Thursday, January 18, 2018

MultiChoice finally switches E! Entertainment from NBCUniversal International Networks to a high definition on DStv in South Africa.

MultiChoice has finally also switched E! Entertainment (DStv 124) to a high definition (HD) channel feed on DStv in South Africa and Southern Africa from today.

It's a month later than what MultiChoice originally announced it would happen from.

"As of 18 January 2018, DStv’s home of pop culture E! Entertainment will be broadcast in HD," said MultiChoice in an advisory.

MultiChoice announced in September 2017 at its DStv content showcase that the channel supplied by NBCUniversal International Networks would be switched to an HD channel from December 2017 - but that didn't happen and was pushed out until mid-January 2018.

Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) political party demands the SABC 'pay back the money' after minister Bathabile Dlamini's scandalous pay-for-play interview on Real Talk with Anele on SABC3.

The Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) political party is demanding that the SABC "pay back the money as it is complicit in the corruption of the minister" after the scandalous pay-for-play revelation that the minister of social development Bathabile Dlamini paid thousands of rands to the broadcaster so that she could be interviewed on Real Talk with Anele on SABC3.

The shocking revelation on Wednesday that the SABC accepts money for a politician to be interviewed on its airwaves - and not even disclosing it - has inflicted massive further reputational and brand damage on the SABC's credibility as a public broadcaster.

The scandal is also doing damage to the image of talk show host Anele Mdoda, the production company Cheeky Media and the show's executive producers Yusuf Stevens and Janez Vermeiren, as well as SABC3.

So far there been no official statements from the SABC, Cheeky Media, SABC3 or Anele Mdoda, with Cheeky Media that referred media enquiries to the SABC, and the SABC that hasn't responded with answers to media enquiries made on Wednesday.

The report from Daily Maverick exposed a horrific lapse of SABC editorial control and safeguards, standards and ethics.

Real Talk with Anele, Cheeky Media and the SABC, are in breach of the SABC's own editorial policy that clearly states that "where there is programme sponsorship, the sponsor's association with the programme has to be stated clearly, both before and after the programme".

They are also in breach of the SABC's editorial policy in terms of "information programming" that states that the SABC should "disclose all the essential facts and not suppress relevant, available facts".

Likewise infomercials and paid-for content in programmes on the SABC "must be labelled in such a way as to make clear that they are not programme material" the SABC's editorial policy states.

"We call on the SABC board to immediately institute an investigation and all who are guilty must face prosecution," said the EFF in a statement on Thursday.

"In addition, we call on parliament to also take the necessary steps to discipline the minister of social development, Bathabile Dlamini."

"The EFF condemns the department of social development and SABC for exchanging R500 000 of taxpayers’ money for Bathabile Dlamini to talk about herself on the SABC3 programme Real Talk with Anele."

"This is consistent with how ministers in general have been paying Gupta Business Breakfast briefings on SABC for interviews. Here, not only have departments paid The New Age, also SABC has itself done so."

"The EFF rejects the justification that Bathabile Dlamini’s interview was an advert for the work she does in government."

"The 80% of the interview was about herself and the ANC Women's League. In essence, taxpayers’ money was used to profile Bathabile Dlamini and not government social development work."

The EFF statement comes after the Democratic Alliance (DA) political party that in a statement also said Bathabile Dlamini must pay back the R500 000 that "could have paid more than 300 social grants. It is shocking that the department had the audacity to supposedly use public money for an interview".

"It is mandated to serve the poor, needy and vulnerable within our society, it is not mandated to use taxpayers' money to make floundering ministers look good." The DA said it would submit a range of parliamentary questions to "get to the bottom of this likely abuse of taxpayers' money".

So far the SABC board has been silent over the scandal.

There's been no comment or statement from SABC board chairperson Bongumusa Makhathini.

The SABC board also has journalists serving on it in the form of Mathatha Tsedu and John Matisonn with neither who have said anything so far about the latest scandal rocking the South African public broadcaster's credibility.

In July 2017 the SABC interim board member Mathatha Tsedu (now a permanent SABC board member) addressed the SABC's damaged credibility problem in South Africa's parliament and said "every time there is a cycle of bad news around the SABC, the revenues from the SABC TV licences dip."

"How do you get credibility back into the products that the SABC produces? The credibility of the SABC is not just judged by how Muvhango's story line is going or how 7de Laan's story line is going. The major credibility point of the SABC is its news output."

History channel to broadcast History of Football from May ahead of the 2018 World Cup as part of a special programming strand with over 40 hours of content.

The History (DStv 186) channel will broadcast History of Football from 28 May to 10 June in South Africa and across Africa as part of a 14-day programming strand that A+E Networks will run globally in the run-up to the 2018 World Cup.

History of Football will be broadcast in 160 territories and countries, including South Africa and across Africa and include over 40 hours of content that will be a blend of global and local programming.

History will broadcast a slate of original, globally-focused, premium documentary series as well as short-form specials, complemented by a careful curation of World Cup films, as well as locally-sourced TV series and documentaries that will offer a unique lens into each country’s particular passions for football.

“We conceived History of Football as a deeply immersive television event capitalising on one of those rare moments in our global culture, the World Cup, when a huge segment of the world population becomes so passionately connected,” says Patrick Vien, A+E Networks International’s executive managing director.

“History’s world-class storytelling has produced and curated a unique combination of global and local programming, long-form and short-form, to give viewers a wide swath of football content that, all combined, will tell the many phenomenal stories that define the game. It’s the biggest international programming initiative History has undertaken and I could not be prouder of our team.”

“With opinions on football so strong among fans worldwide, History’s vast programming slate for this event will aim to engage and ignite an entertaining debate on exactly what were the ultimate historic moments of the sport, who stands as the best player in history, which coaches most shaped the game and so much more,” says Dan Korn, the executive producer of History of Football and the vice president of programming for A+E UK.

“For both the most intense and the more casual fans, History will present 14 days of nothing but the story of the game.”

Sky News does a logo change again, making 'news' all small caps, as the British TV news channel it leaves its old Studio A for a final time.

Sky News (DStv 402) has changed its logo again, switching the word "news" to small caps, as it also ended its broadcast in its Studio A after 12 years, switching to its new studio.

The new Sky News logo was introduced on Wednesday evening, when Sky News switched back to broadcasting from its new, so-called "glass box", Studio 21, when it finally moved all its news operations over to its new studio in Sky Studios.

The Sky News logo and graphics were refreshed as part of the final switch-over to the new studio.

On Wednesday Sky News' morning segment, Sky News Sunrise, began broadcasting from the new second studio at Sky Central.

Sky News temporarily switched back to the old studios in November 2017 to do maintenance and rewiring of the "glass box" to link it to the new automated gallery in the new studio complex.

Actress Leleti Khumalo swops KwaZulu-Natal drama series as she switches from SABC1's Uzalo to's new Imbewu and add executive producer credit.

Actress Leleti Khumalo is jumping from one KwaZulu/Natal drama series to another and adding an executive producer title as she switches from the SABC's Uzalo to's new Imbewu: The Seed starting in April.

After contract negotiations to remain on the show for the 4th season didn't work out, Leleto Khumalo has left Stained Glass TV's Uzalo on SABC1 that is filmed on location in KwaMashu, Durban for a new drama series, Imbewu: The Seed - starting in April on and also filmed in the KwaZulu/Natal province.

Leleti Khumalo's original character MaNzuza that she's portrayed since the first season is being killed off by Stained Glass TV, but Leleti will live again as a brand-new character in Imbewu: The Seed that will tell a new story set in the humble streets in eNquthu and the township of Chatsworth as well as the most-affluent parts of Umlazi.

Leleti Khumalo won't just appear as a character in the show, she is also an executive producer behind the scenes, teaming up with with TV veteran Duma Ndlovu producing Muvhango for SABC2 and the South African film producer veteran Anant Singh.

Imbewu: The Seed is produced for by Grapevine Productions, a joint venture between Videovision Entertainment, Word Of Mouth Pictures and Luyks Productions.

Anant Singh from Videovision Entertainment and Duma Ndlovu from Word Of Mouth Pictures will be at the helm of the production of the drama series. hasn't yet announced a timeslot for Imbewu, with speculation now swirling that the show might be scheduled at 20:30 on as counter-programming for the SABC1 ratings juggernaut.

Imbewu: The Seed will revolve around the family dynasties and two brothers in KwaZulu/Natal - interestingly just like how Uzalo started out in late-2015. "Imbewu focuses on the ties that bind families through blood and spirit, asking sobering and controversial questions that are relevant to all South African cultures," says

"A deep and unspoken truth, representing the cultural legacy between two brothers, is at the centre of the series’ captivating plot," says that says brand-new talent are part of the cast, alongside veteran actors.

“One of's commitments in 2018 is to invest in provinces beyond Gauteng. KwaZulu-Natal is the country’s fastest-growing province with a strong focus on the entertainment industry,” says Ziyanda Mngomezulu, general manager of's local content division.

“We are honoured to be partnering with film, television and theatre greats in Anant Singh, Duma Ndlovu and Leleti Khumalo, from the newly formed Grapevine Productions, and look forward to presenting viewers with a fresh reflection of KZN that is all encompassing”.

Anant Singh says that Imbewu: The Seed will reflect the multi-cultural environment which makes Durban and the province of KwaZulu-Natal unique.

The show has the ability to cross the cultural divide and promote social cohesion in South Africa, showcasing a hybrid of cultures in South Africa today. We are extremely excited to be embarking on this amazing television series in KwaZulu-Natal with our partners,”. 

Duma Ndlovu says he is 
very excited for this opportunity to tell an authentic South African story. I am excited to be partnering with Anant Singh and Leleti Khumalo as we prepare to give South Africans a new and unique story.

In South Africa, we have not yet had the opportunity to see Indians and Africans come together to tell a story with a social cohesion message and Imbewu: The Seed will deliver this to audiences.

PAID TALK WITH ANELE? As scandal engulfs Real Talk on SABC3 after the SABC takes money to interview a politician, here's what Anele Mdoda needs to do right now to try and save her show.

Plunged right into the middle of a pay-for-play scandal that has engulfed her talk show, Anele Mdoda has very little time as the face of Real Talk with Anele to try and limit not just the damage to her name and personal brand, but also the fall-out that has destroyed the credibility of the SABC3 talk show.

Here is what she needs to do right now:

Twelve years ago in January 2006, The Oprah Winfrey Show and talk show host Oprah Winfrey suddenly found herself in the middle of a crisis.

The book, A Million Little Pieces by author James Frey - supposedly biographical - and that Winfrey endorsed as a pick for her hugely popular Oprah's Book Club, was exposed as a fraud and fiction.

After Oprah Winfrey first told Larry King "it's much ado about nothing" she quickly changed and took to her own show to apologise to her viewers and for letting down her fans, saying to James Frey that "I feel duped. But more importantly, I feel that you betrayed millions of readers".

Oprah showed her anger on TV at not knowing. Oprah admitted a mistake. Oprah apologised. And Oprah said never again with my show, and under my name.

By taking payment amounting to thousands of rand to interview Bathabile Dlamini as a politician and keeping it a secret to viewers without any kind of disclosure that the 2 hour-long episodes in December were actually "talkfomercials", Anele Mdoda, the SABC, SABC3, Real Talk and the Cheeky Media production company producing the show, have now all been exposed for something that's seriously damaging their integrity, image, and overall credibility and trust in their brands.

How will anyone, any viewer, ever again believe anyone, anything - any brand or product or service - that appear on Real Talk with Anele? And what about who and what had appeared on the show in the past and were promoted - did that happen because money exchanged hands?

Anele Mdoda - the face of the show that is called Real Talk with Anele and that carries her name - will have to act fast and do all the right things.

Anele Mdoda will have to go on her own show - as fast as possible and preferably on Thursday's episode on SABC3 - and address the issue head-on in a brutally honest and forthright way. Anything less will permanently damage her, the show and its ongoing presence on the SABC3 schedule.

Anele Mdoda needs to be truthful, she needs to speak from the heart, she needs to come across as sincere, remorseful, needs to explain what she knew or didn't knew, what she was part of or not part of, and how what happened, happened.

Above all she needs to apologise and promise that nothing like this will happen ever again as long as she sits under the SteynCity arch.

So far there's been no official statement from Anele Mdoda or Cheeky Media.

It doesn't feel as if there's any crisis communication happening around the shocking pay-for-play expose and the longer it goes without explanations and apologies, the more harm is being inflicted.

Capacity Relations that repped Real Talk with Anele told TVwithThinus that the SABC took over the PR of the show late last year. Where is the SABC's and SABC3 statement about what happened and the show?

It's absolutely crucial that Real Talk and the SABC is seen being open - and talking - about its own talk show.

People can forgive, but not in the absence of a face that looks sorry. People, after they've been disappointed, can show compassion - but only when they are apologised to for having been deliberately misled and purposefully kept in the dark.

And people can learn to love again, to embrace again, when they've been dumped. That however requires honestly, openness and a contrite mea culpa - an acknowledgement of having done wrong.

If Anele Mdoda, Cheeky Media, Real Talk and SABC3 value their brands - and of course they do - nothing but a brutally honest apology will do.

Just like Oprah, a full disclosure, an explanation, and those two little very big words -"I'm sorry" - is of the utmost importance if Real Talk with Anele and Anele Mdoda has any chance of being taken seriously in the future.

PAY FOR PLAY. Horrific lapse of SABC's editorial policy as broadcaster admits payment for Real Talk with Anele Mdoda on SABC3 to do a 2 hour interview with minister Bathabile Mdoda.

A shocking pay for play scandal has engulfed talk show host Anele Mdoda, her talk show Real Talk with Anele produced by Cheeky Media, the SABC and SABC3; as well as the minister of social development Bathabile Dlamini, following revelations that the government department she is supposed to run, paid thousands of rand for Bathabile Dlamini to be interviewed for two hour long episodes on the SABC.

The report from Daily Maverick exposed a horrific lapse of SABC editorial control and safeguards, standards and ethics, as well as at the production company and talk show host whose face and name is the brand of the show.

ALSO READ: After pay-for-play scandal, here what Anele Mdoda needs to do right now to save her show.

Neither Real Talk with Anele, nor the SABC or SABC3 ever told viewers that the 2 hour softball interview broadcast in December - and repeated - is paid-for content and essentially a talkfomercial instead of an honest and legitimate interview.

The shocking revelations are destroying the credibility and inflicting seriously reputational damage on the image, credibility and brands of Anele Mdoda, the SABC, its SABC3 channel, as well as the Cheeky Media production company.

Viewers no longer know what exactly, and to what degree they can trust Real Talk with Anele or anything - or anyone - that appears on that show.

Lumka Oliphant, publicist for Bathabile Dlamini who also appeared on Real Talk with Anele during the paid-for interviews, told the Daily Maverick that the department is allowed to pay for interviews with the press with public funds supposed to help the old, frail and poor, for Bathabile Dlamini to get media exposure.

Lumka Oliphant initially denied the claim of a R500 000 payment for Bathabile Dlamini to be interviewed on Real Talk with Anele and said "The  reports, which are completely untrue, are a display of gutter journalism to destroy anyone who dares to give a different narrative on minister Bathabile Dlamini."

TVwithThinus made a media enquiry on Wednesday to the SABC regarding the payment of R500 000 by a politician to be interviewed for 2 hours on the South African public broadcaster without the fact being disclosed and told to viewers.

The SABC was also asked for comment about the show in light of what the SABC's editorial policy says and the stipulations of the broadcasting regulator, the Independent Communications Authority of South Africa (Icasa).

When the SABC responds with answers to the media enquiry, this report will update with it.

Real Talk with Anele and Cheeky Media, and the SABC, are in breach of the SABC's own editorial policy that clearly states that "where there is programme sponsorship, the sponsor's association with the programme has to be stated clearly, both before and after the programme".

They are also in breach of the SABC's editorial policy in terms of "information programming" that states that the SABC should "disclose all the essential facts and not suppress relevant, available facts".

Likewise infomercials and paid-for content in programmes on the SABC "must be labelled in such a way as to make clear that they are not programme material" the SABC's editorial policy states.

Meanwhile the SABC acting CEO Nomsa Philiso admitted that payment took place for a politician to be interviewed on the SABC and told News24 that it was "not normal" for the SABC to sell interviews, saying "there was payment, from what my team tells me".

Yusuf Stevens and Janez Vermeiren are both listed and carry executive producer credits on Real Talk with Anele.

Yusuf Stevens, Real Talk with Anele executive producer, told News24 that it is not uncommon for people to pay for exposure on Real Talk with Anele and that reportedly "mostly brands pay to be on the show".

Yusuf Stevens said that it is handled by the SABC’s sales representatives who also determine the rate. "We still control the interview, do the research and make it interesting to the viewers. Nobody interferes with our scriptwriting or research process."

Yusuf Stevens has so far not said why Cheeky Media and SABC3 didn't disclose to viewers and told them that Anele Mdoda did paid-for interviews and that viewers are watching a paid-for 2 hours.

Also not explained yet is what other episodes and segments are actually promotional, paid-for content, and how payment impacts how brands, people and services are being featured on Real Talk with Anele or not.

Refilwe Moiloa at Cheeky Media in response to a media enquiry asking who is speaking on behalf of the show and who can answer questions pertaining to what happened and how it happened, said Cheeky Media won't be talking and referred all media enquiries to SABC spokesperson Kaizer Kganyago.

Anele Mdoda whose name is carried on Real Talk with Anele and who is the face and brand of the show claimed that she knew nothing of the R500 000 payment and that "it is commissioned by the SABC. I am the presenter. I have nothing to do with them".

"For them to insinuate I took money [to do the interview] is ludicrous. I have no dealings with what happens with the Department of Social Development or the SABC. I get a directive of who they would like on the show and that is who we research."

Anele Mdoda also lashed out at the Daily Maverick, using her social media account on Twitter to slam the report, saying "Understanding how TV works would be the first step here. Keep my name out your damn rubbish".

The Democratic Alliance (DA) political party in a statement said Bathabile Dlamini must pay back the R500 000 that "could have paid more than 300 social grants. It is shocking that the department had the audacity to supposedly use public money for an interview".

"It is mandated to serve the poor, needy and vulnerable within our society, it is not mandated to use taxpayers' money to make floundering ministers look good." The DA said it would submit a range of parliamentary questions to "get to the bottom of this likely abuse of taxpayers' money".

Wednesday, January 17, 2018

EXCLUSIVE. Dancing with the Stars SA on M-Net will take place in the Dancing with the Stars SA Dome that Rapid Blue is literally building on the rooftop of the Hyde Park Corner shopping centre and will seat an audience of 350.

Lionel Ritchie might have been dancing on the ceiling but when the celebrity contestants of Dancing with the Stars South Africa waltz across the floor to strut their stuff on M-Net from next month, TVwithThinus can exclusively reveal that they'll do so on a roof.

Rapid Blue, producing Dancing with the Stars South Africa for M-Net (DStv 101) that will be beamed to viewers from Sunday 4 February, has been constructing a massive, purpose-built, brand-new ballroom on a rooftop - the Dancing with the Stars SA Dome on the rooftop of the Hyde Park Corner shopping centre in Johannesburg.

The newly constructed ballroom dome on top of Hyde Park Corner at the corner of Jan Smuts Avenue and William Nicol Drive in the wealthy Johannesburg suburb is both literally and figuratively very far removed from the Carlton Centre Ballroom in downtown Johannesburg where Strictly Come Dancing SA started more than a decade ago on SABC2 in February 2006.

After 8 seasons on SABC2 and SABC3 that ended in 2015, M-Net and Rapid Blue decided to revive the BBC Worldwide format show and in the process also decided to shed the old name, taking on the American moniker of Dancing with the Stars to usher in a new TV era for the glitter floor format show on South African television.

A centrepiece as part of that pasodoble TV makeover is the brand-new rooftop ballroom, as the show moves from free-to-air to a pay-TV broadcaster and also into a social media milieu where viewers will now weigh in instantaneously as on-the-couch dance critics.

"M-Net and Rapid Blue kept an open mind while scouting all over South Africa for a suitable venue," explains Kee-Leen Irvine, Rapid Blue owner and the South African uber producer who will be executive producing the show from the Dancing with the Stars SA Dome.

"Having seen the Sanlam Handmade Contemporary Fair on the Hyde Park Corner rooftop, we had a conversation with Jill Grogor, who handles all the publicity and events for Hyde Park Corner about whether we couldn’t erect a dome at the top of the centre."

"Hyde Park Corner Centre Management loved the idea," says Kee-Leen, "but safety and logistics was a huge consideration for us. After extensive engineering investigation and assessment, we established that we could go ahead.

Unique ballroom seating 350 in horse-shoe configuration
Being done from a ballroom under a dome will be an African first for Dancing with the Stars that besides the Carlton Centre Ballroom in the past, is hosted in a variety of different venues all over the world - from full sound stage studios, like those at Elstree in London, to massive warehouses.

The new Dancing with the Stars SA will be using about 2 500 square metres of floor space for the production. With the show being done from a rooftop, means that Rapid Blue and M-Net are again recording another footnote in the record book of South Africa's television history.

"TV shows are generally produced in standard studios, but finding a studio space that is large enough, centrally located and able to accommodate the required parking is always a huge challenge," says Kee-Leen Irvine. "Being able to work from a Dome at the top of Hyde Park Corner is really unique and interesting."

The Dancing with the Stars SA Dome will seat approximately 350 people as part of the show's audience where co-presenters Chris Jaftha and Tracey Lange will hold sway. Construction of the dome and ballroom started just over a week ago on 8 January.

"Often the architecture of a show of this nature resembles that of a theatre, for instance a stage and raked seating."

"Dancing With The Stars SA is unique in that we're essentially recreating a ballroom, and all the action takes place on a competition standard, 15 x 9 ballroom floor, with the audience seated around it on either side and at the front of the house – almost like a horse-shoe."

And how will the actual ballroom floor be tested? "Every season gets a brand new ballroom floor and being sturdy and non-slip, these floors are naturally more than equipped to handle the impact of the dances," says Kee-Leen Irvine.

"We're really pleased that Hyde Park Corner is such a prestigious, easily accessible venue for Rapid Blue, M-Net, and the cast and audience. It comes with great parking facilities and a variety of restaurants where guests can enjoy a snack before or after the show."

Fantasy youth drama series, The Shannara Chronicles, on Netflix cancelled by Viacom; producers Sonar Entertainment looking for a new TV channel to take it over.

Sometimes even an elfstone ain't enough to save the world (or your show): The Shannara Chronicles available on Netflix in South Africa and Africa has been cancelled after two seasons, with Viacom opting not to renew the fantasy series.

The Shannara Chronicles that was on MTV and made for MTV in America, is one of the victims in the fallout of the massive restructuring in getting rid of scripted and drama series on all of Viacom's channels besides Viacom's new flagship and premium general entertainment channel, the Paramount Network launching in America tomorrow.

If The Shannara Chronicles did get a third season from Viacom, the show would have had to move to the Paramount Network, exactly as TVwithThinus speculated would likely be the case a year ago, in February 2017 - only the new Paramount Network didn't want the show, feeling that it doesn't fit in with what the new channel wants to be.

No word yet on when South African viewers will will get to see the Paramount Network on possibly MultiChoice's DStv satellite pay-TV service, or StarSat or perhaps one of the new streaming services.

The Shannara Chronicles was renewed for a second season in 2016 but then episodes were suddenly burnt off in a roll-out of 2 episodes per week in October and November of 2017 as Viacom raced to get rid of it.

The fantasy drama series produced by Sonar Entertainment and based on the fantasy novels of the famed fantasy author Terry Brooks could still be picked up by another TV channel or streaming service like Netflix or Amazon Prime Video for instance, but the chances are slim.

Netflix has been showing The Shannara Chronicles outside of America and starred Austin Butler (Wil), Ivana Baquero (Eretria), Manu Bennett (Allanon), Aaron Jakubenko (Ander) and Marcus Vanco (Bandon).

Sonar Entertainment is now looking for a new TV channel or streaming service to possibly take over the show that filmed in New Zealand.

America's TV Guide was first to report the cancellation of The Shannara Chronicles, quoting Kevin Kay, the new Paramount Network president as saying "We have officially passed on making any more. Maybe Sonar Entertainment is going to take it somewhere else. For us, we passed on the future of that".

Tuesday, January 16, 2018

In February on Fine Living a new season of Giada at Home will start, along with new show, Rustic Renovation, and continue with double episodes of Million Dollar Contractor and We Bought the Farm.

In February on Fine Living (StarSat 281 / Cell C black 251) a new season of Giada at Home will start, and the channel will continue with double episodes of Million Dollar Contractor and We Bought the Farm, and a new show Rustic Renovation will look at cabin renovations.

■ A brand-new season of Giada at Home starts on Fine Living on Sunday 11 February at 22:00 with double episodes featuring home-cooked Italian recipes with a Californian twist, prepared by Fine Living’s favourite chef Giada Di Laurentiis.

■ Rustic Renovation starts on Wednesday 14 February at 22:00 with double episodes.

The brothers Chase and Brock Jurgensen have built a construction company based in Minnesota, where just about everyone has a cabin, whether on the water or deep in the woods – and the brothers are on hand to renovate and modernise those that have been badly built or neglected.

With Chase’s expertise as a contractor and Brock’s skill in woodwork, together they creatively
transform worn-out, broken-down spaces into beautiful, functional homes.

This season, Chase and Brock update a fourth-generation family cabin on Lake Charlotte, adding barnwood-framed windows to brighten up the space. Plus, using salvaged items and reclaimed materials, the brothers transform an original World War II Quonset hut into a bright, unique guest house with custom beds.

■ Million Dollar Contractor on Thursdays at 22:00 gives a behind-the-scenes look at the construction of Manhattan’s most elite homes with contractor to the stars Stephen Fanuka.

Along with his expert crew, Stephen works on some incredible high-end projects as the series continues in February, including his biggest challenge yet: the building of a solarium on the roof of a Central Park West apartment building.

With the help of a team of audio engineers, Stephen builds a room that’s perfectly suited to listening to music, while also pleasing to the eye. Throughout the series Stephen also shares some top tips and tricks that may be of use to first-time DIY-ers, and anyone who’s thinking of renovating their own home.

We Bought the Farm will continue on Fine Living in February on Sundays at 21:00 with double episodes.

In the first season of We Bought the Farm viewers can join outdoor-loving families looking for a simpler lifestyle as they search for their dream luxury farmhouse.

In each episode, real estate professionals help them pick their ideal property, whether it’s a quaint
country farmhouse or luxury properties on hundreds of sprawling acres.

As the first season continues in February, a Miami family with 8 kids looks for a simpler lifestyle in Martin County – but can they find a farm that has plenty of land, a spacious house, and farm animals?

Meanwhile, North Carolina couple Mike and Holly are tired of keeping their two horses in a boarding facility, so they’re searching for a farmhouse with a barn and large pastures to keep their horses happy.

Fox News Channel adds 7-episode documentary series, Scandalous, looking back at the impeachment of the former American president Bill Clinton.

The Fox News Channel (StarSat 261 / Cell C black 502) is rolling out a new 7-episode, documentary style series, entitled Scandalous, looking at the impeachment of the former American president Bill Clinton.

A+E Networks UK adds the Sabido Productions documentary, Sharpeville Echoes, to the History channel in Africa for 2018's Human Rights' Day.

History (DStv 186) has added the documentary Sharpeville Echoes for broadcast on the channel on Tuesday 20 March at 18:30.

Produced a few years ago by Sabido Productions, A+E Networks UK that programmes the History channel, has scheduled Sharpeville Echoes for the night before 21 March that is Human Rights' Day in South Africa.

Sharpeville Echoes, produced in 2010, looks back at the Sharpeville Massacre of 21 March 1960 when at least 69 people were killed by South African police as protesters fled the Sharpeville Massacre.

Seven young photographers return to Sharpeville, in 2010 when it was 50 years after the Sharpeville Massacre - several of whom don't know anything about Sharpeville, and some who don't want to know.

Sharpeville Echoes also interviews the only photographer who witnessed the massacre, along with researchers and historians who have attempted to piece together this infamous point in apartheid era South Africa's history.

Uzalo kills off Leleti Khumalo's MaNzuza and Sihle Ndaba's Smangele in a double murder story line with an hour long funeral special episode on SABC1 set for 16 February.

Producers of the weekday drama Uzalo on SABC1 have decided to kill off the characters portrayed by Leleti Khumalo and Sihle Ndaba with a double murder story line that will get rid of the characters of MaNzuza and Smangele.

Leleti Khumalo decided to quit the show that is filmed and set in KwaMashu, Durban when contract negotiations for the 4th season didn't work out while the show's producers, Stained Glass TV, fired Sihle Ndaba.

The actors' exit from the show was announced in October 2017 with Leleti Khumalo who has been with the show from the show's start in February 2015.

The KwaMashu matriarch MaNzuza is murdered along with Smangele, with the prime time double murder that will result in a double funeral in the church set on the Newlands studio sound stage in Durban.

The Uzalo double funeral will be broadcast on SABC1 on Friday 16 February as an hour long special episode.

The tragic funeral - complete with church choir send-off and celebrity guests appearances - was filmed on Tuesday 16 January, a month before the SABC1 airdate.

So far there's been no statement or comment from Stained Glass TV and its co-owners Gugulethu Zuma ka Ncube and Pepsi Pokane about the characters being killed off and new additions to the show.

In December 2017 Uzalo retained it's title as the most watched show on SABC1 and in South Africa with 9.15 million (26.3 AR) viewers and a 68.2 share, meaning that more than 2 thirds of all switched-on TV sets in the country were tuned to the show during the 20:30 timeslot.

BBC World News anchor George Alagiah reveals that his cancer is back; will be undergoing further treatment.

The BBC World News (DStv 400 / StarSat 256 / Cell C black 501 / OVHD 112) anchor George Alagiah (62) has revealed that his cancer has returned and that he is once again fighting the disease.

George Alagiah, a father of two, is the the BBC's highest paid star from its so-called "minority ethnic background" group of staffers after the BBC decided to reveal its highest paid stars' salaries in a list in 2017.

George Alagiah says he will be undergoing further cancer treatment.

George Alagiah battled bowel cancer in 2014 and got the "all clear" in 2015 after extensive treatment that included several rounds of chemotherapy and three operations, after which he returned to work at BBC News in November 2015.

“My brilliant doctors are determined to get me back to a disease-free state and I know they have the skill to do just that,” says George Alagiah in a statement. “I learned last time around how important the support of family and friends is and I am blessed in that department. I genuinely feel positive as I prepare for this new challenge.”

On  Twitter the Sri Lanka born news anchor said "Always knew cancer could come back but still tough dealing with disappointment. Harder for my family. I know what I have to do: stay calm, stay content, stay fit and let doctors do their best".

The BBC in a statement says “Everyone at the BBC sends George and his family their best wishes as he undergoes treatment and we will be thinking of them.”

WHO KNEW? After switching Investigation Discovery to ID Xtra on MultiChoice's DStv and StarSat, the IDx channel has quietly been switched back to Investigation Discovery.

Discovery's Investigation Discovery (ID) channel on DStv and StarSat that was switched to ID Xtra (IDx) in January 2016, has quietly been switched back to just ID after a year and 10 months.

Investigation Discovery (ID) that changed to IDx with a big hoo-haa, is back to quietly just being ID on MultiChoice's DStv on channel 171, and on StarSat run by China's StarTimes Media SA and On Digital Media (ODM) on channel 223.

IDx was switched back to ID in mid-October but there was no official announcement from Discovery Networks International for the Central and Eastern Europe, Middle East and Africa (CEEMEA) region.

Quite awkwardly, because there was no announcement, the media has been blissfully unaware and months later even operators like MultiChoice still uses the IDx channel logo on some of its websites for channel 171, instead of just ID.

In January 2016 Discovery Networks CEEMEA said that ID is being replaced by ID Xtra and that “with its glossy reconstructions of real-life mysteries, ID Xtra will have viewers glued to their screens for hours at a time.”

"Mystery and suspense is one of the fastest growing genres within pay-TV and Discovery is in pole position, leading the category with a channel that has already been a proven success across CEEMEA. We are delighted to offer yet another high-quality channel.

Aletta Alberts, MultiChoice general manager for content said in a statement at the time that “our DStv customers love mystery and suspense stories and ID Xtra takes these stories to a glossier and more dramatic level.  Avid fans of this genre will have an even wider selection of brand new and intriguing content to choose from and still be able to catch up on their old time favourites from Discovery ID.”  

TVwithThinus, that like other media, also wasn't aware of the Investigation Discovery channel branding backtracking back from IDx to just ID, asked Discovery Networks International when ID Xtra flipped back to ID and why.

Discovery says the brand alignment roll-out took place between 18 and 31 October 2017.

"Based on the global success and high demand of the investigation genre, as well as a wider strategy that will see us unify our brands in an increasingly connected world, we have decided to transform IDx into investigation Discovery (ID) across CEEMEA".

"Borrowing from the highly successful American Investigation Discovery, a market-leading channel across both pay and free television, we will start using a new, more sophisticated, cinematic brand package which maintains premium quality and broad appeal, while becoming more seamlessly integrated with the channel's programming".

"This transformation is also accompanied by continued heavy investment in content, to deliver a broad mix of high quality shows and noisy event programming which reflect consumer priorities".

Minister of communications Mmamoloko Kubayi-Ngubane doesn't know that the SABC plans to appoint Chris Maroleng as new chief operating officer.

South Africa's minister of communications Mmamoloko Kubayi-Ngubane was unaware that the South African public broadcaster is set to appoint Chris Maroleng as the SABC's new chief operating officer (COO) - indicating that the SABC is apparently no longer looping the minister of communications in regarding top executive appointments.

Mmamoloko Kubayi-Ngubane said she was clueless about Chris Maroleng becoming the new SABC COO who will be replacing the controversial and famously matricless Hlaudi Motsoeneng, although SABC management and board sources said Chris Maroleng's official appointment is being finalised.

Mmamoloko Kubayi-Ngubane said in a terse statement that she has “no knowledge of any official appointment”.

“The minister of communications has noted the media reports about the appointment of a chief operating officer at the SABC,” said Mmamoloko Kubayi-Ngubane in a statement.

All appointments of the chief operating officer, CEO and chief financial officer (CFO) of state-owned entities are done through cabinet processes and therefore the announcements of the outcome are made by cabinet.”

“It is the minister’s responsibility to present any appointment of executives of the SOEs under the department of communications through cabinet processes. To this end, the minister has no knowledge of any official appointment of a COO of SABC.”

That the SABC is planning on appointing Chris Maroleng as COO without the knowledge of the minister of communications signals that the SABC is following the court decision in late-2017 affirming the SABC board's right to make all appointments of staff - especially of its top executives - without the prior approval or interference of the minister of communications.

Although the minister of communications is appealing the ruling, the communications minister has agreed to abide by the affirmation of the SABC's independent appointments process until the appeal can be heard in court.

The public pressure group, SOS Coalition, in a statement says it "notes with concern" the minister of communication's "statement that alleges that the SABC’s CEO, COO and CFO appointments are to be made by government through cabinet processes".

"The SABC is not an ordinary SOE, this fact was highlighted in recent court rulings."

BACK TO TRASH? The upcoming season of Clover's Tropika Island of Treasure Maldives on SABC3 takes a dangerous dive back to worse when it comes to its show publicity - here's why.

Warning lights are flickering for the upcoming Tropika Island of Treasure Maldives whose shockingly bad and misguided PR has once again taken a terrible turn for the worse after the dramatic improvement of the previous season, Tropika Island of Treasure Seychelles, that was on SABC3 in 2017.

After the much better and much improved 7th season of the advertiser-funded production (AFP) in April 2017, the upcoming 8th season of the Clover SA brand reality competition show set in the Maldives, seems as if it is crossing back to trash as far as its publicity and actual show exposure in the press are concerned.

While Tropika Island of Treasure Maldives is supposed to start on 5 Feburary at 19:30 on SABC3, there's hardly been any publicity around the show or the contestants like last year for the 7th season.

Likewise the so-called "announcements" of the celebrity and other contestants got basically no exposure in the general media - and there's a reason for that.

The lack of broad exposure is because Clover and Tropika and its designated publicists went back to trash with a wrong approach of not releasing basic contestant information to all press and TV critics covering a show like this, but weirdly divvying up individuals to select, and oddly chosen, media outlets on a one-by-one basis. Some were not even the target audience of the show.

Unfortunately if you shout in a soundproof room, nobody will hear you and that's what Tropika Island of Treasure Maldives decided to basically do. Weird.

Furthermore the consumer-contestants were announced in an oddly staggered approach as "exclusives" for just one media outlet.

Lo and behold, on Tuesday Clover and Tropika had the audacity of lying and saying "contestants revealed for Tropika Island of Treasure Maldives" when a press release got sent to the media, making as if the contestants are being revealed now.

The problem of course is that they had already been revealed, with the media that got sent lukewarm, half-baked leftovers that were reheated as if the press is in the business of rerunning old news.

Its happening because Clover and Tropika's PR people - supposedly paid to communicate with the press and for strategies that get the press engaged but failing to do that properly - didn't want to give that information out to all press, properly, at the same time.

The result is that the majority of media outlets now won't touch Tropika Island of Treasure with a pole. Neither are a lot of them going to bother to feature and name contestants after they've been named in other media outlets before as dished up "exclusives" from what is supposed to be general-issue show information.

The 8th season of Tropika Island of Treasure Maldives was filmed at the end of 2017 in and around the Adaaran resort in the Maldives with Katlego Maboe from SABC3's morning show Expresso as the new presenter for this season.

 “Each season of Tropika Island of Treasure has something new and exciting for fans – and Tropika Island of Treasure 8 will be no different," says Miantha Padayachee, Tropika brand group manager, in a statement. for Tropika.

"We have an incredibly diverse mix of celebrities and contestants who will compete in all new and awesome challenges on one of the most beautiful islands on earth. Will there be excitement? Yes. Drama? Most likely. Plot twists? Without a doubt."

Without a doubt the PR and publicity of Tropika Island of Treasure Maldives is back to being way worse than the uptick before and during the 7th season.

This season, again, Tropika didn't bother to take any press to the actual island in the way that M-Net does for Survivor South Africa for actual on-set, on-location interviews and coverage.

Likewise the so-far misguided contestant reveal strategy for the upcoming season has already backfired.

Will there be a media launch event for Tropika Island of Treasure Maldives? Will Tropika issue a screener or show the media the first episode?

Will there be some kind of face-to-face media engagement with actual members of the press like for the previous season?

Will there be actual programmatic publicity and show information going out to all media at the same time, treating all media outlets equally, when it comes to the basic dissemination of show info going forward?

Tropika Island of Treasure Seychelles did all the right things for the 7th season PR wise but is now once again, sadly, shipwrecking the show.

The BBC's set of channels going from life below zero to where the wild men are, and from shiny show to Chelsea in January.

The BBC's set of channels are going from life below zero to where the wild men are, and from a shiny show to Chelsea, in January.

■ The 5th season of Life Below Zero starts on BBC Earth (DStv 184) on Sunday 21 January at 17:00 for 8 episodes.

The struggle for survival continues for Sue Aikens, Jessie Holmes, Glenn Villaneuve and the Hailstone family as the onslaught of winter looms once again in Alaska.

With the last of the longer days coming to an end, the Alaskans must travel through unfamiliar territories and stockpile resources before the waterways freeze and winter's dark, brutal conditions overtake the land.

■ The 5th season of Where the Wild Men Are with Ben Fogle starts on BBC Earth (DStv 184) on Sunday 21 January at 18:00 for 8 episodes.

In this season the adventurer heads to the remote Wilderness Island, off Australia's north-western cape, to meet a couple whose near-death experiences compelled them to start a new life in the wild. He then heads to the pine-covered mountains of Canada, where artistic couple Catherine and Wayne live on a floating island they built themselves.

Other remote locations Ben visits in this series include a farm on the edge of the Egyptian Sahara desert, a backpacker's hostel deep in the Guatemalan jungle and the remote Andalucían mountains where a British couple have become alpaca farmers.

■ The singing and musical act competition show Let It Shine starts on BBC Brit (DStv 120) on Sunday 21 January at 18:00.

It's problematic and bad that BBC Worldwide is showing the old Let It Shine for South African and African DStv subscribers after it played out in the United Kingdom in January and February of last year. 

The winners actually started touring in September 2017.

Graham Norton and Mel Giedroyc are the presenters and Gary BarlowDannii Minogue, Amber Riley and Martin Kemp are the judges.

The purpose of Let It Shine is to put together people to create a band to join the cast of a stage show featuring the music of the boy band Take That.

■ The 12th season of Made in Chelsea starts on BBC Lifestyle (DStv 174) on Sunday 28 January at 21:00 for 12 episodes with more cat-fights, fun and heartbreak.

■ The second season of Top of the Lake, entitled Top of the Lake: China Girl will start on Wednesday 31 January at 20:00 on BBC First (DStv 119).

Recently returned to Sydney, Detective Robin Griffin (Elisabeth Moss) is trying to rebuild her life. When the body of an Asian girl washes up on Bondi Beach, there appears little hope of finding the killer, until Robin realises that the girl didn’t die alone.

■ The 7th season of Death in Paradise starts on Monday 15 January at 20:00 on BBC Brit (DStv 120).

There’s a new detective in town. Jack Mooney (Ardal O’Hanlon) is starting to settle in the sun-soaked island of Saint-Marie, and he has some impossible mysteries to solve. Jack’s laconic style belies a sharp mind and relentless determination. He’s a brilliant detective, and he’ll need all his instinctive genius to solve perplexing murders.

■ The new comedy series Game Face starts on Tuesday 16 January on BBC Brit (DStv 120) at 21:30.

Marcella, in her 30s, crashes her way through life, assisted by her dubious life-coach, best friends and ever-patient driving instructor.

Bouncing back from a seismic break-up, clinging on to her dreams of becoming an actress, and - when she remembers her lessons - finally learning to drive, Marcella is on a mission to change her future for the better.

■ The 6th season of Ross Kemp: Extreme World has started on BBC Brit (Dstv 120) on Fridays at 21:00.

Ross Kemp investigates important issues around the world, ranging from the rise of armed race hate groups in Donald Trump’s America, the killing of thousands of suspects in the Philippines’ war on drugs, the feuding gangs of Naples, the bandits of Madagascar, the drug epidemic sweeping through Palestine and the plight of migrants attempting the arduous journey through war-torn Libya.

Monday, January 15, 2018

BBC Worldwide Africa switches Come Dine with Me South Africa from BBC Lifestyle to the BBC Brit channel on DStv; 4th season will start on 15 February with more colourful and diverse contestants.

The 4th season of the beloved Come Dine With Me South Africa series is switching channels from BBC Lifestyle to BBC Brit (DStv 120) and will start on Thursday 15 February at 20:00 with the revived show that will once again include voice-over narration done by Dave Lamb.

The 4th season of the show will start on BBC Brit exactly a year after the SABC awkwardly announced that it had picked up the food competition series for a 4th season on SABC3 - just to then be forced to backtrack after already airing promos and announcing that it will no longer be producing the show.

The out-of-cash SABC failed to sign the necessary contracts for the ITV Studios format produced show.

BBC Worldwide Africa and the South African production company Rapid Blue that is the format rights holder, then agreed to bring the show back for viewers of the BBC's entertainment fare in South Africa and across Africa.

BBC Worldwide Africa has been reluctant to bring Come Dine with Me SA back for a 4th season although TV critics loved it and viewers have been clamouring for more local episodes of the show.

In each episode ordinary South Africans take turns to host each other in dinner parties at their homes. They then rate each other's food, presentation and hosting abilities.

There's a 5 year gap between the 3rd season of Come Dine With Me SA and the upcoming 4th season that will have episodes filmed in Pretoria, Johannesburg, Durban, Port Elizabeth and Cape Town.

The new season of Come Dine With Me SA will also see the show switch channels. The previous three seasons were all broadcast on BBC Lifestyle where seasons of shows like The Great South African Bake Off were also shown.

Early in 2017 BBC Worldwide announced that Come Dine With Me SA would return to BBC Lifestyle in early 2018, but now Come Dine With Me South Africa is switching to BBC Brit.

BBC Worldwide Africa didn't specify why Come Dine With Me SA is switching to BBC Brit and why it will no longer be on BBC Lifestyle.

"We are thrilled to be able to announce the return date of Come Dine With Me South Africa for a 4th series," says Joel Churcher, general manager and vice president of BBC Worldwide Africa.

"Since announcing its return, viewers have blown us away with their excitement at seeing a new line-up of the country's best and worst dinner hosts step into the kitchen."

"I have seen a sneak peek of episode one and am confident that the new contestants will find their ways into the hearts of our viewers with the new episodes, promising even more iconic moments and catchphrases".

The first episode of the 4th season of Come Dine With Me South Africa is set in Pretoria with pole dancer Carmi van Heerden, the hyper-critical Philipine Modimogale, the amateur-dramatic Ian Perryman and the chatty Nonhlanhla Ntwasa.

"After all these years of producing international formats for a South African audience, I'm still constantly amazed at all the colourful and diverse personalities that our amazing country has to offer," says Kee-Leen Irvine, Rapid Blue executive producer. 

"This season of Come Dine With Me South Africa once again bring the proof to the pudding.”

Will - or when will - South Africa's pay-TV viewers get Viacom's new the Paramount Network channel, and should it replace something like MTV Europe?

A question of paramount importance: Will - or when will - South African pay-TV viewers get to see Viacom's new flagship TV channel, the Paramount Network, that is launching on 18 January in the United States?

Will Viacom International Media Networks Africa (VIMN Africa) possibly roll out the Paramount Network in 2018 on one of the existing direct-to-home (DTH) satellite pay-TV services like MultiChoice's DStv, StarSat from China's StarTimes Media SA and On Digital Media (ODM), or Kwesé TV?

Or perhaps the Paramount Network could possibly be added to the channel line-ups of one of the new over-the-top (OTT) services like Cell C's black, or DEOD?

A year ago, in February 2017, Viacom announced that it will be creating the Paramount Network in 2018 through scrapping its one channel, Spike TV, and that it will remake, rebrand and relaunch Spike TV in early 2018 as The Paramount Network - it's most important new channel.

The Paramount channel as a premium, general entertainment channel will carry "bold original scripted and non-scripted series" with Viacom that's moving its best shows to this channel and rolling out several brand-new scripted series and drama series on this channel.

Programming on the Paramount Network will include brand-new programming and series like Waco, Heathers (pictured), American Woman, Yellowstone, First Wives Club, Velvet and Accused along with shows like Lip Sync Battle, Ink Master, Bar Rescue, Bellator MMA and more.

Since the Paramount Network will be Viacom's flagship TV channel from next week, it's inconceivable that South African and African viewers won't get to see it ... eventually.

As TVwithThinus reported last year, the Paramount Network, together with BET (DStv 129), Comedy Central (DStv 122), MTV (DStv 130), Nickelodeon (DStv 305) and Nick Jr. (DStv 307) will now be Viacom's flagship channel brands with all of Viacom's effort, focus and content spending that will now be going to these channels.

The Paramount Network will do and have the premium shows in Viacom's content collection, while MTV is getting "refocus" around reality shows.

Viacom International Media Networks already operates a Paramount Channel (a film channel) in some parts of the world - but not in South Africa and Africa - and will likely just morph and change these placeholder channels (Paramount Channel and Spike TV) in other territories into The Paramount Network over time.

But what about countries where these placeholder channels don't already exist and have an existing footprint?

Last week TVwithThinus asked Viacom International Media Networks Africa if VIMN Africa will be adding, or is looking at adding, the Paramount Network as a TV channel in South Africa and Africa, and also whether getting the Paramount Network to viewers in South Africa and across Africa is important or seen as a priority.

How exactly does VIMN Africa see the Paramount Network's importance and relevance for South Africa and Africa?

At the time of filing this report there hasn't been any answers to these questions from Viacom Africa, but if there is, it will be updated here.

TVwithThinus will keep tracking the ongoing developments around the Paramount Network since Kevin Kay, now the Paramount Network president, himself has said that Viacom's new channel is positioning itself as the crown jewel in Viacom's collection of TV channels going forward.

"The Paramount Network will take Spike's already strong programming mix and amplify it with the Paramount brand. Its focus will be on building distinctive, high-quality scripted and non-scripted original programming – with dramas, comedies, documentaries, movies, sports and tentpole events."

One possibility - if the Paramount Network were to be made available in South Africa - would or could be to replace MTV Europe (DStv 130) on MultiChoice's DStv for instance.

MultiChoice already carries MTV Europe and the Afro-tainment MTV Base as separate channels.

Just like MultiChoice had done with Viacom's BET channels that was cut down from two to one, MTV could be snackwitched down to one channel without any loss to make space for the Paramount Network in MTV Europe's place.

The original content on MTV Europe like the Siesta Key-type shows could easily be transplanted onto MTV Base's schedule to make the programming line-up of MTV Base stronger, combining the best of MTV's Brit-American reality series with MTV Base's original African productions like the MTV Shuga series.

It would also make it easier for viewers to know where to find all the MTV-ey reality and music type content, with then the Paramount Network as the more higher grade channel where the drama, sitcom, documentary series and scripted fare content and shows like the new Yellowstone drama with Kevin Costner can reside.

On Monday in America at the Annual winter tour of the Television Critics Association (TCA) in Pasadena, California, Kevin Kay told TV critics that the Paramount Network wants "to be the definitive new home for premium storytelling", and that "our goal is to change the game of how viewers experience high-end scripted" TV content.

Paramount Network president of development Keith Cox told TV critics that Paramount Network is going to be famous for big bold originals. We want to make linear TV urgent again."

MultiChoice claims 'eNews' is one of the most watched channels on DStv Now while no such channel exists; adds Discovery's set of channels to DStv Now from January.

MultiChoice claims that the 'eNews' channel is one of the most watched TV channels live streamed on its DStv Now service - despite the fact that no such channel exists.

MultiChoice's DStv Now service from its DStv Digital Media division announced that it also further expanded its over-the-top (OTT) channel collection in January 2018 that now includes Discovery Channel, TLC, Discovery Family and ID Investigation Discovery.

MultiChoice in a press release on Monday, said that the 'eNews' channel was one of the most watched channels on its DStv Now service during December 2017.

The problem is that eNews isn't a channel. MultiChoice most likely means either E! Entertainment (DStv 124) from NBCUniversal International Networks, or eNCA (DStv 403) from eMedia Investments that used to be known as the eNews Channel until it changed its name more than 5 and a half years ago in August 2012.

"E! News" does exists as the name of a daily show segment on E! Entertainment - it is that channel's daily TV news programme - but it is very unlikely that MultiChoice means that.

MultiChoice was asked what exactly it means by "eNews" and when there's a response this report will update with that. Update:  MultiChoice says the "eNews" is in fact eNCA.

Oddly, MultiChoice in its press release also refers to "kykNet" (it's actually kykNET).

"The top live channels streaming during this time were the SuperSport channels, M-Net, eNews, Mzansi Magic, kykNet, Comedy Central and M-Net Movies Smile," says MultiChoice in its statement about December 2017 viewing on DStv Now.

MultiChoice notes that the most watched shows on DStv Now during December 2017 were Binnelanders, The Queen, Isibaya, Boer Soek ‘n Vrou, The Imposter, Premier League, Lockdown, Paw Patrol, international rugby, Shameless, Isithembiso and Getroud met Rugby.

MultiChoice says usage of its DStv Now service increased by 18% in December 2017 over November 2017.

"Almost 20% of total usage of DStv Now is coming from DStv Compact customers, who received access to the service in May last year," says MultiChoice.

MultiChoice says the bulk of DStv Now usage over the festive period came from Android devices in the Gauteng province.

"Local content and channels, along with SuperSport, continue to be the top performers across all platforms."

MultiChoice says it added the set of channels from Discovery Networks International from January 2018 to DStv Now as live streamed channels. These include Discovery Channel (DStv 121), TLC (DStv 135), Discovery Family (DStv 136) and ID Investigation Discovery (DStv 171).

Interestingly ID Investigation Discovery used to be IDx on DStv. However, at some point after Investigation Discovery was changed to IDx (ID Xtra) in January 2016, it has quietly changed back to ID on MultiChoice's platform.

SuperSport extends its broadcast partnership with Tennis Australia to 2021; new deal includes Laver Cup and several lead-in tennis tournaments.

SuperSport has extended its broadcast partnership with Tennis Australia to 2021.

According to the extended deal, the Laver Cup will be broadcast in 54 countries - including South Africa - for the first time on MultiChoice's DStv satellite pay-TV platform, along with ongoing extensive coverage of the Australian Open tennis tournament.

Included in the new extended deal between SuperSport and Tennis Australia are broadcasting rights to lead-in tournaments like the Australian and Asia-Pacific Wildcard playoffs, Mastercard Hopman Cup, World Tennis Challenge, Brisbane International (ATP matches) and the Sydney International (ATP matches).

“SuperSport has over the years enjoyed a successful partnership with Tennis Australia which has seen the Australian Open become one of the most watched grand slams across Sub-Saharan Africa whilst assisting us in extending our footprint on the continent,” says Gideon Khobane, SuperSport CEO.

“The new deal, with the added content, shows the trust Tennis Australia has in us as a broadcaster to help them reach new markets and grow the event across the African continent.”

Richard Heaselgrave, Tennis Australia chief revenue officer says “We have had a long-standing partnership with SuperSport now for more than 20 years and we are extremely pleased to not just extend but also expand our relationship.”

SuperSport’s coverage will include two simultaneous linear TV feeds, mobile and internet, live and on-demand broadcast with additional coverage of news, results and videos online.

Inspiration TV on OpenView HD abruptly goes dark as yet another of the platform's original channels at launch disappears.

The Inspiration TV channel has abruptly gone off OpenView HD (OVHD) with OpenView HD losing yet another of the channels it originally launched with.

OpenView HD, run by Platco Digital that's part of eMedia Investments, didn't explain why Inspiration TV is removed from the free-to-air satellite platform service, or if or when it will be back - saying only Inspiration TV is gone because of "technical issues".

When OpenView HD launched in October 2013, Inspiration TV, apparently run by Inspiration Ministries, was part of the original TV channels line-up.

In a statement issued on Monday morning just more than an hour before the Christian faith-based Inspiration TV went off air on OpenView HD, OpenView HD says "the religion channel, Inspiration TV, will no longer be available on the OpenView HD satellite platform from 15 January at 12:00 until further notice".

"This is due to technical issues that are being experienced with the broadcast of the channel on the platform. Updates will be issued in due course".

The channel never made much of an impact during its broadcast run on OpenView HD, with neither OpenView HD nor Inspiration TV that ever once bothered to issued any programming information or channel line-ups, schedules or show information, during its 4 years on the platform.

Chris Maroleng to become the SABC's new permanent chief operating officer (COO), replacing Hlaudi Motsoeneng - sources.

Chris Maroleng is to become the SABC's new permanent chief operating officer (COO) replacing the controversial and famously matricless Hlaudi Motsoeneng.

SABC insiders, including SABC management and SABC board sources told TVwithThinus that the former Africa editor at eMedia Investments' TV news channel eNCA (DStv 403) will be appointed as the SABC's new COO.

Chris Maroleng was an eNCA anchor and Africa editor until he left eNCA in July 2014.

At eNCA Chris Maroleng led the team which started eNews Africa in 2009 and built up the channel's Africa division, which included the setting up of news bureaux in Nairobi and Lagos, and was the anchor of the weekly show Africa 360 that was abruptly cancelled in April 2015.

Chris Maroleng left eNCA when eNCA started to gut its Africa division and downsized its news staff and operations as it dramatically slashed budgets and Africa coverage - something that eNCA hasn't recovered from three and a half years later.

Chris Maroleng then became MTN's group executive for corporate affairs until the end of December 2017.

Chris Maroleng who has a master’s degree in international relations, as well as a honours and BA degree in political studies and law from the University of Cape Town, is most famous with the South African public for his "don't touch me on my studio" altercation on live TV in April 2010.

Pandemonium ensued in the eNCA studio during Chris Maroleng's Africa 360 show, where he intervened and protected the political analyst Lebohang Pheko when the Afrikaner Weerstandsbeweging (AWB) secretary general Andre Visagie went ballistic on air.

Sources tell TVwithThinus that Chris Maroleng will become the SABC's new permanent COO from February 2017, a position that's been vacant for months and that has been filled by Bessie Tugwana, a so-called "Hlaudi enforcer", who has been appointed and who has been serving in the role the past few months in an acting capacity.

While Hlaudi Motsoeneng was acting COO and permanent COO, the famously matricless executive plunged the SABC into a myriad of crises.

That ranged from financial to bad governance issues, as he made wrong and debilitating decisions that heaped not just negative headlines and scorn on the SABC but also negatively affected the broadcaster's staff morale, liquidity and operating bank balance, and viewership and listenership ratings.