Sunday, September 24, 2017

DStv SHOWCASE SEPTEMBER 2017: MultiChoice CEO Mark Rayner: DStv remains hard at work at driving down repeats and helping viewers with content discovery; DStv Now has 'surpassed expectations'.

MultiChoice CEO Mark Rayner says DStv remains hard at work at driving down repeats and rebroadcasts across the various DStv channels - one of the biggest complaints from subscribers - while viewing and use of the DStv Now service has "surpassed expectations".

On Thursday Mark Rayner addressed the media at MultiChoice's DStv media showcase held in the cinema auditorium at MultiChoice City in Randburg, Johannesburg.

As part of his presentation, Mark Rayner told the press that MultiChoice remains committed to not just reducing old content across DStv TV channels as part of an increased focus to reduce repeats, but has also been putting a lot of focus on improving scheduling to make it easier for viewers to watch shows.

MultiChoice is also pro-actively working to create new ways for DStv subscribers to find the content that's available that they might want to watch, through creating and implementing better content discovery mechanisms.

"We're making pro-active moves to limit DStv repeats; complaints have been coming down nicely," said Mark Rayner.

There's been a strong focus at MultiChoice the past few months to reduce the number of repeats and rebroadcasts of content across various TV channels on DStv's platform and to help viewers find new programming.

With a lot of work that's been done to reduce repeats on the various M-Net packaged channels for DStv, Mark Rayner said that the focus on reducing repeats resulted in an increase in the viewership and ratings of the M-Net (DStv 101) channel for instance.

And it's not just M-Net.

MultiChoice has also been having ongoing discussions with the distributors of third-party supplied TV channels for DStv's platform who have been urged to reduce repeats where they're not working - even in instances where they still got good ratings.

A repeat problem that has been addressed for instance has been old Top Gear episodes from BBC Worldwide shown on a channel like BBC Brit (DStv 120), with DStv subscribers who complained that they had been forced to watch the same old episodes over and over.

"Sometimes I pity the TV channels that get a call from Aletta Alberts [MultiChoice's head of content] and her content team. Aletta has argued vehemently with the BBC for instance over repeats of old Top Gear episodes in particular," said Mark Rayner.

He said that DStv subscribers' use of MultiChoice's over-the-top (OTT) service DStv Now "has surpassed expectations".

Saturday, September 23, 2017

DStv SHOWCASE SEPTEMBER 2017: M-Net CEO Yolisa Phahle: 'We aspire to be the leading storyteller of African stories for the world.'

M-Net CEO Yolisa Phahle says M-Net's big vision is to be the leading storyteller of African stories for the world.

On Thursday Yolisa Phahle addressed the media at MultiChoice's DStv media showcase held in the cinema auditorium at MultiChoice City in Randburg, Johannesburg, explaining what she's proud of as the CEO of Africa's leading pay-TV broadcaster on the continent.

"We aspire to be the leading storyteller of African stories for the world," said Yolisa Phahle.

"I think that our stories have the potential to find audiences beyond our borders, and if we can do that, we will build our industry, we will build our talent, and that's what it's all about."

"I'm very proud that we won the Gold Promax Award for the M-Net 30th Birthday campaign. For us this is a small step in the right direction, because we were competing with big global brands."

"We were competing with Eurovision as an event, we were competing with something from the BBC, something from Disney. So really, really big massive brands who have events of great proportions, and actually this year in New York we took home that award, and I'm really, really proud of that," said Yolisa Phahle.

"I'm also proud of something new which we launched this year with MultiChoice," said Yolisa Phahle.

"This year we decided to stage the DStv Mzansi Viewers' Choice Awards. Now for us, it is really, really important that we bring our industry together. We recognise our industry, we acknowledge our industry, and that we also give our audiences a chance to have their voices heard."

"So these awards were awards for our industry but not the Saftas type awards where it's about directing and editing and all sorts of other important production capabilities. The DStv Mzansi Viewers' Choice Awards is about the best actor, the best presenter, the best DJ, the best comedian."

"The DStv Mzansi Viewers' Choice Awards was a fantastic event. The red carpet was literally something that can compete with the Oscars and the Emmys; our stars looked amazing, the audience loved the show, the ratings of the DStv Mzansi Viewers' Choice Awards on Mzansi Magic (DStv 161) was through the roof."

"I think this is something that we need to have. Our industry needs to have one night a year when they come together and they celebrate and I'm very proud of that as well."

"If I talk about the channels, I have to say that our local content is really going from strength to strength," said Yolisa Phahle.

"We're at season 13 of Idols on Mzansi Magic (DStv 161) - the ratings are amazing, the audiences are still there, the talent is amazing, we're getting ready to launch season 10 on kykNET (DStv 144) of Boer Soek 'n Vrou - again, a hugely successful show."

"On M-Net (DStv 101) I'm really proud of Trevor Noah who had his first-ever local talk show on M-Net, was back in the country, he came to see us, he did an amazing show for us at the Johannesburg Theatre, and we're also now getting ready to produce a comedy series with Trevor Noah."

"This show [working title: Trevor Noah Presents...] is going to profile and highlight other fantastic South African comedians. I'm proud of our local content and the investment that we with MultiChoice continue to make."

"Finally, very close to my heart, is our M-Net Magic in Motion Academy. This is our corporate social responsibility initiative. It's run by Gaylyn Wingate-Pearse who many of you now, and this is really about ensuring the sustainability of our industry."

"This is about finding and supporting and nurturing and mentoring and giving the next generation of local content makers the chance to excel and hopefully help us realise this massive vision that we have about African storytelling in the world," said Yolisa Phahle.

"These guys come to us for a year, they have a paid internship, they work on all of our big productions - they're not making tea, they're not filing papers, they are on the studio floor, they're in the editing suites and they actually end up producing shows which rate."

"So the Magic in Motion Academy, the future of our industry, is something that is very close to my heart," said Yolisa Phahle.

■ As I sat there, I thought why is the SABC as South Africa's public broadcaster not doing this, not talking like this, not communicating a vision and success stories like this, not being like this.

■ Covering South African television, it was hugely inspiring to just sit and listen to Yolisa Phahle doing her presentation. She didn't hype up anything, or needed to. The very plain facts, all true, spoke volumes about what M-Net is really doing as a pay-TV broadcaster and its gargantuan contribution to South Africa and Africa's TV industry.

■ Respect to Yolisa Phahle who literally was on a flight back to South Africa on Thursday morning from Lagos, Nigeria and landed very early, and still took a lot of time out of her day to attend the DStv Media Showcase and to talk to the media.

DStv SHOWCASE SEPTEMBER 2017: MultiChoice, M-Net and SuperSport's top bosses reveal their personal TV viewing choices with remarkable candour, humour and insight.

Some of South Africa's top TV executives - the TV bosses of MultiChoice, M-Net and SuperSport - have revealed a bit of what they're personally watching on DStv and Showmax, sharing their viewing preferences with the press with remarkable candour, humour and insight.

At MultiChoice's DStv media showcase held on Thursday at MultiChoice City in Randburg, South Africa, the clever stage-setting opening act revolved around Mark Rayner (MultiChoice CEO), Yolisa Phahle (M-Net CEO) and Gideon Khobane (SuperSport CEO) sitting down and sharing their personal TV watch lists.

The extremely busy top-level TV executives took a big chunk of time out of their busy schedules to talk to the media on Thursday at the DStv media showcase, making a great impression on journalists through creating an immediate, and personal connection with the press.

The TV executive trio told TV critics and journalists covering television and broadcasting what shows and programming they're watching across the various channels available on DStv and Naspers' subscription video-on-demand (SVOD) service Showmax that is now being folded into MultiChoice's DStv Digital Media division.

"I'm finishing off House of Cards on my playlist, and I also have a series recording for This Is Us," said the always-affable Mark Rayner, MultiChoice CEO.

"I'm behind the Boks in these dark days, so tuning in to the Rugby Championship. And then, I'm keen to try Taboo on Showmax - I've heard it's a great one."

"Taboo is really edgy stuff, the Showmax team is super-excited about it and it's a cool series. The next time I get some time to binge-watch, the next rainy Sunday, maybe I can tuck in for a few episodes of that."

Mark Rayner said the amount of great TV content coming out of Hollywood and other areas of the world "is staggering". "What the big challenge is now, is try trying to help people to get to the content that they need to watch."

"It's not a case of us saying at 8pm you're going to be happy with what we give you."

"There's so much available content now, we have to help and direct people. And people's TV tastes are becoming more fragmented and niche - and not decided upon by a broadcaster's schedule."

Other mere mortals would have gone and collapsed at home, but up next was a jet-lagged but sprightly Yolisa Phahle who flew back to South Africa from a business trip in Nigeria and literally landed early on Thursday morning in Johannesburg.

Yet she still made time to race over to the cinema auditorium inside MultiChoice City to talk to the media and to answer questions.

"I do love reality shows, so I'm tuned in to My Kitchen Rules SA, House Hunters International, Location, Location, Location and Married at First Sight. And, of course, I've got to keep it local as well, so I'm keeping up with The Queen."

"You know you have parents who say 'we don't let our children watch TV; only weekends," said Yolisa Phahle.

"Liars! They're liars!" the funny Mark Rayner hilariously chipped in, followed by laughter from the press corps.

"My children are brought up in front of the TV, so we'll see how that turns out," said the self-deprecating Yolisa Phahle also to big laughter, who interestingly revealed there's 6 TV sets all through her house - something that seems totally fitting for the person who is in charge of M-Net.

"We've got 4 small bedrooms in the house, so there's one TV set in each bedroom - which people say is also not good for your marriage. We have a TV in the kitchen; we have a TV in the lounge."

"So we literally watch TV all the time," said Yolisa Phahle.

"In fact when I was a child, we didn't watch TV at all. Because my father made me read. And then we had an older cousin who came from Ladysmith in 1975 and they did not have a TV. And they watched television the whole time."

"And my sister and I who were very small then, became addicted to TV and then when my cousin went, my father actually got rid of the TV because he said 'this is not going anywhere, you're never going to become a doctor if you keep watching TV".

"He was right!" said Mark Rayner.

"So, he was absolutely right," said Yolisa Phahle. "So I love TV, and I tend to watch what I need to for work. So if we're doing a new drama, I'll research loads of drama. If we're doing telenovelas I'll research telenovelas. But at heart, I'm a lifestyle person."

"Anything to do with houses, buying houses, changing houses - My Kitchen Rules South Africa I have to mention just because it's on M-Net. I don't know if you've seen it but it literally takes a local version of an international format to another level."

"The production values, the story-telling, the characters. Every Sunday I set my clock and I watch it live, I don't watch it on DStv Catch Up, I've got to watch it live."

"I love house programmes, I love travel. I say Travel Channel but it's really House Hunters International that I watch."

Yolisa Phahle said The Queen on Mzansi Magic (DStv 161) is "South Africa's Queen".

"It's exciting not just because it's such a great show but it competes incredibly well with another long-running soap - and it's always tough to do that but we've actually done it, so well done to Reneilwe Sema (M-Net director of local entertainment channels)."

"The Queen is also a production company that is run by the main actors [Shona and Connie Ferguson] so we've literally taken these iconic South African actors that everybody grew up watching, and they now employ people and they have one of the top shows on Mzansi Magic and DStv and it's a great success story."

Up next was Gideon Khobane, SuperSport CEO who said "right now I'm tuned in to Insecure and Ray Donovan for a bit of comedy and drama".

"Sport is a must for me, so definitely Homeground and a bit of wrestling on WWE Raw and Smackdown. And I'm also watching Rome on Showmax."

"Ray Donovan is very dark. I like it because it takes you away. Everybody's meant to be moral and he's immoral. So for me it's perfect. It takes you away."

Gideon Khobane who went to New York recently with certain select media to watch wrestling for just over a week in the Barclay Center in Brooklyn after SuperSport signed a contract to broadcast WWE wrestling on DStv since September, said it's "the pinnacle of sports entertainment".

"When you watch their live events, it's incredible - the production values, the staging, the pyrotechnics, the entertainment value, it's just out of this world. I'm always in awe when I see how much effort they put into production, and just staging."

"We do a lot of live events here at M-Net. But when I see the scale that they go to - they don't spare any bucks to put an event together. Their stars are actors. They brief them that they're not athletes - you're an actors. They're some of the best actors in the world in my view."

"When I watch series I want to be taken away from my everyday life. The drama series Rome is just one of those things as well. And there's a lot of immorality. I don't know - maybe something's wrong with me. I'm attracted to like, the dark side somewhat, you know," said Gideon Khobane to laughter.

"I also want to touch on Homeground - it's SuperSport's first co-production with Mzansi Magic."

"The audience of Mzansi Magic is phenomenal. So we've taken the sports genre and lifestyle genre and put them together, and the show is proving to be a phenomenal success."

'My only gripe with Nkateko Mabaso [general manager for M-Net South Africa] is that the show should be at 21:00, but he insists on putting The Queen at 21:00," Gideon Khobane quipped.

■ The idea for this panel session was smart, inspiring, and creative, and was executed in a practical way just as cleverly as it was conceived.

■ It's certainly the first time I can remember that the MultiChoice, SuperSport and M-Net execs ever talked about their personal TV viewing choices, let alone doing so together. Again, a very clever concept; novel and new.

■ Coming right at the beginning, it cleverly set just the right tone and mood for MultiChoice's DStv media showcase since the executives were all open, personal, funny and revealing.

■ These well-regarded, experienced and formidable TV executives gave their insight, but more importantly they gave their time. Together the top-most executives - appearing personally and being personal, warm, and sincere - signaled that the press and the day's media engagement matters.

■ Upon reflection it's again odd having to hear how SuperSport took some media somewhere, who did basically nothing about it.
Having hyped up its WWE rights acquisition, you have to wonder what on earth is SuperSport's return on investment (ROI) on this.
Where's the articles? Where's the stories and reporting? Where are the interviews, impression pieces and the interviews with all the wrestlers?

It felt a bit weird sitting in a DStv media showcase as media, having to hear second-hand about WWE wrestling and how presumably great it is, when SuperSport chose media who actually a month earlier experienced it but failed so far to do much about it, and very likely won't.

If the WWE wrestling truly was this big thing, why didn't SuperSport do more, earlier, from a media engagement perspective? Either SuperSport chose lame duck media, or the press failed to find the wrestling interesting enough to bother afterwards.

■ The brain of the SuperSport presenter Neil Andrews should be donated to science to help in the search for the cure of degenerative brain disease.

In action, as a social interaction whirlwind, just like on TV, he is absolutely brilliant at absorbing, responding, reflecting and guiding.

The veteran sports anchor as a perpetual in-the-moment presenter and who was the MC for the 3rd time at a DStv media showcase, is simply brilliant at not just picking up and remembering names, but for a vast general knowledge, and for keeping every fact and what is being said uncannily in quick-access memory.

Who knows how big Neil Andrews' random access memory (RAM) is? He can literally remember tens of journalists' names after hearing someone's name just once, and brings up random facts and what people said in surprisingly insightful (and funny!) ways.

Platco Digital dumps Islamic TV channel, Deen TV, from OpenView HD with yet another of its original launch channels going dark at the end of September.

Platco Digital's OpenView HD (OVHD) is dumping yet another one of the original TV channels that the free-to-air satellite TV service launched with in October 2013, with Deen TV that is abruptly being removed at the end of September 2017.

Deen TV will remain available on the Chinese StarTimes Media SA and On Digital Media's (ODM) StarSat on channel 365 has worked very hard the past three years in creating new content and shows but eMedia Investments is now done with the local South African Islamic TV channel.

Deen TV is a privately owned lifestyle TV channel with an Islamic ethos, owned by Deen Media Holdings (Pty). Ltd that was started in 2011.

eMedia Investments and OpenView HD didn't give specific reasons for the axing of Deen TV from the satellite service - the latest OpenView HD channel to be terminated - because it didn't want to, except to say its happened after "commercial discussions".

Since contract renewal talks didn't work out, Platco Digital is axing Deen TV.

These "commercial discussions" for a contract renewal didn't work out - either because Platco Digital didn't want to pay Deen TV what the channel wanted or needed, or because the channel wanted more money, or because OpenView HD wanted to pay Deen TV less money.

The South African public and South Africa's TV industry won't know the precise reasons because OpenView HD doesn't want to say besides the vague "commercial discussions" reference.

Neither did Deen TV, run by CEO Faizal Sayed, issue any statement, with Deen TV that is clearly miffed and upset about losing access to the OpenView HD platform..

OpenView HD says it's dumping Deen TV and that "the decision to discontinue our relationship with Deen TV was made on the back of scheduled commercial discussions between the two parties," according to Patrick Conroy, head of Platco Digital.

"It's the nature of businesses such as ours that channels are constantly reviewed, meaning that, from time to time, channels will be shuffled depending on market and commercial criteria".

After four years of helping Platco Digital to launch and grow OpenView HD and now getting shoved aside, Platco Digital says it "thanks Deen TV for being part of the OpenView HD journey since the platform's inception in 2013 and wishes the channel well".

Friday, September 22, 2017

Netflix pulls the penis episode of kids show Maya the Bee after inappropriate image; Studio 100 says its a 'very bad joke' by one of the artists.

Netflix has pulled the penis episode of the kids show Maya the Bee with the production company that on Friday apologised for the "very bad joke" that was inserted by one of the 150 artists who worked on the animation show and started legal action.

Parents are furious over the crudely drawn penis in the Netflix kids show that was produced by Studio 100 after a mom, Chey Robinson noticed it and shared a screengrab on social media.

The subscription video-on-demand (SVOD) service pulled the penis episode, with legal action that has now been started by the production company responsible for its insertion into the show.

Chey Robinson drew attention when she said on Facebook - in a post since removed -  "Smh [shaking my head], please be mindful of what your kids are watching. I did not edit any images whatsoever, this is ‘Maya The Bee,’ season one, episode 35.”

She also shared this clip to show the penis drawing in the background for a few seconds:

"An absolutely inappropriate image has been discovered in a four-second fly-by scene in one episode of the total of 78 episodes of the series," said the production company Studio 100 in a statement on Friday.

"The origin of this image obviously results from a very bad joke from one of the 150 artists working on the production. This is indeed unacceptable to the Studio 100 Group as owner of the brand and all its partners and doesn’t reflect the quality of its work and its values."

"Legal action has already been started. Studio 100 very much regrets this incident and would like to offer its sincere apologies to all Maya the Bee fans. At the same time the company is taking all suitable technical measures to remedy the situation."

Maya the Bee that has seen its one anime version rebroadcast on South African television multiple times in the past, is based on the 1912 European children's book by the German writer Waldemar Bonsels.

DStv SHOWCASE SEPTEMBER 2017: MultiChoice upgrades BBC Brit and E! Entertainment to HD channels on DStv; adds pop-up channels.

MultiChoice is upgrading two more entertainment TV channels on DStv to high definition (HD) and is adding further pop-up channels.

BBC Brit (DStv 120) from BBC Worldwide and E! Entertainment (DStv 124) from NBCUniversal International Networks are both switching to HD channels from 5 October and December respectively.
BBC Brit that will unveil an updated look in October to co-incide with the channel’s broadcast quality improvement, will also change to become a “full spectrum” entertainment channel.

Originally launched as a male-skewed channel with British content when BBC Worldwide Africa relaunched its bouquet of BBC-branded channels on DStv in September 2015, BBC Brit is now expanding to further broaden its channel proposition into general entertainment.

BBC Brit will now cater to a wider audience and women along the lines of the former BBC Entertainment, with programming like Death in Paradise and EastEnders that already moved to BBC Brit.

Programming on BBC Brit will include Strictly Come Dancing UK (starting 10 October), The Graham Norton Show, the comedy series Carter’s Get Rich, the Brit-com classic Absolutely Fabulous getting a rebroadcast and documentaries like Killer Women wit Piers Morgan.

From 8 October the BBC sister channel, BBC First (DStv 119) that starts at 18:00 daily, will increase its daily running hours to 12 hours per day, now starting at 12:00 in the afternoon and running until midnight.

BBC First will continue to show award-winning, premium British series like Doctor Foster, Peaky Blinders and the soap Holby City.

“Our focus is to continue to enhance the entertainment experience for our customers,” says Aletta Alberts, MultiChoice’s head of content. “Offering BBC Brit in HD and extending the broadcast hours of BBC First, gives our customers a front-row seat to the best of British entertainment”.

More pop-up film channels from M-Net
MultiChoice announced further pop-up movie channels and film festivals for DStv, packaged by M-Net, that will unspool over the coming few months.

Aletta Alberts says the DStv pop-up channels are popular with viewers. “We’re really proud of them, when we play them they’re usually in the top 5 normally of most watched channels, and you’ll see us doing them on an ongoing basis.”

“We think it’s a much better way of curating content and really, really getting people into it.”

The “ShockTober Fest” movie festival will start on the M-Net Movies Action+ channel in October, unspooling a collection of horror and thrillers. “It’s all those movies that make your hair stand up – thrillers, horror” says Aletta Alberts, with films from Stephen King for instance.

Then there is the previously announced pop-up channel featuring the 100 films to see before you die and that MultiChoice at the start of 2017 said is coming this year. This channel will run as a special pop-up channel on DStv from November.

This pop-up channel will be called M-Net Movies Bucket List – “The 100 Movies to see Before you Die” and will run on DStv channel 109.

“This is our big event for the year in terms of pop-ups. Obviously this could create huge social media conversation because your 100 movies, my 100 movies … there’s going to be a lot of debate around that,” says Aletta Alberts.

M-Net plans to do a big reveal about which 100 movies made the list.

In December the beloved Animania will return to the M-Net Movies Smile channel on DStv as a festival. “We again definitely have the best of the best animated movies,” says Aletta Alberts. Films include Trolls, Angry Birds, Zootopia, Minions, Norm of the North and Madagascar.

“These are just a few of the amazing titles DStv subscribers will be able to see, so make sure that you’re on DStv Premium in December.”

kykNET’s pop-up Afrikaans film channel fliekNET will again return in December and this time will run from 16 December until 12 January 2018. “It will have the best of the Afrikaans movies that you’ve seen over the last few years, plus all this year’s best movies,” says Aletta Alberts.

fliekNET will be followed by, and tie into, kykNET’s (DStv 144) new Afrikaans film competition show, fliekNET Foendi’s, with presenter Ivan Botha. “It’s a quiz show about movies, so watch in January and see if you can answer those film questions first from the couch.”

DStv SHOWCASE SEPTEMBER 2017: IN PICTURES. They came, they saw, they devoured the upcoming content MultiChoice showed.

They came they saw, they consumed.

The content that is.

On Thursday MultiChoice held a Media Showcase day at its MultiChoice City headquarters in Johannesburg with South Africa's widely diverse and eclectic national press corps covering television.

The satellite pay-TV provider rolled out sizzle reels and made content announcements, talked about how MultiChoice is improving content discovery, held panel sessions with shows and stars and did top-level executive presentations and Q&A sessions.

Included in the packed, but beautifully segmented, and perfectly flowing and structured day, were multiple educational background sessions on virtually every aspect of MultiChoice's TV business that matters, with receptive and responsive MultiChoice, M-Net and SuperSport executives who answered every single question the media had.

The DStv Media Showcase was the second one MultiChoice held this year, following the one in February.

And it was essentially perfect in every practical way.

MultiChoice brilliantly utilised the internal resources of the MultiChoice City complex - from the cinema auditorium with its comfortable wide-seats, big screen and sound, to the side venue, and even the building's rooftop where lunch was served.

In a business where appearance can often be everything, the DStv Media Showcase on Thursday was as close as possible to pitch perfect with not a single thing out of order or to complain about.

MultiChoice create a contained, perfect environment for journalists and TV critics to work and to listen, see, absorb, learn, understand and to ask questions with zero external interruption.

MultiChoice put up a virtually flawless content presentation with exactly the right, extremely knowledgeable executives who were all in attendance and who all answered every question - without knowing what the media would be asking next.

The DStv Media Showcase, packed with information, trailers, sizzle reels, previews, content announcements about programming and upcoming changes and improvements to MultiChoice's pay-TV service, was insightful, extremely comprehensive and inclusive, and very well organised. 

Power points, toilets, free WiFi, breaks, snacks and drinks were all in abundance and within quick and easy reach - as were multiple publicists, executives and on-air talent of new upcoming shows.

SuperSport's scary/brilliant/funny and ever-amazing presenter Neil Andrews as the day's compère was back for a 3rd time and remained as brilliant, humorous and quick-witted as ever.

Talking about Television doesn't get done better in South Africa than what MultiChoice managed with its DStv Media Showcase on Thursday - it was a veritable Tour de Television with just the right pace and an avalanche of information for the media.

Although they're extremely busy people, the friendly and super-informed Mark Rayner (MultiChoice CEO), Aletta Alberts (MultiChoice head of content), Yolisa Phahle (M-Net CEO) who just jetted in and landed the morning from Nigeria, Gideon Khobane (SuperSport CEO), Graeme Cummings (MultiChoice head of digital media) and Nkateko Mabaso (M-Net general manager for South Africa) all attended and did great presentations.

They all mingled with the media and, very bravely, answered every single question journalists threw at them.

There were surprises aplenty (Ooh! A secret and beautiful Blue Planet II sizzle reel of the show coming to BBC Worldwide's BBC Earth), a real-time MultiChoice employee makeover to showcase E! Entertainment's upcoming How Do I Look SA? with Roxy Burger, fascinating content reveals, and even a panel discussion for Lifetime's (DStv 131) upcoming second season of Married At First Sight SA.

The whole DStv Media Showcase was wonderfully book-ended at the beginning and right at the end by extremely creative voice-overs and funny one-liners over little bits of the just concluded 7th season of Game of Thrones.

It was very well done in the vein of scenes with mostly Jamie and Cersei observing the land and fleets of ships and talking about it as approaching content.

If television were a theme park, the DStv Media Showcase was like spending a day inside one.

The DStv Media Showcase ended off the evening with an utterly perfect cocktail evening under a large white tent on the one side of the "old" MultiChoice backlot next to the one entrance.

It was a genius idea - both in the space utilisation and flawless execution.

Once again it was within easy-to-reach walking distance of MultiChoice City with drinks and various food trucks waiting there, ranging from a pizza truck and hamburger truck to dessert where you could choose your made-to-order items.

It was simply beautiful to see, beautiful to eat; beautiful to experience.

Thursday, September 21, 2017

DAILY TV NEWS ROUND-UP. Today's interesting TV stories to read from TVwithThinus - 21 September 2017.

Here's the latest news about TV that I read, and that you should too:

■ Correspondent Ayman Mohyeldin is getting his own weekend anchoring show on MSNBC (StarSat 263).
His show will be followed by yet another new MSNBC weekend show with Kasie Hunt as the anchor.

■ Leslie Moonves says CBS and CBS News is talking about what to do with the CBS Evening News.
South African and African viewers can still see it on Sky News (DStv 402).

■ Firefly at 15 years: The cast shares their oral history about the short-lived science fiction show.

■ Manga Nawa-Mukena (37), MultiChoice Namibia's former marketing manager back in court for fraud case. 
After she made MultiChoice Namibia pay N$2 million (R2 million) over a period of 4 years into her bank account that appeared on invoices, Manga Nawa-Mukena is back in court for a 4th appearance.
The lovely Manga denied guilt on charges of fraud and forgery.
She handed in the invoices, but claims she doesn't know how her bank account details ended up on the 80 falsified invoices. She will appear in court again on 17 November.

■ Stephen Colbert slams Donald Trump over the American president's obsession with the Emmys and ratings.

■ Sabrina the Teenage Witch is following Archie as a live-action TV teen drama series.
The Chilling Adventures of Sabrina will be a dark horror show designed to serve as a companion series to Riverdale that is seen on

■ After winning big with The Handmaid's Tale at the 2017 Emmys, Hulu is pumping another $2.5billion into making more TV series.
Will launch another 7 new original TV series within the next 6 to 9 months.

■ A 5th Game of Thrones prequel drama series is being developed and could possibly make it to television.

■ Research finds 59% of TV companies are unprepared and unequipped for advanced TV.

■ Netflix's success only makes it burn through more and more money.
Spending cash on original content is to blame for Netflix's growing debt, and it's not going to stop until Netflix's user growth stops.

Wednesday, September 20, 2017

eNCA news anchors complain about 'toxic environment' at eNCA as freelance news readers say they're forced to work without contracts.

eNCA (DStv 403) news anchors are complaining about a "toxic work environment" at the eMedia Investments run TV news channel carried on MultiChoice's DStv satellite pay-TV platform, with freelance news readers saying they're working without contracts.

TVwithThinus asked eMedia Investments on Wednesday if it can please say whether eNCA freelance news anchors, working late nights and weekends for instance, have contracts, and if not, why not, or how does it work?

Spokesperson Vassili Vass declined to answer the question specifically.

TVwithThinus also asked about Sally Burdett apparently promising news anchors contracts - something else that according to news anchors haven't happened and if eNCA and eMedia Investments has any possible comment or explanation.

eNCA anchors say they are living in fear of speaking out about their "toxic working environment", fearing that they'd be dropped from the news reading schedule.

"The company adheres to all labour laws of the country,' said Vassili Vass in response. "The matter of contracts, freelance and otherwise, is an internal matter on which we will not be drawn to comment in public."

"That said, certain freelancers who provide ad hoc services are paid on the provision of proper invoices, and any freelancer (or any employee for that matter) who feels like he or she has not been properly accommodated in that regard is free to approach our human resources department and the matter will be attended to."

"Should any employee have any grievances, there are properly established internal channels which deal with the issues."

"All employees are treated fairly and respectfully during this process, thus talk of a toxic environment are therefore false, defamatory and unfounded. It is in our view, mischief making."

The Star newspaper first reported on Wednesday about eNCA that is apparently flouting South Africa's labour laws.

eNCA news anchors told the newspaper they're living in fear, because they don't know how much they will be paid, don't have contracts that's required by law, and don't want to force the issue, fearing that they'll be let go.

One longtime eNCA news anchor told The Star that "If you complain you are removed from the roster. And there is no contract that you can go back to and say: 'But I have a contract to work this number of shifts a month".

The issue in in the public eye, although eNCA says it is an internal matter.

Also odd is that eNCA and eMedia Investments isn't willing to confirm that all eNCA freelance news anchors have signed contracts - as required by law - something that would put the issue to bed immediately.

DAILY TV NEWS ROUND-UP. Today's interesting TV stories to read from TVwithThinus - 20 September 2017.

Here's the latest news about TV that I read, and that you should too:

■ "Haunting, chilling, peerless, plausible." How The Handmaid's Tale changed television.
Everybody is now buzzing about the drama that won the best Emmy. South Africans haven't been able to watch it - and still can't.
- The Handmaid's Tale win validates online video streaming services as an equal competitor to traditional TV.
- M-Net (DStv 101) will finally start to show it - a month and a half from now on 30 October. South Africans likely would perhaps have seen it sooner already if M-Net and DStv didn't dump the M-Net Edge channel at the beginning of the year.
Shonda Rhimes calls the Emmys "embarrassing".

■ The Murdoch's global television ambitions.
The Murdochs is interested in taking over pay-TV broadcaster Sky in the United Kingdom, but they and their 21th Century FOX have their sights on much larger, international TV goals - specifically India. And they want Europe, South America, Africa and Australia.

■ FOX News (StarSat 261) accused of blacklisting.

■ Poor SABC says it can't afford to broadcast all national sports matches.

■ "Patriotic" American TV shows are falling out of favour in the rest of the world.
American TV studios now deliberately toning down the over-done "America first" tone of dramas.

■ New video takes viewers behind-the-scenes of the new Star Trek: Discovery.
But it's not available to viewers in South Africa and Africa - although the show will be made available on Netflix Africa and South Africa from the end of this month.

■ Zambia tries to assure Zambians that StarTimes' decoders are safe.
Subscribers are also complaining about the bad video and sound quality of StarTimes channels - something that TopStar admits.

ITV Choice had another upfront. Two weeks ago. But neither I nor the others telling you about Television knew or can actually tell you anything about it.

ITV plc's ITV Choice (DStv 123) recently had a content upfront in South Africa again to showcase its upcoming programming and where ITV executives spoke but, apologies  - the lack of coverage and reporting about it is because TVwithThinus wasn't invited to it, nor told it would be happening.

Neither were other media - so sorry about that, and for not being able to do what we're supposed to, should do, love to do, and could do.

Last week Thursday just after the conclusion of M-Net's (DStv 101) media launch for The Wedding Bashers, a journalist came up to me and asked why TVwithThinus isn't doing any reporting on the ITV Choice upfront showcase.

I was flabbergasted.

Gobsmacked, I said I wasn't aware that something like that took place and that I don't believe that something like that happened.

I explained that I very specifically asked ITV Choice last year when the channel did a similar upfront in Johannesburg and also failed to alert a lot of journalists about it, if it could communicate beforehand if something like that were to take place again and if the press could please just be kept in the loop (and was assured it would be done).

The journalist said she also didn't get any communication from ITV Choice, but thought that I would have, and only knew about it from co-incidentally seeing a tweet on social media on the day - apparently 31 August. The journalist said she won't now be covering ITV Choice.

I really couldn't believe that ITV Choice'c communication to the press would be this non-existent and bad (again) about something like a programming and content upfront after it was something I specifically raised with ITV Choice a year ago and specifically asked to just be kept informed about.

After the journalist asked me, I in turn decided to quickly ask around to get a sense from other journalists and media working in print, online and radio from across South Africa - Cape Town, Johannesburg, Durban, even places like East London - if they're knew of any ITV Choice showcase event.

One by one, each and every single one of them at the event we were attending, said they didn't know about ITV Choice's upfront, and don't care about ITV Choice, with differing levels of total indifference towards the TV channel brand.

A Durban journalist with a radio show and covering television told me he's never gotten any communication from ITV Choice "and I don't care. I don't bother covering ITV Choice. ITV Choice has never invited me to anything".

Another print journalist asked: "What is ITV?" while another journalist said to me: "I never get anything from ITV Choice".

A TV critic told me: "I know and saw nothing. I didn't pick up on any ITV Choice stories about anything the channel had. It probably just shows how non-existent everything is they might be doing. That two weeks went by should tell you."

"Haven't heard anything. Got nothing," said another TV critic.

Of course it's as scientifically unsound a poll as anything to gauge instant sentiment from a group of TV critics, journalists and editors standing around and sipping champagne but it was quite revealing.

On a personal level for me however it's disturbing and disconcerting that ITV Choice would do something like showcasing content at an upfront but not bother to communicate to media, TV critics and journalists covering TV either beforehand and/or afterwards that it did so.

While ITV Choice is definitely the biggest loser, to a degree the media as messengers are losing out too when they're not able to bring the news.

Personally I like ITV Choice and I've kept close track about its programming since the channel launched in South Africa in May 2015 on MultiChoice's DStv satellite pay-TV platform.

Two weeks ago I remarked how I thought ITV Choice actually had the best Princess Diana 20th anniversary of her death documentary from all of the available programming across the various DStv channels.

As background to this sorry saga: Exactly a year ago ITV Choice also held a showcase but similarly didn't bother to communicate to media about it, although some Johannesburg press and one journalist from Port Elizabeth were invited and attended.

MultiChoice that has publicists specifically working in conjunction with channels and who themselves attended, similarly couldn't be bothered beforehand to reach out to media to make sure that they are at or aware of the ITV Choice upfront, or afterwards to get the information that was shared, out to journalists.

At the time, and after thinking a lot about it and out of respect for ITV Choice, I decided not to report on ITV Choice's lack of communication with the press in regard to the ITV Choice upfront.

What I did do a year ago was to take it up with the channel directly, and to make the effort to share the concerns I had with ITV Choice.

After a long conversation, I gave ITV Choice the benefit of the doubt that it was a mistake in the sense that ITV didn't realise or understand why it's important to keep media in the loop.

I explained why it's important to have stakeholder media like the Press Covering Television at your programming upfront, and why it is important to, at the very least, just communicate if you work in media, communications and television that you're going to have an upfront.

Last year I specifically asked ITV Choice, and was assured by ITV Choice, that in future it would communicate beforehand if it did a similar programming upfront to give media a heads-up about what it is busy with and planning, so journalists are not blindsided and caught unaware.

I really thought I was heard. I felt that ITV Choice understood where I and other media covering television, are coming from, and why we are desperate for the baby monitor to be switched on and for the communication to be flowing - even when you have to listen in from another room.

Cue a year later and ITV Choice failed to keep its promise - moving something that I was willing to forgive (although it really irked me at the time) as a genuine "didn't know better" mistake, squarely to the "Oops, I did it again" and don't seem to care box.

If you're wondering as a potential advertiser, as a dedicated or casual viewer of ITV Choice, as somebody generally interested in media, or as a TV executive or producer why there isn't any coverage of ITV Choice's upfront, it's because TVwithThinus genuinely can't and neither can others.

I can't tell you what Katherine Wen, ITV channel director said - or any of the other ITV Choice executives - after all the effort they made to fly to South Africa.

I couldn't hear what she had to say and afterwards there were no speech transcripts; no interview offered. In fact, neither I nor others even knew she was here.

I can't tell you what Paul Ridsdale, ITV's head of marketing said about ITV Choice's successes and possibilities (presumably there are) and his message and insights to South Africa's advertisers and ad buyers. It's a shame and shameful, really.

I can't tell you what ITV Choice executives said about ITV Choice's (sure to be lovely) British programming, or its content and content strategy(ies).

ITV Choice couldn't be bothered to give that information about what ITV Choice thinks about its own programming, either pre- or post its upfront.

There's no ITV Choice 2017 upfront pictures to show, no sense of what upcoming programming highlights or content developments ITV Choice is really excited or proud about - in fact, there's nothing to show.

In South Africa's TV industry where several TV channel operators from Zee TV to have joined the likes of Discovery Networks International, FOX Networks Group Africa, BBC Worldwide Africa and a growing number of others in doing upfronts to court advertisers and the press and to proudly beam about its programming, it's bizarre that ITV Choice communicates so badly about its own show-and-tell.

While its supposedly a premium pay-TV channel, ITV Choice, in its lack of proper upfront communication is more akin to what one expects from South Africa's struggling public broadcaster, the SABC.

Will ITV Choice get better at keeping the media in the loop when it has what is arguably its biggest event on its own TV calendar? Who knows?

I'm no longer holding thumbs.

And where I once cared a lot, then cared, I'm starting to care less and less. There's too many TV channels and too little time.

As the number of TV channels and programming choices that are available to South African viewers and to pay-TV subscribers keep growing, you'd think that it would be very, very important for ITV Choice to make sure, and to maximise every opportunity to get the word out there - especially with something like an upfront.

You'd think that in the cacophony of content, ITV Choice would do everything it can to communicate as best it could - that ITV Choice would crow about its own content as loudly as it could to get traction within all the noise that surrounds not just ordinary viewers, but the media trying to cover it.

Sadly, it feels as if ITV Choice - as far as South Africa and Africa are concerned - have yet to come to the realisation that in the profusion of choices, ITV Choice's biggest letdown in the content communication race, is itself.

Tuesday, September 19, 2017

BROMANCE. So, Bromans is the latest British tele-trash and comes complete with naked Gladiator lads ... and genital casts.

In the age of "Peak TV" and more terrific television across the spectrum, there's also been a widening of the Trash TV side, exemplified by yet another trashy new British reality teletrash entry, Bromans that comes complete with, yes, lets say it, genital casts.

What is this new trash, you may ask?

In Bromans that just started on ITV2 in the United Kingdom, 8 so-called "modern day" Brit-trash lads are thrown back in time to live in Romans times to compete for prizes.

Within the first 5 minutes the lot has to get naked, Gladiator-wise to recreate the Roman-slave experience, because nothing spells out TV-trash as quickly as getting "nekkid" in a cosplay reality TV show.

The British print media has had a field day with the TV trash of Bromans - a title play between the words "bromance" and "Romans" - in which the blokes are filmed in "Roman times" to see if they can live and cope (and fight naked) like Roman gladiators.

Oh, warns ITV - that also does highbrow TV like Downton Abbey - "Bromans contains strong language and nudity".

"Why can't we pull ourselves away from trash television like ITV2's Bromans?"laments Britain's The Sun. When a UK tabloids newspaper, itself trash, starts to worry, you should know the end of the world is one step nearer.

The Daily Mail calls Bromans vain and vacuous, saying "these are Tony Blair's millennials. This nation can be proud".

The Evening Standard reports that some of the bro-bros were allegedly "tricked" to take part, while Britain's The Metro breathlessly exclaimed that Bromans might just become "your new guilty viewing pleasure".

The tabloid magazine OK!, a bastion of accurate investigative reporting also reports that the dudes were "tricked" into appearing on the show, lured by promises of it merely being a "summer jolly".

There's not just muscle in the show but also golden bikinis and sand wrestling as the moron men's girlfriends have to rake through Colosseum sand to find clothes for them.

Luckily a classics professor Dr Andrew Sillett in Britain who live-tweeted the first episode, ready to point out mistakes, was delighted by how historically accurate Bromans surprisingly turned out to be.

Despite the penises, Dr Andrew Sillett says even the full-frontal male nudity of Bromans serves a real purpose and tweeted: "Obvious an excuse to show eight c*cks on ITV2 at five minutes past the watershed, but some truth in the humiliation of the gladiator".

Thank you, professor!

Forbes was harsh and gave a colisseum thumbs down, saying Bromans "fails as both history and entertainment" and is "simply a reality-couple-adventure show containing a heavy dose of various naked body parts, with all of its ancient world information seemingly cribbed from either Gladiator or 300".

Who knows if South African viewers will ever get to see the tele-trash of Bromans?

Will it pop up on ITV Choice (DStv 123) or CBS Reality (DStv 132) or one of the other reali-trashy channels on DStv or StarSat?

Who knows? More importantly, who really cares?

THE SMALL PRINT. MultiChoice is giving DStv Premium subscribers free access to Showmax until the end of March 2019 - for now.

MultiChoice that last week announced the bundling of a free Showmax subscription for all DStv Premium subscribers won't remain a free value add-on forever: Showmax will remain a free fold-in service until the end of March 2019 - for now.

MultiChoice is not planning on making Showmax available on a free-use basis to lower-tiered bouquets besides DStv Premium.

Last week MultiChoice announced that all DStv Premium subscribers can now add Naspers' subscription video-on-demand (SVOD) service to their existing DStv subscription for no extra monthly charge.

DStv Premium subscribers are now able to access Showmax - a SVOD service costing R99 per month - through DStv Explora decoders, the DStv Now app, online and smart TV sets. (Here's the steps to take.)

Showmax carries a catalogue of 25 000 TV shows and films and DStv Premium subscribers can now use up to four mobile devices such as smartphones and tablets to access the DStv Now app.

Interestingly DStv Premium subscribers accessing Showmax through DStv Explora decoders can't actually download shows - it can only be watched as "live" video streaming.

Reaction to the DStv Premium free Showmax link-up news was near-universally positive and is part of the tighter integration between Showmax and MultiChoice as the 2-year old SVOD service is folding its South African and African operations into the DStv Digital Media unit of MultiChoice.

One thing that DStv Premium subscribers have to keep in mind as they link their DStv Premium accounts and Showmax and shouldn't forget is that there's more important consumer information hidden in the small print: the Showmax add-on won't be a free included service forever.

While MultiChoice didn't specify it at all in last week's press release, the free Showmax offer for DStv Premium subscribers does actually come with an expiry date - a point at which DStv Premium subscribers will have to pay for it.

It could also be that when that time comes, MultiChoice might decide to extend the free use Showmax period, but that will only be known in 18 months' time.

In any case it would be prudent for DStv Premium subscribers who do link their DStv Premium and Showmax accounts to make use of the additional free service, to set a date reminder for March 2019 and to, when the time comes, check to then see if they will have to pay, or otherwise to delink or cancel Showmax in a year and a half's time from now if they don't want to continue with it.

In response to a media enquiry asking if Showmax will remain a free add-on service or if it will remain free for DStv Premium indefinitely, MultiChoice says it will remain free "for now until 31 March 2019".

Asked if Showmax will be made available to other DStv subscribers besides Premium bouquet customers, MultiChoice says that "including Showmax in the subscription at no extra charge is exclusively for our DStv Premium customers".