Tuesday, January 24, 2017

Why did M-Net put Emerald City on Vuzu AMP on DStv when this Games of Thrones like show clearly belongs on M-Net Edge?

A woman is shown stabbed and killed from the back, explicitly pierced by a sword. In a whore house soldiers are sexed. A woman (a witch actually) is shown blowing her brains out and toppling over, while three young women are seen jumping to their deaths in a "hanging" suicide.

In another scene a murdered soldier's chopped off pieces (head etc.) is shown, while winter is literally coming and has now arrived as snowflakes sift down because of a problem with magic.

If you think it's the latest new episode from the upcoming 7th season of Game of Thrones on M-Net Edge (DStv 102), guess again.

It's scenes from the inappropriately placed and scheduled new American fantasy drama series Emerald City on Vuzu AMP (DStv 102) on a channel where DStv subscribers in their content discovery process won't expect to find it, and where it doesn't actually belong.

The at times graphic show - now four episodes in and one of M-Net's Express from the US titles - has been placed on the youth-centric Vuzu AMP although its much more similar in nature in look, sense, feel and some graphic depictions, to fantasy dramas like Game of Thrones, Vikings and Beowulf.

Guess on what M-Net channel on MultiChoice's DStv these types of shows are actually shown.

Somebody at M-Net acquired Emerald City and didn't bother to actually watch it. For Emerald City isn't Vuzu AMP's The Vampire Diaries.

If you like more mature fantasy drama series you will like Emerald City, a sort of deconstructed and definitely post-modernist version of the classic story about Dorothy who gets whisked away by tornado to a mystical new land where she meets up with a hodge-potch group all looking for the Wizard of Oz.

The steampunk fantasy series has a lot of unfolding, surprising twists but the problem is that some viewers might not know of its existence on the Pretty Little Liars channel.

If only there were a bit of heart. If only there were a bit of bravery. If only there were a bit of brains.

Watching Emerald City on Vuzu AMP it feels as if M-Net wants viewers to watch content (and yes, Emerald City is good content) that people in the acquisitions and scheduling teams don't watch themselves. Or, if it is pre-watched, and still scheduled wrongly, then it borders on borderline incompetence.

If The Magicians (based on a book) and a series meant for mature audiences was shown on M-Net Edge - in which characters in a magical environment battle themselves, each other and adversaries to find answers and survive - why is Emerald City (based on a book) now a series meant for mature audiences placed on Vuzu AMP as a show in which characters in a magic environment battle themselves, each other and adversaries to find answers and survive?

Another issue: In America Emerald City is an NBC show. Strikingly the new TV season's biggest new hit drama series, This is Us, is nowhere to be seen anywhere in South Africa.

It begs the question: Why has This Is Us not been acquired by M-Net - or A show in which American TV bosses have so much confidence that it was just renewed not just for a second but also for a third season?

And if This is Us (soo good!) is eventually seen in South Africa, how much of the entertainment value will be gone because viewers will already have been told, or have read somewhere about the emotional twists and fascinating plot twists that were all well guarded secrets in the first episode and subsequent hours of this terrific new series?

With both Emerald City and This is Us South African TV viewers are not being considered and served as paying TV customers as well as they should be.

If only viewers, like the Wizard of Oz, were able to quickly summon a witch (or a giant) to fix it, when something like this that's clearly a TV mistake, went wrong.

More issues for Planet Earth 2 series on BBC Worldwide's BBC Earth: Viewers call out BBC over 'fake' sounds, while a producer calls it 'a disaster for the world's wildlife'.

After the BBC admitted in late 2016 that it used what is actually a trained eagle in an episode of its new documentary series Planet Earth 2 starting soon on BBC Worldwide's BBC Earth (DStv 184), more issues have come to light to show that with this new documentary series everything isn't and isn't going to be "all things bring and beautiful" for its creatures great and small.

After Planet Earth 2, narrated by Sir David Attenborough, failed to tell viewers in an episode that some of the "amazing" eagle-eyed footage was actually done through using a captive and trained bird, there was also the issue of British viewers who got upset and slammed the BBC show as "cruel" for showing viewers a snow leopard rape scene that some viewers said became to much to bear.

It's not just some of the Planet Earth 2 visuals that viewers are upset with - cue the complaints about Planet Earth II producers inserting and dubbing in "fake" sounds during post-production as well.

And then there's the producer who said the BBC's Planet Earth 2 is "a disaster for the world's wildlife".

The BBC received complaints from viewers about the Planet Earth 2 "fake" sound effects, while the BBC explained that wildlife documentary filmmakers use sound engineers to create sounds that feel wild because the technology doesn't exist to accurately capture the sounds that many animals make.

"Viewers said things like "I love Planet Earth 2 but enough with the sound effects please.A lizard gliding through the air does not sound like a jet" and "Planet Earth II is gorgeous, but I absolute hate hate hate the fake sound effects every time something moves".

The BBC in March 2016 - commenting in general about wildlife documentary filmmaking and not specifically about Planet Earth 2 although the same holds true - that "range and ambient noise ensure quite a lot of wild sounds simply cannot be recorded in the field".

"As a result, wildlife filmmakers often turn to sound designers to recreate something that sounds like it would in the wild - a soundtrack that is true to nature".

Quite bizarrely, the BBC's Planet Earth 2 inserted creaking sounds that's not real while showing mushrooms growing, swivelling sounds for a draco lizard's eyes moving, a jaguar crunching a caiman's skull, even a millipede's footsteps, and many, many more.

It all damages the credibility of not just Planet Earth 2, but also the BBC's factual entertainment brands like BBC Earth.

A viewer said "The plot/sound effects are so fake that they might as well have had the animals speaking to camera".

Some viewers have also been complaining about Planet Earth 2's "deafening sound effects" and "squelching".

Then there is producer Martin Hughes-Games, saying Planet Earth II is "a disaster for the world's wildlife" and a significant contributor to planet-wide extinctions".

Attacking Planet Earth 2, Martin Hughes-Games said the series is "an escapist wildlife fantasy" that ignores the damage humans are doing to the planet and that something like Planet Earth 2 breeds complacency with viewers about the destruction of Earth taking place.

According to Martin Huges-Games, Richard Attenborough and others "are lulling the huge worldwide audience into a false sense of security. No hint of the continuing disaster is allowed to shatter the illusion".

He called the BBC's Planet Earth 2 in an opinion piece for The Guardian newspaper "pure entertainment, brilliantly executed but ultimately a significant contributor to the planet-wide extinction of wildlife we're presiding over".

The BBC was asked about this and declined to comment.

M-Net's MasterChef SA judges Peter Goffe-Wood and Benny Masekwameng jump to new 5th season of Justin Bonello's Ultimate Braaimaster on as judges.

M-Net's MasterChef South Africa judges Pete Goffe-Wood and Benny Masekwameng are jumping to rival free-to-air broadcaster and will now be judges on the new fifth season of Ultimate Braaimaster.

The new fifth season of the local braai series, of which previous seasons have also been broadcast on The Travel Channel (DStv 179), starts on on Sunday 5 February at 16:00 with the first episode taking place at Cape St Francis.

The two former well-known chefs' faces from M-Net's cooking reality show who will now popping up as judges in the outdoor cooking competition show alongside presenter and judge Justin Bonello.

Pete Goffe-Wood, the executive chef and CEO of Kitchen Cowboy, and Benny Masekwameng, Tsogo Sun's executive chef, will now bring their wit, sometimes acerbic remarks and death-stares that made them a viewer favourite on M-Net's MasterChef SA to Ultimate Braaimaster.

Ten teams of two will once again compete against each other across South Africa in various weekly braai challenges during a national braai road trip that saw the show traverse 7 000km.

" is proud to be broadcasting yet another exciting season of Ultimate Braai Master,"says Marlon Davids, the managing director of's channels division.

"The award winning show will give our viewers an introspective look into our unique cooking culture while exploring the magnificent landscape of South Africa."

While M-Net ended MasterChef South Africa in 2015 and dismantled the expensive and specially constructed Nederburg test kitchen after three seasons and a local celebrity edition, local food competition shows remain popular with pogrammes like the series Kom Ons Braai on Media24's Afrikaans lifestyle channel VIA (DStv 147), Chopped South Africa on the Food Network (DStv 175) and The Great South African Bake Off on BBC Lifestyle (DStv 174) that concluded its second season. 

In the new 5th season of Ultimate Braaimaster, produced by Cooked in Africa Films, teams travelled to tourist attractions like the Drakensberg Mountains, Gamtoos River in the Eastern Cape, Letsatsi Game Lodge in the Free-State and Wavecrest Hotel&Spa in the Wild Coast.

The teams will explore extraordinary methods of surviving and consuming food prepared entirely on the fire.

The Teams
Spice girls 
- Pretty and Precious Zondo from Durban.

Monante Cuisine - Two chefs from the Saxon Hotel, Surprise Mogano and Corvin Pietersen.
The Muttonheads - Durbanites, Tersian and Tarlan Baker.
The Explorers - Gugu Ngobese and Samkelisiwe Cele from Springs.
Ebony & Ivory - Brian Muller and Sfiso Nsele are both chefs residing around Kruger National Park.
Pretty Griddy - The team made up of a butchery manager and a housewife from Somerset West consists of Desiree IIngram and Peter.
Smoke n’ Hot Randhir Parbhunath and Surika Singh a sales manager and beautician from Stanger and Chatsworth in Kwa-Zulu Natal.
Salty Flames - Chanel Marais from Milnerton Ridge in Cape-Town and Nick Perfect from Amanzimtoti.
Outlaws - Wouter Pretorius and Bertus de Vos, two brother-in-laws from Pretoria North and Randburg.
Empire - Belinka Forbes and Merle Rancke both from the Western Cape.

Fifth season of MTV Africa's Shuga sex drama filmed in South Africa will be set in a fictionalised Soweto called Zenzele; adds Nigerian artists.

The 5th season of MTV Africa's Shuga, filmed for the first time in South Africa, is bringing a South African flavour to the mix but is toning down its overt "South Africanness", adding Nigerian artists and setting it in a fictional township doubling as Soweto.

While MTV's Shuga is being filmed in South Africa for the first time, MTV Africa wants the pan-African edutainment sex drama to remain relatable to a broad African youth audience base that will be broadcast in several African nations.

Quizzical Pictures, producing the fifth season of Shuga entitled Shuga: Down South, for Viacom International Media Networks Africa (VIMN Africa), decided to create and set the new season in the clubs and schools of "Zenzele" - a fictionalised version of the sprawling South African township of Soweto, bordering Johannesburg's mining belt in the south.

Nigerian artists are part of the latest season to keep a pan-African feel to the gritty series that in its new 8-episodes will continue to tell cautionary tales around HIV/Aids and youth sex, drug use, teen motherhood and unplanned pregnancy, and other relational issues young African people are confronted with.

South African actors Given Stuurman (soccer player Reggie struggling with his sexual identity), Stephanie Sandows (mercenary teenager Tsholo), Ayandai Makayi (possessive boyfriend Sol) and Winnie Ntshaba (religious mother Neliswe) have been added to Shuga: Down South.

They join Vanessa Mdee (Storm), Clint Brink (Rakeem), Thuso Mbedu (pictured) (Ipeleng), Mohau Mokoatle Cele (Bongi), Jezriel Skei (Quinton), Lerato Walaza (teen mom Zamo) and Phila Mazibuko (DJ Coalstove).

Nigerian actors Emmaniel Ifeanyi Ikubese (Femi) and Adesua Etomi (Sheila), as well as Kenya's Nick Mutuma (Leo) will also appear. The Nigerian artist Seyi Shay and South African rapper Kwesta will make guest appearances in Shuga: Down South as themselves.

After open auditions, six more people were added to the cast: Samkelisiwe Makhoba as troubled teenager Kensai, Cebo Zikhali (Kitso), Sphelele Mzimela (Sis No'xolo), Herbert Sibanda (Fentse), Eve Rasimeni (nurse) and Thabiso Seboka (soccer player).

Production on Shuga: Down South started in December 2016 and will be broadcast  from 8 March on MTV Base (DStv 322). Shuga will also be shown BET (DStv 129) and on SABC1 later in 2017.

Monday, January 23, 2017

SABC's self-censorship continues as SABC News cuts the live feed and screens go black when EFF leader Julius Malema mentions 'no brains' Hlaudi Motsoeneng.

South African and African viewers on Monday saw how the SABC's alleged self-censorship continues in 2017 when the SABC's SABC News division abruptly cut the live feed and screens went black on its SABC News (DStv 404) channel and its You Tube stream when the EFF leader Julius Malema at a press conference unexpectedly mentioned the SABC's controversial boss Hlaudi Motsoeneng.

During the press conference of the Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) on Monday in Johannesburg, leader Julius Malema decided to lay into the ANC political party through a proxy - the SABC's infamous incompetence icon, Hlaudi Motsoeneng.

Shocked viewers of the SABC News channel carried on MultiChoice's DStv satellite pay-TV service, saw their TV screens suddenly flash to black, then green, and then revert to the SABC canned in-house ads. The You Tube live feed also stopped.

eNCA (DStv 403) didn't break the transmission of the press conference.

Viewers murmured: Either SABC self-censorship kicked in, or incompetence is to blame.

Either way, it was another embarrassing public blotch on the SABC News division's less that credible news service and comes after a year in which the SABC and SABC News suffered massive brand and reputational damage for its decision to censor TV news visuals and the unfair firing of SABC news journalists who the broadcaster was eventually forced to reinstate in their jobs.

On Monday during the press conference it wasn't that the SABC lost the signal or had technical problems.

SABC News as a channel remained on the air, as is evident by the overlay of the words "Live" and "SABC News" that remained on the black screen - but SABC executives deliberately appeared to have hastily cut the press conference feed.

"If you want to see how the ANC leadership looks like then just look at Hlaudi and you will know the type of crème de la crème of the ANC," said Julius Malema.

"In KwaZulu-Natal they said he must be part of the National Executive Committee. They are looking for such things. If you have anything that looks like Hlaudi, just give it to the ANC to be led by such things. There are no brains, they are gone. If there are no brains - "

It was at this point that the SABC abruptly killed the news feed on SABC News with viewers wondering why the SABC switched off with viewers who wanted to know why the SABC is censoring the EFF press conference when Hlaudi Motsoeneng was mentioned.

So far there's been no explanation from the SABC as to what happened on SABC News and why - or who decided to cut the feed when the EFF mentioned Hlaudi Motsoeneng and why the feed stopped showing the press conference at the specific moment when Hlaudi Motsoeneng was started to be criticised.

New Mexican telenovela, The Son I Never Knew, is starting on Telemundo on DStv about a mom who realises that she doesn't know her children at all.

A new Mexican telenovela, The Son I Never Knew ("Vuelve temprano" in English really meaning "Don't Be Late" or "Come Back Early") is starting on Monday 23 January at 17:10 on Telemundo (DStv 118) about parents searching for the truth about the death of their son and finding out they knew their children not as well as they thought.

South African and African viewers are just a few months behind - The Son I Never Knew started in October 2016 and is filmed in Mexico.

In the telenovela, a TV news anchor, Clara Zavaleta (Gabriela de la Garza) discovers her son has been killed in a car accident after a night out with friends - Ignatio's (Daniel Barona) body is found at the bottom of a cliff.

Clara discovers that her son's death was no accident and is now obsessed with finding his killer. With her husband Santiago (Rubén Zamora), they find out that they didn't knew their son and two daughters - the pregnant Isabel (Cristina Rodlo) and rebellious teenager Florencia (Julia Urbini) - at all.

Santiago, a criminal attorney becomes the lawyer in the criminal case of his son's murder. He is assisted by officer Antonio Avelica (Mario Cimarro) who is considered a hero within the police force, but whose close relationship with the victim's family takes its toll, as they venture deeper into the case.

As usual with Spanish telenovelas, unexpected secrets emerge as the suspects of the murder quickly start to multiply.

This 2016 telenovela is actually based on, and a remake of, an earlier homonymous telenovela of 2014 that ran in Chile.

Sunday, January 22, 2017

MultiChoice making second season of M-Net Africa's Big Brother Naija - actually filmed in South Africa due to security and electricity concerns - available to DStv subscribers in South Africa.

MultiChoice is giving South African DStv subscribers access to the second season of Big Brother Nigeria, now titled Big Broter Naija - and actually filmed in South Africa - that will start on DStv tonight at 20:00.

Big Brother Naija, the second season of the show following the first after more than a decade, is produced by Endemol Shine Africa for M-Net Africa, and will run for 11 weeks (78 days) from 22 January until 9 April when it will end with a live, 2-hour televised finale.

Ebuka Obi-Uchendu - a contestant during the first season - will be the Big Brother Naija presenter.

What a lot of viewers and people in the TV biz don't realise, is that Endemol Shine Africa and M-Net are producing Big Brother Naija in South Africa - not in Nigeria.

This decision was taken because M-Net and Endemol Shine Africa have issues with security, as well as with electricity supply interruptions in Nigeria that's been considered big risks that can be lessened by rather filming the show in South Africa.

A third reason was that the M-Net production could find production facilities in South Africa more readily available, and also cheaper [besides better security and a more stable power supply].

Big Brother Naija's voice of Big Brother, or Biggie, will however still be Nigerian, as will the housemates.

As Nigerian TV audiences turn increasingly conservative and vocal, having forced MultiChoice Africa into censorship of several channels and programmes over the past year, the second season of Big Brother Naija with 12 housemates won't include the so-called "shower hour" that previously showed contestants naked.

The winner of Big Brother Naija's second season will win 25 million naira (approximately R1.1 million) and a car.

Besides the Big Brother Naija DStv channel 198 that will broadcast the show for 24 hours per day, live daily and weekly highlights programmes will be broadcast on DStv's Africa Magic Urban and Africa Magic World channels that's run by M-Net Africa.

Thursday, January 19, 2017

The SABC's latest schedule shuffle from 6 February: SABC2's 7de Laan to 18:00, Sesotho news to 20:00, a new Afrikaans timeslot at 19:00; SABC1's Uzalo goes 5 days.

Timeslot-fatigued SABC viewers are in for yet another new round of programme shuffling from February - most notably on SABC2 - that will see Afrikaans soap 7de Laan shunted to 18:00, the Sotho news to 20:00, and the introduction of a new stripped, , hour long, 4-day a week Afrikaans timeslot at 19:00 in an attempt to try and lure back viewers.

The South African public broadcaster will announce yet another dramatic round of show changes to its channels like SABC1 and SABC2 soon.

The new changes will follow the latest temporary disruption of it channels' programming line-ups due to AFCON 2017 soccer tournament coverage,what the SABC calls its "transversal strategy".

The new SABC TV line-up will mark the SABC's 3rd big TV schedules change in a year, not counting the temporary AFCON 2017 schedule disruption.

The SABC's ongoing scheduling changes continue to worry the South African TV and advertising industry, concerned about the erratic nature and ongoing scheduling instability at the public broadcaster that impacts its viewership and ratings, and ultimately its ad income - a big source of the broadcaster's revenue.

After every SABC schedule change viewers struggle to find where shows have moved to. In the past year several shows on SABC2 and SABC3 have showed ongoing monthly viewership drop-offs after certain programmes were moved to timeslot where it struggles to maintain audiences as viewers fled.

The SABC announced dramatic schedule changes to SABC1, SABC2 and SABC2 in February, only to announce schedule changes again just four months later in June. AFCON 2017 is currently upending the SABC's schedules with the broadcaster that is set to announce yet another round of schedule changes that will come into effect from 6 February.

After moving the timeslot of the stalwart Afrikaans soap 7de Laan on SABC2 for the first time ever in its 15 year history in July 2016 from 18:30 to 19:00, the SABC is set to move 7de Laan again after just 7 months to 18:00 from Monday 6 February after the conclusion of AFCON 2017.

An even tougher time finding viewers?
The ratings-battered weekday soap will likely have an ever tougher time finding viewers on SABC2 in the early prime time slot when a lot of its audience - commuting working-class viewers are not home yet.

The fictional Hillside set 7de Laan will now be competing with the Cape Town based Afrikaans soap Suidooster on kykNET (DStv 144) and kykNET&kie (DStv 145).

The Danie Odendaal Productions that also publicly announced the 18:00 timeslot move from February to viewers says the change is "unfortunately outside of our control. The SABC is making these changes".

The SABC will also move its daily Setswana/Sesotho TV news bulletin from 6 February from 18:00 to 20:00 daily.

The Sesotho news on SABC2 will now compete directly with Generations on SABC1 at 20:00, programmes that fight for part of the same audience on the public broadcaster and with many viewers who would like to watch both.

The Sesotho news bulletin that was moved, suffered a viewership drop since its move to the 18:00 timeslot the past few months and completely dropped out of SABC2's top 20 most watched shows since November 2016 - the very timeslot 7de Laan is now going to be moved to.

New Afrikaans timeslot block
In addition to the 7de Laan and Sesotho news changes, a new stripped, hour long Afrikaans timeslot is set to be introduced on SABC2 from Monday 6 February at 19:00.

This new timeslot block will run from Monday to Thursday as SABC2 tries to court and lure back Afrikaans viewers.

Trying to create better ongoing scheduling flow and to get viewers to stay tuned in for longer instead of flipping the channel's hotch-potch "language mosaic programming", SABC2 channel head Gerhard Pretorius and scheduling executive Thulisile Nhlapo is essentially creating a 2-hour Afrikaans TV block from 6 February that will effectively stretch from 18:00 to 20:00.

SABC2's latest February schedule from 6 February will start with 7de Laan at 18:00, Afrikaans news at 18:30, and then shows at 19:00 like Vetkoekpaleis and Kliphard (Monday), Fees van die Ongenooides (Tuesday), Geure van die Vallei and Authentiek (Wednesday), and Beter Assie Bure (Thursday).

The Afrikaans entertainment magazine show Pasella will start again on 22 February, now on a Wednesday at 19:30.

Zandile Nkonyeni, SABC TV head publicist, didn't respond to a media enquiry on Thursday morning seeking comment about the changes and was asked why SABC2 decided to move 7de Laan, the Sesotho news and introduce the Afrikaans block at 19:00.

She was asked if SABC2 doesn't consider the 7de Laan timeslot to be too early and why the Sesotho TV news bulletin is made to compete against Generations on SABC1 for an audience, but didn't respond at the time of publication.

As previously reported in December 2016 already, the SABC will also extend the SABC1 prime time soap Uzalo's run from the week starting 6 February from 4 to 5 days per week, adding a Friday episode of the soap in the same timeslot of 20:30 from the start of its third season.

SABC1 publicist Philip Mabitsela didn't respond to a media enquiry on Thursday morning seeking comment about the KwaMashu set soap from Stained Glass Productions being extended to 5 days a week.

SABC News anchor Vabakshnee Chetty-Miller leaving the SABC after 15 years; moving to America; will say goodbye to viewers on Friday.

The well-liked SABC TV News anchor Vabakshnee Chetty-Miller is leaving the South African public broadcaster and will do her final sign-off and say goodbye to viewers on-air in her final broadcast on Friday evening on SABC News (DStv 404) and SABC3's TV news bulletin at 18:30.

There's been no statement from the SABC about her impending departure and replacement.

Vabakshnee Chetty-Miller, who recently returned from maternity leave after the birth of her first child to her chair behind the TV news anchor desk in Studio 9, is relocating to America with her husband.

She will likely be replaced by Francis Herd on the SABC's flagship nightly TV news bulletin who also sat in beside co-anchor Peter Ndoro during her colleague's maternity leave.

Vabakshnee Chetty-Miller, her American businessman husband Geoffrey Miller and the couple's 5-month old daughter daughter Ella Amalia Anne will move to Chicago in March but she will be doing her last TV news bulletin on Friday after 15 years as a journalist working for the SABC's radio and TV divisions.

As a broadcaster Vabakshnee Chetty-Miller, who've only ever worked at the SABC, had her wedding in late 2014 broadcast on SABC3's Top Billing.

As a professional news reader, she's endeared herself to viewers and listeners over the past decade and is beloved by SABC colleagues.

She kept her cool and remained professional - especially over the past three years - bringing viewers the news on television in the public broadcaster's flagship English TV news bulletin as it kept changing timeslots, suffered rating declines and while the SABC got battered and suffered a public backlash over Hlaudi Motsoeneng's SABC TV news censorship decisions.

"I'm a bit anxious, but I'm also looking forward to the move," Vabakshnee Chetty-Miller told the Lotus FM radio station.

She described her career at the SABC "as a fun one" ever since she started off as an intern in 2002 reading the news on Lotus FM and reporting, and then moving to Johannesburg.

Vabakshnee Chetty-Miller says she will "miss the warmth and the friendliness" of South Africans.

Due to the sudden move necessitated by her husband's changing job requirements, she hasn't been able yet to find a new job in America. "I have been thinking about it, but I haven't really made any plans. I'm going to give myself a few months to adjust."

"Chicago is extremely cold. It's cold for eight months of the year, and I've also just had a baby. So a lot of adjustment needs to take place and then I'll make the call after that".

Days of Our Lives facing cancellation in America; 51-year old American soap on the chopping block as it awaits its renewal fate.

The 51-year old American weekday soap Days of Our Lives is facing cancellation in America with only a 60-40 chance of returning for a 52nd season, but executives are saying they're "hopeful" that the soap will survive for another year.

In South Africa Days of Our Lives is now broadcast on SABC3 at midnight after the public broadcaster's controversial former boss Hlaudi Motsoeneng in July ordered the bulk of international content off the channel with his unilateral 80% local content decree.

Days of Our Lives has been a big ratings grabber for SABC3 and its removal at 17:00 as the anchor lead-in to early prime time has seen SABC3's entire ratings picture steadily worsen monthly for the past 6 months.

With rumours swirling that Days of Our Lives on American television is likely getting cancelled to make way during daytime for the promised new one hour block for the former FOX News anchor Megyn Kelly who was just hired by NBC, NBC on Wednesday told TV critics that the future of Days has not been decided yet.

Robert Greenblatt, NBC entertainment president told the Television Critics Association's press tour in Los Angeles that "we don't make a decision for another couple of months" and that "I don't think it's over yet". According to him, "we haven't made any decisions, but we like that show".

He said that if Days does get cancelled, that it will try to give the producers a heads up as far as possible in advance to wrap-up storylines and to do proper tributes and back flashes, saying "we would try to be respectful".

According to insiders the chances for Days' renewal is only 60-40, with the show that has been struggling creatively and financially the past few years.

Jennifer Salke, NBC entertainment president, told Soap Hub that she would be "devastated" if Days gets cancelled, reiterating that no decision has been made and saying "but we are optimistic".

The sad news is that even if Days is renewed, its 52nd season might very well be its last as viewership of American soaps keep dwindling year after year, despite its ongoing popularity elsewhere in the world like Africa.

Days is produced by Sony Television.

Tuesday, January 17, 2017

RATINGS DECEMBER 2016: How the SABC scored with The Virgin Vegan on SABC1; while SABC3 continues to slide and Date My Family delights on DStv.

Despite the lack of any marketing or publicity from the SABC, an amazing thing happened in December when three local short films about young black women by young black female filmmakers, scheduled and broadcast on SABC1, managed to make a huge splash in the month's South African TV ratings race.

Without any promotion to the press and audiences by the SABC, The Virgin Vegan, The Groom's Price and Guns and Petals not only lured viewers - it lured massive audiences and kept them transfixed.

Despite a barrage of unending bad news about the South African public broadcaster, the films - part of the National Film and Video Foundation (NFVF) and Blingola's Female Filmmaker Project - represented a sliver of hope of what a good public broadcaster like the SABC can and should be: showcasing new local content, from emerging talent that's supported, and that's also watched in large numbers by viewers.

The three films each drew millions of viewers and took top spots on SABC1's most watched programming list for the month of December 2016.

Elsewhere SABC2 and SABC3 continue to face ratings problems, while remains stable. Meanwhile Mzansi Magic's Date My Family, Our Perfect Wedding and Isibaya continue to delight DStv audiences.

Here's the noteworthy other TV ratings news for South Africa's broadcasters for December 2016:

Uzalo with 8.4 million viewers (24.7 AR, 66.5 share) that remained the most watched show on SABC1 and in South Africa in December, continued to pull further away from 2nd place Generations and its 8.3 million viewers (24.5 AR, 68.5 share), adding 286 502 viewers from November.

Uzalo will switch from three to five episodes per week from February.

In December Skeem Saam retained its 3rd rated place on the SABC1 schedule but dropped slightly from 6.2 million viewers (18.2 AR) to 5.9 million (17.5 AR).

The Xhosa news fell from 3.8 million viewers (11.1 AR) to 3.5 million (10.3 AR), while the Zulu TV news bulletin showed marginal growth from 3.75 million (11 AR) to 3.94 million viewers (11.6 AR).

Viewership drop-offs - not unusual for December - were experienced by Tempy Pushas (down to 4.29 million, 12.6 AR), Zaziwa (3.12 million, 9.2 AR), Live AMP (3.04 million, 8.9 AR) and Selimathunzi (3.22 million, 9.4 AR), while local sitcom Him, Her and the Guys showed strong audience growth from 3.09 million (9.1 AR) to 3.37 million viewers (9.9 AR) in December compared to the previous month.

Something fascinating happened in December: SABC1 acquired, scheduled and showed new local films by young black female filmmakers - about young black women - and got rewarded by stellar audiences.

The short film The Virgin Vegan by Reabetswe Moeti clocked an astounding 5.11 million viewers (15 AR) in December despite zero publicity by SABC1, making it the 4th most watched programme on SABC1, and the 5th most watched programme on all of SA television for the month.

The same happened with The Groom's Price: An astounding 4.67 million viewers (13.7 AR) watched Mmabatho Montsho's film about a woman trying to pay lobola for her man. It gave the film the 5th most watched position on SABC1 for December, and made it the 8th most watched piece of television in all of South Africa for the month.

The local short film Guns and Petals from Mbali Kgosidintsi - like The Virgin Vegan and The Groom's Price part of the NFVF/Blingola Female Filmmaker Project - drew an impressive 4.11 million viewers (12.1 AR): the 10th spot on SABC1 for the month and 13th most watched on all of SA TV.

A Fidel Castro documentary on SABC1 in December lured 2.82 million viewers - more than anything shown on SABC3 and only 4 programmes on SABC2 getting more viewers.

In December Muvhango remained the top draw on SABC2 with 6.25 million viewers (18.3 AR). When the Venda soap is on, two out of every three TV sets in South Africa that's on, was tuned to this show.

While the Afrikaans soap 7de Laan continued to struggle in the ratings in December due to a bad timeslot change earlier in 2016 (its highest episode for the month clocked only 1.65 million viewers, 4.8 AR - far off from its erstwhile ratings glory), there was one bit of sunshine.

A 3-minute 7de Laan: Behind the Scenes special on 20 December drew an astounding 3.75 million viewers (11 AR), the 3rd most watched thing on SABC2 for the month.

Consumer magazine show Speak Out continues to perform well with 3.14 million viewers (9.2 AR), up from November, while SABC2's local new telenovela Keeping Score ticked up slightly to 2.49 million viewers (7.3 AR).

The SABC's Afrikaans TV news bulletin at 19:30 also continues to struggle after it was moved to a bad timeslot. Having fallen out of favour, it remained flat in December with a paltry 1.31 million viewers (3.9 AR).

Also moved, the SABC's Sotho/Setswana news bulletin struggles even more. For the second month in a row in December it didn't even make SABC2's list of top 20 most watched shows.

The unmitigated disaster that's SABC3 and the channel's downward ratings spiral continues unabated with December that once again, showed further viewership erosion.

Every month, since the disastrous introduction of a unilateral 80% local content decree by SABC boss Hlaudi Motsoeneng in July 2016, has seen the dam level of SABC3's viewership drop and December continued the trend as more of the few viewers left, continue to flee.

American soap The Bold and the Beautiful, the high-water mark of SABC3's schedule as its most watched show, once again fell lower in December. The canary on the TV coal mine slumped to just 889 585 viewers (2.6 AR) - down from 2.8 AR, 2.9 AR, 3.4 AR and 3.8 AR in the previous months.

The tragic ratings slump is mirrored by the struggling Endemol Shine Africa locally produced soap Isidingo. In December it once again fell further to 855 378 viewers (2.5 AR) for its most watched episode in the month, further down from previous months' 3 AR, 2.9 AR and 3.3 AR.

High Rollers that the SABC abruptly decided to cancel although Rous House Productions had a contract for a longer third season ironically showed an uptick in December from 431 963 (1.3 AR) to 469 998 (1.4 AR) viewers.

The SABC's flagship TV news bulletin, the English news at 18:30 showed a small uptick after shedding 222 417 viewers in November alone. It recovered slightly from 699 735 to 672 348 viewers (flat on an unchanged 2 AR) in December.

Despite the SABC's attempts to foist bad local content onto audiences, viewers only tuned in to the channel for the South Africa vs Sri Lanka cricket and Christmas movies. Cricket matches and 11 American Christmas films took 15 out of the top 20 most watched spots on SABC's December line-up.
While the bottom-end of's programming sags, there's no problem right at the top. Hit-soap Scandal! climbed from 4.35 million (12.7 AR) to 4.86 million viewers (14.2 AR) in December, while 2nd runner Rhythm City was down slightly from 3.15 million to 3.1 million viewers.

As a stable terrestrial broadcaster,'s most-watched list of shows in December had a nice spread of local films like Yesterday (2.4 million viewers, 7.1 AR) and Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom (2.1 million viewers, 6.2 AR) luring viewers, as well as its local drama Heist (1.86 million viewers, 5.5 AR).

While the SABC's commercial relationships with international content distributors continue to falter and atrophy, the strengthened relationships between the eMedia Investments' channel and Hollywood's biggest studios and distributors are yielding more and more dividends.

From Disney sitcom Blackish (1.6 million viewers, 4.9 AR) to Warner Bros.' Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix (1.7 million viewers, 5 AR) rounded out's top 20 list in December.

Together with WWE wrestling, the two new Jump Street films and some Christmas movies, continues to have the most well-rounded and balanced broadcasting schedule of all of South Africa's free-to-air channels when it comes to local and international content.

The most watched show on MultiChoice's pay-TV platform in December remained Mzansi Magic's (DStv 161) soap Isibaya, up from November's 1.12 million to 1.15 million viewers for its most watched episode in the month.

Our Perfect Wedding, also on Mzansi Magic, retained its 2nd spot at 1.01 million viewers (3 AR) for its most watched episode, with each of the four Sundays in the month meaning appointment viewing for the show and cracking DStv's list of top 30 most watched programmes in December.

The can't-look-away Date My Family, also on Mzansi Magic, came in third in December with 682 382 viewers (2 AR).

TV critic's synopsis in The Sunday Herald of Donald Trump's upcoming presidential inauguration draws attention.

A TV critic's creative synopsis in the TV listings of an upcoming TV programme - the presidential inauguration of Donald Trump in America on Friday afternoon - is drawing global attention after he likened it to The Twilight Zone and a science fiction show set in "an ongoing alternative present".

TV critic Damien Love's TV listing in Scotland's Sunday Herald is now drawing attention around the world after he described the upcoming Trump inauguration and the next four years of his presidency, broadcast as a TV show, as "one of the most ambitious, expensive and controversial productions in broadcast history".

President Trump: The Inauguration
After a long absence, The Twilight Zone returns with one of the most ambitious, expensive and controversial productions in broadcast history. Sci-fi writers have dabbled often with alternative history stories - among the most common is the "What If The Nazis Had Won The Second World War" setting - but this huge interactive virtual reality project, which will unfold on TV, in the press, and on Twitter over the next four years, sets out to build an ongoing alternative present.
The story begins in a nightmarish version of 2017 in which huge sections of the US electorate have somehow been duped into voting to make Donald Trump president. It sounds far-fetched, and it is, but as it goes on it becomes more and more chillingly plausible. Today's feature-length opener concentrates on the gaudy inauguration of President Trump, and the stirrings of protest and despair surrounding the ceremony, while pundits speculate gravely on what lies ahead. It's a flawed piece, but a disturbing glimpse of the horrors we could stumble into, if we're not careful.

In 2017 viewers can watch brilliant shows with people trapped in alternative realities - ranging from The Man in the High Castle on Amazon Prime Video to Emerald City on Vuzu AMP (DStv 103), Travelers and Parallels on Netflix, 12 MonkeysTimeless, Beyond and the upcoming Time After Time.

Yet it's the real world with Donald Trump as an American president and things like a looming Brexit, that millions of people worldwide find hard to believe and difficult to understand and adapt to.

Damien Love's TV listing went viral when George Takei, famous for his role as Sulu in Star Trek, tweeted: "The Sunday Herald TV section wins today".

Where to watch Donald Trump's inauguration
South African viewers can tune in for President Trump: The Inauguration in Washington, D.C. that will be broadcast on BBC World News (DStv 400 / StarSat 256) on Friday from 17:00 to 21:00, anchored by Huw Edwards and Sophie Raworth.

CNN International (DStv 401) didn't release any details or programming times regarding the inauguration and the channel's EPG on MultiChoice's DStv shows no special coverage but CNN will likely also carry it live from sometime on Friday.

Sky News (DStv 402) will switch to inauguration coverage from 17:00 on Friday.

FOX News (StarSat 261) will switch to live Inauguration 2017 coverage from 18:00 anchored by Shepard Smith.

CNBC Africa (DStv 410) will broadcast The Inauguration of Donald Trump on Friday from 18:00 to 22:00 switching to the American CNBC feed with coverage anchored by Carl Quintanilla, Michelle Caruso-Cabrera and Kelly Evans.

MSNBC (StarSat 263) will start its inauguration coverage on Friday at 17:00 anchored by Rachel Maddow, Brian Williams and Chris Matthews in New York and NBC Nightly News anchor Lester Holt in Washington, D.C.

Bloomberg Television (DStv 411 / StarSat 264) under its Bloomberg Politics banner will also broadcast the inauguration on Friday from 17:00 to 20:00, as will India's NDTV (DStv 413 / StarSat 567) from 18:00 to 20:00.

Local TV news channels eNCA (DStv 403), SABC News (DStv 404) and ANN7 (DStv 405) didn't release schedules, programming notes or any coverage plans but are likely to dip into the live inauguration feed late on Friday afternoon as well.

eNCA says it will live stream the inauguration event online at from 19:00 on Friday.

Monday, January 16, 2017

After its first news channel failure, the SABC wanted to turn SABC3 into its new TV news channel not knowing it couldn't, reveals former chairperson dr Ben Ngubane.

After the expensive flop and abrupt shuttering of its struggling first TV news channel, SABC News International, the SABC set its sights on SABC3, wanting to turn its struggling and smallest terrestrial TV channel into its new news channel - unaware that it's not allowed to do so because SABC3 has a commercial TV licence.

The former SABC board chairperson, dr Ben Ngubane, now the chairperson of Eskom, revealed to parliament on Friday in the ongoing inquiry into the beleaguered state of affairs at the South African public broadcaster, that after the failure of SABC News International, the SABC wanted to turn SABC3 into its new news channel.

Instead of turning SABC3 into its new news channel, the SABC eventually signed the now controversial MultiChoice deal to supply a new stand-alone TV news channel to DStv, SABC News (DStv 404).

Together with the old rerun channel SABC Encore (DStv 156), the pay-TV operator paid the SABC hundreds of millions of rand for the two SABC packaged channels to be carried on DStv, with exclusive access to the old library titles from the SABC archives shows on SABC Encore.

SABC News International was started in 2007 by the SABC's former head of news, dr Snuki Zikalala at a cost of more than R85 million but abruptly shut down three years later at the end of March 2010.

The massive cash drain of SABC News International - to the tune of over R80 million per year - on the SABC's already precarious operating budget was one of the big crippling factors that brought the SABC to the brink of financial collapse in 2009.

But the SABC was absolutely adamant to have a TV news channel and next looked to transform one of its existing three TV channels in its second attempt to create one: SABC3.

SABC3 is however the SABC's only commercial TV channel, with SABC1 and SABC2 licensed as its public broadcast service (PBS) channels.

'We couldn't use SABC3'
In parliament's special ad hoc committee investigating the SABC, dr Ben Ngubane revealed that the SABC's previous head of news who was also acting SABC CEO, Phil Molefe "went to India to look for partners to start the 24-hour TV news channel".

"Things get started. Phil Molefe wanted the 24-hour news channel, but to use SABC3 as the 24-hour news channel. When he came back, after a long process, we found that in fact we couldn't use SABC3 because it's a commercial TV station in terms of its licence".

Dr Ben Ngubane said "I did not bring the Guptas to SABC".

"I was aware that Phil Molefe had gone to India to meet a broadcasting company. He came back and sought a mission to convert SABC3 into 24-hour news. And we declined that."

Dr Ben Ngubane said Phil Molefe "also went to London on the same quest to turn SABC3 into 24-hour news".

SABC News (DStv 404) was eventually launched in August 2013 on DStv promising "multilingual programming" delivered "to audiences in all 11 South African official languages". In April 2015 the SABC removed all bulletins in other languages and made SABC News an English TV news channel.

The SABC's 2017 AFCON schedule disruption for soccer means millions of viewers will lose access to the shows they want to watch from today.

With the 2017 African Cup of Nations (AFCON) soccer tournament kicking off, the South African public broadcaster is from today kicking its biggest scripted entertainment shows to smaller SABC channels that can't be received or seen by millions of viewers.

The SABC's latest big schedule disruption will likely again cost the broadcaster not just viewers and TV ratings but also much-needed advertising income.

From today millions of South African viewers will lose access to the shows they want to watch on the SABC as the public broadcaster once again disrupts its TV channels' schedules for the 2017 AFCON tournament in Gabon with matches that's broadcast live and delayed on SABC1.

The SABC similarly disrupted its prime time schedules across SABC1, SABC2 and SABC3 in previous years to broadcast the African Cup of Nations but is going further this year with even more bizarre cross-channel programming swops.

The move will put its most-watched shows out of reach of millions of viewers, unable to access shows like Generations, Uzalo and others even if they want to view it.

Although each SABC channel supposedly has its own brand, on-air image and caters to different viewer demographics, the SABC with programming disruptions like for AFCON, treats its channels as if they're the same and interchangeable.

Programmes specifically commissioned for a specific SABC channel and tailored to a specific viewer demo are moved to other channels where the audience demographic - although there is some overlap - is completely different; a move the SABC infamously refers to as its "transversal strategy".

In reach however, the SABC's three terrestrial TV channels are not the same.

SABC1 has the biggest footprint of the SABC's channels - meaning its broadcasting signal can be physically received by the most TV households in South Africa. SABC2 is accessible to millions fewer households, while SABC3 has the smallest reach of all three of its channels.

From today the SABC is moving its two biggest shows overall in terms of ratings, Generations and Uzalo to SABC3 and SABC2.

Another big ratings grabber, Skeem Saam, is also moved from SABC1 to SABC2 (similar to what the SABC did previously).

During previous AFCON tournaments Generations was moved to SABC2. Now it will be moved from the biggest to the smallest channel for an extended period of time. It will mean the loss of millions of viewers for the SABC for this show, for weeks, until 5 February.

A ratings drop-off is also expected for Uzalo and other moved shows.

As a local prime time soap Generations also replaces High Rollers on SABC3 which is another SABC local soap and a local TV production, for an extended period of time.

■ 2017 AFCON matches and coverage from 17:30 daily, until midnight.

■ Skeem Saam (Mondays to Fridays) and Uzalo (Mondays to Wednesdays) move from SABC1 to SABC2 but retain their timeslots on the new channel of 18:30 and 20:30

■ NCIS on Mondays at 20:00 and Afrikaans drama on Tuesdays at 20:00 have been dumped and will only return in February in new timeslots.

■ The Tswana/Sotho TV news bulletin (Mondays to Fridays) that used to be at 18:30, moves to 18:00.

■ High Rollers has been dumped and is replaced by Generations (Mondays to Fridays), now in the timeslot of 19:30 (its timeslot was 20:00 on SABC1).

Former Big Brother Nigeria housemate, Ebuka Obi-Uchendu, to be the host of second season of M-Net's Big Brother Naija on DStv.

Ebuka Obi-Uchendu, a former housemate in the first season of Big Brother Nigeria in 2006, will be the host of the new second season of the renamed show Big Brother Naija starting on Sunday 22 January on M-Net channels on DStv and GOtv in Nigeria.

Since his screen time in Big Brother Nigeria, the young lawyer presented several TV shows on public Nigerian television over the past decade, including Friend or Foe, Greatness TV and others, as well as on pay-TV channels like Rubbin' Minds on EbonyLife TV on DStv and is a co-presenter on The Spot and Men's Corner.

Ebuka Obi-Uchendu survived a near-fatal car crash in December 2015.

"We are particularly excited to have Ebuka as host of Big Brother Naija," says John Ugbe, the managing director of MultiChoice Nigeria in a statement.

"This was the platform that unearthed his potentials and propelled him to stardom. He has over the years grown to become a prominent face on the Nigerian pop culture and entertainment scene while also lending his voice to youth empowerment initiatives".

Big Brother Naija will run for 78 days with 12 housemates.

With increasing TV censorship in Nigeria where conservative subscribers of MultiChoice's DStv in the West African country have become more vocal the past two years about what they don't want anybody to see, the second season of the show won't have any "shower hour" visuals.