Thursday, February 4, 2016

Weakening rand predicts a bigger than usual DStv price hike in 2016; subscribers will keep paying and growing as 'DStv is seen as a status symbol'.

The ongoing weakening of the rand foreshadows a possible bigger price hike this year than usual for South African DStv subscribers as local pay-TV subscribers will have to bear the brunt of the currency that continues to slide.

 MultiChoice signs international content and channel deals and buys the bulk of television content in dollar.

It means that the rand's ongoing plunge in 2015, continuing in 2016, will likely have the same impact on DStv subscribers' monthly bill - a steep increase similar to what's been happen to food, electricity and medical aid prices.

While MultiChoice for the first time ever hiked prices for a second time in one year for DStv subscribers in other African countries like Uganda and Kenya following massive depreciation in local currencies in 2015, South Africans were spared as the pay-TV operator absorbed the cost.

Last year's depreciation, coupled with the rand's ongoing weakening in 2016, spells a bigger than usual subscription increase for DStv subscribers since the local currency has lost a third of its value since 2015. MultiChoice usually announces at the end of February what the increase will be that comes into effect by April.

MultiChoice was asked if this year's DStv price increase would be inflation-related or a steeper above inflation increase given that there wasn't a second price increase in South Africa.

MultiChoice declined to give a specific answer and in a general response says it is busy finalising by how much DStv fees will increase by April.

"We review our subscription fees once a year as part of our business planning process, which we are currently finalizing. Part of this review is considering the impact of the current exchange rate, as the majority of our costs to bring our customers the best entertainment are in foreign currency," says MultiChoice in response to a media enquiry.

"We want to keep bringing our customers the best international and local entertainment first, access to top sporting events and the latest news and documentaries. Once this process is finalized, we'll communicate the new fees effective 1 April 2016 to our customers".

MultiChoice forked out R12,6 billion on acquiring content as well as on programming and production costs between April 2014 and March 2015 and another R5.8 billion between April and September last year for its DStv subscribers in South Africa now totaling 5.5 million.

SuperSport paid around R6 billion recently in a new deal for the English Premier League broadcasting rights for sub-Saharan Africa.

Despite worsening economic conditions and bigger pressure on South African consumers' discretionary spending, pay-TV growth in South Africa despite pay increases continues to show strong growth as the South African TV market and overall TV viewership figures grow.

Despite having to pay more every year, existing South African pay-TV subscribers are not abandoning their subscription television and more are signing up - unlike in America where the trend of so-called "cord-cutting" and pay-TV subscriber losses are accelerating.

'DStv is a status symbol'
"DStv is a status symbol among aspirant media audiences and consumers and the growing South African middle class," says Dr Musa Ndlovu, a media expert and a senior lecturer in media studies at the University of Cape Town's Centre for Film and Media Studies tells me.

"Pay-TV offers a wide variety of programming choices like news and entertainment for a growing middle class audience, compared to 'domestic' terrestrial TV stations," says Dr. Musa Ndlovu.

"The growth of pay-TV subscriptions should also be seen against the declining trusts in government and interest in politics. DStv feeds into the culture of leisure and entertainment, pervasive among some in the middle class and technologically it provides better satellite-based quality reception. The picture is clear."

"Some families 'club' together' to pay for it, and the decline of a reading culture corresponds with the rise in TV consumption," he says as two more reasons that's fueling the ongoing pay-TV uptake in South Africa.

'Escaped' yellow albino Ball python never went missing on the Generations The Legacy set; is with its handlers and will show up on SABC1 on Monday night.

A massive snake that was thought to have escaped inside the SABC on a TV set is safely with its snake handlers and SABC staff need not fear running into the lurking serpent.

SABC staff - referred to internally as "First Citizens" - are safe, with the snake that will make its debut on South African TV screens from this coming Monday.

Insiders gossiped that a snake brought onto the Generations - The Legacy set recently slithered off the SABC1 soap's set at Henley Studios at the public broadcaster's Auckland Park headquarters and mysteriously went missing.

While some people thought there was now a yellow albino Ball python loose inside the SABC, the snake was actually removed by its trainers, following the filming of scenes in November last year.

Fearful SABC staffers and soap stars who thought the snake had escaped, were assured that the snake was removed and never actually went "missing".

"It was a misunderstanding," says a spokesperson. "The snake has always been with its trainers and had left the premises when it was supposed to. The snake is well-trained and not poisonous". The snake is currently with its trainers and handlers.

SABC1 viewers will be able to see the snake when it makes its debut on Monday on Generations - The Legacy at 20:00 and will feature in the prime time soap as a constant feature for about three months.

An inyanga will drape the snake over Tshidi (Latoya Makhene) after she emerges from a bath drenched in blood as part of her new "secret weapon" on Monday night, as part of her and Gadaffi's plan to get spiritual protection from their enemies including her ancestors.

The snake is to protect Tshidi - something she's not allowed to tell anyone about - and she realises that she and Gadaffi are in over their heads. The inyanga then tells Tshidi that the snake will tell her when it wants to feed - and what ...

Wednesday, February 3, 2016

The Wendy Williams Show on BET goes to the dogs as production values fail on canine training insert with dog whisperer Cesar Millan - dog poop included.

The Wendy Williams Show on BET (DStv 129) has gone to the dogs with a big on-air fail when a badly planned and executed insert with the famous dog whisperer Cesar Millan turned into a mess - dog doo-doo included.

Viewers are wondering whether a producer of The Wendy Williams Show might get fired over the insert that South African and African viewers can see today on BET at 16:30 and 06:00 when the dog whisperer Cesar Millan dropped by the New York studios.

Wendy Williams episodes are shown within hours in South Africa after its broadcast in America.

Talk show host Wendy Williams brought her own dog Shaq, and viewers with their pooches also dropped in - but the show's producers apparently didn't plan anything around the dogs and failed to adequate prepare for man's best friend and what they need.

No treats nor toys were available to show how to teach dogs to behave. A scramble ensued when the first dog pooped on the astroturf.

Suddenly everyone scrambled to try and find something to scoop the poop. Shockingly the dog's owner Erica left Cesar Millan to pick up the poo, while cameramen suddenly tried awkward angles to not show dog doo-doo on TV.

"What a mess," said Wendy Williams.

SABC's Hlaudi Motsoeneng: 'I'm back from exile with a bang'; says public broadcaster's executives are 'too black'; 'do not reflect the rainbow nation'.

SABC boss Hlaudi Motsoeneng says the South African public broadcaster's executives are "too black" and that the top management at the SABC "do not reflect the rainbow nation that we are as a country".

Hlaudi Motsoeneng who spoke at a press conference to officially announce the latest round of schedule changes to the broadcaster's SABC1, SABC2 and SABC3 channels, told the media that he is "back from exile with a bang".

The SABC's embattled second-in-charge executive reiterated what he said in 2015, that the SABC, according to him, needs to be more diverse.

In May last year Hlaudi Motsoeneng said that the SABC "needs more whites" - specifically at executive level - and that he doesn't want to see an SABC "that is too black".

"I have engaged colleagues saying we also need to employ white people. And I want to be specific: white people at exco level. I don't want to see an SABC that is too black".

"White or black, or if there are green people, after 20 years [of transformation] you can't talk about transformation, that is my belief," said Hlaudi Motsoeneng

On Tuesday at the SABC's Auckland Park headquarters he said that "management within the corporation should reflect diversity". Hlaudi Motsoeneng feels that SABC executives are "too black and do not reflect the rainbow nation that we are as a country".

He said his mandate is to make sure that the SABC becomes more reflective of South Africa as a rainbow nation. 

While one court case to force the SABC to suspend and start disciplinary proceedings against Hlaudi Motsoeneng was dropped given that a disciplinary hearing did take place, another court case is set to continue this year.

Hlaudi Motsoeneng applied for leave to appeal another judgment handed down by the Western Cape High Court late in 2015 that set aside his irregular appointment as COO last year. This legal battle is set to continue.

R998 to start watching MultiChoice and M-Net's GOtv with 12 TV channels; GOtv South Africa more expensive with less channels than in other African countries.

As expected MultiChoice and M-Net this morning officially announced its GOtv digital terrestrial television (DTT) offering that will cost viewers without a satellite dish R998 to start watching channels already available on its satellite TV service DStv.

At an additional R99 per month for 12 TV channels, GOtv costs exactly the same as StarSat's StarSat Special package with 47 TV channels, and the DStv Access offering over 50 TV channels.

At this price point it raises questions as to why and what type of viewers without pay-TV and who are possibly considering taking up pay-TV, would opt for this DTT product and not rather go straight for one of the existing commercial satellite pay-TV options available.

On face value even Platco Digital's OpenView HD (OVHD) free-to-air satellite service, with a once-off decoder-and-dish cost of R1000 and offering over 18 TV channels with no monthly subscription, seems to be a better deal.

To start watching GOtv, a customer must buy a GOtv decoder of R699. The decoder work with an antenna. The recommended "GOtenna" is sold separately for R299.

Interestingly GOtv operated in several other African countries under the same brand name, has more channels on offer to subscribers and cost less than in South Africa.

GOtv in Kenya for instance cost R95 for 23 TV channels; GOtv in Lesotho offers 20 TV channels for R99.80. GOtv in Namibia for instance carries Sabido's eNCA (DStv 403), while other countries include several TV news channels. 

GOtv for South Africa's website doesn't list a single TV news channel as part of the offering. Asked why there's not a single news channel available in the offering, GOtv says "the GOtv decoder will receive all free to air television and radio services, which will include several news channels".

Asked why the GOtv South Africa offering has less channels than in other countries, M-Net says it can only offer up to 12 channels on its GOtv service in South Africa as provided for in its DTT licence.

"GOtv will give many South Africans who are currently watching analogue television the chance to experience digital quality TV at an affordable price," says Tsabiso Letsoela, GOtv South Africa's general manager. 

"The digital GOtv service offers compelling channels with clearer pictures and sharper sound quality".

Yolisa Phahle, M-Net CEO says the pay-TV broadcaster – since GOtv is an M-Net service – "is excited to launch our digital terrestrial television service", saying "this is a major step forward for local television".

Although the SABC's channels and are not listed on GOtv's website for South Africa or in a press release, a spokesperson told TV with Thinus that GOtv subscribers in South Africa, besides the 12 channels, will get the free-to-air channels on GOtv like SABC1, SABC2 and SABC3 and radio stations "as long as your GOtv package is active". 

Besides the GOtv Value package for R99 per month there is also a GOtv Lite option of 2 TV channels, Mzansi Music and Dumisa, at a subscription of R45 paid every three months.

GOtv uses a digital network of towers throughout South Africa like what cellphone companies are doing.

Potential GOtv subscribers will first have to check whether they fall within the coverage areas since the signal is currently limited to mostly major sentra like Cape Town, Jeffrey's Bay, Port Elizabeth, East London, Durban, Bloemfontein and Kimberley, and the Johannesburg and Pretoria, Polokwane and Mbombela areas. National DTT coverage will improve overtime.

What about existing M-Net analogue subscribers?
For the existing tens of thousands of M-Net analogue subscribers – M-Net viewers watching M-Net, SuperSport and the Community Service Network (CSN) through M-Net decoders – there's not a DTT option available yet.

"While M-Net analogue customers will have to switch over to digital television at some stage, they don’t have to do anything right now," says M-Net.

"Before each province shuts down their analogue signals, M-Net will be in touch to guide its analogue customers through the migration process".

M-Net analogue subscribers will get a "like-for-like package" and the exact business rules will be communicated and they will get correspondence this week, and more detailed communication with their options in the next few months.

"We are committed to assist our M-Net analogue subscribers through every step of the migration process," says the pay-TV provider.

"You'll keep getting your M-Net terrestrial service until this signal gets switched off. Closer to the cut-off time, we'll be in touch to guide you on what you need to do and how you need to do it. We only expect the switch-off to be a year or more from now."

M-Net analogue subscribers who are worried or have questions or concerns can email

FULL LIST OF CHANGES with context: The SABC once again moves shows; makes programmatic scheduling changes across SABC1, SABC2 and SABC3.

The South African public broadcaster is once again moving shows and making programmatic scheduling changes across the SABC's three TV channels in an attempt to hold on to existing audiences and to boost viewership.

The cross-channel schedule changes involving SABC1, SABC2 and SABC3 (see the breakdown list for each channel below) come a year and a half after the "drastic" schedule changes the SABC implemented in July 2014 after its 2014 FIFA World Cup coverage.

The public broadcaster which undid some of the changes in the months after following sharp criticism from viewers, is now undoing some more of those changes like moving Fokus back from SABC3 to SABC2, admitting it was a mistake.

"This schedule revamp is a direct response to the evolving television landscape and in keeping up with the SABC audience's current needs and expectations," said Verona Duwarkah, the SABC's head of television.

The SABC's chief operating officer (COO) Hlaudi Motsoeneng said that changes were made to the SABC TV schedules that viewers were not happy about but that the public broadcaster is now responding to those complaints.

The SABC admits SABC1 needed more drama. The SABC and South Africa's highest rated show, the KwaMashu filmed Uzalo on SABC1 is being turned from a telenovela into a soap thanks to its high viewership and strong performance similar to what Mzansi Magic (DStv 161) did with isiBaya, with a second season that will seamlessly start on 8 February at 20:30. Uzalo also gets an omnibus repeat slot on Sundays.

Live Amp on Fridays is being demoted to 19:30, with a new music entertainment show, Urban Music Xperience, starting on Fridays at 21:00.

On SABC2 the biggest changes are the move of the daily Sesotho news bulletin from 19:30 to 18:00 since this week, Fokus that will return from SABC3 to SABC2 from this Sunday after a year and a half after its move and a day after the programme's 20th anniversary, and the move of the Indian magazine show Mela from SABC2 to SABC3.

SABC3 takes Mela over from SABC2 as "the Indian Top Billing" and a companion show on Sundays with the Top Billing repeat.

SABC3 is also introducing specific timeslots for female variety on Tuesdays at 20:00, male viewing on Sundays at 17:30 and even a "female voyeur variety" slot on Tuesdays at 22:00 for reality shows like Botched and Dr. 90210.

SABC3 also acquired Humans as a first-run drama series for the territory, a science fiction series about domestic androids, that will be shown on Wednesday nights at 21:00.

Here's the specific changes according to SABC channel:

Uzalo is officially no longer a telenovela but becoming a soap similar to what Mzansi Magic did with isiBaya with the 2nd season of Uzalo that will start on 8 February at 20:30 without interruption, from Mondays to Wednesdays.
■ The Thursday night drama slot is cut down to half an hour. The 2nd season of Mfolozi Street with Hlubi Mboya and Luthuli Dlamini will now be show here.
■ On Fridays a revamped Live Amp, still with Pearl Thusi and DJ Warras will now start at 19:30.
■ On Fridays a new hour long music entertainment show, Urban Music Xperience will start at 21:00, with presenters Luthando "Lootlove" Shosha and Adil More.
■ On Fridays Fan Base at 18:00 is getting revamped with new presenter Akhumzi Jezile.
■ On Saturday's Mzansi Insider moves an hour later to 10:00.
■ On Saturday's the Generations - The Legacy omnibus moves to 11:00.
■ On Sundays SABC1 is starting an Uzalo omnibus at 12:30.
■ On Sundays the 20:00 movie slot is gone, now replaced with a drama slot where shows like Ngempela and Sokhulu & Partners will be shown.

■ This week the SABC moved the only Sesotho, Tswana and Sepedi news bulletin earlier from 19:30 to 18:00 from Mondays to Sundays.
This move is to create better flow across the SABC2 schedule to try and retain viewers. On Fridays for instance, Afrikaans viewing was interrupted for half an hour, leading to the loss of those viewers who didn't return after the half hour of Sotho news. Fridays now has an uninterrupted block of one language, hopefully keeping those viewers from tuning away.
■ Travel series Mooiloop! returns for another season on Mondays at 19:30, now with Elma Postma as presenter.
■ On Tuesdays the Afrikaans comedy Parys Parys that was on kykNET will start at 19:30 and SABC2 will also repeat the Afrikaans drama series Geraamtes in die Kas.
■ SABC2 will broadcast The National Teachers Awards on Tuesday 8 March at 20:30.
■ On Wednesdays Motswako moves to 19:30, followed by Ngula Ya Vutivi now at 20:00 and with the Tsonga talk show Vusaseki moving to 20:30.
■ On Thursdays 50/50 will return with another season from 18 February, again in a new timeslot of 19:30. All the presenters like Bonne de Bod, Bertus Louw and Ntokozo Mbuli remain.
■ The 25th season of Noot vir Noot will start on Friday 5 February at 20:00. SABC2 now has an uninterrupted Afrikaans programming block on Fridays from 18:30 until 21:00.
■ The comedy series My Wife and Kids move to Saturdays at 18:30 from 6 February.
■ The second season of Abomzala will start on Saturday 6 February at 20:30 about older single women looking for men.
■ The SABC is moving Fokus back from SABC3 to SABC2 a day after its 20th anniversary from this Sunday to the timeslot of 18:30, serving as an Afrikaans lead-in to the Afrikaans news at 19:00.
■ On Sundays Gospel Time on SABC2 moves to 20:00.

Afternoon Express is not cancelled and remains at 16:00.
■ The Indian lifestyle magazine show Mela that replaced Eastern Mosaic moves from SABC2 to SABC3 that has a smaller broadcasting footprint reach and will now be on Sundays at 13:30 from 7 February where the SABC wants it to be a companion show to the Top Billing repeat.
■ Tuesdays is getting a reality slot at 20:00 where shows like Top Chef will be shown, as well as a "female voyeur variety" slot at 22:00 in which shows like Dr. 90210 and Botched will be shown.
■ On Wednesday at 21:00 SABC3 will broadcast the new British science fiction drama series Humans as a first-run series in South Africa in which households can buy androids and the problems it create.
■ SABC3 will start a cooking lifestyle slot from April at 20:30 in which it will broadcast shows like Neil Anthony Private Chef and Lorraine Fast Fresh & Easy.
■ SABC3 will change Friday nights to "Comedy Nights" from April with a Friday night comedy strand that will include both local and foreign stand-up comedy offerings.
■ On Saturdays, from April, the start of the movie slot is moved from 19:30 to 19:00.
■ On Saturdays, from April the arts and culture slot is moved earlier to 18:00.
On Sundays SABC3 is introducing a male variety slot at 17:30 for shows like Top Gear and One Day with Bryan Miles, followed by a current affairs block from 19:00 including shows like Interface, Special Assignment and documentaries like Ross Kemp: Extreme Worlds.

■ The SABC said nothing about its SABC News (DStv 404) news channel or the show but has quietly introduced the new show On the Record with Vuyo Mvoko in mid-January on weeknights at 21:00.
Vuyo Mvoko as SABC contributing editor, is one of the SABC staffers who got mugged on live television in March last year. The addition of the hour long current affairs show means that Your World got cut by an hour to two hours in duration, now starting at 22:00 on weeknights.

On Tuesday night SABC News reported about the public broadcaster's schedule changes in its various TV news bulletins, but didn't tell viewers anything about any of the specific changes on any of the channels,simply noting that the schedules are changing in order for the SABC to "continue to entrech its dominance in this competitive environment and meet the set business requirements".

Tuesday, February 2, 2016

M-Net gives the shift to Satan: Following viewer complaints over Lucifer, M-Net banishes the devil to late night TV hell and increases the age restriction.

Following viewer complaints, M-Net is shifting Satan, moving the new drama Lucifer 4 hours later, upping the age restriction and banishing it to TV's version of hell: late night on Fridays when nobody watches television.

M-Net started showing Lucifer last week at 19:00 and with a low age restriction in South Africa and several African countries. In American Lucifer, depicting the devil as helping people, is broadcast in America at 21:00.

In the new drama series Satan, played by Tom Ellis, is depicted as a sympathetic character who escaped the hell and decides to help people after a girl he likes is killed after she "sold her soul to the devil".

"It is completely unacceptable to me that offensive series like Lucifer be televised," one complainant wrote. "I would suggest that DStv contribute to the cultivation of this country and community and not break it down and let it fall into sin - from pornography to Satan worship. It is unacceptable to say the least".

"We find the new series Lucifer distasteful. It's being aired in a prime slot in the evening and we feel it promotes Satan as something intriguing which we find offensive. If it must be aired then it should be aired in a late off-peak slot or on the DStv Explora," said another.

"DStv is broadcasting this series on Wednesday evening, that actively portrays Satan / Lucifer as a hero to innocent people who might not know better. Has he succeeded in deceiving DStv and South African Christians, to believe that this is an innocent fable as well? In the meantime I cannot support DStv while they are actively spreading Satan's word," complained another viewer.

"I find it most disturbing that this kind of series is aired during family time (19:00). It goes against any grain of Christianity to project Satan as a caring and helpful "person". Children especially will be giving contradicting messages when allowed to watch this. I know one can block it or remove the channel but that is not the point, what has become of morality and values?" said another.

M-Net now says Lucifer is getting banished to television's version of TV hell after wrongly programming it too early with a too low parental advisory: late on Friday nights which is the least watched day and timeslot of the week.

"The series Lucifer will move from its prime-time slot on M-Net Edge on Wednesdays at 19:00 to Fridays at 23:00 from this week onwards," says Gideon Khobane, M-Net channel director.

M-Net showed Lucifer in South Africa, Namibia, Malawi, Botswana, Swaziland, Zimbabwe, Zambia and Mozambique last week and is making the change after the complaints.

M-Net is now changing Lucifer's age restriction to 16 while it appears executives at that pay-TV broadcaster didn't watch the show it bought before scheduling it for playout.

"Due to the perceived sensitive nature of its content, we believe Lucifer is better suited for late-night viewing. While M-Net Edge is the much-loved home of edgy, provocative and highly acclaimed series, we continue to review our schedules to ensure that the content matches the timeslot."

M-Net will continue to make Lucifer available to viewers on DStv Catch Up and the Express from the US broadcast will continue on Wednesdays at 02:00.

Why The Daily Show's Trevor Noah on Comedy Central is increasingly being ignored by America; 'distant' Trevor seems remote instead of curious.

South Africa's Trevor Noah is apparently increasingly being "ignored" by America, with the new host of The Daily Show on Comedy Central (DStv 122) who've fallen out of favour with American audiences.

In an article entitled "Why are Americans ignoring Trevor Noah?" the influential Slate is now asking why American viewers are abandoning the South African comedian as viewership is continuing to slide for the show following the departure of Jon Stewart.

Where it used to be must-watch television, The Daily Show on Comedy Central is now called "inessential" television.

The Daily Show on Comedy Central - with episodes of the Viacom International Media Networks show seen in South Africa and Africa on DStv a day later on weekdays - has so far lost a third of its viewership compared to when Jon Stewart was the host, although more young people in America are watching the show online.

After four months as the new host of The Daily Show, Slate describes Trevor Noah's approach to jokes as "distant" and that he lacks the "outraged advocacy" that made Jon Stewart's comedy so agenda-setting and the comedian a media darling.

Where the British John Oliver - whose Last Week Tonight satirical news show was broadcast in South Africa on M-Net (DStv 101) and will be switching to M-Net Edge (DStv 102) from Sunday 21 February at 21:00 - is using his "distance" from America to make his jokes on American politics "feel even sharper and more objective", Slate says "The Daily Show hasn't decided whether to play up Noah's outsider perspective or to pretend it doesn't exist".

"Playing naïve has also undermined Noah," says Slate. "Trevor Noah tends to seem remote and jokey, rather than genuinely curious".

"Noah will have time to figure out his point of view and his writers time to figure out how to maximize his particular skills. But in the meantime, we're left with a dulled Daily Show shedding relevancy in the midst of a wild and urgent election," says Slate.

COWABUNGA. Cows stolen off the isiBaya TV set; cattle call to find the missing Mzansi Magic moo-moo's yields no results; 'they were part of the family,' says production.

Cowabunga! Cows were stolen right off the isiBaya set of the hugely popular Mzansi Magic (DStv 161) show.

Producers have been desperately searching for their missing Mzansi Magic moo-moo's - with no luck so far.

The producers of the soap will now have to find new cattle to populate the background of the weekday soap opera.

"Yes. All of our cows were stolen beginning of the year," Desiree Markgraaff, executive producer of isiBaya tells TV with Thinus.

"We had about 8 cows. It happened at night and we only discovered in the morning that the cows were gone. We loved those cows. They were part of the isiBaya family."

The Bomb Shelter production will now have to find new moo-moo's as isiBaya extras where their appearance have helped with the realistic depiction of the ongoing family feud between the Zungus and Ndlovus in the Thukela Valley.

"We will have to get new cows," says Desiree Markgraaff of the show filmed in Soweto, the title of which means "the kraal".

So far a cattle call for the lost cows has not yielded any results. "We do have people still searching all over for the cows, but eventually we'll have to get new ones."

The cattle theft was reported to the police. No word yet on whether TV set insurance in South Africa pays out for the loss and theft of this type of television movable asset.

Monday, February 1, 2016

National Film and Video Foundation (NFVF) investigating a case of alleged fraud in which former manager, now resigned, could have stolen millions.

The National Film and Video Foundation (NFVF) is investigating a case of alleged fraud that could run to millions of rand by a former manager.

The former manager was suspended, then resigned.

According to the investigation, its alleged that the former training manager used an events and promotions company in the name of her domestic worker to transfer and thereby steal money from the NFVF earmarked for bursaries for film students.

The alleged fraud was discovered when R250 000 as part of a student bursary was paid not paid into the applicable student's bank account but into the account of the event company late in 2015.

"The department of arts and culture is aware of the investigation into the conduct of a staff member at the National Film and Video Foundation (NFVF). The staff member was suspended and an investigation initiated that has not been concluded."

"The staff member has subsequently resigned. The NFVF will take any necessary actions once the investigation is complete," says a statement.

MultiChoice and M-Net soon launching GOtv as its digital television service in South Africa; what is happening with M-Net analogue subscribers?

MultiChoice and M-Net will soon launch its GOtv service as its digital TV product and service in South Africa's digital terrestrial television (DTT) market.

GOtv, MultiChoice's cheaper DTT service already available in several other African countries outside of South Africa, will cost R100 for a monthly subscription according to its South African website, with a GOtv decoder that will cost R700.

South African GOtv subscribers won't need a satellite dish but will also have to buy an antenna for R300. 

GOtv will come with around 12 TV channels at launch that's already available on MultiChoice's DStv satellite pay-TV platform.

It's not clear what MultiChoice and M-Net are planning to do with its M-Net analogue subscribers and M-Net analogue subscribers – tens of thousands of South Africans who don't have DStv but who use M-Net decoders and who have been waiting patiently for the DTT switch-over to get new decoders.

Part of the big problem is that GOtv as a cheaper digital TV service in the rest of Africa doesn't include the M-Net channel. 

Yet M-Net analogue subscribers living in South Africa must get a "like-for-like" digital terrestrial television service – a DTT service that includes M-Net as a channel.

Yolisa Phahle, M-Net CEO, confirmed to TV with Thinus last week that the digital terrestrial television offering will launch under the GOtv brand in South Africa. MultiChoice will run the platform and product, and M-Net will supply TV channels.

Yolisa Phahle didn't want to answer when asked whether their would be overlap between the GOtv channel offering available in South Africa and MultiChoice's existing DStv channels, but the website now indicates that M-Net's lower-tiered channels like M-Net Movies Zone, AfricaMagic Epic, Mzansi Wethu, Mzansi Bioskop, Mzansi Magic Music and Channel O will be included.

Other channels include Discovery Networks International's TLC Entertainment, SuperSport's SuperSport Blitz and SuperSport Select channels, Viacom's NickToons, Disney Junior and Dumisa.

Commercial free-to-air broadcaster will launch its own DTT offering which will include its own set of channels which will likely include several of the channels currently carried on its own OpenView HD (VHD) free-to-air satellite platform from Platco Digital like eKasi+, eMovies+ and eToonz+.

The SABC's free-to-air DTT offering include only 5 channels: SABC1, SABC2, SABC3 as well as the SABC News (DStv 404) and SABC Encore (DStv 156) library rerun channels available on DStv.

MultiChoice and M-Net are apparently doing a media briefing announcing GOtv for Johannesburg media on Wednesday.

Besides the normal GOtv monthly subscription of R99 that will be known as the "Value" bouquet, the GOtv website for South Africa also lists a "Lite" GOtv subscription of R45 per quarter. GOtv Lite will only have one religion and one music TV channel.

The availability of MultiChoice's GOtv in South Africa will initially be limited - due to roll-out of the DTT signals.

GOtv will primarily only work in parts of Gauteng concentrated around Johannesburg and Pretoria, Bloemfontein, Durban, Port Elizabeth and Cape Town where the GOtv DTT signal can be received. National coverage will gradually grow.

The department of communications on Monday also announced that 1 February 2016 marks "the start of the dual illumination period in South Africa's digital migration process".

Dual illumination means the period where both the existing analogue signal of certain TV channels - for instance SABC1, SABC2, SABC3, and M-Net - are broadcast, as well as the digital terrestrial version of those same channels.

Once enough South African TV viewers have bought their DTT decoders which are necessary to continue watching television in future, the analogue signals will be switched off.

The minister of communications, Faith Muthambi, says "government plans to distribute 5 million free set-top boxes (STBs). The next distribution and installation process for STBs will be in the Free State this month".

MultiChoice terminating M-Net's under-performing AfricaMagic Showcase channel on DStv from the end of February after 15 months.

MultiChoice is removing M-Net's under-performing AfricaMagic Showcase (DStv 150) channel from DStv Premium in South Africa, terminating the channel from the end of February.

AfricaMagic Showcase was previously AfricaMagic Entertainment until it abruptly changed with no warning or announcement in September 2014.

As a "relaunched" channel, AfricaMagic Showcase - packed and supplied by M-Net to MultiChoice - survived only a year and 5 months on DStv Premium, the only DStv package it was available on in South Africa.

Asked why AfricaMagic Showcase is being terminated, MultiChoice, in response to a media enquiry, tells TV with Thinus that the M-Net supplied channel wasn't popular enough with viewers.

"We constantly review our DStv packages to make sure our customers are getting the very best in entertainment. Our research has shown that AfricaMagic Showcase hasn't been performing well, so while we don't often remove a channel, it's the right decision to make".

It's not immediately clear whether AfricaMagic Showcase is being shut down for the entire Africa, or whether MultiChoice is just taking away the channel for DStv Premium subscribers in South Africa.

AfricaMagic Showcase will continue as a TV channel on MultiChoice's DStv in other African countries, outside of South Africa.

M-Net tells me that "AfricaMagic Showcase will nonetheless remain as one of the top performing channels for other viewers across the rest of Africa on DStv channel 151".

MultiChoice says DStv Premium subscribers can still get AfricaMagic Showcase content but admits that subscribers will now have to wait longer to see some of it before it gets broadcast on the AfricaMagic Urban (DStv 153) channel.

MultiChoice says DStv Premium subscribers "can still get the best of local content on our other AfricaMagic channels, as well as on Mzansi and VUZU" - meaning the Mzansi Magic (DStv 161) and other Mzansi Magic channels.

"Many of the shows and movies that were available on AfricaMagic Showcase (such as Tinsel, Jara and Stargist) can be found on AfricaMagic Urban. Please note that if you were watching content on AfricaMagic Showcase, that content might only appear later on AfricaMagic Urban," says MultiChoice.

eNCA anchor Joanne Joseph moves back to 4pm timeslot from today to replace Dudu Ramela; still looking for mid-morning co-anchor replacement.

eNCA (DStv 403) anchor Joanne Joseph is moving back to the 16:00 to 18:00 timeslot from today, 1 February with the Sabido-run TV news channel on DStv that is still looking for a new co-anchor for Cathy Mohlahlana in the mid-morning slot.

Joanne Joseph replaces Duduzile Ramela who left the 16:00 timeslot on eNCA to anchor's quixotic eNews Direct.

Joanne Joseph previously anchored at 16:00 on weekdays and she's familiar with the timeslot that's more interview-driven with a faster pace.

"The 16:00 to 18:00 show makes unique demands on the afternoon team," compressing a wealth of news - from politics, to business, to sport and weather - into a mere two hours," says Joanne Joseph.

"For the afternoon tea, it's a barrage of breathless journalism. For the viewer, we hope to make it an informal whirlwind that draws you into the eye of the day's top stories around us."

"eNCA is confident Joanne Joseph will take Afternoon News from strength to strength with her incisive interviewing skills and intelligent approach to news," says Mapi Mhlangu, eNCA news director.

"As a senior anchor Joanne Joseph plays a crucial role in mentoring young talent. She models a very high standard of professionalism in broadcast journalism. We are confident that her probing interview style, ability to distill live events and dedication to the core values of journalism will continue to make eNCA the country's news channel of choice"," says Mapi Mhlangu.

eNCA is still deciding on a replacement for Joanne Joseph's spot next to Cathy Mohlahlana.

Pasella adds three new presenters as SABC2 yet again moves it to a new timeslot to create an uninterrupted Afrikaans programming flow block on Fridays.

Pasella is adding three new presenters when the Afrikaans lifestyle and entertainment magazine show on SABC2 returns for another season from this Friday, 5 February.

Pasella's timeslot is also once again changing - from 18:00 exactly a year ago during its last season to now 19:30 on Fridays where it will serve as a lead-out for the SABC's Afrikaans TV news bulletin.

Pasella moving to 19:30 and replacing the Sesotho news bulletin moving to 18:00, will serve as part of a new programming bridge to the Afrikaans game show Noot vir Noot at 20:00.

It's part of the SABC's attempt to keep Afrikaans viewers from tuning out by creating an uninterrupted Afrikaans language flow programming block of two and a half hours on Friday nights, starting with 7de Laan at 18:30, followed by the Afrikaans news, Pasella and then Noot vir Noot.

Joining the existing line-up of Pasella presenters Paul Rothman, Dieter Voigt, Melinda Bam, Vicky Davis, Lynelle Kenned and Simon Witbooi known as Hemelbesem, are Mishka Patel, Sean-Marco Vorster and Carmen Pretorius.

The show from Tswelopele Productions also responsible for SABC3's Top Billing, used to run uninterrupted all year round on SABC2 until March 2013 when the SABC decided to break it down into shorter interrupted seasons which returned in the new format in February last year.

Mishka Patel is finally getting TV screen time after the former Presenter Search on 3 finalist was officially announced on Expresso as the Win a Home co-presenter on SABC3 in August and then got inexplicably dumped causing big embarrassment.

Mishka Patel is a former Miss South Africa finalist and will interview actress Lindie Stander and painter Sandy Esau in the new Pasella season's first episode.

Sean-Marco Vorster was a presenter on SABC3's short-lived NAweek magazine show in 2015 and had roles in local Afrikaans films like Die Windpomp, Strikdas and Lystraf.

Soap star Carmen Pretorius who've appeared in Isidingo and Binnelanders has also done musicals and films like Lien se Lankstaanskoene.

Afrikaans personalities who will appear in the new Pasella season include Fanie de Villiers, Kurt Darren, Annie Malan, Faf du Plessis, Len Muller, Nianell and Dozi.

The first Pasella episode will be visiting Langebaan, with Hartbeespoortdam, Stellenbosch, Pretoria, Riebeek-Kasteel, Witrivier and Hermanus in upcoming episodes.

BREAKING. VIDI fails: Times Media Group's streaming service quietly shuts down as the next victim in South Africa's video-on-demand battle.

VIDI has become South Africa's second commercial video-on-demand (VOD) failure with the Times Media Group that has abruptly shut down the streaming service just a year and 4 months after it launched in September 2014.

There's been no announcement of the closure of the struggling VIDI, with the website saying VIDI is no longer available.

It leaves Naspers' ShowMax, China's PCCW Global and its, MTN's relaunched VU, as well as Netflix South Africa as the remaining subscription video-on-demand (SVOD) players who all arose quickly within the past year and already saw Altron's disastrous Altech Node crash and burn in October 2015.

In the same month last year, investor group Tiso Blackstar which has full ownership of the Times Media Group, announced that it is pulling out of VIDI and said that that the purple SVOD service that was launched with great fanfare hasn't been a success since it went commercial.

VIDI launched a marketing campaign offering a Ferrari 458 Spider in an attempt to get more people to try the video service - which at launch said that it would need 40 000 regular users to break even.

Both ShowMax and at their respective launch events refused to say how many users and subscribers they would need to be viable and successful but both ShowMax and said there won't be immediate pressure.

Tiso Blackstar attributed VIDI's failure to "weak market penetration and the slow pace of meaningful broadband growth in South Africa".

Compared to Netflix South Africa, ShowMax and, VIDI had the smallest number of film titles, the smallest number of TV titles, as well as the shortest trial period of just 7 days.

According to a recent study by research firm BMI-TechKnowledge, South African consumers have a very low awareness of VOD providers with only 18% of people knowing what and who video-on-demand players are.

According to the study there could be between 692 000 and 917 500 active video-on-demand (VOD) households by 2020 in South Africa.

MultiChoice with DStv and its BoxOffice service stands out with the highest awareness as the leading pay-TV service, with low levels of awareness of the pure-play VOD providers," according to the market research.