Saturday, May 4, 2024

TV REVIEW. The SABC’s 18th Metro FM Music Awards was once again a shockingly bad trash telecast.

by Thinus Ferreira

The SABC's 18th Metro FM Music Awards was a shockingly bad, highly embarrassing, ineptly produced and mistake-riddled live TV broadcast done by amateurs who either can't or won't do what's required to fix ongoing, glaring issues that do a disservice to artists, the industry and viewers.

A dad taking video on a cellphone at a kid's primary school concert will come back with better or the same fail-level footage as the SABC's 2024 Metro FM Music Awards, which was a cringe-inducing trash telecast on SABC1 on Saturday night.

Many of the problems, outright mistakes, overlooked oversights, bad and wrong production decisions, impractical setting and stage issues, production blunders due to a lack of planning and mapping, and mistakes due to inexperience from runners to directing and from camerawork to sound, can all easily be avoided by doing a post mortem after its conclusion. 

Yet again, the SABC and the production companies clearly ignored the multiple messes of the ghastly 17th Metro FM Music Awards which was also staged in the impractical Mbombela stadium, and decided to once again gaslight viewers with another awfully shoddy live awards show on TV that would get a failing grade if done and handed in as a student group film project. 

Yet, the SABC, Metro FM and SABC1 fully produced and dished up this televised trash-TV and had the audacity to tell presenters to keep telling viewers that it's "trending" - oblivious or in denial that viewers are talking about it because what they're seeing and being subjected to,  was so deplorably bad.

Does Nada Wotshela, SABC radio boss and Lala Tuku, acting head of video entertainment, truly think what the SABC radio division and SABC TV did and showed with the 18th Metro FM Music Awards on Saturday night is standard-level fine television? 

What was learnt from, and implemented, from last year's Metro FM live awards show disaster? Instead, it comes across as nothing but a massive waste of money and resources.

This year's awards show - with hosts Tebogo Thekisho known as "ProVerb" and Luthando Shosha known as "LootLove" - looked even worse than 2023 on screen and yet again there was also the telling sign of a badly produced live televised event: The broadcaster, channel and producers failed to bring the bloated awards show in one time.

Unnecessary talking heads, waiting for winners to get to stage, waiting for sponsor add-ons to be rambled off, and sitting through multiple ad breaks, meant that the awards show, done from an uninspired stage design and that was supposed to end at 22:00, once again ran over time - 49 minutes this year.

Bonngoe TV and Dzinge Productions produced the egregious TV travesty which was marred by technical, sound, stage, live editing, directing, presenter and camerawork mistakes as well as very bad and shocking pre-production choices. 

The solemn In Memoriam segment for instance was turned into a crass Assupol funeral cover commercial and the inclusion of other sponsor-filler like Santam also seriously detracted from the pace of the show.

Pepsi Pokane and Letitia Masina from Bonggoe TV were the executive producers of the 18th Metro FM Music Awards, with Lesego Moleofane-Chemane as line producer and Fortune Masina as creative director. Letitia Masina also did duty as technical director. Shandu Nesengani was Dzinge Productions' EP on the project. 

The Mpumalanga provincial government paid to once again have the Metro FM Music Awards hosted there - a massive waste of money.

Sadly the subpar standard of this live broadcast once again achieved the exact opposite: Making Mpumalanga and the Mbombela stadium look like a place not conducive, or not having the capacity, to successfully pull off a live outside broadcast of this nature.

Overall the sound TV viewers heard from the Metro FM Music Awards was very bad throughout. 

Multiple times, instead of the mic sound channel, viewers heard the unmistakable, echoey and hollow second-hand sound piped through from the house mix. 

At 09:40 it happened the first of multiple occurrences throughout. Multiple times there was no sound at all - just lingering silence. No background music, no audio - except for sometimes people talking whose mics were not muted at the sound desk.

Multiple times cameramen were wrongly positioned and final mix control vision controllers were either too lazy, too late or too incompetent to switch to the right camera feed as the outgoing live cam. The result: Awkward angles and awkward scenes. Add into the mix amateurishly done shaky and patchy Steadicam camerawork.

Multiple times presenters just stood and seemed as if they didn't know what to do, or what to read. Autocue off? Autocue slow? Autocue non-existent? Were the stage director(s) non-existent or just not briefed? 

Multiple times presenters for categories waited very long for winners - who were no-shows (like the very first award). It looked extremely unprofessional and disorganised.

This happens when the SABC and producers either don't know whether winners are locked-in within the location and present and that they have physically arrived, where they are seated or located. Precious time is wasted, waiting, only to awkwardly go: "We will accept the award on their behalf", or "it's all right, we'll hand it to him".

Were spotters empowered to do their jobs?

And talking about seating, once again viewers were subjected to a litany of empty seats with no seat fillers.

Rows of empty seats constantly popped on screen since each empty one had a big white A4 page with a seat number printed on it attached to the backrest. 

It sends the message to viewers - rightly or wrongly - that this isn't something worth their own time or worth watching since the people in attendance aren't bothering either.

Those shown seated, are shown looking down and being on their phones. 

Multiple times people are seen just standing around, milling about, or in front of the stage looking like last year's unorganised chaos. Other times, people took too long to get to the stage since they were obviously seated too far away. 

No professional seat-fillers were employed and the cameras constantly showed empty seats.

Multiple politicians and representatives were unnecessarily included as presenters who didn't know how to speak properly on stage within an awards show format and made mistakes - likely due to not having practised speeches or keeping to prepared speeches, making for extremely cringe-embarrassing errors and spouting things like "And the various winners are" instead of saying "nominees" for instance.

Several didn't understand, or didn't adhere to (or maybe wasn't told) the need to stand directly behind, and close to the stage mics when speaking. The result: Many couldn't be heard or were too soft. 

During the In Memoriam segment, shockingly an Assupol logo for funeral cover was plastered over the segment, turning something that should be solemn and professional looking, into a tacky, unprofessional commercial cash grab for attention.

Even after it was over, the unprofessionalism of the 18th Metro FM Music Awards wasn't over.

Adding insult to injury, multiple media complained that they didn't receive the winners list or a basic press release on Saturday night (which is an unnegotiated must from an awards show) from the SABC or an outside PR company which was again contracted this year. 

This was only emailed out on Sunday at 13:00 by Bluecloudai, and only after requested by which time it was too late.

South Africa's music industry, artists, agents and record labels, South Africa's broadcast and film industry, the Mpumalanga provincial government, as well as ordinary viewers subjected to this bad television and forced to sit through sit, all deserve better TV than the failing standard of the SABC's Metro FM Awards.