Thursday, May 24, 2018

Exclusive TV content: This is how imposed limitations will hurt viewers if South Africa's broadcasting regulator, Icasa, introduce caps on how much, and for how long, a TV channel can acquire exclusive entertainment and sports content.

If South Africa's broadcasting regulator impose limits on the quantity of exclusive content or on the duration of these contracts that a TV channel or pay-TV operator can secure these for, it will mean that viewers will be the ones losing out when one channel or operator is prevented from bidding when rivals don’t have the money, interest or willingness to secure these rights.

South Africa's broadcasting regulator, the Independent Communications Authority of South Africa (Icasa) is once again conducting an inquiry into South Africa’s pay-TV sector and is looking at, and will consider, on how to possibly amend regulations.

Some of the suggestions put forth by Icasa in a discussion document, have been to impose some form of artificial limits on especially pay-TV operators – for instance MultiChoice running the DStv satellite pay-TV service and the pay-TV broadcaster M-Net that are both part of the Naspers stable – as well as operators like StarTimes Media SA and On Digital Media running StarSat.

These suggestions include possibly limiting the quantity of exclusive premium entertainment and sports content that might be acquired, as well as possibly limiting the broadcast licensing period.

This could be for instance preventing one pay-TV operator from bidding and acquiring the rights to more than one season of the English Premier League (EPL), or from signing more than one Hollywood studio output deal for TV series like HBO for instance, or for how long such an output deal might be.

Imposed limits when it comes to content exclusivity, especially around sports rights, were introduced by the British broadcasting regulator, Ofcom, a few years back in the United Kingdom but failed to have the desired effect.

Also worth keeping in mind is that limiting a specific TV channel, lets say M-Net, or a pay-TV operator from acquiring certain content exclusively, doesn’t mean that that content will become available to South African and African viewers on for instance StarSat, the SABC or

International content rights for both general entertainment as well as sports still comes with a specific price tag. If a broadcaster isn't allowed to acquire it, it doesn't mean that a rival will have the budget and money, the interest or the scheduling capacity to pick it up – or the content might not be suited or aligned to that broadcaster’s audience and viewership demographic.

If M-Net is for instance prevented from acquiring the fantasy drama series Game of Thrones from HBO because it already has Billions from Showtime, there’s no guarantee that another pay-TV channel will have the money, international distributor relationship or willingness to cough up what the rights costs to show the drama series.

‘Exclusivity the lifeblood of pay-broadcasters’
TVwithThinus asked Brandon Foot, group general counsel for MultiChoice, about exclusivity rights, especially as it pertains to sports content licensing, and why it matters.

"Simply put, sports federations, their principle source of revenue is from their broadcast rights – between 50% and 70% of their income is from the licensing of broadcast rights. On the other side, what the public doesn’t sometimes understand, is why would you pay us for the box and then on a monthly basis, when you can watch everything single English Premier League game played for free on the SABC?"

"So, as a result of that, we have to differentiate ourselves, and exclusivity, in sport in particular, and also in general entertainment, has been accepted around the world by all regulators as being the lifeblood of pay-broadcasters,” said Brandon Foot.

"If you limit as far as sports rights are concerned, firstly you're going to kill us because that's how we differentiate ourselves. But more importantly, ultimately you'll ultimately kill the sports federations."

"The two federations that already made presentations at Icasa inquiry – The South African Rugby Union (Saru) and the Premier Soccer League (PSL) – made it very, very clear that they are best placed to decide what to do with their rights and that they self-regulate and that should there be anything else imposed or restrictions put on them, it would kill them and take them back to the Dark Ages," said Brandon Foot.

"So from a sports perspective it's absolutely crucial to have an element of exclusivity. The sports federations themselves realise that there has to be by the same token, wide distribution, and so a portion of their content needs to be on free-to-air (FTA), but sports federations are best placed to the call at any particular point in time as to what the blend should be between pay-TV exclusivity and FTA distribution."

‘Sports rights important’
TVwithThinus also asked Brandon Foot whether live sports viewing is as important in South Africa and Africa as it is in America, where live sports broadcasting, as well as so-called "event television" – for instance the season finale of a reality singing competition show – have continued to keep viewers tuning in while linear TV ratings for other programming have shown sharp declines the past half a decade.

"From a sports perspective we understand that sport is important, there's no question about that. But what we have found is that it is not must-have, if you compare it to some of the other general entertainment. For example some of the soaps rate far more highly than sport does."

"But we see it as part of a genre that a household would like to watch. The big thing about sports – I think of my household for example – I love to watch certain matches per week when my specific teams are playing and for me that's important. But generally speaking the rest of the family will focus on general entertainment, soaps, news and kids channels," said Brandon Foot.

"What we also see though is that a lot of the over-the-top (OTT) players [streaming services] are having a very close look and are in fact, they've already gone further and are buying sports rights. And a lot of those sports rights holders are now making sports content available directly to people's home without even the need of a third-party to broadcast it as such, like Formula One, NBA and NFL."

BBC Lifestyle on DStv pulls 347 000 viewers for the royal wedding of Prince Harry and Meghan Markle, making it the most watched international TV channel on DStv for the day.

BBC Lifestyle (DStv 174) pulled 347 000 South African viewers this past Saturday who tuned to the channel to watch the royal wedding of Prince Harry and Meghan Markle, making BBC Lifestyle the number one international channel in terms of ratings on DStv for the day.

An estimated 1.9 billion people globally watched all or part of Saturday's royal wedding that took place at Windsor Castle.

The royal wedding was also carried and seen in South Africa on CNN International, BBC World News, E! Entertainment, ITV Choice and SABC3 although none of those channels released viewership and ratings data.

It means that the combined South African audience who watched the wedding will be bigger than the already stellar 347 000 viewership rating that BBC Lifestyle got, with BBC Studios Africa that also held an outdoor viewing at The Melrose Arch Piazza in Johannesburg to promote the BBC Lifestyle channel and the appointment television event.

"This was the biggest live viewing area for the royal wedding in the country," said Shireez Latief, senior marketing manager for BBC Studios Africa.

Sarah-Jane Harling, advertising director for BBC Studios Africa, says the BBC's set of channels are growing from strength to strength.

Joel Churcher, the vice president and general manager for BBC Studios Africa, says one of the channels in BBC Studios' Africa portfolio, BBC First (DStv 119), is now the second most watched international TV drama channel on MultiChoice's DStv platform.

Joel Churcher says BBC Brit (DStv 120), that has been repositioned and changed into a general entertainment channel, is now one of the top 10 most watched TV channels on DStv.

The latest season of Come Dine with Me South Africa produced by Rapid Blue and moved to BBC Brit pushed past the 250 000 viewers rating, cracking a new series viewership record as the most viewers for a series on any of the BBC's channels seen in South Africa yet.

BBC Lifestyle that continues to be the number one lifestyle TV channel in South Africa will undergo an on-air look and ident refresh later this year.

BBC Studios Africa is working on another new locally commissioned and produced programme that will be announced in a few months' time.

TV dreams in Durban: From dawn to dusk hopefuls queue at the Durban auditions of SABC3's Presenter Search on 3, luring dancers, DJ's, doctors and even a rugby player moonlighting as a male stripper.

Zola Myeza who woke up when it was dark and queued for hours for her chance to do an audition for the SABC3's Presenter Search on 3 when the show came to Durban, says programmes like this visiting places smaller places and cities outside of Johannesburg scouting for new TV talent, gives people hope that "even when you're home, you can go ahead and conquer your dreams".

She was one of thousands who queued patiently when the show visited Durban, the episode that will be broadcast this evening on SABC3 at 19:30.

Viewers already saw how thousands of people from across South Africa flocked to the nationwide Presenter Search on 3 auditions, that kicked off in Port Elizabeth, and then moved to Cape Town.

Over two days at the Durban Exhibition Centre, people queued from very early for the chance to be seen by the regional judges like the Top Billing presenters Ayanda Thabethe and Maps Maponyane, Expresso presenter Ewan Strydom, Lotus FM's Shirdika Pillai, Afternoon Express' Danilo Acquisto and the Mela presenter and doctor Tevin Naidu.

Ntombfuthi Ngema (35) from Umlazi who woke up at midnight and arrived at 04:30 to be the first in the queue at the Durban auditions, told TVwithThinus that said she wanted to enter because "this is me. This is what I was born to do. I know I can do this because I'm the best person for this."

She said she sees herself on Top Billing. "I mean, I can do the movies. Maybe I can be a producer or a talk show host".

Londeka Sishi (21) originally from Port Shepstone but living in Durban, said "I've always been very passionate about people and speaking from a very young age. I've had a lot of hurdles that have prevented me from pursuing my dreams which is media and entertainment. And now I think I've finally got myself in a position where I'm able to pursue it."

She said she didn't sleep the night before. "I'm also a singer, so writing comes naturally to me. In preparation I watched a lot of auditions; a lot of people presenting on TV; and I watched a lot of SABC3. And then what I did was write something that I felt was close to the show that I was auditioning for and I did a couple of takes for my family to give me some feedback and tell me what they thought."

Speaking after her audition, Palesa Tembe (27) from Umlazi, D-section said she decided to come and try out for the chance to become a SABC3 presenter because "I have a background in dancing and acting, but TV presenting has truly been at the core and always been something I've been attracted to. So when I saw this opportunity, I thought who am I not to take it".

She woke up at 5:00 in the morning. In preparing she said "I know that SABC3 has a very beautiful relationship with humour. Everybody is funny and personable, so I just tried to remind myself that whatever I put in my link, needs to truly resonate with the fun-loving atmosphere that SABC3 always puts through to viewers."

"The judges are really cool, really personable, and I really felt a connection with them. So it was a lot more intimidating that what I thought it would be, but they made it so comfortable and truly encouraging."

Zola Myeza (25) from Mount Edgecombe who already appeared in Uzalo on SABC1, said she decided to enter because "it's what I'm passionate about".

"I'm already a radio presenter and in growing my brand this has always been a dream and part of my journey of growth". She described her audition before the judges as "nerve-wracking. You can't ever deny it - especially with some of your role models in front of you being the judges".

"But it's also extremely inspiring because you're pushing yourself to the limit and you're pushing yourself to the edge. So it was a test for me to see - and just a moment for me to believe in myself, and see me conquering my dream, so I'm just making the most of the opportunity that SABC3 has given me".

Asked what it means for Durban for TV productions like Uzalo to film on location in the city and KwaZulu-Natal and for Presenter Search on 3 to go to Durban to do auditions she said "not a lot of opportunities in the past have been afforded within the city, and just because everything always happens in the City of Gold, as a Durbanite you always dream of 'When I'm done with school I just want to go to Johannesburg to fulfill my dreams".

"A show like Uzalo gives the platform to fulfill your dreams. Even when you're home you can go ahead and conquer your dreams. And it also made people realise that there's a gap in the market. Why can't Durban be the goldmine of dreams? Opportunities can be created here. And stars can be born in Durban. It gives Durbanites that hope that, you know what, you can fulfill your dreams still being at home."

Mishka Gounden from Hillcrest said she decided to enter because her heart told her to do it. She woke up at 04:30 and described her audition as "daunting".

"It's very nerve-wracking, but it's good positive nerves. You do make a few blunders here and there with the lights and the attention and all of the cameras pointing straight at you."

"The pressure is on you, but I have to admit I wasn't nervous at all until I got to the last part of the competition when all of the attention is focused on you. For me personally, I'm very good at improvising, but when you're told on the spot to improvise, under that much pressure, it's very difficult."

The rugby player Ntandoyenkosi Zuma (18) from Durban who woke up at 6:00, surprised the judges by doing an impromptu strip routine and said the judges responded well to it. He said he was "happy about my performance".

He recently started a male entertainer group with some friends. "In December it's very busy when it comes to events, so we thought we can push something new with the stripping thing."

As a flanker he plays rugby for Varsity College (VCRFC) and said "I love rugby and I'm there to steal the ball every time and I enjoy it; an aggressive part to it, but it's a gentleman's sport. I love it, I really love it."

ALSO READ: Presenter Search on 3 kicks off its nationwide audition in Port Elizabeth.
ALSO READ: Presenter Search on 3 lures hopefuls in Cape Town.

Sunday, May 20, 2018

Democratic Alliance political party reveals ANC party is branding digital terrestrial TV set-top box messages as election marketing; says communications minister lied about new mid-2019 deadline from the ITU to complete digital migration.

The Democratic Alliance (DA) political party wants to know why a logo from the ANC political party and ANC election messaging is appearing on pamphlets encouraging South African to collect free, government-sponsored set-top boxes (STBs) - the decoders people need to watch digital terrestrial television (DTT) as part of the South African government's botched and long deyaled digital migration process from analogue to digital TV.

The DA's member of parliament, Marian Shinn and the party's shadow minister of telecommunications and postal services, on Sunday in a statement said the pamphlets "is a blatant abuse of taxpayers' money and must be stopped".

She also revealed that the department of communications' latest new deadline of June 2019, apparently instituted by the International Telecommunications Union (ITU) after South Africa missed all of the other previous deadlines including the 17 June 2015 deadline, is apparently bogus.

"The minister of communications now claims that a new deadline of mid-2019 has been agreed to with the International Telecommunications Union (ITU), a date that coincides with South Africa's next general election".

"Correspondence I have had with the ITU office in Geneva, shows that there is no 2019 deadline for South Africa," said Marian Shinn.

"A parliamentary question I submitted to the minister asking documentary proof of the 'new' deadline has not been answered," said Marian Shinn.

Marian Shinn says she has written to communications minister, Nomvula Mokonyane, the cabinet leader of the Broadcasting DigitalMigration (BDM) project of which the DTT set-top boxes are a component - and responsible for its marketing "to put an immediate stop to the flyers' distribution and have them destroyed".

"I have also written to the ANC National Executive Committee member, Dr Siyabonga Cwele, minister of telecommunications and postal services, who is responsible for the government entities procuring and distributing the decoders to demand an investigation within the ANC to determine who instigated the abuse of a government-funded project under his watch for election purposes and to hold these people to account."

STBs are currently being given out to poor South African households who have to prove that they're earning less than R3200 per month.

The much-delayed digital migration project aims to bring all broadcasting in South Africa from analogue to digital, freeing up spectrum bands to be used by mobile broadband products and services.

Various misguided political decisions, as suspicions over MultiChoice's alleged undue influence on the government's policy regarding conditional access (encryption) of the government-sponsored decoders, as well as drawn-out in-fighting and court battles between MultiChoice and, as well as other broadcasters and manufacturers, have delayed South Africa's DTT process for a decade.

BREAKING. Sports minister Tokozile Xasa calls on SuperSport to immediately suspend rugby commentators Nick Mallett and Naas Botha after Ashwin Willemse live TV studio walk out.

South Africa's minister of sport and recreation, Tokozile Xasa, in a statement is calling for the immediate suspension of SuperSport rugby commentators Nick Mallett and Naas Botha after the eye-popping walk off incident that saw commentator Ashwin Willemse leave the Randburg studio on live television on Saturday night.

Meanwhile the political party Icosa in the Western Cape on Sunday called on a boycott of MultiChoice's DStv satellite pay-TV service

Tokozile Xasa said "I call upon SuperSport to suspend the two panellists while they are busy with full investigation. The continued appearance of Nick Mallet and Naas Botha will be seen as an endorsement of their alleged racist behaviour".

SuperSport told TVwithThinus on Sunday in response to a media enquiry seeking comment on the minister's comments that "an investigation will take place. SuperSport cannot prejudice any possible findings with a speculative comment. SuperSport will release an updated statement on Monday".

SuperSport on Saturday night told TVwithThinus that it would be conducting an investigation and do interviews with everyone involved after an eye-popping live TV on-air incident on Saturday night that saw an upset commentator Ashwin Willemse walk off set after a verbal altercation in SuperSport's Randburg studio with commentators Nick Mallett and Naas Botha, while presenter Motshidisi Mohono kept the show going.

It's not clear yet what triggered Ashwin Willemse, but in a live SuperSport broadcast scene that quickly went viral on Saturday night after the victory of the Lions of 42-24 over the Brumbies at Ellis Park, the former Springbok wing was clearly upset at both of the two other seated commentators Nick Mallett and Naas Botha.

Tokozile Xasa in a statement says "This behaviour of entitlement by some white South Africans who continue to think that their whiteness represent better must come to an end, if it was not for a barbaric nonsensical apartheid system that privileged them we could not have implemented quota system to normalize an otherwise abnormal system".

"Ashwin Willemse is not just a former Springbok player but in 2003 he was named SA Rugby Player of the Year, Young Player of the Year and the Player’s Player of the Year. Players like Ashwin Willemse, Bryan Habana and Siya Kolisi continue to make us proud as a nation and affirm that they are not token players or quota players."

"It is clear that Ashwin Willemse was referred as a quota player by his fellow panelists despite his many successes in the field of play, I call upon SuperSport to suspend the two panelists while they are busy with full investigation. The continued appearance of Nick Mallet and Naas Botha will be seen as an endorsement of their alleged racist behaviour," said Tokozile Xasa.

Meanwhile The Independent Civic Organisation of South Africa (Icosa), a political party founded by Trueman Prince, in a statement issued by Icosa spokesperson Dawid Kamfer, says Icosa "call on all non-white South Africans to cancel their DStv subscription, till SuperSport remove the likes of Nick Mallet, Naas Botha, Toks Van Der Linde and Kobus Wiese".

"We also want the removal of all presenters who represent apartheid South Africa on the rugby field. No more historical references for statistical purposes of the era before unification".

Faiez Jacobs, provincial secretary of the ANC Western Cape in a statement said on Sunday that "it is disturbed by the incident at SuperSport studios yesterday" and that "we know Ashwin as a strong man who against all odds, pulled himself by the bootstraps out of poverty and out of a written fate for many of the young people who come from his neighborhoods".

"We believe that Ashwin's public walkout is a result of what many black people experience in offices and boardrooms across the country, where being black is a constant source of being undermined, doubted, spoken down upon and largely made to feel outside various social cliques and cores within the same working environment."

Saturday, May 19, 2018

Upset commentator Ashwin Willemse walks off the SuperSport set after a live on-air verbal altercation with Nick Mallett and Naas Botha, saying he won't be patronised and work 'with people who undermine other people'.

SuperSport says it will be conducting an investigation and do interviews with everyone involved after an eye-popping live TV on-air incident on Saturday night that saw an upset commentator Ashwin Willemse walk off set after a verbal altercation in SuperSport's Randburg studio with commentators Nick Mallett and Naas Botha, while presenter Motshidisi Mohono kept the show going.

It's not clear yet what triggered Ashwin Willemse, but in a live SuperSport broadcast scene that quickly went viral on Saturday night after the victory of the Lions of 42-24 over the Brumbies at Ellis Park, the former Springbok wing was clearly upset at both of the two other seated commentators Nick Mallett and Naas Botha.

"I've been in the game for a long time like most of us here. As a player, I've been called a quota for a long time and I've worked very hard to earn the respect I have now."

"I'm not going to sit here and be patronised by these two individuals who played their rugby during the apartheid era, a segregated era," said Ashwin Willemse who meant it in reference to Nick Mallett and Naas Botha as he walked over to the anchor desk and put his papers down.

Ashwin Willemse said he "can't work with people who undermine other people".

Ashwin Willemse told a grinning Nick Mallett he can continue to laugh but that he knew what happened.

"It's fine. It's fine. I don't mind being ridiculous. I'm glad it happened on live TV so that people can see," said Ashwin Willemse as he readied his studio exit.

Anchor Motshidisi Mohono who tried to say something, interjected with "Ash". She had no time to prepare but kept the show going and said the altercation is "unfortunate" as Ashwin Willemse felt for his lapel mic and walked off set to the right.

"Well, that's unfortunate. Because the match was going so well and so was our conversation - lots of players that have done really, really well in this game as well. It would have been great to hear Ashwin's thoughts especially because he had so much to say regarding this match between the Lions and the Brumbies."

"It is an unfortunate way for us to end this, our coverage of live Super Rugby today," said Motshidisi Mohono.

SuperSport said it is "aware of the on-air incident" and is looking into the matter".

SuperSport told TVwithThinus that "SuperSport views this incident in a very serious light - we will conduct a full investigation and interview all relevant individuals."

Afterwards the live on-air incident that quickly went viral triggered mixed reactions from a wide group of South Africans on social media, some praising Ashwin Willemse and some criticising him.

Thursday, May 17, 2018

MTV abruptly halts production on Catfish, suspends presenter Nev Schulman after allegations of sexual misconduct.

Viacom's MTV (DStv 130) has abruptly halted production on its Catfish series and suspended presenter Nev Schulman following allegations of sexual misconduct.

"We take these allegations very seriously," says MTV said in a statement. "We're working with Critical Content, our third-party production company, to conduct a thorough investigation and we've put a pause on shooting until the investigation is completed."

Since 2012 Catfish with Yaniv "Nev" Schulman and Max Joseph seek out the real identities of people who pretend to be other people online as they "fish" for victims who fall for their deceptive alter ego online romances and are conned out of money. Nev Schulman is also an executive producer of Catfish.

It's not clear what the nature of the sexual misconduct allegations against Nev Schulman are, but it surfaced in two YouTube videos earlier this week that were posted by a woman who appeared on Catfish 3 years ago.

Nev Schulman in a statement says "the behaviour described in this video did not happen and I'm fortunate that there are a number of former colleagues who were present during this time period who are willing to speak up with the truth".

"I have always been transparent about my life and would always take responsibility for my actions – but these claims are false."

M-Net adds another black historical drama series, Shaka-Ilembe, from Bomb Productions that will explore the precolonial South African kingdoms that influenced and gave rise to Shaka Zulu.

M-Net has added another black historical drama series, Shaka-Ilembe, produced by Bomb Productions, that will explore the precolonial Southern African kingdoms and characters that had an influence on Shaka Zulu.

The producers of the 12-episode first season of Shaka-Ilembe already has three seasons mapped out should the production go further, and follows after the umpteenth rebroadcast of the classic 1986 Harmony Gold USA series Shaka Zulu with the late Henry Cele that scored over 2 million Sunday night viewers for SABC1 in mid-2017.

Shaka-Ilembe that has been created by M-Net specifically with an eye on global distribution, will be broadcast on M-Net's Mzansi Magic (DStv 161) for MultiChoice's DStv subscribers, and comes amidst a big global and African interest in Disney and Marvel's film Black Panther that depicted the mythical Wakanda kingdom and had moviegoers enthralled.

Shaka-Ilembe will revolve around the powers that influenced and shaped Shaka Zulu - the drama unfolding from the time of his conception, his bravery as a young man, the early attempts to kill him and the subsequent years of exile with his mother.

The drama series will also introduce the chiefdoms of the AmaThethwa, the AmaNdwandwe, AmaQwabe, AmaHlubi and others, which will give rise to Shaka Zulu as ruler.

Shaka-Ilembe follows M-Net's February announcement of two new commissioned drama series, the detective drama Trackers based on Deon Meyer's crime novel, and House of Phalo, described as a "Xhosa Game of Thrones" currently in production in the Eastern Cape province as a retelling of the modern Xhosa and the rise of King Phalo.

Trackers is produced by Three River Fiction and SCENE23, while House of Phalo is produced by by Mfundi Vundla's Morula Pictures. Bomb Productions previously created drama series like Yizo-Yizo and Zone 14 for the SABC's SABC1 channel, Jacob's Cross for M-Net and Isibaya for Mzansi Magic.

Bomb Productions describes Shaka-Ilembe also as an African Game of Thrones, saying "the epic series" will tell the story of precolonial kingdoms and the "heroes and villains who shaped and influenced one of Africa's greatest kings - Shaka kaSenzangakhona".

"We have seen how global audiences are ready to enjoy universal stories from multiple geographies. Now it is time for the incredible tradition of African storytelling to travel beyond our continent," said Yolisa Phahle, CEO of general entertainment for MultiChoice.

It echoes her speech in Dubai two weeks ago at MultiChoice's 5th Digital Dialogue Conference, saying MultiChoice and M-Net are "looking forward to investing even more in telling local stories, documenting our history and providing a platform for Africans to share African stories".

"The success of companies like Iroko TV, artists like Davido, actresses like Lupita N'yongo and the movie Black Panther are confirmation that the world is ready to consume African stories, celebrate African culture and embrace African languages."

She promised that this year MultiChoice and M-Net will start production on a number of epic African stories.

In the Thursday announcement, Yolisa Phahle said "we are committed to building a film and industry that will deliver benefits to our industry and are increasing our investment in local productions".

Teboho MahlatsiShaka-Ilembe executive producer who will be working with Angus Gibson on the series, says that "with ambitions of making a series as epic and vast as Game of Thrones, we want to tell the story of the Nguni peoples who migrated to below the Pongola river and ruled over this verdant land."

"With three action-packed seasons mapped out, we hope to breathe life into the kings and queens, warriors and witches, spies, slavers, marauders and traders who lived, loved and fought for this land".

"This is a legacy project and has deep meaning to the team who have been telling stories of everyday South African heroes and heroines for the past 21 years. This is not a colonial telling of a great African empire, this story will finally be told from our perspective".

Teboho Mahlatsi, says "scale will not be compromised - whether that be in battles with 20 000 warriors, the visualisation of a kingdom or the capturing of an elephant".

M-Net says the team behind Shaka-Ilembe is vast, including historians, traditional leaders, oral custodians, royal advisors and filmmakers working through the many versions of source materials and stories to ensure authenticity.

Some of the names attached and helping out are the playwright Mpumulelo Grootboom, Catherine Swart, Nhlanhla Mtaka, Jacob Ntshangase, Hlonipa Mokoena, Benedict Carton and Thishiwe Ziqubu.

"We are at a pivotal time in history, a time where South Africa is reclaiming its own story, where history has been re-examined," said Jacob Ntshangase. "To tell the story of Shaka is a huge honour, and a huge responsibility".

The parastatal signal distributor, Sentech, wasting R150 million per year due to the South African government's failure to switch to digital terrestrial television (DTT).

The state-owned broadcasting signal distributor, Sentech, that relays TV broadcasters' signals in South Africa, loses R150 million per year due to the government's incompetence and delays in the far-behind process of switching from analogue to digital terrestrial television (DTT).

While Sentech is burning through hundreds of millions of rand every year in waste due to the drawn-out switch, a process known as digital migration, Sentech is owed millions of rands by the struggling public broadcaster, SABC.

Siyabonga Cwele, the minister for telecommunications and postal services, speaking at a press conference before his department's budget vote speech in parliament, revealed that Sentech is wasting R150 million per year.

South Africa is years behind in the DTT switch and missed the globally imposed deadline to finish the switch from analogue to digital broadcasting by June 2015. The government is also on track to miss the latest imposed deadline to complete the process by June 2019.

"The delay in digital terrestrial television migration is costing Sentech about R150 per annum in dual illumination," said Siyabonga Cwele said.

So-called "dual illumination" is where an analogue and a digital version of the same signal from the same broadcaster is being relayed,for instance the existing analogue broadcast version of SABC1, as well as a broadcast version of SABC1 for digital reception.

"We need to finalise the digital migration next year in order to release spectrum to telecommunications network providers as directed by the International Telecommunications Union," he said.

Premier Soccer League Awards 2017/18 to be shown as a live and delayed live broadcast on 29 May on SuperSport 4 on DStv and SABC1.

The Premier Soccer League (PSL) Awards will be taking place on Tuesday 29 May at the Sandton Convention Centre as a live broadcast ceremony the football league announced on Thursday.

The awards will honour the achievers of the 2017/18 season.

The PSL Awards will be broadcast live on 29 May on SuperSport 4 (DStv 204) from 20:00 and will then be shown as a delayed live broadcast on SABC1 from 21:00.

MultiChoice boss warns the Naspers pay-TV giant isn't being alarmistic about the online threat of global video services to DStv: 'Satellite pay-TV will disappear'.

MultiChoice's boss is warning that the Naspers pay-TV giant isn't being alarmistic about the massive online threat posed by global streamers and services like Netflix, YouTube, Facebook and Amazon Prime Video that are ready ready to not just destroy and replace its satellite pay-TV business but severely damage South Africa's entire TV industry.

Calvo Mawela, MultiChoice South Africa CEO, shocked the country's TV biz the past two weeks with highly alarming quotes and interviews, in extremely stark language, speaking in a way that MultiChoice in its entire 22-year history since its founding, never used before.

To The Sunday Times Calvo Mawela in an eye-popping interview said traditional satellite pay-TV is dying and that "the regulation that Icasa is proposing will just make the business die quicker".

In shocking statistics, MultiChoice is apparently losing 630 DStv Premium subscribers across all its African markets per day.

In other interviews Calvo Mawela raised eyebrows as well, and is now arguing for South Africa's broadcasting regulator to urgently implement regulations on global streaming services like Netflix and Amazon Prime Video operating in South Africa, instead of imposing even more onerous regulations on video entertainment businesses like MultiChoice.

The Independent Communications Authority of South Africa is currently conducting yet another investigation into pay-TV regulations in the country, and how and if, regulations should change.

The public inquiry comes as the fight for eyeballs and subscribers' money are heating up amidst the dramatic digital revolution sweeping video entertainment in Africa, affecting everyone from community TV stations and free-to-air and public broadcasters, to subscription TV services.

While fast making inroads in South Africa, although from a small base, local and international subscription video-on-demand (SVOD) services like Naspers' Showmax now run by MultiChoice, as well as global streamers like Amazon Prime Video and Netflix are not currently regulated. The global streamers for instance don't pay local taxes and are not encumbered by things like local content quotas and other regulatory restrictions.

TVwithThinus, in a wide-ranging interview with Calvo Mawela, asked him if he's not being too alarmistic about MultiChoice being under threat and why he is painting such a dire picture of traditional satellite pay-TV services like DStv.

"We believe based on the research that we are doing and what we are seeing in terms of our consumer behaviour, yes, people are moving online at a pace much faster than we have seen in the past. The future is definitely going to be online," said Calvo Mawela.

"As to whether tradition direct-to-home (DTH) satellite pay-TV will disappear, I think it's a question of when, not a question of if."

"That is definitely happening on a day-to-day basis. People are moving online and they like viewing content online. It's not like the appointment viewing we used to do."

'We are fighting for eyeballs'
"If you look at the last financial year, we have lost over 100 000 in the DStv Premium bouquet. That is an indication that people are moving on to online. The other element that we're also seeing is that people are leaning towards more DStv Catch Up than what they watch linear TV."

"So definitely there's a big shift in terms of consumption of content. What people don't recognise is that we are fighting for eyeballs. If the eyeballs move from TV to watching YouTube, it means the eyeballs have moved for that period from traditional TV watching to YouTube."

"If people are watching videos on Instagram, Twitter or Facebook, it means those eyeballs are not watching TV. That is a definite."

"We are not being alarmist. What we are seeing in terms of the behaviour it is clear that people want to consume content online and it is a question of time as to when they are going to move from a traditional DTH TV offering to consume purely online content in the future," said Calvo Mawela.

"When new technology comes in, people eventually move on and embrace it. So it's definitely going to happen."

Calvo Mawela said the Icasa inquiry seeking to regulate pay-TV in South Africa "is irrelevant in this day and time".

"We think it would have been appropriate for this inquiry to have happened 15 years ago. We are saying traditional pay-TV and how people consume content has changed drastically over the last few years."

"We now have audio-visual services and we include the over-the-top (OTT), we include free-to-air,we include Netflix, Google, YouTube which is where and how people are consuming content. People have moved from appointment viewing of television to decide for themselves when to watch what they want."

"Therefore for Icasa to do an inquiry that narrowly seeks to regulate more traditional pay-TV,we think that Icasa has missed the boat. We have seen internationally a move towards regulating Netflix, Google and Facebook, for instance the European Union (EU) where the EU directive on audio-visual content recognises the over-the-top players."

"They got them into the regulatory net - of course not on the same way that traditional television used to be regulated, but what they said was if anybody is pushing content to the consumer, they need to be regulated."

"So they've introduced a local content quota - we think that is the progressive regulation that you need - it still light touch but it also recognises that the proliferation of OTT services need to be addressed".

"Start considering the market as a broader audio-visual market. Just level the playing field. Make sure that like-for-like services are treated the same - the likes of Netflix and Facebook and YouTube. They need to pay tax, they need to register in the country, they need to pay VAT, they need to have local content quotas, to make sure that we grow the industry as the industry moves to online," said Calvo Mawela.

TV soaps Binnelanders and Muvhango reach 3 000th episode milestone; Binnelanders to introduce new opening theme look, working to include on-location shoots going forward.

The South African TV soaps Binnelanders and Muvhango have both reached the 3 000 episode milestone, with Binnelanders on kykNET that will introduce a brand-new opening title sequence tonight to celebrate the production achievement and just started shooting scenes on location as well to expand the visual aspect of the show.

The Venda soap Muvhango on SABC2, produced by Word of Mouth Productions, reached its 3 000th broadcast episode at the end of March, doing away with characters and  bluntly ending story lines in a weird and inexplicable time-jump that left fans confused and upset.

The Afrikaans soap Binnelanders on kykNET (DStv 144), produced by Stark Films with the mom-and-son team of Elsje and Human Stark, will reach its 3 000th broadcast episode this evening at 19:30 on kykNET and will introduce a new opening title sequence - retaining the Jak de Priester sung lyrics and music by Danny Smoke but adding new imaging and some red and yellow tones to the well-known purple opener.

Last week Thursday the Binnelanders cast and crew celebrated the soap's 3 000th episode with a special cake-cutting ceremony at Stark Studios in Fontainebleau, Johannesburg.

"On a daily basis Binnelanders changes people lives while they're watching it in their living rooms," said Karen Meiring, director of kykNET channels. The soap recently got overwhelming reaction over a domestic abuse story line in which one of the female characters was physically and emotionally abused by a lover.

"It's incredibly important for kykNET to be relevant and resonant, and that is what Binnelanders is and that is one of the reasons why Binnelanders, on-screen and as a production, has such a successful story."

"Binnelanders started on M-Net and then moved exclusively to kykNET in April 2011. That was a big day for kykNET. I'll never forget what the management of M-Net told me, saying 'Karen, maybe you'll have this show just for one year because we'll have to see if your Afrikaans programming budget can actually manage.' And that was 2011. Now we're in 2018 and 'kyknet' what happened!"

Relevant stories that resonate
"3 000 episodes later, Binnelanders remains the number one programme on kykNET," said Karen Meiring.

"What more can you say in terms of the success of a show? I have to thank Elsje and Human Stark, Mitzi Booysen (co-producer) and Danie Joubert (director), I admire your attention to detail and the firm hand with which you manage this production, and the respect with which you deal with viewers".

"Thank you for the extremely relevant story lines that continue to resonate with viewers," said Karen Meiring. "We love you because you bring us unbelievable ratings," she joked.

Elsje Stark said producing Binnelanders is a team effort. "I feel humble and proud at the same time," she said and mentioned her late husband Friedrich Stark who unexpectedly passed away on Christmas Day in 2016 and who started and produced the soap with her.

"I'm sure if Friedrich were here, he would have felt exactly the same. Humble, because it's such a privilege to celebrate 3 000 episodes of this series, and proud - so very proud - because of what we've achieved as a team."

"It's not easy. Not at all. When we pitched and got awarded the contract for Binnelanders 14 years ago it was like a dog that chased a bus and caught it. There we were, with this tiny newborn Binnelanders baby, and now we had to nurture and raise it. It takes non-stop commitment."

"The reason that our effort has paid off is because every single care-giver of the Binnelanders baby and their contribution of passion and hard work and leaving no stone unturned that we can say that the Binnelanders baby's upbringing has been successful so far."

Outdoor, on-location shoots in the 'Congo' 
"3 000 episodes are 45 000 scenes and about 130 000 pages of script - no mean feat in anybody's book," said Elsje Stark. "And it wouldn't have been possible without kykNET's unwavering support. We will never allow Binnelanders to settle for mediocrity and to just be 'fine'."

"We will always stretch the challenges and set new goals because just sliding by and getting by with little effort will fool our viewers maybe for a while, but not indefinitely. And then they'll move on to better company, more interesting company because there's a lot to choose from our there. Because who wants to be in the company of a lazy, boring presence? Especially the premium that people put on their time today," said Elsje Stark.

"Binnelanders will never be boring or lazy. This child now actually wants to go and play outside. On Monday we are going to start shooting location scenes," she said, with the on-location scenes that will enhance the visual look of the soap.

The first scenes are being shot close to the Lanseria airport, standing in as Africa's Congo where some of the characters are now finding themselves.

"This is a lovely new challenge and it will be happening while we're still recording with the full team in the studio. We can do this challenge and we will. We're raising a child that people will continue to enjoy and love," said Elsje Stark.

Veteran actor Hans Strydom playing At Koster said "It feels like yesterday when we started. Yet it's the same time as from Grade 1 to matric that just flew past. 13 years."

"The success goes to Team Starks and kykNET, and especially our loyal viewers who keep supporting us. We thank you and we're looking forward to the next 13 years. And a small request from At Koster - after 13 years my shoes are walked through. Can I please get a new pair of shoes?"

Singer Jak de Priester sang two Afrikaans songs at the 3 000th episode celebration, with the second a live rendition of the Binnelanders theme song, the complete version:

Here's the cast and crew celebration of the 3000th episode at Stark Studios, in photos: