Saturday, October 22, 2016

Why the SABC should temporarily lose access to 7de Laan on SABC2 even if it does manage to sign a new contract for the soap's 18th season.

Even if the SABC manages to put a signature on a new contract – delayed for months already – for its Afrikaans soap 7de Laan before it literally runs out of episodes on Monday, SABC2 should actually rightly lose the ability to air episodes, at least temporarily.

Even if the SABC manages to sign a new contract with Danie Odendaal Productions for new 7de Laan episodes before the 18th season is supposed to start on Monday on SABC2, it's actually wholly unfair of the public broadcaster to expect a new episode and subsequent episodes to immediately, and seamlessly, be available for playout.

Local soap productions – those of the SABC but also of other South African broadcasters like e.tv, M-Net and Mzansi Magic – work at breakneck speed, Rumpelstilskin-like, as they churn out episode after episode often under gruelling conditions with long and exhausting production schedules.

In order to provide an adequate "buffer", in-production soaps film episodes roughly around two to two and a half months in advance of what the TV biz refers to as the actual “TX” or broadcasting date.

Rightly, if the SABC signs a new contract over the weekend, the SABC and SABC2 should actually wait two months for new episodes to be produced and delivered since it allowed the entire "buffer"period to collapse.

In the latest 7de Laan case, Danie Odendaal Productions as a production company has actually been too nice with the SABC, and already produced 18th season episodes not yet paid for, out of its own 17th season budget that's already completed and available.

Technically it's actually an unfair expectation for the SABC to get those episodes immediately after signing a long overdue contract and having new episodes appear "magically" to broadcast on SABC2 on Monday.

Imagine ordering a wedding dress, only paying for it on a Friday, and wanting it on a Monday. It's wholly unfair to the tailor.

The Afrikaans weekday soap from Danie Odendaal Productions, along with fellow SABC2 soap Muvhango from Duma Ndlovu's Word of Mouth Pictures, saw their existing contracts with the SABC run out in August already.

In almost three months since then the SABC hasn't gotten as far as putting final signatures on contract extensions for the soaps – yet at the same time the controversial SABC boss Hlaudi Motsoeneng in May exerted massive pressure on Duma Ndlovu to sign three year contracts with his actors on the soap.

The SABC basically wants production companies to take on the bigger responsibility of guarantee work and improved work security to actors, but isn't doing the same to the production companies making its prized local content.

The questions needs to be asked how the SABC and SABC2, where Gerhard Pretorius is the SABC2 channel head, improved and streamlined the system – or not – since Muvhango and 7de Laan signed their previous contracts.

‘Nuclear option’
Recently Muvhango's Duma Ndlovu took out a loan just to pay cast and crew out of his own pocket, while Danie Odendaal Productions also paid cast and crew for the past two months when the guarantee of further income from the SABC ran out.

The latest "hullabaloo" pushed the production company to breaking point with Danie Odendaal Productions that has been forced to tell its staff that it simply can no longer pay them without a new, signed contract from the SABC.

It's been extremely awkward and uncomfortable for Danie Odendaal Productions – as a production company and as a service provider in the business of creating entertainment and escapism to millions of SABC viewers on a daily basis – having to tell the SABC that it will be withholding episodes from Monday.

In doing so, it pulled the trigger on a final "nuclear option", literally now forcing the SABC to sign a contract or go without further content.

It's not preferable, since it damages the existing relation between production company and broadcaster; however the initial business damage – and resulting bad publicity and brand damage – was caused by the SABC for dragging its feet for months.

This is not the first time the SABC delayed in signing new contracts with both Muvhango and 7de Laan, although it is the most extreme and deadline pushing crisis yet.

Neither are these the only two local production companies the SABC has been stringing along for months, desperately waiting for the signed-off greenlight to make local content for the SABC.

TVwithThinus specifically asked the SABC on Thursday if it has any comment or a response as to how the SABC feels about the situation after it publicly said numerous times in 2016 how it supports local productions, local content and local South African artists, yet fails to sign actual contracts timeously.

"The SABC does not discuss or negotiate contractual issues in the public domain or through the media," said SABC spokesperson, Kaizer Kganyago.

'Still waiting for payment from the SABC'
In the process of making television where it's usually presenters and actors hogging the limelight and whose contractual issues as on-air talent grab the headlines, it's the South African TV producer just trying to make a living and delivering good content under difficult circumstances who is very often suffering in silence.

Over the past few months since mid-July when Hlaudi Motsoeneng, then as chief operating officer (COO) suddenly announced a dramatic 90% local TV content increase for the SABC’s TV stations – starting with 80% for SABC3 – TVwithThinus has spoken to several exasperated TV producers in business with the SABC.

These TV makers – including longstanding as well as brand-new producers – speaking off the record since they're scared to damage existing and new business relationships with the SABC, all complained about "the terrible way" in which the SABC commissions local programming and acquires content.

Just like in the case with Muvhango and 7de Laan who want to remain in business with the SABC through lucrative serialised TV contracts, these other South African TV producers are angry and despondent over the haphazard and drawn-out process just to get contracts signed, too little time to meet content deliver deadlines once contracts are finally signed off, and the "debilitating" bureaucratic red tape.

Producers feel they have very little recourse and feel powerless to change the system.

When the SABC hastily "commissioned" a slate of new, mostly talk show and lifestyle magazine shows to fill sudden holes in its SABC3 schedule where international series had to be yanked mid-season from its roster, several TV producers told TVwithThinus that they were expected to produce finished episodes of brand-new shows within as little as three weeks without having proper signed-off contracts.

"Producers are extremely worried if they will be paid by the SABC, and in turn be able to pay their writers, actors and crew," a veteran TV producer said.

"The production house I work for has just sent out a notification that they are still waiting for payment from the SABC, which should hopefully happen at the end of the month," a TV producer told TVwithThinus in late-August.

"Until then, they can't pay us, the workers. Now I know the producers are anal about getting their invoices in to the SABC in good time, so this is really concerning".

Wide-ranging public inquiry needed
In September the SABC quickly found R2.6 million to help fund the hastily arranged and then disastrous #ThankYouSABC Concert, yet the past few years TV producers who have been in business with the SABC were forced to sell cars, houses and even shutter production companies after ongoing payment issues with the public broadcaster.

The Independent Producers' Organisation (IPO), representing over 80% of working TV producers in South Africa, has now called for a wide-ranging inquiry into the ongoing problems at the crisis-riddled SABC.

This "broader, stakeholder inclusive public enquiry into the SABC should include looking at the SABC's persistent crises of governance, management, funding, policy, programming and operations," says the IPO, as well as "key requirements for the public broadcaster to effectively fulfill its mandate".

"The current crisis surrounding the SABC board is not new. It is one that South Africa has experienced before. It points to the problems of the SABC as systemic, needing to be addressed beyond the failings of the present SABC board and senior management".

e.tv and OpenView HD to broadcast the MTV Africa Music Awards 2016 in HD as a delayed-live broadcast an hour after MTV Base and MTV on DStv.

e.tv and OpenView HD will broadcast the MTV Africa Music Awards 2016 in high definition (HD) as a delayed live broadcast on Saturday night at 22:00 as a delayed live broadcast, starting one hour after the live broadcast in Johannesburg from the Ticketpro Dome at 21:00 that will be shown on MTV Base (DStv 322) and MTV (DStv 130).

Trevor Noah has dropped out out as host citing illness and is replaced by Bonang Matheba as the pan-African music awards show from Viacom International Media Networks Africa (VIMN Africa) moved to Johannesburg for the first time, since it was started in 2008.

It is the 3rd time this year that e.tv is partnering with VIMN Africa and MTV Base to bring viewers the MAMAs that celebrates musicians and achievers who have made the biggest impact on African culture and the continent's music scene over the past 12 months.

"We are once again excited to be partnering with MTV Base to bring millions of our diverse free-to-air viewers the MAMAs," says Marlon Davids, managing director at e.tv channels division.

"The event offers a fantastic, rare glimpse into both the vibrant continental and global entertainment trends."

Monde Twala, the vice president for BET, youth and music at VIMN Africa says "we are thrilled to partner with e.tv to bring this amazing awards ceremony to e.tv viewers - packed with stars, music, spectacle and world class performances and collaborations".

The MTV Africa Music Awards 2016 will celebrate 18 award categories, which includes categories, which includes categories such as Best Male, Best Female, Listener's Choice and Best Group. Additional categories include the Africa Re-Imagined Award and Personality of the Year.

Viewers can look forward to African and international musicians. 

Award-winning American rapper, Future is set to join some of Africa's best entertainers such as Alikiba, Babes Wodumo, Cassper Nyovest, Nasty C, Ycee, Yemi Alade, Diamond, Emtee, Kwesta and Patoranking.

AKA and Black Coffee are nominated in the Best Male category alongside Patoranking, Wizkid and Diamond. Gold medallist Caster Semenya and Pearl Thusi will compete against the likes of Linda Ikeji, Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and Wizkid in the Personality of the Year category. 

The South African rap sensation, Emtee  is nominated in the Best Hip Hop category.

Comedian Trevor Noah pulls out as host of the MTV Africa Music Awards 2016 over illness, replaced by Bonang Matheba; says 'I'm disappointed'.

A video posted by Trevor Noah (@trevornoah) on

The South African comedian and host of Comedy Central's The Daily Show Trevor Noah has pulled out as host of the MTV Africa Music Awards 2016 set for Saturday night in Johannesburg as a live broadcast on MTV Base (DStv 322) and MTV (DStv 130) from the Ticketpro Dome at 21:00.

Not travelling to South Africa from New York over illness, Trevor Noah has been replaced by the South African presenter Bonang Matheba as the fill-on host for the pan-African awards show that will also be shown as a delayed-live broadcast on e.tv on Saturday night from 22:00.

It means that Bonang Matheba, a SABC presenter, will be seen on e.tv.

In a video message on social media, Trevor Noah says "Thank you to everyone that supports me, I know that a lot of you are going to be disappointed, I'm disappointed."

Before the video message, in a social media posting, Trevor Noah wrote that he's dropping out of his MAMAs 206 hosting duties "due to a severe upper respiratory and ear infection".

"Due to the infection and strain on my vocal chords the doctor has ordered me to rest my voice and recover my health. I desperately wish I could dismiss the doctor but the added risk of flying means that decision would be highly irresponsible and may cause further damage," wrote Trevor Noah.

"I love the MAMAs and more importantly I love performing in my country. Myself and MTV Africa have been trying to make the MAMAs a reality for a few years and I was so excited because this was finally the year where the pieces fell into place and the date was one I could do."

"I push myself as hard as I can all the time because I appreciate every opportunity I am afforded in life. Unfortunately there comes a day like today when it all catches up and my body cannot do what my mind wishes I could."

"I'm so sorry if I've disappointed you but please know that I love performing more than anything in life and so having to cancel any show, breaks my heart. Sorry isn't enough of a word to convey how I feel and again to all my fans I will do my utmost to make it up to you."

MTV Africa Music Awards 2016 organisers called Bonang Matheba on Thursday night at 20:30 and asked her is she could fill in as replacement host for Trevor Noah with 24 hours to prepare.

"We are thrilled that Bonang Matheba, one of Africa's most inspiring and luminous media personalities, will be hosting the MTV Africa Music Awards on 22 October," says Alex Okosi, the senior vice president and managing director at Viacom International Media Networks Africa (VIMN Africa) in a statement.

"With her extensive presenting experience, personal charm and beauty, Bonang Matheba is going to make a fabulous host for the MAMAs 2016 and we look forward to an amazing show on 22 October with her at the helm."

"We are naturally disappointed that Trevor NOah will be unable to join us on Saturday, but his health is of paramount importance and we wish him a speedy recovery," says Alex Okosi.

Thursday, October 20, 2016

Hearing coming at broadcasting regulator on 25 October over e.tv's desire to stop giving South African TV viewers a news bulletin during primetime.

South Africa's broadcasting regulator has set 25 October as the date for a public hearing into e.tv's controversial application to get its broadcasting licence conditions changed because e.tv no longer wants to do a TV news bulletin during prime time.

If e.tv is successful in getting its longstanding broadcasting licence conditions changed and stops broadcasting a daily half hour TV news bulletin during prime time, it will leave the SABC as the sole terrestral television broadcaster in South Africa to do national news bulletins in the country.

e.tv wants to get rid of its responsibility to do a daily half hour TV news bulletin during prime time, saying its not lucrative enough and that e.tv as a free-to-air broadcaster is a commercial channel with entertainment programming that would benefit its financial bottom-line more than giving viewers a half hour news bulletin.

e.tv's move to dump its half hour news bulletin would marginalise the diversity of voices and TV news offering that tens of millions of South African TV households rely on who do not have access to pay-TV services and those services' 24-hour TV news channels.

"In short, e.tv would like to move their prime time news bulletins outside the prime time period," says the Independent Communications Authority of South Africa (Icasa).

Icasa has received one submission about e.tv's application to dump its half hour TV news, has scheduled a public meeting for 25 October that anyone can attend, at its Sandon offices in Pinmill Farm from 10:00 in the morning.

e.tv says in its submission that if it's forced to do a half hour TV news bulletin during prime time, "English news bulletins in prime time have seen a rapid decline in ratings across all free-to-air channels over the last few years".

"As a commercial broadcaster generating most of its revenue in prime time, this presents serious revenue challenges – which ultimately lead to commercial viability challenges".

e.tv has already dumped a half hour Zulu prime time TV news bulletin it introduced in 2015.

e.tv's eNews Prime Time, renamed eNews Direct, was the most watched TV news bulletin on South African television for several years.

Debilitating tinkering as well as bad and perplexing time slot and style changes has seen its viewership fall as e.tv gave its soaps Scandal! and Rhythm City more attention and better timeslots, leading to the very viewership drop e.tv is complaining.

e.tv moved its news bulletin from its prime TV real estate at 19:00 to a dead zone 20:30, and then to 18:30 where eNews Direct is a ratings failure.

e.tv at the time said the move to 18:30 is because market research showed that viewers want to see the main English news bulletin earlier.

e.tv's claim that South African viewers don't watch TV news and that TV news ratings are falling appears to be untrue.

SABC1's Xhosa news bulletin at 19:30 drew roughly 4.2 million viewers (12.6 AR) in September and the Zulu TV news on SABC1 4.17 million viewers (12.2 AR) - both making the top 20 most watched shows on the channel during the month.

On SABC2 the Afrikaans TV news bulletin pulled 1.45 million viewers (4.3 AR) during September, while the SABC's flagship English news bulletin on SABC3 grabbed 666 162 viewers (2 AR).

While e.tv's eNews Direct has plunged and doesn't even rate high enough to make its monthly 20 most watched programming, its one minute eNews Direct headlines at 18:00 is very strong and lured 3.2 million viewers (9.6 AR) in September, indicating that viewers will watch news on e.tv when it's done at a time that works for them.

SABC2 soap 7de Laan forced to warn cast and crew that they might not get paid since,like Muvhango, the SABC has so far failed to sign a new contract.

SABC2's 7de Laan production has been forced to warn its entire cast and crew to try and manage their finances since they might not be paid at the end of this month because the SABC continues to drag its feet in signing a new contract just like with Muvhango.

UPDATE Thursday 20 October 2016 14:00 - I'm told by production sources who confirm to me that the show will definitely not be giving the SABC any 7de Laan episodes unless there isn't a signed contract and that it means that if there is no signed contract, there won't be a 7de Laan episode on Monday on SABC2.

Like the SABC's other local soap on SABC2, Muvhango, that ran out of its current contract months ago and doesn't have a signed new one leading to financial hardship for the actors and crew who struggled to get paid, the SABC has so far also failed to sign a new contract with 7de Laan producers. 

According to multiple insiders at Danie Odendaal Productions, the soap is in crisis with production that might shut down this coming Wednesday.

Frances Maposa, 7de Laan line producer wrote a memo to all 7de Laan staff - the cast, crew and writers - saying "it is with great concern" that 7de Laan is forced "for the first time that this type of memo has to be sent out".

YOU magazine reports that Frances Maposa told the cast and crew that the production company will withhold all episodes for the upcoming 18th season, set to start on Monday 24 October until the SABC has signed a new contract.

It means that if the SABC fails to sign an actual new contract, that there won't be new episodes on SABC2 from Monday.

According to insiders the SABC has been dragging its feet since August, and more than two months later 7de Laan is yet to see a signed contract.

SABC spokesperson Kaizer Kganyago says in response to a media enquiry asking why new contracts haven't been signed with Muvhango and 7de Laan, why there's been a delay, and how the SABC that says it supports local content and artists that the SABC doesn't pay staff of any production company and can't comment.

"The SABC does not discuss or negotiate contractual issues in the public domain or through the media," says Kaizer Kganyago.

The other SABC2 local soap, Muvhango, also doesn't have a new contract after month's of waiting. There the production company is paying actors and staff out of its own pocket, waiting for the SABC to sign a new contract as well.

Production on 7de Laan might shut down on Wednesday, according to sources, if cast and crew are not paid since several people use public transport to get to work.

In the memo Francis Maposa warns people about "the ripple effect of this sees no end" and that "each and every one of us make alternative arrangements to ensure our debits go off as well as other commitments are met".

Wednesday, October 19, 2016

MultiChoice adding Nigeria's ROK channel from ROK Studios to DStv from 1 November across Africa, excluding South Africa.

The Nigerian ROK channel from ROK Studios will launching on MultiChoice's DStv on 1 November across sub-Saharan Africa with original Nollywood series and films.

ROK will be available on DStv channel 168 in 52 countries and in Southern Africa, but excluding South Africa.

ROK will launch with ROK Studios' exclusively-produced content, including Festac Town, Banks Chronicles and Bloodline

ROK Studios was launched in 2013 and has a production house based in Lagos, Nigeria.

Nigerian cinema, known colloquially as Nollywood, is the second largest film industry in the world, in terms of production output and in its short history ROK Studios has become a prolific prducer of original content, creating a Nollywood catalogue of 12 TV series and over 150 movies.

ROK is programmed, produced and developed in-house by ROK's Lagos-based team and is headed up by Mary Njoku, an award-winning Nollywood actress and film producer.

"Joining the DStv family is the next step in ROK's evolution as Nollywood's leading film production house and brand," says Mary Njoku.

"What lies beneath every ROK production, the ROK brand, be it movies or TV series, is our fanatical love of African storytelling; we want to relate amazing African stories that our fans can recognise, be swept away by and be entertained with."

"We work with Nigeria's most exceptional talent, in front of and behind the camera, and we continue to push the boundaries in terms of production values. This has given us the edge, in our short history, and has helped us build a fanbase around the world."

"ROK on DStv allows us to bring ROK to every corner of the continent and connect viewers with content they love".

John Ugbe, MultiChoice Nigeria managing director, says in a statement "one of the cornerstones of our customer promise is to deliver content that our customers love and enjoy, and that is why we're excited to introduce ROK which will boost DStv's local content offering and showcase even more African stories made in Africa, for us Africans".

MultiChoice Africa is adding the Eva+ channel on DStv and GOtv as a sister telenovela channel to Eva from AMC Networks International UK.

MultiChoice Africa is adding the sister channel to the telenovela channel Eva, Eva+, from AMC Networks International, to DStv in several South African countries from 1 November.

Eva+ will not be available on DStv in South Africa, but will be added to the DStv and GOtv platforms in several African countries.

Eva+ will be the first channel from AMC Networks International UK (AMCNI UK) to be made available on MultiChoice's GOtv service in Africa.

The addition of Eva+ follows after Eva was added in late-March 2015 to DStv in South Africa and across Africa.

Just like Eva, Eva+ will have Latin American telenovelas dubbed in English and Portuguese.

"We are delighted to be expanding on our telenovela offering and introducing Eva+ to the African market, in partnership with MultiChoice," says Louise Cottrell, the vice president for affiliate sales for AMCNI UK.

"'Telenovelas are increasingly popular in the region, so it's exciting that with Eva+ offered on GOtv in addition to DStv, we will now be able to reach brand new viewers with our top quality content."

Tim Jacobs, MultiChoice Africa CEO, says "with our focus now on putting our customer first, we are delighted to be adding Eva+ on to our platforms".

"Telenovelas have always been a sensation with our customers and we hope this addition further demonstrates our commitment to bringing programming that will make viewers eager to tune in to DStv".

Eva+ will broadcast double bills of four telenovela titles every weekday and marathons over the weekend, including Buscando a Maria (Searching Maria) on air from Tuesday 1 November at 11:20 every weekday, then on Saturday at 06:00 and on Sunday at 16:00.

Cuando me Enamoro (Timeless Love) willbe broadcast on Eva+ from Thursday 1 December at 11:20 on weekdays at 17:00, then on Saturday at 06:00 and on Sunday at 16:00.

MultiChoice adding a Harry Potter pop-up channel from M-Net to DStv from 4 November; lowering DStv subscription prices in several African countries.

MultiChoice announced that it will be lowering monthly DStv subscription fees from 1 November in several African countries where the DStv prices were out of line with the average and will add a temporary Harry Potter pop-up channel from M-Net.

DStv will also add several TV channels to lower-tiered bouquets in several countries and make more soccer viewing available on SuperSport channels given to its lower-tiered offerings, to boost the content offering for cheaper DStv packages and to add content value.

Several countries, including Kenya, Tanzania, Malawi, Ghana, Uganda, Zimbabwe and Botswana - but notably excluding South Africa and Nigeria, it's two biggest markets - will see a significant reduction in monthly DStv subscription fees from 1 November.

The DStv price reduction comes as tough economic conditions facing consumers and greater competition in the pay-TV market from rivals like StarTimes, EcoNet, Zuku and others, have seen the pan-African pay-TV operator decide to lower prices to try and stem the tide of MultiChoice Africa customers cancelling subscriptions.

In Nigeria DStv prices are not lowered but some new local channels like ROK are being added and several channels previously only accessible to DStv Premium subscribers are being made available to lower packages to add bigger content value to cheaper subscription options.

New channels added
Elsewhere in Africa new TV channels like Eva+, a sister channel to the telenovela channel Eva, will be added to DStv, along with the Nigerian entertainment channel ROK from ROK Studios, with several channels that will be upgraded to high definition (HD) quality similar to South Africa.

While DStv Premium subscribers across the continent and including South Africa can watch the pop-up M-Net channel M-Net Movies BlockParty on DStv channel 109, MultiChoice in a statement says DStv subscribers can "look forward to more exciting pop-up channels in the coming months like the M-Net Movies Harry Potter pop-up channel which will run from 4 to 14 November".

The Harry Potter pop-up channel will show all of the Harry Potter movies before the debut of the first movie in the new spin-off film series, Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them that is scheduled for a worldwide release on 18 November.

It's similar to what M-Net did with its Star Wars pop-up channel late last year before the release of the new Star Wars film.

Significant price drop
The DStv price reduction starting 1 November, comes in a year in which MultiChoice Africa decided not to increase subscription fees in several countries outside of South Africa, and following a first-ever double price increase in 2015 to try and keep up with local African currencies' ongoing depreciation against the American dollar in which most premium TV content are acquired.

The stiff DStv price hikes put subscribers under pressure and led to the loss of 288 000 subscribers in one year as people could no longer afford the service or no longer saw it as valuable enough, at the same time as competing services like the subscription video-on-demand (SVOD) service like Naspers' ShowMax and America's Netflix launched their services across Africa.

About the move to adjust prices in several African countries, MultiChoice Africa says that "when reviewing our packages and prices in each country, we take into account local dynamics such as inflation, content costs, foreign exchange rates, local taxes and overheads required for each business".

"The price of DStv in South Africa as well as some of the other markets including Nigeria compare favourably with the pricing in the countries where subscription prices are currently being reviewed downwards".

In East African countries like Kenya, DStv subscribers will pay between 5% to 13% less from 1 November for the various packages.

In Uganda, a MultiChoice spokesperson said it "realized that it increasing subscriptions all the time is not sustainable. In the long run, people will not afford our services if we continued this way".

In Uganda DStv subscriptions are dropping from November by up to 15%.

In Zimbabwe DStv subscriptions are dropping between 11% and 21% from November with subscribers to cheaper packages in this country, as elsewhere, getting more soccer content with the addition of more UEFA Champions League matches as well as coverage of the best European football leagues and the Europa league on SuperSport.

"The significant price drop, coupled with the major boost in entertainment value across all DStv bouquets, demonstrates our commitment to ensuring DStv customers receive the best possible access to great entertainment and outstanding value," says MultiChoice Africa in a statement that was slightly adjusted for each African country where DStv price reductions are being introduced.

"These changes are not only a defining moment in our MultiChoice story, but also a defining moment in the African entertainment landscape and we are proud to be pushing as hard as we can to delight every television entertainment fan in Africa".

No price reduction in South Africa
MultiChoice in South Africa says South African DStv subscribers won't see a price reduction and that the price of DStv Premium in South Africa compares favourably with the pricing in other African countries.

"We review the DStv prices once a year when we do our business planning - our prices for next year will be announced before 1 April 2017".

MultiChoice South Africa says "when reviewing our packages and pricing in each country, we take into account local dynamics such as inflation, content costs, foreign exchange rates, local taxes and overheads required for each business".

"We've done a lot of research into what pay-TV costs in other parts of the world, and we believe that DStv offers good value for money in the countries in which it operates."

"In South Africa we've implemented a number of cost-saving options for our customers - those who pay annually receive one month free, and our Price Lock packages enable customers to freeze their package price for two years".

MultiChoice currently has close to 10 million subscribers in 49 sub-Saharan African countries.

Tuesday, October 18, 2016

The SABC's TV channels all in a troubling viewership slide in September, while Sofia the First on DStv's Disney Channel proves the power of a princess.

The SABC's three main TV channels each continue a very troubling downward trend in the ratings as SABC1, SABC2 and SABC3 continued to shed viewers in September, while Sofia the First on The Disney Channel on DStv delightfully proved the viewership power of a princess.

Troubling for industry watchers is that the overall TV viewership of people watching the SABC was again lower in September than in the preceding month, due to lower ratings for each of the public broadcaster's three main channels, according to the viewership figures compiled by the Broadcast Research Council of South Africa (BRCSA).

SABC1's overall viewership during September fell from a month before, with the bulk of its top 20 most watched shows all grabbing less viewers than during August.

SABC1 lost thousands of viewers in total from Generations, Uzalo, Skeem Saam, Vodacom Millionaires, Thandeka's Diary, Selimathunzi, Shuga, Live Amp and Rise that were all down from the previous month, while the Xhosa news, Mutual Friends and Zaziwa managed to edge up.

On SABC1, soaps Generations and Uzalo remain dead even as the most watched shows on South African television - both with a 23.9 AR, with Generations grabbing slightly more viewers for its top-rated episode in September with 8.16 million viewers, compared to Uzalo's 8.15 million.

Worryingly, SABC2's viewership is also edging lower, with the second SABC channel's average top viewership for its top 20 most watched shows in September, also falling lower than a month before.

SABC2's viewership problems
SABC2's top shows - like its Venda soap Muvhango, the live Lotto draw and others are all down, but that's not where the problems end.

The plummeting viewership of 7de Laan remains a growing problem for the SABC, with the ratings of the once strong Afrikaans weekday soap on SABC2 once again falling further from August to September from a 5.5 AR (1.86 million viewers) to a 5.3 AR (1.81 million viewers) for its top rated episodes.

Whilst still a top show for SABC2, the channel seems unable to stop the viewership erosion, with the bad recent timeslot change that's been having an ongoing detrimental impact on the show's ratings.

Viewers are also fleeing SABC2's Afrikaans news bulletin, down from 4.4 ARs (1.49 million viewers) to 4.3 AR in September (1.45 million viewers) that also apparently changed its timeslot for the worse.

Also down in September from August: The viewership of SABC2 shows ranging from Musiek Roulette to Keletso.

SABC2's consumer magazine show Speak Out showed an uptick from a 6.8AR to a 7.4 AR (2.5 million viewers) in September.

SABC3's painful ratings slide
SABC3 remains a big and growing problem for the SABC.

As the SABC's only commercial TV channel that is supposed to pull in an affluent metropolitan audience highly sought after by advertisers, the opposite has been happening.

With the evisceration of its schedule by controversial boss Hlaudi Motsoeneng who banished foreign TV shows for an avalanche of rushed-to-air local shows, none of which are pulling audiences, viewers have made their displeasure known with the SABC for removing hugely popular fare like Days of Our Lives and American drama series from advantageous timeslots.

Although it costs the SABC millions of rands to produce new local content shows, the raft of new, mostly talking heads talk show type and reality magazine shows have failed to lift SABC3's anemic viewership for a third month in a row.

This is putting pressure on the SABC to do something as SABC3's overall programme ratings and viewership keeps dropping.

The SABC will have to either return popular foreign shows like The Amazing Race and other foreign drama and sitcom series it yanked mid-season back to the SABC3 schedule and bring back Days to its late afternoon timeslot, or produce better and more compelling local shows than the Divas of Jozi and Top Chef SA that viewers rejected.

Foreign films left on the SABC3 schedule is what fills the bulk of SABC3's most watched programming list during September, while its local weekday soap Isidingo showed a small uptick from 3.1 AR (1.03 million viewers) to 3.3 AR (1.11 million viewers) for its highest rated episodes.

Besides Isidingo, the only local TV series besides foreign movies to rate at all on SABC3's top 20 most watched list for September are telenovela High Rollers (1.8 AR), late afternoon talk show Afternoon Express (1.6 AR) and the stalwart glam magazine show Top Billing (1.4 AR) in the 20th position.

It's hugely troubling to advertisers and the TV biz that despite spending big bucks to fund new local shows to fill primetime, that viewers have turned their back on the entire new local content offering that SABC3 presented on its schedule when it comes to ratings.

e.tv's soap surge
The SABC's viewership loss is largely free-to-air channel e.tv's gain.

On e.tv in September its weekday soaps Scandal surged from August (13.2 AR to 13.8 AR and 4.7 million viewers) while sister soap Rhythm City also grew from 9.6 AR to 10.6 AR and 3.63million viewers.

The latest season of the Rapid Blue produced SA's Got Talent is a viewership hit as the 5th most watched show on e.tv in September with a 9.9 AR and luring 3.38 million viewers for its most watched episode so far.

The power of a Disney princess
Mzansi Magic (DStv 161) continues to grab the lion's share of viewers on MultiChoice's DStv satellite pay-TV platform, with Our Perfect Wedding, Isibaya, Rockville and Idols remaining the four most watched shows on in September on DStv, as they were in August.

The Queen, Greed & Desire - and even the repeat broadcasts of both shows - both series on Mzansi Magic as well, also took four spots out of the most watched programming list on DStv for September.

Don't ever under-estimate the resolve of children and the steel-strong consumer power of young viewers to influence viewing behaviour and patterns.

MultiChoice and The Walt Disney Company opening up The Disney Channel (DStv 303) in September to subscribers on lower-tiered packages was a huge ratings bonanza for Disney.

The toddler animation show Sofia the First on The Disney Channel for instance managed to lure more adult viewers in September aged 15 years and older to DStv than some Absa Premiership and Premier League soccer matches.

What it means is that such is the power of a Disney princess, that Sofia got her young underlings to not only watch the show themselves, but got them to force their parents - moms and dads - to watch with them, unable to tune away to "big people" shows.

More than 341 202 adult viewers (and that's excluding kids younger than 15) tunde in for the most watched Sofia the First episode on The Disney Channel on DStv during September.

The third party movie channel Studio Universal (DStv 112) from NBCUniversal International Networks popped up a ratings hit in September.

Studio Universal rated in September when the film First Blood drew 377 072 viewers on 3 September, making it the most watched movie on DStv during the month and giving it an overall 15th place on the most watched list.

Monday, October 17, 2016

New Telemundo International Studios launched by NBCUniversal Telemundo Enterprises, headed up by Marcos Santasa, president of Telemundo International.

The new Telemundo International Studios has been launched by NBCUniversal Telemundo Enterprises.

The new Telemundo International Studios will help to produce series for international markets with programming that will very likely show up in future on channels like Telemundo Africa (DStv 118) on MultiChoice's DStv satellite pay-TV platform.

MultiChoice carries the channel from NBCUniversal International Networks with its Spanish telenovelas in dubbed English and Portuguese in South Africa and across the African continent.

Marcos Santana, president of Telemundo International, will head up Telemundo International Studios that will be based in Miami in the United States.

Telemundo International Studios will "generate content that can travel to all platforms, from broadcast to pay-TV and digital media".

"Telemundo International Studios will tap into an international growth opportunity at a time when Telemundo has established itself as the number 1 Spanish-language broadcast network in prime time in the United States," says Cesar Conde, chairman of NBCUniversal International Group and NBCUniversal Telemundo Enterprises.

"With this new production, we will continue innovating and increasing the level of content production in Spanish in the United States internationally.

"The launch of Telemundo International Studios represents the great growth of our unit, increasing our offer's expansion and our distribution catalog, generating new opportunities for markets and platforms," says Marcos Santana.

The Walking Dead on FOX renewed for 8th season; DStv subscribers will have to switch to StarSat to catch Fear the Walking Dead and aftershow Talking Dead from November.

AMC has renewed The Walking Dead shown on FOX for an 8th season as well as the aftershow Talking Dead on AMC just before the start of the zombie drama's upcoming 7th season.

South African viewers will be able to watch the 8th season of The Walking Dead on FOX (DStv 125 / StarSat 131) in late-2017 that will have 16 episodes. The 8th season premiere will mark the series' 100th episode.

With MultiChoice killing off the AMC channel on DStv, only StarSat subscribers will be able to watch the companion aftershow series, Talking Dead, that airs on the AMC channel from after mid-November.

AMC still airs on DStv channel 140 until 11 November, but the channel that shows the spin-off zombie drama series Fear the Walking Dead, already renewed for a third season, and the talk show Talking Dead will only remain accessible to StarSat subscribers on channel 115 from after that.

Meanwhile the 7th season of The Walking Dead will premiere on FOX this coming Monday morning, 24 October, for South African and African viewers at 03:30 in the morning as a simulcast with the American airdate.

The Walking Dead's 7th season will then roll out its first episode again later on Monday night at 21:00 in its regular weekly timeslot.

DStv and StarSat subscribers can watch the second season of Talking Dead: Fear Edition from today on AMC on Mondays at 20:45 with presenter Chris Hardwick.

The premiere episode of The Walking Dead's 7th season is set to reveal which main character villain Negan (Jeffrey Dean Morgan) has chosen to kill off in the 6th season finale cliffhanger, although its a certainty that it won't be the lead character of Rick Grimes (Andrew Lincoln) who is definitely safe.

"Eeny, meeny, miny, more," says AMC boss Charlie Collier in a statement announcing the 8th season renewal of The Walking Dead.

"What a joy to partner with Robert Kirkman, Scott Gimple and some of the hardest-working people in television to bring The Walking Dead to the fans. And, most important, thanks to those fans for breathing life into this remarkable series right along with us."

The FOX Networks Group (FNG) will once again show episodes of The Walking Dead internationally in over 125 territories, including South Africa and across Africa, 24 hours after the season launch on AMC in America.

As in previous seasons, the 7th season of The Walking Dead will be shown in two parts with the first 8 episodes from this coming Monday, and the second batch of 8 episodes from February 2017.

Sunday, October 16, 2016

South African journalists - and female journalists - are the big winners at the 21st CNN MultiChoice African Journalist Awards 2016.

South African journalists and female journalists across the African continent were the big winners as they took home the lion's share of trophies on Saturday night at the 21st CNN MultiChoice African Journalist Awards 2016 where Asha Ahmed Mwilu and Rashid Idi from Kenya's KTN won the overall award.

South African journalism and journalists saw a resurgence at the annual, pan-continental CNN MultiChoice African Journalist Awards 2016 that this year was once again held in South Africa and celebrated the best in African journalism with a record number of 1 637 entries across 38 countries.

The ceremony, with hosts Zain Asher from CNN International and South African presenter Robert Marawa, once again capped a 4-day programme of workshops, media forums and networking as part of Africa's most prestigious awards dedicated to honouring excellence in journalism.

Saturday night saw 9 South Africans won across 6 categories at the gala awards ceremony held at Gallagher Estate in Johannesburg.

Female journalists this year also noticeably ran rings around their male counterparts for hard-hitting and impactful stories in a news industry where women are often incorrectly stereotyped as supposedly only doing "soft news" reporting.

South African winners included Fiona Macleod (jointly with John Grobler from Namibia) for the environment award; Diana Neille, Richard Poplak, Shaun Swingler and Sumeya Gasa from Daily Maverick for the economics and business award; Mia Malan from The Mail & Guardian winning the features category; Jay Caboz from Forbes Africa winning the energy and infrastructure award; photographer James Oatway from The Sunday Times winning the photography category for his images of the killing of Emmanuel Sithole; and Ancillar Mangena of Forbes Africa receiving the Maggie Eales Young journalist award.

Some of the South African journalists’ prize winning stories ranged from the exploitation by Coca-Cola Africa of workers through outsourcing, to the sad reality of the country's rampant rape culture and James Oatway's harrowing images of the killing of Emmanuel Sithole in xenophobic violence that shook the country to its core.

'We will stop until we tell the truth'
Overall winner Asha Ahmed Mwilu - in an impassioned speech for her investigative TV story together with Rashid Idi, "Terror Crossing" about security at the Kenya-Somali border that was broadcast on Kenya Television Network (KTN) - said journalists across Africa won't stop exposing the truth.

"Journalists across the continent - we are being prosecuted, we are being killed, we are being jailed for the stories that we are telling because we are truth-seekers. But we are unrelenting. We will never stop until we tell the truth."

"We will continue to be the voices of our people - whether positive or negative - we will tell their stories," said Asha Ahmed Mwilu.

All the finalists receive both a cash prize and tablet, with the overall two winners receiving a further cash prize and the chance to visit CNN Headquarters in Atlanta and participating in the CNN Journalism Fellowship.

Ferial Haffajee, former City Press editor and chairperson of the judging panel, asked what she makes of the this year's strong showing of South African journalists winning for exceptional South African journalism, says "for several years as a South African judge I've been noticing that it was definitely the turn of Kenya and Nigeria to take the top spots".

"This year has seen a resurgence of South Africa in the competition. And if you look at what won, it's actually long form, narrative journalism, where good journalists have been given an opportunity to go out and to really report on stories that we don't talk about."

About the large number of women who won awards this year, Ferial Haffajee said "generally, the investment in training woman journalists is beginning to show itself".

"So women are increasingly getting to do things, a lot of television also benefiting from that investment and their time and their skills, and they're just going out there and using every opportunity."

Yolisa Phahle, M-Net CEO who presented Asha Ahmed Mwilu and Rashid Idi with their top journalism prize thanked them and the continent's journalists "for telling the stories of Africa and its people to the world".

"We're proud to play a role in amplifying your voices and the voices of other journalists across the African continent".

Greg Beitchman, the vice president for content sales and partnerships at CNN International (DStv 401) thanked journalists for their powerful reporting.

Here's the full list of winners at the 21st CNN MultiChoice African Journalist Awards 2016 :

John Grobler, Namibia, & Fiona Macleod, South Africa
Oxpeckers Investigative Environmental Journalism
Caught in the crossfire: how cattle and Chinese mining interests are killing off Namibia’s black rhinos’

Ati Metwaly
Al Ahram Weekly, Egypt
Against all odds: Stories of the visually impaired women from Egypt's Al Nour Wal Amal Orchestra’

Chika Oduah, Nigeria, Freelance for African Media Initiative, Kenya
The App That Saved 1,000 Children’

Diana Neille, Richard Poplak, Shaun Swingler & Sumeya Gasa, Daily Maverick, South Africa
Casualties of Cola: Outsourcing, Exploitation & the New Realities of Work’

Mia Malan, Mail & Guardian, South Africa
Title: Diepsloot: Where men think it's their right to rape’

Bidossèssi Appolinaire Agoïnon, Office de Radiodiffusion et Télévision du Bénin, Benin
Dogesi mi’

Faten Hayed, El Watan, Algeria
L’Algérie, ma terre de djihad’

Jay Caboz, Forbes Africa, South Africa
‘40 Years of Mozambique - The Dead Port that Rose Again’

James Oatway, The Sunday Times, South Africa
‘The Killing of Emmanuel Sithole’

Veronica Narkwor Kwabla, TV3 Network, Ghana
Freetown Ebola Orphans’

Asha Ahmed Mwilu & Rashid Idi, Kenya Television Network, Kenya
‘Terror Crossing’

Bento Venâncio, Jornal Domingo, Mozambique
‘Albinos em perigo’

Fidelto Emidio Bata, STV, Mozambique
‘Bibliotecas esquecidas’

Bob Rugurika, Burundi

Yemisi Akinbobola, Ogechi Ekeanyanwu & Paul Bradshaw, IQ4News for Premium Times, Nigeria
‘Follow the Money: Who extracts the value of Nigerian footballers?’

Ancillar Mangena, Forbes Africa, South Africa
‘Prophets of profit in the business of belief’

Thursday, October 13, 2016

After Hlaudi Motsoeneng bans Days of Our Lives, SABC3 ratings has now plunged 48% in just 2 months as a whopping 520 081 viewers have abandoned the timeslot.

SABC viewership of its struggling SABC3 channel has nosedived in the two months after Hlaudi Motsoeneng's banished the bulk of international content from the channel with SABC3's viewership that has plummented in the post Days of Our Lives timeslot by a massive 48.2% since July.

Not only has SABC3 lost nearly half of its total audience in what used to be the popular Days 17:00 timeslot, but even more importantly and shockingly is that the overall SABC3 primetime viewership has also plummented.

Meanwhile not a single one of the crop of rushed-to-air local shows on SABC3's primetime programming line-up has managed to crack the list of Top 20 most watched shows on the channel, while it costs the SABC a lot more to produce the increased burden of local shows, although viewers and advertisers flee.

SABC spokesperson Kaizer Kganyago didn't respond to a media enquiry seeking comment about SABC3's ongoing ratings plunge and whether the public broadcaster is considering changes to Hlaudi Motsoeneng's 80% local content strategy for the channel that he enforced since mid-July for the broadcaster's only commercial TV channel.

With the hugely popular American weekday soap Days of Our Lives that lured a massive 1 078 101 viewers at its peak in July, SABC3 saw 40.51% of its total viewers abandoning the channel during the timeslot in August (falling to 641 388 viewers).

That loss accelerated and grew in a second consecutive month to 48.2% of viewers gone in September compared to July in the 17:00 timeslot with just 558 020 viewers at most in the timeslot. SABC3's 17:00 timeslot has now lost a staggering 520 081 viewers in just two months.

Overall SABC3 ratings depressed
The ongoing viewership plunge should be sending shockwaves through the SABC where advertising rates and what the public broadcaster can charge for 30 second ad spots are closely tied to the number of viewers the SABC can deliver in a timeslot.

Making it worse is that the loss of half of the viewership that Days of Our Lives pulled in the 17:00 timeslot is a daily loss that was stripped over weekdays. The loss in viewers translates into a daily revenue loss in terms of ad income for the SABC and SABC3.  

It's not just the replacement of Days of Our Lives with the local Afternoon Express talk show that's a ratings problem for SABC3.

While SABC3 lured an already low average AR (audience rating) of 2.13 during primetime for its top 20 most watched programmes during August, the channel saw its audience further ebb away to an average primetime AR of just 2.01 for its top 20 most watched shows during September.

Since this audience rating is for the most watched shows, it means that the viewership for the rest of SABC3 programming is even lower, and also that SABC viewers have completely rejected the raft of new local programming on SABC3 suddenly foisted on them.

Meanwhile metropolitan viewers do keep tuning to SABC3 specifically for its American films. 

Besides the American soap The Bold and the Beautiful remaining the most watched overall show on SABC3 in September with 1.17 million viewers, films like Abducted: The Carlina White Story, The Pursuit of Happyness, The Maiden Heist, Seven Pounds, As You Like It, Kick-Ass 2, Michael Jackson's This Is It, Life Support, Brighton Rock grabbed a whopping 9 of the top 20 most watched places in SABC3's September ratings.

It means that while Hlaudi Motsoeneng abruptly banished foreign content off of SABC3, viewers are rejecting the replacement local content for whatever reason and seeking out and watching the remaining American content like the films that still exist.

The local telenovela High Rollers saw an uptick from August to September from a still low 482 504 to 616 960 viewers and a 1.8 AR for its highest rated episode in each month, while Isidingo also saw a slight improvement from a 3.1 AR (1.03 million) to a 3.3 AR (1.11 million viewers) in September.

The stalwart local lifestyle magazine show Top Billing remains more popular than any of the SABC3's other new local programming in primetime. The most watched episode in September pulled 484 703 viewers.

SABC audience share falls again, down to 48.8%
While the SABC's TV channels SABC1, SABC2 and SABC3 attract audiences of 28.8 million, 26.9 million and 21 million viewers per week, the reality is that the SABC's average audience share fell yet again to 48.8% according to its just published annual financial report for 2015/2016.

That's down from 57% in 2011/2012 and 53% in 2012/2013.

The SABC admits that it missed its target of 52% and blames "increased competition and changing audience content consumption patterns" for its falling viewership share.

Tuesday, October 11, 2016

SABC moves Generations tonight from SABC1 to ... SABC3 ... dumping local show High Rollers ... to make space for soccer. And will do it again.

In another mind-boggling and perplexing scheduling move, the SABC is suddenly moving its highest-rated show Generations tonight from SABC1 to its channel with the smallest reach and serving a completely different audience - SABC3 - due to soccer.

SABC1 also shocked with other erratic and last-minute programming schedule changes it's not explaining to viewers that relates to Zaziwa, Street Cred and the new season of Tempy Pushas that was supposed to start last week and didn't without any explanation.

Generations, usually shown on weekdays at 20:00 on SABC1, will suddenly be shown at 19:30 on SABC3 tonight in the place of the dumped local telenovela High Rollers, so that the SABC can broadcast the international friendly soccer match between South Africa and Ghana from 19:00 live on SABC1 from the Moses Mabhida stadium.

The erratic and highly unusual move will apparently happen again on 15 November when SABC3's High Rollers will once again be dumped for Generations in its timeslot.

It's the first time the SABC has replaced one locally produced SABC TV soap with another of its locally produced TV soaps.

The SABC's highly disruptive shock-move is bad for a litany of reasons:

Previously when the SABC had to move Generations due to soccer broadcasts it was to another timeslot on SABC1, or like for instance during the African Nations Championships to SABC2 where the channel's target audience has a bigger overlap with SABC1.

SABC3 can only be received by 77% of South African viewers and the channel's target audience is the furthest from SABC1. It makes no sense for the SABC to move its most watched show with an audience of 8.1 million viewers to a channel where millions of viewers won't be able to see it, won't know its on there, and in another timeslot.

As debilitating as it is for Generations and that soap's audience, it's even more devastating for High Rollers and that show's audience of just over 600 000 on SABC3. Not only does the SABC with the unusual move signals that High Rollers "matters" less as local SABC content than Generations as local content, it also will impact negatively on the specific demos and audience ratings both channels and both shows tries to reach.

AThe SABC is literally damaging itself and its brands with self-inflicted wounds. Generations ratings for this week has no other place than go down; High Rollers ratings will also definitely be down. And keep in mind viewer sentiment.
Viewers, especially serialised soap watchers, find it confusing and get angry when they come back after they missed, or were forced to miss an episode and struggle to try and fill in what they've missed and then resent TV channel brands for "messing" with their stories.

The SABC will once again very likely lose advertising income on two streams - for advertisers who bought airtime during what would have been Generations' 20:00 timeslot on SABC1, as well as SABC3's 19:30 High Rollers timeslot. The SABC will have to do what the biz calls "make-goods", give paid and booked advertisers more timeslots in future to reach the right audience they lost out on in the first place, which means less available ad inventory available for the SABC can sell.

The SABC will also lose money from the sport broadcast during which it can't sell the highly lucrative ad spots commercial advertisers want during Generations.

SABC1's other stranger things
SABC1 has been silent about what's going on with the channel's other erratic moves.

The new third season of sitcom Tempy Pushas was scheduled to start this past Friday on SABC1 but was suddenly a no-show with no word from the channel as to why it didn't start and why Shuga continued. The new Tempy Pushas was this week suddenly rescheduled to start on Friday 28 October but there's been no reason given for the delay. And then it got rescheduled for a third time within days to now start on 14 October.

The new street dance reality show Street Cred has been rescheduled to start this Thursday at 18:00.

The SABC also did a U-turn and decided to keep its ratings successful talk show Zaziwa on Thursdays at 19:30.

SABC1 recently decided to drop Zaziwa from its highly successful primetime timeslot of 19:30 and to move it to the bizarre timeslot of 21:00 from this week where it would not just no longer be a hit but struggle to find any audience up against SABC2's Venda soap juggernaut Muvhango and pay-TV ratings hit The Queen on Mzansi Magic (DStv 161).

Zaziwa will now suddenly be staying in its 19:30 timeslot on SABC1.