many years, she has helped our customers serve up delicious dishes through the Fresh Living publication and, as a judge in 2022, demonstrated an authentic connection with people from diverse backgrounds and different food cultures. She is also a hard taskmaster who always strives for excellence."

Monday, February 26, 2024

MultiChoice and Paramount to make its Paramount+ streamer available as a 'destination area' in South Africa on Showmax.

by Thinus Ferreira

MultiChoice in an agreement with Paramount Global is finally bringing its Paramount+ video streaming to South Africa but not as a streaming app and instead a "branded destination" as part of a licensing deal.

Paramount has been late to South Africa's video streaming party where MultiChoice just relaunched its own Showmax streaming service which is competing with the likes of Netflix, Disney+, Amazon Prime Video, Apple TV+, as well as services like SABC+, eVOD, BritBox and VIU.

Paramount+ content like the science fiction drama series Halo has so far resided on Showmax since Paramount+ didn't exist in the territory.

According to MultiChoice, Paramount+ is essentially a tile on the carousel within Showmax. To get to Paramount+, Showmax subscribers will have to open Showmax, scroll all the way to the bottom where there is a row of content offered by studio, for instance Warner Bros Discovery, NBCUniversal and others. Paramount+ will now have a space here.

Paramount says the Paramount+ "branded destination" is part of its strategy to expand Paramount+ in "more ways around the world, including making it available as a direct-to-consumer streaming service, through bundled partnerships in key markets as well as through branded destinations in local markets through licensing deals".

South Africa is now getting Paramount+ as a "branded area" as part of a licensing deal, with Paramount calling this branded destination "the debut of the Paramount+ brand in pan-Africa".

Paramount says DStv subscribers will "have access to world-class content from CBS, Paramount+ Originals, Showtime, Paramount Pictures, and they will find iconic films and hit television series such as Yellowstone, 1883, 1923, Poker Face, Special Ops: Lioness, Lawmen: Bass Reeves and upcoming new series Landman as well as returning series like Survivor".

Lisa Kramer, president for international content licensing at Paramount Global content distribution, in a statement says "The expansion of our long-standing relationship with MultiChoice from a traditional licensing deal to a fully dedicated, Paramount+ branded destination on the platform is a testament to the tremendous effort of Paramount Global to continue to build the offering from multiple content pillars".

"Consumers in the growing African market already equate Paramount with quality entertainment and we're thrilled to now offer them a devoted space in which they can both access their favourite programming and discover new hit titles."

Nomsa Philiso, MultiChoice SA CEO for general entertainment, says "MultiChoice is excited to expand our partnership with Paramount Global to bring the Paramount+ brand to African audiences through our platform".

"This agreement reflects our commitment to providing our viewers with world-class entertainment options and expands our offering with iconic content. We are proud to offer African viewers direct access to a dedicated space where they can enjoy their favourite programming and discover new hit titles, further enriching their entertainment experience."

Harry Potter series to debut in 2026.

by Thinus Ferreira

The Harry Potter TV series that will run for a decade just like Friends will likely start two years from now in 2026, Warner Bros. Discovery says.

WBD is creating the Harry Potter drama series for its Max streamer which isn't available in South Africa but promised last year that the show will be made available globally.

It means the show - like for instance Paramount Global's Halo made for Paramount+ which isn't in South Africa but was acquired for Showmax or Netflix's Orange is the New Black and House of Cards which went to M-Net before Netflix was locally available - will have to find another platform.  

It's still unclear whether M-Net (DStv 101) or MultiChoice's revamped streamer Showmax might be able to snag the as-yet-untitled series but like Game of Thrones and House of the Dragon which was also from the WBD and HBO stable and went to M-Net, the show would be a big coup for whoever brings it to viewers in sub-Saharan Africa.

MultiChoice has existing deals with WBD and HBO in place for M-Net and Showmax making these the most likely outlet for the Hogwarts-set series.

In the company's 4th quarter earnings call on Friday, David Zaslav, Warner Bros. Discovery CEO, said that "We've not been shy about our excitement around Harry Potter".

"The last film was made more than a dozen years ago. I was in London a few weeks ago with Casey Bloys (HBO boss) and Channing Dungrey (WBD TV boss), and we spent some real time with J.K. Rowling and her team. Both sides are thrilled to be reigniting this franchise."

"Our conversations were great and we couldn't be more excited about what's ahead. We can't wait to share a decade of new stories with fans around the world on Max. We're aiming for a debut in 2026."

WBD announced the Harry Potter TV series last year and promised that it would be a "faithful adaptation" of each of Rowling's seven Harry Potter books, stretching over a decade.

In a press release WBD said "Each season will be authentic to the original books and bring Harry Potter and these incredible adventures to new audiences around the world, while the original, classic and beloved films will remain at the core of the franchise and available to watch globally".

"We are delighted to give audiences the opportunity to discover Hogwarts in a whole new way."

"Harry Potter is a cultural phenomenon and it is clear there is such an enduring love and thirst for the Wizarding World. In partnership with Warner Bros. Television and J.K. Rowling, this new Max Original series will dive deep into each of the iconic books that fans have continued to enjoy for all of these years."

Friday, February 23, 2024

SABC holds showcase event about drastic content changes across its TV channels.

by Thinus Ferreira

On Thursday evening the South African public broadcaster held what it called an "exclusive showcase" for its SABC1, SABC2 and SABC3 TV channels that it neither bothered telling the media about beforehand, nor shared any of the information or speeches afterwards.

In attendance in Johannesburg was Nomsa Chabeli, the new SABC CEO who spoke to stakeholders like advertisers. The SABC didn't share her speech.

Nomsa Chabeli has markedly not spoken to the media or done any interviews since she started at the beginning of this month at the SABC's Auckland Park headquarters, although interview requests were made weeks ago.

Like on Thursday evening, Nomsa Chabeli is speaking publicly - just not with the media.

Also in attendance on Thursday evening was Lala Tuku, the SABC head of local content.

Lala Tuku is now also acting head of video entertainment at the SABC since Merlin Naicker has been suspended over allegations of impropriety over the contract and an allegedly secret profit-sharing clause in it with Discovery Digital running the broadcaster's SABC+ video streaming service.

The SABC didn't share her presentation or anything of what Lala Tuku said at Thursday evening's event with the media either.

The SABC is set to implement a range of drastic programming changes on all three its TV channels from March, including moving Skeem Saam to a later timeslot on SABC1, moving Deal or No Deal SA from SABC1 to SABC2, cancelling Fokus on SABC2, moving the Afrikaans TV news to SABC3 in a much later timeslot, and removing Afrikaans content from SABC2 and placing it on SABC3. 

Amazon Prime Video drops South African PR firm as part of cutbacks.

by Thinus Ferreira

Amazon Prime Video has also ended its contract with its South African PR firm Ten x Collective which will no longer do any publicity work for Amazon MGM Studios' content after this month.

The end of the contract with Ten x Collective is part of Amazon turning off its money tap for the creation of local African content that included the abrupt axing of all further African original productions in South Africa and Nigeria, the retrenchment of its content teams and executives in both countries and cancelling development deals with producers.

The conclusion of its contract with a local PR firm raises fears that Amazon MGM Studios and Amazon Prime Video will no longer bother to have a local PR presence in South Africa to promote any of its content through the press.

It would unbundle all the work in media relationship building that Amazon has done over the past two years to get coverage and exposure for what was its growing slate of African Originals and global series.

Stephen Barber, head of PR for Amazon in the UK, didn't respond to a media query about the streamer dropping Ten x Collective and media concerns about it.

Last month Amazon Prime Video abruptly retrenched multiple content executives and staff it lured to join its video streaming service in Cape Town and Johannesburg in South Africa and in Nigeria, based in London, after it rapidly ramped up plans over the past two years to create, produce and roll-out localised African Prime Video Originals.

Upset producers in South Africa and Nigeria said Amazon lured them with production promises that turned out to be fake, and that they feel duped over "promises were made and not kept".

Amazon Prime Video has drastically reigned in its content spend in Africa and on African original content as part of the streamer's global realignment that is also having a negative impact on what was its content budget for Africa.

The media launch event for LOL: Laugh Out Loud South Africa earlier this month for Amazon's streamer held at The Galleria in Sandton, Johannesburg is also its last, as well as the last for the PR company on behalf of Amazon.

LOL: Laugh Out Loud South Africa with host Trevor Noah, produced by Rapid Blue, was Amazon's first South African unscripted series but has the distinction of now also its last South African unscripted original. 

One of the attendees at the media event said "there were a lot of sad and emotional people" with "an undercurrent of depression" since a lot of people talked about Amazon shutting down local content production.

Lisa Pellatt, founder and director of Ten x Collective confirmed that Amazon had ended its PR contract.

"TxC is contracted to work with Prime Video until the end of February 2024, there has been no abrupt ending – everything has followed procedure. We unfortunately can’t comment on how other people felt at the event – we only received positive feedback about a wonderful evening and fun had by all."

During its expansion into South Africa, Amazon Prime Video made use of Gillian Gamsey International Communications (GGIC) in 2022 and then switched to Ten x Collective a year ago in February 2023.

MultiChoice and M-Net's Mzansi Magic bringing rainmaker legend Queen Modjadji to life in new Rhythm World Productions drama series.

by Thinus Ferreira 

After its first epic historical series Shaka Ilembe, MultiChoice and M-Net is following it up with Queen Modjadji for Mzansi Magic (DStv 161) in a drama inspired by the Balobedu legend of rainmaker Queen Modjadji whose bloodline has ruled Southern Africa's Lobedu clan for centuries.

Produced by Rhythm World Productions and Duma Ndlovu, Queen Modjadji will tell the "story of a matriarchal dynasty, whose ability to transform the clouds and summon the rain has earned the Balobedu royalty a place among the most revered of African dynasties," Mzansi Magic says. 

 Nomsa Philiso, MultiChoice CEO for general entertainment, says "Bringing Queen Modjadji to our audiences meets their desire for television entertainment drawn from our heritage and it also flows seamlessly into our plans to create a catalogue of drama series made in African languages". 

 "Queen Modjaji comes hot off the trail of Shaka Ilembe which was a global phenomenon and very much an expression of the MultiChoice strategy to drive home-grown, authentic African storytelling," she says. 

According to MultiChoice production on Queen Modjadji is "already well underway and the team behind the title has been researching and consulting with key stakeholders, tribal leaders and academic experts".

Scripting and casting for Queen Modjadji is nearing completion and principal photography will be starting soon.

Duma Ndlovu says "The earth, the elements, and the energy of humans connect in ways that are both physical and spiritual, both obvious and unseen. Queen Modjadji was a living embodiment of this, and so we will explore what this royal title, and the women who've held it, have lived, sacrificed, lost, and achieved".

"At the same time, we want to be very entertaining – with a strong episodic storyline and historical detail set under unpredictable skies, where rain or storm, echoes what is happening in the lives of those below."

Mzansi Magic adds 13-episode netball teen drama Obstruction from Origin Pictures.

by Thinus Ferreira

Mzansi Magic (DStv 161) has commissioned a new 13-episode teen drama series, Obstruction, produced by Origin Pictures, that will start on Monday 18 March at 20:00 and revolve around a high school netball player and the challenges she faces to attain her goals.

Obstruction stars Luyanda Zuma as the 17-year-old Zenokuhle, with dreams of making it to the Gauteng provincial netball team. 

She has to contend with various challenges faced by "an extremely talented black female teenager and how she and her peers navigate relationships with their parents, teachers, love interests, enemies, and frenemies".

Obstruction also stars Bukamina Cebekhulu as Zenokuhle's mother Thandiwe who doesn't understand her daughter's dreams and uproots her by placing her in a new school, as well as Menzi Biyela playing her alcoholic father Mandla. 

The rest of the Obstruction cast includes Lerato Mokoka as "frenemy" Ora, Nhlanhla Kunene and Thembsie Matu.

"This is a story of a lot of young people in our society nowadays – faced with the pressure to succeed, to be liked by peers, to have an emotionally stable family life, and also nail it in the relationship department," says Shirley Adonisi, M-Net's director for local entertainment channels.

Wendy Williams diagnosed with dementia and aphasia

by Thinus Ferreira

The former American talk show host Wendy Williams (59) has been diagnosed with dementia and aphasia, after battling alcohol addiction and other health issues like Graves' disease and lymphedema.

Her dementia and aphasia diagnosis is the same as what has been happening to former action star Bruce Willis.

Williams is currently in an undisclosed treatment facility with family unable to contact her, with only a court-appointed legal guardian who has access to her. Williams can call family members from an unidentified number, but they can't call her. Her bank accounts were frozen in 2022.

In press release from her representatives, her "care team" said "Over the past few years, questions have been raised at times about Wendy's ability to process information and many have speculated about Wendy's condition, particularly when she began to lose words, act erratically at times, and have difficulty understanding financial transactions.".

"In 2023, after undergoing a battery of medical tests, Wendy was officially diagnosed with primary progressive aphasia and frontotemporal dementia (FTD)."

"Aphasia, a condition affecting language and communication abilities, and frontotemporal dementia, a progressive disorder impacting behaviour and cognitive functions, have already presented significant hurdles in Wendy's life."

"The decision to share this news was difficult and made after careful consideration, not only to advocate for understanding and compassion for Wendy, but to raise awareness about aphasia and frontotemporal dementia and support the thousands of others facing similar circumstances."

"Unfortunately, many individuals diagnosed with aphasia and frontotemporal dementia face stigma and misunderstanding, particularly when they begin to exhibit behavioural changes but have not yet received a diagnosis."

"There is hope that with early detection and far more empathy, the stigma associated with dementia will be eliminated, and those affected will receive the understanding, support, and care they deserve and need."

"Wendy is still able to do many things for herself. Most importantly she maintains her trademark sense of humor and is receiving the care she requires to make sure she is protected and that her needs are addressed. She is appreciative of the many kind thoughts and good wishes being sent her way."

The announcement comes just before a two-part documentary, produced by Williams, "Where is Wendy Williams?" will be broadcast in the United States over this upcoming weekend on the Lifetime TV channel which is no longer available in South Africa. 

Paramount ran The Wendy Williams Show on its BET (DStv 129) channel until Williams' erratic behaviour led to its inevitable cancellation in mid-2022.

In the latest issue of People magazine in America to promote the documentary, her family - including her niece, sister and brother - broke their silence around her "shocking and heartbreaking" struggles.

"The people who love her cannot see her, "Wendy's sister Wanda told People magazine."I think the big question is: How the hell did we get here?"

To promote the documentary, Thursday's episode of the American talk show The View also featured Williams' niece Alex Finnie. 

In the released clip, Finnie, says contact with Williams has "been limited". "I finally got some sort of a response not too long ago, but it has been a big problem for the family in terms of just 'Can we get an update on how she’s doing?"

"All of a sudden there was just this wall that went down and the family was blocked out. It was in April 2022. And the contact from that point on, has been so limited."

"She went into where she is now, between April and May last year. We went months before we were even able to get a call."

Thursday, February 22, 2024

National Association of Broadcasters elects new leadership.

by Thinus Ferreira

South Africa's National Association of Broadcasters (NAB) has new leadership with Nick Grubb (Kagiso Media Radio CEO) elected as new chairperson, and Philly Moilwa (SABC's head of policy and regulatory affairs) elected as the deputy chairperson for the 2024/2025 term.

The NAB's executive committee is its decision-making body and represents various players across the regulated broadcast sector across South Africa.

The NAB chairperson and deputy chairperson serve for a term of two years whilst the leadership of its four standing committees are elected annually by its committee members.

Nadia Bulbulbia, NAB executive director, in a statement, says "Over the last 31 years the NAB has been fortunate to be led by passionate and committed professionals with vast industry knowledge and expertise. We thank the erstwhile chairperson, Thabo Makenete (formerly MultiChoice) for his leadership over the past two years and look forward to a positive future for the NAB and the industry with our newly constituted exco team."

Nick Grubb says "The NAB has always played a critical role in uniting the industry so it can navigate its regulatory landscape and develop structures that support self-regulation and skills development."

"Over the last few years, we have seen it play an even broader role in promotion of TV and radio to all of its stakeholders and build out industry social investment mechanisms. There is a lot of change coming from all fronts, so the NAB has never been more critical for our members and our industry."

Commercial radio committee
Chairperson – Tholoana Ncheke (Primedia Broadcasting)
Deputy chairperson – Judy Monyela (SABC) 

TV Committee 
 Chairperson – Lara Kantor (MultiChoice) 
 Deputy chairperson - Greg Clur (Faith Terrestrial)

Technical Committee 
Chairperson – Andy Louis (Telemedia) 
Deputy chairperson – Bevan Bates (MultiChoice)

Community Radio Committee 
Chairperson - Wilma van Schalkwyk (Radio Pulpit) 
Deputy chairperson – Franklin Huizies (Jozi FM)

Co-opted exco Members 
Philippa Rafferty (eMedia)
Alfie Jay (Algoa FM)

Wednesday, February 21, 2024

Zola Nene back as judge for 5th season of Primedia Studios and Homebrew Films' MasterChef SA on SABC3.

by Thinus Ferreira

The culinary queen Zola Nene will be back as one of the three judges in the new season of MasterChef South Africa coming to SABC3.

Primedia Studios and Homebrew Films are producing a 5th season of the Banijay format cooking competition series jumping from M-Net to SABC3, with Pick n Pay back as the season's sponsor.

South Africans older than 18 have until 15 March to enter on the website for a chance to compete in the customised kitchen hall in Cape Town where Zola Nene will taste and judge their food along with two other judges for the winner to eventually bag R1 million.

The 5th season of MasterChef SA will be Zola Nene's second turn judging in the kitchen, after she gave advice, tasted and told contestants to hang up their aprons in the fourth season in 2022. 

"For a food fanatic like me, it's such a joy and honour to be part of a show that celebrates our unique South African cuisine whilst giving local foodies a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to make their dreams come true," says Zola Nene. 

"It's beautiful to watch how the contestants grow and unleash their full potential."

Zola's own journey as a seasoned chef started as a young girl grinding mealies for her gogo's mealie bread. 

After experiencing how hearty food can create special bonds between people, Zola realised in her early twenties that her true life-calling was grounded in her roots – celebrating human connections via simple but scrumptious recipes.
A burning desire to learn the tricks of the trade landed Zola a job at the hot section of a brasserie in the United Kingdom, where she quickly became the sous chef. 

Following this valuable work experience, she returned to South Africa to finesse her skills at the Institute of Culinary Arts in Stellenbosch, which allowed her to work with some of the country’s top chefs. 
Since then, Zola has carved a place deep in the hearts of millions of television viewers – from being the resident chef on Expresso to co-judging The Great South African Bake Off, hosting her own show, Celeb Feasts with Zola and impressing the infamous 17-Michelin-star international chef Gordon Ramsey on National Geographic’s Gordon Ramsey’s Unchartered.
Meanwhile, Zola also made her mark by penning down three best-selling cookbooks, Simply Delicious and Simply Zola and Simply Seven Colours which have all won the Best in the World at the Gourmand World Cookbook Awards.
Zola encourages everyone who shares her incredible passion for food to enter MasterChef South Africa.

"It really doesn't matter what your food-making forté is or which type of South African cuisine you dish up to tickle people's taste buds. As long as you have an extensive knowledge of flavours and textures, love whipping up food feasts, know your way around the kitchen and have a brewing appetite to learn more about the art of cooking."

Clover's Tropika Island of Treasure returns for 11th season in 2024 with Zanele Potelwa as host.

by Thinus Ferreira

The radio presenter Zanele Potelwa who is also the newest addition of the Expresso morning show on SABC3 will host a new season of Tropika Island of Treasure this year, with the advertiser-funded production (AFP) which will return for an 11th season to SABC3 around September.

Clover's Tropika is once again the sponsor of the upcoming season which will have 13 episodes as well as South African celebrities who will team up with South Africans selected from entries.

Season 11 of Tropika Island of Treasure will once again be produced by the Cape Town-based Cardova Productions, also responsible for Expresso on SABC3.

This time it will be Zanele Potelwa who will be whisked off to a tropical island together with this year's chosen contestants, where they will compete in various challenges as they're whittled down to a winner that will get R1 million.

"This year, the show is pushing the boundaries once again, introducing a fresh batch of castaways ready to face their fears and outwit their rivals for the ultimate prize," says the show. 

The celebrity contestants whose names have not yet been revealed, will include "a charmer", an athlete, an "enigma", a comedian, an "island veteran" survivor, an underdog, a leader, a social butterfly, and "the brain", as well as "the wild card".

MSC Poesia visiting SA waters with chef Reuben Riffel curating pickled fish, malva pudding and Karoo lamb.

by Thinus Ferreira

The MSC Poesia has made the cruise ship's first visit to South African waters with chef Reuben Riffel who curated a special menu.

The MSC Poesia docked in Port Elizabeth on 18 February as part of an ongoing cruise taking it to a berth in Cape Town harbour on 21 February.

The MSC Poesia visit to South Africa follows shortly after the MSC Splendida's first cruise rotation to Southern African shores and will bring another influx of international tourists disembarking in these cities for sight-seeing tours and to do some shopping.

MSC tells me the South African celebrity chef Reuben Riffel was onboard the MSC Poesia for the Port Elizabeth to Cape Town sailing, with guests who enjoyed "his curated menu with a local South African twist".

The MSC Poesia's visit to South African harbours is part of the ship's current world cruise.

"MSC Poesia calling, not just in South Africa but other African parts as part of her journey is a significant vote of confidence in the capacity in the capacity and structures of these destinations, says Ross Volk, MSC Cruises South Africa's managing director.

"The vessel brings with her over 2 000 foreign national visitors to our country and this will have an immense impact on the local economies of Durban, Port Elizabeth and Cape Town. We hope the guests will enjoy their time in South Africa and come back again soon."

The 16-deck MSC Poesia built in 2008 in France has three swimming pools, four whirlpool baths and a giant poolside cinema screen, as well as a Zen garden and a foyer waterfall.

Reuben Riffel's curated menu during the Port Elizabeth to Cape Town cruise included pickled fish, malva pudding and Karoo lamb.

"I'm excited to see the collaboration come to life and equally as excited about sharing this menu with the guests who will be onboard MSC Poesia," said Riffel who did special meet-and-greets while onboard and was on hand during dinner to speak to guests as well about what is being served.

"It is not every day that people from around the world get to experience our local flavours and I hope that the food will be a true reflection of our rich South African cuisine."

SABC unplugs Primedia Studios' Deal or No Deal SA from SABC1 and shunts it to SABC2 for second season.

by Thinus Ferreira

In another shocking programming move from the SABC, the public broadcaster is shifting Deal or No Deal SA to SABC2 from March which means that the local version of the game show will now have been shown on all three of the SABC's traditional terrestrial TV channels.

While the first season of Deal or No Deal SA - produced by Homebrew Films through Primedia Studios with host Katlego Maboe - aired on SABC1 with repeats on SABC3 since March 2023, the second season of the Banijay-format show from March 2024 will now suddenly be on SABC2.

Before the start of the show in 2023, the SABC was asked why a TV show specifically for SABC1 audiences would work and be shown on SABC3, with the broadcaster that responded by saying that Deal or No Deal SA and The Masked Singer SA works for both those TV channels. 

Now the SABC has decided that the show works for not just two but all three of its differently branded TV channels although each channel supposedly caters content to separate viewing audiences.

The SABC calls the Deal or No Deal SA move from SABC1 to SABC2 a "scheduling adjustment".

Deal or No Deal SA is moving into the 18:30 timeslot on SABC2 where the Afrikaans TV news bulletin was. After cancelling 7de Laan in the 18:00 timeslot on SABC2, the SABC is moving the Afrikaans TV news from the 18:30 timeslot to SABC3 and much later to 20:30.

The SABC is also cancelling the broadcaster's sole Afrikaans current affairs show Fokus and removing the remaining Afrikaans content from SABC2 besides the TV news from the channel as part of a plan to reallocate it its struggling and smaller SABC3 channel.

On SABC1, the Deal or No Deal SA gap at 19:30 is being filled with Skeem Saam moving later to this timeslot. No announcement has yet been made on what SABC1 will fill Skeem Saam's timeslot with but the preliminary schedule shows repeats at 18:30. 

"Game shows are part of the SABC2 signature offering and have always been audience drawcard," says Gerhard Pretorius, SABC channel head.

"They encourage family viewing and participation and speak to our family entertainment positioning. We are excited to continue the show's legacy of uplifting communities and giving back, and we welcome Deal or No Deal to the SABC2 family."

Jan du Plessis, Primedia Studios president, says "We are immensely proud of Deal or No Deal South Africa and how it has brought smiles and excitement to many Mzansi homes."

"Whilst the upcoming season will have all the thrilling elements that will make more viewers fall in love with the show, loyal fans are in for some delightful surprises. The mysterious banker will have some exciting new tricks up his sleeve."

Tuesday, February 20, 2024

Mickey remains on MultiChoice as Disney extends channels carriage deal with DStv to 2027.

by Thinus Ferreira

Mickey will remain on MultiChoice with Africa's largest pay-TV operator that has signed a new channels carriage agreement with The Walt Disney Company for its collection of TV channels to remain on DStv until 2027.

The new deal between MultiChoice and the Mouse House ensures that channels like The Disney Channel (DStv 303), Disney Junior (DStv 309), National Geographic (DStv 181), Nat Geo Wild (DStv 182), ESPN and ESPN will remain available to DStv subscribers for another four years. 

According to MultiChoice and Disney, National Geographic will remain available to DStv Family subscribers and up, Nat Geo Wild will be accessible to DStv Access subscribers and up, The Disney Channel will be for DStv Compact and up, while Disney Junior will be for DStv Access subscribers and up.

The sports channels ESPN (DStv 218) will be for DStv Access and up while ESPN2 (DStv 219) is for DStv Compact subscribers and up.

"This distribution renewal ensures that we will be able to continue bringing our six 24-hour channels to audiences across the continent and marks another proud milestone in our long-term relationship with the MultiChoice Group," says Christine Service, senior vice president and general manager of The Walt Disney Company Africa.

"With a strong foundation of creativity, story-telling, exploration and multi-generational emotional connection, we are proud to continue offering DStv viewers the very latest from our high-quality, premium kids, factual and sports content."

Nomsa Philiso, MultiChoice South Africa CEO for general entertainment, says "Championing our mission to enrich lives and elevate entertainment experiences, we're thrilled to ensure our customers can savour their favourite shows and movies effortlessly, anytime, anywhere, thanks to our state-of-the-art platforms".

"Extending our partnership with The Walt Disney Company and the incredible linear channels on DStv elevate our offering and amplify the joy of entertainment!"

Monday, February 19, 2024

MultiChoice's DStv price increase for 2024: Two packages increasing with above-inflation rates.

by Thinus Ferreira

MultiChoice will increase DStv prices again from 1 April with two packages seeing an above-inflation increase.

DStv Premium is increasing from April 2024 by 5.7% from R879 to R929, with a 6.9% increase for DStv Compact Plus increasing from R579 to R619.

DStv Compact is increasing 4.5% from R449 to R469, DStv Family is increasing 3.1% from R319 to R329, while DStv Access is increasing 7.8% from R129 to R139. DStv EasyView is remaining the same at R29.

MultiChoice is increasing the DStv Access fee by 4.3% from R115 to R120 monthly, with no increases for the ADD Movies package at R79 monthly and DStv BoxOffice rentals also remaining unchanged at R40 per popcorn couch-watching pop.

All streaming-only services will maintain their current subscription fees. 

DStv Compact Plus and DStv Access are the two packages getting price hikes bigger than South Africa's inflation rate of 6%. DStv Access is however getting a sport-injection in the form of access to content from ESPN, La Liga, SuperSport Variety 4 and the SuperSport Blitz channels.

To promote its relaunched Showmax video streaming service, MultiChoice will soon rebrand and reprogramme one of the M-Net packaged linear TV channels on DStv to carry a curated offering of the content on offer on Showmax to aid sampling. 

This will include locally produced series made for the Showmax platform that DStv subscribers will be able to watch on the linear channel.

MultiChoice is also introducing what the Randburg pay-TV operator calls a "Price guarantee" agreement, whereby DStv subscribers can ensure that their subscription fee remains fixed for the period of their contract, as well as its subscription price adjustments for 2024.

"We're excited about DStv Price Guarantee which secures a price lower than today for our customers who sign up for our 24-month deal to beat the increase," says Marc Jury, MultiChoice SA CEO.

"Our priority is to ensure that we continue to provide unparalleled entertainment, which includes local South African stories and the world’s best sports. Subscribers can look forward to an array of exciting content such as Big Brother Mzansi as well as major sporting events like the SA20 Cricket and the Olympic games."

"We believe these adjustments are reasonable considering the significant 16% year-on-year depreciation of the Rand against the US Dollar, and our commitment to securing long-term broadcast sports rights and international studio deals, which are priced in US Dollars," he says.

"As Africa's premier entertainment provider, we are committed to delivering exceptional value to our customers. We have an excellent line-up of local and international shows and sports. Our customers can also look forward to continued savings on our DStv Internet bundles, DStv Insurance, and Namola."