Friday, May 6, 2016

Minister of communications Faith Muthambi launches into a shocking tirade against South African media, slams them for 'mission to paint this government as corrupt'.

The minister of communications, Faith Muthambi, launched into a shocking tirade on Friday in parliament, unleashing a scathing attack on South Africa's media and journalists, accusing them of an agenda against the ANC government and hyping up a corrupt and helpless government.

Delivering her communications budget speech in parliament on Friday, Faith Muthambi unleashed a barrage of criticism against South Africa's media, slamming them for an agenda against the ANC government and accusing the media that "racist tendencies also play a role" in reporting.

"To sell, media houses' main mission is to paint this government as corrupt, helpless and inept," Faith Muthambi told members of parliament, saying that South African media "would rather focus on scandalising government, even if that means not getting all the facts right".

"It could also be argued that racist tendencies also play a role in stigmatising this black government led by the ANC," she said.

"It has now become common cause that the independence and professionalism of many journalists is now measured on how ruthless their reporting can be about this ANC-led government," said Faith Muthambi.

A SABC TV licence no longer required to get a free government subsidised set-top box for digital terrestrial television, says communications minister Faith Muthambi.

Poor South Africans will no longer be required to have a SABC licence or a paid-up SABC TV licence to qualify to receive a free government subsidised decoder in order to keep watching the SABC's digital terrestrial television (DTT) channels.

The minister of communications, Faith Muthambi, made the announcement in her communications budget speech in parliament on Friday.

South Africa is years behind in the switch from analogue to digital terrestrial TV signals, a process known as digital migration. South Africa missed the internationally agreed deadline of June 2015 by which to complete the switch-over.

It requires South African TV households without satellite TV to buy what is known as a set-top box (STB) - basically a TV decoder of around R800 and in a lot of cases a new antenna - in order to keep watching existing and future-added TV channels when the analogue signals of TV channels are turned off.

The government is subsidising these free STBs for millions of poor households, but during registering in some of the provinces where the process started, they had to provide proof of a valid SABC TV licence.

Problems started when families were turned down.

It meant that millions of households in South Africa would eventually start to lose their free-to-air TV access and channels, like those from the public broadcaster.

This would be damaging to the SABC with the public broadcaster that would eventually start to lose viewership market share as it starts to gradually lose ratings and the audience who watch SABC channels, but don't have a SABC licence.

Now these households will be able to get a subsidised government STB to continue their free TV access although they don't have a SABC TV licence or a paid-up licence.

Faith Muthambi's announced regarding the de-linking of the TV licence requirement from the STB subsidy registration process comes after a meeting between the SABC and the department of communications.

"We have in the recent past noticed a slow registration take-up due to the TV licence requirement and insufficient funding to connect the public and] consumer awareness campaign," Faith Muthambi told parliament.

She also said that she told the SABC to "clean up their TV licence base to have accurate and reliable information on who owns a TV set in South Africa to enable proper infrastructure planning".

The Support Public Broadcasting Coalition (SOS Coalition) welcome the move to drop the SABC TV licence requirement for STBs, saying "this will certainly reduce the burden on South Africa's poor, and accelerate and widen their ability to access set-top boxes so that no-one is left behind in the digital migration project".

SABC spokesperson Kaizer Kganyago didn't respond to a media enquiry made two weeks ago asking why the SABC agreed to dropping the SABC TV licence requirement for a DTT set-top box.

In addition, Faith Muthambi on Friday announced in parliament that analogue TV signals will only be switched off after 80% of the existing analogue TV households have migrated and switched to DTT.

Hlaudi Motsoeneng tells TV producers they'll notice 'more and more repeats' on the SABC but that the public broadcaster will soon replace it with new local content.

The SABC's controversial chief operating officer (COO) Hlaudi Motsoeneng told TV producers that there's "more and more repeats on our channels" but that the public broadcaster is planning to lessen the rebroadcasts littered over its TV schedules and to replace it with more local content.

The SABC's famously matricless Hlaudi Motsoeneng took the stage on Wednesday at the public broadcaster's Auckland Park headquarters to tell existing as well as aspiring TV producers that he will be making R1 billion available for the production of new local TV content for the SABC's planned "language-based" digital terrestrial television (DTT) channels.

The limelight-loving executive, flanked on stage by the SABC's acting CEO Jimi Matthews and chief financial officer (CFO) James Aguma, told the producers crammed into the auditorium that the SABC sees no sense in continuing to broadcast American soap operas like The Bold and the Beautiful and Days of Our Lives and other international TV fare.

The producers' meeting and Hlaudi Motsoeneng's speech was relayed through video link to several of the SABC's provincial offices countrywide.

"There's no reason why we have to broadcast these American soaps and dramas he told the audience, saying that "you will notice that there's more and more repeats on the channels".

According to him the SABC wants to cut down on repeats by commissioning more local content from local producers - especially from all of the country's different provinces.

Hlaudi Motsoeneng also wants to speed up the process of commissioning local content and said the SABC has decided to ditch its Request for Proposals or so-called RFP book, in favour of hearing from producers what shows they want to make and think should be on the SABC.

"It is for you as specialists in this industry, what are the problems that you are facing? We depend on you and the day I'm going to enjoy my life is when I see all African languages are catered for in all this platforms," said Hlaudi Motsoeneng.

"We want you to talk about your townships and your township heroes," Hlaudi Motsoeneng told the crowd, while James Aguma told South African TV producers that "we need to stop bench-marking ourselves with the international market".

Hlaudi Motsoeneng said the SABC's previous commissioning guidelines are "old" and that it's been a barrier of entry for local TV producers, hindering the submission process.

The SABC will now appoint 9 content commissioning editors for each of the 9 provinces in South Africa.

While some TV producers, especially emerging producers welcomed the SABC's promise of R1 billion to be funneled into new "language-based" TV content creation, some TV producers expressed doubts and fears, especially over the SABC's decision to scrap its use of issuing a RFP book to the industry.

The acclaimed film producer Rehad Desai said scrapping the RFP will spell the end of South Africa's independent TV production sector.

"Many of us have spent many years of our lives fighting for the SABC to commission, license and co-produce independently produced local content - local content that speaks to the truths of people's lives."

"We have done so because we believe in the power of well-produced TV and we hold this is the only way to produce a diversity and plurality of voice and yes to build our democracy. No RFPs‚ however badly managed‚ will spell the end of what is left of independent production sector."

Besides its existing SABC1, SABC2 and SABC3 channels as well as the SABC News and SABC Encore channels produced for MultiChoice's DStv satellite pay-TV platform, the SABC now plans to create further new channels for its envisioned DTT bouquet.

These include a SABC Sport channel, and several language-based" TV channels including a Sotho channel, a Nguni channel, a Tsonga channel and an Afrikaans language channel.

The SABC that made a R395 million loss for its last declared financial year has not yet explained where the R1 billion is coming from to pay for new local content that the broadcaster wants to invest in new emerging and aspiring TV producers.

Insiders are also wondering why the SABC wants to expand its number of TV channels when its struggling to grow the viewership market share and reach of its existing channels, and why more is not being done to first improve the quality of programming and content as well as the profile of its existing channels.

After SABC scraps RFP book, South African TV producers are fearful and upset over the future: 'Are we really now going to play Dragons' Den?'

South African TV and film producers are fearful, scared and upset over the SABC's move towards largely scrapping its existing modus operandi of issuing - although irregularly the past few years - a Request for Proposals or so-called "RFP book", saying it will be damaging for the public broadcaster as well as for local producers and the TV industry.

The SABC's controversial and famously matricless chief operating officer (COO) Hlaudi Motsoeneng announced last week that the SABC is scrapping the RFP book it used to issued to the TV production sector.

The SABC that's supposed to assess and know its annual new commissions and recommissioning in terms of ongoing TV requirements,  in terms of type of content and volume minutes, is moving away from being programming prescriptive.

Instead, SABC TV content executives are now going to want TV producers - especially new and emerging producers - to tell the SABC what shows they want to do and what they think the SABC should be broadcasting.

The SABC's system of issuing an annual RFP book completely broke down in 2009 when the public broadcaster came to the brink of financial collapse after years of internal mismanagement and bad decisions and ran out of funds to pay producers for new local content.

In mid-2010 SABC executives scrambled to put together a badly done "temporary" request for proposals book, the first since September 2008 calling for some content.

It was however only in November 2011 - three years later that the SABC finally managed to put together and issue its first "real RFP book again, although it was very limited in scope.

Since then the SABC's new RFP book appeared irregularly and no longer annually, and although the SABC kept saying it allocated millions of rands to new local production spend, producers have been openly wondering whether new content is actually being commissioned.

"We are getting rid of RFP book, said Hlaudi Motsoeneng last week.

"SABC we dictate for people what kind of content they should pitch which kills the creativity within those individuals. So we are saying allow people to come with their own creativity and their own ideas so that we can compute with other broadcasters," said Hlaudi Motsoeneng.

Insiders and TV producers are calling it a recipe for disaster and overreach by the public broadcaster that posted a R395 million loss for its last declared financial year.

This week TVwithThinus spoke to several longtime TV producers to get their thoughts on the matter.

They all spoke freely on condition of anonymity since they've had direct dealings with the SABC, are in business with the SABC, hope to continue dealing with the SABC and don't want to jeopardise existing and future business relationships.

"A responsible parent knows better what a child needs to eat and sets the diet and consumption within a budget," said a longtime local TV producer.

"Imagine I ask my kids every evening what they want to eat and then pander to their whims? Unimaginable. The kids are not the ones who should be making the decision within this set-up."

Another producer called the SABC shift "disheartening" and "disappointing", saying "it looks lazy, like they don't want to put in the effort of knowing first what audiences want and then breaking that down into focused specific requests for us so we can apply for it."

"Certain genres will suffer," said another TV producer.

"The mindset [of producers] is to make what's popular and commercial. With RFP, people sent proposals because that's what was available and they [SABC] wanted like a religion show or doccie series. Will people pitch for those? I wonder."

"Honestly, I don't see the difference," said another longtime producer. "Even with RFP you'd do your calculations and diligence and send your proposals and then it takes literally months to hear back, if you even hear back from the SABC."

"Then when you ask, they tell you they're still considering. Meanwhile the costing is completely off and irrelevant now because months lapsed. You'd wait for the RFP issue but then nothing happened anyway."

Another TV producer likened the change in process to a BBC show.

"Are we really now going to play Dragons' Den?" said a longtime producer, referencing the show in which untested entrepreneurs bring their ideas to a table of business moguls to be scrutinised and possibly be picked up.

"It's about viewership, ultimately, and getting audience. Now the SABC wants to make content with people who might have an idea but no experience, backing or background as to how brutal it is to be in this for even established companies".

Another producer wondered: "You wonder if these people have ever been to Hollywood? There's a reason shows for instance don't accept unsolicited scripts. The legal risk and issues are madness. Now everyone must pitch their ideas to SABC."

"Imagine the SABC gets flooded by ideas and pitches - all of which they receive. What happens if someone claims the SABC took an idea or part of it and gave it to another producer or show? We need more clarity".

The acclaimed film producer Rehad Desai isn't scared to add his name to criticism of the SABC's plan to drop its RFP book, saying scrapping the RFP will spell the end of South Africa's independent TV production sector.

"Many of us have spent many years of our lives fighting for the SABC to commission, license and co-produce independently produced local content - local content that speaks to the truths of people's lives," he wrote on Facebook.

"We have done so because we believe in the power of well-produced TV and we hold this is the only way to produce a diversity and plurality of voice and yes to build our democracy. No RFPs‚ however badly managed‚ will spell the end of what is left of independent production sector."

Thursday, May 5, 2016

High school pupil in Uganda sets his dormitory on fire after the principal decided to ban DStv after learners watched too much soccer and movies.

An angry high school learner in Uganda set his dormitory on fire with petrol out of revenge after the principal of the Masaka Secondary School banned DStv after learners' grades started to slip over watching too much soccer, movies and other television on DStv.

First reported by UGO, a furious Shafiq Bugembe now cooling off behind bars in a Masaka police cell, torched his dormitory after principal Hajj Musa Mukasa Mpungu banned DStv in the dormitory.

He used a bottle of petrol to start a fire at his school's dormitory.

It wasn't the first time that MultiChoice's satellite pay-TV service was banned in Masaka Secondary School, and also not the first time that upset learners plotted to take revenge.

It was however the first time that a destructive arsonist plan was carried out to vandalise the school and its property for not being allowed to watch DStv.

Apparently the pupils at Masaka Secondary School don't see DStv and watching TV as a luxury and a privilege but as a right.

Interestingly, the parents appear to be on the learners' side too and wanted the school and principal to "restore" DStv and lift the ban on watching DStv programming.

The Masaka Secondary School's parent teacher association chairperson Jamil Miwanda said it advised the principal to switch the DStv back on and rather limit the time students are allowed to watch DStv, but the principal was adamant that the TV and DStv must remain switched off completely.

Parents, as well as alumni asked Uganda's education authorities to get rid of the school's principal and to transfer him to another school.

"I switched off the DStv because the students were devoting long periods of time watching soccer, movies and other programmes and it was leading to a drop in performance," principal Hajj Musa Mukasa Mpungu reportedly said.

Cecilia Persson promoted at Turner Broadcasting to vice president of programming and content strategy of kids for the EMEA region.

Cecilia Persson has been promoted at Turner Broadcasting to vice president of programming and content strategy of kids for the Europe, Middle East and Africa (EMEA) region, acquisitions and co-production international.

Cecilia Persson keeps her existing acquisitions and co-production international role.

She will now manage and lead programming strategy for digital platforms and kids' linear channels like Cartoon Network (DStv 301) and Boomerang (DStv 302) available on MultiChoice's DStv satellite pay-TV platform, as well Toonami added last month to other operators.

Cecilia Persson, who joined Turner in 2004, will now work to combine Turner Broadcasting's programming and acquisition teams and will report directly to Patricia Hidalgo, chief content and creative officer of kids EMEA and kids' strategy international.

"Cecilia has been an integral component of our growth, with abilities to acquire the best programming to complement our homegrown slate across the portfolio," says Patricia Hidalgo. "This is natural progression for her and a testament to us strengthening and aligning our programming strategy globally".

ANC announces that Humphrey Maxegwana is taking over from Joyce Moloi-Moropa as chairperson of parliament's portfolio committee on communications.

Humphrey Maxegwana is replacing and taking over from Joyce Moloi-Moropa as the chairperson of parliament's portfolio committee on communications.

Parliament's portfolio committee, comprising members of parliament (MP's) from the various political parties in South Africa, are tasked with a governmental oversight role over parastatal and state entities ranging from the broadcasting regulator, Icasa, to the South African public broadcaster, the SABC.

The ANC political party announced that the communications committee will now be chaired by Humphrey Maxegwana, who takes over from Joyce Moloi-Moropa who decided to quit at the end of 2015 and resigned.

Humphrey Maxegwana's move is part of several portfolio committee chairperson changes in parliament that the ANC announced on Thursday.

SABC2 moves its long-running music variety show, Afro Café, yet again to a new day and timeslot, this time to Saturdays at 9pm from this Saturday.

The SABC is moving its long-running music variety programme Afro Café yet again on the schedule, this time yet again to another day and another time.

The show which has seen numerous different timeslots and broadcast on numerous different days since it first started airing in July 2005, will now premiere new episodes on Saturdays at 21:00, starting this Saturday, 7 May.

"Afro Café yet anow in its 12th season is one of our flagship programmes on SABC2," says Jacqui Hlongwane, SABC2 programme manager.

"We believe that the move to the earlier timeslot on Saturdays at 21:00 will not only yield better audiences and revenues but will also offer alternative viewing over the weekend as this slot is dominated by movies," she says.

"Music has a universal appeal and we feel this property is better suited for a weekend offering. Viewers will be able to catch the repeat episode on Wednesdays at 22:00," says Jacqui Hlongwane.

SABC2 soap 7de Laan slammed yet again over violence and insufficient and inadequate audience warnings; SABC fined R15 000 over strangulation scene.

The SABC's Afrikaans weekday soap 7de Laan on SABC2 has been slammed again for its depiction of violence during family viewing time and insufficient warning to viewers, with the Broadcasting Complaints Commission of South Africa (BCCSA) that fined the SABC R15 000 for the transgression of the broadcasting code.

The SABC must pay the R15 000 fine before the end of May with the BCCSA that slammed the public broadcaster after it said that "the broadcasting code has yet again been breached by 7de Laan".

It's the third incident in recent years of the BCCSA chastising the Danie Odendaal Productions soap for violence, and for the SABC failing to adequately warn viewers on SABC2 over violent content before the so-called "watershed" time period when children are still watching and part of the audience.

On 24 March SABC2 broadcast the 7de Laan episode in which the character of Willem was shown to strangle the character of Gita in a violent scene.

The SABC initially told the BCCSA that it had an audio advisory at the beginning and had a "13V" advisory.

Yet, after viewing the episode, the BCCSA found that the "13V" is not on the screen during the strangulation scene complained of, but is only visible in the non-violent scene screened after an interval".

"If the audio advisory was accompanied by a verbal warning of the violent scenes about to be screened, this would have assisted the broadcaster," said the BCCSA.

"Only after the 7de Laan scene complained of, the 13PG advisory is visible. Thereafter a commercial break followed the scene complained of, and at 18:40 the 13V was only visible long after the scene complained of, was screened," the BCCSA said.

The BCCSA found that the SABC didn't screen the "13V" in compliance with the code.

The BCCSA said it warned 7de Laan and the SABC after similar violent scenes in 2009, in 2012 and again in 2015 that the visual advisory of 13PG V was unrealistic and insufficient.

"By now, in 2016, it is not unreasonable or inequitable to expect a standard of conduct from the broadcaster ... in line with the code to protect children that are in its audience when screening violent scenes on 7de Laan," the BCCSA said.

The SABC told the BCCSA that "SABC2 would like to reaffirm its commitment to the protection of our young audiences and has already begun serious and costly interventions following an earlier similar judgment on 7de Laan".

The SABC said "an extensive workshop will be held with the drama department as well as the production house. All written scripts will be re-evaluated to ensure that there are no further grossly violent scenes. The Gita story is coming to an end as the actress is also leaving the show."

DEVELOPING ... Fire engulfs Starz' Black Sails set at the Cape Town Film Studios overnight; massive damage caused as one ship is destroyed.

Fire engulfed Starz' Black Sails set at the Cape Town Film Studios, with the fire that apparently caused massive damage in which one of the Black Sails ships were destroyed.

The cause of the fire and the extend and value of the damage to the Black Sails production is not yet known.

The American Starz' pirate drama, broadcast in South Africa and Africa on A+E Networks UK's History (DStv 186) channel on MultiChoice's DStv satellite pay-TV platform is busy working on its 4th season at the Cape Town Film Studios next to the N2 in Faure close to Somerset-West.

The fire caused massive damage according to the City of Cape Town Fire and Rescue Services and Cape Town fire fighters battled for multiple hours on Thursday morning to bring the blaze under control.

In February fire threatened the Cape Town Film Studios that was raging in the dry reeds between the N2 and Baden Powell Drive. That blaze was contained.

Cape Town Fire and Rescue Services tell TVwithThinus that they responded to the fire that caused massive damage at 00:40 this morning (Thursday).

Cape Town Fire and Rescue Services responded with two fire engines, one rescue vehicle and two water tankers. Resources were dispatched from Mfuleni and Khayelitsha and Belhar Fire Stations.

"The fire involved one large movie prop and was extinguished at 03:13. No injuries were reported. The cause of the fire is still undetermined at this stage," says Fire and Rescue Services.

Photo: District Mail

"One of the ships burnt out," Nico Dekker, CEO of Cape Town Film Studios tells TVwithThinus.

"The fire bridgade was on the scene very quickly and contained the fire and no further damage was done. Luckily nothing else was damaged but one of the ships you would see from the N2 was destroyed," he says.

Nina Heyns, the head of production for Black Sails in South Africa said she can't comment and that they're busy.

She declined comment when asked about the extent of the fire damage to the production, what ship was destroyed in the fire and how the production feels about what happened.

Nothing yet from Starz and A+E Networks UK about the Black Sails blaze.

Developing ... keep checking back for more as I get more information ....

The Great South African Bake Off returning for a second season to BBC Lifestyle; applications open to find 10 new amateur bakers for the reality baking competition.

The Great South African Bake Off has been commissioned for a second season by BBC Worldwide and will once again be produced by Rapid Blue with BBC Worldwide's Kirsty Hanson as executive producer.

In March BBC Worldwide announced that it had invested an unspecified amount of money in Rapid Blue as part of its plans to ramp up its local TV production capacity in South Africa to produce more focused, locally-produced programming for its set of BBC channels available on MultiChoice's DStv satellite pay-TV platform across the African continent.

The Great South African Bake Off will be back for a second season on BBC Lifestyle (DStv 174) with 10 new bakers, with amateur bakers who can now enter at until 13 June.

Successful applicants will have to be available to attend the countrywide contestant auditions during the end of June and July.

Filming of the second season of The Great South African Bake Off will take place in Johannesburg and will be broadcast on BBC Lifestyle towards the end of 2016.

BBC Worldwide didn't release any ratings information and actual viewership figures for the show, but says The Great South African Bake Off was "the highest performing show on BBC Lifestyle for 2015" and on social media "trended" on Twitter during every new episode.

"BBC Worldwide is dedicated to commissioning shows that delight and entertain our local audiences," says Kully Kaur-Bains, BBC Worldwide's head of programming for Africa in a statement.

"The talented, vibrant and vivacious bakers found in South Africa are one of the reasons The Great South African Bake Off is so special and why we can't wait to embark on a brand-new series."

Right2Know Campaign: 'Woefully incompetent' Hlaudi Motsoeneng placing SABC at risk of running aground; 'those in charge at SABC no friends of press freedom'.

The Right2Know Campaign says the SABC's "woefully incompetent" Hlaudi Motsoeneng is placing the South African public broadcaster at risk of running aground, criticising the SABC for its low-quality programming and warning that the proposed new Broadcasting Amendment Bill threatens to destroy what is left of the independence of the SABC.

In a statement on World Press Freedom Day, 3 May, the South African civil society group that supports freedom of expression and citizens and the media's access to information cautions that "the recently introduced Broadcasting Amendment Bill threatens to undermine the independence of the SABC, giving the minister of communications greater power over the SABC board".

The Right2Know Campaign slams the SABC's controversial and famously matricless chief operating officer (COO) Hlaudi Motsoeneng, saying his "every ham-fisted move" is putting the once proud SABC at risk.

"Those in charge at the SABC have revealed themselves to be no friends of press freedom, with the broadcaster' conceited yet woefully incompetent and scandal prone COO, Hlaudi Motsoeneng, demanding 70% of stories aired to be positive."

"With his every ham-fisted move, our once proud SABC that was a flagship of transformation is more at risk of running aground and reverting to a state mouthpiece."

"Political interference, maladministration and self-censorship have had a crippling effect and have meant that the SABC is increasingly unable to deliver high quality programming and news that reflects a plurality of views, is fair, accurate and independent of government and commercial interests."

The Right2Know Campaign says South Africa's media "needs more diversity" and that "the country's massive inequalities are replicated in media consumption."

"While the middle class have a rich media experience and access to a wide range of local and international media on a variety of ever-improving platforms, those in poor rural parts of the country may have to make do with just a local language SABC radio station at best."

"The migration to digital TV has the potential to transform South Africa's media because many more TV channels available could add to diversity of content and ownership."

"However Icasa (the regulator) wants to give two-thirds (66%) of the channels to the private sector. The SABC has been given a quarter of the channels (25%)."

"The SABC does not have the resources to produce all these extra public interest channels and is likely to run them as profitable partnerships with the private sector. ICASA's proposed privatisation of the airwaves will see only 5% of stations being community non-profit."

"Commercial stations will compete for existing advertising funds. There will be less advertising to go around so we can expect to see many re-runs, old shows and low budget American productions," says the Right2Know Campaign.

E! Entertainment adds 4 new reality shows following the drama behind-the-scenes at Cosmo magazine, The Abbey gay bar, LA trophy wives and WAGS in Miami.

E! Entertainment (DStv 124) is adding 4 new reality shows to its schedule, including a spin-off of its WAGS series, one set inside a LA gay bar, and one showing the drama behind the scenes of Cosmo magazine in New York.

There's no word yet when these new series will show up on E! Entertainment's international feed from NBCUniversal International Networks carried by MultiChoice's DStv satellite pay-TV platform in South Africa and the rest of Africa.

Besides a WAGS (Wives and Girlfriends of Sports Stars) spin-off entitled WAGS: Miami set in South Florida, 3 further reality series will follow the behind-the-scenes drama with the women working at the Cosmopolitan magazine in New York; the bartenders and waiters at Hollywood's gay bar The Abbey Food & Bar; and a Real Housewives type show following young women and their older husbands in Los Angeles.

While E! has failed to add its drama series The Royals shown on E! Entertainment in America to its international feed for South Africa and Africa, the channel is commissioning more shows and diversifying its show offering as viewership starts to wane for its long-running Kardashians reality series franchise.

"E! is known for buzzy unscripted programming, and these four new series will continue to boost our line-up with content that reflects and drives pop culture today," says Jeff Olde, the executive vice president for programming and development at E! in a statement.

The Abbey Diaries is the working title for the new reality series that will depict the lives of the employees at the gay bar, The Abbey Food & Bar, in West Hollywood.

Staffers deal with celebrities and relationship drama while pursuing their individual dreams in Los Angeles in the series produced by Banijay Studios North America with David Goldberg, Caroline Baumgard, Ray Giuliani and The Abbey's David Cooley as executive producers.

Cosmo Life is the working title for the reality series documenting the drama behind-the-scenes at Cosmo magazine in New York where women work and fight in a world of celebrity parties and VIP-nightlife experiences under the gaze of editor-in-chief Joanna Coles.

Cosmo Life is produced by Bunim/Murray Productions, with executive producers Gil Goldschein, Jeff Jenkins and Rob Bagshaw, as well as Joanna Coles and Holly Whidden from Cosmo.

Famously Married is the working title of E!'s version of Real Housewives, following young, recently-married or planning to marry Hollywood trophy wives alongside wealthy and successful older men.

"These women navigate the complications that come with being a second wife, including their husbands' exes and children, as well as their entrance into elite LA society," says E!. The series is produced by Studio Lambert and All3Media America with Stephen Lambert, Greg Lipstone, Greg Goldman, and Sara Quick as executive producers.

WAGS: Miami is a spin-off from WAGS documenting the lavish lifestyles and real-life drama of eight Miami WAGS, giving viewers a voyeuristic peek inside their world.

"These ambitious, strong women are spicing things up and bringing the heat as they work to make their own dreams a reality, while playing the most competitive game of all: getting and keeping that pro-athlete man," says E!. The show is produced by Machete Productions with Amber Mazzola and Lori Gordon as the executive producers.

Two African countries - Nigeria and Tanzania - included in top 10 list of biggest BBC News markets; BBC sees strong growth through non-English TV news bulletins.

Two African countries - Nigeria and Tanzania - are included in the top 10 list of biggest BBC News user markets, while the BBC says massive growth it is international audience is largely being driven by new TV news bulletins in languages other than English.

According to the BBC's latest BBC Global Audience Measure (GAM) that tracks the combined reach of its international content in both news and entertainment fare for the year 2015/2016, the BBC's weekly global audience has increased by a staggering 38 million people (13%) to 320 million.

For the second year in a row, TV (162 million) is a bigger platform than radio (147 million) for the BBC's international news services, which means that the BBC World News (DStv 400 / StarSat 256) channel is globally luring more people than the BBC World Service radio channel.

In what makes an interesting sidenote for the struggling South African public broadcaster and its English only SABC News (DStv 404) channel produced and packaged for MultiChoice's DStv satellite pay-TV platform in Africa, the BBC says the strong growth in its reach is largely driven by new TV news bulletins broadcast in languages other than English.

"These are fantastic results which show the BBC going from strength to strength around the world and demonstrate the global appetite for accurate, impartial news," says Francesca Unsworth, director of the BBC World Service Group in a statement.

"BBC Worldwide continues to fuel international audiences’ appetite for premium content and in the second year of the Global Audience Measure, we've reached 36.4 million people per week across our owned and operated TV and digital platforms," says Tim Davie, the director, Global and CEO of BBC Worldwide.

Two African countries - Nigeria and Tanzania - show up in the BBC's top 10 markets  in 2nd and 7th place for the BBC's international news service.

The top 10 countries are the United States (35 million); Nigeria (35 million); India (23 million); Pakistan (13 million); Iran (12 million); Egypt (11 million); Tanzania (10 million); Brazil (8 million); Afghanistan (7 million) and Bangladesh (6 million).

Lumko Mtimde the new CEO of the Universal Service and Access Agency of SA; Clarinda Simpson the new chief financial officer at Sentech.

Lumko Mtimde has been appointed as the latest new CEO of the Universal Service and Access Agency of SA (USAASA), replacing the fired Zami Nkosi, while Clarinda Simpson was appointed as the new chief financial officer (CFO) at the parastatal signal distributor, Sentech.

The controversial Lumko Mtimde is a former SABC board member and former councillor at the broadcasting regulator, the Independent Communications Authority of South Africa (Icasa) and voiced his support for the creation of a media appeals tribunal in South Africa.

Lumko Mtimde replaces USAASA acting CEO, Makhotso Moiloa who've been standing in after Zami Nkosi quietly went away after his contract wasn't renewed.

Clarinda Simpson's appointment as new CFO at Sentech comes 6 months after the appointment of Mlamli Booi as the latest new Sentech CEO.